Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 3 (1876 - 1882)




Lt 1, 1877

Brother and Sister

Oakland, California

December 17, 1877

Portions of this letter are published in AH 353-356, 359; CG 544; 6MR 40-41, 47-49.

Dear Brother and Sister _____:

There are a few things I want to say to you, and I can do this better by letter than by word of mouth. 3LtMs, Lt 1, 1877, par. 1

Brother _____, I see before you a solemn and responsible work as a minister of the gospel. You have good abilities, and if they are sanctified, God can use you in His service; but you are in danger of trusting too much to yourself, and of failing to make God your whole dependence. When a man accepts the responsibilities of a minister, he claims to be a mouthpiece for God, to take the words from the mouth of God, and give them to the people. How closely then he should keep at the side of the Great Shepherd; how humbly he should walk before God, keeping self out of sight and exalting Christ. And how important it is that the character of his wife be after the Bible pattern and that his children be in subjection with all gravity. 3LtMs, Lt 1, 1877, par. 2

The wife of a minister of the gospel can be either a most successful helper and a great blessing to her husband or a hindrance to him in his work. It depends very much on the wife, whether a minister will rise from day to day in his sphere of usefulness, or whether he will sink to the ordinary level. 3LtMs, Lt 1, 1877, par. 3

I have been shown some things with reference to _____’s traits of character, and I now feel it to be my duty to write you; for unless changes are made, she will be a drawback to her husband in his work. _____ is naturally selfish. In her home life she has shunned responsibilities and has been ready to let others perform the duties which devolved upon her. This is a bad experience and warps the character. She has shunned caretaking; and if this spirit is carried into her married life, it will be a great hindrance to her. 3LtMs, Lt 1, 1877, par. 4

She must learn to bear the responsibilities she has shunned, for she is now a mother and has a mother’s cares and responsibilities. There is danger that the deficiencies manifest in her character will be molded into her married life, and that she will neglect to perform the duties she owes to her child. A mother has greater work to do for her child than merely to feed, and dress, and caress it. There are strenuous duties connected with the training of a child. I see that you are both neglecting those duties. Your child rules you. She controls you, and in permitting this you are not doing your duty. 3LtMs, Lt 1, 1877, par. 5

Now is the time to restrain and control your child. Teach her that her will is not to bear sway, but that what you require of her must be carried out. Do not deceive yourself, as many parents have done, by thinking that children when in their babyhood should not be required to obey, that if they are left to follow their own will and way, they will, as they become older, outgrow their wrong traits of character. Those who reason in this way find to their sorrow that as the twig is bent the tree’s inclined. Little pranks and errors may seem to be amusing when the child is a baby, and they may be permitted and encouraged; but as the child grows older, they become disgusting and offensive. 3LtMs, Lt 1, 1877, par. 6

The work of education and training should commence with the babyhood of the child; for then the mind is the most impressible, and the lessons given are remembered. Do not let your inclination to shun responsibilities lead you to neglect the proper discipline of your child. Restrain her; give her much attention; teach her submission in her early years. Do your duty to her patiently and decidedly, with firmness and love. If you allow her to have her own way, and to control you as she has done, you can be of no use to your husband in traveling with him or visiting the people. Do not let your child grow up gnarled and crooked in character because of your neglect to do your duty. 3LtMs, Lt 1, 1877, par. 7

I have been shown that if a minister and his wife unite in labor, they should show themselves patterns of piety. If they take their children with them, the children should be subject to them, well disciplined and obedient; for if the parents have not sufficient judgment to control their own children, they cannot properly minister to the church of God, or preserve it from broils or insubordination. 3LtMs, Lt 1, 1877, par. 8

If properly carried on, the training of the children of a minister will illustrate the lessons he gives in the desk. But if, by the wrong education he has given his children, a minister shows his incapacity to govern and control, he needs to learn that God requires him to properly discipline the children given him before he can do his duty as shepherd of the flock of God. 3LtMs, Lt 1, 1877, par. 9

There is so great a deficiency in the proper training of children that God has given me a testimony of reproof for parents who treat their children as you do your little one. Until you can be united in the work of properly disciplining your child, let the wife remain with her child away from the scene of her husband’s labors; for no example of lax, loose discipline should be given to the church of God. 3LtMs, Lt 1, 1877, par. 10

I have known many ministers who were unwise enough to travel about, taking with them an unruly child. Their labors in the pulpit were counteracted by the unlovely tempers manifested by their children. 3LtMs, Lt 1, 1877, par. 11

Your child should be taught to obey as the children of God obey Him. If this standard is maintained, a word from you will have some weight when your child is restless in the house of God. But if the children cannot be restrained, if the parents feel that the restraint is too much of an exaction, the child should be removed from the church at once; it should not be left to divert the minds of the hearers by talking or running about. God is dishonored by the loose way in which parents manage their children while at church. If children are taken into church, they should be taught obedience. The minister should instruct the people upon the government of children, and his own children should be examples of proper subjection. Your own deficiency upon this point is so apparent that I must urge upon you the necessity of prompt and immediate action. 3LtMs, Lt 1, 1877, par. 12

Dear _____, Christ is the pattern we are required to follow if we would meet the Bible standard. Self-denial and self-sacrifice are exemplified in His life. We cannot have too exalted an idea of the life and character of Christ; and if we do not exalt our lives and characters to meet this divine standard, we fail to do our duty. There is a great work before you, my sister. Begin at once, with determination and persevering energy to meet the Bible requirements. You have failed during your lifetime to lighten the burdens of others, and God calls upon you to no longer neglect your duty in this respect. With the help of Christ lift the burdens directly in your path. 3LtMs, Lt 1, 1877, par. 13