Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 12

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Lt 33, 1897

Collins, Gilbert

“Sunnyside,” Cooranbong, New South Wales, Australia

June 9, 1897

Portions of this letter are published in WM 332-333; 2BC 1010; 7BC 918-919; CG 41-42; 7MR 252-255; CTr 310; 4Bio 295-296.

Dear Brother Gilbert Collins:

I was very sorry to hear of your illness. I hope that your entire trust is in Jesus Christ. The Word of God is your anchorage ground. For a long time we have waited for the signs to be hung out to our view, that we might understand that we are living in the closing scenes of this earth’s history. Little did I suppose that time would linger till I should be nearly seventy years old. The 26th of next November, dear Gilbert, I shall be seventy years of age. I have had a wrestling life, and when we were holding meetings in private houses, when only a few believed the truth, I did not think that time would last, or that my life would be spared, long enough for me to visit Europe and Australia. 12LtMs, Lt 33, 1897, par. 1

I have been engaged in missionary work in this new field for about six years. I did not come here from choice. I did not want to come, for I saw an abundance to do in America. But the conference decided that I had better come, and the people here were very anxious that I should come; so I am here, to do the Lord’s work in lifting the standard of truth in new localities. He has greatly blessed me in this work, and wherever I go, I have a message for the people. 12LtMs, Lt 33, 1897, par. 2

We have begun to clear our land here in the woods. One year ago last August Mrs. May White, Ella and Mabel White, and myself kindled the first brush fires, beginning to clear the land. It was very interesting work for the children; they enjoyed it ever so much. 12LtMs, Lt 33, 1897, par. 3

Four tents were then pitched, and the men began the work of felling trees, and preparing the land for cultivation. A breaking-up plough, drawn by sixteen oxen broke up the land. The land was simply ploughed. We could not then afford to do more than this. 12LtMs, Lt 33, 1897, par. 4

There were many here who were poor and in need. Men who were trying to serve the Lord, and keep His commandments could not provide food for their families; and they begged us to give them something to do. We employed them, and they ate at our table. We gave them suitable wages until their families were fed and comfortably clothed. Then we let them go to find work somewhere else. Some of them we had to provide with a suit of Willie’s clothes, to make them fit for Sabbath meetings. The failure of the banks here made many families poor. 12LtMs, Lt 33, 1897, par. 5

In this way we employed men who had worked at the cabinetmaker’s trade, carriage builders, and painters. They were in poverty and great need, and some had large families to provide for. We paid them not less than a dollar a day, and fed them. In this way we have worked to get a few acres cleared and planted in peaches, apricots, plums, pears, nectarines, apples, figs, oranges, and lemons. These trees were planted in the furrows the last of September and the first of October. The next April the entire orchard was ploughed again. By the next August, the trees were fragrant with blossoms. In November there was beautiful fruit on the peach and nectarine trees. These trees had been loaded with fruit, but most of it had been picked off when small. It was thought best for the trees to do this. With the blessing of God, by the coming November we shall have plenty of fruit. 12LtMs, Lt 33, 1897, par. 6

Our school is located here. Their land was cleared and planted with trees at the same time that my orchard was planted. This coming season we expect that it will bear fruit for the school. Our people are settling in this place. Here students are to be educated in books, and are also to be taught how to do all kinds of manual labor. The Lord will help us in this work. This is the first term of school. There are sixty students in attendance. Thirty of these come from a distance, and live in the home. All the students are young men and young women of excellent capabilities. 12LtMs, Lt 33, 1897, par. 7

We have located here on missionary soil, and we design to teach the people all round us how to cultivate the land. They are all poor because they have left their land uncultivated. We are experimenting, and showing them what can be done in fruit raising and gardening. 12LtMs, Lt 33, 1897, par. 8

For the benefit of our school we knew that we must get away from the cities, where there are so many holidays, and where the interest taken in ball playing, horse racing, and games of every kind amounts almost to a craze. In the woods we are just where we should be. Not that we expect to get away from Satan and from temptation, but we do hope to be able to teach the youth that there is something satisfying besides amusement. 12LtMs, Lt 33, 1897, par. 9

Two plain, simple, substantial buildings have been erected for school purposes. The main building is not yet built. We are using a wing, which will answer until we can get means to advance on the main building. We will soon be compelled to build a chapel. We are so thankful that we have been able to make a beginning; and we earnestly desire to have this school such as the Lord shall approve. 12LtMs, Lt 33, 1897, par. 10

The school commences at nine o’clock in the morning and closes at one. Then comes the dinner hour, and then three hours of physical labor, for the mental and physical powers must be proportionately taxed. 12LtMs, Lt 33, 1897, par. 11

We are favored with excellent teachers. Brother and Sister Hughes have lately come from America. Brother Hughes is principal, and his wife is one of the teachers. Brother Herbert Lacey and his wife are teaching in the school and are doing good work. Brother and Sister Haskell fill very important places in our school in giving Bible lessons. Sister Haskell is matron, and also teaches a Bible class. Brother Haskell also teaches a Bible class. He has a whole treasure house of knowledge to give to the school. The Bible is made the foundation of all the education. Religious education is the foundation of all proper education. 12LtMs, Lt 33, 1897, par. 12

Brother Haskell is a man of experience, and is respected and honored by all. His wife is a woman of rare ability as a manager. She takes hold most earnestly, not afraid to put her hand to any work. She does not say, “Go,” but she says, “Come, we will do this or that;” and they cheerfully do as she instructs them. We have had most precious instruction from the Word from both Brother and Sister Haskell. 12LtMs, Lt 33, 1897, par. 13

All are pleased with the location, and with the plain, simple, healthful diet. No meat is used. Butter is too expensive to be purchased. It is winter now; midwinter comes in July; but we have not had any severely cold weather. 12LtMs, Lt 33, 1897, par. 14

We have an excellent cook for the school in Brother Skinner. He prepares an excellent table. His wife is connected with the school <as student.> Brother Skinner is also teaching the best methods of preparing food. Some feel the want of meat at first, but they soon acknowledge that their excellently prepared food is the best diet. 12LtMs, Lt 33, 1897, par. 15

O how anxious we are in behalf of the youth. We think of Joseph, how the Lord was with him in his youth, and of Samuel. The Lord accepted the offering of Hannah, while He passed by Eli, the aged priest, because he had neglected to properly train his sons to keep the way of the Lord. The Lord warned him, but he did not heed the warning. Eli neglected his duty to his children, and, although connected with the sacred work of God, they misrepresented and dishonored God and His truth by their wicked course of action. Eli knew of their sins, but he did not do his duty as a judge in Israel by separating them from holy office. The Lord spoke to the youth Samuel, and made known to him that because of the wickedness of the sons of Eli, He would not pardon their transgressions, He would not bless the house of Eli, but would cut them off in their sins. By this we see that the Lord will pass by old, experienced fathers connected with His work if they neglect their duty in their home life. 12LtMs, Lt 33, 1897, par. 16

Again we find most sacred lessons in regard to Timothy. He was a mere youth when he was chosen by God as a teacher. But his principles had been so established by a correct education that he was fitted to be placed as a religious teacher, in connection with Paul, the great apostle to the Gentiles. He was a mere youth, yet he bore his great responsibilities with Christian meekness. He was faithful, steadfast, and true, and Paul made him his companion in labor and travel, that he might have the benefit of his experience in preaching the gospel and establishing churches. Lest the churches should slight Timothy’s youth, Paul wrote, “Let no man despise thy youth.” [1 Timothy 4:12.] He could safely do this, because Timothy did not go forward in a self-sufficient spirit, but worked in connection with Paul, always seeking his advice and instruction as a learner. 12LtMs, Lt 33, 1897, par. 17

Paul loved Timothy because Timothy loved God. His intelligent knowledge of experimental piety and of the truth gave him distinction and influence. The piety and influence of his home life was not of a cheap order, but pure, sensible, and uncorrupted by false sentiments. The moral influence of his home was substantial, not fitful, not impulsive, not changeable. The Word of God was the rule which guided Timothy. He received his instruction line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little, and there a little. Impressions of the highest possible order were kept before his mind. His home instructors co-operated with God in educating this young man to bear the burdens that were to come upon him at an early age. 12LtMs, Lt 33, 1897, par. 18

There are many who move from first impulse, rather than from experience and judgment. But Timothy exercised consideration and calm thought, inquiring at every step, “Is this the way of the Lord?” There was nothing novel in the mind and work of Timothy. He had no specially wonderful talents; but his work was valuable because he used his God-given abilities as consecrated gifts in the service of God. The Holy Spirit found in Timothy a mind that could be molded and fashioned to become a temple for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, because he submitted to be molded. 12LtMs, Lt 33, 1897, par. 19

The highest aim of our youth should not be to strain after something novel, but to place themselves under the teaching of the Holy Scriptures. Then they may possess the attributes classed as highest in the heavenly courts. They will hide themselves in God, and in all their teaching will simplify the original truth, so that it will not appear strange, but familiar to other minds. They will weave it into their daily thoughts and practical life. 12LtMs, Lt 33, 1897, par. 20

We see the advantage that Timothy had in a correct example of piety and true godliness. Religion was the atmosphere of his home. The manifest spiritual power of the piety in the home kept him pure in speech, and free from all corrupting sentiments. From a child Timothy had known the Holy Scriptures. He had the benefit of the Old Testament Scripture, and the manuscript of part of the New, the teachings and lessons of Christ. 12LtMs, Lt 33, 1897, par. 21

I present these things, which my pen has traced by lamplight in the early morning hours. I feel deeply in regard to those youth who have not the advantage of proper instruction in the home, who are not brought up in the fear and love and admonition of the Lord. The lessons of the Bible have a moral and religious influence on the character, as they are brought into the practical life. Timothy learned and practiced these lessons. The great apostle often drew him out, and questioned him in regard to Scripture history. He showed him the necessity of shunning every evil way, and told him that blessing would surely attend all who are faithful and true, giving them a faithful, noble manhood. A noble, all-round manhood does not come by chance. It is the result of the molding process of character-building in the early years of youth, and a practice of the law of God in the home. God will bless the faithful efforts of all who teach their children as He has directed. But the bell rings for breakfast, seven o’clock and I must stop. 12LtMs, Lt 33, 1897, par. 22

I now resume my writing. My brother Gilbert, I wish to ask you if you would be pleased to make a donation to help to build a church. We are now occupying a room in the school building, but as there are now sixty students, thirty of whom occupy the present building, we see that we will have to give the room to the school. Our funds are exhausted; we have no means in the treasury. 12LtMs, Lt 33, 1897, par. 23

I do not urge you or any one to do that which you cannot do, but if you can do something to help us, it will be gratefully received. We are in a new field. There is much to be done in many lines, and poverty, poverty stares us in the face. I sent to South Africa for the loan of one thousand pounds, five thousand dollars in American currency, on which I pay interest. With this we have erected two plain, unadorned buildings. But the main building is not yet erected. We had the building that was to serve for the dining room, kitchen, and store room partly erected when our means gave out. 12LtMs, Lt 33, 1897, par. 24

When I saw how cramped we would be in this building, I advised that this building be carried a storey higher, making it a two story building. Then we could reserve a room for the school room below, and a room for Sabbath meetings above, and there would be sleeping rooms for the young men. But the argument came, “We have no money.” I said, “We must have that second storey, and I will be responsible.” This was put up, and now all say, “What would we have done without the second storey for this building? We could not possibly have got along this winter without the main building.” 12LtMs, Lt 33, 1897, par. 25

But our small meeting room accommodates only very few, and more students are expected. We have need of means, and if you or any of our New Bedford or Dartmouth friends feel it a privilege to invest the Lord’s means, lent you by Him, we will thank the Lord for any help you can render. In doing this work you will be laying up treasure in heaven. May the Lord strengthen and bless you, Gilbert, and give you His Holy Spirit in large measure, is the prayer of your sister in Christ. 12LtMs, Lt 33, 1897, par. 26