Ellen G. White Writings

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The Youth’s Instructor

September 7, 1893

Words to the Young

Let us not lose sight of the fact that we are probationers here, on test and trial, and that everything is at stake, to be lost or won. Individually we are daily deciding our own destiny either for eternal life or eternal death. If we would have eternal life, we must cooperate with God, and thus reach the Bible standard, conforming our characters to the character of our Lord Jesus Christ. All the heavenly intelligences are interested in the great strife that is going on, and angels long to have us earnestly seek for the crown of immortal glory. Let every soul strive most zealously during these precious hours of probation, to form the very character that he would wish to have completed and perfected when our Lord comes in power and great glory.

Listen to the words of John, that come down the lines to us: “Every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.” In this world we have temporal duties to perform, and in the performance of these duties we are forming characters that will either stand the test of the judgment or be weighed in the balances and found wanting. We may do the smallest duties nobly, firmly, faithfully, as if seeing the whole heavenly host looking upon us. Take a lesson from the gardener. If he wishes a plant to grow, he cultivates and trims it; he gives water, he digs about its roots, plants it where the sunshine will fall upon it, and day by day he works about it; and not by violent efforts, but by acts constantly repeated, he trains the shrub until its form is perfect, and its bloom is full. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ works upon the heart and mind as an educator. The continued influence of his Spirit upon the soul, trains and molds and fashions the character after the divine model. Let the youth bear in mind that a repetition of acts, forms habit, and habit, character. “Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.” Are you, my youthful friends, able to look forward with joyful hope and expectancy toward the day when the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall appear? and will he confess your name before the Father and before his holy angels?

The very best preparation we can have for his second coming, is to rest with firm faith, with trust and unshaken confidence, in the great salvation brought to us at his first advent. We must believe that Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many. Is he your personal Saviour? Are you, because the love of Jesus is abiding in your heart, saved from making mistakes and errors? Is the love of Christ a living, active agent in your soul, correcting, reforming, refining you, and purifying you from your wrong practices? There is need of cultivating every grace that Jesus, through his suffering and death, has brought within your reach. You are to manifest the grace that has been so richly provided for you, in the small as well as in the large concerns of life.

There are young men and young women who are very much opposed to order and discipline. They pay no heed to rules for rising and retiring at regular hours, but burn the midnight oil, and then lie in bed in the morning for one or two hours after daylight. At night they depend upon artificial light; for they regard the expenditure of money for artificial light as a trivial matter, and break up all the precious habits of order. They idle away their time in the morning hours, and thus make it necessary to stay up at night, and use fuel and light for which there must be extra expense, when, had they properly employed the early hours, there would have been no need of late hours. It is true they will make the excuse for their late hours, that they cannot get through their work. They will say, “There are things that I must do before I can retire for the night.” Would it not be well to break up the habit of turning the precious morning hours into night, and turning the hours of night into day by the use of artificial light?

How prevalent is the habit of turning day into night, and night into day. Many youth sleep soundly in the morning, when they should be up with the early singing birds, and be stirring when all nature is awake. Let youth practise regularity in the hours for going to bed, and for rising and they will improve in health, in mind, in spirit, in disposition. Let them purpose in their hearts that they will bring themselves under discipline, and practise orderly rules. God is a God of order, and it is the duty of the youth to observe strict rules; for such practices will work for their advantage.

As far as possible, it is well to consider what is to be accomplished through the day. Make a memorandum of the different duties that await your attention, and set apart a certain time for the doing of each duty. Let everything be done with thoroughness, neatness, and dispatch. If it falls to your lot to do the chamber work, then see that the rooms are well aired, and that the bed clothing is exposed to the sunlight. Give yourself a number of minutes to do the work, and do not stop to read papers and books that take your eye, but say to yourself, “No, I have just so many minutes in which to do my work, and I must accomplish my task in the given time.” If the room is decorated with little ornaments, and you would have an eye single to the glory of God, let these little idols be stored away; but if this cannot be done, and these ornaments must be exposed for your admiration, then handle them expeditiously. Do not take them up, one after another, and as you dust them, dream over each one, and hesitate and admire, keeping it in your hand as though you were loth to replace it. Let those who are naturally slow of movement, seek to become active, quick, energetic, remembering the words of the apostle, “Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord.”

If it falls to your lot to prepare the meals, make careful calculations, and give yourself all the time necessary to prepare the food, and set it on the table in good order, and on exact time. To have the meal ready five minutes earlier than the time you have set is more commendable than to have it five minutes later. But if you are under the control of slow, dilatory movements, if your habits are of a lazy order, you will make a long job out of a short one; and it is the duty of those who are slow, to reform, and to become more expeditious. If they will, they can overcome their fussy, lingering habits. In washing dishes, they may be careful, and at the same time do quick work. Exercise the will to this end, and the hands will move with dispatch.

When I have been looking for a girl to do my housework, and a certain person was spoken of, those who had her in their employ have said, “O, she will not suit you, because she is so very slow. She will try your patience, and you will have to pay out more money for having your work done in a sluggish manner, than you would have to pay for having it done as it should be.” Another would say, “O, she has no method. You will need some one to be brains for her; for she has not cultivated herself in lines of care-taking. Some one will always have to direct her what to do. She has no breadth of mind, no capacity to comprehend what is involved in being an acceptable housekeeper.” Of one girl whom I employed, I was told that she would sit down in the midst of her unfinished work, when the dishes were not washed, or the beds made, and forget her duties while she read a book or a newspaper. In this way she would spend hours of time that should have been employed in doing the work for which she was paid. The house would be left in confusion for hours after it should have been in perfect order, because of this untidy habit. Of another whom I thought of employing, I learned that she was disrespectful to those who employed her, unless she took a fancy to them. Those whom she fancied, she would serve to her utmost, and the friends whom she chose, who flattered and approved her course, received her affection and favors. But I reasoned, “If she is a Christian, she will certainly take counsel and advice.” A sorrowful expression came over the face of the person to whom I was speaking, as she said, “I am afraid you will be disappointed. If you seek to show her where she is erring, she will insist that she is doing the best she knows how, and instead of correcting her faults, will take on the air of one who is much injured. She does not respect authority, and will keep up rebellion in her mind, which, if not expressed in words, will be plainly revealed in her countenance. She will not keep her opinions to herself, but will freely tell others what she thinks about those who seek to correct her errors.”

Another defect that has caused me much uneasiness and trouble, is the habit some girls have of letting their tongues run, wasting precious time in talking of worthless things. While girls give their attention to talk, their work drags behind. These matters have been looked upon as little things, unworthy of notice. Many are deceived as to what constitutes a little thing. Little things have an important relation to the great whole. God does not disregard the infinitely little things that have to do with the welfare of the human family. He is the owner of the whole man. Soul, body, and spirit are his. God gave his only begotten Son for the body as well as the soul, and our entire life belongs to God, to be consecrated to his service, that through the exercise of every faculty he has given, we may glorify him.

Let no one say, “I cannot overcome my defects of character;” for if this is your decision, then you cannot have eternal life. The impossibility is all in your will. If you will not, that constitutes the cannot. The real difficulty is the corruption of an unsanctified heart, and an unwillingness to submit to the will of God. When there is a determined purpose born in your heart to overcome, you will have a disposition to overcome, and will cultivate those traits of character that are desirable, and will engage in the conflict with steady, persevering effort. You will exercise a ceaseless watchfulness over your defects of character; and will cultivate right practices in little things. The difficulty of overcoming will be lessened in proportion as the heart is sanctified by the grace of Christ. Earnest, persevering effort will place you on the vantage-ground of victory; for he who strives to overcome in and through the grace of Christ, will have divine enlightenment, and will understand how great truths can be brought into little things, and religion can be carried into the little as well as into the large concerns of life.

The commandments of God are exceeding broad, and the Lord is not pleased to have his children disorderly, to have their lives marred by defects, and their religious experience crippled, their growth in grace dwarfed, because they persist in cherishing hereditary and cultivated deficiencies in wrong habits that will be imitated by others, and thus be perpetuated. If the grace of Christ cannot remedy these defects, what, then, constitutes transformation of character? “I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ; ... who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.” “Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, without having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.”

Mrs. E. G. White

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