Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 11

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Lt 8a, 1896

Brother and Sister

“Sunnyside,” Cooranbong, Australia

April 1, 1896

Portions of this letter are published in AH 308, 317, 439-440; CG 219. +Note

Dear Brother and Sister _____:

With the Bible open before you, are you inquiring, Is this the way of the Lord? Is there not light in the Word to show you how to train your children in the way they should go? Prayer should be offered to God from unfeigned lips. Guidance and heavenly wisdom will be given you if you ask in faith. If you are controlled by the Holy Spirit, you will be enabled to see serious defects in your methods of management. You will see that your way is not always perfect, and this will lead you away from unholy practices and will repress many an unholy plan. By carefully walking in the fear of the Lord, the religion of the Bible, the religion of Christ, a religion of purity and peace will be the religion of your home. The Holy Spirit will infuse a right influence into the practice, and your family will be guided to holiness and to God. 11LtMs, Lt 8a, 1896, par. 1

You are in need of far greater wisdom than you now possess. You need the Spirit of Christ. Then your hearts will be turned toward your children in tender forbearance and love. Your children are God’s property, and any injustice done to them He will surely requite as though done to Himself. The father or mother who represses or oppresses the souls of the young, laying burdens on them that the Word of God does not warrant, will have to render an account to God. 11LtMs, Lt 8a, 1896, par. 2

My brother and sister, you should stand on a firm foundation, perfectly united. But the wife should not blend with her husband in seconding his severe, condemnatory practices in the home. She should not become infused with his criticizing spirit. She must not submerge her individuality in that of her husband. She has a soul to save or to lose. She cannot with safety put the grand truths of the Bible on one side as matters of no consequence in the common, everyday life. She needs the guidance of truth in her home. The peace of God should rule in her heart because great truths are brought into immediate contact with the things of daily life. She should follow God’s broad principles in the regulation of character. 11LtMs, Lt 8a, 1896, par. 3

The father of the faithful, Abraham had a strict regard for the fear of the Lord. He who searches the heart said of him, “I know him that he will command his children and his household after him, that they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment.” [Genesis 18:19.] Abraham cherished home religion. For this reason the Lord selected him to be a representative man. I know him, He declared, I know that he will not betray sacred trusts, nor yield to any guidance but Mine. He will keep My law. He will not show in his family the blind affection or indulgence that is the ruin of children. 11LtMs, Lt 8a, 1896, par. 4

Parents and children are alike the subjects of the heavenly Father. Alike, they are to be ruled by God. No license is given in God’s Word for parental severity or oppression or for filial disobedience. The law of God, in the home life and in the government of nations, flows from a heart of infinite love. 11LtMs, Lt 8a, 1896, par. 5

Children must receive religious instruction. But religious instruction means much more than ordinary instruction. It means that you are to pray with your children, teaching them how to approach Jesus and tell Him all their wants. It means that you are to show in your life that Jesus is everything to you, and that His love makes you patient, kind, forbearing, and yet firm in commanding your children after you, as did Abraham. An influence that is a power for good should surround the father and mother. 11LtMs, Lt 8a, 1896, par. 6

Parents cannot with safety be in any way overbearing. They must not show a masterly, criticizing, fault-finding spirit. The words they speak, the tone in which they speak, are lessons either for good or ill, to their children. Fathers and mothers, if cross words fall from your lips, you are teaching your children to speak in the same way, and the refining influence of the Holy Spirit is made of none effect. Patient continuance in well doing is essential if you would do your duty to your children. 11LtMs, Lt 8a, 1896, par. 7

Some farms are so neglected that they look as though they had no owner. The briars and thorns are allowed to grow up. Trees that should be trimmed in their season are left to branch out as they will. They become one-sided and disproportionate. Trees must be trimmed in order to show symmetrical growth, and the ground must be tilled in order to yield a fair return. So it is with the home. It should ever be a training school. Here the children should receive their first lessons. The smallest child should be properly disciplined. From the pillar of cloud the Majesty of heaven gave Moses lessons to be given to the children of Israel. He directed that memorials of the miraculous escape from Egypt should be preserved. 11LtMs, Lt 8a, 1896, par. 8

When the children should inquire regarding these memorials, they were to be told of the great events that had taken place when the children of Israel were leaving Egypt, and of the wonderful deliverance the Lord wrought in bringing them out from bondage and oppression, that they might serve Him and keep His Sabbaths. The water provided them from the rock, the bread sent from heaven, were marked events that were never to be forgotten. The capture of Jericho was to be kept fresh in the memory. No human general devised the plan for taking this city. No human hand touched the massive walls. The Captain of the Lord’s host gave His orders to the heavenly army, and down came the walls of Jericho. These exhibitions of God’s power were to be repeated by the Israelites to their children. The commandments of God also were to be often repeated and kept before the mind. 11LtMs, Lt 8a, 1896, par. 9

I must speak to you, Brother and Sister _____. The Lord has done a good work for you, but this must not stop where it now is. It must advance and be more distinctly revealed in the home life, in tenderness, forbearance, and gentleness. Nothing but the truth, practiced in the home, shown in wise discipline, can give you an education that will be of the right kind to carry into the church. My brother, you have important lessons to learn. You are too self-indulgent. There is too much of self seen in your character. Work in the fear of the Lord. Bring sunshine into your home. You cannot walk in your own wisdom. If you try to do this, you will surely commend what the Lord has forbidden, and withhold from your children what He has sanctioned. 11LtMs, Lt 8a, 1896, par. 10

You should understand the Lord by His dealing with you. Your life out of Christ was indeed a sad life. Your self-indulgence was great. Habits of intemperance bound you as with bands of steel. But the Lord had pity upon you, notwithstanding that you provoked Him to anger by your self-indulgent life. You saw and believed the truth, and it began its work of purification upon your character, bringing you into harmony with God. You felt that your children must be trained, that a solemn responsibility rested upon you to do this. But you did not stop to realize that justice has a twin sister, love. Justice and love must blend in the home. Stern commands, faultfinding, and threats must not be heard. Your tendency to speak thus is not only calculated to do your children great harm, but it is doing you harm. 11LtMs, Lt 8a, 1896, par. 11

The maxim that should govern in every Christian home is, I must love and fear God. Teach your children to keep the way of the Lord. But never seek to drive them. Parents who do not strive earnestly to keep the way of the Lord, who do not feel under any obligation to treat the younger member of the Lord’s house with tenderness and respect because they are the Lord’s property by creation and by redemption, cannot enjoy God’s blessing. Words that intimidate, creating fear and expelling love from the soul, are to be restrained. A wise, tender, God-fearing father will bring, not a slavish fear, but an element of love into the home. If we drink of the water of life, the fountain will send forth sweet water, not bitter. 11LtMs, Lt 8a, 1896, par. 12

My brother, your overbearing words hurt your children. As they advance in years, their tendency to criticize will grow. Faultfinding is corrupting your life, and is extending to your wife and to your children. Your children are not encouraged to give you their confidence, or to acknowledge their faults, because they know that your stern rebuke is sure to follow. Your words are often as a desolating hail, which breaks down tender plants. It is impossible to estimate the harm thus done. Your children practice deception in order to avoid the hard words you speak. They will evade the truth to escape censure and punishment. A hard, cold command will do them no good. Bind your children to your heart. Let the Bible be opened before them, and a “Thus saith the Lord” impressed on their hearts. One higher than human father or mother addresses all children. 11LtMs, Lt 8a, 1896, par. 13

Your wife is not spared. If she makes a mistake, she is criticized and censured. The tree which should bear grapes produces wild berries. Sister _____ is becoming nervous and fractious. She feels her lack of ability and strength to manage her children. She is losing her sweet disposition, her patience and forbearance. If this continues, the children will have little love for their parents. The mother should hear words of encouragement, not of criticism, faultfinding, and censure. 11LtMs, Lt 8a, 1896, par. 14

Parents, you need daily to realize the value of the human soul. You need to be filled with love for those for whom Christ died. How does the Father of all say we are to act? What has He to say regarding home education? Make God supreme. The mind of God once known is to be the rule of our lives. In obeying God’s commands we bring religion into the home. 11LtMs, Lt 8a, 1896, par. 15

Children are to be brought up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. The Word of God is to be our only rule. A harsh, dictatorial, overbearing spirit will expel Christianity from the home. The love of God cannot dwell in the home where this spirit is cherished. There are those who love God who feel deeply because things are not right in the management of your family. They sigh, they cry, because of the atmosphere in your home. Brother and Sister _____, patient tenderness is fast disappearing from your home life. Your words and deportment need Christianizing. How is it possible for you to bear responsibilities in the church where you are daily disqualifying yourself to deal with human minds. The very same overbearing, masterly spirit that you manifest in the home would be brought into your church life. Any deviation from ideas that you might suggest would be regarded as an insult, a want of appreciation of your ability and wisdom. For this reason, unless you reform, God cannot use you in His work. 11LtMs, Lt 8a, 1896, par. 16

The Lord will teach and guide you if you will do His will and walk in His way. You need to criticize your actions in the management of your home. Seek daily to humble yourself before God. Do not exalt yourself. When difficulties arise because of your high opinion of self, seek the Lord in humble, earnest prayer. Submit yourself to Him to be taught by Him. He will preside in your home and will fit you for the home above. 11LtMs, Lt 8a, 1896, par. 17