The Signs of the Times


February 18, 1897

The Responsibility of Parents


The training of children is one of the most solemn responsibilities ever committed to mortals. Children are the Lord's heritage, and he would have them educated to be coworkers with him. He has a special interest in this work; for in children he sees talent and influence, which, when controlled by his Holy Spirit, will become a power for good, and bring glory to his name. Christ died to save children, and he is ready to do a great work for them if parents will cooperate with him by training and educating them according to the instructions he has given. This should be the first work of all parents. ST February 18, 1897, par. 1

God holds us responsible for every ray of light that he has permitted to shine upon us. We are to reflect this light to others in clear and certain rays. “As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God.” These are made the depositaries of truth. This truth they hold in trust, and it is their duty to make it known to all, especially to the children. But too often our neglect to fulfil our responsibilities as God requires us to, leaves us in an uncertain position. Few can bear the light of God's word without a feeling of self-reproach because of a defective performance of duty. ST February 18, 1897, par. 2

As the child is in habits and manners, so the man will be. What earnest work, then, should be bestowed upon the character building of children! When very young, children are susceptible to divine influences. The Lord takes these children under his special care; and when they are brought up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, they are a help and not a hindrance to their parents. But too often the indifference of parents leads them to neglect their children; they have little idea of how to train them for the Master. ST February 18, 1897, par. 3

Those who deal with children need a large supply of the grace of Christ. God would have them dealt with wisely, tenderly, and yet firmly, that their feet may not stray over the boundary, to the side of the enemy. Those parents who realize their God-given responsibility in this matter, will have faith in God, and will work with travail of soul for their children, that their minds, their hands, and their hearts may be consecrated to the service of God. ST February 18, 1897, par. 4

The character and experience of John the Baptist, the forerunner of Christ, should be an encouragement to parents in the training of their children. John did not make his home in the cities and villages. From childhood to youth, and from youth to manhood, he lived in the wilderness. But he did not live thus for any selfish purpose. In his time the Jewish religious teachers had well-nigh lost all spiritual life. Nothing in their teaching stood out clear and convincing. They had so inclosed themselves within themselves, and were regarded as possessing such sanctity, that none of the people disputed what they said or taught. ST February 18, 1897, par. 5

But the life of John was a special life; and it was the will of God that he should separate from the busy haunts of men, and learn his life lessons from nature and from nature's God, receiving his impressions from him alone. His work was to prepare the way for the Messiah. He looked upon his mind as belonging to God, and he brought his thoughts into obedience to Christ. He trained his mind to contemplate the great and important truths of the Word of God, and insensibly it broadened and acquired an expansion that enabled him to comprehend spiritual things. ST February 18, 1897, par. 6

So it will be now. The mind that is given to God, to be molded and fashioned after the divine similitude, will grow in power. As we work in God's lines, recognizing our accountability to do the work he has given us to do, we continually receive a supply of grace to impart to others. ST February 18, 1897, par. 7

It is important that the standard God has set for us be not lowered. We feel alarmed at the discrepancy seen between our obligations to God and the manner in which we meet them. But we can not cure this evil by lowering the standard, in order that our deficiencies may pass. With the example of John and of Christ before us, can we do less than elevate the standard of purity and holiness? ST February 18, 1897, par. 8

God has honored the young. He chose Joseph in his youth to do a special work for his people. He called Samuel, and committed to him a solemn message. By a solemn vow, before his birth, Hannah had given Samuel to the Lord. After his birth, true to her vow, she took him to the tabernacle. “But Samuel ministered before the Lord, being a child, girded with a linen ephod. Moreover his mother made him a little coat, and brought it to him from year to year, when she came up with her husband to offer the yearly sacrifice.” How many prayers the mother stitched into this token of love for her child! Of Samuel it was said, as of John the Baptist and of Christ, “And the child Samuel grew on, and was in favor both with the Lord, and also with men.” From this we see that the Lord watches over children, noting with intense interest the characters which they form. ST February 18, 1897, par. 9

When parents have the Word of God before them, defining what he approves and what he disapproves, they have no excuse for following a wrong course. But, notwithstanding this, there is a neglect to teach children in the way of the Lord,—a fearful, terrible neglect; and many children are lost to Jesus for want of careful training. Parents have neglected their God-given responsibilities and Satan has taken possession of their children. Under his direction, by their evil communication they corrupt other children. Thus Satan has the children, even of professed Christians, under his control. But still the parents pass on indifferently, as if they were not neglecting one of the most solemn responsibilities ever given to man. ST February 18, 1897, par. 10

Parents, if you wish the minds of your children to be evil, let them have their own way. There will then be such a development of wrong that the heavenly angels will look down with grief and sadness upon parents and children. ST February 18, 1897, par. 11

God has given parents a warning in the history of Eli's family. Eli neglected the duty resting upon him as a parent. He indulged his sons, failing to restrain their wrong habits and practises. “The sons of Eli were sons of Belial; they knew not the Lord.” Yet in spite of this, tho utterly unfitted for the work of God, they served in holy office; and God was dishonored. ST February 18, 1897, par. 12

Eli remonstrated with his sons, saying: “Nay, my sons; for it is no good report that I hear; ye make the Lord's people to transgress,” But he took no decided measures to restrain them, and “they hearkened not unto the voice of their father.” The Lord held Eli responsible for the terrible example set by his sons. He was judge in Israel, but he neglected the duties resting upon him. ST February 18, 1897, par. 13

God sent a messenger to Eli, to unfold to him what he had done for him by exalting him to the most honorable position in the kingdom, making him priest and judge, and connecting him with himself as the one who was to carry out his mind; the messenger was to tell him also of the punishment to come upon himself and house because of his sin. “Behold, the days come,” he said, “that I will cut off thine arm, and the arm of thy father's house, that there shall not be an old man in thine house.... And this shall be a sign unto thee, that shall come upon thy two sons, on Hophni and Phinehas; in one day they shall die both of them.” ST February 18, 1897, par. 14

The Lord came no more to Eli. By failing to judge his own sons, by neglecting to separate them from the Lord's service, he dishonored God. The Lord spoke no more to him. Calling the youthful Samuel, he revealed to him what was to come upon Eli. ST February 18, 1897, par. 15

How much might have been averted had Eli followed the counsel of the Lord, and carefully trained his sons in their childhood and youth! Let parents take this lesson to heart, and instead of allowing their children to indulge and gratify self, educate them to control themselves, and to keep God's glory in view. ST February 18, 1897, par. 16

Parents should teach their children to work for Christ; they should school them for actual service. O, that I could make my voice heard and my influence felt nigh and afar off, that parents might realize their responsibility in this matter! Your children are the Lord's heritage; and he will one day ask of every parent, “Where is the flock that was given thee, thy beautiful flock?” ST February 18, 1897, par. 17

Parents, take your children with you into your religious exercises. Throw around them the arms of your faith, and consecrate them to Christ. Do not allow anything to cause you to throw off your responsibility to train them aright; do not let any worldly interest induce you to leave them behind. Never let your Christian life isolate them from you. Bring them with you to the Lord; educate their minds to become familiar with divine truth. Let them associate with those that love God. Bring them to the people of God as children whom you are seeking to help to build characters fit for eternity. ST February 18, 1897, par. 18

Of Abraham the Lord declared, “I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment.” Abraham made straight paths for his feet, lest the lame should be turned out of the way. He faithfully discharged his duty, and the Lord blessed him, and made him a blessing. This is the path in which the Lord would have all parents walk. Parents, study this example which has been left on record for you, and strive earnestly to follow it. When you fulfil your God-given duties, as did Abraham, God will commend you in the heavenly courts, as he did Abraham. ST February 18, 1897, par. 19

Mrs. E. G. White