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Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 2 (1869 - 1875)

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    Ms 5, 1875

    Parents as Reformers



    Formerly Undated Ms 132. Portions of this manuscript are published in 3T 560-570; 2MCP 394.

    God has permitted the light of health reform to shine upon us in these last days, that by walking in the light we may escape many of the dangers to which we shall be exposed. Satan is working with great power to lead men to indulge appetite, gratify inclination, and spend their days in heedless folly. He presents attractions in a life of selfish enjoyment, and in the indulgence of the sensual passions. Licentiousness prevails to an alarming extent, not only ruining the physical constitution, but debasing the moral powers. Intemperate indulgence saps the energies of both mind and body. He who is thus overcome has placed himself upon Satan’s ground, where he will be tempted and annoyed, and finally controlled at pleasure by the enemy of all righteousness.2LtMs, Ms 5, 1875, par. 1

    Satan comes to man, as he came to Christ, with the temptation to indulge appetite. He well knows his power to overcome man on this point. It was here that he overcame Adam and Eve in Eden. And what misery and crime have filled the world in consequence of their transgression! Thousands have prematurely gone down to the grave, mental and moral wrecks, because they sacrificed all their powers to the indulgence of appetite.2LtMs, Ms 5, 1875, par. 2

    Notwithstanding the earnest efforts to stay its progress, intemperance is increasing everywhere. The means that have been used are insufficient to control its giant power. The work of temperance must begin in the family, at the table. Mothers need to be impressed with their obligation to give to the world children having well-developed character—children who will have moral power to resist temptation and whose life will be an honor to God and a blessing to their fellow men. Those who enter upon active life with firm principles will be prepared to stand unsullied amid the moral pollutions of this corrupt age. Let mothers improve every opportunity to educate their children for usefulness.2LtMs, Ms 5, 1875, par. 3

    The work of the mother is sacred and important. She should teach her children, from the cradle up, habits of self-denial and self-control. Her time in a special sense belongs to her children. But if it is mostly occupied with the follies of this degenerate age, if society, dress, and amusements absorb her attention, her children will fail to be suitably educated.2LtMs, Ms 5, 1875, par. 4

    Many mothers who deplore the intemperance that exists everywhere do not look deep enough to see the cause. Too often it may be traced to the home table. Many a mother is daily setting before her household rich and highly seasoned food, which tempts the appetite and encourages overeating. Even some who profess to be Christians provide food which irritates the stomach and produces a feverish condition of the blood. Our bodies are formed from what we eat. The diet of children should be unstimulating. Give them plenty of fruit and wholesome grains nicely prepared. In some families, flesh meats constitute the principle article of diet, and in consequence the blood is filled with cancerous and scrofulous humors. Then when suffering and disease come, Providence is charged with that which is the effect of a wrong course. I repeat: intemperance begins at the table, and with the majority appetite is indulged until indulgence becomes second nature.2LtMs, Ms 5, 1875, par. 5

    Whoever eats too much, or of food which is not healthful, is weakening his power to resist the clamors of other appetites and passions. Many parents, to avoid the task of patiently educating their children to habits of self-denial, indulge them in eating and drinking whenever they please. The tendency to excessive indulgence, unless positively restrained, will grow with the growth and strengthen with the strength. The desire to please the taste and to gratify inclination does not lessen with the increase of years, and these indulged youth, as they grow up, are governed by impulse, slaves to appetite. When they take their place in society, and begin life for themselves, they are powerless to resist temptation. In the glutton, the tobacco-devotee, the winebibber, and the inebriate, we see the evil results of erroneous education and self-indulgence.2LtMs, Ms 5, 1875, par. 6

    When we hear the sad lamentation of Christian men and women over the terrible evils of intemperance, the questions at once arise: Who have educated the youth? Who have fostered in them these unruly appetites? Who have neglected the solemn responsibility of forming their characters for usefulness in this life and for the society of heavenly angels in the next?2LtMs, Ms 5, 1875, par. 7

    When parents and children meet at the final reckoning, what a scene will be presented! Thousands of children who have been slaves to appetite and debasing vice, whose lives are moral wrecks, will stand face to face with the parents who made them what they are. Who but the parents must bear this fearful responsibility? Did the Lord make these youth corrupt? Oh, no! He made them in His own image, a little lower than the angels. Who, then, has done this fearful work? Who changed their character, so that they do not bear the impress of God, and must be separated from His presence? Were not the sins of the parents transmitted to the children in perverted appetites and passions? and was not the work completed by those [who] neglected to train them according to the pattern which God has given? Just as surely as they exist, all these parents will pass in review before God.2LtMs, Ms 5, 1875, par. 8

    Satan is ready to do his work; he will not neglect to present allurements which the children have no will or moral power to resist. I saw that, through his temptations, he is instituting everchanging fashions, and attractive parties and amusements, that mothers may be led to devote their time to frivolous matters instead of to the education and training of their children. Our youth need mothers who will teach them from the cradle to control passion, to deny appetite, and to overcome selfishness. They need line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little.2LtMs, Ms 5, 1875, par. 9

    The Hebrews were taught how to train their children so that they might avoid the idolatry and wickedness of the heathen nations: “Therefore shall ye lay up these My words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes. And ye shall teach them to your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.” [Deuteronomy 11:18, 19.]2LtMs, Ms 5, 1875, par. 10

    Woman should fill the position which God originally designed for her as her husband's equal. The world needs mothers who are mothers not merely in name, but in every sense that the word implies.2LtMs, Ms 5, 1875, par. 11

    We may safely say that the distinctive duties of woman are more sacred, more holy, than those of man.2LtMs, Ms 5, 1875, par. 12

    There are speculations as to woman’s rights, and her duty in regard to voting; but many women have had no discipline which would qualify them to understand the bearing of important questions. They have lived a life of fashion and self-gratification. Women who might develop a good intellect, who might perfect a noble character, are mere slaves to custom. They lack breadth of thought and intellectual culture. They can talk understandingly of the latest styles of dress, or of the next party or ball. But they are not prepared to act wisely in political matters; they are mere creatures of circumstance. This order of things should be changed. Let woman realize the sacredness of her work, and in the strength and fear of God take up her life mission. Let her educate her children for usefulness in this world, and for a home in the better world.2LtMs, Ms 5, 1875, par. 13

    The position of a woman in her family is more sacred than that of the king upon his throne. Her great work is to make her life an example such as she would wish her children to copy. And by precept as well as example, she is to store their minds with useful knowledge and lead them to self-sacrificing labor for the good of others. The great stimulus to the toiling, burdened mother should be that every child who is trained aright, and who has the inward adorning, the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, will shine in the courts of the Lord.2LtMs, Ms 5, 1875, par. 14

    I entreat Christian mothers to realize their responsibility and to live, not to please themselves, but to glorify God. Christ pleased not Himself, but took upon Him the form of a servant. He left the royal courts, and clothed His divinity with humanity, that by His own example He might teach us how we may be exalted to the position of sons and daughters in the royal family, children of the heavenly King. But what are the conditions upon which we may obtain this great blessing?—“Come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean; and I will receive you, and will be a father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters.” [2 Corinthians 6:17, 18.]2LtMs, Ms 5, 1875, par. 15

    Christ humbled Himself from the position of one equal with God to that of a servant. His home was in Nazareth, a place proverbial for its wickedness. His parents were among the lowly poor. His trade was that of a carpenter, and He labored with His hands to do His part in sustaining the family. For thirty years He was subject to His parents. The life of Christ points out our duty to be diligent in labor and to provide for those entrusted to our care.2LtMs, Ms 5, 1875, par. 16

    In His lessons of instruction to His disciples, Jesus taught them that His kingdom is not a worldly kingdom, where all are striving for the highest position; He gave them lessons in humility and self-sacrifice for the good of others. His humility did not consist in a low estimate of His own character and qualifications, but in adapting Himself to fallen humanity in order to raise them up with Him to a higher life. Yet how few see anything attractive in the humility of Christ! Worldlings are constantly striving to exalt themselves one above another; but Jesus, the Son of God, humbled Himself in order to uplift man. The true disciple of Christ will follow His example.2LtMs, Ms 5, 1875, par. 17

    Would that the mothers of this generation might feel the sacredness of their mission, not trying to vie with their wealthy neighbors in appearance, but seeking to honor God by the faithful performance of duty. If right principles in regard to temperance were implanted in the youth who are to form and mold society, there would be little necessity for temperance crusades. Firmness of character, moral control would prevail, and in the strength of Jesus the pollutions of these last days would be resisted.2LtMs, Ms 5, 1875, par. 18

    It is a most difficult matter to unlearn the habits which have been indulged through life. The demon of intemperance is of giant strength and is not easily conquered. But let parents begin the crusade against it at their own firesides, in their own families, in the principles they teach their children from their very infancy, and then they may hope for success. It will pay you, mothers, to use the precious hours which are given you by God in forming the character of your children and in teaching them to adhere strictly to the principles of temperance in eating and drinking.2LtMs, Ms 5, 1875, par. 19

    A sacred trust is committed to parents, to guard the physical and moral constitution of their children, so that the nervous system may be well balanced and the soul not endangered. Fathers and mothers should understand the laws of life, that they may not, through ignorance, allow wrong tendencies to develop in their children. The diet affects both physical and moral health. How carefully, then, should mothers study to supply the table with the most simple, healthful food, in order that the digestive organs may not be weakened, the nerve forces unbalanced, or the instruction which they give their children counteracted.2LtMs, Ms 5, 1875, par. 20

    In health reform our people have been retrograding. Satan sees that he cannot have so great power over minds when the appetite is kept under control as when it is indulged, and he is constantly at work to lead men to indulgence. Under the influence of unhealthful food, the conscience becomes stupefied, the mind is darkened, and its susceptibility to impressions is impaired. But the guilt of the transgressor is not lessened because the conscience has been violated till it has become insensible. Satan is corrupting minds and destroying souls through his subtle temptations. Will our people see and feel the sin of perverting the appetite? Will they discard all hurtful indulgences, and let the means thus saved be devoted to spreading the truth?2LtMs, Ms 5, 1875, par. 21

    Since a healthy state of mind depends upon the normal condition of the vital forces, what care should be exercised that neither stimulants nor narcotics be used! Yet we see that a large number of those who profess to be Christians are using tobacco. They deplore the evils of intemperance, yet while speaking against the use of liquors these very men will eject the juice of tobacco.2LtMs, Ms 5, 1875, par. 22

    There must be a change of sentiment with reference to tobacco using before the ax will be laid at the root of the tree. We press the subject still closer. Tea and coffee are fostering the appetite for stronger stimulants. And we come still closer home, to the daily meals, the tables spread in Christian households, and ask, Is temperance practiced in all things? Are the reforms which are essential to health and happiness carried out there?2LtMs, Ms 5, 1875, par. 23

    Every true Christian will have control of his appetites and passions. Unless he is free from the bondage of appetite, he cannot be a true, obedient servant of Christ. The indulgence of appetite and passion blunts the effect of truth upon the heart. It is impossible for the spirit and power of the truth to sanctify a man, soul, body, and spirit, when he is controlled by sensual desires.2LtMs, Ms 5, 1875, par. 24

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