Ellen G. White Writings

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The Review and Herald

April 14, 1885

The New Heart

[Remarks at Los Angeles, Cal., May, 1884.]

By Mrs. E. G. White

Text. Ezekiel 36:26: “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you.”

The truth, the precious truth of God's word, will have a sanctifying effect upon the heart and character. There is work to be done for ourselves and for our children. The natural heart is full of hatred to the truth, as it is to Jesus. Unless parents shall make it the first business of their lives to guide their children's feet into the path of righteousness from their earliest years, the wrong path will be chosen before the right.

I tremble especially for mothers, as I see them so blind, and feeling so little the responsibilities that devolve upon a mother. They see Satan working in the self-willed child of even but a few months of age. Filled with spiteful passion, Satan seems to be taking full possession. But there may be in the house perhaps a grandmother, an aunt, or some other relative or friend, who will seek to make that parent believe that it would be cruelty to correct that child; whereas just the opposite is true; and it is the greatest cruelty to let Satan have the possession of that tender, helpless child. Satan must be rebuked. His hold on the child must be broken. If correction is needed, be faithful, be true. The love of God, true pity for the child, will lead to the faithful discharge of duty. The parent is to pray that God will send divine aid to combine with human effort to drive back Satan. The sweet spirit of submission which Jesus alone can bestow, should be employed; but the parent must not leave the Lord to do all the work. The Lord has left something for the parent to do. Let not perversity of spirit or passion control your little ones. Place them by faith in the arms of Jesus. Watch and pray. You will have a battle, parents, to dispossess your child of the Satanic spirit; but you will succeed if you are persevering. Let not Satanic passion abide with your children. Teach them that you are to be obeyed. In doing this you are educating them to obey God. Teach your children to honor you; because the law of God lays this duty upon children. If you allow your children to lightly esteem your wishes, and pay no regard to the laws of the household, you are winking at sin; you are permitting the Devil to work as he will, and the same insubordination, want of reverence, and love of self will be carried with them even into the religious life and into the church. And the beginning of all this evil is charged in the books of heaven to the neglect of the parents.

What a record will be presented by and by, when the books shall be opened! What neglect on the part of parents in the training of their children, will these books reveal! The great work of instruction, of weeding out worthless and poisonous weeds, is a most important one. For if left to themselves these weeds will grow until they choke out the precious plants of moral principle and truth.

It is the parents’ work to give line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little. Correct wrong tendencies, not in passion, but in love. The children may be saved if fathers and mothers will do their work faithfully. The truth of God, carried by the Spirit's power to the hearts of the children, after the parents have done all on their part, will work a radical change in the hearts and in the spirits of these children. The law of God should be erected in the house as the standard of character. Indulge in no foolish talking in your house. Even very young children will be benefited by “the form of sound words.” But idle and foolish words exchanged between father and mother will lead to the same kind of words among the children; while right, candid, truthful, and serious words will lead to the same in all the household, and will lead to right actions also.

The truth of God is to sanctify the soul. “A new heart will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you.” The sanctifying power of truth is to abide in the soul, and be carried with us to our business, there to apply its continual tests to every transaction of life, especially to our dealings with our fellow-men. It is to abide in our households, having a subduing power upon the life and character of all its inmates. The sweet perfume of kind words, of true Christian courtesy, should be maintained in the home. No boorish word should be spoken. No impatient spirit should be manifested.

We are teaching lessons to the children which we wish them to copy. If we wish our children to be chaste, pure-minded, and noble, we must be so ourselves. If we are impostors, professing to be children of God, while our impatience, fretfulness, and deception stamp us children of Satan, our children will be no better than we. All efforts of parents should be to go forward to perfection of Christian character. The standard at which we aim must be high. The only means of purifying the life and character is to be like-minded with Jesus. The mind and will of God are found revealed in his word. Shall we study it? Shall we teach it to our children? The word of God! the grand rule of life, the measurement of character! Would I could place it in the hands of every father and mother in our land.

Parents, you fail generally to begin your work early enough. You let Satan preoccupy the soil of the heart by putting in the first crop of seed. It is your privilege to sow the first seed. Teach your children about Jesus Christ. In a reverential tone weave his precious name into all your lessons. Teach them to love God, to fear to offend him. You are commanded not only to educate but to train your children. Especially should they be taught to reverence the house of worship, that there may be no whispering, no lightness, no trifling, no careless inattention, no noisy walking out, during service. It is painful to see the little respect children are taught to have for the house of God. God has given directions to his people that great reverence be taught for the religious service. It should be a study with parents to make the social meeting of the highest interest to the children, that they may receive proper impressions as to what constitutes a Christian character. How can we expect children to feel a solemn interest when long prayers are offered so low and indistinct that it is impossible to catch a word only now and then? If these praying ones had a new heart and a new spirit put within them, would they not manifest some earnestness in their prayers? Would they not touch the hearts even of children? Prayers in social meetings should be short and right to the point. Do not feel it your duty to tell long stories to the Lord, or to preach him a long sermon. Come at once to the point. Thank God for his mercies, confess your sins, ask his pardon, and believe that he will hear and answer your petitions.

Is it not your duty to put some skill and study and planning into the matter of conducting religious meetings—how they shall be conducted so as to do the greatest amount of good, and leave the very best impression upon all who attend? You plan in regard to your temporal labors. If you learn a trade, you seek to improve year by year in experience, executing plans that shall show progression in your work. Is your temporal business of as much consequence as the service of God? matters where eternal interests are involved? God is displeased with your lifeless manner in his house, your sleepy, indifferent ways of conducting religious worship. You need to bear in mind that you attend divine service to meet with God, to be refreshed, comforted, blessed, not to do a duty imposed upon you.

Often you exhaust all your physical and mental powers in your temporal labors, and you have nothing left for the service of God. You have scarcely entertained a thought of Jesus through the day, and at its close you are too weary to hardly think of God. Has your heart drank at the fountain of life while you have been working with your hands? Have you been offering to God the gratitude due him for his abundant mercies and blessings? If you withhold it, you are robbing God. Have you yielded your heart to the heavenly honor which through faith you claim? This alone would be sufficient to rule out of your heart everything contrary to the spirit of Christ, and to cleanse the soul-temple from unhallowed thoughts. If you watch and pray each day, you keep the victory through faith; but only so long as you do those duties. If we live for Jesus Christ minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day, then Christ will dwell in us; and when we come to social meeting the love of Christ will be in our hearts, welling up like a refreshing spring in the desert, refreshing all, and making those who are ready to perish eager to drink of the waters of life.

Has the Lord been an honored guest in our prayer meetings? Why do we not, as sensible men and women, consider for ourselves what God requires of us individually in every meeting we attend? Have we devoted many moments to prayer, to close, earnest study concerning the very best course we can pursue as children of God to add such interest and earnestness and life to our meetings that our children shall love to attend them? Do we consider how much we dishonor God by our complaining testimonies, by relating our trials, temptations, backslidings, and our griefs? Do we realize how we carry a dark cloud with us, and shadow the pathway of others by such a course? We are bodies of darkness because our eye is not single. If the eye were single the clouds upon which we gaze, and of which we talk so much, would disappear; we should see a precious, loving, compassionate Redeemer, and catch the light from his countenance. We should be cheerful; heavenly peace would reign in our hearts, not inclosed as perfume in a bottle, but like the offering of Mary to Jesus, filling the house with its sweet fragrance. Peace would be in our homes; for wherever the love of Jesus reigns, there peace abides: and there will be also joy; for there is a holy calm and heavenly trust in God.

The Sabbath—oh! make it the sweetest, the most blessed day of the whole week. Parents should not allow their children to be out with others in play or amusement. I have found that on the Sabbath-day many are indifferent, and do not know where their children are or what they are doing. Parents can and should give attention to their children, reading to them the most attractive portions of Bible history, educating them to reverence the Sabbath-day, keeping it according to the commandment. This cannot be done if the parents feel no burden to interest their children. But they can make the Sabbath a delight if they will take the proper course. The children can be interested in good reading or in conversation about the salvation of their souls. But they will have to be educated and trained. The natural heart does not love to think of God, of heaven, or of heavenly things. There must be a continual pressing back of the current of worldliness and inclination to evil, and a letting in of heavenly light. It takes line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little.

The mother must keep her mind refreshed and stored with the promises and blessings of God's word, and also the forbidden things, that when her children do wrong she may present as a reproof the words of God, and show them how they are grieving the Spirit of God. Teach them that the approbation and smiles of Jesus are of greater value than the praise or flattery or approval of the most wealthy, the most exalted, the most learned of the earth. Lead them to Jesus Christ day by day, lovingly, tenderly, earnestly. You must not allow anything to come between you and this great work. You cannot afford to give to visiting precious time that belongs to the training and encouragement of your children. Many of you feel interested for them, but not deeply enough to go to work yourselves. Like Eli you neglect your duty to control them; and as a result you see them pursuing an evil course. Your daughters may be growing forward and bold in their manners, and unbecoming in their deportment; your sons rough, learning bad habits, smoking or otherwise using tobacco because it is fashionable. Satan has preoccupied the garden of their hearts. He has sown his seed, to be harvested in sorrow by both parents and children.

Let anything and everything be neglected rather than this important work. How can you ask God to convert your children when you have neglected your duty, and are remiss in doing the work that God has enjoined upon parents to do? Everything connected with the service of God should be made most attractive, but not by mixing self-indulgence and selfish gratification and worldly amusements with religious experience. Understand yourselves the way to the fountain where you may quench your thirst; then you can lead your dear children to the fountain that has refreshed you. Always bear a cheerful countenance. Stop fretting; stop worrying; stop reproving; and be cheerful. Be a living stone in God's building,—a stone emitting light. Then your children will see that Christians are not cold, lifeless, dull, and uninteresting. While they feel, as every child should, the curbing power of truth in the home and in the house of God, they will also feel its sweet peace and radiance upon their souls, affecting the life and character; for Christ is in the soul the hope of glory.

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