Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 3 (1876 - 1882)



Ms 2, 1881

Our College



This manuscript is published in entirety in 20MR 182-187. +Note

December 1881

[Read before conference delegates]

We have many fears that our college is fast degenerating. It stands today in a position that God does not approve. I was shown that this would be the danger that would threaten it, and if the responsible men in the college should seek to reach the world’s standard, or to mould it after the colleges of our land, the woe of God would be upon it. 3LtMs, Ms 2, 1881, par. 1

The time has come for me to speak decidedly. The purpose of God was plainly stated for the necessity of a college among us as a means whereby candidates for the ministry should be educated. The laborers in the gospel field are so few that years of labor could not be given to a thorough education. But there should be men who could take in the situation and carry forward this class of students rapidly, giving them knowledge upon the very subjects they most need for this work. But I have been shown that this work has not been done. Brother [G. H.] Bell could have done much better work for those who were to be ministers than he has done. God is not pleased that he has carried out his own plans and led them after his own ideas. He has not adapted himself to the situation. He has not always been patient, and encouraged men who have left their fields of labor at a sacrifice of time and expense to learn what they could in a short time. He has mingled self in his work to a large extent. He might have done his part in sending forth these men with much greater knowledge if he had not made grammar his idol and kept the minds drilling upon grammar when they should be receiving a general education upon many subjects. 3LtMs, Ms 2, 1881, par. 2

Brother Bell has not taken in the situation. Men [who have] come to mature years, even the meridian of life, having families of their own, have become embarrassed unnecessarily. They have sometimes been placed in the most embarrassing positions. Brother Bell has been exceedingly sensitive himself if his dignity was not respected, if he imagined that he was in thought or look or word ridiculed. He has not reasoned that there were minds just as sensitive as his own to sarcasm or ridicule and censure. In this he has wounded his brethren and displeased God. 3LtMs, Ms 2, 1881, par. 3

Brother Bell is naturally severe, critical, and exacting, and he will have to be guarded on this point constantly, with the elder as well as the younger. He has kept drilling certain students upon grammar, making that the one all-important matter, not giving them sufficient encouragement to have an equal opportunity for other studies; and some have left the college with only half an education. He has wronged the students here. In this particular he has kept the minds confined to such a thoroughness as would not be essential in one case out of twenty. Time is too short; the work to be accomplished is too great for any such definiteness. He carries this matter to great extremes and has injured his usefulness in so doing and has created great dissatisfaction. These things must be corrected, for they are decidedly wrong. 3LtMs, Ms 2, 1881, par. 4

The very same error has existed in regard to tract and missionary work. The time and means that has been used to educate so definitely has been an injury to the success of the work and the cause of God. While the tract and missionary work was a good work and there needed to be a right way of working set before the people, time, study, and taxing effort have been given to this one branch to the neglect of other branches of the work fully as important. This matter has been carried to extremes. [There has been] too much mechanical working, too much machinery, too little vital godliness combined with human effort, too much of man’s judgment and device, and too little room left for the divine. 3LtMs, Ms 2, 1881, par. 5

The Sabbath school at Battle Creek is like a well regulated machine, like a clock which strikes at regular periods the hour of the day, and the real heart and soul is not there as it should be to prove a success. More of God’s and less of man’s work would be an improvement. The thought and time given to this mechanical working, if given to the religious and spiritual interest, would have altogether a better effect. More devotion, piety, and simplicity of godliness is essential. The same principle is needed in conducting of the college, more of the Spirit of the Lord and a dropping out of self. Diligence, perseverance, and zeal are needed, but exercised with the Spirit of Christ. 3LtMs, Ms 2, 1881, par. 6

Brother Ramsey sees when Brother Bell fails, but he makes still more serious mistakes. He does not carry the burdens Brother Bell has carried. He does not labor as Brother Bell has labored. He does not watch unto prayer. He fails again and again, being self-dignified, bringing himself to the front. He is overbearing, dictatorial, and self-important. He thinks more highly of himself than he ought. Nothing but the grace of God can give him correct views of his own self so that he will labor in humility and not disgust his pupils. He has made some improvements, but unless the Spirit of Christ is abiding in him, he will make, in his self-importance, serious blunders. He will not win the students, but repulse and disgust them. In a young man, this spirit is very objectionable and highly displeasing to God. 3LtMs, Ms 2, 1881, par. 7

Christ invites the self-important ones to learn of Him, for He is meek and lowly of heart. It is the meekness and lowliness of Christ that are so much needed in ministers and teachers. Self is petted and cherished and Christ is not abiding in the heart. 3LtMs, Ms 2, 1881, par. 8

There is work to be done for every teacher in our college, from those occupying the highest position to the lowest. Not one is divested of self; not one is free from selfishness, which is exhibited in many ways. If the piety and morals of the teachers were elevated as they should be, there would be a healthier influence among the students. There is not a performing of the work of every individual with an eye single to the glory of God. There is not a looking unto Jesus and studying His life and character, but a looking to self and meeting their own defective standard. 3LtMs, Ms 2, 1881, par. 9

I wish I could impress upon you all the responsibility which rests upon you in your influence over the young. Satan is as busy as he can be in his work to secure to himself the service of our dear youth. He lays his snares with great care that he may entangle in his net the inexperienced feet of the youth who do not discern his workings. 3LtMs, Ms 2, 1881, par. 10

Those who are truly connected with God will not be at variance with one another. The spirit of harmony, peace, and love, His Spirit working in their hearts, will create harmony, love, and unity. The opposite of this works in the children of Satan; there is with them a continual contradiction. Strife, envy, and jealousy are the ruling elements. The characteristic of the Christian is the meekness of Christ. Benevolence, kindness, mercy, and love originate from infinite wisdom, while the opposite is the unholy fruit of a heart that is not in harmony with Jesus Christ. We ask in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, What fruit do you bear? 3LtMs, Ms 2, 1881, par. 11

What a work is this, the education of children! In the common schools the religion of the Bible is not made a part of education. One essential, and the most important element, is left out of the program. Education is a work which tells through the ceaseless ages of eternity. The teachers should be men and women of experience who can impart light from the throne of God in all their instruction. Never should persons be placed in positions as teachers who have not patience, kindness, and self-control. 3LtMs, Ms 2, 1881, par. 12

There has been a fearful neglect of duty with the parents. Like Eli, they have not restrained their children, and when the conduct of their children is such that it testifies against their management, they think to obtain relief by sending them to college to be disciplined and to learn better manners than their parents have taught them at home. Here the teachers are left with a task on their hands which few can appreciate. If they succeed in reforming this crude and undisciplined class, parents take the credit which is not due them and do not give the teachers the credit they deserve. If the children choose the society of the evil-inclined and go from bad to worse, then the teachers are censured and the school is denounced as being what it should not be, when the condemnation justly belongs upon the parents. They had the first and best years of the lives of their children while they were teachable and impressible. But wicked, slothful parents have failed in doing their work, and [their children] became confirmed in an evil course. They were hardened like flint when sent to the college. 3LtMs, Ms 2, 1881, par. 13

If the parents had studied more of Christ and less of the world, if they had cared less to imitate the customs and fashions of the present age and devoted time and painstaking effort to mold the minds and characters of their children after the divine Model, then they could send them forth with moral integrity, to be carried forward in the branches of education to qualify them to any position of trust. 3LtMs, Ms 2, 1881, par. 14

The teachers, if God-fearing and God-loving, could take these children a step nearer heaven, trained to make their capacities a blessing and not a curse. Connected with God, these instructors will exert an influence affecting the destiny of souls in leading them to the study and obedience of the law of God, carrying their minds up to the contemplation of eternal interests, opening before them a broad, expansive field of thought, presenting before them difficult Bible problems to master, strengthening the intellect to grasp grand and ennobling themes; and yet there is an infinity beyond. 3LtMs, Ms 2, 1881, par. 15

The greatest work is before us. Our peril, which threatens our usefulness and which will prove our ruin if not seen and overcome, is selfishness—placing a higher estimate upon our plans and our opinions and our labors and moving independently of our brethren. “Counsel together,” have been the words repeated by the angel again and again. Satan may move through one man’s mind to warp things out of their proper channel; he may succeed with two who view things in a similar light; but with several minds enlisted there is greater safety. Every plan will be more liable to be criticized and viewed from all sides. Every advance move should be carefully studied, so that no enterprise will be entered into which will bring confusion and perplexity and defeat to the work in which we are engaged. In union there is strength; in division there is weakness and defeat. 3LtMs, Ms 2, 1881, par. 16

God is leading out a people, and fitting them for translation. Are we who are acting a part in this work standing as sentinels for God? Are we uniting our forces? Are we willing to become servants of all? Are we imitating the great Pattern? Fellow-laborers, we are sowing the seed which we will reap for eternal life. The harvest is ours, to reap that which we have sown. If you sow distrust, envy, jealousy, self-love, bitterness of thought and feelings, this harvest you will be sure to reap. This will be a sowing of dragon’s teeth to reap the same. If you manifest kindness, love, tenderness, [and] tender thoughtfulness to your students, you will reap the same in return. If teachers are severe, critical, overbearing, not careful of others’ feelings, they will receive the same in return. A man who wishes to preserve his self-respect and dignity must be careful not to sacrifice the respect and dignity of others. 3LtMs, Ms 2, 1881, par. 17

This rule should be sacredly observed toward the dullest, the youngest, and the most blundering scholars. What God shall do with these apparently uninteresting youth, you do not know. God has accepted and chosen in the past just such specimens to do a great work for Him. His Spirit, operating upon the heart, has acted like an electric battery, arousing the apparently benumbed faculties to vigorous and persevering action. The Lord saw in these rough, uninteresting, unhewn stones precious metal that will endure the test of storm and tempest and the fiery ordeal of heat. God seeth not as man seeth, God judgeth not as man judgeth. He searcheth the heart. He judgeth not from appearance, but judgeth righteously. 3LtMs, Ms 2, 1881, par. 18

Every teacher and every professor in our conference work should preserve the characteristics of the Christian gentleman when associating with his students. He should show himself a friend, a counselor. He should be tender, noble, benevolent, and truly courteous. When all our ministers cultivate the spirit of Christian gentlemen, they will find access to the hearts, ears will be open to hear, and souls [will] be softened to receive the light beams of truth. 3LtMs, Ms 2, 1881, par. 19

When our teachers shall think less of great I and be more deeply interested in the prosperity and success of their pupils, having a sense that they are God’s property, that they must render an account to Him for every impression made upon the mind and for the mold given to the character, we shall have a school that will attract angels. Jesus will look lovingly upon the work of the teachers and will send His grace into the hearts of the students. 3LtMs, Ms 2, 1881, par. 20

The college in Battle Creek is a place where young men and young women should be trained upon God’s plan of development and growth, where the younger members of the Lord’s family shall be impressed that they are created in the image of their Maker and that their spirit must represent the Spirit of Christ. 3LtMs, Ms 2, 1881, par. 21

The minds of our brethren and sisters take too narrow and low a range. They do not keep before the mind’s eye the divine plan, but are fixing their eyes upon worldly models. God calls you to look up where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God and then work to prepare the minds and characters of your students according to Christ’s character. If you lower the standard to obtain numbers and make this a cause of rejoicing, you show great blindness of mind. You should never consider that numbers are an evidence of success, for then Satan indeed is in the ascendancy. He can boast of very large numbers. 3LtMs, Ms 2, 1881, par. 22

Increasing numbers in your college is no evidence that your labors are being crowned with success. The Lord scorns all exhibition of pride, vanity, and display. It is the strength of moral power that is increasing and pervading the college that testifies of its prosperity. It is the character, the virtue, and intelligence of the people composing our churches and college, not its numbers, that is a source of joy and should awaken thankfulness in the heart of every Christian. The Spirit of Christ in righteousness prevailing and pervading our church and college, our publishing house and sanitarium, should be the cause of rejoicing, rather than their numbers. 3LtMs, Ms 2, 1881, par. 23

Without the uplifting power of Christ, the refining influence of His grace, education will give no advantage to men. Without the Christian element and the sanctifying power of Christ in education, the learned become proud, vain, and bigoted in the domestic circle and in the church. 3LtMs, Ms 2, 1881, par. 24