Ellen White wrote this pointed yet encouraging letter to her 19-year-old son Edson on April 29, 1869. It is one of the never-before-published letters released by the Ellen G. White Estate on the 100th anniversary of White’s death.
I wish to speak a few words more to you. Notwithstanding your past life has not been such as to please yourself or us, yet our Advocate still lives to make intercession for us. He is pleading His blood before His Father in our behalf.
My son, if you seek for happiness in the right way, you can find it. You have been restless and unsatisfied with yourself and others, but think candidly, From whence does this state of unrest arise? I have some knowledge of the cause of this unsatisfied feeling. You have not assurance that you are in the way of your duty. You do not carry your religion with you in your daily trials. God will be to you your ever true and sympathizing friend. He has entreated you to cast your care upon Him. In the strength of God you may become a pattern of prudence, or uprightness, nobleness, and what is more highly desirable, of true goodness.
You try to find Jesus. You try to pray, but frequently give up the struggle for victory, because you do not feel relief at once, and an assurance of the love of God. But, my son, you should not become easily turned from your purpose. Says the divine Teacher, Agonize to enter in at the straight gate, for many, I say unto you, shall seek to enter in and shall not be able. You cannot overcome in your own strength. God alone can help you. Then take hold of His strength and do not let go for a moment. Urge your case, even if relief and help seem at a distance. Cast yourself just as you are upon His mercy and plead as did Jacob until you prevail and your captivity is turned. I know you suffer trials of mind and have fierce conflicts with self and Satan, but renew the warfare every day. Face the past and make firm efforts to correct every wrong; confess and forsake, that when the time of refreshing shall come, you may stand spotless before God. I have perhaps expressed too great discouragements because of your many failings. You have many temptations and do not resist them as you should.
May the Lord help you that you may be stablished, strengthened and settled. We shall pray for you earnestly.
—Letter 2, 1869
(Photo: Ellen and James White with their sons Willie and Edson around 1865, from the Ellen G. White Estate.)