Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 6 (1889-1890)


Ms 5, 1890

Result of Studying Harmful Textbooks

Battle Creek, Michigan


This manuscript is published in entirety in 19MR 73-76.

“Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word.” [Psalm 119:9.] Why then do the teachers in our colleges and schools depend upon books for the education of children and youth that are filled with falsehood and cheapness, with fairy tales and stories, and which fill the minds of the young with desires for the unreal? Why should not the lessons which children and youth learn be pure, elevating, and ennobling? Cannot books be written that are free from every species of error? Is there not talent enough among Seventh-day Adventists to write books containing the simple lessons of the Old and New Testaments? 6LtMs, Ms 5, 1890, par. 1

The study of Old Testament history is of great value to both children and youth, and the lessons contained in the New Testament were given by the greatest Teacher the world ever knew. Why then should we depend upon the productions of men who have not worked to the glory of God, whose minds have not discerned truth from error or light from darkness? Is there not enough in the great plan of redemption to engross every mind? A knowledge of this plan will not only educate and discipline the mind, but will attract and sharpen the intellect. Our lives should be full of Jesus, and we should now be preparing for a better and a clearer knowledge of Him. 6LtMs, Ms 5, 1890, par. 2

Why do our people, in the instruction of their children, depend upon books which contain objectionable errors? When the children ask what these stories mean, which are so contrary to all they have been taught, the parents answer that they are not true, and yet they continue to place the books before their children. Thus error is brought into the education of the young. But no one seems to realize that the ideas presented in these books mislead children, and that the imaginary stories, novels, and fables which are dealt out to feed their minds, beget a taste and encourage an appetite for the unreal things of life. 6LtMs, Ms 5, 1890, par. 3

When we have an abundance of that which is real and that which is divine, why do we not feed the minds of children with this kind of food? Books which contain a perversion of truth and which will mislead growing minds should never be placed before children or youth, and those with mature minds would be far better, far purer, stronger, and more noble if they had nothing to do with them. 6LtMs, Ms 5, 1890, par. 4

I sought to get this matter before our people last Christmas, but other subjects demanded so much of my time and strength that I could not do the work I greatly desired to do. When the resolution was brought up, that nothing should be taught in the college during the coming year but that which had been taught heretofore, without being brought before the conference, I protested, for there had been many things presented to me which I could not at that time present before the conference, because they were not prepared for it. A decided reform is needed in the lessons given to the children and youth in our schools. In every department we must move upward, taking no low level. 6LtMs, Ms 5, 1890, par. 5

You may say, Our Sabbath Schools give instruction in regard to truth. Yes; and then as the children go to day school, books are placed before them which confuse the mind, and lessons which are false are given them to learn. These things need close criticism; for if you educate the young from books which contain a perversion of truth, how will you be able to counteract the influence of this education? You are sowing seed, and must prepare for the harvest. 6LtMs, Ms 5, 1890, par. 6

I do not urge that the reasons for every phase of our faith shall be brought into our school education, this the students can obtain in the Sabbath School and the church; but the lessons given in the Old and New Testaments should be carefully selected and arranged as to be interesting and attractive to the minds of children. That which Christ has taught it is certainly safe and advisable to bring into the education of our students. Children are not blind and deaf to the perversion of truth; their minds are easily impressed, and the impressions given should be of a right character. 6LtMs, Ms 5, 1890, par. 7

We are not at liberty to teach that which will reach the world’s standard of the church because it is the custom to do so! We are safe only when following the lessons of Jesus Christ. That which was safe for Him to teach, is safe for our children to study. Eternal life is before us, and do we not want our children to win the precious boon? But all who win eternal life, old or young, must put aside their likes and dislikes, and with simplicity of heart and profound humility, they must search God’s Word. Those who are bold and domineering, and full of self-sufficiency will not search the Scriptures with an eye single to the glory of God; for they will seek to find something with which to vindicate their own ideas and sustain their own theories. There is a great deal of insubordination in the heart that is not fully sanctified. 6LtMs, Ms 5, 1890, par. 8

It is all-important that we each have an eye single to discern and understand from the heart the high things of God, for even that which we have before considered to be light may be found to be sparks of our own kindling. Man cannot possibly interpret the Scriptures correctly by his own light, and measure them by his own narrow comprehension. “Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise.” [1 Corinthians 3:18.] When, through the grace of Christ, man has crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts, then and then only can he become a partaker of the divine nature. But many act as though they were above the Lord Jesus Christ. He was pure, and undefiled, wholly obedient to His Father’s commandments, and His true followers must be as He was. 6LtMs, Ms 5, 1890, par. 9

These are the lessons which children should learn in school. If the inward life is perfect, a noble experience will be seen; and we shall see beyond the present narrow compass of time and sense. Is the world becoming more dead to the teachers in our day schools and Sabbath schools? Are they seeking those things which are above, where Christ sits at the right hand of God? The religion of Jesus Christ is from above, and can have nothing in common with the show and illusion of the world. 6LtMs, Ms 5, 1890, par. 10