Ellen G. White Writings

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Good Health

January 1, 1880

Appeal to Mothers

By Mrs. E. G. White.

“Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me; for of such is the kingdom of Heaven.”

In the days of Christ, mothers brought their children to him, that he might lay his hands upon them in blessing. By this act they showed their faith in Jesus, and the intense anxiety of their hearts for the present and future welfare of the little ones committed to their care. But the disciples could not see the need of interrupting the Master just for the sake of noticing the children, and as they were sending these mothers away Jesus rebuked the disciples, and commanded the crowd to make way for these faithful mothers with their little children. Said he, “Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me; for of such is the kingdom Heaven.”

As the mothers passed along the dusty road, and drew near the Savior, he saw the unbidden tear and the quivering lip, as they offered a silent prayer in behalf of the children. He heard the words of rebuke from the disciples, and promptly countermanded the order. His great heart of love was open to receive the children. One after another, he took them in his arms and blessed them, while one little child lay fast asleep, reclining against his bosom. Jesus spoke words of encouragement to the mothers in reference to their work, and oh, what a relief was thus brought to their minds. With what joy they dwelt upon the goodness and mercy of Jesus, as they looked back to that memorable occasion. His gracious words had removed the burden from their hearts and inspired them with fresh hope and courage. All sense of weariness was gone.

This is an encouraging lesson to mothers for all time. After they have done the best they can do for the good of their children, they may bring them to Jesus. Even the babes in the mother's arms are precious in his sight. And as the mother's heart yearns for the help she knows she cannot give, the grace she cannot bestow, and she casts herself and children into the merciful arms of Christ, he will receive and bless them, he will give peace, hope, and happiness to mother and children.

This is a precious privilege which Jesus has granted to all mothers. But to lead them to Jesus is not all that is required. God has given the mother a work to do. These children are to be educated and trained to become disciples of Christ, “that our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth, that our daughters may be as corner-stones polished after the similitude of a palace.” This work of molding, refining, and polishing, is the mother's. The character of the child is to be developed. The mother must engrave upon the tablet of the heart lessons as enduring as eternity; and she will surely meet the displeasure of the Lord if she neglects this sacred work or allows anything to interfere with it. She must allow the ever-changing and never-satisfying fashions to come and go, letting the hearts of the devotees of fashion be set on these if they will. But the Christian mother has her God-appointed work, which she will not neglect if she is closely connected with God and imbued with his Spirit.

The example of the parents, in word and deportment, should be without fault; for this is the copy which is given their little ones to imitate. If parents desire their children to be right and do right, they must be right themselves in theory and in practice. Courtesy, even in little things, should be manifested by the parents toward each other. Universal kindness should be the law of the house. No rude language should be indulged, no bitter words should be spoken. Parents should exercise self-control, patience, forbearance, gentleness, and love, in dealing with their children. They should remember that the example they give their children, they will see reproduced in them.

The parents should be models of truthfulness, for this is the daily lesson to be impressed upon the heart of the child. Undeviating principle should govern parents in all the affairs of life, especially in the education and training of their children. “Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right.”

An eminent divine was once asked how old a child must be before there was reasonable hope of his being a Christian. “Age has nothing to do with it,” was the answer. “Love to Jesus, trust, repose, confidence, are all qualities that agree with the child's nature. As soon as a child can love and trust his mother, then can he love and trust Jesus as the friend of his mother. Jesus will be his friend, loved and honored.”

In view of the foregoing truthful statement, can parents be too careful in presenting precept and example before those watchful little eyes and sharp senses? Our religion should be made practical. It is needed in our homes as much as in the house of worship. There should be nothing cold, stern, and forbidding in our demeanor; but we should show, by kindness and sympathy, that we possess warm, loving hearts. Jesus should be the honored guest in the family circle. We should talk with him, bring all our burdens to him, and converse of his love, his grace, and his perfection of character. What a lesson may be daily given by godly parents in taking all their troubles to Jesus, the burden-bearer, instead of fretting and scolding over cares and perplexities they cannot help. The minds of the little ones may be taught to turn to Jesus as the flower turns its opening petals to the sun.

The lessons given Joseph in his youth by Jacob in expressing his firm trust in God and relating to him again and again the precious evidences of his loving-kindness and unceasing care, were the very lessons he needed in his exile among an idolatrous people. In the testing time he put these lessons to a practical use. When under the severest trial he looked to his Heavenly Father, whom he had learned to trust. Had the precepts and example of the father of Joseph been of an opposite character, the pen of inspiration would never have traced upon the pages of sacred history the story of integrity and virtue that shines forth in the character of Joseph. The early impressions made upon his mind garrisoned his heart in the hour of fierce temptation, and led him to exclaim, “How can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?”

Childhood is the season in which the most abiding impressions may be made. What the child sees and hears is drawing deep lines upon the tender mind, which no after circumstances in life can entirely efface. The intellect is now taking shape, and the affections receiving direction and strength. Repeated acts in a given course become habits. These may be modified by severe training, in after life, but are seldom changed. The whole future course of thousands is determined by the education received from the parents in childhood. At an early age the path of virtue is entered upon, which leads to honor and eternal life; or the path of disobedience and vice, which leads to unhappiness, dishonor, and the ruin of the soul.

The mother's work is given her of God, to bring up her children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. The love and fear of God should ever be kept before their tender minds. When corrected, they should be taught to feel that they are admonished of God, that he is displeased with deception, untruthfulness, and wrong-doing. Thus the minds of little ones may be so connected with God that all they do and say will be in reference to his glory; and in after years they will not be like the reed in the wind, continually wavering between inclination and duty.

If in their tender years, the minds of children are filled with pleasant images of truth, of purity and goodness, a taste will be formed for that which is pure and elevated, and their imagination will not become easily corrupted or defiled. While if the opposite course is pursued, if the minds of the parents are continually dwelling upon low scenes; if their conversation lingers over objectionable features of character; if they form a habit of speaking complainingly of the course others have pursued, the little ones will take lessons from the words and expressions of contempt, and will follow the pernicious example. The evil impress, like the taint of the leprosy, will cleave to them in after life.

The seeds sown in infancy by the careful, God-fearing mother will become trees of righteousness, which will blossom and bear fruit; and the lessons given by a God-fearing father by precept and example, will, as in the case of Joseph, yield an abundant harvest by-and-by. Will parents review their work in the educating and training of their children, and consider whether they have done their whole duty in hope and faith that these children may be a crown of rejoicing in the day of the Lord Jesus? Have they so labored for the welfare of their children that Jesus can look down from Heaven and by the gift of his Spirit sanctify their efforts? Parents, it may be yours to prepare your children for the highest usefulness in this life, and to share at last the glory of that which is to come.

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