Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 12 (1897)


Ms 81, 1897

Counsel to Students

Cooranbong, Australia

July 7, 1897

Portions of this manuscript are published in 8MR 254; 11MR 156-157; SpM 75-77.

I have a burden that I must communicate to the teachers and students of our school. The Lord has presented your case before me. These words were addressed to you: “By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. But to do good and to communicate forget not; for with such sacrifices God is well pleased. Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves; for they watch for your souls as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief; for that is unprofitable for you.” [Hebrews 13:15-17.] 12LtMs, Ms 81, 1897, par. 1

“Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and clamor and anger, and all evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice; and be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” [Ephesians 4:29-32.] This divine instruction is addressed to every member of the human family. Many will be entirely indifferent to these words. Wherever you may be, will you please to remember them. 12LtMs, Ms 81, 1897, par. 2

“And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” [Colossians 3:15, 16.] Would not this be much more acceptable to God than the rubbish that comes from your lips? 12LtMs, Ms 81, 1897, par. 3

“Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret. But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light; for whatsoever doth make manifest is light. Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. See that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. And be not drunk with wine, which is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your hearts to the Lord. Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” [Ephesians 5:11-20.] 12LtMs, Ms 81, 1897, par. 4

The principal and teachers of our school have withheld reproof. They have felt very anxious that every student should feel his own responsibility to God, and overcome the sin of foolish talking and foolish acting, heeding the words of the apostle Paul, “Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; and walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savor. But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient, but rather giving of thanks.” “And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” [Ephesians 5:1-4; 4:23, 24.] 12LtMs, Ms 81, 1897, par. 5

You now have opportunities and privileges that many cannot enjoy. The very best instruction is being given you from the Word of God. This is the Word of life. But it is essential for your present and eternal good that you change the programme upon which some of you have entered. We have no opposition to social, elevating, association that is in accordance with the mind and will of our heavenly Teacher. And communications that will advance one another in true education will be approved. But your rooms are not to be defiled by unholy speech or by boisterous levity and mirth. 12LtMs, Ms 81, 1897, par. 6

The working of the Holy Spirit upon your hearts will be demonstrated by your words and by the fragrant atmosphere that surrounds your souls. The fruit of your lips will be good, sound common sense. But this cheap, common talk in which you indulge, and your riotous actions, are an offense to God; and as we are wholly dependent on the blessing of our heavenly Father for the success of the school, we dare not pass by such a state of disorder and impropriety. 12LtMs, Ms 81, 1897, par. 7

We pray continually for God’s abiding presence on every portion of the school buildings. “For we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men.” [1 Corinthians 4:9.] We most earnestly pray that heavenly blessings may rest upon the school. You all know this. Then I ask, What pleasure can the Lord receive from those whom He has favor by giving His own life to purchase for them freedom from the slavery of sin, if they dishonor Him by their words? What real satisfaction have you received since coming to the school at Avondale? Shall it be said of you, “There is none righteous, no, not one; there is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are altogether become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulcher; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips.” Shall the record be borne to heaven: “There is no fear of God before their eyes”? [Romans 3:10-13, 18.] 12LtMs, Ms 81, 1897, par. 8

There is positive danger that youth, who are supposed, by those who have an interest in them, to be favored with special guardianship that their spiritual and physical health may be preserved from contamination, will be hurt by wrong associations. These young men and women, away from the watchful care of their parents or guardians, must have marked attention from their instructors, to whom God has given the responsibility to watch for souls as they that must give account. Those who bear responsibilities in the school are to watch, to pray, to reprove, to rebuke, [and] to correct with wholesome words. They are to set in order any person they shall see is sowing tares among the wheat. As faithful guardians, teachers must look closely to their duty, and refuse to allow tares to be sown among the wheat. They cannot successfully conduct the school without discipline, which is not only to be taught by precept, but carried out by practice. 12LtMs, Ms 81, 1897, par. 9

In their rooms students are not to speak words that are frivolous. But a great deal of this is done. Foolish talking, jesting, and joking are indulged in. Cheap remarks are made, which creates a spirit of careless disregard for order. This cheap nonsense shows that the heart contains no treasure that is good. Thus minds are turned from the important subjects that have been presented before them. This cheap stuff, wood, hay, stubble, some choose to put in their character building. The Lord Jesus gave His life to save these precious souls, and He has given them ability to learn, and power to obey His requirements. Students are now given the privilege of making wise improvements of their time. The truth is able to make them wise unto salvation. 12LtMs, Ms 81, 1897, par. 10

While special pains may be taken to make the school what it should be, two or three students, who act like larrikins, may make it very hard for those who are trying to maintain order. The students who want to do right, who want to think soberly, are greatly hindered by the association of those who are doing cheap, miserable work. “In the multitude of words there wanteth no sin.” [Proverbs 10:19.] A few may be able to separate from such company, and retire to some place where they can ask the Lord Jesus to guard them from all defilement by keeping their minds stayed upon Him. But the trial to which they are subjected by their associates is not at all necessary. 12LtMs, Ms 81, 1897, par. 11

Nothing is to be tolerated in the school that will counterwork the very object for which the school was established. In believing and receiving the truth, we may be doers of the Word of Christ. Thus day by day we receive grace sufficient for the duties and trials of the day. But no students should be allowed to remain connected with the school who allows their own mischievous, cheap, common, practices to control the whole mind. They themselves receive no good, and others are hindered from receiving good. Satan takes possession of them, and works through them to bring, not only their own souls into captivity, but the souls of other youth, who have not moral power sufficient to say, We have had enough of this malarious atmosphere, which poisons our thoughts. By their words students can confess or deny Christ. 12LtMs, Ms 81, 1897, par. 12

The Word of God is open to you daily. Search the Scriptures together, for they are the bread of life. The heavenly intelligences come very near to every soul who does this. In the Word you may learn how to conduct yourselves so as to please God. Search the Scriptures daily, watching and praying earnestly, that you may know every intimation of the divine will, as it is plainly revealed in His Word. As you do this, you can learn lessons from the natural world. 12LtMs, Ms 81, 1897, par. 13

In nature a tongue is speaking to you, declaring the glory of God. The attentive eye can discern, the sanctified ear can hear and understand, the speech of nature. In all the material object lessons are present to our view. The sunbeam, the green fields, the trees, the clouds, the dew, the solemn silence of the night, the moon in its glorious beauty, the starry heavens, all bear their testimony to the power and glory of God. Be still and know from the workmanship of God that He is the only true and living God. All these things, and many more, which we have not to enumerate, invite our meditation and bid us learn of Him who made them. 12LtMs, Ms 81, 1897, par. 14

A meaningless laugh causes my heart to ache, for I realize that rational beings alone are far from God. Their idle words show that they have been drinking from the murky, turbid waters of the marsh, instead of from the cool waters of Lebanon. 12LtMs, Ms 81, 1897, par. 15

We greatly desire that the students who have come to the school will let all see what they can do to honor their Creator. What can impart true nobility if it is not a restoration of the image of God in man? But with all the provision God has made that man may be enriched with His grace and mercy, men still persist in regarding a truthful, refined, uplifted, ennobled life as a life of bondage. This is because they have never been converted, never bowed their will to the Majesty of heaven, never experienced the great blessing of sin forgiven. All such, when brought in close connection with the opening of the Word of God and the presentation of its precious treasures, Satan begins to work through, working on their lower appetites and passions to make of none effect the blessings with which they are surrounded. He plants his seed of evil in their minds, that they may be communicated to others. 12LtMs, Ms 81, 1897, par. 16

I call upon young men and women to seek for sincere conversion. “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.” God allows the cause to produce the effect. “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. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness. And again, The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain. Therefore let no man glory in men.” [1 Corinthians 3:16-21.] Read carefully the second chapter of First Corinthians. Learn all that you possibly can. Allow nothing to direct your mind into wrong channels. If you do your best, that is all that the Lord requires. 12LtMs, Ms 81, 1897, par. 17

The older students must remember that they have the power of educating the younger ones in their habits and practices. Do not watch to find something at which to grumble, but make the best of the situation. Improve your opportunities for grasping all you can, and then fasten it in your memory. Listen to nothing it is not right for you to know. 12LtMs, Ms 81, 1897, par. 18

Those who have been in the habit of telling everything they see and hear need to be converted on this point. If those connected with the home see any change made, they are not required to think that the Lord has made them daily bulletins. Do not think it your duty to carry everything you see and hear to others. They will take it to their homes, and comment upon it, and then pass the dish to some one else. If, after consultation with the other teachers, the matron makes some changes in the home plans, these changes are told by those who feel it no harm to pour forth everything that they think they know. Children that are educated to relate everything that they see, that takes place at the table and in the classes, will forfeit the confidence of their teachers, by communicating to others their parcel of nonsense. 12LtMs, Ms 81, 1897, par. 19

In these matters silence is eloquence. You are at the school to keep your observations to yourselves, unless they are of such a character that they should be immortalized by being communicated. But fathers and mothers realize that this class of education should not be perpetuated. Let them decide that they have had enough of this “Report, and we will report it.” [Jeremiah 20:10.] Let students and teachers keep their own counsel. Already I meet here and there little incidents and transactions that have taken place at the school. 12LtMs, Ms 81, 1897, par. 20

Students, understand that [you] have not been appointed by the Lord to be an informer. Your work is to study your Bible and the other branches of education, as for your life. Do not make it your business to be a talebearer. As matters are reported, each one makes the report. A little more pronounced or varied, and thus painful discrepancies cause many to form wrong conclusions. Therefore, guard well your words; put a bridle on your tongue. If you allow yourselves to become talebearers, you will not be welcome to any family, because of your propensity to report every transaction that may occur. I have decided that it is unsafe for me to visit, not because I am guilty of any known wrong, but because something will be said or inferred that will be misrepresented; and therefore I prefer to remain at home. 12LtMs, Ms 81, 1897, par. 21