Ellen G. White Writings

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Good Health

February 1, 1880

Appeal to Mothers

By Mrs. E. G. White.

Mothers, God would have your children start out on the journey of life with a good inheritance. He has a work for man to do in the world; and in order to perform this work for the benefit of his fellow-men and the glory of God, he must have physical, mental, and moral power.

Many whom God would use as his instruments have been disqualified at their birth by the previous wrong habits of the parents. When the Lord would raise up Samson as a deliverer of his people, he enjoined upon the mother correct habits of life before the birth of her child.

The angel of God appeared to the wife of Manoah and informed her that she should have a son; and in view of this he gave her the important directions: “Now therefore beware, I pray thee, and drink not wine nor strong drink, and eat not any unclean thing.” And he informed her that her son would be a Nazarite from his birth, and that God would work through him to deliver Israel from the oppression of the Philistines. The woman sought her husband, and after describing the heavenly visitant, she repeated the message of the angel. Then Manoah entreated the Lord, “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.”

And when, in answer to this petition, the angel again appeared, Manoah's earnest, anxious inquiry was, “How shall we order the child, and how shall we do unto him?” The angel answered, “Of all that I said unto the woman, let her beware. She may not eat of anything that cometh of the vine, neither let her drink wine or strong drink, nor eat any unclean thing. All that I commanded her, let her observe.”

In instructing this one mother, the Lord gave a lesson to all who should be mothers till the close of time. Had the wife of Manoah followed the prevailing customs, her system would have been weakened by violation of nature's laws, and her child would have suffered with her the penalty of transgression. The basis of a right character in the future man is made firm by habits of strict temperance in the mother prior to the birth of her child. The divine command was very explicit, prohibiting the use of the fruit of the vine. Every drop of liquor taken by the mother as a gratification of the appetite is endangering the physical, mental, and moral health of her offspring, and is a direct sin against God.

This lesson should not be regarded with indifference. Parents who indulge in excess of eating and drinking, or in the gratification of the animal propensities, transmit their corrupted blood and vitiated appetites to their children, who have less self-control and less power to resist temptation than the parents had. Many children die in infancy, while many more are ruined for time and eternity, in consequence of the sinful indulgences of the parents.

The thoughts and feelings of the mother will also have a powerful influence upon the legacy she gives her child. Strong traits of character, as well as perverted appetites, are transmitted from parents to children. Thus, many have received as a birthright almost unconquerable tendencies to evil. If the mother allows her mind to dwell upon herself, if she becomes peevish and fault-finding, the disposition of her child will testify to the fact. If she suffers strange freaks of appetite to control her, she will see the same reproduced in her offspring.

The enemy of souls understands this matter much better than many parents do, and he is ever ready with his temptations, while custom and tradition have a strong influence upon the mind of the mother. She does not always flee to God for grace that she may be an overcomer, but follows impulse rather than principle; and she sees reflected in the character of her child her own defects prior to its birth. Fathers as well as mothers are involved in this responsibility. Unwise advisers will urge upon the mother the gratification of every wish and impulse as essential to the well-being of her offspring. But in the light of facts presented to us in Bible history, the mother is by the command of God himself laid under the most solemn obligation to restrain perverted appetite.

One great cause of the degeneracy of the race is the deplorable ignorance of parents in regard to the effect of their own condition upon the future well-being of their children. The mother is frequently overtaxed; too many burdens are allowed to rest upon her prior to the birth of her children. Care is not exercised to make her surroundings as cheerful and pleasant as possible. An opposite course should be pursued. We should not then see so many with diseased bodies and ill-balanced minds, unfitted for any responsible position.

The strange lack of principle which characterizes the men and women of this generation is heart-sickening to those who are endeavoring to advance the cause of reform. They do not seek to become intelligent in regard to the laws which govern them. They do not study how they may preserve to themselves a good physical constitution, which is the foundation of mental and moral power. The anxious inquiry is, “What shall we eat, and what shall we drink, and wherewithal shall we be clothed?”

If we tell the liquor-drinker and tobacco-devotee that his indulgence in these poisons is gradually and surely wearing away the life-forces, he will say, “I know it, but I cannot give up the indulgence. I would rather die before my time and enjoy these stimulants while I do live.” Those who are content thus to shorten their own existence must answer to God for the life which he gave them to devote wholly to his service.

But man's accountability extends beyond his own well-being. Those parents who gratify inclination at the expense of health, in the use of tea, coffee, tobacco, and liquor, because the habit has become second nature, are not only working against their own physical life and moral advancement, but they leave their appetite, and their want of moral power to overcome these indulgences, to their children. Thus the evil of their course is accumulating and multiplying; society is demoralized, the church is cursed, and God is dishonored.

The constant inquiry of every one should be, What is duty? What shall I do to benefit my children and society, and to glorify God? If we would reach a high standard in moral and spiritual attainments, we must live for this every day. Our present course of action may be determining the course of hundreds. We must render an account to God for the good we might have done but failed to perform because we had placed ourselves, through sinful indulgence, in a position of physical and mental weakness, where he could not accept our service. Many have but little sense of their sin in robbing God by selfish extravagance, and indulgence of perverted appetite. The cause of reform today is suffering for the want of men and women of integrity and moral worth.

The will of God has been plainly expressed to all mothers; he would have them, by precept and example, advocates of health reform. They should plant their feet firmly upon principle, in no case to violate the physical laws which God has implanted in their beings. “Standing by a purpose true,” with firm integrity, mothers will have moral power and grace from Heaven to let their light shine forth to the world, both in their own upright course and in the noble character of their children.

We have now brought before the reader what God has spoken in reference to the course of the mother before the birth of her children. But this is not all. The angel Gabriel was sent from the heavenly courts to give directions for the treatment of children after their birth, that parents might become intelligent upon this important subject.

About the time of Christ's first advent, an angel appeared to Zacharias with a cheering message, telling him that his wife should bear a son, whose name should be called John. “And,” said the angel, “thou shalt have joy and gladness, and many shall rejoice at his birth. For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost.”

Thus Gabriel enjoined upon Zacharias that John should be brought up with strictly temperate habits, that he might be fitted for the important work of reform which God would lay upon him to prepare the way for Christ. When the voice of the reformer was lifted up in the wilderness, intemperance in every form existed among the people. Indulgence in wine and luxurious food was lessening physical strength and debasing the morals, so that the most revolting crimes did not appear sinful. While the voice of John was to be heard in stern rebuke to the people for their sinful indulgence, his own abstemious habits were also to be a reproof of the excesses of his time.

Important results were to be realized in the lives of Samson and John, which could not be reached without strict obedience to the laws of life and health. Hence, temperate habits were indispensable to them. The communications from Heaven were not given solely for those two marked characters, but were to be handed down through successive generations to our time.

If parents would have their children come up with pure morals and firm integrity of purpose, with power to sway rather than to be swayed, they must have a full sense of their own responsibilities, and ever stand for the right. The education and training of their children must commence in infancy if they would qualify them for usefulness in this life, and give them a fitness for the immortal life.

The training of John was not to be in accordance with the ordinary customs of society. He was to be instrumental in giving new direction to the thoughts of the people of his day, and awakening them to the necessity of a nobler type of manhood. God would have the character of his servant moulded after the Divine Model. The wilderness was his schoolroom, the mountains his familiar haunts. There he learned to deny himself, and to cultivate simplicity of diet and of dress. His habits of life were so pure and natural that his ideas were not perverted, and his character was not warped by the wrong influences which he was afterward called to meet.

The great book of nature, with its inexhaustible stores, was open before the prophet. He was fitted through privation and hardship to control his physical and mental powers, that he might stand among the people as unmoved by surrounding circumstances as the rocks and mountains of the wilderness. The world's Redeemer said of John, “Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women, there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist.”

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