Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 11 (1896)


Ms 30, 1896

The True Aim and Purpose of Christian Colleges


October 3, 1896

Portions of this manuscript are published in 3SM 311; 2MR 220-221.

There is a great deficiency in our schools in the line of composition, writing, and bookkeeping. These are as essential for the practical life as the science of grammar. Bookkeeping should stand as one of the most important branches of education. There is not one in twenty who knows how to keep accounts correctly. Attention should also be given to reading, for this is a branch of study greatly neglected. It requires much training to be able to read properly. Through the lack of this training, one half of the force of the other instruction will be lost. Teachers who are not competent to give instruction in this line, and to teach correct pronunciation and where to place the emphasis, should become learners till they can read with proper emphasis, and with a full, clear, distinct tone of voice. 11LtMs, Ms 30, 1896, par. 1

Those also who teach the Word of God to others should be taught how to read and speak impressively. Ministers who have but a short time to study should not place themselves under teachers who cannot discern the need of learning all that can be learned in a short time. Teachers who have a certain prescribed course, which they wish all to pursue with the same degree of thoroughness, are not the best for those whose time is limited. They go so deeply and minutely into subjects that it is impossible, without taking a regular course, to follow and derive much benefit. 11LtMs, Ms 30, 1896, par. 2

The most precious moments of our ministers are nearly lost for the want of a teacher who can take in the situation and manage the matter judiciously, drilling them patiently and kindly in the branches most essential for practical use in their ministerial work. They need a special drill in reading and writing, and in keeping accounts correctly. Having learned the simple rules, they should bend their minds to the acquisition of knowledge in connection with their labor, so that they may be “workmen that need not be ashamed.” [2 Timothy 2:15.] They can master one branch of science after another, while they are engaged in the work of teaching the truth, if they will wisely employ their time. Golden moments are thrown away, in unimportant conversation, in indolence, and in doing those things that are of little consequence, that ought to be used every day in useful employment that will fit us more nearly to approach the high standard. 11LtMs, Ms 30, 1896, par. 3

Self must in no case be exhibited. The good of the students should ever be kept in view; and the future immortal life, which it is their privilege to share, should never be sight of for a moment. 11LtMs, Ms 30, 1896, par. 4

Teachers occupy a most solemn and important position in dealing with minds, and they should feel that they are working for time and for eternity. In no case should they lose sight of their responsibilities, or trifle with them. With dull scholars they will have a trial, and must bear patiently with their ignorance. With sensitive, nervous students they must deal tenderly and very patiently, remember that they are hereafter to meet these students before the judgment seat of Christ, and all the work done will be brought in review before God. God forbid that they should hear the fearful words, “I gave you charge of these youth, that you might have an opportunity to be My representative, showing forth My grace to them, in kindness of manner, in patience, in meekness, but you wasted the golden opportunity in practicing the lessons God required you to teach them, and thus souls are lost that might have been saved to do acceptable work for the Master.” 11LtMs, Ms 30, 1896, par. 5

I wish I could find language to express the importance of our college. All should feel that it is one of God’s instrumentalities to make known the knowledge of Himself to man. Our teachers, ministers, and professors may have the power of Christ ruling in their hearts and exemplified in their lives. The instructors may do a greater work than they have hitherto calculated upon. Minds are to be molded and character developed by interested experiment, which, by the help of Christ, will prove wholly successful. Let your work be blended with prayer and faith that God will honor your efforts. In the fear of God encourage and strengthen every endeavor to develop the highest faculties, even if it is marked with great imperfection. 11LtMs, Ms 30, 1896, par. 6

The minds of many youth are rich in talents which are put to no available use, because they have lacked opportunity to develop them, and teachers have not felt the necessity of calling upon God for wisdom that they may discern the possibilities and probabilities of the youth. Their physical powers have been strengthened by exercise; but the faculties of the mind lie hidden, because the discernment and God-given tact of the educator have not been exercised in bringing them into use. Aids to self-development must be given to the youth. They must be drawn out, stimulated and encouraged and urged to action, and this from the highest consideration only, that they may glorify God. 11LtMs, Ms 30, 1896, par. 7

Workers are needed all over the world. The truth of God is to be carried to foreign lands, that those who are in darkness may be enlightened. Work should be done, that will qualify the students to be laborers together with God. 11LtMs, Ms 30, 1896, par. 8

God requires that a zeal be shown in this direction infinitely greater than has hitherto been manifested. As a people we are in some respects far behind in missionary work. We are not doing one twentieth part of the good we might accomplish in positions [of] trust, because selfishness prevails to a large extent among us. Some are envious of others, fearing that they will be more highly esteemed than themselves. 11LtMs, Ms 30, 1896, par. 9

Cultivated intellects are now needed in every part of the work of God, for novices cannot do the work acceptably in unfolding the hidden treasure to enrich souls. God has devised that schools shall be an instrumentality for developing workers for Jesus Christ of whom He will not be ashamed, and this object must ever be kept in view. The height man may reach by proper culture has not hitherto been realized. We have among us more than an average of men of ability. If their capabilities were brought into use, we should have twenty ministers where we now have one. Physicians, too, would be educated to battle with disease. Cities and towns are steeped in sin, yet there are Lots in every Sodom. The poison of sin is at work at the heart of society. God calls for reformers to stand in defense of the laws He has established to govern the physical system, and to maintain an elevated standard in the training of the mind and the culture of the heart. 11LtMs, Ms 30, 1896, par. 10

People must be educated to think for themselves; but even knowledge may a power for evil as well as good, just in accordance to the direction given to it. Therefore, men who are employed as instructors of the youth must be connected with God, must be men of wisdom. Students must be impressed with the fact that knowledge alone may be a power in the hands of those who educate to destroy. It was a very intelligent being, occupying a high position among the angelic throng, who finally became a rebel; and many a mind of superior intellectual attainments is now being led captive by his power. They have not made God their trust. The sanctified knowledge which God imparts is of the right quality, and will tell to the glory of God. 11LtMs, Ms 30, 1896, par. 11

Brother _____ takes too many responsibilities upon himself. He is inclined to think that some portions of the work cannot be done so well by anybody else, and therefore he is constantly wearied and worn with work, and cannot do justice to it all. If he would lay some of the burdens upon others, he might be relieved. Others will never learn to bear responsibilities while he carries them himself. If they should not accomplish the result by the exact round he would have follows himself, he must not be discouraged, for everyone cannot work with his mind and brain. Each must have a mind of his own. If mistakes are made, he should finally point them out; but he should never exaggerate them, thus intimidating the one who is willing to help, so that he will not attempt the work again. 11LtMs, Ms 30, 1896, par. 12

A teacher’s work is to educate and discipline. He will sometimes find blundering helpers, but he should not be so ungenerous as to make their errors appear in the worst light. There is danger of allowing the judgment to become warped by prejudice in talking over the defects of teachers and students. By working under this baleful influence, much harm is done. There has been a neglect to educate workers by patient training to bear burdens. Therefore talents have remained hidden which might have been growing and doubling. 11LtMs, Ms 30, 1896, par. 13

Brother _____ has capabilities to excel as a teacher. By overcoming some deficiencies of character he may become an efficient minister. But difficulties attend his efforts in this direction. Unless great care is exercised, he will endanger his vocal organs. He will not have power of endurance to meet the changes and disadvantages which a minister of the gospel must meet. If Brother _____ will preserve his connection with God, relying wholly upon Him, emptying his soul temple from every defilement, aiming continually for a higher, holier standard, working in self-denial, practicing self-control, he will become an instrument of righteousness, and be a great blessing to the college and our institutions in Battle Creek. 11LtMs, Ms 30, 1896, par. 14

The teachers in our college should feel that while sowing the seeds of knowledge they have the most favorable opportunity for sowing seeds of truth which shall spring up and blossom into fruit. The workers in this college should feel that they have the most important missionary field in the world. If the capabilities of all engaged in the work as instructors are used as God would have them [used], they will be most important missionaries for God. 11LtMs, Ms 30, 1896, par. 15

It is a terrible fact, and one which should make the hearts of parents tremble, that the colleges to which our youth have been sent for the cultivation of the mind have endangered and almost ruined their morals. As innocent youth, when placed with hardened criminals, learn lessons of crime they never before dreamed of, so pure-minded young people, through association with teachers and pupils of corrupt habits, lose their purity of character and become vicious and debased. Parents should awake to their responsibilities and understand what they are doing in sending their children from home to colleges where there is danger of their becoming demoralized. 11LtMs, Ms 30, 1896, par. 16

The college at Battle Creek should stand higher in moral tone than any other college in the land, that the safety of the children entrusted to her care may not be endangered. If teachers practice self-denial in the fear of God, working with the spirit of Christ for the salvation of the souls of the students, God will crown their efforts with marked success. God-fearing parents will be more concerned in regard to the characters their children bring home with them from college than in regard to the success and advancement made in their studies. 11LtMs, Ms 30, 1896, par. 17

But while the teachers may work diligently and unselfishly, and Christians may exert what influence they can for the salvation of their fellow students, yet there will be those in every literary institution who will choose a course of evil, impenitence, and sin. All the world is being drawn to Christ, but all will not respond to His drawing. The way of truth, and the path of obedience and holiness, have no attractions for them! They are wedded to sin, their talents are sacrificed at the shrine of Satan. 11LtMs, Ms 30, 1896, par. 18

In our college the ambition should not be so great to send forth intellectual giants, as to make a success in the holy work of educating men and women to cherish firm principles, and to live for the higher, immortal life. A line of Bible history should be the foundation of knowledge. The teachers in our college, from the highest to the lowest grade, should have a burden for the souls of the students. They should have a spirit of wrestling with God as did Jacob: “I will not let thee go except thou bless me.” [Genesis 32:26.] Such will be blessed in the work. 11LtMs, Ms 30, 1896, par. 19

The work of a minister of the gospel cannot be more important than the work of a teacher in the college. Efforts should be made, not only to connect with the school those who can teach the sciences, but those who will be continually growing, and becoming better qualified for their position of trust. Teachers who become vain, careless, and worldly will not do for our work. Men are wanted who, knowing defects will stand in the way of their usefulness, will make most earnest effort to overcome them. This work has been too much neglected by the professors in our college. They are not advancing as they should and become adapted to the work. 11LtMs, Ms 30, 1896, par. 20

Professor _____ does not bear the responsibilities he should. The errors of the past should prove [as] warnings to show the dangers of the future. Professor _____ is of a selfish nature and needs the continual grace of God in order to make the sufferings of others his very own. He should feel that he is dealing with the younger members of the Lord’s family, and should treat the students as he would Christ, in the person of His saints. Personal manners and Christian courtesy will be practiced as natural qualities of a pure elevated character. 11LtMs, Ms 30, 1896, par. 21

There is danger of Pharisaical exactitude burdening the mind with worldly forms and customs which will, in many cases, become all-important, making a world of an atom, and an atom of a world. The grace of Christ, with its purifying, ennobling influence, will do more for us than all the worldly education upon education that is made so essential. To many, the externals are the sum total of religion, and yet it will be evidenced that the heart has not that genuine courtesy which alone is of value with God. If they are spoken to about their faults, they have so little Christian politeness that the minister whom God has sent with His message of warning is lost sight of in their effort to criticize his attitude, his gestures, and the formation of his sentences. They think themselves the paragons of wisdom, but they pay no heed to the words of God from the courts of heaven. To all such, God says that they will have to become fools in order to know the true wisdom of Christ. 11LtMs, Ms 30, 1896, par. 22

I was shown that our college was designed of God to accomplish the great and good work of saving souls. It is only when brought under the full control of the Spirit of God that the talents of an individual are rendered useful to the fullest extent. The precepts and principles of religion are the first steps in the acquisition of knowledge, and lie at the very foundation of true education. Knowledge and science must be vitalized by the Spirit of God in order to serve the noblest purposes. The Christian alone can make the right use of knowledge. Science, in order to be fully appreciated, must be viewed from a religious standpoint. Then all will worship the God of science. 11LtMs, Ms 30, 1896, par. 23

The heart which is ennobled by the grace of God can best comprehend the real value of education. The attributes of God are seen in His created works, and can be appreciated only as we have a knowledge of the Creator. The teachers must be acquainted not only with the theory of the truth, but must have an experimental knowledge of the way of holiness, in order to lead the youth to the foundation of truth, to the Lamb of God who taketh away the sins of the world. Knowledge is power only when united with true piety. A soul emptied of self will be noble. Christ, abiding in the heart by faith, will make us wise in God’s sight. 11LtMs, Ms 30, 1896, par. 24