Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 12 (1897)

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Lt 99, 1897

Olsen, Brother and Sister

Sunnyside, Cooranbong, New South Wales, Australia

August 19, 1897

Portions of this letter are published in 3MR 274; 6MR 265; 4Bio 294. +Note

Dear Brother and Sister Olsen:

I can write you only a few lines. I had purposed to wrote more than this, but I have been interrupted by several council meetings and some visitors that I was compelled to see. This morning I rise at a quarter past three to do this writing. We have received your letter and were glad to hear from you. Last Monday the American mail left here. I have not been able to write much. My head and my heart need rest and freedom from the strain of anxiety, but how to obtain the desired rest remains a problem that I am not able to solve. 12LtMs, Lt 99, 1897, par. 1

W. C. White will not, I fear, be able to return to Australia before school closes. We greatly hope that he will come, for it would be unfortunate if he was not here. But we must leave all this in the hands of God. W. C. White’s house is now finished within and without. We now have a comfortable, little one-story cottage for him to enjoy when he returns home. He will have for matters to take his mind from the outside, and occupy his thoughts. 12LtMs, Lt 99, 1897, par. 2

We see more and more the wisdom of our locating away from the cities. The other day we paid the fare of Brother Robb from Ashfield to Cooranbong, that he might see if he could not obtain a place where he could raise his own produce and do some kind of work that will give him a living. He is in the cab business; but he cannot support his family at this. 12LtMs, Lt 99, 1897, par. 3

We shall try to help our poor brethren to help themselves. Their children need the advantages of the school. We hope that the way will open for Brother Robb. 12LtMs, Lt 99, 1897, par. 4

Brother James, my farmer, has a large family of children. They are excellent little ones, but he says that the primary school that we have started has made a great change in them for the better. 12LtMs, Lt 99, 1897, par. 5

Our school now numbers eighty, and there is no room to accommodate one more student. We must now move out of the upper room in the school building, where we have been assembling on the Sabbath, and finish off the upper story as lodging rooms. We must arise and build a church, plain, but no shame. All that we build is to be such as will recommend itself and correspond with the faith and truth we profess to love. 12LtMs, Lt 99, 1897, par. 6

We have had a hard strain upon us in instructing the students that they must be restrained. Two students, especially, have made us some trouble. They have never known what it means to be restrained. Upright principles, conscientious sentiments, have not been brought into their life experience. We knew that these young men, who have never had high and noble thoughts, but who have followed impulse, whose course of action has been an offense to God, would demoralize the school unless they turned square about and made a change answering to the words addressed to Nicodemus, “Ye must be born again.” [John 3:7.] We knew that unless they did this, they would receive no help, but harm only. 12LtMs, Lt 99, 1897, par. 7

I have had much to do morning after morning in setting matters before students and teachers in regard to the claims the Lord has upon them. In Brother and Sister Haskell, the Lord has sent us the right help. Both are a perfect fit in doing the work. Both are giving Bible lessons, and they work very hard. Their influence tells. Both have a treasure house of knowledge from which to draw. There seems to be a mutual adaptation to the work. I think I should not have been able to hold them in Cooranbong had I not insisted that they should not leave me. When I had gone as far as I possibly could in carrying the responsibilities, and was presenting our situation day and night before God, the light came even before the marriage of Brother and Sister Haskell, “I have provided help in my servant (Brother Haskell). I will be with his mouth, and he shall speak My Word, and it shall prosper.” 12LtMs, Lt 99, 1897, par. 8

Thus you see we have reason to hold Elder Haskell to do the very work God has given him to do. The Lord revealed that he had in Sister Hurd provided a matron and teacher. As she united her interests with Brother Haskell, they would be the help we needed here; and thus it has been. Most earnest calls have been made for them, and if the Lord had not shown me that He had provided this help for me, I would not have said, “You cannot have them.” I am grateful to my heavenly Father for the provision made, and for the clear light given, for I can now say, No, and not feel condemned for selfishness in retaining them. Brother Haskell’s perceptive powers are good. He presents truth in a clear, simple, earnest manner that carries its own evidence with it to the hearts of those that hear it. As matron and teacher, Sister Haskell could not be excelled. She is firm as a rock to principle, and she has no special favorites. She loves all, and helps all. 12LtMs, Lt 99, 1897, par. 9

The burden resting upon Brother Hughes has been great. With Brother and Sister Haskell and myself, he has felt that we must be wise as serpents and harmless as doves, that every teacher must be worked by the Holy Spirit else they will only do harm. The Lord alone can keep them full of the kindliness of Christ, enabling them to hold fast holy, lofty aspirations in all their methods, and to cultivate a storehouse of heaven-born persuasion and eloquence in order to secure success in the inculcation of sentiments and ideas that will transform the natural character, and constitute the students sons and daughters of God. 12LtMs, Lt 99, 1897, par. 10

These lines of work cost taxing labor. Every teacher must first reverence the pure and holy sentiments and lessons of Christ as the highest and most essential point of education. In their inmost soul the teachers must themselves cultivate and honor that which is pure, holy, elevated, and ennobling. No cheap words must be uttered; no vacillating purpose followed in practicing true restraint over themselves. Without this, all the learning of years of scholastic life, all the skill of logic, is useless. A creative imagination cannot supply the lack of a proper, high, pure, all-round symmetrical character. All immorality, all loose, cheap, unchaste ideas, all impurity of any kind, not only impairs the Christian experience, but destroys the inward spiritual adornment. 12LtMs, Lt 99, 1897, par. 11

The vices in which young men indulge impart their nature to the soul. Low, cheap food given to the mind means a low, cheap character. Selfish gratifications become woven into the texture of the life. The moral appetite is perverted. Vulgar thoughts, cheap reading, are demoralizing. If this is the fountain from which they choose to drink, the taste soon becomes as coarse and vile as the books and the associates chosen. Guilt and dishonor are in this path; but this is not the worst feature of such offenses. A stain is made upon the imagination. The soul is defiled. Habits are formed for wrong, and a disability comes over the human being that seems to defy all restoration. A noble power is lost, which some will never be successful in recovering. Quick as a flash, ideas of a degrading, defiling character take possession of the mind. The persons may repent, and the Lord will pardon their transgression, but the mind is marred, and its scars tell the painful story. 12LtMs, Lt 99, 1897, par. 12

Students of hopeful intellect, possessing qualifications that are desirable, are plagued and hampered in their religious experience and in the development of Christian character, because their association with persons of low conceptions and cheap habits places them on Satan’s battleground with a sense of incompetence to retain and hold a fragrant influence. The whole life is neutralized in its effort to be a polished instrument in the hands of God, to do His work and glorify His name. The hours of relaxation are not a blessing, because the wearied mind takes a downward tendency and the poison of past experience is constantly seeking to obtain the victory. 12LtMs, Lt 99, 1897, par. 13

I present the only remedy, Christ Jesus the Restorer. This is the reason I urge for the necessity of primary schools being established in every place where there is a church. Let the education of the youth be guarded from the earliest years. Keep the truth ever before them in a most attractive form. The Word of God is full of beautiful lessons, and the primary grade prepares pupils for the higher grade. 12LtMs, Lt 99, 1897, par. 14

The youth should be soberminded. No foolish jesting or joking should be allowed in their school associations or in their lodging rooms. As the result, they will not be gloomy but cheerful. The mind will take an upward, heavenward tendency, and they are not called upon to uproot from the mind and character the influence of words or actions of a low, cheap order. The Lord Jesus will, if they ask Him, give them, as He gave to Daniel, the resource of a moral and intellectual power that will make them highly useful, and prepared for any crisis, any duty, that may arise. 12LtMs, Lt 99, 1897, par. 15

I therefore have a high sense of what the schools among Seventh-day Adventists should be and what the teachers should be, in order to give the youth culture in every line. All, whatever their habits may have been, if they will accept the yoke of restraint, if they will receive the lessons given by the greatest teacher the world ever knew, are bound to become men and women whom the Lord will not be ashamed to call brethren, for He has prepared for them a city, and all who enter into that city are pure and undefiled. Revelation 19:8, 9. 12LtMs, Lt 99, 1897, par. 16