Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 7 (1891-1892)

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Ms 8a, 1891

Sermon/The Proper Way to Deal With Students in Our Schools

Harbor Heights, Michigan

July 21, 1891

This manuscript is published in entirety in 9MR 55-64.

[Luke 19:1-6 read.] 7LtMs, Ms 8a, 1891, par. 1

Brethren, our standard is altogether too low. We have had the precious gems, precious treasures upon earth, which have been unfolded, and we have seen the beauty and the glory of the truth, but we have made it a sort of common thing. 7LtMs, Ms 8a, 1891, par. 2

Christ presents many phases of character to God’s people, and yet He says, “Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.” [Revelation 2:4.] What is the matter? The gold the truth bids [you] seek, the gold of love and faith, is dropped out of the character, and now you must come back. 7LtMs, Ms 8a, 1891, par. 3

“Thy gentleness hath made me great.” [Psalm 18:35.] The gentleness, forebearance, longsuffering, mercy, and patience have greater power than you imagine. God wants us to cultivate that side of the question. If justice and its twin sister mercy do not stand together, it is a terrible thing. You want the world and whatever you are connected with. ... 7LtMs, Ms 8a, 1891, par. 4

You need not be afraid of manifesting weakness of character in being too merciful. I will risk everyone of you, that you will not be too merciful, too compassionate, or too sympathetic for the erring. What we want is the Spirit of Christ interwoven into our everyday experience. You want it when you rise in the morning, you want it at noon, and you want it at night. You want it continually, so that it shall be an abiding principle as with Daniel—the abiding principle of fearing God let the consequence be what it may. 7LtMs, Ms 8a, 1891, par. 5

Now we want to understand that there is something more to our work than we have given to it, and we want to understand that the essential work must begin with our own individual selves, our own hearts. We must know the influence of the Spirit of God on the human heart, on the human affections. Do not you remember that when Christ was teaching there came one saying, “Thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee.” And Christ, looking around upon His disciples that were receiving His words of life, read the interest in their eager countenances and said to the messengers, “Behold my mother and my brethren” are they that “do the will of my Father.” Matthew 12:47-50. They are the ones that are His mother and His brethren. They are the ones that are more closely related to Him than any ties of relationship. 7LtMs, Ms 8a, 1891, par. 6

We are a selfish set of beings. To those who are not related to us the milk of human kindness is seldom given. There is abundance of overflowing love manifested to those who are related to us; but to others, just as near and dear to the heart of Infinite Love, there is a coldness, uncourteousness, and selfish withholding of that love that flowed forth in such large measure to the special favorites and relatives. Who are my mother and my brother and my sister? Every soul striving to do the will of God is to be treated as our own relative. We do not do so. We are God’s children. God is not pleased with this favoritism. It is my husband who is perfect, my children are perfect, and myself is perfect. That is with many about the sum total of their religious experience: they act it out. 7LtMs, Ms 8a, 1891, par. 7

You look upon some and say how foolish they are. Had we not better have the compassion of Jesus Christ at all times and in all places and in everything in our dealings with children and youth who have not our experience? I have felt upon this point a most wonderful responsibility, as case after case has been presented before me, in different schools and in different places, where for years back has been the mismanagement of this one; and then I have looked to see where he would come out, and he came out as the servant of the devil. Where might he have come out? As a child and servant of Jesus Christ. Who is responsible for that man’s disposition? 7LtMs, Ms 8a, 1891, par. 8

I have sat in school with a pupil sitting by my side when the master sent a ruler to hit that student upon the head; but it hit me and gave me a wonderful wound. I rose from my seat and left the room. When I left the school house and was on the way home, he ran after me and said, “Ellen, I made a mistake; won’t you forgive me?” 7LtMs, Ms 8a, 1891, par. 9

Said I, “Certainly I will; but where is the mistake?” 7LtMs, Ms 8a, 1891, par. 10

“I did not mean to hit you.” 7LtMs, Ms 8a, 1891, par. 11

“But,” said I, “it is a mistake that you should hit anybody. I would just as soon have this gash in my forehead as to have another injured.” 7LtMs, Ms 8a, 1891, par. 12

It is the spirit in the man. You may have teachers in the school who have never felt the controlling power of the Spirit of God over every action of their lives. They may take the students and shake them, full of passion, for this act will never be unless the teacher has lost his self-control and is full of angry feelings. Do the students have any more love for such a teacher? 7LtMs, Ms 8a, 1891, par. 13

Any teacher, I don’t care who he is, unless he can make the students think that he loves them, cannot have any influence over them for good, no matter how well educated, how intellectual, or how refined he may be. What shall we do? Put away the iron that is in your souls, these satanic attributes that bear such fruit, whatever it may cost you—even if it cost you your right arm, as Christ said when talking to His disciples. “At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus” to be converted. They were following Christ, learning of Christ. “Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:1-6. What is the matter? There are many who do not put themselves in the place of the child. They do not see that in bruising that child they are bruising their own soul more, because they are destroying his manhood. What God wants is that we should seek and save that which is lost. 7LtMs, Ms 8a, 1891, par. 14

He says, Whosoever shall humble himself. How hard it is! It is like severing an arm. But whatever spirit there is in us that prompts to harshness and arbitrary action, however dear that spirit is to us or however much we want to cherish it, that spirit must die. That spirit must go out of our hearts and go out of the church, and the spirit of love and tenderness and forbearance come in. No matter what sort of an education you have had in your life or howsoever stern it may have been, you must become as a little child; and in mind and spirit you must put yourself on a level with that little child, that you may be a proper instructor. You must understand that its trials are greater to it than yours are to you. You must know that when God would have you correct a child you must never lay hold of the child suddenly and shake it as a terrier does a rat. No; but take it alone and pray with it and talk with it instead of forcing your will upon it. Show it the will of Christ. And if you do not bind that child to your own heart before you get through, you will have an entirely different experience than I have had. 7LtMs, Ms 8a, 1891, par. 15

You want to be where you can deal with human minds just as tenderly as Christ has dealt with you. If you should have Christ deal with you as some teachers have dealt with students in the schools, you would be indignant. You are not perfect as many of you may think you are, but not one of you is, in the sight of God. And if you want Christ to forgive your sins, you must be kind to those whom Satan is seeking to lead under his dark banner. “Whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me. But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck. ... If thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off.” Matthew 18:5-10. No matter how dear your way is, how grandly you look upon your ideas and plans, the question is, Are you going to come to God’s ideas and God’s plans and ways? Unless you are, you are under the condemnation of God today and ought to be converted. 7LtMs, Ms 8a, 1891, par. 16

We see one going astray. What are we going to do? Cut him off from us and leave him in the hands of Satan? Or are we going to bring him into the hands of Christ where we can pray for him and lead and guide him? Is that what we are going to do? Build up the barriers between God and the soul? No, that is the devil’s work, and we don’t want to do his work; we want to do Christ’s work, the work of the Spirit. “If so be that he find it.” It does not say that He will always find it. “Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.” Matthew 18:13, 14. 7LtMs, Ms 8a, 1891, par. 17

I know something of what I am talking [about]. The objectionable characters are the very ones who are sick. They need your help, and for these very ones you should put forth extra effort. Do not cut the knot of difficulty in sending them where the devil wants them, but bring them with the cords of love just where Christ did. Christ said in regard to Zacchaeus and He came to save that which was lost, that which was hopeless in the eyes of others. The Pharisees found fault with Him because He was so tender and merciful towards others, but here Christ has shown what He would do. 7LtMs, Ms 8a, 1891, par. 18

What we want is to melt our hard hearts in pieces before God. All this harshness—because I am in position of a teacher I must rule, and you must come right to my ideas and under my control—that is not the way at all. It is not the way to present before them. The right way is to do as He exhorts parents, Bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. How is that? We sit down and read to them from the Bible [saying,] I don’t want to speak to you my words, but let God speak to you. Let God speak to them out of His Word; read to them with such tenderness that the tears are in your voice. That is what you want to do. 7LtMs, Ms 8a, 1891, par. 19

The devil is seeking them; and what is the reason? Their souls are precious in the sight of God. There is a dignity and coldness in ourselves so that we cannot place ourselves in a position where we can feel for them. One who has sinned is humiliated in his [own] sight on account of it. But suppose that you crowd the humiliation in strong pressure upon the one who has done wrong, then what? You drive him to desperation, you discourage him; and how is it with a discouraged youth or adult? They become stubborn, unyielding, difficult. O that the Spirit and power of Christ may come into our midst, and that every teacher and everyone who has a part to act in the work may let the softening influence of the Holy Spirit into their hearts. 7LtMs, Ms 8a, 1891, par. 20

If God has ever spoken by me, there must be a higher standard in every one of our schools in this respect. That standard is to be reached by working in Christ and in Christ’s way. To be meek and lowly of heart, then comes rest, rest in the hardest kind of conflict. Why? Because you have true religion—meekness and lowliness. 7LtMs, Ms 8a, 1891, par. 21

Now let me tell you from what God has shown me: We need the message to the Laodicean church. You have left your first love, and there is hardness and coldness and want of sympathy, except for the favorite few. That will never answer in the world. We are to seek and save that which is lost. We must have the Spirit of the true Helper, the Spirit of Christ. 7LtMs, Ms 8a, 1891, par. 22

Ministers have been presented to me with their course of action and their character before they were converted, the hardest and most incorrigible, the most unbending, the most stubborn, and yet every one of these traits of character was what they needed in the work of God. We don’t want to kill that; they needed it in order to fill important positions of trust in the cause of God. There must be a transformation of character; the leaven must work in the human heart until every action is in conformity to the will of God and they are sanctified, then they are the most valuable. It is these very kind of individuals that God can use in the different branches of His work. 7LtMs, Ms 8a, 1891, par. 23

There are different phases of character needed in the work of God. All that it needs is conversion. “A new heart will I give you.” [Ezekiel 36:26.] Seek them, save them, and bring them to Christ. Let His love be poured into their hearts; let in the light of the Sun of Righteousness. Teachers in our schools, have you received it? You may walk in the light as Christ is in the light, every one of you. Have you received the baptism of the Holy Ghost? This is the question that was asked some who were workers in the time of the apostles, and they said, “We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost.” Acts 19:2. This is true of some of the workers today. They have not so much as heard of the Holy Ghost. 7LtMs, Ms 8a, 1891, par. 24

Now suppose that right here in our school we should be fitted for the work. God gave Moses a special work for which he was to have a special preparation. Moses thought that he was to do that work by force and by might, and he went and slew one who was fighting with an Israelite and hid him in the sand. He thought the Israelites ought to know that he was the one who should deliver Israel, and he was going to begin the work in a hurry; but the Lord takes that man Moses, seeing that he is not ready for the work, and sends him for forty years to act as a keeper of sheep, to go into the rocks in the mountains, in the desert, and there hunt with all patience for the stray sheep; and then the Lord reveals Himself in the bush to him as the “I AM” and bids him go and deliver the children of Israel. He has the education now, but it took him forty years to learn to be a tender, patient, loving, faithful shepherd. 7LtMs, Ms 8a, 1891, par. 25

Striplings will come into the school, and if they see a child that has not the experience they think it ought to have they don’t stop to plead with that one, they don’t remember how it was with them in their childhood—if one came upon them like a storm, how it braced them in that very evil that ought to be corrected. Some go at these children as if they had no heart, feeling, conscience, or reason, and by their course of action stir up the worst passions of the human heart. 7LtMs, Ms 8a, 1891, par. 26

There are those who are the most precious laborers in the cause today who in their childhood were not the easiest to manage, whom you could praise. No; they seemed to be full of mischief. And what were they to do to help them? Let the Sun of Righteousness into your own soul and diffuse it among them. I never found that it converted a child to shake it or to strike it in passion. I never found that it had any right influence upon it. I would a great deal rather you would strike the body than the mind, but both are degrading in their tendencies. 7LtMs, Ms 8a, 1891, par. 27

What we want is the right kind of education in our schools. We are reformers. We are the ones who are to be continually improving in our spirit and practices. We are talking of the righteousness of Christ, the mercy that is in the law because Christ is there. We are telling: “Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.” Psalm 85:10. Why not carry this out in your practice in school? 7LtMs, Ms 8a, 1891, par. 28

What we want is to be Bible Christians. And God has opened to me what stands in the way of the conversion of youth and children—their parents do not treat them aright. It is too much indulgence and too much passion. Now when they come into the schools shall they have the same kind of treatment by those who think what they don’t know is not worth knowing? They know it all when they have scarcely learned the first lessons in the alphabet of self-control and how to deal with human minds. There is something to learn. God help us to come right to the cross to see the royal Sufferer upon the cross and why He suffers. It is to save souls, to bring sons and daughters to God. He gave Himself to save the world. He says, “Love one another, as I have loved you.” John 15:12. 7LtMs, Ms 8a, 1891, par. 29

It is the iron in the character which has nearly destroyed the influence of some in our institutions; and it will be the ruin of our educational institutions unless the teachers connect in meekness and humbleness of mind with Christ and seek to work in Christ’s lines. Let this be the occasion for our receiving the Holy Ghost; and when every one of us seeks for the baptism of the Holy Ghost, it will come. Let us seek it with the whole heart. But you need not be in meeting all the time. You can go away by yourselves and earnestly seek God in secret prayer. Cut off the right arm or the right hand rather than offend one of these little ones. Get along with one-half of the things that you think are essential to make you successful in the work, if need be, and then have the baptism of the Holy Ghost, and you can diffuse light to those around you. 7LtMs, Ms 8a, 1891, par. 30

Let us seek God together. I want His Spirit. I long after Him. “As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after ... the living God.” Psalm 42:1, 2. I want, brethren and sisters, that we should come right to the cross and seek Christ and His love, mercy, and compassion and see how He values the human soul. You can never measure it except as you come to the cross. And because every soul is not cast upon the same mold as yours, that is no reason that they are not worth anything. God has a work for every one of them; and we want to work for souls, to labor for them as those who must give an account, that in the judgment they shall not come to us and say, “You did not show any of the mercy and love and tenderness of Christ to me. If you had, it would have broken my heart.” We want our hearts to be broken; they are altogether too hard. Let them break, and let Christ put His hold and His superscription upon the soul. Then what shall we see? We shall see the mighty revealings of the Spirit of God as on the day of Pentecost; then we shall be able to move others, to move the youth in the school; but in whatever branch of the work you are engaged, you can go singing all the way to Zion. Not that you will not have any characters around you hard to deal with—you will have them—but you can deal with them so much the more easily because Christ is your Helper, because Christ is with you, and you are laborers together with God. 7LtMs, Ms 8a, 1891, par. 31