By Ellen White
IF religion is to influence society, it must first influence the home circle. If
children were trained to love and fear God at home, when they go forth into the world they
would be prepared to train their own families for God, and thus the principles of truth
would become implanted in society, and would exert a telling influence in the world.
Religion should not be divorced from home education. May God pity the parents who do not
teach their children by precept and by example the way of the Lord; for they will have a
fearful account to give to the Judge of all the earth for their wicked neglect of duty to
their children and to society. They should present to their children the divine warnings
against sin, and teach them the importance of implicit obedience. They should show them
the danger of joining hands with the world if they ever expect to become children of God.
Many Christian parents fail to command their children after them, and then
wonder that their children are perverse, disobedient, unthankful, and unholy. Such parents
are under the rebuke of God. They have neglected to bring their children up in the nurture
and admonition of the Lord. They have failed to teach them the first lesson in
Christianity: "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." Psalm 111:10.
"Foolishness," says the wise man, "is bound in the heart of a child."
Proverbs 22:15. The love of folly, the desire to do evil, the hatred of holy things, are
some of the difficulties that parents must meet in the home mission field.
There are many, even among those who profess to be Christians, who do not take up their
home duties in the fear of the Lord. There is many a prayerless home, and that, too, among
those who profess to believe the special truths for this time. The Bible is not brought
into the family as the Guide of life. The parents, not being men and women of prayer, do
not train and command their households in the way of God's commandments. That holy
standard is set aside because finite man thinks he sees a better way.
Atheism and infidelity prevail in every land. Bold blasphemers stand forth in the
earth, the house of God's own building, and deny the existence of the Creator, and
challenge the God of heaven to strike them dead on the spot if their position is wrong.
Behold the societies of infidels everywhere forming to devise means to spread their
hellish poisons! See the papists plotting how to suppress the Word of God, and to cover up
the truth with the rubbish of error!
In view of all these influences which are at work in the world to instil infidel
sentiments into the minds of the rising generation, shall those parents who have the light
of truth aid in this work? Shall they, by their example, their influence, give the
impression to their own children and to the world that it makes little difference whether
they obey God in every particular? We all need both sound Bible doctrine and pure heart
religion in order that we may represent the truth as it is in Jesus. We need continually
to breathe the vitalising atmosphere of Heaven that we may have spiritual health and
strength. The law of God must be an abiding, active principle in the heart, if we would
exert a correct influence over others. It must have a controlling influence upon the
conscience and the understanding, and upon the thoughts, and words, and deeds.
In the strength of God, parents must arise and command their households after them.
They must learn to repress wrong with a firm hand, yet without impatience or passion. They
should not leave the children to guess at what is right; but should point out the way in
unmistakable terms, and teach them to walk therein. Parents should pray much, and should
lead the minds of the children up to God and heaven. A religion of simple faith in the
all-atoning, sacrifice of Christ, and of implicit obedience to God's moral rule of right,
will make the household such a one as Heaven can smile upon. It will be productive of
purity and peace; for they are obeying that Guide who came from heaven to earth to lead
erring man to the mansions above.
Oh, the sin of parental neglect! How many children are lost to God and become a source
of sorrow and distress to their parents, because they are not trained according to God's
express directions! What a history the Judgement will reveal of affliction and misery
produced by the children of parents who professed to be Christians, but who did not make
the Word of God their standard, their rule of life! What a record of crimes of every
magnitude will then be opened to the view of parents, and traced to their lax discipline!
Their children, like Eli's, did wickedly from childhood; but instead of firmly restraining
them, they caressed and indulged them. The inborn evil of the natural heart was permitted
to grow and strengthen. Even the house of God was not revered.
Eli was a believer in God and in His Word; but he did not, like Abraham,
"command" his children and his household after him. Let us hear what God says
about Eli's neglect: "Behold, I will do a thing in Israel, at which both the ears of
every one that heareth it shall tingle." 1 Samuel 3:11. The Lord had borne long with
Eli. He had been warned and instructed; but, like the parents of today, he had not heeded
the warning. But when the Lord took hold of the case, He ceased not till He had made
thorough work. He says: "When I begin, I will also make an end. For I have told him
[Eli] that I will judge his house for ever for the iniquity which he knoweth; because his
sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not." 1 Samuel 3:12-13.
Here the neglect of Eli is brought plainly before every father and mother in the land.
As the result of his unsanctified affection or his unwillingness to do a disagreeable
duty, he reaped a harvest of iniquity in his perverse sons. Both the parent who permitted
the wickedness and the children who practised it were guilty before God, and he would
accept no sacrifice or offering for their transgression.
There are many lessons in the Bible calculated to impress fathers and mothers with the
sin of neglecting their duty to their children; and yet how silent are the voices of the
teachers in Israel on these important subjects. Parents allow the defects in their
children to pass uncorrected until the curse of God rests upon both their children and
themselves. Like Eli, they do not show decision in repressing the first appearance of
In what striking contrast do the cases of Eli and Abraham stand! The example of one is
given that parents may shun a similar course; the example of the other is given for
parents to imitate. The characteristics of each stand out sharp and distinct. Each was
doing a work the result of which would not only be seen in his own life, but would reach
down to future generations, to his children, and to his children's children. The influence
that a person exerts in his own family is that which testifies of the genuineness of his
religious experience. Neglectful and unfaithful there, he will be unfaithful everywhere.
Home religion, home training, is what is now most needed. The future of society is indexed
by the youth of today.
Review and Herald, May 4, 1886