Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 14 (1899)


Ms 32, 1899



March 20, 1899

Portions of this manuscript are published in AH 236, 245-246; CG 106-107, 205, 247-248, 251. See RH 12/05/1899.

God has given to every man talents to be used to His name’s glory. All have not the same gifts; all are not called to do the same work; but to each God has given ability for the work God has appointed him. Often men receive praise for the talents they possess, and take the credit to themselves. There are those who in their pride make frequent reference to those gifts in which they excel. If these talents were self-created, man might have reason to boast of them, but they are not. We have strong and efficient workers, but they have nothing of which to boast. God has given them the power; they have not created it. Let all appreciate every gift of God and seek to make the best use of their talents without self-exaltation, knowing that unless they are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation they will reveal a weakness which will detract from their influence. 14LtMs, Ms 32, 1899, par. 1

There are some who think that unless they are directly connected with active religious work they are not doing the will of God, but this is a mistake. Every one has a work to do for the Master; it is a wonderful work to make home pleasant and all that it ought to be. The humblest talents, if the heart of the recipient is given to God, will make the home life all that God would have it. A bright light will shine forth as the result of wholehearted service to God. Men and women can just as surely serve God by giving earnest heed to the things which they have heard, by educating their children to live and fear to offend God, as can the minister in the pulpit. 14LtMs, Ms 32, 1899, par. 2

The minister has his line of work, and the mother has hers. She is to bring her children to Jesus for His blessing. She is to cherish the words of Christ and teach them to her children. From their babyhood she is to discipline them to self-restraint and self-denial, to habits of neatness and order. The mother can bring up her children so that they will come with open, tender hearts to hear the words of God’s servants. The Lord has need of mothers who in every line of the home life will improve their God-given talents and fit their children for the family of heaven. 14LtMs, Ms 32, 1899, par. 3

The Lord is served as much, yea, more, by faithful home work than by the one who teaches the Word. As verily as do the teachers in the school, fathers and mothers are to feel that they are the educators of their children. Children are the heritage of the Lord, and they should be trained and disciplined to form characters which the Lord can approve. When this work is carried on judiciously and with faithfulness and much prayer, angels of God will guard the family, and the most commonplace life will be made sacred. 14LtMs, Ms 32, 1899, par. 4

All heaven recognized Abraham’s faithfulness in this respect, and He who blesses the habitation of the righteous said, “I know Abraham. He is priest of his household and patriarch in his home.” “He will command his children and his household after him, to keep the way of the Lord to do justice and judgment.” [Genesis 18:19.] 14LtMs, Ms 32, 1899, par. 5

Symmetry of character is to be restored in man, and God calls upon parents with all their capabilities to co-operate with Him in this work of restoration. Uncleanness in the home is a great mistake, for it is educating in its effects, and casts its influences abroad. Even in babyhood a right direction should be given to the minds and habits of children. Teach them to keep their bodies clean by giving them a bath as soon as they rise in the morning and before retiring at night. Show them that uncleanness, whether in body or dress, is objectionable to God. Teach them to eat in a clean manner. Constant vigilance must be exercised that these habits may become second nature to them. There must be no lax methods in the home, for the children will never outgrow what they have been allowed to become familiar with in their childhood. If they have been trained to habits of neatness and order, untidiness and slackness will be offensive to them. Impurity will be despised as it should be. 14LtMs, Ms 32, 1899, par. 6

The Lord commanded the children of Israel to wash their clothes and put away all impurity from their encampment, lest in passing by He should see their uncleanness. God is passing by our homes today, and He looks upon the unsanitary conditions of families, the lax habits. Had we not better reform, and that without delay? Parents, God has made you His agents, that you may instill right principles in the minds of your children. You have in trust the Lord’s little ones, and that God who was so particular that the children of Israel should grow up with habits of cleanliness will not sanction any impurity in the home today. God has given you the work of educating your children in these lines. And in training your children in habits of cleanliness, you teach them the spiritual lessons. They will see that God would have them clean in heart as well as in body, and will be led to an understanding of the pure principles which God designs should prompt every act of their lives. 14LtMs, Ms 32, 1899, par. 7

O, that all would understand that these small duties are not to be neglected. The whole of their future life will be shaped by the habits and practices of their childhood. Children are peculiarly susceptible to impressions, and sanitary knowledge may be imparted to them by not permitting disorder. The impress which the children receive in their childhood they will carry with them through all their future life. All the learning they may acquire will never undo the evil resulting from a lax discipline in childhood. One neglect oft repeated forms habit. One wrong act prepares the way for the second. Bad habits are more easily formed than good ones, and are given up with more difficulty. It takes far less time and pains to spoil the disposition of a child than it does to imprint upon the tablets of the soul principles and habits of righteousness. It is only by constantly watching and counterworking the wrong that we can hope to make it right. 14LtMs, Ms 32, 1899, par. 8

Mothers, the Lord will be with you as you try to form right habits in your children. But you must begin the training process early, for if you neglect this you will make your future work very difficult. Teach them line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little. Bear in mind that your children are God’s, and are to become His sons and daughters. 14LtMs, Ms 32, 1899, par. 9

God designs that the families on earth shall be samples of the family in heaven, that every member shall be marked with the stamp of heaven. Children should be clad in plain garments, without ruffles or ornament. The time spent in needless sewing God would have spent in educating them or in devotional exercises. That garment you are sewing on, that extra dish you think you will prepare, let it be neglected rather than the education of your children. The labor due to your child during the first years of its life will admit of no neglect. There is no time in its life when the rule should be forgotten, “Line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little, and there a little.” [Isaiah 28:10.] Parents, the Lord knows what kind of work you are doing in the formation of the characters of your children. Will you consider the responsibilities resting upon you as their natural guardians? 14LtMs, Ms 32, 1899, par. 10

Overindulgence always proves an injury to children. It is the veriest cruelty to allow wrong habits to be developed, to give the law into the hands of the child and let him rule. Children are not to be taught to think that everything in the house is their plaything, to do with as they please. Instruction in this line should be given even to the smallest children. By correcting this habit you will destroy it. God designs that the perversities natural to childhood shall be rooted out before they become habit. 14LtMs, Ms 32, 1899, par. 11

Do not, parents and teachers, in your discipline of children release them from that which you have required them to do. Do not let your mind become so absorbed in other things as to cause you to grow careless. And do not become wearied in your guardianship, because your children forget and do that which you have forbidden them to do. If you become angry and lose your temper, you forfeit that which no mother or father can afford to lose—the respect of your children. Never scold yourself, or permit scolding in your home. Never give your child a passionate blow, unless you want him to learn to fight and quarrel. As parents you stand in the place of God to your children, and you are to be on guard. 14LtMs, Ms 32, 1899, par. 12

Parents, do not be abrupt and act from impulse. Never correct your child when you are provoked, for if you do this you will mold him after your own image—impulsive, passionate, unreasonable. You can be firm without violent threatenings and scoldings. I have seen a mother snatch from the hand of her child something that was giving it special pleasure. The child did not know the reason of this, and naturally felt abused. Then followed a quarrel between parent and child, and a sharp chastisement ended the scene as far as outward appearance was concerned. But that battle has left an impression on the tender mind that will not be easily effaced. I said to the mother, You have wronged your child deeply; you have hurt his soul, and lost his confidence. How this will be restored I know not. 14LtMs, Ms 32, 1899, par. 13

This mother acted unwisely. She did not move cautiously, reasoning from cause to effect. Her harsh, injudicious management stirred up the worse passions in the heart of her child, and on every similar occasion these passions were aroused and strengthened. This is the worst policy that can be used in family government, for this advanced age and maturity of strength warring against a helpless, ignorant little child confirms rebellion in the heart. 14LtMs, Ms 32, 1899, par. 14

But, you ask, shall I never punish my child? Whipping may be essential when every other resort fails; but before you cause your child physical pain, you will, if you are a Christian father or mother, reveal the love you have for your erring little one. You will manifest real sorrow because you are compelled to cause him suffering. You will bow before God with your child, and with a heart full of sorrow ask the Lord to forgive. Pray that Satan may not have control of his mind. Present before the sympathizing Redeemer His own words, “Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” [Matthew 19:14.] That prayer will bring angels to your side, and your child’s heart will be broken in penitence. 14LtMs, Ms 32, 1899, par. 15

It is a very nice work to deal with human minds. All children cannot be treated in the same way, for that restraint which must be kept upon one would crush out the life of another. Study the minds and characters of your children. During the first years of their lives is the time in which to work and watch and pray and encourage every good inclination. This work must go on without interruption. You may be urged to attend mothers’ meetings and sewing circles, that you may do missionary work; but unless there is a faithful, understanding instructor to be left with your children, it is your duty to answer that the Lord has committed to you another work which you can in no wise neglect. You cannot overwork in any line without becoming disqualified for the work of training your little ones and making them what God would have them be. As Christ’s co-worker you must bring them to Him disciplined and trained. 14LtMs, Ms 32, 1899, par. 16

Both parents and children are under the government of God. They are to be ruled by Him. By combining the influence of authority and affection, parents can rule their homes after the order God has given us in His Word. There is to be no ruling by impulse, no parental oppression, but at the same time, no disobedience is to be overlooked. We are not to reach the standard of worldlings, but the standard God Himself has erected. We are to diligently inquire, “What hath God said?” God’s holy Word must be our rule, and from this we must never turn aside. There must be no waywardness on the part of the children, no disregard of obligations on the part of the parents. Our motto must be: “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” [Joshua 24:15.] 14LtMs, Ms 32, 1899, par. 17