The Signs of the Times


September 22, 1881

Temperance in the Family


Our accountability extends beyond our own well-being. Our influence is constantly affecting others, either for good or for evil. In a pre-eminent degree is this true of all parents. Fathers and mothers who gratify inclination and perverted appetite, at the expense of health, are not only working against their own physical life and moral advancement, but they leave their perverted appetite and their enfeebled moral power, to their children. ST September 22, 1881, par. 1

Liquor drinkers and tobacco devotees transmit their insatiable craving, their irritable nerves, and their inflamed, corrupted blood to their offspring. The licentious hand down their own weakness and wickedness, with a host of vile and loathsome diseases, as an inheritance to their children. Fashionable vices are debilitating and debasing the race. In physical strength, and in moral and intellectual power, every generation falls lower than the preceding. In consequence of the sinful habits of men, the world has become a vast lazar house.* Satan exults at the success of his devices. Society is demoralized, the church is cursed, and God is dishonored. ST September 22, 1881, par. 2

The violation of God's law lies at the foundation of all the misery that flesh is heir to. It is intemperance, transgression of the laws of life and health, that has shortened the years of men, and made these few years full of sorrow and pain. Parents are not only responsible in most cases for the violent passions and perverted appetites of their children, but for the infirmities of the thousands born deaf and blind and idiotic. Sins of omission and of commission have brought the sure result. ST September 22, 1881, par. 3

The effect of stimulants and narcotics is to lessen physical strength; and whatever affects the body, will affect the mind. A stimulant may for a time arouse the energies and produce mental and physical activity; but when the exhilarating influence is gone, both mind and body will be in a worse condition than before. Intoxicating liquors and tobacco have proved a terrible curse to our race, not only weakening the body and confusing the mind, but debasing the morals. As the control of reason is set aside, the animal passions will bear sway. The more freely these poisons are used, the more brutish will become the nature and disposition of men. ST September 22, 1881, par. 4

Parents who indulge appetite by eating to excess even of wholesome food, place a needless tax upon the system, and their children will be disposed to self-indulgence and gluttony. Such parents transmit their own perverted appetites to their offspring, who have far less moral power to resist temptation than had the parents. Then, instead of seeking to cure the evil which they have wrought, these fathers and mothers, by their own example, educate their children to indulge appetite regardless of reason, and to give loose rein to animal propensities. Many children die before reaching maturity, while many are ruined for time and for eternity, by tempers and appetites transmitted in consequence of the sinful indulgences of the parents. ST September 22, 1881, par. 5

Unwise, self-indulgent, weak-principled women will urge upon the mother the gratification of every wish and impulse as essential to the well-being of her offspring. But the error of such teaching is clearly seen in the light of facts presented in Bible history. The mother is by the command of God himself placed under the most solemn obligation to restrain perverted appetite. Whose voice will we heed—the teachings of infinite wisdom, or the voice of human ignorance, weakness, and superstition? ST September 22, 1881, par. 6

The thoughts and feelings of the mother will have a powerful influence upon the legacy she gives her child. If she allows her mind to dwell upon her own feelings, if she indulges in selfishness, if she is peevish and exacting, the disposition of her child will testify to the fact. Thus many have received as a birthright almost unconquerable tendencies to evil. The enemy of souls understands this matter much better than do many parents. He will bring his temptations to bear upon the mother, knowing that if she does not resist him, he can through her affect her child. The mother's only hope is in God. She may flee to him for strength and grace; and she will not seek in vain. Fathers as well as mothers are involved in this responsibility, and they too should seek earnestly for divine grace, that their influence may be such as God can approve. ST September 22, 1881, par. 7

It is a deplorable fact that there is a widespread neglect of these precepts of the Bible which have a bearing upon life and health. Many make the subject of temperance a matter of jest. They claim that the Lord does not concern himself with such minor matters as our eating and drinking. But if the Lord had no care for these things, he would not have revealed himself to the wife of Manoah, giving her definite instructions, and twice enjoining upon her to beware lest she disregard them. Is not this sufficient evidence that he does care for these things? ST September 22, 1881, par. 8

The inquiry of fathers and mothers should be, “What shall we do unto the child that shall be born unto us?” We have brought before the reader what God has said concerning the course of the mother before the birth of her children. But this is not all. The angel Gabriel was sent from the heavenly courts to give directions for the care of children after their birth, that parents might fully understand their duty. ST September 22, 1881, par. 9

About the time of Christ's first advent, the angel Gabriel came to Zacharias with a message similar to that given to Manoah. The aged priest was told that his wife should bear a son, whose name should be called John. “And,” said the angel, “thou shalt have joy and gladness, and many shall rejoice at his birth. For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost.” This child of promise was to be brought up with strictly temperate habits. An important work of reform was to be committed to him, to prepare the way for Christ. Intemperance in every form existed among the people. Indulgence in wine and luxurious food was lessening physical strength, and debasing the morals to such an extent that the most revolting crimes did not appear sinful. The voice of John was to sound forth from the wilderness in stern rebuke for the sinful indulgences of the people, and his own abstemious habits were also to be a reproof of the excesses of his time. ST September 22, 1881, par. 10

The efforts of our temperance workers are not sufficiently far-reaching to banish the curse of intemperance from our land. Habits once formed are hard to overcome. The reform should begin with the mother before the birth of her children, and if God's instructions were faithfully obeyed, intemperance would not exist. ST September 22, 1881, par. 11

It should be the constant effort of every mother to conform her habits to God's will, that she may work in harmony with him to preserve her children from the health and life destroying vices of the present day. Let mothers place themselves without delay in right relations to their Creator, that they may by his assisting grace build around their children a bulwark against dissipation and intemperance. If mothers would but follow such a course, they might see their children, like the youthful Daniel, reach a high standard in moral and intellectual attainments, becoming a blessing to society and an honor to their Creator. ST September 22, 1881, par. 12

Had parents for years past studied the Scriptures more and the magazines of fashion less, had they realized that their course might determine the destiny of hundreds, and perhaps of thousands, what a different state of society might now exist. We are responsible for the good we might have done, but failed to perform, because by sinful indulgence we placed ourselves in a condition of physical and mental inefficiency. The cause of reform today is suffering for want of men and women of integrity and moral worth. They are needed to advocate by precept and example the principles of self-denial which will be a safeguard to our youth. ST September 22, 1881, par. 13

Can we look upon the unbelief, intemperance, and crime that seems to be deluging the earth, without feeling our souls stirred to the very depths? Infidelity is rearing its proud head. “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.” The cry of fathers and mothers and of nations that have forsaken God, and have been forsaken by him, will ere long rend the heavens. What can hinder the crime, what stay the woe that is upon all nations? This evil might have been prevented, had previous generations been trained to fear and love and reverence God. Let us now do what we can individually to bring about these changes. Explicit instructions have been given in the word of God. Let these principles be carried out by the mother, with the co-operation and support of the father, and let children be trained from infancy to habits of self-control. Let them be taught that it is not the object of life to indulge sensual appetites, but to honor God and to bless their fellowmen. ST September 22, 1881, par. 14

Fathers and mothers, labor earnestly and faithfully, relying on God for grace and wisdom. Be firm and yet mild. In all your commands aim to secure the highest good of your children, and then see that these commands are obeyed. Your energy and decision must be unwavering, yet ever in subjection to the Spirit of Christ. Then indeed may we hope to see “our sons as plants grown up in their youth, and our daughters as corner-stones, polished after the similitude of a palace.” ST September 22, 1881, par. 15