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Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 14 (1899) - Contents
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    Ms 119, 1899

    Words to Parents


    August 21, 1899 [typed]

    Portions of this manuscript are published in AH 320, 526; CG 210, 237, 277, 303, 334-336; 5MR 338-339.

    At this time in the history of the world, we should have but one object in view—to gain eternal life. Every other desire should be subordinated to this. The work of regeneration must go on in every soul until perfection of character is reached, for nothing short of this will meet the mind of God. Parents and teachers, do not leave for some future time the work that should be done today. The present time is the golden opportunity. Your every word and look and act should be a living sermon to the youth, for these will be reproduced in their lives. Children are the heritage of the Lord. Christ has purchased them; they are His property. They are to be educated, not to please themselves, but to please God. They are to be brought to Christ, trained in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.14LtMs, Ms 119, 1899, par. 1

    God designs that every Christian family shall be Christ’s school, where the youth can breathe a holy atmosphere. Christ must be brought into all the studies, that they may drink in the knowledge of God.14LtMs, Ms 119, 1899, par. 2

    In this age the youth are not trained for Christ in their very childhood. Parents are themselves often self-willed, independent, self-sufficient, and unwilling to advise or be advised; and the same haughty, high-minded spirit is seen in their children. There are unwise, selfish parents who indulge rather than restrain their children; and left to themselves, these youth are taken under the control of the enemy of all good. Parents have disregarded the requirements of God in the training of their children, and this is why so many are growing up in sin, impenitence, and folly. Their conscience is harder than the nether millstone, and many are on the broad road to ruin. God holds parents accountable for the characters of their children. They must give an account in the day of God for their neglect to follow God’s plan in the formation of their characters.14LtMs, Ms 119, 1899, par. 3

    God has set bounds for His children. He has made laws and given injunctions, and all who love and fear Him will respect His authority and discipline. Children should early be trained to submit their will and inclination to the will and authority of their parents. When parents teach their children this lesson, they are educating them to submit to God’s will and obey His requirements, and fit them to become members of Christ’s family. Right training in childhood has kept many a youth from the haunts of vice and dissipation.14LtMs, Ms 119, 1899, par. 4

    Children and youth of different stamps of character are brought together in school capacity. Some of these children have been corrected only when their parents were in a passion. They have been indulged and allowed to do as they please without restraint. They have been taught to regard themselves as ladies and gentlemen and old enough to decide for themselves. They have gone just where they pleased and chosen their own companions. Other youth have been taught obedience, and trained to respect the opinions and judgment of their parents, and those older in years and experience than themselves.14LtMs, Ms 119, 1899, par. 5

    These youth must be placed under judicious guardianship. Those who have the care of them are not only to feel that they have to provide them with temporal necessities, but that they are called to watch for their souls as they that must given an account. Those parents who allow their children to have their own way, and be amenable to no one, cannot exert a proper influence in the school or in any of our institutions. We want men and women who will understand the perils of the youth, and will make earnest, determined efforts to press back the powers of evil.14LtMs, Ms 119, 1899, par. 6

    Many parents who do not exert a judicious authority over their children are very jealous lest others shall do their neglected work. They do not want their children dictated to by the ones to whom they trust them, and by words and deportment they give their children to understand that it is not the business of the teachers to exercise authority or require them to submit to school regulations.14LtMs, Ms 119, 1899, par. 7

    Some parents who have sent their children to Battle Creek have told them that if anything unreasonable were required of them, not to submit, whoever might require it. What a lesson is this to give to children! In their inexperience, how can they judge between what is reasonable or unreasonable? They may wish to be away at night, no one knows where, and if required by teachers or guardians to give an account of themselves, will call this unreasonable and an infringement on their rights. Their independence must not be interfered with. What power can rules or authority have upon these youth, while they consider any discipline an unreasonable restriction of their liberty?14LtMs, Ms 119, 1899, par. 8

    In many cases these youth have remained in school but a short period, returning home with an unfinished education, that they may have liberty to follow the bent of their untrained, undisciplined wills, which they could not have at school. The lessons of indulgence taught them by an unwise father or mother have done their work for time and for eternity, and the loss of these souls will be set to their account.14LtMs, Ms 119, 1899, par. 9

    It is not to be left to children to judge whether the discipline of the college is reasonable or unreasonable. If the parents have confidence enough in the teachers and in the system of education adopted by the school to send their children to it, let them show good sense and moral stamina and support the teacher in enforcing discipline. All children sent to the schools in Battle Creek, Lancaster, or Healdsburg will be placed under rule whether they are living in the school or reside at the homes of their parents; and those parents who are fearful lest their children will not have free scope to exercise their independent and unsanctified wills had better keep their children with them, or send them to other schools where they can have more freedom to do as they please.14LtMs, Ms 119, 1899, par. 10

    We are not so anxious for large numbers in our colleges that we will welcome children and youth who will teach others to disregard the authority of their guardians and teachers; for we do not want those children, who have been educated to respect rule, and [to] restrain their inclinations demoralized by those who do not respect their parents or reverence God. The chaff will soon be winnowed from the wheat.14LtMs, Ms 119, 1899, par. 11

    Those who are too perverse to come under discipline, and who refuse to pursue a steady course of study, will be returned to their homes, that their untamable wills may not be communicated to others, and thus leaven the school with a spirit of insubordination. Parents who are wise will feel very grateful that there are schools where lawlessness of any kind will not be tolerated, where children will be trained to obedience rather than indulgence, and where good influences will be brought to bear upon them.14LtMs, Ms 119, 1899, par. 12

    There are some parents who purpose sending their demoralized children to school because they are incorrigible at home. Will these parents support the teachers in their work of discipline, or will they stand ready to believe every false report. If the parents will not co-operate with the teachers, they will do the school a favor by not sending their children to exert their baleful influence upon other youth who are ready to take up with wrong influences rather than right ones. This is not a house of correction. Provision has been made for those children who are incorrigible, made so by mismanagement and association with evil companions. We want the school to be a safe place for parents to send their children. This is the great need of the age.14LtMs, Ms 119, 1899, par. 13

    At times I find myself wishing that God would speak to parents with an audible voice as He spoke to the wife of Manoah, telling them what they must do in training their children. We are sustaining terrible losses in every branch of the work through the neglect of home training. It was this that impressed upon our minds the need of schools where a religious influence should predominate. If anything can be done to counteract the great evil, in the strength of Jesus we will do it.14LtMs, Ms 119, 1899, par. 14

    The world is becoming like Sodom in its moral corruption, and more than common efforts must be made to elevate the standard of discipline and correct the lax government that is so general in this age. We cannot leave the youth alone and still be clear in the sight of God. Unremitting care is needed to preserve them from destruction. They cannot reach a high standard if they are permitted to follow their own wills. In this age it is a generally acknowledged fact that depravity and rebellion in children and youth are increasing, and unless they are restrained by a firm yet kindly hand, they will grow up in sin. A counteracting influence must be brought to bear upon them in early childhood, for this is the time in which to mold the mind. Children are susceptible to impressions, and in their early years they can be molded for good or evil.14LtMs, Ms 119, 1899, par. 15

    It is heart-saddening to see the imbecility of parents in the exercise of their God-given authority. Men who in everything else are consistent and intelligent fail to understand the principles that should be brought into the training of their little ones. They fail to give them right instruction at the very time when right instruction, a godly example and firm decision are most needed to lead in right lines the inexperienced minds that are ignorant of the deceptive and dangerous influences that they must meet with everywhere.14LtMs, Ms 119, 1899, par. 16

    Fathers and mothers who should understand the responsibility which rests upon them relax their discipline to meet the inclinations of their growing sons and daughters. The will of the child is the law recognized. Mothers who have been firm, consistent, and unbending in their adherence to principle, maintaining simplicity and fidelity, become indulgent as their children merge into manhood and womanhood. In their love of display they give their children to Satan with their own hands, like the apostate Jews making them pass through the fire to Moloch. This evil is manifesting itself, not only in the cities where fashion rules, but in the more retired country towns.14LtMs, Ms 119, 1899, par. 17

    Christian parents are giving way to the world-loving propensities of their children. They open the door to amusements which, from principle, they once prohibited. Instead of trying to raise the standard as God’s peculiar people, they are going backward. Concerts, operas, theatres, are all patronized by children of professing Christians. The simplicity of true godliness is almost a thing of the past. This fashionable worldly religion is contagious. It is leavening the whole lump, and there is need of schools of altogether a different order than those already in existence, where the youth may learn moral excellence and heavenly wisdom.14LtMs, Ms 119, 1899, par. 18

    A terrible mistake is made in the home life when lessons relating to a religious life and faith in God are left unlearned until the children are considered old enough to judge for themselves. Many parents will not teach their children of the saving grace of Christ, and they grow up to be irreligious men and women. These children go to church if they wish, or spend their time sauntering about the streets, or reading fictitious story books, or perhaps the writings of infidel authors. They are present or absent from family worship just as they please. Like Eli, parents advise their children in regard to their amusements and the company they shall keep, but like Eli, they exercise no control, enforce no discipline. The ungodly propensities of the youth lead the parents to connive at evil, and sustain their course of wrong, until the wrath of God falls upon both parents and children.14LtMs, Ms 119, 1899, par. 19

    Parents stand in the place of God to their children to tell them what they must do, and what they must not do with firmness and perfect self-control. Every effort made for them with kindness and self-control will cultivate in their characters the elements of firmness and decision. But when parents neglect the plot of ground which God has given them to cultivate, Satan occupies the field, and as a result thorns and briars spring up.14LtMs, Ms 119, 1899, par. 20

    Fathers and mothers are in duty bound to settle this question early, so that the child will no more think of breaking the Sabbath, neglecting religious worship and family prayer, than he would think of stealing. Parents’ own hands must build the barrier. They are not like Eli to say, “My sons, why do ye thus so wickedly?” and think their duty done. [1 Samuel 2:23-25.] By firm, judicious discipline in religious matters, the door will be closed against Satan’s temptations. They will learn to respect and reverence religion, and fear to offend God. The Lord can use the minds that are thus prepared for His service by the influences of the Holy Spirit.14LtMs, Ms 119, 1899, par. 21

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