Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 11 (1896)

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Lt 90, 1896

Palmer, W. O.

Avondale, Cooranbong, New South Wales, Australia

January 24, 1896

Portions of this letter are published in PM 217-218; 3SM 118; 8MR 349; 9MR 268-269.

Mr. W. O. Palmer
Battle Creek, Michigan, U. S. A.

Dear Brother:

I received your letter, and thank you for writing in reference to Edson White. I have written to him, setting forth my great need of help in the book making line. I have solicited Dr. Kellogg to write to me if there was anyone he could recommend to help me in this work. I must have help. Fannie Bolton has failed me after causing me the most intense suffering of mind by her tragic attitudes and her exalted opinion of her superior qualifications. She no longer has any connection with me, and she never will have again. Marian Davis is the only one now left. Nothing can now take her attention from The Life of Christ, the first volume of which we are now reading for the press. 11LtMs, Lt 90, 1896, par. 1

When you and Edson were companions in labor, I felt that it was in the order of God; but as you have been placed in another position, I think it might be the Lord’s will for Edson to come to me. Dr. Kellogg writes that he knows of no one who could help me as much as Edson. If anyone can give me help, I should have it without delay. I have but little time to work. I want to prepare several books at once. Several persons have spoken to me of Edson White, who, they say, is better able to assist me than any other person I know of, yet I do not wish to withdraw him from the field where he is unless someone shall take his place. If my children can help me, they are the ones I should have. If the Lord wills it thus, it will be brought around. 11LtMs, Lt 90, 1896, par. 2

I think no one has really taken in the difficulties under which I have labored, the peculiar elements with which I have been connected. Edson could be a great help to me. Elder Olsen and Willie have not felt it best to take him from the field where he seems to be doing so much good, but I think the Lord would have him with me unless some other one be provided. But how appropriate for my own son and daughter to be my helpers. Edson understands my reasons for desiring his help, for I have written to him. I cannot accept men as my co-workers, and I do not find women who can work as editors. I need help now, but I shall force nothing. Willie cannot possibly assist me, for the burdens he has to carry are more than enough for two men. He has not suitable help for himself. 11LtMs, Lt 90, 1896, par. 3

The dummy of Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, with the illustrations, I received. The illustrations I could not possibly accept under any consideration. Some of them look as if prepared for a comic almanac. That any one connected with the work in Battle Creek should think it possible for me to accept these cuts is most astonishing. I dare not trust the book Life of Christ for them to illustrate, for I think their wisdom has departed from them. God commanded Moses, “Make everything according to the pattern shown thee in the mount.” [Hebrews 8:5.] Everything connected with the sanctuary was of the most perfect workmanship. 11LtMs, Lt 90, 1896, par. 4

If I wanted to belittle the work of God, I might accept such illustrations as those sent me. I must tell you I am thoroughly disgusted, and think the workers have lost sight of the elevated and noble in Bible characters and history. Pictures to represent Bible scenes must be no cheap designs. True science of all kinds is distinction and power. He who by painstaking effort ascends step by step the ladder of human progress must fix his eyes on the One above the ladder. The knowledge which God imparts is not of a character to belittle our ideas of sacred things. The glory of God must be kept before the mind’s eye, not the cheap, earthly representations that imprint in the memory scenes which give a false conception of Christ and heavenly things. A proper illustration of Bible scenes requires talent of a superior quality. With these cheap, common productions, the sacred lessons of the Bible disdain comparison. 11LtMs, Lt 90, 1896, par. 5

That which is holy and elevated in heavenly things, I scarcely dare represent. Often I lay down my pen and say, Impossible, impossible for finite minds to grasp eternal truths and deep holy principles, and to express their living import. I stand ignorant and helpless. The rich current of thought takes possession of my whole being, and I lay down my pen, and say, O Lord, I am finite, I am weak and simple and ignorant; thy grand and holy revelations I can never find language to express. 11LtMs, Lt 90, 1896, par. 6

My words seem inadequate, and I despair of clothing the truth God has made known concerning his great redemption, which engrossed to itself His undivided attention in the only begotten Son of the Infinite One. The truths that are to last through time and through eternity, the great plan of redemption, which cost so much for the salvation of the human race, presenting before them a life that measures with the life of God—these truths are too full, deep, and holy for human words, or human pen, to adequately express. 11LtMs, Lt 90, 1896, par. 7

Knowledge concerning common, earthly things may be acquired by ordinary means, but the truths that fell from the hallowed lips of the only begotten Son of God, with the deep science of eternity in His mind, require wisdom from God to express. There is danger of degrading the high and pure and holy by representing it by common, cheap, earthly things. It is using the common fire in place of the sacred, bringing down eternal things to the level of that which is cheap and base. To substitute cheap, human conceptions for the true and elevated is not acceptable to God. Let the illustrations sent me to put by, never to be accepted as worthy to have the slightest connection with sacred themes. The talent that produces such illustrations might better be dispensed with altogether in this line of work. 11LtMs, Lt 90, 1896, par. 8

The work before us is great, and cannot be done in any cheap style. I am at a loss to know just what to do with the books I am urged to write. May the Lord help me, is my prayer. God forbid that we should please the devil by lowering the standard of eternal truth by using illustrations that men, women, and children will make sport of. The Lord would have our ideas more heavenly. We are not our own, but absolutely God’s; our identity is connected with God. Our influence and all our capacity for usefulness are His. Our intellectual and moral powers, with all their capabilities for knowledge, belong to God. We are to behold in Jesus the chiefest among ten thousand, the One altogether lovely. We are His by creation, His by redemption. 11LtMs, Lt 90, 1896, par. 9

We have endowments entrusted to us as free moral agents, with liberty to abuse or to improve. But God will call us to account for our use of His entrusted talents. No man or set of men is to take that responsibility out of our hands. The Lord has measured the extent of each man’s obligation by the amount of the gift loaned. He who is on the Lord’s side, constantly gaining higher, clearer views of heaven and eternal realities, will reveal the same. Our talents, few or many, are wholly the Lord’s, to be devoted to His service. No man will be clear if he makes no improvement upon the gifts given. May the Lord help every soul to work for Him and for eternity. 11LtMs, Lt 90, 1896, par. 10

With much love to yourself and family, 11LtMs, Lt 90, 1896, par. 11

Your sister. 11LtMs, Lt 90, 1896, par. 12