Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 4 (1883 - 1886)


Lt 17, 1883

Brother Morton’s Children



Portions of this letter are published in OHC 264.

Brother Morton’s Children:

“Honor thy father and thy mother; that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.” [Exodus 20:12.] Here is a command to which is annexed a promise. Children, are you obeying this injunction? 4LtMs, Lt 17, 1883, par. 1

I have been shown the life and character of the two oldest children of Brother Morton, and I have waited anxiously to meet these children at this camp meeting that I might impress them, if possible, by relating to them how the great and holy God views their conduct. I have also wanted greatly to see the father and mother of this dear family of children that I might tell them some things which the Lord has shown me in reference to themselves; but I will have to write it out. I will send this letter to the children, for they do not know that their own course of action is shortening the lives of their father and mother. 4LtMs, Lt 17, 1883, par. 2

Children, will you take time to reflect on your course and consider how it will all end? Jesus has given to childhood and youth a perfect example. Study the Pattern, Christ Jesus, and copy it if you would be like Him—pure, holy, sinless, and undefiled. Study the childhood of Christ. He was the Son of God, yet the Bible record tells us He returned from Jerusalem and was subject unto His parents. The nature and necessity of obedience I urge upon you. Children are not always taught to obey. The sinfulness of disobedience is not urged home upon their consciences; their duty to obey from right motives is not plainly set before them. 4LtMs, Lt 17, 1883, par. 3

Jesus, the world’s Redeemer, did as He was told even if the task was not agreeable to His feelings. Obedience is an element of true greatness. No one can be truly good and great who has not learned to obey with alacrity. 4LtMs, Lt 17, 1883, par. 4

I have had your cases as children presented before me. I have seen God’s frown upon you. Your disobedience was an offense to God. When you will do your work for Christ’s sake, cheerfully doing your duties in love, then angels will bear the record to heaven and it will be written in the great book of God. You can each build up a character day by day which you will never afterward wish to have torn down. You may lay the foundation on Jesus Christ and build after the pattern of His life a useful, noble, symmetrical character. 4LtMs, Lt 17, 1883, par. 5

If you will remember, “The eye of God is upon me; He sees my conduct; He is a discerner of the thoughts, the intents, and the purposes of the heart;” if you [will] try to live to please Jesus [and] do the duties which you should do daily to be a help and blessing to your parents (to whom you are under obligation for their care, for the food which they prepare, [and] the clothing you wear); [you will find that] your duties will seem lighter and your life a grander thing than you have hitherto regarded it. You compose a part of the family; you add to the expense of the family and to its accumulation of work, and therefore should not excuse yourselves from doing your part with readiness, without one word of complaint, but be bright and hopeful, obeying your parents from principle. 4LtMs, Lt 17, 1883, par. 6

When tempted to have your own way in regard to the wishes of your parents, say, “No; Jesus was subject to His parents.” Ask help of Jesus, who knows the temptations of every child, of every youth, for He has been tempted and knows your every weakness and will help you to overcome it. 4LtMs, Lt 17, 1883, par. 7

There will be those who will solicit you to pursue a course that your blessed Bible will condemn, that your parents cannot approve; but such are the instruments of Satan to lead you away from right, away from thoughts of Jesus and pure and holy desires and purposes. Look to Jesus for strength to do right. Whatever you may experience in self-denial, in doing right, nothing can be so bad as failing when you should succeed in a given course of action. Those who obey are the only ones who will be qualified to command, and they who obey are pleasing even higher authority than their parents. No one can hope to receive the love and blessing of God who does not learn obedience to His command and [does not] stand up firmly against temptation. 4LtMs, Lt 17, 1883, par. 8

The Lord has given you good ability for you to use in common sense thoughts. Learn to develop the powers within you; have high and noble aims; and by your consecration make straight paths for your feet, always relying upon the grace which Christ loves to give to all those who really desire help. 4LtMs, Lt 17, 1883, par. 9

Be not moved about by every wind and tide; develop an energy, purpose, and will within you to meet the high standard of character which God has given us in His Word. You want to cultivate sober reflection; exercise plain common sense, which is rarely exercised by the fashion-seekers of today. 4LtMs, Lt 17, 1883, par. 10

You want will, but not self-will that will not hear the advice and counsel of experience. You have plenty of persistence in having your own desires gratified; now have the will and persistence exercised in an opposite direction—in the firm purpose that you will be good and right, obedient and true. The vain and frivolous of the world are not your patterns that you should copy. You want something more stable, something brighter, higher, nobler. 4LtMs, Lt 17, 1883, par. 11

You children, the eldest daughters, should study carefully to follow enlightened conscience, for your example will prove either a safe pattern for your younger brothers and sisters, or a detriment. Do not give to these younger children examples of disobedience to your parents. See what an example you can give to those younger than you. God calls upon you children to have higher hopes, higher aims, nobler aspirations than you have hitherto had. 4LtMs, Lt 17, 1883, par. 12

It is far better to form correct and right habits and to fill a humble station with honor, though you may be poor, than to be constantly trying to imitate the vain and the more wealthy in dress and extravagant display. Your life is set down in the books of God just as it is, just in accordance with your real value of character. He does not reckon your value by your flounced and expensive outward adorning. Your time and mental strength expended in frivolous adorning is set down in the books of heaven against you as robbery to God. Think of Jesus, the dear Saviour, who gave His life that you might not forever be wretched and undone and lost. 4LtMs, Lt 17, 1883, par. 13

Jesus died on Calvary’s cross. The Son of the infinite God came to our world and was not aping the rich at all; He dressed in very humble apparel; He became poor for our sakes, that we through His poverty might be made rich. If Jesus was, in His life, clothed with gorgeous apparel, if this example is given us, then we may imitate Him. If His life was meek and lowly, pure and full of good works, then the very best thing we can do is to imitate Jesus. He says, “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne even as I also overcame and am set down with my Father upon His throne.” [Revelation 3:21.] God keeps a reckoning with every individual. Will you please, dear children, consider what that reckoning must be in your account? 4LtMs, Lt 17, 1883, par. 14

Your father is a poor man, but this you do not consider; but you are full of plans to use up and exhaust the means he earns by brain labor. Will you consider how this course displeases Jesus? He who was the Majesty of heaven came to our world and made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and it is only because He submitted to such humiliation that we have the hope of glory and immortality; and yet poor, fallen sinners for whom He died would exalt themselves above their God. 4LtMs, Lt 17, 1883, par. 15

Will you, dear children, learn from the wonderful story of the Son of God to pour contempt on all human pride and vanity? The Son of man consents to be a servant, and shall weak mortals be constantly striving to be praised and petted and estimated far above their real value and what they know themselves to be? Shall finite beings complain that their condition is lowly, that they are not exalted and honored? Shall any humiliation seem too deep if, in our lowly estate, we may have the sympathy and companionship of One who was equal with God? 4LtMs, Lt 17, 1883, par. 16

The story of Bethlehem shows us how deep, how full, is the divine sympathy with the humblest, the lowliest in all the walks of life. Jesus dwells with those who are meek and lowly and contrite. We may learn to cherish the holiest purposes in the humblest occupations. The hard-working, diligent, useful hands are the especial favorites of heaven. The Son of God, in His humiliation, passed through all the doubts and necessities of our lowly estate that He might sanctify all departments of human life and teach us to live for God in them all. 4LtMs, Lt 17, 1883, par. 17

I want now, children, to tell you just what you may do. You may be children of God. You have hitherto given your minds to the frivolous and vain things. You do not know the worth of money. You have a great many imaginary wants. Your thoughts are vain; you have pride and you love dress; and you clamor and urge for things that you could do without. You do not see the necessity of being care-taking, of saving your good clothing, of wearing dresses that are durable and not expensive. 4LtMs, Lt 17, 1883, par. 18

Now, children, your father is overworked, and if he continues to work as he has done, you will erelong be left fatherless. It is to prevent this that I now address you. He does too much labor and thinks he must, in order to support his children. All the time he is in debt, which worries him, and this, with his overwork, is weakening his hold on life. 4LtMs, Lt 17, 1883, par. 19

I write to you, the eldest daughters, in particular, for you can do much to change this state of things. You love your father, but you are selfish and love to do as you please, to make a show, to display gay and trimmed dresses. The more money you spend in this way, the harder your father has to work to support you. He hates to say to you that which God would have him [say]: “Children, this is God’s money; I am His servant; He gives me strength; He gives me mental faculties to be employed to His glory. I cannot permit you to use this money to encourage your vanity, your envy, [and] your pride in purchasing things you can do without, and would be better off doing without. I must say to you, I cannot encourage you in sin and wear away my own strength in such a miserable cause, to support you in pride and dress and display. I am guilty before God in thus doing, and He cannot bless me in thus indulging you in sin longer. Will you stop, children, and consider? Will you use the reason God has given you and inquire, ‘How shall I mete the record of this useless, frivolous life? How shall I stand in the judgment—wasting my time, wasting my father’s money in foolishness, and he, working beyond his strength because of my ingratitude and unreasonable repining after things I can do without?’” 4LtMs, Lt 17, 1883, par. 20

The Lord has shown me you will erelong be one of the most wretched, miserable, unhappy families, unless you are truly converted, your habits changed, and you try to help take care of your parents. God will not work a miracle to prevent the sure results in misery and distress that threaten you as a family. Already the reckoning of the figures is presenting a terrible balance against you. You have not tried to please God. You have been wicked, vain, and frivolous, and sorrow is coming upon you. Will you now stop your course of disobedience and vanity? Will you think soberly and candidly and turn about? God will forgive you now; He will avert the evils which are sure to come, if you will repent. If you will cease your course of folly and transgression, the Lord will bless you. 4LtMs, Lt 17, 1883, par. 21

Dear children, I want you to make decided changes. Seek to be useful, to help your parents; to be care-taking and thoughtful. You can help them in a variety of ways. You cannot tell how much good you can do in carrying a cheerful, sunshiny face. Please put away the frowns and the frettings because there are duties to do. Carry the little burdens and relieve your parents of these extra cares. They may not appear grand—nothing but plain, homely duties—but someone must do them. Doing what you can do cheerfully, with a quick step, your face bright with gladness because you can do something for your parents to lighten their load, will make you a blessing in the house. You can watch and see how you can help, doing the duties nearest you, taking them just as they come in a patient, cheerful way. 4LtMs, Lt 17, 1883, par. 22

All these little duties, faithfully done, are entered upon the ledger of heaven, and when your life is added up in the end, there will be a noble total set to your account. God will make no mistakes; He will make an accurate entry of all your life duties done to His glory. So never frown but always carry a cheerful, happy face, a ready hand to help, an attentive ear to hear the requirements, a heart to obey, [and] a quick sympathy for those who need help. These little matters may seem small, barely worth attention, but it is faithfulness in these minor duties that is giving the experience for larger responsibilities. 4LtMs, Lt 17, 1883, par. 23

Go forward, children, step by step in painstaking, doing the work someone must do, and you [will be] walking in God’s ways. In the great day of final accounts, you will see what this amounts to. Remember your characters are not finished; you are building up day by day a character. Weave all the kindness, obedience, thoughtfulness, painstaking, and love into it you can. Make it after the Divine Model. Educate yourselves that you may possess the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit which is in the sight of God of great price. You can make the world better by living in it if you only do the very best you can. 4LtMs, Lt 17, 1883, par. 24

May the Lord help you to seek Him now; give your heart to Jesus without reserve. He loves you; He wants to bless you; He wants you should be His children and let His light be reflected from you to others. 4LtMs, Lt 17, 1883, par. 25