Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 7 (1891-1892)


Ms 18, 1891

Relation of Children and Parents



Portions of this manuscript are published in AH 177-178, 360-363; CG 237-238; ML 200.

The condition of children who do not respect the counsel of their parents is one that fills me with fear and distress; for God requires that respect and even honor should be given by children to their parents. The fulfilment of every precept of the law will be followed by the promised blessing; but with every transgression will come the threatened retribution upon the transgressor. The fifth commandment, if kept by children, will bring a blessing upon them; if disobeyed, will bring a curse. God has commanded, “Honor thy father and thy mother.” [Exodus 20:12.] 7LtMs, Ms 18, 1891, par. 1

Is it a commandment keeper, a Christian daughter, who will say, “I hate my father or my mother?” Christ has said, “He that hateth his brother is a murderer” [1 John 3:15], and what can be said of a child who hates the mother who gave him or her birth? The character of this evil has been presented before me in such a light that human words seem weak to express its hateful character. How especially dreadful is the thought of a child turning in hatred upon a mother who has become old and feeble, upon whom has come those infirmities of disposition attendant upon second childhood. How patiently, how tenderly, should children bear with such a mother! Tender words which will not irritate the spirit should be spoken. A true Christian will never be unkind, never under any circumstances be neglectful of his father or mother, but will heed the command, “Honor thy father and thy mother.” [Exodus 20:12.] God has said, “Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honor the face of the old man.” [Leviticus 19:32.] 7LtMs, Ms 18, 1891, par. 2

The obligation resting upon children to honor their parents is of life-long duration. If the parents are feeble, and old the affection and attention of the children should be bestowed in proportion to the need of father and mother. Nobly, decidedly, the children should shape their course of action even if it requires self-denial, so that every thought of anxiety and perplexity may be removed from the minds of the parents. 7LtMs, Ms 18, 1891, par. 3

While children are under obligation to do honor to their parents, parents are required to train up their children in the way of the Lord. Some children are naturally more obstinate than others and will not yield to discipline, and in consequence they make themselves very unattractive and disagreeable. If the mother has not wisdom to deal with this phase of character, a most unhappy state of affairs will follow; for such children will have their own way to their own destruction. But how terrible for a child to cherish a spirit of obstinacy, not only in childhood, but in more mature years, and because of a lack of agreement in childhood, nourish bitterness and unkindness in manhood and womanhood toward the mother who failed to bring her children under restraint. 7LtMs, Ms 18, 1891, par. 4

When parents permit a child to show them disrespect in childhood, allowing them to speak pettishly and even harshly, there will be a dreadful harvest to be reaped in after years. When parents fail to require prompt and perfect obedience in their children, they fail to lay the right foundation of character in their little ones. They prepare their children to dishonor them when they are old and bring sorrow to their hearts when they are nearing the grave, unless the grace of Christ changes the hearts and transforms the characters of their children. Said one of her mother, “I always hated my mother, and my mother hated me.” These words stand registered in the books of heaven to be opened and revealed in the day of judgment when every one shall be rewarded according to his works. 7LtMs, Ms 18, 1891, par. 5

If children think that they were treated with severity in their childhood, will it help them to grow in grace and in the knowledge of Christ, will it make them reflect His image to cherish a spirit of retaliation and revenge against their parents, especially when they are old and feeble? Will not the very helplessness of the parents plead for the children’s love? Will not the necessities of the aged father and mother call forth the noble feelings of the heart, and through the grace of Christ, shall not the parents be treated with kind attention and respect by their offspring? O let not the heart be made as adamant as steel against father and mother! How can a daughter professing the name of Christ cherish hatred against her mother, especially if that mother is sick and old? Let kindness and love, the sweetest fruits of Christian life, find a place in the heart of children toward their parents. 7LtMs, Ms 18, 1891, par. 6

Let those composing the family circle pray that God will sanctify their tongues, their ears, their eyes, and every member of their body. When brought into contact with evil, it is not necessary to be overcome of evil. Christ has made it possible for the character to be fragrant with good. If we are Christians we shall grow up into the character of Christ. Each day we will advance in heavenly knowledge, attaining more and more unto the full stature of men and women in Jesus. How many dishonor Christ and misrepresent His character in the home circle! How many do not manifest patience, forbearance, forgiveness, and true love! Many have their likes and dislikes and feel at liberty to manifest their own perverse disposition rather than to reveal the will, the works, the character of Christ. 7LtMs, Ms 18, 1891, par. 7

The life of Jesus is full of kindness and love. Are we growing into His divine nature? It was kindness and love that linked earth with heaven; and for your soul’s sake you should cultivate a compassionate disposition, a tender heart, which will ever be touched with the feebleness of human woe. Do not think it is an evidence of weakness to be compassionate, gentle, easy to be entreated, not to do wrong, but to do right. 7LtMs, Ms 18, 1891, par. 8

Children should be educated to love and care tenderly for father and mother. Care for them, children, yourselves, for no other hand can do the little acts of kindness with the acceptance that you can do them. Improve your precious opportunity to scatter seeds of kindness. You are in a school where heavenly agencies are ready to co-operate with you. Your looks are to reveal true Christlikeness in your heart. Your words are to come from the treasure of the soul, words of comfort and encouragement and hope for your afflicted father and mother. They will not long require your favors. 7LtMs, Ms 18, 1891, par. 9

Children, let your parents, infirm and unable to care for themselves, find their last days filled with contentment, peace, and love. For Christ’s sake let them go down to the grave receiving from you only words of kindness, love, mercy, and forgiveness. You desire the Lord to love and pity and forgive you, and to make all your bed in your sickness, and will you not treat others as you would wish to be treated yourself? 7LtMs, Ms 18, 1891, par. 10

“Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have you? Do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? Do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is also perfect.” [Matthew 5:43-48.] 7LtMs, Ms 18, 1891, par. 11

Who speaks these words?—it is Jesus, the One who gave His life for the world. Those who have departed from the commandments of God and are impatient, fretful, sour, fractious in spirit, and unkind to husband, wife, children, or parents, need to be converted or they will never see the kingdom of heaven. They need the forgiving spirit of Jesus that, through the merits of the blood of Christ, their sins may be blotted out, and that by His grace their characters may be transformed and made fit for the society of the heavenly family. 7LtMs, Ms 18, 1891, par. 12

“Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” [Leviticus 19:18], and our neighbor is any one with whom we are brought in contact. The Christian life is an earnest, practical life; and true, pure, undefiled religion is bound up with the Christian who lives the life of obedience to all of God’s commandments. This kind of religion is essential to human happiness. The Christian is not to be deficient in any grace of character, but all the graces are to be combined to form the image and character of Him who is the perfect pattern. If one grace is wanting, it must be supplied. One broken link in the chain makes the chain worthless. 7LtMs, Ms 18, 1891, par. 13

The religion of Christ will lead us to do all the good possible to both high and low, rich and poor, happy and oppressed. But especially will it lead to the manifestation of kindness in our own family. It will be manifest by acts of courtesy and love to father and mother, husband, wife and child. We are to look to Jesus, to catch His spirit, to live in the light of His goodness and love, and to reflect His glory upon others. No harsh, rough word is to be spoken, no impatience is to be manifested, no spirit of recrimination is to be indulged. To say that we are children of God when we are not doers of the words of Christ is to deny our own profession. As Christians we must fight the good fight of faith and practice the holy religion of Jesus. Faith works by love and purifies the soul. 7LtMs, Ms 18, 1891, par. 14