Ellen G. White Writings

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The Signs of the Times

November 3, 1881

Early Life of Samuel

By Mrs. E. G. White

The fulfillment of Hannah's vow to dedicate her child to the Lord, was not deferred until he could be presented at the tabernacle. From the earliest dawn of intellect she trained his infant mind to love and reverence God, and to regard himself as the Lord's. By every familiar object surrounding him she sought to lead his thoughts up to the Creator.

When separated from her child, the faithful mother's solicitude did not cease. He was the subject of her prayers. Every year she made him a little coat, and when she came with her husband to the yearly sacrifice, she presented it to the child as a token of her love. With every stitch of that coat she had breathed a prayer that he might be pure, noble, and true. She did not ask that he might be great, but earnestly pleaded that he might be good. Her faith and devotion were rewarded. She saw her son, in the simplicity of childhood, walking in the love and fear of God. She saw him growing up to manhood in favor with God and man, humble, reverent, prompt in duty, and earnest in the service of his divine Master. And while the Lord accepted the precious offering from that mother's hand, he did not forget to repay the sacrifice. Hannah was blessed with other children, to educate and train for Heaven.

Samuel's youth was passed in the tabernacle solemnly devoted to the worship of God; yet even here he was not free from evil influences or sinful example. The sons of Eli are described in the sacred word as “sons of Belial.” They feared not God, nor honored their father; but Samuel did not seek their company nor follow their evil ways. It was his constant effort to make himself what God would have him to become. This is the privilege of every youth. God is pleased when even little children devote themselves to his service; they should not be discouraged in their efforts to become Christians.

The youth will not become weak-minded or inefficient by consecrating themselves to the service of God. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. The youngest child that loves and fears God, is greater in his sight than the most talented and learned man who neglects the great salvation. The youth who consecrate their hearts and lives to God, have in so doing, placed themselves in connection with the Fountain of all wisdom and excellence.

Early brought to minister in the tabernacle, Samuel had even then minor duties to perform in the service of God, according to his capacity. These were at first very humble, and not always pleasant, but they were performed to the best of his ability, and with a willing heart. His religion was carried into all the business of life. He regarded himself as God's servant, and his work as God's work. His efforts were accepted, because they were prompted by love to God and a sincere desire to do his will. Thus Samuel became a co-worker with the Lord of Heaven and earth. And God through him accomplished a great work for Israel.

If children were taught to regard the humble round of every-day duties as the course marked out for them by the Lord, as a school in which they were to be trained to render faithful and efficient service, how much more pleasant and honorable would their work appear. To perform every duty as unto the Lord, throws a charm around the humblest employment, and links the workers on earth with the holy beings who do God's will in Heaven. And in our appointed place we should discharge our duties with as much faithfulness as do the angels in their higher sphere. Those who feel that they are God's servants will be men who can be trusted anywhere. Citizens of Heaven will make the best citizens of earth. A correct view of our duty to God leads to clear perceptions of our duty to our fellow men.

Parents should bring up their children in the love and fear of God, remembering that they are younger members of the Lord's great family entrusted to the parents to be educated and trained for Heaven, and to be required again at their hands. Let children be taught that every act of life is important. It is strengthening habit and forming character. If all the daily duties are performed in the fear of God, they will be done with fidelity, and the life-record will be such as can pass the test of the Judgment.

Would that every mother could realize how great are her duties and her responsibilities, and how great will be the reward of faithfulness. The mother's daily influence upon her children is preparing them for everlasting life or eternal death. She exercises in her home a power more decisive than the minister in the desk, or even the king upon his throne. The day of God will reveal how much the world owes to godly mothers for men who have been unflinching advocates of truth and reform,—men who have been bold to do and dare, who have stood unshaken amid trials and temptations; men who chose the high and holy interests of truth and the glory of God, before worldly honor or life itself.

When the Judgment shall sit, and the books shall be opened; when the “well done” of the great Judge is pronounced, and the crown of immortal glory is placed upon the brow of the victor, many will raise their crowns in sight of the assembled universe, and pointing to their mother say, “She made me all I am through the grace of God. Her instruction, her prayers, have been blessed to my eternal salvation.”

Samuel became a great man in the fullest sense, as God estimates character. Many whom the world calls great, fall far below the divine standard. They lack the very elements of true and noble manhood. Men of giant intellect and brilliant genius, men before whom the world bows in willing homage, have prostituted these precious gifts of God to the service of the arch-deceiver. The name of Byron stands high in the literary world. God gave him great natural abilities; had his powers been rightly directed, he might have been a blessing to society. But his talents were not consecrated to God. The purity of Heaven did not permeate his life or breathe forth in his literary productions. Many of his works lead to immorality and irreligion. They reveal the true character of the man—corrupt in taste, depraved in heart. He rejected the service of God, and chose to ally himself to Satan.

Gibbon, the renowned historian, was not a great man according to God's standard. He was endowed with great intellectual powers, that he might make known to his fellow-men the knowledge of God. But Satan prepared his snares for this man, and he became entangled in the meshes of skepticism. His works breathe insinuations against God and against the world's Redeemer. He improved every opportunity to destroy confidence in the Bible and the Christian religion. Eternity alone can reveal the amount of harm wrought by his writings. The world pronounces Gibbon a literary success. God pronounces him a failure.

A beneficent Creator endows men with intellectual powers, that, consecrated to his service, they may become co-workers with Christ and angels in the work of human redemption. Yet how many, like Byron and Gibbon, employ their talents to pervert the simplicity of truth, and bring contempt upon the Christian religion, as unworthy the attention of intelligent men. Those who are engaged in this work little know what they are doing. But in the day of Judgment how fearful will be their accountability.

Intellectual power, when opposed to the principles of true religion, becomes a minister of vice. Its influence tends to deface the image of God in man, and to bring him down to the level of the brute creation. Whatever, tends to banish thoughts of God from the mind becomes a curse, not only to the possessor but to all within the sphere of his influence. Better would it be for the gifted skeptic, better for the world, to be deprived of the brilliant talents that are devoted to the service of Satan. The greater the gift perverted and abused, the greater will be the evil wrought and the greater the condemnation in the day of final reckoning.

Despite the many sovereigns to whom men profess allegiance, all mankind are serving one of two masters—the Prince of light or the Prince of darkness. Samuel served the former, the sons of Eli the latter. The characters of these persons, standing out in such striking contrast, represent the two great parties into which the world has been divided since the fall of Adam—the servants of Christ and the servants of Satan. God has ordained that with families and nations or with individuals, virtue is the basis of happiness, vice the foundation of woe and misery. In all the history of nations, wherever righteousness has been cherished, union, peace, and prosperity result; where greed, selfishness, and irreligion reign, weakness, degeneracy, and corruption follow.

A constant warfare is still waged between vice and virtue. Wherever we turn, the battle goes on unceasingly. Infidelity is rearing its head in vaunted triumph, and crime of all grades is crowding in on every side. Multitudes of the youth are swept away by the overwhelming tide of evil. In every earnest Christian heart the question rises, “Why, oh, why, in a land of Bibles and Christian teaching, can the adversary of souls exert over our youth a power so mighty, so unrestrained?” The reason is apparent. Parents are neglecting their solemn responsibility. They are not earnest, persevering, and faithful in the work of training their children for God, restraining their evil desires and enforcing obedience to parental authority, even in infancy.

Young men should be trained to stand firm for the right amid the prevailing iniquity, to do all in their power to arrest the progress of vice, and to promote virtue, purity, and true manliness. The impressions made upon the mind and character in early life are deep and abiding. Injudicious training or evil associations will often exert upon the young mind an influence for evil that all after-effort is powerless to efface. The character of Napoleon Bonaparte was greatly influenced by his training in childhood. Unwise instructors inspired him with a love for conquest, forming mimic armies and placing him at their head as commander. Here was laid the foundation for his career of strife and bloodshed. Had the same care and effort been directed to making him a good man, imbuing his young heart with the spirit of the gospel, how widely different might have been his history.

It is said that Hume the skeptic was in early life a conscientious believer in the word of God. Being connected with a debating society, he was appointed to present the arguments in favor of infidelity. He studied with earnestness and perseverance, and his keen and active mind became imbued with the sophistry of skepticism. Ere long he came to believe its delusive teachings, and his whole after-life bore the dark impress of infidelity.

When Voltaire was five years old, he committed to memory an infidel poem, and the pernicious influence was never effaced from his mind. He became one of Satan's most successful agents to lead men away from God. Thousands will rise up in the Judgment, and charge the ruin of their souls upon the infidel Voltaire.

By the thoughts and feelings cherished in early years, every youth is determining his own life history. Correct, virtuous, manly habits formed in youth will become a part of the character, and will usually mark the course of the individual through life. The youth may become vicious or virtuous, as they choose. They may as well be distinguished for true and noble deeds as for great crime and wickedness.

Young men of today may become as precious in the sight of the Lord as was Samuel. They may have their names enrolled in the book of life, to be looked upon with pleasure by the Monarch of the universe and the angelic host. By faithfully maintaining their Christian integrity, the young may, like the noble Luther, exert a mighty influence in the work of reform. Such men are needed at this time. God has a position and a work for every one of them.

If the young men in our cities would unite their efforts to discountenance ungodliness and crime, their influence would greatly advance the cause of reform. It is the privilege and the duty of every youth, as an angel of mercy, to minister to the wants and woes of mankind. There is no class that can achieve greater results for God and humanity than the young.

Let none entertain the thought that the religion of the Bible is weak and unmanly, the effect of fanatical zeal or superstitious fear. Many of the young refrain from entering the service of Christ because they are unwilling to confess themselves Christians before the world. They are ashamed of Jesus, ashamed to acknowledge and obey his authority. Such persons view religion from the worldling's stand-point. On this rock thousands have been wrecked.

God is the sovereign of the universe, and should we be ashamed to acknowledge our allegiance to him? The holy angels are engaged night and day in his service. The highest order of beings in all the universe bow before the throne of God with songs of grateful, joyous praise. Is there aught in such service that can detract from man's true dignity? Saith the Lord, “Them that honor me I will honor.” The service of God is the highest, noblest work that can engage the powers of men or of angels.

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