Parents as Gardeners. --The Lord has entrusted to parents a solemn, sacred
work. They are to cultivate carefully the soil of the heart. Thus they may be
labourers together with God. He expects them to guard and tend carefully the
garden of their children's hearts. They are to sow the good seed, weeding out
every unsightly weed. Every defect in character, every fault in disposition,
needs to be cut away; for if allowed to remain, these will mar the beauty of the
Parents, your own home is the first field in which you are called to labour.
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.
You have before your own door a little plot of ground to care for, and God
will hold you responsible for this work which He has left in your hands.
Tending the Garden. --The prevailing influence in the world is to suffer the
youth to follow the natural turn of their own minds. And if very wild in youth,
parents say they will come right after a while and, when sixteen or eighteen
years of age, will reason for themselves and leave off their wrong habits and
become at last useful men and women. What a mistake! For years they permit an
enemy to sow the garden of the heart; they suffer wrong principles to grow, and in many cases all the labour afterward bestowed on that soil
will avail nothing. . . .
Some parents have suffered their children to form wrong habits, the marks of
which may be seen all through life. Upon the parents lies this sin. These
children may profess to be Christians; yet without a special work of grace upon
the heart and a thorough reform in life, their past habits will be seen in all
their experience, and they will exhibit just the character which their parents
allowed them to form.
The young should not be suffered to learn good and evil indiscriminately,
with the idea that at some future time the good will predominate and the evil
lose its influence. The evil will increase faster than the good. It is possible
that after many years the evil they have learned may be eradicated; but who will
venture this? Time is short. It is easier and much safer to sow clean, good seed
in the hearts of your children than to pluck up the weeds afterward. Impressions
made upon the minds of the young are hard to efface. How important, then, that
these impressions be of the right sort, that the elastic faculties of youth be
bent in the right direction.
Seed Sowing, Weeding. --In the earliest years of the child's life the soil of
the heart should be carefully prepared for the showers of God's grace. Then the
seeds of truth are to be carefully sown and diligently tended. And God, who
rewards every effort made in His name, will put life into the seed sown; and
there will appear first the blade, then the ear, then the full corn in the ear.
Too often, because of the wicked neglect of parents, Satan sows his seeds in
the hearts of children, and a harvest of shame and sorrow is borne. The world
today is destitute of true goodness because parents have failed to gather their children to themselves in the home. They have not kept them from
association with the careless and reckless. Therefore the children have gone
forth into the world to sow the seeds of death.
The great work of instruction, of weeding out worthless and poisonous weeds,
is a most important one. For if left to themselves, these weeds will grow until
they choke out the precious plants of moral principle and truth.
If a field is left uncultivated, a crop of noxious weeds is sure to appear
which will be very difficult to exterminate. Then the soil must be worked and
the weeds subdued before the precious plants can grow. Before these valuable
plants can grow, the seed must first be carefully sown. If mothers neglect the
sowing of the precious seed and then expect a harvest of precious grain, they
will be disappointed; for they will reap briars and thorns. Satan is ever
watching, prepared to sow seeds which will spring up and bear a plentiful
harvest after his own satanic character.
Eternal vigilance must be manifested with regard to our children. With his
manifold devices Satan begins to work with their tempers and their wills as soon
as they are born. Their safety depends upon the wisdom and the vigilant care of
the parents. They must strive in the love and fear of God to preoccupy the
garden of the heart, sowing the good seeds of a right spirit, correct habits,
and the love and fear of God.
Unfolding Natural Beauty. --Parents and teachers should seek most earnestly
for that wisdom which Jesus is ever ready to give; for they are dealing with
human minds at the most interesting and impressible period of their development.
They should aim so to cultivate the tendencies of the youth that at each stage
of their life they may represent the natural beauty appropriate to that period, unfolding
gradually, as do the plants and flowers in the garden.