Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 18 (1903)


Lt 229, 1903

White, J. E.; White, W. C.

“Elmshaven,” St. Helena, California

September 27, 1903

This letter is published in entirety in 21MR 439-441.

Dear Sons, Edson and Willie,—

In the night season matters have been presented to me regarding the books Patriarchs and Prophets and Great Controversy. It has been my prayer that we might receive light and counsel from the Lord and be led and guided by Him as to how far we should go in making changes for a new and improved edition of these books. 18LtMs, Lt 229, 1903, par. 1

We seemed to be in a council meeting, where the matter of resetting these two books was being considered. The question arose as to how this would be regarded by those who have purchased the book in its present form and by the publishing houses that have many books on hand. After considering the question, prayer was offered. 18LtMs, Lt 229, 1903, par. 2

Our Counselor was with us and spoke in reference to the right way of conducting our book work. He said that at this stage of the work great care must be taken to avoid friction. A new edition produced by resetting the whole book and bringing it out in a more attractive style would mean loss to Review and Herald and Pacific Press, because when the new edition is introduced, the books that are already prepared will be difficult of disposal. We must be careful not to place a stumbling block before those who have a stock of these books on hand. 18LtMs, Lt 229, 1903, par. 3

Our institutions must be carefully guarded against unnecessary losses and also against temptation and trials coming to the workers connected with them. Each worker is to help his brethren; each institution to help the other institutions. 18LtMs, Lt 229, 1903, par. 4

The Word of God can always be relied upon. “My covenant will I not break,” He says, “nor alter the thing that is gone out of My lips.” [Psalm 89:34.] “A soft answer turneth away wrath.” [Proverbs 15:1.] 18LtMs, Lt 229, 1903, par. 5

When several parties have on hand [a] large stock of certain books, nothing should be done in bringing out new editions by one office, without consulting with those who already have quantities of the old edition on hand. In every action care must be exercised not to take a course that will bring loss upon our institutions. We must deal in all things with equity and with sanctified judgment. 18LtMs, Lt 229, 1903, par. 6

Another reason why I cannot enter into a plan that means large expense to me is that I am short of means. I have to borrow money to invest in necessary new books. Therefore while the old plates are able to be used with a few changes, which can be made at little cost, and which would improve the book somewhat, I am convinced that we should not go further than this. Sometime in the future the way may be opened for other changes that have been suggested. 18LtMs, Lt 229, 1903, par. 7

But now I am distressed for means with which to live and to pay my workers. I am seeking to follow the light given me not to become deeper involved in debt, but to do all I can to free myself from debt. And while we have not the capital to invest, I do not see how we can reset these books. It must not be done. 18LtMs, Lt 229, 1903, par. 8

Even though these books do not sell as readily as they would if thoroughly revised, yet the resetting of them will place upon me a heavier burden than I am able to bear. I do not want another experience such as I had with Desire of Ages. I might have consented to a considerable outlay of means, had not the Lord instructed me that there would be dissatisfaction created, because a new edition would render the old editions unsaleable. I want my every movement to be true to God and to maintain the principles of His law. I must love Him supremely and my neighbor as myself. 18LtMs, Lt 229, 1903, par. 9

Let there be an interest awakened in the sale of these books. Their sale is essential; for they contain timely instruction from the Lord. They should be appreciated as books that bring to the people light that is especially needed just now. Therefore these books should be widely distributed. Those who make a careful study of the instruction contained in them, and will receive it as from the Lord, will be kept from receiving many of the errors that are being introduced. Those who accept the truths contained in these books will not be led into false paths. 18LtMs, Lt 229, 1903, par. 10

Many will depart from the faith and give heed to seducing spirits. Patriarchs and Prophets and Great Controversy are books that are especially adapted to those who have newly come to the faith, that they may be established in the truth. The dangers are pointed out that should be avoided by the churches. Those who become thoroughly acquainted with the lessons in these books will see the dangers before them and will be able to discern the plain, straight path marked out for them. They will be kept from strange paths. They will make straight paths for their feet, lest the lame be turned out of the way. 18LtMs, Lt 229, 1903, par. 11

In Desire of Ages, Patriarchs and Prophets, Great Controversy, and in Daniel and the Revelation, there is precious instruction. These books must be regarded as of special importance, and every effort should be made to get them before the people. 18LtMs, Lt 229, 1903, par. 12

We are warned to avoid the mistakes that the Israelites made in obstinately refusing to receive the warnings that came to them from God. So persistently did they pursue a course of backsliding that all but two of the adults who left Egypt died in the wilderness. Their children who entered the land of Canaan were warned to refrain from following the course that their fathers had taken. They were told that it was because of the obstinacy of their fathers, their unbelief, and their idolatry that the wrath of God had been poured out for their destruction. 18LtMs, Lt 229, 1903, par. 13

“Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, today if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness: when your fathers tempted Me, proved Me, and saw My works forty years. Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do alway err in their heart; and they have not known My ways. So I sware in My wrath, They shall not enter into My rest.) Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God.” [Hebrews 3:7-12.] 18LtMs, Lt 229, 1903, par. 14

The children of Israel might have known the ways of God; for the truth had been kept before them. Again and again it had been repeated, but they did not follow its teachings. They divorced themselves from God and followed after the wisdom of men who were not under the direction of God. 18LtMs, Lt 229, 1903, par. 15

“So I sware in My wrath, they shall not enter into My rest. Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called Today; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end; while it is said, Today if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts as in the provocation. For some, when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses. But with whom was He grieved forty years? Was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcasses fell in the wilderness? And to whom sware He that they should not enter into His rest, but to them that believed not? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.” [Verses 11-19.] 18LtMs, Lt 229, 1903, par. 16

These words are plain and simple. The fourth chapter of Hebrews also sets forth our danger of failing as did the Israelites, of entering into our rest, because of unbelief. 18LtMs, Lt 229, 1903, par. 17

Before the Review and Herald building was destroyed, I thought of taking these books in my hands and of having them reset. But conditions have changed. The Review and Herald has moved to Washington. I want to see things so adjusted that the book work will be taken hold of intelligently, conducted with fairness and equity to all concerned. “Equity” means a great deal. I want to see the Review and Herald standing on the true foundation, where all who have an interest in it are doing all in their power to establish unity with other branches of the work. If they do not care to have the plates, than we will have it printed elsewhere, but we must have no issues in any matter if we can avoid it. 18LtMs, Lt 229, 1903, par. 18

Time is nearing its close. I want every transaction to show the marks of unselfishness. 18LtMs, Lt 229, 1903, par. 19