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    Chapter 32—Preoccupy the Garden of the Heart

    Parents as Gardeners—The Lord has entrusted to parents a solemn, sacred work. They are to cultivate carefully the soil of the heart. Thus they may be laborers together with God. He expects them to guard and tend carefully the garden of their children's hearts. They are to sow the good seed, weeding out every unsightly weed. Every defect in character, every fault in disposition, needs to be cut away; for if allowed to remain, these will mar the beauty of the character.1Manuscript 138, 1898.AH 200.1

    Parents, your own home is the first field in which you are called to labor. The precious plants in the home garden demand your first care. To you it is appointed to watch for souls as they that must give account. Carefully consider your work, its nature, its bearing, and its results.2The Signs of the Times, July 1, 1886.AH 200.2

    You have before your own door a little plot of ground to care for, and God will hold you responsible for this work which He has left in your hands.3The Review and Herald, September 15, 1891.AH 200.3

    Tending the Garden—The prevailing influence in the world is to suffer the youth to follow the natural turn of their own minds. And if very wild in youth, parents say they will come right after a while and, when sixteen or eighteen years of age, will reason for themselves and leave off their wrong habits and become at last useful men and women. What a mistake! For years they permit an enemy to sow the garden of the heart; they suffer wrong principles to grow, and in many cases all the labor afterward bestowed on that soil will avail nothing....AH 200.4

    Some parents have suffered their children to form wrong habits, the marks of which may be seen all through life. Upon the parents lies this sin. These children may profess to be Christians; yet without a special work of grace upon the heart and a thorough reform in life, their past habits will be seen in all their experience, and they will exhibit just the character which their parents allowed them to form.4Testimonies for the Church 1:403.AH 201.1

    The young should not be suffered to learn good and evil indiscriminately, with the idea that at some future time the good will predominate and the evil lose its influence. The evil will increase faster than the good. It is possible that after many years the evil they have learned may be eradicated; but who will venture this? Time is short. It is easier and much safer to sow clean, good seed in the hearts of your children than to pluck up the weeds afterward. Impressions made upon the minds of the young are hard to efface. How important, then, that these impressions be of the right sort, that the elastic faculties of youth be bent in the right direction.5Christian Temperance and Bible Hygiene, 138, 139.AH 201.2

    Seed Sowing, Weeding—In the earliest years of the child's life the soil of the heart should be carefully prepared for the showers of God's grace. Then the seeds of truth are to be carefully sown and diligently tended. And God, who rewards every effort made in His name, will put life into the seed sown; and there will appear first the blade, then the ear, then the full corn in the ear.AH 201.3

    Too often, because of the wicked neglect of parents, Satan sows his seeds in the hearts of children, and a harvest of shame and sorrow is borne. The world today is destitute of true goodness because parents have failed to gather their children to themselves in the home. They have not kept them from association with the careless and reckless. Therefore the children have gone forth into the world to sow the seeds of death.6Manuscript 49, 1901.AH 201.4

    The great work of instruction, of weeding out worthless and poisonous weeds, is a most important one. For if left to themselves, these weeds will grow until they choke out the precious plants of moral principle and truth.7The Review and Herald, April 14, 1885.AH 202.1

    If a field is left uncultivated, a crop of noxious weeds is sure to appear which will be very difficult to exterminate. Then the soil must be worked and the weeds subdued before the precious plants can grow. Before these valuable plants can grow, the seed must first be carefully sown. If mothers neglect the sowing of the precious seed and then expect a harvest of precious grain, they will be disappointed; for they will reap briars and thorns. Satan is ever watching, prepared to sow seeds which will spring up and bear a plentiful harvest after his own satanic character.8Manuscript 43, 1900.AH 202.2

    Eternal vigilance must be manifested with regard to our children. With his manifold devices Satan begins to work with their tempers and their wills as soon as they are born. Their safety depends upon the wisdom and the vigilant care of the parents. They must strive in the love and fear of God to preoccupy the garden of the heart, sowing the good seeds of a right spirit, correct habits, and the love and fear of God.9Manuscript 7, 1899.AH 202.3

    Unfolding Natural Beauty—Parents and teachers should seek most earnestly for that wisdom which Jesus is ever ready to give; for they are dealing with human minds at the most interesting and impressible period of their development. They should aim so to cultivate the tendencies of the youth that at each stage of their life they may represent the natural beauty appropriate to that period, unfolding gradually, as do the plants and flowers in the garden.10Testimonies for the Church 6:204, 205.AH 202.4

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