Ellen G. White Writings

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Good Health

April 1, 1880

The Mother's Influence

By Mrs. E. G. White.

Christian mothers, we are in God's great school as learners, and there is a diversity of ways in which we are trained, as the several departments of our work bring into exercise the discipline we need. God trains his people and prepares them for usefulness. Spiritual strength must be acquired daily in order to meet the various circumstances under which we are placed.

Christian parents should begin the education of their children in their infancy. They should, in view of their God-given responsibilities, pray most earnestly to know the will of God, and for strength to do it. The wife of Manoah prayed, “Let the man of God which thou didst send come again unto us, and teach us what we shall do unto the child that shall be born.” In answer to her earnest prayer the angel visits them again, and the inquiry is made, “How shall we order the child, and how shall we do unto him?” If this prayer should go forth from the unfeigned lips of mothers, they would find that help would be given them from God. The mother especially should be fitted for her appointed work of patient labor. It is her privilege and sacred duty to train all who are under her care and her influence, by her teachings and her example, for lives of usefulness. Every woman has an influence with those with whom she associates. That influence may be either good or bad. The mother is exercising her influence continually. Every glance of her eye, every word her lips utter, every act of her life, carries with it an influence which has power to affect the character and future destiny of her children. This influence may gladden the heart, or bring discouragement, and deform the character.

In view of these facts, mothers should take time for reflection and prayer. They should earnestly seek wisdom from God. With a determined purpose let every mother say, “I will strictly guard my influence. I will attend to the duty of self-culture, and the culture of my children. My outward adorning and the gratification of appetite shall be held in strict control. I have high and sacred duties to perform in the education of my children.” She should inquire in the fear of God, “Will my children be a blessing or a curse to society? Will they be subjects for the future kingdom?”

The training which the mother of Samuel gave her son, developed in him sterling moral worth, which connected him with God. If the mother of Washington had been a frivolous character, devoting the talents of her mind to the matters of dress and what she should eat and drink, her son George would not have become a man of firm will and moral power. His mother gave him the lessons which he carried into practical life. She inspired him with principles of stern integrity that would not be bribed.

John Quincy Adams once paid the following precious tribute to his mother: “It is due to gratitude and nature that I should acknowledge and avow that such as I have been, whatever it was, such as I am, whatever it is, and such as I hope to be in all futurity, must be ascribed, under providence, to the precepts and example of my mother.” The German philosopher Kant remarked, “I shall never forget that it was my mother who caused the good which is in me to fructify.”

“Behold, for an example, a splendid scene enacted at the close of the revolutionary war. Cornwallis and his army had been captured; the revolution was successful. The great chief and officers of the victorious armies were assembled at a festival in honor of the victory. The spacious saloon was crowded..... Presently the doors of the saloon open to admit a personage, whose entrance awakens universal attention. His figure is noble and commanding; his bearing dignified, without haughtiness; his expression lofty, but mild. He treads the floor with unaffected yet unsurpassed majesty. His presence kindles every eye and heart with rapturous enthusiasm. He is regarded with reverence, yet with affection—as a superior, and yet as a friend. He presents to their gaze the rare sight of a Christian soldier and an unambitious statesman..... He is the man whose enduring fortitude, military, prowess, and overawing influence, had sustained the spirit of the revolution, crowned it with success, and earned for himself the glorious pre-eminence of being the ‘first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen,’ for that personage was George Washington!”

“Never, perhaps, was homage more sincerely or heartily rendered to a man than by the brave and beautiful in that hall, and never was it more deserved. Nor is it possible to conceive of a purer, sweeter human joy, than that which swelled his bosom. There was another heart, however, that shared in the homage and the joy of that occasion; leaning on the arm of the hero, in simple stateliness of mien, there walked the mother of Washington. She had trained him in his boyhood—taught him the principles, and developed the qualities which lay at the foundation of his greatness. It was her hands which had molded his character to symmetry and moral beauty. Her prayers, her influence, and her instructions had repressed the growth of evil qualities, and cultivated that divine life in his soul which led him to take counsel of the God of battles,—the ruler of Nations. Her early influence over her son was understood and silently acknowledged in that gay assembly. Yea, her son had owned it, was proud of it. He laid his lofty honors at her feet, and prized her smile above the noisy voice of fame. Did she then experience a pleasure aught inferior to his? Who shall decide which bosom was the happiest on that triumphant day? The joy of Washington was great; the joy of his mother was at least equal. Would she have accomplished more, or tasted a sweeter pleasure, if, forsaking her sphere, she had mingled directly in the councils of the states and the movements of the camp? Impossible! She helped to achieve the revolution—she shared the richest enjoyments of its success; but she did it through her heroic son—just as God would have every woman win her honors and rewards.”

I would impress upon mothers that women are accountable for the talents God has intrusted to them. They may engage in missionary work at home, in their families. Their influence is fully equal to that of the husband and father. The most elevated work for woman is the molding of the character of her children after the divine pattern. She should gain their affections; she should cherish love; for with these precious traits of character she can have a transforming influence upon the family circle. If she makes a success here, she has gained the victory. Society will feel her influence in the deportment and moral worth of her children. The church will bless her because she has educated and developed talent which will be of the highest value. She gives to the church, men and women who will not flinch from duty however taxing. If Christian mothers had always done their work with fidelity, there would not now be so many church trials on account of disorderly members. Mothers are forming the characters which compose the church of God. When I see a church in trial, its members self-willed, heady, high-minded, self-sufficient, not subject to the voice of the church, I am led to fear that their mothers were unfaithful in their early training.

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