Christian Education


Chapter 4—Our College

To give students a knowledge of books merely, is not the purpose of the institution. Such education can be obtained at any college in the land. I was shown that it is Satan's purpose to prevent the attainment of the very object for which the College was established. Hindered by his devices, its managers reason after the manner of the world, and copy its plans, and imitate its customs. But in thus doing, they will not meet the mind of the Spirit of God. CE 36.1

A more comprehensive education is needed,—an education which will demand from teachers and principal such thought and effort as mere instruction in the sciences does not require. The character must receive proper discipline for its fullest and noblest development. The students should receive at college, such training as will enable them to maintain a respectable, honest, virtuous standing in society, against the demoralizing influences which are corrupting the youth. CE 36.2

It would be well could there be connected with our College, land for cultivation, and also work-shops, under the charge of men competent to instruct the students in the various departments of physical labor. Much is lost by a neglect to unite physical with mental taxation. The leisure hours of the student are often occupied with frivolous pleasures, which weaken physical, mental, and moral powers. Under the debasing power of sensual indulgence, or the untimely excitement of courtship and marriage, many students fail to reach that height of mental development which they might otherwise have attained. CE 36.3

No other study will so ennoble every thought, feeling, and aspiration, as the study of the Scriptures. This sacred word is the will of God revealed to men. Here we may learn what God expects of the beings formed in his image. Here we learn how to improve the present life, and how to secure the future life. No other book can satisfy the questionings of the mind, and the craving of the heart. By obtaining a knowledge of God's word, and giving heed thereto, men may rise from the lowest depths of ignorance and degradation, to become the sons of God, the associates of sinless angels. CE 37.1

A clear conception of what God is, and what he requires us to be, will give us humble views of self. He who studies aright the sacred word, will learn that human intellect is not omnipotent; that, without the help which none but God can give, human strength and wisdom are but weakness and ignorance. CE 37.2

As an educating power, the Bible is without a rival. Nothing will so impart vigor to all the faculties as requiring students to grasp the stupendous truths of revelation. The mind gradually adapts itself to the subjects upon which it is allowed to dwell. If occupied with commonplace matters only, to the exclusion of grand and lofty themes, it will become dwarfed and enfeebled. If never required to grapple with difficult problems, or put to the stretch to comprehend important truths, it will, after a time, almost lose the power of growth. CE 37.3

The Bible is the most comprehensive and the most instructive history which men possess. It came fresh from the fountain of eternal truth, and a divine hand has preserved its purity through all the ages. Its bright rays shine into the far distant past, where human research seeks vainly to penetrate. In God's word alone we find an authentic account of creation. Here we behold the power that laid the foundation of the earth, and that stretched out the heavens. Here, only, can we find a history of our race, unsullied by human prejudice or human pride. CE 37.4

In the word of God the mind finds subject for the deepest thought, the loftiest aspiration. Here we may hold communion with patriarchs and prophets, and listen to the voice of the Eternal as he speaks with men. Here, we behold the Majesty of heaven, as he humbled himself to become our substitute and surety, to cope single-handed with the powers of darkness, and to gain the victory in our behalf. A reverent contemplation of such themes as these, cannot fail to soften, purify, and ennoble the heart, and, at the same time, to inspire the mind with new strength and vigor. CE 38.1

If morality and religion are to live in a school, it must be through a knowledge of God's word. Some may urge that if religious teaching is to be made prominent, our school will become unpopular; that those who are not of our faith will not patronize the College. Very well, then, let them go to other colleges where they will find a system of education that suits their taste. Our school was established, not merely to teach the sciences, but for the purpose of giving instruction in the great principles of God's word, and in the practical duties of everyday life. CE 38.2

In the name of my Master, I entreat all who stand in responsible positions in that school, to be men of God. When the Lord requires us to be distinct and peculiar, how can we crave popularity, or seek to imitate the customs and practices of the world? God has declared his purpose to have one college in the land where the Bible shall have its proper place in the education of the youth. Will we do our part to carry out that purpose? CE 38.3

It may seem that the teaching of God's word has but little effect on the minds and hearts of many students; but if the teacher's work has been wrought in God, some lessons of divine truth will linger in the memory of the most careless. The Holy Spirit will water the seed sown, and often it will spring up after many days, and bear fruit to the glory of God. CE 39.1

Satan is constantly seeking to divert the attention of the people from the Bible. The words of God to men, which should receive our first attention, are neglected for the utterances of human wisdom. How can he who is infinite in power and wisdom, bear thus with the presumption and effrontery of men? CE 39.2

Through the medium of the press, knowledge of every kind is placed within the reach of all; and yet how large a share of every community are depraved in morals, and superficial in mental attainments. If the people would but become Bible readers—Bible students—we would see a different state of things. CE 39.3

In an age like ours, in which iniquity abounds, and God's character and his law are alike regarded with contempt, special care must be taken to teach the youth to study, to reverence and obey the divine will as revealed to man. The fear of the Lord is fading from the minds of our youth, because of their neglect of Bible study. CE 39.4

In the system of instruction used in the common schools, the most essential part of education is neglected, viz., the religion of the Bible. Education not only affects to a great degree the life of the student in this world, but its influence extends to eternity. How important, then, that the teachers be persons capable of exerting a right influence. They should be men and women of religious experience, daily receiving divine light to impart to their pupils. CE 39.5

But the teacher should not be expected to do the parent's work. There has been, with many parents, a fearful neglect of duty. Like Eli, they fail to exercise proper restraint; and then they send their undisciplined children to college to receive the training which the parents should have given them at home. The teachers have a task which but few appreciate. If they succeed in reforming these wayward youth, they receive but little credit. If the youth choose the society of the evil-disposed, and go on from bad to worse, then the teachers are censured, and the school denounced. CE 39.6

In many cases, the censure justly belongs to the parents. They had the first and most favorable opportunity to control and train their children, when the spirit was teachable, and the mind and the heart easily impressed. But through the slothfulness of the parents, the children are permitted to follow their own will, until they become hardened in an evil course. CE 40.1

Let parents study less of the world, and more of Christ; let them put forth less effort to imitate the customs and fashions of the world, and devote more time and effort to moulding the minds and characters of their children according to the divine Model. Then they could send forth their sons and daughters, fortified by pure morals and a noble purpose, to receive an education for positions of usefulness and trust. Teachers who are controlled by the love and fear of God, could lead such youth still onward and upward, training them to be a blessing to the world, and an honor to their Creator. CE 40.2

Connected with God, every instructor will exert an influence to lead his pupils to study God's word, and to obey his law. He will direct their minds to the contemplation of eternal interests, and open before them vast fields for thought; grand and ennobling themes, which the most vigorous intellect may put forth all its powers to grasp, and yet feel that there is an infinity beyond. CE 40.3

The teacher who is severe, critical, overbearing, heedless of others’ feelings, must expect the same spirit to be manifested toward himself. He who wishes to preserve his own dignity and self-respect, must be careful not to wound needlessly the self-respect of others. This rule should be sacredly observed toward the dullest, the youngest, the most blundering scholars. What God intends to do with those apparently uninteresting youth, you do not know. He has, in the past, accepted persons no more promising or attractive, to do a great work for him. His Spirit moving upon the heart has aroused every faculty to vigorous action. The Lord saw in those rough, unhewn stones, precious material, that would stand the test of storm and heat and pressure. God seeth not as man sees. He judges not from appearances, but he searches the heart, and judges righteously. CE 41.1

The teacher should ever conduct himself as a Christian gentleman. He should ever stand in the attitude of a friend and counselor to his pupils. If all our people—teachers, ministers, and lay members—would cultivate the spirit of Christian courtesy, they would far more readily find access to the hearts of the people; many more would be led to examine and receive the truth. When every teacher shall forget self, and feel a deep interest in the success and prosperity of his pupils, realizing that they are God's property, and that he must render an account for his influence upon their minds and character, then we shall have a school in which angels will love to linger. Jesus will look approvingly upon the work of the teachers, and will send his grace into the hearts of the students. CE 41.2

Our College at Battle Creek is a place where the younger members of God's family are to be trained according to God's plan of growth and development. They should be impressed with the idea that they are created in the image of their Maker, and that Christ is the pattern which they are to follow. Our brethren permit their minds to take too narrow and too low a range. They do not keep the divine plan ever in view, but are fixing their eyes upon worldly models. Look up, where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God, and then labor that your pupils may be conformed to that perfect character. CE 41.3

If you lower the standard in order to secure popularity and an increase of numbers, and then make this increase a cause of rejoicing, you show great blindness. If numbers were evidence of success, Satan might claim the pre-eminence; for, in this world, his followers are largely in the majority. It is the degree of moral power pervading the College, that is a test of its prosperity. It is the virtue, intelligence, and piety of the people composing our churches, not their numbers, that should be a source of joy and thankfulness. CE 42.1

Without the influence of divine grace, education will prove no real advantage; the learner becomes proud, vain, and bigoted. But that education which is received under the ennobling, refining influence of the great Teacher, will elevate man in the scale of moral value with God. It will enable him to subdue pride and passion, and to walk humbly before God, as dependent upon him for every capability, every opportunity, and every privilege. CE 42.2

I speak to the workers in our College: You must not only profess to be Christians, but you must exemplify the character of Christ. Let the wisdom from above pervade all your instruction. In a world of moral darkness and corruption, let it be seen that the spirit by which you are moved to action, is from above, not from beneath. While you rely wholly upon your own strength and wisdom, your best efforts will accomplish little. If you are prompted by love to God, his law being your foundation, your work will be enduring. While the hay, wood, and stubble are consumed, your work will stand the test. The youth placed under your care you must meet again around the great white throne. If you permit your uncultivated manners, or uncontrolled tempers to bear sway, and thus fail to influence these youth for their eternal good, you must at that day, meet the grave consequences of your work. By a knowledge of the divine law, and obedience to its precepts, men may become the sons of God. By violation of that law, they become servants of Satan. On the one hand, they may rise to any height of moral excellence, or on the other hand, they may descend to any depth iniquity and degradation. The workers in our College should manifest a zeal and earnestness proportionate to the value of the prize at stake,—the souls of their students, the approval of God, eternal life, and the joys of the redeemed. CE 42.3

As co-laborers with Christ, with so favorable opportunities to impart the knowledge of God, our teachers should labor as if inspired from above. The hearts of the youth are not hardened; nor their ideas and opinions stereotyped, as are those of older persons. They may be won to Christ by your holy demeanor, your devotion, your Christ-like walk. It would be much better to crowd them less in the study of the sciences, and give them more time for religious privileges. Here a grave mistake has been made. CE 43.1

We should ever look upon the youth as the purchase of the blood of Christ. As such they have demands upon our love, our patience, and our sympathy. If we would follow Jesus, we cannot restrict our interest and affection to ourselves and our own families; we cannot give our time and attention to temporal matters, and forget the eternal interests of those around us. I have been shown that it is the result of our selfishness that there are not one hundred young men, where now there is one, engaged in earnest labor for the salvation of their fellow-men. “Love one another as I have loved you,” is the command of Jesus. Look at his self-denial; behold what manner of love he has bestowed upon us; and then seek to imitate the Pattern.—“Testimony” No. 31, first published in 1882. CE 43.2

If facilities for manual labor were provided in connection with our school, and students were required to devote a portion of their time to some active employment, it would prove a safeguard against many of the evil influences that prevail in institutions of learning. Manly, useful occupations, substituted for frivolous and corrupting diversions, would give legitimate scope for the exuberance of youthful life, and would promote sobriety and stability of character. All possible effort should be made to encourage a desire for moral and physical as well as mental improvement. If girls were taught how to cook, especially how to bake good bread, their education would be of far greater value. A knowledge of useful labor would prevent, to a great extent, that sickly sentimentalism which has been, and is still, ruining thousands. The exercise of the muscles as well as the brain will encourage taste for the homely duties of practical life.—“Testimony” No. 31. CE 44.1