Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 2 (1869 - 1875)




Lt 1, 1871

Bailey, Brother and Sister

Battle Creek, Michigan

January 3, 1871

This letter is published in entirety in DG 208-210.

Dear Friends, Brother and Sister Bailey:

I have been feeling it to be my duty to write you since I have been writing for others the things that have been shown me in regard to them. I have had some things to write to you but have not felt free to write until now. When at your house if a favorable opportunity had presented, I should have spoken to you and relieved my mind. Since my returning home, I do not feel free unless I write to you. 2LtMs, Lt 1, 1871, par. 1

I have had much writing to do in regard to the errors of parents in properly instructing their children and the result upon their children. Your course was opened before me. You have both been too indulgent to your children. Your dangers and errors are not seen and realized so fully as to lead you to take a position you should in your family and command your household after you. 2LtMs, Lt 1, 1871, par. 2

God in His great mercy has brought to your knowledge the truth. You love the truth. You see its claims upon you. It has wrought a reformation in the life and led you to have a deep interest in the spiritual welfare of your children. All this is in accordance with the Spirit of God. But while you feel thus anxious you fail seriously to do the work the Lord had left you as parents to do. Your children have not been restrained. They have been indulged to their injury. They have not been brought into subjection as God requires. 2LtMs, Lt 1, 1871, par. 3

There has been a serious lack with you in the training of your children. Your daughter especially has been petted. Your sons have not been educated aright. Your daughter has been petted and indulged until her practical usefulness is very small. Her attention has been mostly directed to herself until her mind has become supremely selfish and centered upon herself. If she has had indisposition, she is averse to labor. She has been favored and excused from any exertion. You have talked before her that she was not well. Her imagination has been excited in this direction. The mother has borne the heavy burdens she should have shared with the daughter and with her sons. The mother would have been spared much suffering in consequence of acute attacks by disease, could she have had the help she might have had from her children, especially her daughter, which labor would have been the greatest benefit to the daughter healthwise and saved her from sickness and been a blessing to her mother. 2LtMs, Lt 1, 1871, par. 4

She is a girl so constituted that unless she has active exercise and engages in labor with cheerfulness, she will realize a stagnation of the blood, and is in danger of fever, paralysis, or apoplexy. She is of a bilious temperament. Inactivity, yielding to despondency and discontent, will produce an inactive liver. This organ will become dormant and the entire system will be filled with waste matter. Impurities of the system could be thrown off most successfully through the exhalations of the body, if all who are indisposed would stimulate nerve and muscle by activity in every department of household labor. The organs of the body must be kept in use in order to act their part healthfully. 2LtMs, Lt 1, 1871, par. 5

Another evil which threatens to destroy the usefulness of your daughter is a love of the world, and pride of appearance. She has cherished an affectation which is death to spirituality. 2LtMs, Lt 1, 1871, par. 6

Sister Bailey, you have committed a serious error in bringing up your children. Just as the twig is bent, the tree inclines. Your petting and excusing their errors and disrespect of your authority, has stood directly in the way of their salvation. Children who are not trained to be courteous and to yield to the claims of their parents, will not have a sense of their duty to God and His claims upon them for obedience and submission. 2LtMs, Lt 1, 1871, par. 7

Your daughter has professedly yielded her heart to Christ. But she has failed to obtain a religious experience, and has not borne fruit to [the] glory of God. Your daughter has not yet discerned the true Fountain of the living waters. She has not a clear sense of the Source of her strength, of her joy, and salvation. Selfish pleasure and inclination have been followed, and the call of duty has been neglected. When your daughter discerns the way of true happiness, there will be a marked change in her life. Her spirit and her deportment will be of altogether a different character. Self will then be no longer consulted and indulged. At this shrine she will no longer bow. When the transformation takes place in her which can be compared with the change from life to death, then there will be a marked change in the motives and in the affections. She can say, The things I once loved, I now hate. The things I once hated, I now love. 2LtMs, Lt 1, 1871, par. 8

A cheerful, happy, contented mind will never be found with those who are loving, petting and living for their own selfish pleasure, those who are seeking for happiness by gratifying their own desires, seeking for change and amusement, repining and complaining of ills and disappointments. If the attention is mainly devoted to the service of self, that mind that has no higher aim, will be barren, desolate and unsatisfied. Happiness is not found by those who are seeking for it. In the path of duty there is happiness. Doing good to others, forgetfulness of self, will result in peace and happiness. Unless your daughter meets with a thorough conversion, she will be weighed in the balance and found wanting. Her conversion is too superficial. She has not laid the foundation right. Storms, adversity and winds will carry away the house that is not built upon the rock, but on sliding sand. A circumstantial religion will not stand the trial of the day of the God. Frivolity and foolish talking and jesting and joking is classed in the Word of God with filthiness, fornication, and all uncleanness. Ephesians 5:3. 2LtMs, Lt 1, 1871, par. 9

I ask myself frequently, How does God regard the clownish witticism of young men of this degenerate age, and the vain trifling, simpering affection of young girls? Especially is this grievous in the sight of God when found in those who profess to be bearing the cross of Christ. 2LtMs, Lt 1, 1871, par. 10

Those who are Christ’s followers cannot find their delight in the society of worldlings or in seeking amusements in any society where they would not and could not welcome the Redeemer. How do angels regard the worldly-loving spirit of professed followers of Jesus? Love for dress or for selfish pleasure or vain amusements are positively forbidden in the Word of God. Your daughter needs a work accomplished for her at this critical age which cannot be done without the power of divine grace. 2LtMs, Lt 1, 1871, par. 11

Oh, my dear Sister Bailey, indulgence is the barrier you and your husband have erected to debar your children from submission to God and a religious experience and from forming characters for heaven. Could you have labored for the present and future well being of your loved ones by teaching them self-control, mingled with respect and noble self-independence, you would have done a noble work, which God and heavenly angels would approbate, and which would have been returned to you in blessings to your own heart in this life, and blessing and happiness to your children. As parents, you have terribly neglected the work God has left you to do in the training of your children. You have shrunk from the labor and duty of controlling your house. They do not respect and love you more for your indulgence. No, no, for this very indulgence has made them selfish, proud, headstrong, unyielding and bigoted. It is impossible for a selfish person to have true love for others. Love is of so fine a quality, so heavenly in its nature, that but few have the genuine article. Your children, who share your bounty and hospitality, should be made to understand that in return they must show obedience and respect for your authority. Your children will yet be without the grace of God, where they will cause you heartaches and the keenest pangs of anguish without one feeling of remorse. They will consider the slightest restraint an invasion of their rights and will despise reproof. 2LtMs, Lt 1, 1871, par. 12

Your children lost the benefits of the early training they should have had, but now you should change your discipline entirely and redeem your neglect. Your children lack those noble, desirable qualities of mind which right discipline and self-culture would have given them. Your children are not courteous, neither are they respectful. You listen to words from their lips that you should not permit under your roof. The young who are not restrained at an early age become their own masters and their own mistresses. They take the reins in their own hands. They are self-important, self-conceited, and impetuous, and do not have much taste or ambition for self-respect or to discipline their mind by close application to anything. They will not be restrained. They despise school discipline, for they have not been disciplined at home. 2LtMs, Lt 1, 1871, par. 13

If youth are permitted to be independent and coarse and uncourteous at home, they will be the same in school and their bad example will prove a great injury to others. The youth mingling together should seek to cultivate manners which would be an advantage to their future success in life and should make daily improvements, making every circumstance tell for their good in developing their intellectual faculties. They can, like the lily of the pond, gather the good, tending to nourish purity and flourish amid the slime and impurities of the pond, but reach down deep beneath the surface and gather only the properties for itself which nourish its beauty and purity, rejecting that which is unfavorable to the development of its spotless purity. 2LtMs, Lt 1, 1871, par. 14

Youth who have had their own way and chosen their own course and been allowed to say and do very much as they pleased, will never be happy in any place, neither will they be subordinate to any authority. They will not choose the society of associates which are persons of good sense and of good improvement of mind and manners from whom they can derive some intellectual advantage from their association. They will choose the company of those whose minds are cast in an inferior mold, and will really despise those youth who possess amiable traits of character, who are willing to be controlled and to be instructed. Those who are selfish and unlovable, headstrong, disrespectful, “and unthankful and unholy, truce breakers, fierce, despisers of those that are good, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God,” are signs which characterize the last days just previous to the pouring out of the vials of God’s wrath. [2 Timothy 3:2-4.] 2LtMs, Lt 1, 1871, par. 15

You have your duty, Brother and Sister Bailey, marked out in the Word of God. The neglect of Eli in restraining his ungodly sons was given in history for the benefit of future generations, that fathers and mothers should take warning and shun the example of Eli. Your children are corrupting their ways before God. 2LtMs, Lt 1, 1871, par. 16

Sister Bailey, you love your children unwisely. Better would it have been for them and you if they had never been born as far as their influence in the world for good is concerned. This sad condition of things is because of your unfortunate tenderness and favoring and seeking to please while you have not restrained them. Your tears, your pleading, Sister Bailey, in behalf of your children, has had bad results. You have tied the hands of your husband. He was too lax. He did not command his household after him as he should have done and what government he would have exercised, Sister Bailey has warded off or turned aside and counteracted by her over-tenderness. She has let her feelings control her instead of sanctified judgment and sound wisdom, having the future happiness and welfare of her children in view. 2LtMs, Lt 1, 1871, par. 17

God is not pleased with Sister Bailey’s course in the management of her children. Remiss in duty, weighed in the balance and found wanting. This is a serious defect in a mother to be so tender of her children that she would allow sin upon them, allow them to be passionate, unthankful, disobedient, heady, high-minded and yet excuse this and cover it from other’s eyes and even from her own eyes. In this she is partaker of their wrongs and has been sustaining them in sin, and the blood of their souls will be in the skirts of her garments and their father’s. They can now redeem the past by a reformation on their part, but they can never blot out the results of their great neglect as far as their children are concerned. God holds parents responsible for the conduct of their children in a great degree, for they have the formation of their characters. Any neglect on the part of parents will be reflected back upon them in this life and will affect their future life. The character which has long been forming through a lifetime, if it is defective in several particulars, or even in one, when Christ comes, if that defect is not overcome before, they lose heaven. If it has been barely overcome at the last extremity, Christ when He comes does not change the character, but the mortal bodies to immortality. God has given man a lifetime to form his character. If he makes a failure through negligence, or for any other cause, this neglect is felt through all eternity. God will not be trifled with. His Word is to be our guide and if we will not appropriate the light and counsel and reproof of God’s Word to ourselves, and we be doers of the Word, the consequence will be upon ourselves. 2LtMs, Lt 1, 1871, par. 18

God has made you stewards of means. Be careful that you do not pursue a course that will bring the curse of God upon your property. If your means sustain your children in their wickedness, God will curse your means and you. If your means are squandered by your children, what can you as God’s stewards say when He calls you to account? Your children will be injured by means in their control. They will consume upon their lust in rioting and frivolity means which the Master will require at your hands. 2LtMs, Lt 1, 1871, par. 19

Self-culture will be the means of acquiring a vigorous reflecting and self-possessed mind. Noble qualities of mind are not obtained without patient effort, persevering cultivation of the mental, physical and moral powers. A course of self-discipline is most essential for the development and perfection of Christian character. Firmness, courage, industry and perseverance should be cultivated. These qualifications are essential to the formation of Christian character and should be sought after, cherished and exercised, for they lie at the foundation of usefulness and of success [in] this life, their success in this world and of their success in securing the future, immortal life. 2LtMs, Lt 1, 1871, par. 20

The youth generally of this age are not careful to obtain a thorough education to the end that they may be useful. They despise everything that savors of disciplining the minds. A large number of young men and women delight in novels and have an aversion for intellectual, useful, instructive reading. They shun almost everything like responsibilities or useful employment. They have not an aim or purpose in life. They are vacillating, incompetent in any emergency. If called to battle with adversity, they are weak as helpless babies. They will only murmur, repine and manifest discontent, be saucy and impertinent, while means are being lavished upon them by their parents. They feel no sense of mutual obligation. They lived in slothful idleness, playing or aping the gentleman, lounging about with nothing to do. They might have listened to wise counsel if they were teachable. There will be chapters in the experience of every youth that will try the soul, and which will need the exercise of wisdom and demand courage, perseverance, industry and energy in order to have self-reliance. 2LtMs, Lt 1, 1871, par. 21

Useful labor will not degrade any lady of refinement or gentleman of culture. But the ignorance and inability of the young to perform labor is that which degrades and gives even servants employed a superiority over the mistress because her skill and education in household labor is above the lady who employs her. 2LtMs, Lt 1, 1871, par. 22

If the youth in the days of peril, would make God their trust and their Counselor, they will bless others with their life and stand as pillars of strength, efficient in any position, seeking divine strength. Following the voice of duty, they will possess noble self-reliance in any position God may assign them. 2LtMs, Lt 1, 1871, par. 23

Your daughter is unfitted as far as useful life is concerned. Her imagination is more sick than her body is diseased. She is too fond of the society of young men. Her thoughts are not in obedience to the will of Christ. There is a vein of vanity and sickish sentimentalism in her organization which she must see before she can exert a good influence anywhere. The practical, homely, every-day duties of life have no charm for her, yet a love of these duties cultivated would have a tendency to wean her from day-dreaming, romantic castle-building, living in an unreal, imaginary world and finding her greatest happiness in the company of young men. 2LtMs, Lt 1, 1871, par. 24

Your daughter needs to be energized by active labor. She is far better able to work and bear her share of life’s burdens than for her mother to bear them for her. Work, every day, that will bring in action her muscles and the organs of the body, will be the best medicine your daughter can have. Delicate idleness is keeping her bilious and discontented and unhappy. 2LtMs, Lt 1, 1871, par. 25

In looking over and arranging my writings, I came across this testimony written some time ago. I related much of it to you at camp meeting and since that time lost track of the writing. It has been brought to my notice. I have copied it and send it to you. 2LtMs, Lt 1, 1871, par. 26

May God bless these lines to you, my brother and sister. 2LtMs, Lt 1, 1871, par. 27