Christian Education


Chapter 16—The Necessity of Doing Our Best

The Lord has made provision that our minds may be elevated. Instead of allowing our thoughts to dwell upon small and unimportant matters, the nobler powers of the mind, which are adapted to the contemplation of exalted themes, should be trained for high pursuits. But instead of this, men pervert the higher faculties of the mind, and press them into the service of the earthly and the temporal interests, as if the attainment of the things of earth were of supreme importance. In this way the higher powers have been dwarfed, and have failed to develop so that men might be qualified for the duties of life that devolve upon them; for even in the performance of the obligations relating to this life, they fail to act with integrity, if the nobler powers of the mind are not cultivated. It is Satan's design that these high faculties of the mind should become belittled and sensualized; but it is not God's will that any one should yield the mind to the control of the evil one. He would have his children make progress in intellectual and spiritual pursuits. CE 121.3

Let no one suppose that conversion is the beginning and end of the Christian life. There is a science of Christianity that must be mastered. There is to be growth in grace, that is constant progress and improvement. The mind is to be disciplined, trained, educated; for the child of God is to do service for God in ways that are not natural, or in harmony with inborn inclination. Those who become the followers of Christ find that new motives of action are supplied, new thoughts arise, and new actions must result. But they can make advancement only through conflict; for there is an enemy that ever contends against them, presenting temptations to cause the soul to doubt and sin. Besides this ever vigilant foe, there are hereditary and cultivated tendencies to evil that must be overcome. The training and education of a lifetime must often be discarded that the Christian may become a learner in the school of Christ, and in him who would be a partaker of the divine nature, appetite and passion must be brought under the control of the Holy Spirit. There is to be no end to this warfare this side of eternity, but while there are constant battles to fight, there are also precious victories to gain, and the triumph over self and sin is of more value than the mind can estimate. The effort put forth to overcome, though requiring self-denial, is of little account beside the victory over evil. CE 122.1

The life-work given to us is that of preparation for the life eternal, and if we accomplish this work as God has designed that we should, every temptation may work for our advance; for as we resist its allurement, we make progress in the divine life. In the heat of the conflict, while engaged in earnest spiritual warfare, unseen agencies are by our side, commissioned of heaven to aid us in our wrestlings, and in the crisis, strength and firmness and energy are imparted to us, and we have more than mortal power. But unless the human agent shall bring his will into harmony with the will of God, unless he shall forsake every idol, and overcome every wrong practice, he will never succeed in the warfare; but will be finally overcome. Those who would be conquerors must engage in conflict with unseen agencies; inward corruption must be overcome, and every thought must be brought into harmony with, and subjection to, Christ. The Holy Spirit is ever at work seeking to purify, refine, and discipline the souls of men in order that they may become fitted for the society of saints and angels, and as overcomers be able to sing the song of redemption, ascribing glory and honor to God and to the Lamb in the courts above. CE 122.2

As children of God, we should make earnest efforts to be overcomers, and as students seeking to honor and glorify God, we should study to show ourselves approved unto God, workmen that need not to be ashamed. The workman for God should make earnest efforts to become a representative of Christ, discarding all uncomely gestures, and uncouth speech. O that the youth who are now forming their habits would seek to attain perfection! They should seek to use correct language, and though there are a large class who are careless in the way they speak, yet by careful, painstaking attention, they may become representatives of the truth. Every day they should make advancement and not detract from their usefulness and influence by cherishing defects of manner, tone, or language. Through close watchfulness, and earnest discipline, the Christian youth may keep his tongue from evil and his lips that they speak no guile. Common, cheap expressions should be replaced by sound and pure words, and we should be careful not to give an incorrect pronunciation of our words. There are men among us who in theory know better than to use incorrect language, yet in practice they make frequent mistakes. The Lord would have us careful to do our best, making wise use of our faculties and opportunities. The Lord has endowed men with gifts whereby they are to bless and edify others, and it is our duty to so educate ourselves that we may be best fitted for the great work committed to us. CE 123.1

Education comprehends far more than many suppose. Mind and body must both receive attention; and unless our youth are versed in the science of how to care for the body as well as the mind, they will not be successful students. It is essential that students exercise their physical powers in such a way that their physical strength shall not be disproportionate to their mental development, and therefore a judicious system of physical culture should be combined with school discipline, that there may be a harmonious development of all the powers of mind and body. Nothing that pertains to physical perfection should be looked upon as of little importance. In eating, drinking, and dressing, the laws of health should be diligently followed, and in regulating the hours for sleep, there should be no haphazard work. No student should form the habit of sitting up late at night to burn the midnight oil, and then take the hours of day for sleep. If they have been accustomed to doing this at home, they should seek to correct their habits and go to rest at a seasonable hour, and rise in the morning refreshed for the day's duties. In our schools the lights should be extinguished at half past nine. CE 124.1

The student who desires to put the work of two terms into one, should not be permitted to have his own way in this matter. To undertake to do double work means with many, overtaxation of the mind, and a neglect of proper physical exercise. It is not reasonable to suppose that the mind can grasp and digest an oversupply of mental food, and it is as great a sin to overfeed the mind as it is to load the digestive organs, giving the stomach no periods of rest. The brain is the citadel of the whole man, and wrong habits of eating, dressing, or sleeping, affect the brain, and prevent the attaining of that which the student desires,—a good mental discipline. Any part of the body that is not treated with consideration will telegraph its injury to the brain. There should be exercised much patience and perseverance in instructing the youth how to preserve their health. They should become well informed on this matter, that every muscle and organ may be so strengthened and disciplined that in voluntary or involuntary action, the best of health may result, and the brain be invigorated to sustain the taxation of study. CE 124.2

In reading or in recitation the pronunciation should be clear, and a nasal tone, or an ungainly attitude should at once be corrected. Every sentence should be clear and distinct, and any lack of distinctness should be marked as defective. Many have allowed themselves to form the habit of speaking in a thick, indistinct way, as though their tongue was too large for the mouth, and this habit has done great injury to usefulness; but if those who have defects in their manner of utterance will submit to criticism and correction, they may overcome these defects. They should perseveringly practice speaking in a low, distinct tone, exercising the abdominal muscles in deep breathing, and making the throat the channel of communication. Many speak in a rapid way and in a high, unnatural key, but if they continue such a practice, they will injure the throat and lungs, and as a result of continual abuse, the weak and inflamed organs will become diseased in a serious way, and they will fall into consumption. CE 125.1

Ministers and teachers should give especial attention to the voice, and learn the art of speaking, not in a nervous, hurried manner, but in a slow, clear, distinct manner, preserving the music of the voice. The Saviour was the greatest teacher the world ever knew, and his voice was as music to the ears of those who had been accustomed to hear the monotonous, spiritless preaching of the Scribes and Pharisees. He spoke slowly and impressively, emphasizing those words to which he wished them to give special attention. CE 126.1

The old and young, the ignorant and the learned, could catch the full meaning of his words, but this would have been impossible had he spoken in a hurried way, and rushed sentence upon sentence without pause. The people were very attentive to him, and it was said of him that he spake not as the Scribes and Pharisees, for his word was as of one who had authority. The people were astonished at his doctrine, and after hearing him, the verdict was, “Never man spake like this man.” [John 7:46.] CE 126.2

Jesus’ manner of teaching was beautiful and attractive, and it was ever characterized by simplicity. He unfolded the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven through the use of figures and symbols with which his hearers were familiar, and the common people heard him gladly; for they could comprehend his words. There were no high-sounding words used, to understand which it was necessary to consult a dictionary. He illustrated the glories of the kingdom of God by the use of the experiences and occurrences of earth. In compassionate love and tenderness he cheered and comforted and instructed all who heard him; for grace was poured upon his lips that he might convey to men in the most attractive way the treasures of truth. CE 126.3

This is the manner in which he would have us present his truth to others. The power of speech is of great value, and the voice should be cultivated for the blessing of those with whom we come in contact. I am pained when I see how little this precious gift is appreciated. In reading the Bible, in engaging in prayer, in bearing testimony, how necessary is clear, distinct utterance. How much is lost in family worship when the one offering prayer bows the face down, and speaks in a low, feeble voice, as though just recovering from a long sickness. But as soon as family worship is over, those who could not speak loud enough to be heard in prayer, can speak in clear, distinct tones, and there is no difficulty in hearing what is said. Prayer that is thus uttered is appropriate for the closet, but not suitable for public worship; for unless those assembled with them can hear what is said, they cannot say Amen. CE 127.1

Nearly all persons can speak loud enough to be heard in ordinary conversation, and why should not the same voice and talent be used when they are called upon to bear testimony or offer prayer? When speaking of heavenly and divine things, why not speak in distinct tones, in a manner that will make it manifest that you know what you are talking about, and are not ashamed to show your colors? Why not pray as though you had a conscience void of offense, and could come to the throne of grace in humility and yet with holy boldness, lifting up holy hands without wrath and doubting? Do not bow down and cover up your face as if there were something that you desired to conceal; but lift up your eyes toward the heavenly sanctuary, where Christ your Mediator stands before the Father to present your prayers as fragrant incense, mingled with his own merit and spotless righteousness. You are invited to come, to ask, to seek, to knock, and you are assured that you will not come in vain. Jesus says “Ask, and it shall be given you: seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you; for every one that asketh receiveth, and he that seeketh findeth, and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened.” He illustrates the willingness of God to bless by presenting before us the willingness of a father to grant the request of his child. He asks, “If a son ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone, or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him? [Luke 11:9-13.] CE 127.2

We come unto God in the name of Jesus by special invitation, and he welcomes us to his audience chamber, and imparts to the humble and contrite heart that faith in Christ by which he is justified, and Jesus blots out as a thick cloud his transgressions by the bright sunshine of his love, and the comforted heart exclaims, “O Lord, I will praise thee: though thou wast angry with me, thine anger is turned away, and thou comfortedst me.” [Isaiah 12:1.] He will understand in experience the words of Paul, “With the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” [Romans 10:10.] He then becomes a sanctified agent that God can employ to work out his noble purposes. He then represents Christ, holding forth to the world his mercy and love. He has a testimony that he is desirous that others should hear, and in the language of the psalmist, he says, “Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercy.” [Psalm 103:1-4.] CE 128.1

God has given us the gift of speech that we may recite to others the dealing of God with us, that his love and compassion may touch their hearts, and that praise may also arise from their souls to him who hath called them out of darkness into his marvelous light. The Lord has said, “Ye are my witnesses.” [Isaiah 43:10.] But all who are called to be witnesses for Christ must learn of him, that they may be efficient witnesses. As children of the heavenly King, you should educate yourselves to bear testimony in a clear, distinct voice, and in such a manner that no one may have the impression that you are reluctant to speak of the mercies of the Lord. In social meeting, prayer should be offered so that all may be edified, and those who take part in this exercise should follow the example given us in the Lord's beautiful prayer for the world. The prayer of Jesus is simple, clear, comprehensive, and yet not long and spiritless as are the dry prayers that are often offered in public. These spiritless prayers better not be uttered; for they fail to bless or edify, and are a mere form without vital power. CE 129.1

“And even things without life giving sound, whether pipe or harp, except they give a distinction in the sounds, how shall it be known what is piped or harped? For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle? So likewise ye, except ye utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? for ye shall speak into the air. There are, it may be, so many kinds of voices in the world, and none of them is without signification. Therefore if I know not the meaning of the voice, I shall be unto him that speaketh a barbarian, and he that speaketh shall be a barbarian unto me. Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church,” [1 Corinthians 14:7-12.] “No man liveth unto himself.” In all our religious services we should seek to conduct ourselves in a way that we may edify others, working as much as lies in our power for the perfection of the church. “Wherefore let him that speaketh in an unknown tongue pray that he may interpret. For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful. What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also....Else when thou shalt bless with the spirit, how shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned say Amen at thy giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest? For thou verily givest thanks well, but the other is not edified. I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all; yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue.” [1 Corinthians 14:13-19.] CE 129.2

The principle presented by Paul concerning the gift of tongues, is equally applicable to the use of the voice in prayer and social meeting. We would not have any one of you who is defective in this respect, cease from offering public prayer, or from bearing witness to the power and love of Christ. I do not write these words to silence you; for there has been already too much silence in our meetings; but I write that you may consecrate your voice to Him who gave you this gift, and realize the necessity of cultivating it so that you may edify the church by what you say. If you have acquired the habit of speaking in a low, indistinct way, you should regard it as a defect, and put forth earnest effort to overcome, that you may honor God and edify his children. CE 130.1

“How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying.” [1 Corinthians 14:26.] In our devotional social meetings, our voices should express by prayer and praise our adoration of our heavenly Father, that all may know that we worship God in simplicity and truth, and in the beauty of holiness. Precious indeed in this world of sin and ignorance is the gift of speech, is the melody of the human voice, when devoted to the praises of Him who hath loved us, and hath given himself for us. The gift of speech has been greatly abused, and widely perverted from its intended purpose; but let those who claim to be children of the heavenly King awaken to their responsibility, and make more of this precious talent than ever they have done before. Let no one say, “There is no use for me to try to pray, for others do not hear me.” Rather say, “I will make earnest efforts to overcome this God-dishonoring habit of speaking in a low, indistinct tone, and I will put myself under discipline until my voice shall be audible, even to those who are hard of hearing.” Will it not be worth disciplining yourself to be able to add interest to the service of God, and to edify the children of God? Let the voices of the followers of Christ be trained so that instead of crowding words together in a thick, indistinct way, their words will be clear, forcible, and edifying. Do not let the voice fall after each word, but keep it up so that every sentence will be full and complete. The voice of thanksgiving, praise, and rejoicing is heard in heaven. The voices of the children of God unite with the voices of the angels of heaven, as they ascribe honor and glory and praise unto God and to the Lamb for the great salvation he has provided. CE 131.1

Let every one seek to do his best. Let those who have enlisted under the banner of Prince Emmanuel grow daily in grace and efficiency. Let the teachers in our institutions endeavor to train the students in all lines of education, that they may come forth properly disciplined to bless mankind and glorify God. It is essential that they be educated to read in a clear, distinct tone. We have been pained as we have attended conference meetings, tract society meetings, and meetings of various kinds, where reports were read in an almost inaudible tone, or in a hesitating, muffled manner. One half the interest in a meeting is killed when the participants take their parts in this indifferent, spiritless fashion. They should train and discipline themselves in such a way that they may edify those who listen. Let every one connected with the missionary work qualify himself to speak in a clear, attractive way, enunciating his words in a perfect manner. The proper use of the vocal organs will bring benefit to the physical health, and increase your usefulness and influence. It is through falling into bad habits that persons become tedious readers and speakers; but those who are looked upon as intelligent enough to become missionary workers, or to transact business, ought to have intelligence enough to reform in the manner of speaking. They can give attention to the cultivation of the voice, and by judicious exercise, may expand the chest, and strengthen the muscles. Let the abdominal muscles have full play. Do not bind the waist with bands and corsets, but taking in full breath, let the burden of your words come from this foundation, supported by abdominal breathing, and let the throat be the channel for the tone. By giving heed to proper instruction, by following health principles in regard to the expansion of the lungs and the culture of the voice, our young men and women may become speakers that can be heard, and the exercise necessary to this accomplishment will prolong life. CE 131.2

If you gain correct ideas on this subject, you will see the necessity of educating and training yourselves so that you may do justice to yourselves, may honor God, and bless others. Put yourselves under patient, efficient teachers, and learn to read in a way that will preserve the melody of the voice. Having an eye single to the glory of God, make the most of the natural capabilities that God has given you, and your intellectual efficiency will increase, and commanding your own powers, you will not become embarrassed by your defects of speech, and your usefulness in the cause of God will be increased. There is need that among our ministers careful attention should be given to the culture of the voice, or many will lie down in untimely graves. The Lord is not glorified by the reflections that are cast upon him, when men attribute to him their sufferings; for the Lord has no pleasure in the suffering and death of his people. He would have them pursue a right course of action, carefully looking after their bodies that they may be in health, and know how to keep the habitation in order. If we neglect to heed the simple laws by which we may preserve health, and fail to cultivate right habits, the Lord will not work a miracle to heal our disorders, while we continue to transgress his laws. Men are sleeping in their graves that the Lord would have had live. They destroyed themselves through lack of knowledge. On many points they were instructed, and yet failed to carry out the instruction given them; but let us become enlightened Christians, walking in the light, and overcoming every defect that we may reap reward in this life, and gain the life eternal hereafter.—Manuscript. CE 133.1