The Signs of the Times


September 29, 1881

The Mother a Missionary


An important missionary field is opened before the mother. The humble round of duties which women have learned to regard as a wearisome task, should be looked upon as a grand and noble work. It is the mother's privilege to bless the world by her influence; and in doing this, she will bring joy to her own heart. She may make straight paths for the feet of her children, through sunshine and shadow, to the glorious heights above. Let the mother go often to her Saviour, with the prayer, Teach us, how shall we order the child, and what shall we do unto him? This simple petition, breathed from the heart of the finite, will find its way to the heart of the Infinite. If the mother will but heed with care the instructions already given in the sacred word, she will receive further light and knowledge as she shall have need. ST September 29, 1881, par. 1

It is only when she seeks in her own life to follow the teachings of Christ that the mother can hope to form the characters of her children after the divine pattern. In every generation there have been corrupting influences to blight and contaminate. Fashion and custom exert a strong power over the young. If the mother fails in her duty to instruct, counsel, and restrain, her children will naturally accept the evil and turn from the good. God would have parents enter upon their work with energy and courage, and prosecute it with fidelity. Whatever he has made it their duty to do, he will give them wisdom and strength to accomplish. ST September 29, 1881, par. 2

While they should, above all else, train their children for the future life, parents should by no means neglect to prepare them for the present life. The mother should study how she may best train her sons and daughters to become useful and happy members of society. She should remember that every habit formed, every thought or feeling cherished, every act performed, however unimportant, will either promote or hinder the accomplishment of this object. The Lord desires that we should enjoy the blessings with which he has surrounded us, and that in all the acts of our lives we should express our continual gratitude. We can do this, not by neglecting and abusing his gifts, but by putting them to a wise and noble use, by exerting a right influence over our fellow-men, by reforming wrong customs, instead of following them. “Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart.” It is only in pursuing a right course that light and gladness attend our path. ST September 29, 1881, par. 3

Society is molded by the influence of the mother. She may be wholly occupied within the narrow limits of her home, apparently engaged in life's humblest duties; yet if she does her work as well as she may do it, in the fear of God, she is gaining greater victories than the leader of armed hosts. She may send forth from her home young men and young women strong in right habits and firm principles. The upright deportment and unblemished morals of her children will be a blessing to the church and to society. ST September 29, 1881, par. 4

God brought the Israelites from Egypt that he might establish them in the land of Canaan, a pure, holy, and happy people. In the accomplishment of this object he subjected them to a course of discipline, both for their own good and for the good of posterity. Had they been willing to deny appetite, in obedience to his wise restrictions, there would have been no feeble ones in all their tribes. Their descendants would have possessed both physical and mental strength. They would have had clear perceptions of truth and duty, keen discrimination, and sound judgment. But the requirements of God were disregarded then as they are disregarded now. The people were dissatisfied with the simple, wholesome food which had been provided by their Creator. Habits of self-indulgence brought the sure result,—degeneracy and decay. ST September 29, 1881, par. 5

God's commands are never designed to make men unhappy. They are the dictates of infinite wisdom, goodness, and love. While they secure the glory of God, they also promote the happiness of men. His restrictions are a safeguard against depravity of heart and corruption of life. The appetites and passions, indulged without restraint, enslave and degrade the higher and nobler powers. ST September 29, 1881, par. 6

Intemperance in eating and drinking leads to the indulgence of the animal passions. And those who, understanding the effect of their course, indulge appetite and passion at the expense of health and usefulness, are preparing the way to disregard all moral obligations. When temptation assails them, they have little power of resistance. This was the cause of Israel's continual backsliding; and it is the reason why there is so much crime and so little true godliness in the world today. The only path of safety is the path of daily restraint and self-denial. ST September 29, 1881, par. 7

Nothing but the power of God, combined with human effort, can accomplish the work of ennobling and uplifting our race. Had men been willing to learn the lessons which God had given them, successive generations would not have deteriorated so greatly in physical, mental, and moral power. Christ, enshrouded in the cloudy pillar, had spoken again and again to Israel for their good; but they had not heeded his voice. Again he appeared to Manoah and his wife with definite instructions concerning the course she should pursue to insure physical and moral health to her offspring. God had a work for the promised child of Manoah to do,—a work which would require careful thought and vigorous action. It was to secure for him the qualities necessary for this work that all his habits were to be carefully regulated. There are today many statesmen, senators, lawyers, judges, and others in responsible positions, whose physical habits have been, nearly all their life-time, at war with natural laws. At the outset of their career, these men may have possessed rare intellectual powers; but the precious gifts of God have been soiled and dimmed, and in too many cases buried, in the mire of self-indulgence. ST September 29, 1881, par. 8

He who will observe simplicity in all his habits, restricting the appetite and controlling the passions, may preserve his mental powers strong, active, and vigorous, quick to perceive everything which demands thought or action, keen to discriminate between the holy and the unholy, and ready to engage in every enterprise for the glory of God and the benefit of humanity. ST September 29, 1881, par. 9

It is the mother's work to train, to educate, and to discipline. While she seeks to store the mind of her child with useful knowledge, let her fortify the young heart with good principles. There is missionary work to be done at home by the fireside. This important field is neglected because of the difficulties to be met; because the work requires labor and self-denial. But will not the result compensate for the sacrifices made, the efforts put forth? Are souls in heathen lands more precious than souls at home? It is indeed a matter which should concern us, that in foreign lands young girls are growing up to wifehood and motherhood knowing nothing of their duties to themselves, to their children, or to God. But should we not at the same time give some thought to the fact that the girls of America are almost wholly destitute of that knowledge and training which would make them useful and honored as wives and mothers? Would that we could lead mothers who are now worshiping at fashion's shrine to become missionaries at home, training their children to become an honor to God and a blessing to humanity. Would not our Maker look upon such a work with approval? ST September 29, 1881, par. 10

There is a wide field of labor opened before every mother. If her work is wrought faithfully, in the fear of God, it will bring forth fruit unto eternal life. The mother's work should begin at home. This is the fountain-head from which her influence and usefulness should flow. If her duties here are discharged with fidelity, she will see all around her fields where she may work with the best results. And by-and-by those words from her Master will fall as sweetest music upon her ear—“Well done, thou good and faithful servant. Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” ST September 29, 1881, par. 11