The Signs of the Times


October 2, 1884

Happy and Unhappy Homes


Many are unhappy in their home life because they are trying so hard to keep up appearances. They expend large sums of money, and labor unremittingly, that they may make a display, and gain the praise of their associates,—those who really care nothing for them or their prosperity. One article after another is considered indispensable to the household appointments, until many expensive additions are made, that, while they please the eye and gratify pride and ambition, do not in the least increase the comfort of the family. And yet these things have taxed the strength and patience, and consumed valuable time which should have been given to the service of the Lord. ST October 2, 1884, par. 1

The precious grace of God is made secondary to matters of no real importance; and many, while collecting material for enjoyment, lose the capacity for happiness. They find that their possessions fail to give the satisfaction they had hoped to derive from them. This endless round of labor, this unceasing anxiety to embellish the home for visitors and strangers to admire, never pays for the time and means thus expended. It is placing upon the neck a yoke of bondage grievous to be borne. ST October 2, 1884, par. 2

Four walls and costly furniture, velvet carpets, elegant mirrors, and fine pictures, do not make a “home” if sympathy and love are wanting. That sacred word does not belong to the glittering mansion where the joys of domestic life are unknown. There are spacious parlors closed from the sweet sunshine and life-giving air, for fear these choicest gifts of Heaven might tarnish the furniture and fade the carpets. These rooms are sunless and damp, unlighted and unheated save when visitors are to be entertained. Then the doors are thrown open, and the beautiful rooms, too fine for the use and comfort of the family, are devoted to unsympathizing acquaintances. ST October 2, 1884, par. 3

These rooms are altogether too precious for every-day use; above all, the children must be strictly excluded from their precincts, for fear of soiling the furniture or the curtains. In fact, the comfort and welfare of the children are the last things thought of in such a home. They are neglected by the mother, whose whole time is devoted to keeping up appearances and meeting the claims of fashionable society. Their minds are untrained, they acquire bad habits, and become restless and dissatisfied. Finding no pleasure in their own homes, but only uncomfortable restrictions, they break away from the family circle as soon as possible. They launch out into the great world with little reluctance, unrestrained by home influence, and the tender counsel of the hearth-stone. ST October 2, 1884, par. 4

How different is it in the Christian home, where the mother is attentive to the wants of husband and children, and takes pleasure in the performance of her sweet home duties; where the father co-operates in all her efforts to make home happy, and to lay the foundation of a good Christian character by training the children in the way they should go. Such parents, while they win the affections of their children by their sympathy and tender care, will yet be firm and decided in their government, and will guard them with jealous care. They will exhort, reprove, and counsel their children when they rise up, and when they sit down; when they go out, and when they come in. It will be “line upon line, precept upon precept; here a little, and there a little.” In such homes angels will love to linger; and who can tell what an influence for good shall go out from them? ST October 2, 1884, par. 5

It does not require costly surroundings and expensive furniture to make children contented and happy in their homes; but it is necessary that the parents give them tender love and careful attention. Parents should by their example encourage the formation of habits of simplicity, and draw their children away from an artificial to a natural life. Gentle manners, cheerful conversation, and loving acts will bind the hearts of children to their parents by the silken cords of affection, and will do more to make home attractive then the rarest ornaments that can be bought for gold. ST October 2, 1884, par. 6

There are but few true fathers and mothers in this age of the world, and this is owing more to the artificial lives that are so generally led than to any other cause. There should be less anxiety for external appearances, but more earnest effort to secure practical comfort in every room throughout the house. Less parade in the parlor, and more time devoted to the training of the children, to the preparation of simple, wholesome food, and to the general economy and comfort of the household, would make happy hearts and pleasant faces in the home. There are many who should live less for the outside world, and more for the members of their own family circle. There should be less display of superficial politeness and affection toward strangers and visitors, and more of the courtesy that springs from genuine love and sympathy toward the dear ones of our own firesides. ST October 2, 1884, par. 7

The very best part of the house, the sunniest and most inviting rooms, and the most comfortable furniture, should be in daily use by those who really live in the house. This will make home attractive to the inmates, and also to that class of friends who really care for us, whom we could benefit, and by whom we could be benefited. But those guests who are attracted to us by the prospect of sumptuous dinners and an extravagant luxury of style, are not the ones whose companionship will improve our minds and hearts. We have no moral right to spend our time and means in entertaining such visitors, while our precious, God-given children are suffering gross neglect. ST October 2, 1884, par. 8

But it is so flattering to the pride of some persons to exhibit a certain extravagant and fashionable style of living for the benefit of occasional guests, that they are willing to sacrifice the peace and comfort of the household for this empty gratification. The fine mansion, the costly furniture and ornaments, the toil in serving up dainty dishes to gratify the appetite, the expensive entertainments which swallow up money and time, and the dashing carriages designed more for show than comfort, bring no peaceful contentment. They have no connection with the real joys of life; they interfere with domestic quiet, and unfit the mind for the homely but pleasant duties of practical life. ST October 2, 1884, par. 9

As these extravagances fail to satisfy their possessors, they blindly seek to remedy the failure by adding new luxuries, and plunging deeper into the whirlpool of fashionable society. But the inevitable result is greater dissatisfaction, and an increase of care and anxiety. Decorations of dress and houses do not make people happy; but the lowliest dwelling may be beautified, and the poorest family be made rich, by the possession of meekness, kindness and love. Pleasant voices, gentle manners, and sincere affection that finds expression in all the actions, together with industry, neatness, and economy, make even a hovel the happiest of homes. The Creator regards such a home with approbation; and the inmates, though they have not “that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, and of putting on of apparel,” have that which is far better.—“the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.” ST October 2, 1884, par. 10

“Godliness with contentment is great gain.” It is “profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.” We should open our hearts and houses to the Lord. The restraint which his word imposes upon us is for our own interest. It increases the happiness of our families and of all about us. It refines the taste, sanctifies the judgment, and brings peace of mind, and in the end, everlasting life. ST October 2, 1884, par. 11