Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 12 (1897)


Ms 16, 1897

Principles of Education


March 25, 1897

Portions of this manuscript are published in 3BC 1144-1145; UL 98; 8MR 286; 9MR 379. +Note

“The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handiwork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun, which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race. His going forth is from the end of the heavens, and his circuit unto the ends of it; and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof.” [Psalm 19:1-6.] 12LtMs, Ms 16, 1897, par. 1

God encourages us to contemplate His works in the natural world. He desires that we shall turn our mind from the study of the artificial to the natural. We shall understand this better as we lift up our eyes to the hills of God, and contemplate the works which His own hands have created. They are God’s work. His hand has molded the mountains and balances them in their position, that they shall not be moved except at His command. The wind, the sun, the rain, the snow, and the ice, are all His ministers to do His will. 12LtMs, Ms 16, 1897, par. 2

Can we be surprised, then that Christ, who made all things, should choose the open air as His sanctuary, that He should desire to be surrounded by the works of His creation? True, He taught in the synagogues, but the largest part of His work was done, the greatest number of His lessons were given, in the open air. He placed Himself in the highways of travel, for He could better reach the people where they were coming and going from cities and towns. And thus the common people had an opportunity to hear the great lessons He had for them. These heard Him gladly, for His lessons were connected with, and illustrated by, the most common things in the natural world. The things which His own hand had made He took as His lesson book. He saw in them much more than finite eyes and senses could comprehend. 12LtMs, Ms 16, 1897, par. 3

John obtained his education in the solitude of the desert and among the trees of the wood by the sea shore. In them he heard the voice of God. The glory of God is reflected in His works, and with open face we may behold God in His creation. God looked upon the things which He had made, and pronounced them good. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehendeth it not. There was a man sent from God whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” [John 1:1-12.] 12LtMs, Ms 16, 1897, par. 4

Jesus drew His lessons of spiritual instruction from the natural things with which His hearers were familiar. These He used to represent the truth. He would pluck the lilies, the flower of the valley, and place them in the hands of the little children, and by these simple instructors proclaim the truth of His Word. The Word of God and the things of nature around us are our lesson book. God has spread out before our senses the beauties of nature, and He watches with pleasure and a Father’s joy the delight of His children in the beautiful things around them. 12LtMs, Ms 16, 1897, par. 5

The root of the tree has a double office to fill. It is to hold fast by its tendrils to the earth, while it takes to itself the nourishment desired. Thus it is with the Christian. When his union with Christ, the parent stalk, is complete, when he feeds upon Him, currents of spiritual strength are given to the branches. Can the leaves of such a branch wither? Never. As long as the soul reaches toward Christ, there is little danger that the leaves will wilt and droop and decay. And the temptations which may come in like a tempest will not uproot him. The true Christian draws his motives of action from his deep love for his Redeemer. His affection for his Master is true and holy. And it is the cheerful, lovable Christian of whom Christ says, “Ye are my witnesses.” [Isaiah 43:10.] Such a man is Christ’s representative, for he reflects Christ in his daily life. It is when he recedes from the light that he cannot diffuse its bright beams to others. 12LtMs, Ms 16, 1897, par. 6

“The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever: the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them is thy servant warned, and in keeping of them there is great reward. Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults. Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression. Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.” [Psalm 19:7-14.] 12LtMs, Ms 16, 1897, par. 7

We need, individually, to take heed as we have never done before to a “Thus saith the Lord.” There are men who are disloyal to God, who transgress His holy Sabbath, who cavil over the plainest statements of the Word, who misinterpret and wrest the Scriptures from their true meaning, and who at the same time make desperate efforts to harmonize their disobedience with the Scriptures. But the Word condemns such practice as it condemned the scribes and Pharisees in Christ’s day. We need to know what is truth. Shall we do as did the Pharisees? Shall we turn from the greatest Teacher that the world has ever known to the traditions and maxims and sayings of men? Shall we not rather make a change in this matter? This is what the Jews should have done, but did not do. 12LtMs, Ms 16, 1897, par. 8

The apostle Paul just prior to his death assured Timothy that he was acquainted with his life and practice, and that all who will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. “Evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and has been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; and that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” [2 Timothy 3:13-15.] “These things command and teach. Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of presbytery. Meditate upon these things: give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.” [1 Timothy 4:11-16.] 12LtMs, Ms 16, 1897, par. 9

This is the instruction and education which young men who attend school should seek to obtain. These words come to every young man who purposes to enter the ministry, to every youth who shall engage in the work as a canvasser or in any other line. They need to listen to the Word of God to the apostle Paul, to make known His will. Paul was receiving the Word of God, and voicing that Word to Timothy. 12LtMs, Ms 16, 1897, par. 10

And Paul could speak the truth concerning himself. When he had called the elders of the church at Jerusalem together, he said to them, “Ye know that from the first day I came into Asia, after what manner I had been with you in all seasons, serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and with many tears, and temptations, which befell me by the lying in wait of the Jews. And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have showed you, and have taught you publicly, and from house to house, testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” [Acts 20:18-21.] 12LtMs, Ms 16, 1897, par. 11

Here is the manner of his teaching. He calls their attention to the broken law, and shows them wherein they are guilty. He instructs them as a schoolmaster instructs his scholars, and shows them the way back to their loyalty to God. 12LtMs, Ms 16, 1897, par. 12

The lesson must go farther. As the sinner looks into the great moral looking glass, he sees his defects of character. He sees himself just as he is, spotted, defiled, and condemned. But he knows that the law cannot in any way remove the guilt or pardon the transgressor. It is his schoolmaster to show him the remedy. He must go farther than repentance. He must look to his sin-bearing Saviour. As Christ is revealed to him upon the cross of Calvary, dying beneath the weight of the sins of the whole world, the Holy Spirit shows him the relation of God to all who repent of their transgression. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him, should not perish, but have everlasting life.” [John 3:16.] 12LtMs, Ms 16, 1897, par. 13

“What shall we say then? Is the law sin?” (the sin is in the man, not in the law) “Is the law sin?” The answer comes, “God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead. For I was alive without the law once; but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death. For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me.” [Romans 7:7-11.] Sin did not kill the law, but it did kill the carnal mind in Paul. “But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit and not in the oldness of the letter.” [Verse 6.] 12LtMs, Ms 16, 1897, par. 14

“Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just and good. Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceedingly sinful.” [Verses 12, 13.] Thus the law is our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ. The words of David are an enlightenment to the understanding: “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. ... Moreover by them is thy servant warned, and in keeping of them there is great reward.” [Psalm 19:7, 8, 11.] 12LtMs, Ms 16, 1897, par. 15

“Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.” [Acts 20:26, 27.] 12LtMs, Ms 16, 1897, par. 16

This is the work of every minister of the Gospel. No excuse can be made by any laborer in the work and cause of God, for choosing a course of selfish indulgence, of levity, love of pleasure, sporting, jesting, and cheap, common talk. This is well represented as strange fire. The holy fire, the incense of prayer, must daily be offered before God. The Holy fire represents the Holy Spirit mingling with their prayers that gives them their efficiency. Jesus’ merits alone can make any of our prayers acceptable to God. Therefore we need to walk humbly with him, in all meekness and lowliness of mind, knowing our weakness, and that of ourselves our prayers would go no higher than our heads. We are to come to God with a reverent spirit, and humble ourselves before Him. And the Holy Spirit will mingle with our prayers, as the holy fire placed upon the censer sent up a cloud of sweet perfume to God. 12LtMs, Ms 16, 1897, par. 17

The charge given to Timothy should be heeded in every household: “Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.” [2 Timothy 2:1-3.] These charges to Timothy are to become an educating power in every family and in every school. He was enjoined, “Consider what I say, and the Lord give thee understanding in all things. ... Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” [Verses 7, 15.] 12LtMs, Ms 16, 1897, par. 18

In order to do this work there must be schools, similar to the schools of the prophets, to educate in the Word of God, to “shun profane and vain babblings; for they will increase unto the more ungodliness.” [Verse 16.] This Scripture is directly to the point. Those books which may contain some truth, but are intermingled with vain babblings, should not be placed in the student’s hands, for they are seed sown in the human heart, which in time of temptation will spring into life and lead the minds of students into paths that will lead away from God, away from truth into ungodliness. Attention should be given to the matter of keeping a pure line of study before teachers as well as scholars; for “their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some. 12LtMs, Ms 16, 1897, par. 19

“Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity. But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honor and some to dishonor. If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honor, sanctified, and meet for the Master’s use, and prepared unto every good work. Flee also youthful lusts; but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart. But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes. And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; and that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.” [Verses 17-26.] 12LtMs, Ms 16, 1897, par. 20

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” [2 Timothy 3:16, 17.] If we would open safe paths for the students in regard to their religious faith, we must keep from them infidel authors, that they may not read their vain babblings. The work of every teacher in the day school and in the Sabbath school should be to fasten the mind of the student upon the grand truths of the Word of inspiration. That Word is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto every good work. 12LtMs, Ms 16, 1897, par. 21

What does this furnishing comprehend? A knowledge of the Scriptures—a Book that our own experience teaches us, which, if studied and brought into the practical life, should be the Book of all books for our schools. “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man; but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” [2 Peter 1:20, 21.] 12LtMs, Ms 16, 1897, par. 22

There are many beliefs that the mind has no right to entertain. Adam believed the lie of Satan, the wily insinuations against the character of God. “And the Lord commanded man saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: but of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it; for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” [Genesis 2:16, 17.] When Satan tempted Eve, he said, “Hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it,” (this God did not say) “lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” [Genesis 3:1-5.] 12LtMs, Ms 16, 1897, par. 23

This was the beginning of disobedience and transgression in our world—in accepting the assertions of Satan which were false. The knowledge which God did not want our first parents to have was that of guilt. This disobedience to God’s express command, this belief of Satan’s lie, opened the floodgates of woe upon our world. Satan has continued the work commenced in the garden of Eden. He has worked vigilantly that man may accept his assertions as proof against God. He has worked against Christ in His efforts to restore the image of God in man, and imprint in his soul the similitude of God. 12LtMs, Ms 16, 1897, par. 24

The belief of a falsehood did not make Paul a kind, tender, compassionate man. He was a religious zealot, exceedingly mad against the truth as concerning Jesus. He went through the country, haling men and women, and committing them to prison. Speaking of this he says, “I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day. 12LtMs, Ms 16, 1897, par. 25

“And I persecuted this way unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women. ... And it came to pass that when I was come again to Jerusalem, even while I prayed in the temple, I was in a trance; and I saw him saying unto me, Make haste, and get thee quickly out of Jerusalem; for they will not receive thy testimony concerning me. And I said, Lord, they know that I imprisoned and beat in every synagogue them that believed on thee and when the blood of thy martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by, and consenting unto his death, and kept the raiment of them that slew him. And he said, Depart; for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles.” [Acts 22:3, 4, 18-21.] 12LtMs, Ms 16, 1897, par. 26

These bigoted Jews entertained the idea that the Gentiles were not to have the light of truth. “And they gave him audience unto this word, and then lifted up their voices, and said, Away with such a fellow from the earth; for it is not fit that he should live.” And they “cried out, and cast off their clothes, and threw dust into the air.” [Verses 22, 23.] Was this the inspiration of God or of Satan? 12LtMs, Ms 16, 1897, par. 27

I would say to all who claim to believe the truth, Believe the Word sincerely, making not merely a pretense, but having a sincere faith in the Word of God. [For] those who do not cast aside their unbelief, but cling to their doubts and uncertainties in the place of encouraging faith and practicing faith, sin lieth at the door. The only begotten Son of God has died that we might not die eternally, but only sleep in Jesus for a short period. The Lord has accepted His sacrifice in your behalf, as your Substitute and Surety, on the condition that you receive Christ and believe on Him. The gift of God is eternal life. The message of reconciliation from God has come; yet with the Word of God open to the understanding of minds that have reasoning powers, with the message from God in your hands, you remain dead in trespasses and sins, because you will not believe the Word. 12LtMs, Ms 16, 1897, par. 28

Those who have fled to God for refuge; those who have believed the heaven-sent message, who believe the assurance that if they confess their sins, He is faithful and just to forgive them their sins, God will cleanse from all unrighteousness. Our God has pledged His Word by His own greatness and infinity that He will bestow pardon and peace upon all who will come to Him in the name of Jesus. The blood of Jesus Christ is efficacious, and will cleanse from all sin if you will choose to be cleansed. But if you allow unbelief to stand in the way of the reception of the current of His love, His gracious forgiveness, you will remain in your sins. Of such Christ declares, “Ye will not come unto me that ye might have life.” [John 5:40.] 12LtMs, Ms 16, 1897, par. 29

The doctrine taught by Paul, both publicly and from house to house, was repentance toward God and faith in Christ. The human family are in trouble because of their transgression of the Father’s law. But He does not leave the sinner until He shows the remedy for sin. The sinner must come in faith to Christ, take hold of His merits, lay his sins upon the Sin-bearer, and receive His pardon. John declared, “Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world.” [John 1:29.] It was for this cause that He came into the world. The righteousness of Christ is imputed to the repenting, believing sinner. He becomes a member of the royal family, a child of the heavenly King, heir of God, and joint heir with Christ. 12LtMs, Ms 16, 1897, par. 30