Ellen G. White Writings

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The Signs of the Times

July 1, 1886

Importance of Home Training

By Mrs. E. G. White

In the words, “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,” the psalmist sums up the results of careful home training. It should be the object of every parent to secure to his children a well-balanced, symmetrical character. And this is a work of no small magnitude and importance, but one that will require earnest thought and prayer, no less than patient, persevering effort. A right foundation must be laid, a framework, strong and firm, erected, and then day by day the work of building, polishing, perfecting, must go forward.

Parents, your own home is the first field in which you are called to labor. The precious plants in the home garden demand your first care. To you it is appointed to watch for souls as they that must give account. Carefully consider your work, its nature, its bearing, and its results. Line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little, you must instruct, warn, and counsel, ever remembering that your looks, words, and actions have a direct bearing upon the future course of your dear ones. Your work is not to paint a form of beauty upon canvas, or to chisel it from marble, but to impress upon a human soul the image of the Divine.

Did mothers but realize the importance of their mission, they would be much in secret prayer, presenting their children to Jesus, imploring his blessing upon them, and pleading for wisdom to discharge aright their sacred duties. Let the mother improve every opportunity to mould and fashion the disposition and habits of her children. Let her watch carefully the development of character, repressing traits that are too prominent, encouraging those that are deficient.

Mothers, will you not dispense with useless, unimportant labor for that which must perish with the using? Will you not seek to draw near to God, that his wisdom may guide and his grace assist you, in a work which will be as enduring as eternity? Aim to make your children perfect in character. Remember that such only can see God.

I speak the more freely and earnestly, because I know that many parents are neglecting their God-given work. They are themselves far from purity and holiness, and they do not see the defects of their children as they would if their own eyes were beholding and admiring the perfection of Christ's character.

Parents, for Christ's sake, for the sake of your children, seek to conform your own lives to the divine standard. Set a pure and noble example before your precious charge. Let nothing come in between you and your God. Be earnest, be patient and persevering, instant in season, and out of season. Give your children intellectual culture, and moral training. Let their young hearts be fortified with firm, pure principles. Teach them to exert every faculty of mind and body. While you have the opportunity, lay the foundation for a noble manhood and womanhood, and your labor will be rewarded a thousand fold.

You must make the Bible your guide, if you would bring up your children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Let the life and character of Christ be presented as the pattern for them to copy. If they err, read to them what the Lord has said concerning similar sins. There is need of constant care and diligence in this work. One wrong trait tolerated by parents, uncorrected by teachers, may cause the character to become deformed and unbalanced. Teach the children that they must have a new heart; that new tastes must be created, new motives inspired. They must have help from Christ; they must become acquainted with the character of God as revealed in his word.

Family prayer receives too little attention. In many cases, the morning and evening worship is little more than a mere form, a dull monotonous repetition of set phrases in which the spirit of gratitude or the sense of need finds no expression. The Lord accepts not such service. But the petitions of a humble heart and contrite spirit he will not despise. The opening of our hearts to our Heavenly Father, the acknowledgment of our entire dependence, the expression of our wants, the homage of grateful love,—this is true prayer. When we come pleading the merits of Christ's blood, and trusting with implicit faith his promises, we shall secure the blessing of the Lord.

Redeem the precious hours worse than wasted in talking of your troubles, or gossiping over the faults of others. Seek earnestly to God for help, and you will become strong in his strength. You may have Christ as a guest in your home. Be not satisfied merely to bear the name of Christ. Be in truth followers of Jesus. Let your hearts be warmed with his love. Make him your friend, your helper, your counselor.

The most valuable rules for social and family intercourse, are to be found in the Bible. There is not only the best and purest standard of morality, but the most valuable code of politeness. Our Saviour's sermon on the mount contains instruction of priceless worth to old and young. It should be often read in the family circle, and its precious teachings exemplified in the daily life. The golden rule, “Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them,” as well as the apostolic injunction, “In honor preferring one another,” should be made the law of the family. Those who cherish the spirit of Christ will manifest politeness at home, a spirit of benevolence even in little things. They will be constantly seeking to make all around them happy, forgetting self in their kind attentions to others. This is the fruit which grows upon the Christian tree.

Few realize the influence of the little things of life upon the development of character. Mothers, cease to spend your time and strength for that which is merely attractive to the eye, but which does not minister to comfort or real happiness, and you will cut off a large share of the cares and worries that make you nervous and irritable, impolite and unchristian. The precious moments heretofore given to needless labor should be devoted to beautifying the souls of your children, teaching them how they may obtain the inward adorning, that meek and quiet spirit which God accounts of great price.

If real politeness were practiced by all the followers of Christ, if obedience to the golden rule were made one of the corner-stones of Christian character, we would see fewer church-trials, less hardness and animosity between brethren. There would be no harsh, thoughtless words, no strife for the highest place. God's people will be tested. Every one will be exposed to the fierce fire of trial and temptation. If we would not be consumed as dross, we must have the love of God—the gold that has been tried—abiding in us. Now is the time to soften and subdue our rough, harsh traits of character. We must cherish kindness, forbearance, Christian integrity. Ungenerous criticism, hard speeches, questioning the motives of another, or magnifying his faults, open the door to Satan's temptations, and lead many away from God. The holy Scriptures give us a safe and profitable rule for thought and conversation. “Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” If we would have our children practice kindness, courtesy, and love, we ourselves must set them the example.

“Charity suffereth long, and is kind.” It “thinketh no evil,”—another fruit borne on the tree of love. Our souls must be stayed upon God, imbued with his Spirit, if we would learn these sacred lessons. Said the apostle, “Gird up the loins of your mind.” If the thoughts are rightly disciplined, it will be a far less difficult task to control the feelings. Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, will give us courage, hope, and constancy. Shall we not obey the teachings of God's word? Shall we not make it our guide and counselor? Shall we not devote time and thought to its perusal? How can Christians neglect the book in which God has revealed his will to men? Our children need help to understand the Scriptures. They should become acquainted with the life and character of Jesus, that they may love him, and choose to obey him.

Parents and guardians must exercise unceasing watchfulness. Every day new thoughts are awakened in the minds of the young; new impressions are made upon their hearts. The associations they form, the books they read, the habits they cherish,—all must be guarded; for the interests of the children, for this life and the next, are at stake.

“What now you do, you know not,
But shall hereafter know,
When the seeds your hands are sowing,
To a ripened harvest grow.”

When you stand before the great white throne, then your work will appear as it is. The books are opened, the record of every life made known. Many in that vast company are unprepared for the revelations made. Upon the ears of some, the words will fall with startling distinctness, “Weighed in the balance, and found wanting.” To many parents the Judge will say in that day, “You had my word, plainly setting forth your duty. Why have you not obeyed its teachings? Knew ye not that it was the voice of God? Did I not bid you search the Scriptures, that you might not go astray? You have not only ruined your own souls, but by your pretensions to godliness you have misled many others. You have no part with me. Depart, depart!”

Another class stand pale and trembling, trusting in Christ, and yet oppressed with a sense of their own unworthiness. They hear with tears of joy and gratitude the Master's commendation. The day's of incessant toil, of burden-bearing, and of fear and anguish, are forgotten, as that voice, sweeter than the music of angel harps, pronounces the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant, enter ye into the joy of your Lord.” There stand the host of the redeemed, the palm branch of victory in their hand, the crown upon their head. These are the ones who by faithful, earnest labor, have obtained a fitness for Heaven. The life-work performed on earth is acknowledged in the heavenly courts as a work well done.

With joy unutterable, parents see the crown, the robe, the harp, given to their children. The days of hope and fear are ended. The seed sown with tears and prayers may have seemed to be sown in vain, but their harvest is reaped with joy at last. Their children have been redeemed. Fathers, mothers, shall the voices of your children swell the song of gladness in that day?

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