The Signs of the Times


May 14, 1894

The Family Circle the School of Christ


The family institution is a divine ordinance. Parents stand in the place of God to their children. How grievous in the sight of heaven is the neglect of parents to train their children for the future immortal life. Christians should look upon children as the younger members of the Lord's family, intrusted to the parents and to the church to be trained up as children of God, to be brought up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. The Christian family is to be a school of Christ, where parents are to be the visible teachers, but Christ himself the great invisible teacher. The lessons which Christ imparts to the parents they are to repeat to their children line upon line and precept upon precept. Patiently, tenderly, and lovingly their steps are to be guided in the narrow path of holiness. Parents are not to compel their children to have a form of religion, but they are to place eternal principles before them in an attractive light. ST May 14, 1894, par. 1

The mother is to teach the children through their earlier years, and in order to fulfill her great responsibility, she needs to be moulded and fashioned after the similitude of the character of Christ. She is never to use her influence fitfully, unwisely, arbitrarily, simply because it is in her power to do so. She must ever remember that she must render up an account to God for the way she has done her intrusted work. The father should see to it that the mother is not overburdened with the care of many children. Children are not to be crowded upon her so that her physical strength and training capabilities are taxed. Men and women should carefully, conscientiously consider, with an eye single to the glory of God, what is involved in bringing children into the world. When mothers bring forth children in rapid succession, the burdens of caring for and training them are so heavy that they become discouraged, and are not able to accomplish the work that they should in educating their numerous and fast-increasing flock. ST May 14, 1894, par. 2

A mother is but a human being, and the husband and father of the family should unite his efforts with hers in building up a proper family discipline. If he neglects to do his part, failure is registered in the books of heaven against his name, and he will have to give an account of himself before the great white throne. Many fathers think family discipline a light matter, and it does not enter their mind that they have a part to act in cheerfully training and governing the children. The father frequently manifests passion and impatience, and alienates the hearts of his children from him, and yet he often charges the blame of this upon the poor management of the mother. Let Christian parents take heed how they deal with the younger members of the Lord's family. The father and mother should always be at agreement, not working counter to each other, in order that right impressions may be made on the minds of their children. Let parents seek wisdom of God; for he has said, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not.” ST May 14, 1894, par. 3

It is the privilege of parents to rear their children in a divine atmosphere. As soon as the little ones are intelligent to understand, parents should tell to them the story of Jesus, that they may drink in the precious truth concerning the Babe of Bethlehem. Impress upon the children's minds sentiments of simple piety that are adapted to their years and ability. Bring your children in prayer to Jesus, for he has made it possible for them to learn religion as they learn to frame the words of the language. Let children hear from the lips of their mother words of gentleness, purity, and truth. Let her maintain her authority, permitting no disobedience on the part of her children. Command your children and your household after you (as did Abraham) to keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment. Parents must keep their hearts and minds in the love of God, and bring their children to the altar of prayer, where day by day the household may offer up supplication and thanksgiving. ST May 14, 1894, par. 4

When parents become old, and have young children to bring up, the father is likely to feel that the children must follow in the sturdy, rugged path in which he himself is traveling. It is difficult for him to realize that his children are in need of having life made pleasant and happy for them by their parents. Many parents deny the children an indulgence in that which is safe and innocent, and are so afraid of encouraging them in cultivating desires for unlawful things that they will not even allow their children to have the enjoyment that children should have. Through fear of evil results, they refuse permission to indulge in some simple pleasure that would have saved the very evil they seek to avoid, and thus the children think there is no use in expecting any favors, and therefore will not ask for them. They steal away to the pleasures they think will be forbidden. Confidence between the parents and children is thus destroyed. If fathers and mothers have not themselves had a happy childhood, why should they shadow the lives of their children because of their own great loss in this respect? The father may think that this is the only course that will be safe to pursue; but let him remember that all minds are not constituted alike, and the greater the efforts made to restrict, the more uncontrollable will be the desire to obtain that which is denied, and the result will be disobedience to parental authority. The father will be grieved by what he considers the wayward course of his son, and his heart will feel sore over his rebellion. But would it not be well for him to consider the fact that the first cause of his son's disobedience was his own unwillingness to indulge him in that in which there was no sin. The father thinks that sufficient reason is given for his son's abstaining from his indulgence since he has denied it to him. But parents should remember that their children are intelligent beings, and they should deal with them as they themselves would like to be dealt with. ST May 14, 1894, par. 5

It is true that Christ is to be the model for children. He was subject unto his parents; but Christ is also the father's example, and his tender love should be shown by his human agent. The father should be enabled to say, “Thy gentleness hath made me great.” Christ is the model of perfection, both in outward manner and inward grace, for he was meek and gentle of heart. He did not break the bruised reed, nor quench the smoking flax. He enjoyed seeing children and youth happy. He never spoke an unkind, discourteous word. Even in his denunciations of the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, keen and searching though they were, there was no manifestation of an irritated temper. Divine grace alone can correct our objectionable tendencies. ST May 14, 1894, par. 6

When circumstances arise that tempt and irritate us, we should manifest love and sympathy, and cultivate patience under every provocation to anger. Under trying circumstances parents may think it right to manifest sternness; but this is the time when they will need to apply the oil of grace in order to prevent friction in the family. Harshness of temper must be softened and subdued by the love of Christ, in order that parents may be able to deal wisely with their children. When, by the wrong course of some members of the family, a most difficult combination of things comes into existence, which is hard to harmonize, different manifestations of mind will make themselves apparent in those who are to be reproved. Some will be excessively sensitive, others manifest a cold, proud reserve, others be nervous and timid, and others still be excessively irritable. Under such circumstances there will always be need of forbearance, patience, and love. Let all by repentance, forgiveness, and love seek to bring all the sunshine that is possible into the home life, that alienation may be healed, and the family come into unity. ST May 14, 1894, par. 7

The Christian must modify his stern traits of character through the grace of Christ, and cultivate that which is gentle and peaceful. Great harm is done to the cause of Christ when Christians permit their unholy traits of character to misrepresent the gentle, courteous spirit of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Old age at times expects too much of inexperienced youth, and youth expect too much of the aged. Let all take Christ for their example, who never spoke a hasty, discourteous word, or performed a rude action. It is just as much the sacred duty of the aged to grow old gracefully, mellowing in disposition in the autumn of life, as it is for the youth to represent the graces of the character of Christ. Manners are the expression of character, and divine grace can do everything to sanctify the character. Therefore, “let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” ST May 14, 1894, par. 8