Ellen G. White Writings

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The Review and Herald

June 27, 1899

The Duty of Parents to Children

Mrs. E. G. White

There are deep responsibilities resting upon Christian parents which many do not accept and carry in the fear of the Lord. God has given to men and women reasoning faculties, and he designs that they shall put them to use. But many who profess to believe the most sacred truths ever given to the world do not reach the standard to which God calls them. They do not sanctify themselves through the truth, that their children may be sanctified. Fathers, mothers, your children are the younger members of the Lord's family, and he requires you to bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, constantly instilling into their minds correct principles, and training them by the law of kindness and love.

Parents are to make the religion of Christ attractive by their cheerfulness, their Christian courtesy, and their tender, compassionate sympathy; but they are to be firm in requiring respect and obedience. Right principles must be established in the mind of the child. If parents are united in this work of discipline, the child will understand what is required of him. But if the father, by word or look, shows that he does not approve of the discipline the mother gives; if he feels that she is too strict, and thinks that he must make up for the harshness by petting and indulgence, the child will be ruined. He will soon learn that he can do as he pleases. Parents who commit this sin against their children are accountable for the ruin of their souls.

“Wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” Satan has prepared pleasing attractions for parents as well as for children. He knows that if he can exert his deceptive power upon mothers, he has gained much. The ways of the world are full of deceitfulness and fraud and misery, but they are made to appear inviting; and if the children and youth are not carefully trained and disciplined, they will surely go astray. Having no fixed principles, it will be hard for them to resist temptation. So long as the father's eye is upon them, the mother's watchcare over them, there is a certain degree of security; but if the mother, in her love of society, leaves her children to themselves, Satan uses the opportunity to their ruin. Separated from the influence which should hold them in check, these youth reveal that they are weak in moral power. They have no strength to resist temptation; and when sinners entice them, they are unable to meet them with a resolute No. The youth who follow their own impulse and inclination can have no real happiness in this life, and in the end will lose eternal life.

God calls upon fathers and mothers to become intelligent in regard to the laws which govern physical life, that they may know what are and what are not correct physical habits. Right habits in eating and drinking and dressing must be insisted upon. Children must be taught to make a right use of the things of this life, and to let alone everything that will injure the powers of mind or body. Parents who would secure physical soundness in their children must teach them that every organ of the body and every faculty of the mind is the gift of a good and wise God, and that it is to be used to his glory, that by a proper exercise of the talents lent them they may secure eternal happiness.

The souls as well as the bodies of the youth are affected by the habits of eating and drinking. Wrong habits render the youth less susceptible to Bible instruction. God calls upon parents to guard their children against the indulgence of appetite, and especially against the use of stimulants and narcotics. The tables of Christian parents should never be loaded down with food containing condiments and spices. They are to study to preserve the stomach from any abuse. Fathers and mothers may do much in giving right characters to their children by controlling their own appetites and passions. Fathers who use tobacco and liquor poison their blood, and transmit to their children their own vitiated habits intensified. They give them as a legacy feeble moral powers. Thus the sins of parents are perpetuated in their offspring. In the day of final account, what a weight of crime will be charged to parents who have neglected their duty to themselves and their children.

Those who have charge of God's property in the souls and bodies of the children formed in his image should erect barriers against the sensual indulgence of the age, which is ruining the physical and moral health of thousands. If many of the crimes of this time were traced to their true cause, it would be seen that they are chargeable to the ignorance of fathers and mothers who are indifferent on this subject. Health and life itself are being sacrificed to this lamentable ignorance. Parents, if you fail to give your children the education which God has made it your duty to give them, you must answer to him for the results. These results will not be confined merely to your children. As the one thistle permitted to grow in the field produces a harvest of its kind, so the sins resulting from your neglect will work to ruin all who come within the sphere of their influence.

Parents send their children to school; and when they have done this, they think they have educated them. But education is a matter of greater breadth than many realize: it comprises the whole process by which the child is instructed from babyhood to childhood, from childhood to youth, and from youth to manhood. As soon as a child is capable of forming an idea, his education should begin. The teachers in the school will do something toward educating your children, but your example will do more than can be accomplished by any other means. Your conversation, the way in which you manage your business matters, the likes and dislikes to which you give expression, all help in molding the character. The kindly disposition, the self-control, the self-possession, the courtesy your child sees in you, will be daily lessons to him. Like time, this education is ever going on, and the tendency of this every-day school should be to make your child what he ought to be.

The circumstances in which children are placed will often have a deeper influence on them than even the example of parents. There are wealthy men in the world who expect their sons to be what they were in their youth, and blame the depravity of the age if they are not. But they have no right to expect this from their children, unless they place them in circumstances similar to those in which they themselves lived. The circumstances of the father's life made him what he is. In his youth he was pressed with poverty, and had to work with diligence and perseverance. His character was molded in the stern school of poverty. He was forced to be modest in his wants, active in his work, simple in his tastes. He had to put his faculties to work in order to obtain food and clothing. Fathers labor to place their children in a position of wealth, rather than where they themselves began. This is a common mistake. Had children today to learn in the same school in which their fathers learned, they might become as useful as they. But the circumstances have been altered. Poverty was the father's master; abundance of means surrounds the son. All his wants are supplied. His father's character was molded under the severe discipline of frugality; every trifling good was appreciated. His son's habits and character are formed, not by the circumstances which once existed, but by the present situation, ease and indulgence.

The parent may think that he will counteract these tendencies, and bring up his son to economical habits, to tax his physical and mental powers, and to guard his associations. He realizes the benefits to be derived from a plain, simple diet, and he will seek to have his child restricted to the plainest food. But his surroundings are such that simplicity can not be preserved. The table is spread with food of every description to gratify the taste of visitors; and what the child sees others indulge in, he reasons that he should also have. When luxury abounds on every side, how can it be denied him?

Christ discerned these dangers in the life of the rich man. He said: “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt; and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal.” Again he says: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” This is the first work to be engaged in. Every family should rear its altar of prayer, realizing that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. If any persons in the world need the strength and encouragement that religion gives, it is those who are responsible for the education and training of children. They can not do their work in a manner acceptable to God while their daily example teaches those who look to them for guidance that they can live without God. If they educate their children to live for this life only, they will make no preparation for eternity. They will die as they have lived, without God, and parents will be called to account for the loss of their souls. Fathers, mothers, you need to seek God morning and evening at the family altar, that you may learn how to teach your children wisely, tenderly, lovingly, line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little.

June 27, 1899

Disease and Its Causes

Mrs. E. G. White

Men and women, by indulging the appetite in eating rich and highly seasoned foods, especially flesh-meats, with rich gravies, and by using stimulating drinks, as tea and coffee, create unnatural appetites. The system becomes fevered, the organs of digestion are injured, the mental faculties are beclouded, while the baser passions are excited, and predominate over the nobler faculties. The appetite becomes more unnatural, and more difficult of restraint. The circulation of the blood is not equalized, and the blood becomes impure. The whole system is deranged, and the demands of appetite become more unreasonable, craving exciting, hurtful things, until it is thoroughly depraved.

With many the appetite clamors for the disgusting weed, tobacco, and ale, made powerful by poisonous, health-destroying mixtures. Many do not stop even here. Their debased appetites call for stronger drink, which has a still more benumbing influence upon the brain. Thus they give themselves up to every excess, until appetite holds complete control over the reasoning faculties; and man, formed in the image of his Maker, debases himself lower than the beasts. Manhood and honor are alike sacrificed to appetite. It required time to benumb the sensibilities of the mind. It was done gradually but surely. The indulgence of the appetite in first eating food highly seasoned, created a morbid appetite, and prepared the way for every kind of indulgence, until health and intellect were sacrificed to lust.

Many have entered the marriage relation who have not acquired property, and who have had no inheritance. They did not possess physical strength, or mental energy, to acquire property. It has been just such ones who have been in haste to marry, and who have taketh upon themselves responsibilities of which they had no just sense. They did not possess noble, elevated feelings, and had no just idea of the duty of a husband and father, and what it would cost them to provide for the wants of a family. And they manifested no more propriety in the increase of their families than that shown in their business transactions. Those who are seriously deficient in business tact, and who are the least qualified to get along in the world, generally fill their houses with children; while men who have ability to acquire property generally have no more children than they can well provide for. Those who are not qualified to take care of themselves should not have children. It has been the case that the numerous offspring of these poor calculators are left to come up like the brutes. They are not suitably fed nor clothed, and do not receive physical or mental training, and there is nothing sacred in the word “home” to either parents or children.

The marriage institution was designed of Heaven to be a blessing to man; but in a general sense it has been abused in such a manner as to make it a dreadful curse. Most men and women have acted, in entering the marriage relation, as if the only question for them to settle was whether they loved each other. But they should realize that a responsibility rests upon them in their marriage relation further than this. They should consider whether their offspring will possess physical health, and mental and moral strength. But few have moved with high motives, and with elevated considerations,—that society had claims upon them which they could not lightly throw off; that the weight of their families’ influence would tell in the upward or downward scale.

Society is composed of families. And heads of families are responsible for the molding of society. If those who choose to enter the marriage relation without due consideration were alone to be the sufferers, then the evil would not be so great, and their sin would be comparatively small. But the misery arising from unhappy marriages is felt by the offspring of such unions. They have entailed upon them a life of living misery; and though innocent, suffer the consequence of their parents’ inconsiderate course. Men and women have no right to follow impulse, or blind passion, in their marriage relation, and then bring innocent children into the world to realize from various causes that life has but little joy, but little happiness, and is therefore a burden.

Children generally inherit the peculiar traits of character which the parents possess, and in addition to all this, many come up without any redeeming influence around them. They are too frequently huddled together in poverty and filth. With such surroundings and examples, what can be expected of the children when they come upon the stage of action, but that they will sink lower in the scale of moral worth than their parents, and their deficiencies in every respect be more apparent than theirs? Thus has this class perpetuated their deficiencies, and cursed their posterity with poverty, imbecility, and degradation. These should not have married; at least, they should not have brought innocent children into existence to share their misery, and hand down their own deficiencies, with accumulating wretchedness, from generation to generation, which is one great cause of the degeneracy of the race.

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