Ellen G. White Writings

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Good Health

May 1, 1889

Education

By Mrs. E. G. White.

The apostle Peter presents the necessity of making constant progress,—of continually adding heavenly graces to our character. He says, “Add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.”

The education spoken of in these words is of a fundamental character, and should underlie all the intellectual training of the schools. The home above all other places is where this work should go on. It should be a model school for the children. The words and acts of the parents are the most potent of educating influences, for they will surely be reflected in the character and conduct of the children. Both by precept and example, parents should guide the little ones during their earliest youth, ever seeking to present before them a character worthy of their imitation.

Parents should feel their responsibility before God to cultivate the physical, mental, and moral powers of their children. They should unitedly take up the work that devolves upon them, with a just appreciation of the true principles of education. In view of a trust so sacred, they should study to become masters of the art of education, that they may properly discipline their children from babyhood to childhood, and from childhood to manhood, thus fitting them to take their respective places in society with sufficient moral power to choose the good and to refuse the evil.

The first knowledge that the child receives, makes a more lasting impression on his mind than the knowledge obtained in more advanced years; therefore it has a greater influence in the formation of his character than the education of later life. This knowledge is received around the fireside at home, and it should be of such a nature that it will give the right mold to the character. It is in the family circle that the mother should begin the work of educating her children, that they may form a character which will prepare them for usefulness in this life, and for the enjoyment of the future, immortal life. The mother should be queen of her home. She should exert a positive and potent influence over the members of her household. The work committed to her hand is a work of sacred importance; and if she would do it acceptably to God, she must be a learner in the school of Christ, as well as a teacher in her home. It is necessary for her to learn self-control, if she would teach her children self-control. She should strictly guard herself lest she betray her sacred trust. Through her own choice she has entered her field of labor, and taken upon herself responsibilities for the discharge of which she is accountable to God. She will have to answer for her influence upon her children. She will have to meet the question whether she has, in the fear of God, done all she could to establish them in right principles of life and in right habits of conduct.

Says the word of God, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” If you desire that your children should be refined in manners, noble in character, pure in heart, and elevated in mind, you must teach them the fear of the Lord. The best method for acquiring the mold of character which our heavenly Father can approve, must be employed if success is to be attained. The parents’ words should be select, well-chosen. No impure word, no common, coarse expression, should escape the lips of father or mother. While you should not be severe, stern, and set, in dealing with your children, you should be decided, firm, and patient, learning from day to day to exhibit that perfection of character which you desire to see in them.

If parents are cold and unsympathetic, the same spirit of indifference will be begotten in the children. Let the parents manifest tender love to their little ones; treat them with kindness; and when they have done well, commend them. Seek opportunities to give words of encouragement and endearment. Let parents regard their children as precious jewels intrusted to their care by the heavenly Father,—jewels that are to be rendered back with all the roughness and coarseness removed, shaped and polished for the heavenly setting.

When Christ prayed in behalf of his disciples, he said, “I sanctify myself, that they also may be sanctified.” This is the very thing that parents should do. They should consecrate themselves entirely to God, that their powers of mind and heart may reach a high order of excellence, and be efficient in the highest forms of usefulness. As Christ has given parents a perfect example in his life and character, so the latter should seek to give their children an example of what they should be in spirit and deportment. As fathers and mothers take up their duties with this purpose, they will constantly make advancement themselves; becoming better qualified for their God-given work.

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