Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 11 (1896)

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Lt 164, 1896

Corliss, Brother and Sister

“Sunnyside,” Avondale, New South Wales, Australia

April 6, 1896

Portions of this letter are published in FBS 67-68.

Dear Brother and Sister Corliss:

I arise early this morning to address a few lines to you. There are some things of a grievous character that I have been passing through, and bearing the heavy weight of responsibility upon my soul prostrated me so that I have not been able to act much part in the institute now being held. The very first time I spoke, on Friday morning, I had a very great burden to address Caldwell and set his position before him; then after meeting, I read to him some things concerning himself and Fannie. She is now in my home in a very feeble nervous condition. I am astonished how Satan can work upon human minds and warp the character if any human being will give him a chance. How this case will terminate I know not. 11LtMs, Lt 164, 1896, par. 1

Willie McKnight has gone to the bad. I tried to save him, took him into my employ, but although we paid him good wages he would do after the ways of his own evil heart. He has associated with the Bevans family next door to the hotel, where there is a large number of disreputable girls. He agreed to my proposition to board with us and cut away from that family; but we had an experience [which shows] that you may do what you will, but if the human agent for whom you labor chooses to do evil, a course of deception will be practiced that no course of action will hinder. I tried every recourse, placing him upon his honor, but found he had no honor. He would steal my garden produce, would violate every principle of right, and every night but two would steal away to the Bevans family. I had his case opened before me and the light given was that he was living in adultery in that house with a disreputable young woman. 11LtMs, Lt 164, 1896, par. 2

Then we tried to save him but we were powerless. His mother and his father were Sabbathkeepers. We felt sorely for the mother, for he was choosing to give his heart and soul to be molded and fashioned after the similitude of the satanic attributes. We tried to get him to go home, Brother Rousseau, Brother Prescott, and myself. I would pay his fare. But he utterly refused and practiced deception of the most artful kind. Oh, how we hated to have it so, that one of the students who had been supported by someone’s else means should be so unthankful and make so little good use of the opportunities that were granted to him! We see that if a student wants to serve Satan he will do it. If the powers that God has given are not fully brought into captivity to Jesus Christ, Satan will take possession of them and use them, that the precious cause of truth shall be reproached, as it has been in this case. He has now married one of these girls. Satan has worked the willing agent. 11LtMs, Lt 164, 1896, par. 3

This case is a most striking one. If young men have every advantage that can be given them, and do not bring themselves into subjection to Jesus Christ, there is no power in heaven or earth that can compel them. This young man could behave like a gentleman, had expressed his desire to study to become a minister, but all the lessons, all the instruction given was not making him fit in character to become a child of God. He was following his own perverse, corrupt, lustful passions. 11LtMs, Lt 164, 1896, par. 4

We labored for hours to bring this young man to repentance, to confess his sins, to break off his iniquities and receive the precious gift of pardon. He protested that he had done nothing so very wrong; everything could be easily adjusted. We prayed with him. Willie was not at home. Brethren Prescott and Rousseau were with me. After praying on his behalf again and again, I at length said, “I can do no more.” He then said he had done wrong and he would follow the Saviour and live a different life. I said, “I have no confidence in your confession. You are guilty of sins, grievous sins, and if these are cloaked, you have no promise of forgiveness. The Lord knows and you know and I know what these sins are. I do not propose to confess for you. You must do your own confessing.” 11LtMs, Lt 164, 1896, par. 5

I entreated him to accept the offers of mercy by confessing his sins and his iniquities and no longer show his aptitude and skill in deceptive statements. I was thoroughly exhausted and had to leave the room, but said, “I leave you in the hands of these brethren. I can say and do no more. I have suffered this night intense agony of mind. I opened the way for you to come to my home, to sit at my table, to be with us in our praying service and reading of the Bible.” 11LtMs, Lt 164, 1896, par. 6

The chapters we were reading in course were in Isaiah. He read with us, and the very portions of Scripture which specified his sin was read by himself. We thought we would give him every chance to make the application to his own case and this might awaken in him a remorse, but it did not seem to have the least influence. He did that night—after we labored with him a long while and then left him with Brother Rousseau and Brother Prescott—confess his sins of vileness, and the conditions were plainly stated, if he would break away at once, and return to New Zealand, we would furnish him money. But he said positively he would not go to New Zealand. 11LtMs, Lt 164, 1896, par. 7

That night he was again at Bevans’ and came back just at daylight, crept into bed and, when Connell went to see Mr. Leonard for something, lo, he was stretching himself as if he had just awakened out of a profound slumber. Leonard said he had just got into bed, his boots were all wet, having just come through the bush. He declared to Professor Prescott and Rousseau next morning he had slept the past two nights in the tent, positively stated it. Connell said, “You know that is a lie.” He said, “Did you see me coming through the bush?” He then said he had not slept in the tent but at Bevans. 11LtMs, Lt 164, 1896, par. 8

We then settled with him. He had told us two weeks before that he had got work at Newcastle and wanted to remain one week more. We pitied him and let him stay, but he left his work of repairing harness and went to see some young man, but wanted his pay very much, for at least half a day. Connell paid him for the full day and then discharged him. I think his story about employment to work for a dentist was a fabrication. He has since married and is at work with his father-in-law in the metal mine, drawing metal with the bullock teams. I think now he has degraded himself too low ever to make the effort to rise. 11LtMs, Lt 164, 1896, par. 9