Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 11 (1896)

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Lt 15a, 1896

Corliss, Burr

“Sunnyside,” Cooranbong, Australia

April 14, 1896

Portions of this letter are published in 4MR 198-205.

Burr Corliss:

You have greater privileges than many youth, more opportunities to learn lessons which will fit you for practical usefulness and enable you to form a character fit for the kingdom of heaven. God calls upon you to improve these privileges and opportunities; but Satan is upon the track of every youth, trying to alienate him from God. Adam and Eve were created free from every taint of evil; there was in them no predisposition to sin, yet they fell by listening to the presentations of Satan, who so disguised himself that they did not discern in the serpent a fallen angel. They had been warned; for God had told them of the disobedience and disaffection of the highest created being, and they should have turned from the tempter when they found that his words differed from the words of God. 11LtMs, Lt 15a, 1896, par. 1

The experience of Adam is a constant warning and reproof to us. We are not to turn aside from the Word of God under any circumstances; but the Lord compels obedience from no one. He gives the human agent all the help that he required to become an overcomer, but leaves him free to place himself, with his inherited and cultivated tendencies, under the control and guidance of the Holy Spirit, or to follow his own imaginations, which are only evil, and that continually. He leaves him free to choose his associates from the pure and the righteous, or from among others. He compels no one to obey Him. 11LtMs, Lt 15a, 1896, par. 2

Had you understood and obeyed the commandments of God you would now be a pure, clean young man, possessing power to overcome temptation, and growing stronger and stronger in self-conquest. You imagine at times that you would like to be a minister, but your course of selfish indulgence disqualifies you for this position. You have been tried in school and out of school, and have been placed in positions calculated to make you useful to your fellow-men and approved of by God, if you had chosen to serve God. Had you done this, you would now be sowing seed unto eternal life. God’s Word declared that “whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” Do you believe the Word of God? What are you sowing? “He that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.” [Galatians 6:7, 8.] 11LtMs, Lt 15a, 1896, par. 3

I deeply regretted that you were not to attend the school in Cooranbong. I was afraid that the course pursued toward you by the leading men in this place, had been too severe, but one night the whole matter was laid open before me, and point after point in your own action was unfolded to me. Notwithstanding the privileges you have had, you have acted in a very ungentlemanly way toward your parents and toward those in the school who were trying to do you good. Your course of action has made their work very hard. 11LtMs, Lt 15a, 1896, par. 4

No reflection should be cast upon Elder Rousseau, but this will most assuredly be the result of the course you have pursued. I could not advise the managers of the school to retain you in the school while you were leading other boys astray. If you will not be influenced and controlled by those wiser than you, if evil practices seem more desirable to you than those set forth in the Word of God, you will influence others in the wrong direction. Said Christ: “Ye will not come unto me that ye might have life.” [John 5:40.] The power of purpose to resist temptation comes from Christ alone. 11LtMs, Lt 15a, 1896, par. 5

Your course of action in the past has not been an honor to your parents. They know not what to do with you; and what courage can they have to expend their means in giving you opportunity to gain an education? If, in your present state of character, they should send you to school among worldlings, you would drink in the evil as an ox drinks water. If you had moral power to resist temptation, you could influence others to resist, but you are now so full of your own inventions, that an opportunity given you to obtain an education would be worse than thrown away. You would pluck of the fruit of the forbidden tree of knowledge, and would feel a pride in thus showing your bravery. “Ye will not come unto me that ye might have life.” [Verse 40.] 11LtMs, Lt 15a, 1896, par. 6

Take heed that there shall not be in you an evil heart of unbelief, for if there is, all your educational advantages will but give you a further opportunity of showing that you dare to do forbidden things. Your school opportunities will be of no good to you unless you guard your mind strictly. Should your life be extended to the full measure of the allotted years of man, and should you become converted, you will look upon your youthful works with disgust. There is nothing but satanic pleasure in doing evil; and if you will yoke up with Christ, God will give you strength to do the works of Christ. 11LtMs, Lt 15a, 1896, par. 7

Do you not appreciate the desire of your teachers that you shall become a student of whom they may be proud? But only in the strength which Jesus Christ gives you can you resist eating of the forbidden tree of knowledge. Evil actions repeated over and over again become second habit and bear a harvest of evil. One evil thought which you may instill into another’s mind, one evil action in which you may educate him, may be the ruin of that soul. If you should attend any school to do that kind of work, I would say, Separate him from the school, for he is Satan’s agent, be he the son of a minister or of a layman. 11LtMs, Lt 15a, 1896, par. 8

You will never be a success at anything until you commence at the very first step of the ladder, and climb step after step, round after round, not looking down but up, clinging to the ladder, which is Christ. You have been a wayward boy because you have followed the leading of satanic agencies. You have acquired the habit of using the poisonous weed, tobacco, and by your example and influence you have encouraged others in doing the same. Your course of action has been a burden to your father and mother. 11LtMs, Lt 15a, 1896, par. 9

At great expense you have been sent to school, but this will never change the heart of Burr Corliss and make him a Christian. You will never be placed in more favorable circumstances to develop a character which God will approve, than you were when at school in Cooranbong. As long as you persist in following your own way, you will be misshaped in character and a dishonor to your parents. Your name will be a reproach to them, and you will influence others who would do right, were there not a tempter working with them. 11LtMs, Lt 15a, 1896, par. 10

Why not now give your heart to the Lord Jesus. Forever discard the use of tobacco. In the past you have done this, but you did not say, In the name of the Lord, I will be pure and clean, and holy. You have used tobacco slyly, for your moral power is very flimsy. Your heart is not given to the Lord. Will you not seek for those things that make for your peace? The battle, my youthful friend, is no sham, no pretense. It is a warfare against the fallen foe who is playing the game of life for your soul. You will never win if you follow the imaginations of your sinful heart, as did the inhabitants of the Noachic world, but you may win if you are faithful and persevering. 11LtMs, Lt 15a, 1896, par. 11

At times you have good impulses, and you heed the impressions of the Spirit of God. But you have little real hatred of meanness, and you receive the enemy, who is playing the game of life for your soul, as an honored guest. You glorify him by opening the door of your heart to him. You do not see him by your side, but he is there, and when led by satanic agencies, you lead others in the same way. 11LtMs, Lt 15a, 1896, par. 12

Your boyish ideas of love for young girls do not give anyone a high opinion of you. By letting your mind run in this channel you spoil your thoughts for study. You will be led to form impure associations; your ways and the ways of others will be corrupted. This is just as your case is presented to me, and as long as you persist in following your own way, whoever will seek to guide, influence, or restrain you will meet with the most determined resistance, because your heart is not in harmony with truth and righteousness. Not only will you disgrace yourself, but you will leave the impression upon the minds of many that your teachers were the real cause of your wrong course of action, for wrongdoing not only acts against the wrongdoer, but reflects upon those who were striving to the uttermost to keep him in the right track. 11LtMs, Lt 15a, 1896, par. 13

Thus it was with the work of Satan in the heavenly courts. He cast the cause of his defection upon Jesus Christ and upon God. If they had not so firmly resisted his plans, he said, he would not have gone on doing as he did. Wrongdoers always find sympathizers, and Satan so represented his case to the angels, that he drew many angels from their allegiance to God. 11LtMs, Lt 15a, 1896, par. 14

Satan carries on the same work now that he is expelled from heaven. When Christ was upon earth, [Satan] and his angels were busily engaged in trying to hinder the plan of redemption. Today “your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” [1 Peter 5:8.] God sends warnings, reproofs, and corrections, but these are frequently evaded and unheeded, because through his temptation Satan deceives the wrongdoer, causing him to suppose that he is unjustly dealt with. Satan has abated not a particle of his enmity and revenge against God because he did not prevail in heaven, and he works that reforms shall not be made on the earth. 11LtMs, Lt 15a, 1896, par. 15

Those who know of the work of the great deceiver should consider his work. By his deceiving power he works through every human agency that will be worked by him, seeking to convert men to his plan of action. When with earnest effort and prayer means are tried in our schools to elevate the students and lead them in right paths, Satan works through some of the students. By their influence he taints and corrupts others, leading them to disregard the rules of the school and carry out their own plans. 11LtMs, Lt 15a, 1896, par. 16

It is a most painful task to separate from the school the one who incites others to disobedience and disloyalty to God, but for the sake of the other students, it must be done. God saw that if Satan were not expelled from heaven, the angelic host would be in continual danger; and when God-fearing teachers see that to retain a student is to expose others to the influence of his ways, because he loves to pluck and eat of the wrong kind of knowledge, they should separate him from the school. 11LtMs, Lt 15a, 1896, par. 17

Satan will work with his deceiving energy upon all who will not allow their minds and characters to be assimilated to the character of Jesus Christ. Satan’s pretended homage to God has continued ever since his fall, and the eyes of all who love God must be kept open to discern the deception with which he, through human agencies, instills his evil principles into other minds. 11LtMs, Lt 15a, 1896, par. 18

Your father is a minister of the gospel, and Satan works most zealously to lead the children of ministers to dishonor their parents. If possible he will bring them into captivity to his will and imbue them with his evil propensities. Will you allow Satan to work through you to destroy the hope and comfort of your parents? Will they be obliged to look upon you with continual sadness because you give yourself into Satan’s control? Will you leave them to the discouragement of thinking that they have brought up children who refuse to be instructed by them, who follow their own inclinations whatever happens? 11LtMs, Lt 15a, 1896, par. 19

Many parents are weighed down with the perversity of their children; they are broken down in the effort to devise some plan which will prove successful to save their children. Their children, who should have made them happy, are no comfort to them, for selfishness and sin have become sweeter to their taste than the pure and holy things of God. 11LtMs, Lt 15a, 1896, par. 20

You have good impulses, and you awaken hope and expectation in the minds of your parents; but so far, you have been powerless to resist temptation, and Satan exults in your readiness to do just as he wills. Often you make statements which inspire your parents with hope, but just as often you fall, because you will not resist the enemy. You can not know how it pains your father and mother when you are found on Satan’s side. Many times you say, I cannot do this, and I cannot do that, when you know that the things you say you cannot do are right for you to do. You can fight against the enemy, not in your own strength, but in the strength God is ever ready to give you. Trusting in His Word, you will never say, I can’t. 11LtMs, Lt 15a, 1896, par. 21

Burr, I appeal to you in the name of the Lord to turn before it is too late. Because you are the son of parents who are co-workers with God, you are supposed to be a well-disposed boy; but often, by your waywardness you dishonor your father and mother, and counteract the work they are seeking to do. Has not your mother sufficient to oppress and crush her spirits without your waywardness? Will you still pursue such a course of action that your father’s heart will be weighed down with grief? Is it a pleasure for you to have all heaven looking upon you with displeasure? Is it a satisfaction for you to place yourself in the ranks of the enemy, to be ordered and controlled by him? 11LtMs, Lt 15a, 1896, par. 22

Oh that now, while it is called today, you would turn to the Lord! Your every deed is making you either better or worse. If your actions are on Satan’s side, they leave behind them an influence that continues to work its baleful results. Only the pure, the clean, and holy can enter the city of God. “Today, if you will hear His voice, harden not your hearts” [Hebrews 3:15], but turn to the Lord, that the path you travel may not leave desolation in its track. 11LtMs, Lt 15a, 1896, par. 23