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Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 11 (1896)

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    Ms 81, 1896

    The Responsibility of Christian Parents


    September 6, 1896 [typed]

    Previously unpublished.

    Character building is a most important work, and if the right materials are used, a noble character may be formed. It is the privilege of parents to exert an influence over their children that will result in the saving of their precious souls. But they must exercise firmness if they would keep the wayward feet in the path that God has marked out for them to walk in.11LtMs, Ms 81, 1896, par. 1

    With the infant in its mother’s arms the work of education is to begin, and the authority of the parent to be established. Little children should be taught to respect their parents, and render obedience to the law of the household. Satan well knows that the advantage that is gained in this respect is not only for time, but for eternity; for when children are taught to respect and obey their parents, they are also learning to reverence and obey the requirements of god.11LtMs, Ms 81, 1896, par. 2

    The name of Jesus, the world’s Redeemer, should be familiar to the minds of the children from the earliest dawn of reason. With soft voice, and reverential tones, the Word of God should be read to them, selecting the most interesting portions. When tact and skill are exercised, an interest will be awakened in the Scriptures, and they will have a reverence for sacred things.11LtMs, Ms 81, 1896, par. 3

    God is grieved with the lightness, and trifling, and careless indifference that is manifested by the youth of today.11LtMs, Ms 81, 1896, par. 4

    Reverence for God does not, as many think, show a weak spirit born of ignorance; wherever it exists it is an evidence of a sound mind. True worship of God is one of the surest safeguards against the skepticism and infidelity that are flooding the world in these last days. Let parents set their children an example in these things. Take your children by your side in the house of God. What more beautiful sight can there be than to see the father, mother, and children together in the place of worship?11LtMs, Ms 81, 1896, par. 5

    When a number of young boys or girls are allowed to be seated together, the influence they exert is not always the best. The glances and whisperings that often pass between them create irreverence and indifference to Bible teachings. When appeals are made to the unconverted to take their stand on the Lord’s side, and one of these remains proud and self-defiant, he holds the others in the same attitude. And should one have the courage to heed the invitation of the Spirit of God, it is hard work for him to break away from this ring of associates, and start out alone. He has to meet the opposition and ridicule of his companions, who are hardening their hearts, and despising the salvation offered them by the Prince of Life through his ambassadors.11LtMs, Ms 81, 1896, par. 6

    I have heard mothers, when advised on this point, say, “I shall not make my children sit with me.” And they did not; and as a result, the youth who might have been moulded for good, were found inattentive, irreverent, and mischievous, and the most solemn messages from God leave no impressions on their minds and hearts. These parents thought it old fashioned to control their children in this matter, I have watched the result of this course of indulgence, and have found that these children have no respect for the worship of God, no love for the truth or God’s law, and as soon as they are old enough to enter business for themselves, they put the Sabbath on one side as though it had no further claims upon them.11LtMs, Ms 81, 1896, par. 7

    God has presented before us the example of Abraham. He was the father of the faithful. His strict regard for God’s requirements was exercised in his home. And the Searcher of hearts said of him, “I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him.” The record also states the result, “And they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment.” [Genesis 18:19.] If Abraham had neglected this work of discipline in regard to the training of his children, they would have grown up regardless of the requirements of their parents. This would lay the foundation for them to be likewise regardless of the commandments of God. Abraham cultivated home religion. The fear of the Lord circulated through his tent. “I know him,” said God, “that he will command his household and his children after him.” There will be no betrayal of sacred trusts with Abraham; no yielding to weakness and indulgence in permitting his children to have their own way, and choose their course. The law of God is Abraham’s standard. He will keep the requirements of God, and teach his children and household to do the same. Blind affection, that indulgence which is the worst kind of cruelty, will not be practiced by him. The young will not be permitted to order and command. God has made Abraham the head, and he will command.11LtMs, Ms 81, 1896, par. 8

    Simplicity, truthfulness, patience, reverence, and obedience should characterize the life and pursuits of those who profess Christ. Parents must take the lead in these things; in all their words and actions they must acknowledge God as their Father and their Friend. Their course of action must be elevated, their conversation pure. Parents must abide in Jesus in order to have Jesus abiding in their hearts by faith. Christ enshrined in the heart will reveal his beauty of character in every action. Simplicity and godly sincerity will be manifest in the daily life; the force of will and natural energy will be tempered and adorned with the “meekness and gentleness of Christ.” [2 Corinthians 10:1.]11LtMs, Ms 81, 1896, par. 9

    Parents are to take a higher, holier stand, and exalt in their homes God’s great standard of righteousness. They as well as their children are to come under the laws of their Maker, and be ruled by him. The Holy One of Israel has given rules for the guidance of all, and any deviation therefrom, on the part of either parents or children, incurs the sore displeasure of God. Christian parents are to work with an object in view. They must labor to bring their children to accept of God’s plans, and yield obedience to his wise restrictions. In this work they will be co-laborers with Jesus Christ.11LtMs, Ms 81, 1896, par. 10

    The associations of the children should be select, and chosen by the parents themselves; for the influence they are under at an early age will mould their character for life. The education and discipline that a child receives, will not end him with him, but will be reproduced in those with whom he has influence. If you let your child grow up without training and discipline, the same lawlessness, disrespect, selfishness, and independence will be reproduced in his associates.11LtMs, Ms 81, 1896, par. 11

    May God help you, parents to arouse to the responsibilities of your God-given work. Let your life in the home prove the reality and fervor of your piety. Let your works be in accordance with profession of faith. Bring your children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. God has given you these young lives to train for his service. You must cultivate the soil of the heart, and sow in it the precious seeds of truth, that will spring up and bear fruit to the glory of God. You are not to teach them external good merely; God requires that the principles the govern their actions and control their thoughts shall be right. Teach them truthfulness, forethought, and kindness; teach them to be neat and thorough and painstaking. Thus you may train them for God and heaven. These valuable traits of character will not come of themselves; they must not be left to chance work; for this will give Satan an opportunity to lure them right and truth. From the first dawn of intellect no pains must be spared to form right habits of thought and action.11LtMs, Ms 81, 1896, par. 12

    Many parents hold themselves at a great distance from their children, thus severing the connecting link that should bind the one to the other. If parents thus maintain an unbending dignity, their children will never confide their joys and sorrows to them, or come to them for counsel. If they throw a chill upon everything that conduces to their pleasure and happiness, and innocent amusement, they will take their own course whenever opportunity affords. Children should find in their parents friends and companions. This need not interfere with the dignity of the parent. While the mother is firm and unyielding where it is necessary for the present and eternal good of her children, she may be in tender sympathy with them in all their trials and disappointments, their pleasures and joys.11LtMs, Ms 81, 1896, par. 13

    Parents, let your children see that you love them, and will do all in your power to make them happy. If you do so, your necessary restrictions will have for greater weight in their young minds. Place yourselves under the guidance and control of God. Let not Satan find place in your heart, and influence your judgment. Your children will respect you if they see that you are governed, not by impulse, but by the principles of God’s Word. The youth and children are exposed to temptation, and they need the lines to be held in firm and steady hands. Let them feel that they can trust you. Your example will have an influence upon their minds that will be interwoven into their life and character.11LtMs, Ms 81, 1896, par. 14

    You have a work to do for your children, dear parents, which they cannot do for themselves. God has given them to you to train, that they may become inhabitants of his kingdom. You have precious lessons to give them in order that they may have well-balanced minds and symmetrical characters. Teach them the importance of time, and how to improve it. Impress upon their young minds that they must learn to be useful, that life was not given them to be trifled away. While their earliest years may be given to play and freedom, as the young lambs in the field, yet it is in the duty of mothers to teach the little hands and feet to do what they can to lighten others’ burdens. Teach them that to do something that will benefit others and be a blessing to humanity is worth striving for.11LtMs, Ms 81, 1896, par. 15

    Teach the older members of the family to help bear the burdens of the household, that they may not rest too heavily upon the few. Teach them, also, not to look upon this as drudgery, but as a duty, essential for their own well-being, and for the happiness of those they love. Teach them that idleness is sin; and give to each his allotted task. This will fit them for greater duties, and graver responsibilities.11LtMs, Ms 81, 1896, par. 16

    This, parents, is your work; will you do it? If you neglect it, you are throwing open the door for Satan to enter in and employ your children in his service. There will be idle talk, vain, frivolous amusements sought to wile away the hours—in numberless ways evils will be indulged that would be prevented if habits of industry were cultivated. You will see your children grow up useless, indolent, selfish, unfitted in every way to take up the duties of life, and stand at the head of families of their own.11LtMs, Ms 81, 1896, par. 17

    Parental neglect is registered in the books of heaven. It should be the careful, diligent study of parents that they fail not in discharging their duty in this respect, lest through some neglect of their part, their children be found among the disobedient, unthankful, and unholy, subjects of Satan’s kingdom, doing his will and pleasure. Far better would it be for such had they never been born.11LtMs, Ms 81, 1896, par. 18

    While the Lord will not excuse indifference and neglect on the part of parents in the training of their children, neither will he approve a mismanagement that is arbitrary, severe, and loveless. There must be no violent domineering, no hasty, impassioned threats. Justice and mercy are twin sisters, standing side by side; neither is perfect without the other. Parents should guard their children, restraining the evil tendencies, while they encourage and strengthen the good.11LtMs, Ms 81, 1896, par. 19

    Many children in this age are ruined as far as their own happiness, and that of their parents, is concerned, by mistaken indulgence. Parents do not see the importance of controlling their children and bringing them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. It is not soft pleadings and indulgence that will put good material into character building; but wise, judicious training. Parents must follow God’s Word to the letter, and exercise their God-given faculties to educate and train their children to love, to fear, and honor him. The laws which our heavenly Father has enacted and enjoined, though restricting and commanding, flow from a heart that holds the good of his creatures first.11LtMs, Ms 81, 1896, par. 20

    Well may the wisest and most experienced feel burdened with responsibility in the training of their children. None can fulfil their duty in this respect unless they daily seek for wisdom and strength from God to do their work with fidelity. The Lord must be your counsellor, dear parents: you must have his Holy Spirit’s influence upon your own heart, sanctifying your judgment, or you can never cope with your antagonist in this conflict. The powers of darkness are at work with all deceivableness of unrighteousness, to take your children out of your hands, and out of the hands of their Redeemer, and place them in their ranks. Satan wills that your children shall grow up unmindful of God, without reverence for sacred things, and they need to be taught daily, their minds moulded by example as well as precept. The child who is accustomed to witness the graces of Christ revealed in the life of those whom he loves and obeys, who, before he can intelligently grasp the truths of God’s Word for himself, has had his religious character developed, will not generally grow up careless and unconcerned in regard to those things that are for his eternal interest.11LtMs, Ms 81, 1896, par. 21

    “Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” [Galatians 6:7.] Teach your children that to sow to the flesh will be to reap only corruption; to sow to the flesh will be to reap only corruption; to sow to the spirit, will be to reap life everlasting—a life that runs parallel with the life of Jehovah. This is the sowing time. In these golden moments you must sow the precious seed which will blossom into correct habits, and be laying upon the foundation gold, silver, and precious stones, that will stand the test of the fires of the last days.11LtMs, Ms 81, 1896, par. 22

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