You have a work to do to set your house in order. Pure, sinless angels cannot delight to come into a dwelling where so much iniquity is practiced. You are asleep at your post. Things of minor importance have occupied your minds to the exclusion of more weighty matters. It should be the first business of your life to seek the kingdom of heaven and its righteousness; then you have the promise that all things shall be added. Here is where you have failed in your family. Had you been agonizing that you and yours might enter in at the strait gate, you would have earnestly gathered every ray of light that the Lord has permitted to shine upon your pathway, and would have cherished and walked in it.
You have not regarded the light that the Lord has graciously given you upon the health reform. You have felt to rise up against it. You have seen no importance in it, no reason why you should receive it. You have not felt willing to restrict your appetite. You could not see the wisdom of God in giving light in regard to the restriction of appetite. All that you could discern was the inconvenience attending the denial of the taste. The Lord has let His light shine upon us in these last days, that the gloom and darkness which have been gathering in past generations because of sinful indulgences might in some degree be dispelled, and that the train of evils which have resulted because of intemperate eating and drinking might be lessened.
The Lord in wisdom designed to bring His people into a position where they would be separate from the world in spirit and practice, that their children might not so readily be led into idolatry and become tainted with the prevailing corruptions of this age. It is God’s design that believing parents and their children should stand forth as living representatives of Christ, candidates for everlasting life. All who are partakers of the divine nature will escape the corruption that is in the world through lust. It is impossible for those who indulge the appetite to attain to Christian perfection. You cannot arouse the moral sensibilities of your children while you are not careful in the selection of their food. The tables that parents usually prepare for their children are a snare to them. Their diet is not simple, and is not prepared in a healthful manner. The food is frequently rich and fever-producing, having a tendency to irritate and excite the tender coats of the stomach. The animal propensities are strengthened and bear sway, while the moral and intellectual powers are weakened and become servants to the baser passions. You should study to prepare a simple yet nutritious diet. Flesh meats, and rich cakes and pies prepared with spices of any kind, are not the most healthful and nourishing diet. Eggs should not be placed upon your table. [See Appendix.] They are an injury to your children. Fruits and grains, prepared in the most simple form, are the most healthful, and will impart the greatest amount of nourishment to the body, and, at the same time, not impair the intellect.
Regularity in eating is very important for health of body and serenity of mind. Your children should eat only at the regular mealtime. They should not be allowed to digress from this established rule. When you, Sister E, absent yourself from home, you cannot control these important matters. Already your eldest son has enervated his entire system and laid the foundation for permanent disease. Your second child is fast following in his steps, and not one of your children is safe from this evil.
You may be unable to obtain the truth from your children in regard to their habits. Those who practice secret vice will lie and deceive. Your children may deceive you, for you are not in a condition where you can know if they attempt to lead you astray. You have so long been blinded by the enemy that you have scarcely a ray of light to discern darkness. There is a great, a solemn, and an important work for you to do at once, to set your own hearts and house in order. Your only safe course is to take right hold of this work. Do not deceive yourselves into the belief that, after all, this matter is placed before you in an exaggerated light. I have not colored the picture. I have stated facts which will bear the test of the judgment. Awake! awake! I beseech you, before it shall be too late for wrongs to be righted, and you and your children perish in the general ruin. Take hold of the solemn work, and bring to your aid every ray of light you can gather that has shone upon your pathway and that you have not cherished, and, together with the aid of the light now shining, commence an investigation of your life and character as if you were before the tribunal of God. “Abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul,” is the exhortation of the apostle. Vice and corruption abound on every hand, and unless you have more than human strength to rely upon to stand against so powerful a current of evil, you will be overcome and borne down with the current to perdition. Without holiness no man shall see God.
The Lord is proving and testing His people. Angels of God are watching the development of character and weighing moral worth. Probation is almost ended, and you are unready. Oh, that the word of warning might burn into your souls! Get ready! get ready! Work while the day lasts, for the night cometh when no man can work. The mandate will go forth: He that is holy, let him be holy still; and he that is filthy, let him be filthy still. The destiny of all will be decided. A few, yes, only a few, of the vast number who people the earth will be saved unto life eternal, while the masses who have not perfected their souls in obeying the truth will be appointed to the second death. O Saviour, save the purchase of Thy blood! is the cry of my anguished heart.
I greatly fear for you and for many who profess to believe the truth in —–. Oh, search, search diligently your own hearts, and make thorough work for the judgment! I am pained at heart when I call to mind how many children of Sabbathkeeping parents are ruining soul and body with secret vice. Near you is a family who reveal their evil habits in their bodies as well as their minds. These children are on the direct road to perdition. They are debased themselves, and have instructed many others in this vice. The eldest boy is dwarfed, physically and mentally, by indulging in its practice. What little intellect he has left is of a low order. If he continues in this vicious practice he will eventually become idiotic. Every indulgence of children who have attained their growth is a terrible evil and will produce terrible results, enervating the system and weakening the intellect. But in those who indulge this corrupting vice before attaining their growth, the evil effects are more plainly marked, and recovery from its effects is more nearly hopeless. The frame is weak and stunted; the muscles are flabby; the eyes become small, and appear at times swollen; the memory is treacherous, and becomes sievelike; and inability to concentrate the thoughts upon study increases.
To the parents of these children I would say: You have brought children into the world to be only a curse to society. They are unruly, passionate, quarrelsome, and vicious. Their influence upon others is corrupting. They bear the stamp of the father’s character, of his base passions. His hasty, violent temper is reflected in them. These parents should long ago have removed to the country, thus separating themselves and children from the society of those whom they could not benefit, but would only harm. Steady industry upon a farm would have proved a blessing to these children, and constant employment, as their strength could bear, would have given them less opportunity to corrupt their own bodies by self-abuse, and would have prevented them from instructing a large number in this hellish practice. Labor is a great blessing to all children, especially to that class whose minds are naturally inclined to vice and depravity.
These children have communicated more knowledge of vice in —– than all the united efforts of ministers and people professing godliness can counteract. Many who have learned of your children will go to perdition rather than control their passions and cease the indulgence of this sin. One corrupt mind can sow more evil seed in a short period of time than many can root out in a whole lifetime. Your children are a byword in the mouths of blasphemers of the truth. These are the children of Sabbathkeepers, but they are worse than the children of worldlings in general. They possess less refinement, less self-respect. Brother F has been no honor to the cause of God. His impetuous temper and general influence have not had a tendency to elevate, but to bring down to a low level. The cause of God has been brought into disrepute by his lack of judgment and refinement. It would have been far better for the cause of truth had this family removed long ago to a less important post, where they would have been more secluded and their influence less felt. Their children have lived in the light of truth and have had privileges that but few children have had; yet all this time they have not been benefited, but have been growing more and more hardened in depravity. Their removal would be a blessing to the church and to society, and to the entire family. Steady employment upon land would be a blessing to father and children if they would profit by the advantages of farm life.
I saw that the family of Brother G need a great work done for them. H and I have gone to great lengths in this crime of self-abuse; especially is this true of H, who has gone so far in the practice of this sin that his intellect is affected, his eye-sight is weakened, and disease is fastening itself upon him. Satan has almost full control of this poor boy’s mind, but his parents are not awake to see the evil and its results. His mind is debased, his conscience hardened, his moral sensibilities benumbed, and he will be a ready victim for evil associates to lead into sin and crime. Brother and Sister G, arouse yourselves, I beg of you. You have not received the light of health reform and acted upon it. If you had restricted your appetites you would have been saved much extra labor and expense; and, what is of vastly more consequence, you would have preserved to yourselves a better condition of physical health and a greater degree of intellectual strength to appreciate eternal truths; you would have a clearer brain to weigh the evidences of truth and would be better prepared to give to others a reason of the hope that is in you. Your food is not of that simple, healthful quality which will make the best kind of blood. Foul blood will surely becloud the moral and intellectual powers, and arouse and strengthen the baser passions of your nature. Neither of you can afford a feverish diet, for it is at the expense of the health of the body and the prosperity of your own souls and the souls of your children.
You place upon your table food which taxes the digestive organs, excites the animal passions, and weakens the moral and intellectual faculties. Rich food and flesh meats are no benefit to you. Could you know just the nature of the meat you eat, could you see the animals when living from which the flesh is taken when dead, you would turn with loathing from your flesh meats. The very animals whose flesh you eat are frequently so diseased that, if left alone, they would die of themselves; but while the breath of life is in them, they are killed and brought to market. You take directly into your system humors and poison of the worst kind, and yet you realize it not. You love to indulge appetite. You have this lesson to learn: Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.”
I entreat you, for Christ’s sake, to set your house and hearts in order. Let the truth of heavenly origin elevate and sanctify you, soul, body, and spirit. “Abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul.” Brother G, your eating has a tendency to strengthen the baser passions. You do not control your body as it is your duty to do in order to perfect holiness in the fear of God. Temperance in eating must be practiced before you can be a patient man. Remember that you have given to your children, in a great degree, the stamp of your own character. You should guard yourself, and not be harsh, severe, or impatient. Deal with them decidedly, yet patiently, lovingly, pityingly, as Jesus has dealt with you. Be careful how you censure. Bear with your children, yet restrain them. This you have neglected too much. You have not corrected them in the right manner, not having perfect control of your own spirit. A great work must be done for you both.
Brother G, if you had gone on from strength to strength, following in the light the Lord has given, He would now have chosen you as an instrument of righteousness. You have talents; you have ability; you can work for God’s glory; but you have not made an entire surrender of yourself to God. Oh, that you would even now seek meekness, seek the righteousness of Christ, that you might be hid in the day of the Lord’s fierce anger!
My dear brother and sister, you should take hold unitedly and perseveringly to right your mismanagement of your children. Sister G has been too indulgent; yet unitedly and in love you can do much, even now, to bind your children to your hearts and instruct them in the good and right way. You have a work to do in setting your own hearts and house in order. You should cultivate harmonious action. The transforming influence of the Spirit of God can do a great work for you both, and will unite your hearts and efforts in the work of reform in your own family. All repining, murmuring, and hasty irritability should cease. Its effects are to weaken you both and to destroy the influence you must exert if you succeed in training your children for heaven.
Satan now has the field. Your poor children are his captives; he has control of their minds and causes them to take a low turn. Their moral sensibilities seem paralyzed. They have practiced self-abuse and gloried in their iniquities. Such boys are capable of poisoning an entire neighborhood or community, and their pernicious influence will endanger all who are brought in contact with them in school capacity. Your children are corrupt in body and in mind. Vice has placed its marks upon your elder children. They are tainted, deeply tainted, with sin. The animal propensities predominate, while the moral and intellectual faculties are very weak. The baser passions have gained strength by exercise, while conscience has become hardened and seared. This is the influence which vice will have upon the mental powers. Those who give themselves up to work the ruin of their own bodies and minds do not stop here. Eventually they will be found ready for crime in almost any form, for their consciences are seared. Parents have not been half aroused to realize their responsibility in becoming parents. They are remiss in their duty. They do not teach their children the sinfulness of these dangerous, virtue-destroying habits. Until parents arouse, there is no hope for their children.
I might mention the cases of many others, but will forbear, except in a few instances. J is a dangerous associate. He is a subject of this vice. His influence is bad. The grace of God has no influence upon his heart. He has a good intellect, and his father has trusted much to this to balance him; but mental power alone is not a guarantee of virtuous superiority. The absence of religious principle makes him corrupt at heart and sly in his wrongdoing. His influence is pernicious everywhere. He is infidel in his principles and glories in his skepticism. When with those of his own age, or those younger than himself, he talks knowingly of religious things and jests and sneers at truth and the Bible. This pretended knowledge has an influence to corrupt minds and lead young men to feel ashamed of the truth. Such companions should be wholly avoided, for this is the only sure course of safety. Young girls are enamored with the society of this young man; even some who profess to be Christians prefer such society.
K is a boy who can be molded if surrounded by correct influences. He needs a right example. If the young who profess Christ would honor Him in their lives, they could exert an influence which would counteract the pernicious influence of such youth as J. But the young generally have no more religion than those who have never named the name of Christ. They do not depart from iniquity. A smart, intelligent boy, like J, can have a powerful influence for evil. If this intelligence were controlled by virtue and rectitude, it would be powerful for good; but if it is swayed by depravity, its evil influence upon his associates cannot be estimated, and it will assuredly sink him in perdition. A good intellect corrupted makes a very bad heart. A brilliant intellect sanctified by the Spirit of God exerts a hidden power and diffuses light and purity upon all with whom the happy possessor associates.
If a boy of such mental abilities as J would surrender his heart to Christ, it would be his salvation. By means of pure religion his intellect would be brought into a healthy channel; his mental and moral powers would become vigorous and harmonious; the conscience, illuminated by divine grace, would be quick and pure, controlling the will and desires, and leading to frankness and uprightness in every act of life. Without the principles of religion, this boy will be cunning, artful, sly, in an evil course, and will poison all with whom he associates. I warn all the youth to beware of this young man if he continues to slight religion and the Bible. You cannot be too guarded in his society.
By associating with those boys who do not exert a right influence, L is also being corrupted. J and K are not profitable associates for him, for he is easily influenced in the wrong direction. —– is not the best place for him. His habits are not pure; self-abuse is practiced by him. Because of this and his love for the company of evil associates, those desires which help to form a virtuous character and to secure heaven at last will be weakened. The young who desire immortality must stop where they are and not allow an impure thought or act. Impure thoughts lead to impure actions. If Christ be the theme of contemplation, the thoughts will be widely separated from every subject which will lead to impure acts. The mind will strengthen by dwelling upon elevating subjects. If trained to run in the channel of purity and holiness, it will become healthy and vigorous. If trained to dwell upon spiritual themes, it will naturally take that turn. But this attraction of the thoughts to heavenly things cannot be gained without the exercise of faith in God and an earnest, humble reliance upon Him for that strength and grace which will be sufficient for every emergency.
Purity of life and a character molded after the divine Pattern are not obtained without earnest effort and fixed principles. A vacillating person will not succeed in attaining Christian perfection. Such will be weighed in the balances and found wanting. Like a roaring lion, Satan is seeking for his prey. He tries his wiles upon every unsuspecting youth; there is safety only in Christ. It is through His grace alone that Satan can be successfully repulsed. Satan tells the young that there is time enough yet, that they may indulge in sin and vice this once and never again; but that one indulgence will poison their whole life. Do not once venture on forbidden ground. In this perilous day of evil, when allurements to vice and corruption are on every hand, let the earnest, heartfelt cry of the young be raised to heaven: “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way?” And may his ears be open and his heart inclined to obey the instruction given in the answer: “By taking heed thereto according to Thy word.” The only safety for the youth in this age of pollution is to make God their trust. Without divine help they will be unable to control human passions and appetites. In Christ is the very help needed, but how few will come to Him for that help. Said Jesus when upon the earth: “Ye will not come to Me, that ye might have life.” In Christ all can conquer. You can say with the apostle: “Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us.” Again: “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection.”
Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 2 pp. 399-408