The Signs of the Times


November 24, 1881

God's Word the Parent's Guide


Our great enemy is constantly seeking to make men believe themselves wiser than their Creator. Like Eve, many follow the dictates of human wisdom, in preference to the commands of the Omniscient One. Such was the sin of Eli; and terrible indeed were its results,—disaster and death to himself, ruin to his wicked sons, and ruin to thousands in Israel. ST November 24, 1881, par. 1

Yet there are many today, standing like Eli in holy office, who are making the same mistake. They read his mournful history, but fail to profit by the warning. In their self-confidence they think they know a better way of training their children than that which God has given us in his word. The earnest, anxious prayer does not ascend from their hearts, “Teach us, how shall we order the child, and what shall we do unto him?” With all their learning and intelligence, the results of their training show the vaunted wisdom of these persons to be but folly. Fond, indulgent parents, they allow their children to grow up from babyhood without restraint; and thus their forward, selfish, disagreeable ways become confirmed habits, rendering them unloving and unlovable. ST November 24, 1881, par. 2

God himself established the family relations. His word is the only safe guide in the management of children. Human philosophy has not discovered more than God knows, or devised a wiser plan of dealing with children than that given by our Lord. Who can better understand all the needs of children than their Creator? Who can feel a deeper interest in their welfare than He who bought them with his own blood? If the word of God were carefully studied and faithfully obeyed, there would be less soul-anguish over the perverse conduct of wicked children. ST November 24, 1881, par. 3

Eli was quick to see and rebuke the sins and errors of the people, sometimes, as in the case of Hannah, even administering unjust reproof; but the sins of his own sons seemed to him less offensive than the sins of others. In his undue affection he was ever ready to find excuses for their perverse course. All this was dishonoring God and misleading the people. To just such an extent as he permitted or excused sin in his children, did he become a partaker in their guilt. As sons of the high priest, they were connected with the work of God, and thus the evil and the sin were greatly heightened. ST November 24, 1881, par. 4

It is very natural for parents to be partial to their own children. Especially if these parents feel that they themselves possess superior ability, they will regard their children as superior to other children. Hence much that would be severely censured in others is passed over in their own children as smart and witty. While this partiality is natural, it is unjust and unchristian. A great wrong is done our children when we permit their faults to go uncorrected. Many foster wrong traits of character in their children, urging as an excuse, “They are too young to be punished. Wait until they become older, and can be reasoned with. They will outgrow many of these evil tendencies.” Thus their wrong habits are left to grow and strengthen until they become second nature. Sometimes the father and mother are united in this error. Sometimes one would gladly pursue a wiser course; but when that one attempts to enforce obedience, the other takes the part of the child, and will not allow it to be brought into submission. The sad results of such a course can be fully seen only in eternity. They can never be estimated in this life. ST November 24, 1881, par. 5

But great as are the evils of parental unfaithfulness under any circumstances, they are tenfold greater when they exist in the family of those who stand in Christ's stead, to instruct the people. Ministers of the gospel, who fail to control their own households, are, by their wrong example, misleading many. They sanction the growth of evil, instead of repressing it. Many who consider themselves excellent judges of what other children should be and what they should do, are blind to the defects of their own sons and daughters. Such a lack of divine wisdom in those who profess to teach the word of God, is working untold evil. It tends to efface from the minds of the people the distinction between right and wrong, purity and vice. ST November 24, 1881, par. 6

When ministers and people will exchange their natural pride of heart and independence for a child-like, teachable spirit; when, instead of trusting to their own understanding, and conforming to the maxims and customs of the world, they will sit at the feet of Jesus, and earnestly inquire, “Lord, what will thou have me to do?” then his wisdom will direct them, his Spirit work with their efforts, and we shall see the youth who now drift into the ranks of Satan, serving under the banner of the Prince of Life. ST November 24, 1881, par. 7

Oh that the Elis of today, who are everywhere to be found pleading excuses for the waywardness of their children, would promptly assert their own God-given authority to restrain and correct them. Let parents and guardians, who overlook and excuse sin in those under their care, remember that they thus become accessory to these wrongs. If, instead of unlimited indulgence, the chastening rod were oftener used, not in passion, but with love and prayer, we would see happier families and a better state of society. ST November 24, 1881, par. 8

We have no sympathy with that discipline which would discourage children by hard censure, or irritate them by passionate correction, and then, as the impulse changes, smother them with kisses, or harm them by injurious gratification. Excessive indulgence and undue severity are alike to be avoided. While vigilance and firmness are indispensable, so also are sympathy and tenderness. Parents, remember that you deal with children who are struggling with temptation, and that to them these evil promptings are as hard to resist as are those that assail persons of mature years. Children who really desire to do right may fail again and again, and as often need encouragement to energy and perseverance. Watch the workings of these young minds with prayerful solicitude. Strengthen every good impulse, encourage every noble action. The Lord, through an apostle, admonishes parents, “Provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.” The word of God is your guide, Christian parents. Depart not from it to gratify any impulse of passion or of affection. ST November 24, 1881, par. 9

If parents desire to teach their children self-control, they must first form the habit themselves. The scolding and fault-finding of parents, encourages a hasty, passionate temper in their children. Love and justice should stand side by side in the government of the household. Let prompt obedience to parental authority be invariably enforced. God has given parents their work, to form the characters of their children after the Divine Pattern. By his grace, they can accomplish the task; but it will require patient, painstaking effort, no less than firmness and decision, to guide the will and restrain the passions. A field left to itself produces only thorns and briers. He who would secure a harvest for usefulness or beauty must first prepare the soil and sow the seed, then dig about the young shoots, removing the weeds and softening the earth, and the precious plants will flourish and richly repay his care and labor. ST November 24, 1881, par. 10

The work of parents is continuous. It should not be laid hold of vigorously for one day, and neglected the next. Many are ready to begin the work, but are not willing to persevere in it. They are eager to do some great thing, to make some great sacrifice; but they shrink from the unceasing care and effort in the little things of every-day life, the hourly pruning and training of the wayward tendencies, the work of giving instruction, reproof, or encouragement, little by little, as it is needed. They wish to see children correct their faults and form right characters at once, reaching the mountain-top at a bound, and not by successive steps; and because their hopes are not immediately realized, they become disheartened. Let all such persons take courage as they remember the words of the apostle, “Be not weary in well doing; for in due season ye shall reap, if ye faint not.” ST November 24, 1881, par. 11

Satan has prepared his snares for parents, tempting them to extravagance in dress, to an unnecessary outlay of time and money in the preparation of food, and to needless indulgence in many other forms. The demands of fashion so fully engross the time and attention that little room is left for communion with God, self-discipline, or the training of children. Thus too many parents let slip from their shoulders the responsibility of family government. It requires earnest heart-work to repress evil tendencies, strengthen weak principles, develop good and lovely traits of character, and direct all the powers of mind and body in the right channel. Fathers and mothers, will you not lay hold of your work with energy, perseverance, and love? Sow the precious seed daily, with earnest prayer that God will water it with the dews of grace, and grant you an abundant harvest. The Son of God died to redeem a sinful, rebellious race. Shall we shrink from any toil or sacrifice to save our own dear children? ST November 24, 1881, par. 12

By precept and example, let the young be taught reverence for God and for his word. Many of our youth are becoming infidels at heart, because of the lack of devotion in their parents. The law of God should be the law of the household. Let fathers and mothers kindly and patiently instruct their children, both from the inspired word and from the book of nature, leading them to understand the character of God. Let them show in their own lives that they are continually seeking to know and to do his will. To secure the approval of their Heavenly Father is the great motive to be ever kept before the minds of children. The service of God should be presented, not as an irksome task, but as a precious privilege, by which they may enjoy an honored, useful, and happy life here, and infinitely greater honor, usefulness, and joy in the life hereafter. ST November 24, 1881, par. 13

God has permitted light from his throne to shine all along the path of life. A pillar of cloud by day, a pillar of fire by night, is moving before us as before ancient Israel. It is the privilege of Christian parents today, as it was the privilege of God's people of old, to bring their children with them to the promised land. ST November 24, 1881, par. 14