Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 17

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Lt 47a, 1902

Nelson, Mary

“Elmshaven,” St. Helena, California

March 19, 1902

Portions of this letter are published in AH 253; CG 110; DG 186-189, 206-208. +Note

Dear Sister Mary Nelson,—

As a Christian, you have duties to do that are left undone. You are not giving your children the education that they need. Your disposition is such that you are not molding and fashioning their characters after the divine similitude. You are in as much need of having your temper sweetened as is your husband. Your harshness of voice and your disagreeable disposition should be entirely overcome. Although a mother, you have not been learning lessons of self-control. You should cultivate pleasing traits of character. You may and should cultivate sweetness of disposition. Do not delay; for your habits are becoming fixed. 17LtMs, Lt 47a, 1902, par. 1

You rule, but not in love. What an objectionable education your children are receiving! It is not right for you to bring up the younger members of the Lord’s family as you are bringing up your children. 17LtMs, Lt 47a, 1902, par. 2

You should teach your children to form good habits. Will you spoil them for future usefulness by neglecting to train them as you should in habits of cleanliness and order? Will you not patiently teach and assist them always to keep their rooms and their clothing in order? 17LtMs, Lt 47a, 1902, par. 3

Fretting and scolding will not help to reform your children. In governing them, you should exercise firmness; but with this, kindness should be mingled. Diligently teach them how to be Christians. Never raise your voice in passion; never strike a blow in anger; for this, in the place of correcting their faults, will confirm them in a wrong course. Remember that they have inherited their parents’ dispositions. You have now to meet in your children your own defects of character. Remember that if you speak harshly, you are giving them an example that they will learn to imitate. Sooner or later they will act toward you in the same harsh manner in which you have acted toward them, because in the home-life you have set before them a wrong example. 17LtMs, Lt 47a, 1902, par. 4

Is it not time for you to take up your neglected duties and try to please your husband and to train your children aright? My sister, the best thing you can do is to confess your mistakes to your husband and to your children. Tell the children that the harsh, rough spirit which you have cultivated is unchristlike. Then say, “Children, by the strength and grace that Christ gives us, we will now make a decided change.” Ask them to help you. Promise that you will help them. 17LtMs, Lt 47a, 1902, par. 5

Christ is ready to teach the father and the mother to be true educators. Those who learn in His school will never strike a child in passion. They will never speak in a harsh, unsympathetic tone; for words spoken in this manner grate upon the ear, wear upon the nerves, cause mental suffering, and create a state of mind that makes it impossible to curb the temper of the child to whom such words are spoken. This is often the reason why children speak disrespectfully to parents. 17LtMs, Lt 47a, 1902, par. 6

Remember that children have rights which must be respected. Your self-will is very strong. You have given this trait of character to your children. You may be busy from morning till night, and yet fail of doing the work that God has appointed you to do. You need to act the part of a mother in guiding and training your little flock. 17LtMs, Lt 47a, 1902, par. 7

You have had the children very much to yourself; but you have not always manifested patience and kindness to them. Remember that they are the Lord’s heritage. What example are you placing before them to influence them in the formation of character? Would you desire to see them carry into married life the spirit that they now reveal in words, in deportment, and in manners? If they should remain unchanged, they would manage throughout life as you have managed. 17LtMs, Lt 47a, 1902, par. 8

Take a retrospective view of your married life. In some respects your husband was superior to yourself. When he tried to help you, he was often too abrupt, and thus he hurt your feelings. But it was your duty to make every effort in your power to improve as a housekeeper. Your husband appreciates order, tact, and tidiness. After you found out what his preferences were, you should have risen to the emergency, keeping your house in order. Thus you could have set a proper example before your children. The cultivation of order and taste is an important part of the education of children. 17LtMs, Lt 47a, 1902, par. 9

Mary, I have always respected you, and I have very tender feelings toward you. As the guardian and teacher of your children, you are in duty bound to do every little thing in the home with nicety and in order. Teach your children the invaluable lesson of keeping their clothing tidy. Keep your own clothing clean and sweet and respectable. If you do this, your children will not think that you do not care for your own appearance or for theirs. 17LtMs, Lt 47a, 1902, par. 10

Mary, change your habits of slackness and disorder. Your untidiness displeases your husband; and if he speaks to you concerning the matter, you charge him with wanting to rule you. In the place of doing that which the Lord desires you to do, you become angry with your husband for pointing out these things. Both of you are under obligation to God always to be patterns of propriety in your home. Teach your children that the Lord required the Israelites to be clean. He directed that their whole encampment should be clean, lest, passing by and seeing them in their uncleanness, He could not favor them with His presence or give them victory in battle. He directed that they should wash their clothes and keep them clean. My sister, will you improve in this respect? If you will to do so, you can. It all depends upon the way in which you use your will. If you will to take hold of the Lord by faith, He will enable you to do your part. Remember that in heaven there is no disorder, and that your home should be a heaven here below. Remember that in doing faithfully from day to day the little things to be done in the home, you are a laborer together with God, perfecting a Christian character. 17LtMs, Lt 47a, 1902, par. 11

Your husband should in his turn act a noble part in the homelife. He should put away his spirit of domineering, and try rather to be a help. The spirit of criticism that Brother Nelson has cherished has brought into his home an atmosphere of discontent and unhappiness. I beg of both of you to control your spirit and your words. Put away all despondency. 17LtMs, Lt 47a, 1902, par. 12

Mary, wear clothing that is becoming to you. This will increase the respect of your children for you. See to it that they, too, are dressed in a becoming manner. Do not allow them to fall into habits of untidiness. You have before you a work to do in counteracting the wrong habits that you have formed in the past. If you realize your need and call upon God for help, He will give you His grace in abundant measure. 17LtMs, Lt 47a, 1902, par. 13

The mother is the queen of the home. Her children are her subjects. They are to receive her first and constant care. The work of teaching her children to form correct habits is to be secondary to no other line of work. By kindness she is to win them to herself, giving them evidence by kind words and manifestations of affection that she loves them. 17LtMs, Lt 47a, 1902, par. 14

My dear sister, you are in need of divine help. You must wear Christ’s yoke yourself before you can properly teach your children that they are to give their hearts to Jesus. That you may be fitted to do this work, seek for God’s special blessing. Let the Holy Spirit abide in your heart, making it a wellspring of love and joy. Pray most earnestly for a meek and quiet spirit. In the spirit of meekness, seek daily for God’s blessing. If you daily receive blessings from above, you will be refreshed and will impart to your children that which you have received. And as your disposition and character change, you will have a beneficial influence over the disposition and character of your children. 17LtMs, Lt 47a, 1902, par. 15

Christ’s invitation to every weary, heavy-laden soul is, “Come unto Me.” My sister, if you take Christ’s yoke upon you, His promise is, “I will give you rest.” Yes, there is rest in wearing the yoke of obedience to His requirements. “Learn of Me,” He says, “for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” That is, in your daily experience you will realize what precious rest there is in Christ Jesus. “For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.” [Matthew 11:28-30.] Just as soon as you are obedient to the Word of God, you will cease to wear the galling yoke that you have manufactured and chosen to wear by bearing the responsibility of the home cares and business. 17LtMs, Lt 47a, 1902, par. 16

Your children need a father, you need a husband, and your husband needs a wife. You need the help of your husband, and you both need the help of the Saviour. Both of you should cultivate faith. Your children need a father who will wear Christ’s yoke, a father who will submit his will to God’s will, to be molded and fashioned by the divine hand. 17LtMs, Lt 47a, 1902, par. 17

My brother, my sister, for some time you have not been living together. You should not have pursued this course, and would not have done so, if both of you had been cultivating the patience, kindness, and forbearance that should ever exist between husband and wife. Neither of you should set up your own will and try to carry out your individual ideas and plans, whatever the consequences may be. Neither of you should be determined to do as you please. Let the softening, subduing influence of the Spirit of God work upon your hearts, and fit you for the work of training your children. Your work, under God, is to mold and fashion their characters. In order to lay hold on the strength and power that the Lord alone can give you, you must exercise faith. Appeal to your heavenly Father to keep you from yielding to the temptation to speak in an impatient, harsh, wilful manner to each other, the husband to the wife, and the wife to the husband. Both of you have imperfect characters. Because you have not been under God’s control, your conduct toward each other has been unwise. 17LtMs, Lt 47a, 1902, par. 18

I beseech you to bring yourselves under God’s control. When tempted to speak provokingly, refrain from saying anything. You will be tempted on this point, because you have never overcome this objectionable trait of character. But every wrong habit must be overcome. Make a complete surrender to God. Fall on the Rock, Christ Jesus, and be broken. As husband and wife, discipline yourselves. Go to Christ for help. He will willingly supply you with His divine sympathy, His free grace. He who for thirty years was a faithful son, working at the carpenter’s trade in order to do His share in bearing the burdens of the family firm, will give His followers strength faithfully to do their part in sharing the burdens of homelife. 17LtMs, Lt 47a, 1902, par. 19

My sister, Christ has committed to you the sacred work of teaching His commandments to your children. In order to be fitted for this work, you must yourself live in obedience to all His precepts. Cultivate a watchful observance of every word and action. Guard most diligently your words. Overcome all hastiness of temper; for impatience, if manifested, will help the adversary to make the homelife disagreeable and unpleasant for your children 17LtMs, Lt 47a, 1902, par. 20

We are all the property of the Lord Jesus. He gave His life as a ransom to redeem us. By His gift, every family—father, mother, and children—may be saved. My sister, will you neglect your home duties by not putting to tax your God-given power of will in an effort to help your children? In the name of the Lord, I charge you to make every effort, with your husband’s help, to save your children. 17LtMs, Lt 47a, 1902, par. 21

Upon each of you, as parents, rests the equal responsibility of guarding every word and action, that neither your words nor your deportment shall disparage you in the estimation of your children. Bring into the household all the pleasantness and comfort and joy that you possibly can. 17LtMs, Lt 47a, 1902, par. 22

My dear Brother and Sister Nelson, repent before God for your past course. Come to an understanding, and reunite as husband and wife. Put away the disagreeable, unhappy experience of your past life. Take courage in the Lord. Close the windows of the soul earthward, and open them heavenward. If your voices are uplifted in prayer to heaven for light, the Lord Jesus, who is light and life, peace and joy, will hear your cry. He, the Sun of righteousness, will shine into the chambers of the mind, lighting up the soul temple. If you welcome the sunshine of His presence into your home, you will not utter words of a nature to cause feelings of unhappiness. 17LtMs, Lt 47a, 1902, par. 23

O Mary, I beg of you to stop and consider how much you are grieving the Holy Spirit of God! Seek the Lord with your whole heart, that the Sun of righteousness may shine into your soul, and work in you an entire transformation, sanctifying your every word and action. 17LtMs, Lt 47a, 1902, par. 24

How I wish I could cry with a loud voice to every mother in the land: Sanctify your spirit through the grace that Christ freely gives to those who ask Him for grace. Practice tenderness. Manifest a sanctified love for your children. Interest yourself in their happiness. Teach them to exercise good sense. Acquaint them with God and His purpose for them. Make the religion of Jesus Christ attractive. Never offend the Lord God by dissension and unhappy differences. Seek for meekness and lowliness of heart. Cultivate affection. 17LtMs, Lt 47a, 1902, par. 25

Brother and Sister Nelson, while in the past you have disagreed, you are now under solemn obligation to God to make the most of your God-given abilities and powers. You should improve every opportunity you have for reaching a higher standard. It is God’s purpose, signified to you through Sister White, His servant, that you should look to Jesus, and, by beholding Him, be changed into His likeness. The Lord desires that you shall no longer be children in your Christian experience, but, through the impartation of His grace, that you shall be complete in Him. If you take advantage of the present opportunity for reaching a higher experience, you can become strong and complete in Christ Jesus. 17LtMs, Lt 47a, 1902, par. 26

Brother Nelson, will you soften and subdue your nature? You may become like Jesus and be His missionary, His helping hand. He never prompts you to be exacting, dictatorial, and severe toward the members of your family and toward others with whom you associate. You can live this life only once. Will you not bring the pleasantness and the goodness of a perfect character into this life? The Lord wants you to be good and to do good. We can individually make life what we please. If we choose, we can honor God by using aright the talent of speech. 17LtMs, Lt 47a, 1902, par. 27

My brother, take up the care of your children. It will do no good to blame them; for they have received your disposition as an inheritance. In governing them, be firm, but not arbitrary. In talking with them, speak in a manner that will not create a feeling of stubborn resistance. 17LtMs, Lt 47a, 1902, par. 28

Brother and Sister Nelson, the example that you have set before your children has not been what it would have been, had you been converted. If you were changed by the grace of Christ, you would show that you had overcome selfishness and the desire to have your own way, to consult your natural inclinations, and to do as you please. Now is the time to show that you do not live to please self. Bring into the character the fragrance of Christ’s character. Put away the spirit of scolding, fretting, and repining. Cultivate purity of speech. Pray and sing to the glory of God. Let the peace of God rule in your hearts. 17LtMs, Lt 47a, 1902, par. 29

“Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? Let him show out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthy, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.” [James 3:13-18.] 17LtMs, Lt 47a, 1902, par. 30

“Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity (love), which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called on one body; and be ye thankful. 17LtMs, Lt 47a, 1902, par. 31

“Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by Him. Wives, submit yourselves unto your husbands, as it is fit in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them. Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord. Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged. ... Whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Jesus.” [Colossians 3:12-21, 23, 24.] 17LtMs, Lt 47a, 1902, par. 32