Ellen G. White Writings

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The Youth’s Instructor

April 1, 1872

Life of Christ.—No. 2

By Ellen G. White.

Christ retained a perfect identity of character, although surrounded by unfavorable influences, and placed in every variety of circumstances. Nothing supernatural occurred during the first thirty years of his life at Nazareth which would attract the attention of the people to himself. The apocraphy [apocrypha] of the New Testament attempts to supply the silence of the Scriptures in reference to the early life of Christ, by giving a fancy sketch of his childhood years. These writers relate wonderful incidents and miracles, which characterized his childhood, and distinguished him from other children. They relate fictitious tales, and frivolous miracles, which they say he wrought, attributing to Christ the senseless and needless display of his divine power, and falsifying his character by attributing to him acts of revenge, and deeds of mischief, which were cruel and ridiculous.

In what marked contrast is the history of Christ, as recorded by the evangelists, which is beautiful in its natural simplicity, with these unmeaning stories, and fictitious tales. They are not at all in harmony with his character. They are more after the order of the novels that are written, which have no foundation in truth; but the characters delineated are of fancy creating.

The life of Christ was distinguished from the generality of children. His strength of moral character, and his firmness, ever led him to be true to his sense of duty, and to adhere to the principles of right, from which no motive, however powerful, could move him. Money or pleasure, applause or censure, could not purchase or flatter him to consent to a wrong action. He was strong to resist temptation, wise to discover evil, and firm to abide faithful to his convictions.

The wicked and unprincipled would flatter and portray the pleasures of sinful indulgences; but his strength of principle was strong to resist the suggestions of Satan. His penetration had been cultivated, that he could discern the voice of the tempter. He would not swerve from duty to obtain the favor of any. He would not sell his principles for human praise, or to avoid reproach and the envy and hatred of those who were enemies to righteousness and true goodness.

The life of Christ was passed in simplicity and purity. He possessed patience which nothing could ruffle, and truthfulness which would not be turned aside. His willing hands and feet were ever ready to serve others, and lighten the burdens of his parents. His wisdom was great, but it was child-like, and increased with his years. His childhood possessed peculiar gentleness, and marked loveliness. His character was full of beauty, and unsullied perfection.

It was said of him, “The child grew, waxed strong in spirit, was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him.” Important and useful lessons may be drawn from the life of Christ. What examples for parents in educating their children! And what a pattern we here find for all children and youth!

If children would have firm constitutions they must live naturally. The path of obedience is exalted by the Majesty of Heaven coming to the earth, and condescending himself to become a little child, and living simply and naturally, as children should live, submitting to restraint and privation, giving youth an example of faithful industry, showing them by his own life that body and soul are in harmony with natural laws.

Christ's example shows that a sound constitution is necessary for strength of intellect, and high moral attainments, which are susceptible to the divine influences of the Spirit of God. Although children live in a fallen world, they need not be corrupted by vice. They may be happy, and through the merits of Christ attain Heaven at last. But happiness must be sought in the right way, and from the right source. Some think they may surely find happiness in a course of indulgence in sinful pleasures, or in deceptive worldly attractions. And some sacrifice physical and moral obligations, thinking to find happiness, and they lose both soul and body. Others will seek their happiness in the indulgence of an unnatural appetite, and consider the indulgence of taste more desirable than health and life. Many suffer themselves to be enchained by sensual passions, and will sacrifice physical strength, intellect, and moral powers, to the gratification of lust. They will bring themselves to untimely graves, and in the Judgment will be charged with self-murder.

Is this the happiness desirable which is to be found in the path of disobedience and transgression of physical and moral law? Christ's life points out the true source of happiness, and how it is to be attained. His life points the direct and only path to Heaven. Let the voice of wisdom be heard. Let her mark out the path. “Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.”

Temptations are on every side to allure the steps of youth to their ruin. The sad deficiency in the education of children leaves them weak and unguarded, vacillating in character, feeble in intellect, and deficient in moral strength, so that so far from imitating the life of Christ, the youth generally are like a reed trembling in the wind. They have not physical constitution, or moral power, because they yield to temptations. Through sinful indulgences, they stain their purity, and their manners are corrupted. They are impatient of restraint, and flatter themselves if they could only have their own way they should then be very happy.

Parental restraint is irksome. Children generally are not educated to self-control, and to habits of industry and obedience. They have superficial characters. They have followed inclination instead of duty. They are relieved from responsibility and care, and grow up worthless. If children and youth would seek their highest earthly good they must look for it in the path of faithful obedience. A sound constitution, which is the greatest earthly prize, can only be obtained by a denial of unnatural appetite. If they would be happy indeed, they should cheerfully seek to be found at the post of duty, doing the work which devolves upon them with fidelity, conforming their hearts and lives to the perfect pattern.

They will then in their efforts to preserve integrity of soul, have the power of God, and his Spirit and grace will strengthen the intellect. In their efforts to train the minds for usefulness, they will be a blessing to others, instead of seeking to please themselves. And they will be shielded by the strong bands of moral obligation, and will not be inclined to give license to the evil propensities of the heart. They will then be happy indeed. They will then feel that they have a title to Heaven, and can enjoy the present life, and a foretaste of Heaven to come.

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