Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 13 (1898)


Lt 53, 1898

Teachers and Students in Our Schools


June 12, 1898

Portions of this letter are published in CD 334, 340; 5MR 222-224.

To the Teachers and Students in Our Schools:

There are many in our world who think that to learn a trade would be lowering to their dignity. Such have an incorrect idea of what constitutes true dignity. Enshrouded in the pillar of cloud Jesus Christ, one with the Father, and Commander of the heavenly hosts, led the children of Israel in their journeyings through the wilderness. To this encampment of more than a million people He gave special direction that every youth should learn a trade and gain a knowledge of practical life, that he might be self-supporting. 13LtMs, Lt 53, 1898, par. 1

The great work essential for parents to do is to find some employment for their children which will involve the bearing of responsibilities proportioned to their age and strength. The active brains and hands of children must be employed, and if parents neglect this work, they do their children great injury, for they leave the way open for Satan to find them something to do. But by giving children something to interest them and keep them busy, fathers and mothers carry out the requirements of God. 13LtMs, Lt 53, 1898, par. 2

The mother is to teach her children that as members of the household they are to act their part in cheerfully carrying the burdens of the home. She is also to explain to them the construction of the muscles of the body, and their connection with the nerves, which our wise heavenly Father has provided us the means whereby the human machinery is kept in motion. Every organ of the body is a servant to the mind, and has its part to perform. David exclaimed, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made”; and yet how few have any special interest in the construction of the human habitation. [Psalm 139:14.] 13LtMs, Lt 53, 1898, par. 3

Every mother should be the first teacher of her children. The home should be the place where every child receives its first lessons. The custom now followed is for children when very young to begin to take music lessons. Even though the parents are poor, they will pay a music teacher. Everything is made secondary to this object. This is not wise. It is not the best thing for a nervous child’s health to set him at music when he is young. Let the mother teach her children how to use their muscles and nerves, and to make music in the home by doing acts of usefulness, but relieving her of some of her burdens. Let her teach them to use the needle, to keep their clothing in repair, to cook their food. Accustom them to bear burdens. Then intellect is strengthened by use. The perception is taught by seeing what needs to be done. The memory is helped by acting a faithful part. The best music children can learn is to know how to save their mother’s steps. 13LtMs, Lt 53, 1898, par. 4

The mother may feel that it would be easier to avoid the duty of educating her children to find their chief exercise and recreation in bearing burdens. She may think it hard to open before them the knowledge of their own bodies. But she does her children great harm if she neglects to give them this education. Their Creator furnished them with this wonderful machinery that it might be exercised, and strengthened by use. The muscles are dependent on the brain and nerves for the power of action. The mind wills to move the limbs. To keep this machinery in working order, it is essential that brain, bone, and muscle be brought into action. The exercise of the muscles quickens the circulation of the blood. How important then that parents understand the philosophy of the healthful action of brain, bone, muscles, and nerves, and how needful that they educate their children in this line. 13LtMs, Lt 53, 1898, par. 5

Simple lessons in the use of the various organs of the body should be given to children to commit to memory. The idea that it is physical exercise that strengthens every organ and gives new life and nourishment to every part of the living machinery, should be firmly imprinted on the mind. This is the law that God has ordained shall govern the body. Every part must be exercised. The harmonious working of the whole is required in order for the members of a family to do service in the home, and help each other to acquire education and discipline. The brain must plan and devise, and the muscles must carry out the will of the brain. 13LtMs, Lt 53, 1898, par. 6

If in early years children were thus trained to habits of usefulness in the home, they would obtain an education far superior to that gained by close confinement in the schoolroom. But if part of the muscles are unused, it will soon be seen that the blood does not nourish these muscles. The limbs do not increase in size and strength as they would if they were used. Students who have but little exercise in the open air soon grow weak and lose flesh. The brain is overworked, while the physical organs are left to rust with inaction. Inactivity is not the law the Lord has ordained for the human body; and if this law is followed, feebleness, debility, and disease will come as the result. But nerves and muscles will increase and strengthen if they are exercised. 13LtMs, Lt 53, 1898, par. 7

We lose or gain physical strength just in accordance with the way in which we treat the body. When the largest portion of time is devoted to brain work, the organs of imagination lose their freshness and power, while the physical organs lose their healthy tone. The brain is morbidly excited by being constantly exercised, while the muscular system is weak from lack of exercise. There is a manifest loss of strength and increase of debility, which in time makes its influence felt on the brain. As far as possible, harmony should be preserved between the mental and physical powers. This is necessary for the health of the entire system. 13LtMs, Lt 53, 1898, par. 8

Parents should realize that they are the guardians of their children, and that they are to give these children occupation for mind and body that will interest them, and at the same time give them the satisfaction that they are helping to bear the burdens of the home. The exercise gained in mere play does not give the inspiration that quickens every organ of the body. Exercise merely for exercise soon becomes uninteresting. Let children take exercise by performing the duties of the home, thus relieving the overtaxed mother. If daughters would follow this plan, instead of allowing their time to be occupied by a round of selfish pleasure, they would enjoy the satisfaction of knowing that they had done their duty and borne their share of the home duties. 13LtMs, Lt 53, 1898, par. 9

Children and youth, young men and young women, should be ambitious to do something that will be beneficial to others, as well as to themselves. They should seek to prolong the life of their mother by giving her pleasure. This they cannot fail to do if they engage in useful domestic exercise. Such efforts will be rewarded with health of body and peace of mind, for the approval of God rests with loving assurance upon children who strive to share in the duties of the home. 13LtMs, Lt 53, 1898, par. 10

Thus children may be educated to minister in the home, and at the same time obtain the exercise so essential to their health. As they increase the enjoyment of the family circle by bearing their share of the burdens that some one must bear, they carry with them a fragrant atmosphere, and the mother, as well as the children, is blessed by their faithful performances of home duties. 13LtMs, Lt 53, 1898, par. 11

By precept and example children should be taught to be truthful and unselfish. They should not be allowed to cherish habits of indolence. Their hands should not be folded in idleness. We may overcome selfishness by accustoming ourselves to think of and care for others. This closes the door to many temptations. Wise instruction on this point, given in a calm, decided manner, will bring its returns. Angels of God co-operate with parents who strive to do this God-given work, imparting to them strength and efficiency. Heavenly satisfaction is the fruit of virtuous industry and of the cultivation of habits of loving to do good. 13LtMs, Lt 53, 1898, par. 12

Carefulness in Diet Essential

When parents realize their responsibilities, far less of the training of their children will be left for the teachers in the day school and Sabbath school. Far more vigilant work will be done in the home. Parents are to carefully consider the question, What kind of food shall be placed on my table? for on this question depends the health of their family. The knowledge of how to cook is a very important matter. If children were thoroughly educated in the skillful preparation of bread and other wholesome food, if they were taught to depend on the exercise of their own wisdom in this matter, with guidance as the case demanded, this alone would secure for them positions of trust and influence; for there are few thoroughly qualified housekeepers. 13LtMs, Lt 53, 1898, par. 13

Temperance is to be practiced in eating as well as in drinking. Many people eat more food than nature requires. The vital powers are exhausted in the effort to throw off the excess. The liver and kidneys become diseased. Less food would have nourished the system, and its powers would not have been taxed by overwork. The gastric juice works on the amount that the system can assimilate, and the surplus remains undigested, to decay, making the breath offensive, and causing a disagreeable taste in the mouth. 13LtMs, Lt 53, 1898, par. 14

“Whether therefore ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” [1 Corinthians 10:31.] We all need to use wisdom in eating. A sufficient quantity of wholesome food to properly nourish the body should be eaten. But appetite becomes a dangerous element if cultivated by indulgence. Those who provide for themselves every luxury that the heart can wish are in danger of becoming gourmands. The table is spread with a variety of dishes. Course after course is spread before the guests, and the food designed to minister to happiness becomes, through ignorance and want of self-control, an injury to the physical, mental, and moral powers. The whole being is unfitted for God’s service. 13LtMs, Lt 53, 1898, par. 15

The elaborate preparations made to gratify perverted taste often bring disease and suffering of every type. If only two or three varieties of food were provided for the meal, few would be guilty of burdening the stomach with too large an amount. The dessert should be placed on the table and served with the rest of the food; for often, after the stomach has been given all it should have, the dessert is brought on, and is just that much too much. 13LtMs, Lt 53, 1898, par. 16

The children of wealthy parents seem to think that because they are blessed with an abundance of money, it is their duty to eat as long as they retain a relish for food. Some have so indulged their taste that unless they have the very article of food it calls for, they find no pleasure in eating. If condiments and spiced foods are placed before them, they make the stomach work by applying this fiery whip; for it has been so treated that it will not acknowledge unstimulating food. 13LtMs, Lt 53, 1898, par. 17

Wealth cannot secure a relish for food that is eaten at irregular periods, when the system does not require it. The stomach is taxed with the effort to grind up this food. It has no time to rest. Often when a large variety of food is placed before the people, they eat because the food tastes good. The blood is called from all parts of the body to dispose of this food, and cold hands, cold feet, and cold limbs are the consequence. The digestive organs are deprived of their power to do good work. They have used the full amount of food demanded by the system, and the remainder is left to decay. Sugar, candies, and cakes supply no nourishment to the body. They are dangerous dainties, which disorder the stomach and weaken the constitution, preparing the way for dyspepsia and fevers. 13LtMs, Lt 53, 1898, par. 18

How much more sensible it would be for people, instead of gratifying appetite, to study the relation of eating to health. The nourishment received from food is carried to all parts of the body. On the power of the system to appropriate the food eaten, our strength depends. Nature will use all that the system requires, to strengthen each nerve and muscle. But that for which the system has not need is simply left to decay. 13LtMs, Lt 53, 1898, par. 19

Too often the rich live in what is supposed to be genteel idleness, eating without taking the exercise necessary to keep them in health. Much suffering and many deaths are caused by overeating, when the stomach demands entire rest. God would have the rich remember that their property makes them responsible and accountable stewards. They are not to use their treasures in self-indulgence. Idleness and self-gratification make invalids. 13LtMs, Lt 53, 1898, par. 20

Christ Our Example

Christ, the Majesty of heaven, was rich in treasures. The gold and silver were all His. The world was His, for He made it. But for our sake He became poor, that we through His poverty might be made rich. That He might reach fallen humanity, that He might associate with men, reaching their hearts through the common avenue of sympathy, He clothed His divinity with humanity. He who had lived amid the glories of heaven was found in fashion as a man. He humbled Himself, working for the recovery of the human race by adapting Himself to the situation. 13LtMs, Lt 53, 1898, par. 21

Then how foolish it is for man, who has nothing he can call his own, to exalt himself and walk haughtily. God has lent him what he has, that he may impart to those who are in need. How inappropriate and entirely out of place to act as did Nebuchadnezzar, who made the proud boast, “Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom, by the might of my power, and for the honor of my majesty?” [Daniel 4:30.] Because of his proud boasting, the king of Babylon was humbled by the God who gave him all he had. His reason was taken from him, and for seven years he lived among the wild beasts of the field. 13LtMs, Lt 53, 1898, par. 22

God has not surrounded any human being with blessings to curse them with the sure result of idleness, and deprive them of the blessings which come from a wise improvement of the talents. The children of the wealthy should not be deprived of the great blessing of having something to do. It is their privilege to enjoy God’s blessing by devoting their mind and strength to His glory. To every man, woman, and child, God has given a work. He gave Adam and Eve a beautiful garden to tend; and this work was to them a pleasure. Work would never have been anything but pleasure and happiness had not Adam transgressed God’s commands. 13LtMs, Lt 53, 1898, par. 23

Christ, the Example for all the human family, learned the carpenter’s trade, and in His home life He was ever obedient to His parents. He was not content to be a defective workman, even in His trade of handling tools. He was a perfect workman, as He was a perfect character. He did not use His physical powers recklessly. Every organ was kept in the best condition to do the most acceptable work in every line. And as He worked, He was being educated. He studied most diligently the Scriptures and the book of nature. His habits and practices were in harmony with God’s Word. 13LtMs, Lt 53, 1898, par. 24

Of His childhood we read, “And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him.” [Luke 2:40.] When He was twelve years old, His parents lost Him as they were returning from the Passover. They found Him sitting among the doctors, hearing them, and asking them questions. He asked these questions as a learner, but in each question there were gems of light that gave His hearers thoughts concerning the Messiah that they had never before had. “All that heard him were astonished at his understanding and his answers.” [Verse 47.] 13LtMs, Lt 53, 1898, par. 25

“Son, why hast thou dealt thus with us?” His mother asked. “Behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing.” He answered, “How is it that ye sought me?” Pointing upward He continued, “Wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?” [Verses 48, 49.] The work He was then engaged in was the work He had come to this world to do. 13LtMs, Lt 53, 1898, par. 26

“And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them.” [Verse 51.] This is a lesson for all children and youth. Christ did not, as many today do, devote all His time to amusement. He studied the Word of God, and became better and better acquainted with the truths it contains. He delighted in the beautiful things of nature, and when talking to the people, He drew His illustrations from the great treasure of household affection, and from the things of nature with which they were most familiar. He plucked lilies and, placing them in the hands of children said, “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow [in their natural simplicity and loveliness]; they toil not, neither do they spin: and yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” [Matthew 6:28, 29.] 13LtMs, Lt 53, 1898, par. 27

With His own youthful face aglow with the sunlight of His Father’s countenance, He continued, “Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?” [Verse 30.] These words were spoken not only for children and youth, but for everyone whose life is full of worry and perplexity, who is bowed down with disappointment and sorrow. Christ says to them, “Take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? ... for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” [Verses 31-33.] 13LtMs, Lt 53, 1898, par. 28

The simplest truth unfolded by Christ is full of the richest treasures of truth. He revealed knowledge that was not perverted by the sayings of men, knowledge that always led heavenward. His words were to His hearers as a new revelation. He could speak of the things He Himself had made, of properties and qualities peculiarly His own. He could make nature speak in shrub and flower, in seedtime and harvest. Divine, momentous truths, bound up with natural things, were laid open by Him. 13LtMs, Lt 53, 1898, par. 29

Rightly studied and interpreted, nature is but an extended page of God’s Word. To Adam and Eve Eden was teeming with instruction, and vocal with wisdom that they were attentive to hear, for they conversed with God in His created works. And to every student of Holy Writ nature reflects like a mirror the different aspects of truth. 13LtMs, Lt 53, 1898, par. 30