The Signs of the Times


April 16, 1896

Parents’ Work in Their Children


“There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia; and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. And they had no child, because that Elizabeth was barren; and they both were now well stricken in years. And it came to pass, that, while he executed the priest's office before God in the order of his course, according to the custom of the priest's office, his lot was to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord. And the whole multitude of the people were praying without at the time of incense. And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him. But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias; for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elizabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John. And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth. For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb. And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.... And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his showing unto Israel.” ST April 16, 1896, par. 1

An angel from heaven came to instruct Zacharias and Elizabeth as to how they should train and educate their child, so as to work in harmony with God in preparing a messenger to announce the coming of Christ. As parents they were to faithfully cooperate with God in forming such a character in John as would fit him to perform the part God had assigned him as a competent worker. John was the son of their old age, he was a child of miracle, and the parents might have reasoned that he had a special work to do for the Lord, and the Lord would take care of him. But the parents did not thus reason; they moved to a retired place in the country, where their son would not be exposed to the temptations of city life, or induced to depart from the counsel and instruction which they as parents would give him. They acted their part in developing a character in the child that would in every way meet the purpose for which God had designed his life. By no careless neglect on their part shall their son fail to become good and wise, “to give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace.” They sacredly fulfilled their obligation. ST April 16, 1896, par. 2

At the time of the birth of John the people generally were addicted to the use of unfermented wine. At the wedding feast in Cana, Christ turned the water into wine. By a miracle he transformed the water into the pure juice of the grape. Wine is good only when it is not fermented. It is then harmless; yet, notwithstanding this, the Lord God of heaven laid down the prohibition that John was to drink neither wine nor strong drink. Unfermented wine soon became sour in Palestine, and neither sweet wine nor sour wine was to pass the lips of John. Christ knew all things; he looked down the ages to our own time, and saw what would be the condition of society in the close of the world's history. He saw thousands upon thousands perishing in the use of wine and strong drink. The world would gradually come into the same state as it was in the days before the flood. But heaven has lifted a danger signal, that men may take warning, and cooperate with God for their own self-preservation. He has given us examples of absolute abstinence, and provided instruction that, if followed, will result in the creation and preservation of the vigor, skill, and excellency of our children. ST April 16, 1896, par. 3

Fathers and mothers should have clear, unclouded minds, unaffected by the indulgence of perverted appetite,—such minds as God can connect with himself for the salvation of souls who are ready to perish. Those who use wine and fermented liquors weaken their physical and mental powers. Their minds become so clouded that it is impossible for them to discern sacred things. But if the human agent shall cooperate with divine agency, his physical and mental development will become higher and better. His mind will enlarge, and he will grow in power to do good. The grandest, most effectual work can be done by parents who follow the instruction of the Lord, and who train their children physically, mentally, and morally according to the Lord's directions. If parents neglect to properly instruct their children, and the youth are left to have their own will and way from the days of their childhood, their characters will be greatly perverted; for the enemy will step in and rejoicingly take into his hands the work of training the children and youth. ST April 16, 1896, par. 4

Why is it that parents do not understand the greatness of the work that has been committed to them? The most patient, unremitting culture is required in order that children and youth may be preserved from the formation of habits that will deteriorate their character. Parents, with much prayer, should carefully guide the inexperienced feet of their children into safe paths. To let the child do as it pleases is to insure proficiency in evil. Satan will manage to make children wise in disobedience, in selfishness, and in all manner of waywardness. Look upon a field that is left unworked, and what an unsightly place it is! Weeds and tares overshadow the precious plants, until finally nothing of worth appears. Early childhood is generally a period when marked depravity is made manifest. The child manifests a strong inclination to evil, and it requires a firm, wise hand to control the little one, or it will grow up in sin, a disagreeable, evil element of society. Parents who do not control their children will be controlled by them, and will indulge their children in vain desires, will gratify perverse appetite and inclination. Unless some one, in the providence of God, shall step in, and undertake the missionary work of training the child, will take it away from its parents, where they will have no opportunity to interfere in its discipline, or to indulge it in perverseness, there will be no hope that the terrible work done by its parents will be counteracted, or the peril of the child's soul be removed. ST April 16, 1896, par. 5

A child who is thus neglected, who is allowed to be willful and disobedient, will carry a malarious influence that will taint and pollute those who come into association with him. At a very early age children become susceptible to demoralizing influences; but parents who profess to be Christians do not seem to discern the evil of their own course of management. O, that they might realize that the bias which is given to a child in its earliest years gives a tendency to character, and shapes the destiny either for eternal life or eternal death! Children are susceptible to moral and spiritual impressions, and those who are wisely trained in childhood may be erring at times, but they will not go far astray. But a child left to form its own character is more likely to choose evil influences than good. ST April 16, 1896, par. 6

Association with evil-minded children is dangerous to the character of children who have been tenderly and carefully reared. Guard your children from every objectionable influence possible; for in childhood they are more ready to receive impressions, either of moral dignity, purity, and loveliness of character, or of selfishness, impurity, and disobedience. Once let them become influenced by the spirit of murmuring, pride, vanity, and impurity, and the taint may be as indelible as life itself. Parents are to look upon their children as intrusted to them of God to be educated for the family above. Train them in the fear and love of God; for “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” ST April 16, 1896, par. 7