Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 12 (1897)

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Lt 147, 1897

White, J. E.

“Sunnyside,” Cooranbong, New South Wales, Australia

September 12, 1897

Portions of this letter are published in 1MR 41; 4MR 361.

Dear Son Edson:

I learn that the Vancouver mail leaves Sydney next Monday, and I have no letter written specially for you. 12LtMs, Lt 147, 1897, par. 1

Yesterday I spoke to the people assembled in the upper room of the school building. There are now quite a number of students—seventy-five enrolled, and no less than eight more have just moved into Cooranbong. The school has done excellent spiritual work. The Bible lessons have been fresh and interesting. We have all felt that we have been highly favored in having the help of Brother and Sister Haskell. The Lord sent them to us in our time of great necessity, and all appreciate their help. They have been, under the guidance of our heavenly Father, a strength and great blessing to our school. We will consider it a great blessing if we can possibly keep them through our next term of school. The conviction of the Spirit of God is upon every one who came here unconverted and undisciplined. 12LtMs, Lt 147, 1897, par. 2

The son of a prince from Tahiti is here. He knew nothing about religion, but now seems under conviction. He knew nothing in regard to the Sabbath. He has been here about six weeks, and his heart is touched. He hears the Bible lessons given in the school, and is learning the English language. He cannot speak this very well yet. Sister Haskell and Sister Wilson take turns in educating him, giving him private lessons. 12LtMs, Lt 147, 1897, par. 3

He comes to them as a child to his mother, and they answer his questions. He shows that he has discernment and perception. He catches ideas quickly, and then repeats the lesson given him, that they may correct him if he misconstrues, for he says he must have everything correctly, and must understand our reasons from the Scriptures, for this alone will convince his people. 12LtMs, Lt 147, 1897, par. 4

He is a strong, well-proportioned man. In feeding a machine, he got too near the sharp machinery, and lost his right arm above the elbow. Therefore he feels that he must obtain all the knowledge possible, that he can be an instructor. His ways are pleasant. He has come under the discipline of all the rules. He has used the pipe, but not since he came to the school, and he is perfectly respectful and kind. 12LtMs, Lt 147, 1897, par. 5

We expect this young man will be converted, and baptized at our camp meeting, to be held in Sydney commencing the 13th of October. This young prince, as we call him, is now seeking the Lord. He is often found in prayer in some out-of-the-way place, and a great change has taken place in him. 12LtMs, Lt 147, 1897, par. 6

Sister Nicholia is a half-caste and a Christian. She has been a missionary in Tahiti, and has received the Sabbath, but no farther light. She is now studying the sleep of the dead, baptism, and all the points of doctrine we hold. 12LtMs, Lt 147, 1897, par. 7

We have three other young men who came here with a knowledge of the principles of our faith, but were unconverted. We have carried through a straight line of discipline, and these three young men threatened to leave if they could not have more liberty to mix with the girls and have all kinds of fun and frolic and pranks. But I would go into the school, and read the articles I have written on education. Then the Bible lessons were presented in a simple, humble style so that all could understand them. 12LtMs, Lt 147, 1897, par. 8

We told these youth plainly that if they decided that they could not behave like Christian gentlemen, they could go; and more than that, we would not keep them in the school. We would give their friends and parents the reasons for our doing this, for we would not have two or three students demoralizing the school. We would have perfect submission from men and women, and youth and children. We told them that they were not here to educate others in their frivolity, and cheap, low, common nonsense. They had had enough of this all their life time to spoil their characters for usefulness, and we would not have them educating the students. They could make their decision whether they would be on the right side or the wrong side. If they expected that fun and frolic and cheapness of character was to be developed here, they made a great mistake, and had better take themselves to some school that would tolerate their misbehavior. 12LtMs, Lt 147, 1897, par. 9

This is the line we have drawn. There are fifty students in the home, and at the table there is no cheap talk or laughter allowed. We determined, we told them, to keep ever before them that there was a Witness to all their transactions. Their words, their thoughts, their actions, were all open before that all-seeing eye. And the teachers were made accountable for the misdeeds of the students. This was their work. The students if they chose, could make the work much lighter, by seeking individually to be Christian ladies and gentlemen. But as soon as they decided that it was not agreeable to them to exercise Christian deference and respect and politeness to the teachers and their fellow students, they were at liberty to leave the school and return from whence they came. If they had never felt and respected the principles of control and submission, it was high time, for their individual interests, to learn these essential lessons. We determined that we would not, while at the expense of putting up buildings, and opening a school at low prices for room, board, and tuition, while having the students highly favored with the most precious instruction, have a few tolerated, who would counteract the work which we were exercising every power to accomplish, and make the school such as God should approve. 12LtMs, Lt 147, 1897, par. 10

We must have the Holy Spirit; we must co-operate with the Holy Spirit’s teaching. Then the students will be educated to turn from the cheap, foolish talking, from fun and pranks. They will learn to resist the suggestions of Satan which keeps them on a low level. When they have a hunger for Bible studies, and a love and fear for God; when they shall bring themselves into subjection to the requirements of God, bringing even their thoughts into captivity to the will of Jesus Christ, they will advance to a higher education which is highly essential for them if they would have a knowledge of God, and of Jesus Christ whom He has sent. And they will find themselves in a pure and fragrant atmosphere, ready to hear the voice of God, and to say, “Here am I, Lord; send me.” [Isaiah 6:8.] They will have something more worthy to communicate than the interchange of cheap, common nonsensical things, such as unbelievers entertain and dwell upon. 12LtMs, Lt 147, 1897, par. 11

We want to impress upon the students that there is a most earnest work to be done in the schools. We are living at a time when we should realize that a moment lost is lost for all eternity. And we want every word and action to tell to our personal acquiring of knowledge and sound principles, that we may not have to leave them behind when we are promoted to the higher grade. We are to make all the use possible of our talents and capabilities in this life of probation, for this will decide our future eternal destiny in the higher grade. If we misuse our time and are reckless of these our present opportunities, if we will not appreciate the present blessings granted us, to learn the will and mind and ways of God in regard to us in this life, we will not have a desire and will to know His will concerning us in the future immortal life. This present life, day by day, hour by hour, is granted us to try, to prove, to test us whether we will be true and obedient to all God’s requirements in the future life. 12LtMs, Lt 147, 1897, par. 12

When so much is at stake, should we not tread carefully? Should we not, young and old, be sober and watch unto prayer? There are obscurities that we do not understand in regard to the common things of life. Grave blunders are made. Even minds that are supposed to be capable of judging carefully and prudently make strange movements because the attributes of self which are not precious and agreeable to the will of our heavenly Father, have been carried along with us. There are special communications which the Lord makes through His word and His Spirit which always agree; but some peculiar bias of mind, some cultivated traits of character, make it impossible for the Lord to work us by His Holy Spirit because we think we know how to work ourselves. 12LtMs, Lt 147, 1897, par. 13

We have had, at this term of school, precious opportunities and privileges that are of great value to every soul who has been willing to learn and apply his perceptive powers to understand. But all who have misconceived opinions and principles because they have entertained them, hold them fast as too precious to yield in order to obtain the most precious knowledge of the true bearing of the Word of God upon all the movements of their daily life. These will lose much which they might have obtained, and that loss will prevent them from advancing in the light which God has given them opportunities to obtain. They have not mental or spiritual appetite to eat and digest; therefore the second advance steps could not be made in following the Lamb whithersoever He goeth. 12LtMs, Lt 147, 1897, par. 14

The more closely and studiously we search for the truth as for hidden treasure—for there are bright and important truths of which we now only discern the shadows—the more surely shall we advance in the light as He is in the light. We shall discern the brightness and value of truth to be as precious jewels. The voice of God is heard, but we may be so far away from Him that we can only hear the echo. There are words of instruction coming from God day by day, and in an hour that we know not He may give words to His chosen messengers for us which we lose for want of discernment and appreciation. Then we go stumbling along in the uncertainty of night, and know not at what we stumble. There is a brightening glory for us as we advance, but which we shall never see unless we do advance. We may catch a few sparks, but that is all. The brightness of the heavenly glory we do not see. Therefore we cannot talk of it, or pray about it. 12LtMs, Lt 147, 1897, par. 15

But our school has been blessed of the Lord. We are very thankful to our heavenly Father that it has advanced, and we see the students working with a determination to success. The unruly elements have come into submission to rules and order, and we now have the satisfaction of knowing that the ones most ignorant of practical religion are now under the conviction of the Spirit of God. Their testimony yesterday was, “The last week has been the happiest week of my life.” I hope this week of prayer will close with their decisions fully made to be on the right side, and no longer on the wrong. 12LtMs, Lt 147, 1897, par. 16