The Signs of the Times


August 23, 1877

Home Thoughts


Life is a disappointment and a weariness to many persons because of the unnecessary labor with which they burden themselves in meeting the claims of custom. Their minds are continually harassed with anxiety as to supplying wants which are the offspring of pride and fashion. Jesus, in his sermon on the mount, strikes a direct blow at this engrossing care for the things of this world. He says, “take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?” ‘Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow, they toil not, neither do they spin, and yet I say unto you that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” All the efforts of humanity cannot approach the beauty of Nature. The simple flowers of the field put to shame the robes of royalty. And Fashion, with her endless changes and eccentricities, presents the very opposite of that simple loveliness with which the lilies of the field are clothed, and which Jesus declared exceeds the glory with which Solomon was arrayed. ST August 23, 1877, par. 1

The expense, the care, and labor, lavished on that which, if not positively injurious, is unnecessary, would go far toward advancing the cause of God if applied to a worthier object. People crave what are called the luxuries of life, and sacrifice health, strength, and means to obtain them. A lamentable spirit of rivalry is manifested among persons of the same class as to who shall make the greatest display in matters of dress and of household expenditure. The sweet word, Home is perverted to mean something with four walls, filled with elegant furniture and adornments, while its inmates are on a continual strain to meet the requirements of custom in the different departments of life. ST August 23, 1877, par. 2

It is necessary to give due regard to the clothing, to the table, and to the pursuits by which we gain a livelihood; but there is danger of carrying this zeal to an extreme. In the days of Noah they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, buying, selling, and building, till the flood came and destroyed the people who had been so overzealous in the things of this world that they forgot God, and became abominable in his eyes. It was lawful for men to eat and drink, plant and build, marry and give in marriage, in the days of Noah; but the sin was in carrying these lawful things to extremes, to utterly fill their mind with them to the exclusion of all noble thoughts. Depravity, violence, and all manner of sin was the result. The great danger of these days is in devoting too much time to merely temporal matters, and making it the great aim of life to provide for the temporal wants, many of which are perverted and unnatural. In order to gratify a weak and sinful pride, people sacrifice comfort, peace, and the love of God. ST August 23, 1877, par. 3

Happiness is not found in empty show. The more simple the order of a well-regulated household, the happier will that home be. The courtesies of every-day life, and the affection that should exist between members of the same family, do not depend upon outward circumstances. Much of the restless longing and seeking for “that which profiteth not” is due to wrong training in youth. Each child in the family should have a part of the home burden to bear, and should be taught to perform his task faithfully and cheerfully. If the work is portioned out in this way, and the children grow up accustomed to bearing suitable responsibilities, no member of the household will be overburdened, and everything will move off pleasantly and smoothly in the home. A proper economy will be maintained, for each one will be acquainted with, and interested in, the details of the home. ST August 23, 1877, par. 4

In some families there is too much done. Neatness and order are essential to comfort, but these virtues should not be carried to such an extreme as to make life a period of unceasing drudgery, and to render the inmates of the home miserable. In the houses of some whom we highly esteem, there is a stiff precision about the arrangement of the furniture and belongings that is quite as disagreeable as a lack of order would be. The painful propriety which invests the whole house makes it impossible to find there that rest which one expects in the true home. It is not pleasant, when making a brief visit to dear friends, to see the broom and the duster in constant requisition, and the time which you had anticipated enjoying with your friends in social converse, spent by them in a general tidying-up, and peering into corners in search of a concealed speck of dust or a cob-web. Although this may be done out of respect to your presence in the house, yet you feel a painful conviction that your company is of less consequence to your friends than their ideas of excessive neatness. ST August 23, 1877, par. 5

In direct contrast to such homes was one that we visited during the last summer. Here the few hours of our stay were not spent in useless labor, nor in doing that which could be done as well at some other time; but were occupied in a pleasant and profitable manner, restful alike to mind and body. The house was a model of comfort, although not extravagantly furnished. The rooms were all well lighted and ventilated and every one, including the bed-rooms, was furnished with an open grate that the occupants might enjoy the healthful warmth and glow of an open fire, which is of more real value than the most costly adornments. The parlors were not furnished with that precision which is so tiresome to the eye, but there was a pleasing variety in the articles of furniture. The chairs were mostly rockers or easy-chairs; not all of the same fashion, but adapted to the comfort of the different members of the family. There were low, cushioned rocking-chairs, and high, straight-backed ones; wide, capacious lounging-chairs, and snug little ones; there were also comfortable sofas; and all seemed to say, Try me, Rest in me. There were tables strewn with books and papers. All was neat and attractive, but without that precise arrangement that seems to warn all beholders not to touch anything for fear of getting it out of place. ST August 23, 1877, par. 6

The proprietors of this pleasant home were in such circumstances that they might have furnished and embellished their residence expensively, but they had wisely chosen comfort rather than display. There was nothing in the house considered too good for general use, and the curtains and blinds were not kept closed to keep the carpets from fading and the furniture from tarnishing. The God-given sunlight and air had free ingress, with the fragrance of the flowers in the garden. The family were, of course, in keeping with the home; they were cheerful and entertaining, doing everything needful for our comfort, without oppressing us with so much attention as to make us fear that we were causing extra trouble. We felt that here was a place of rest. This was a Home in the fullest sense of the word. ST August 23, 1877, par. 7

The rigid precision which we have mentioned as being a disagreeable feature of so many homes is not in accordance with the great plan of Nature. God has not caused the flowers of the fields to grow in regular beds, with set borders, but he has scattered them like gems over the greensward, and they beautify the earth with their variety of form and color. The trees of the forest are not in regular order. It is restful to eye and mind to range over the scenes of nature, over forest, hill and valley, plain and river, enjoying the endless diversity of form and color, and the beauty with which trees, shrubs, and flowers, are grouped in nature's garden, making it a picture of loveliness. Childhood, youth, and age can alike find rest and gratification there. ST August 23, 1877, par. 8

This law of variety can be in a measure carried out in the home. There should be a proper harmony of colors, and a general fitness of things in the furnishing of a house; but it is not necessary to good taste that every article of furniture in a room should be of the same pattern in design, material, or upholstery; but, on the contrary, it is more pleasing to the eye that there should be a harmonious variety. ST August 23, 1877, par. 9

But whether the home be humble or elegant, its appointments costly or the reverse, there will be no happiness within its walls unless the spirit of its inmates is in harmony with the Divine will. Contentment should reign within the household. ST August 23, 1877, par. 10

Mrs. E. G. White, in Health Reformer.