Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 14 (1899)


Ms 35, 1899

Teaching From Nature


March 21, 1899

This manuscript is published in entirety in 13MR 335-338.

God has entrusted human beings with talents. The gifts of reason and speech are a special treasures. He has given men and women intellect, that they may study His dealings with [them]. All have the privilege of knowing the only true God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent. Shall we then follow our own inclinations, an indulge our inherited and cultivated tendencies to wrong, without reference to God’s Word? The birds of the air are guided by instinct. They are obedient to the laws which govern their life. But the beings formed in the image of God fail to honor Him by obeying the laws of nature. By disregarding the laws which should govern the human organism, they disqualify themselves from serving God. God sends them warnings to beware of how they break His law in breaking the laws which govern their bodies; but habit is strong, and they will not heed. 14LtMs, Ms 35, 1899, par. 1

The swallow and the crane observe the changes of the seasons. They migrate from one country to another to find a climate suitable to their convenience and happiness, as the Lord designed they should. But God’s people sacrifice life and health by seeking to gratify appetite. In their desire to accumulate treasure, they forget the Giver of all their blessings. Their health is abused, and their God-given powers are used to carry out their unsanctified, ambitious projects. Their days are filled with pain of body and disquietude of mind because they are determined to follow wrong habits and practices. They will not reason from cause to effect, and they sacrifice health, peace, and happiness to their ignorance. 14LtMs, Ms 35, 1899, par. 2

The wise man addresses the indolent in the words, “Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: which having no guide, overseer or ruler, provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her fruit in the harvest.” [Proverbs 6:6-8.] 14LtMs, Ms 35, 1899, par. 3

The habitations which the ants build for themselves show skill and perseverance. Only one little grain at a time can they handle, but by diligence and perseverance they accomplish wonders. Solomon presents to the world the industry of the ant as a reproach to those who waste their hours in sinful idleness, in practices which corrupt soul and body. The ant prepares for future seasons. This is a lesson which many gifted with reasoning powers disregard. They fail entirely to prepare for the future immortal life which God has in His providence secured for the fallen race. 14LtMs, Ms 35, 1899, par. 4

Stones have been used as memorials of God’s dealings with His people. Joshua, knowing that the time of his service as the visible leader of Israel was about to end, gathered together the people who had been chosen by God, and caused them to renew their covenant with their Maker. He wrote what he had said in the book of the law, and “took a great stone and set it up there under an oak that was by the sanctuary of the Lord. And Joshua said unto all the people, Behold, this stone shall be a witness unto us; for it hath heard all the words of the Lord which he spake unto us: it shall be therefore a witness unto you, lest ye deny your God.” [Joshua 24:26, 27.] 14LtMs, Ms 35, 1899, par. 5

Christ used the things of nature to illustrate divine truth. He used the simple flowers He had created and the things of the animal creation as object lessons. He presents the ox and the ass as having more gratitude than man. Under His teaching nature utters her voice to declare the wonderful works of God, and to reprove man’s unbelief and forgetfulness of his constant dependence upon God. Will not that God who has given man all that he has keep him in health and strength if he complies with the conditions of entire obedience to the law, as nature is obedient to law? 14LtMs, Ms 35, 1899, par. 6

“Take no thought for your life,” Christ said, “what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air; for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?” [Matthew 6:25, 26.] Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap, but God takes care of them. They act the part God designed them to act. 14LtMs, Ms 35, 1899, par. 7

“Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why do ye take thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; 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.” [Verses 27-29.] Let the lily, beautifully tinted and gracefully formed by the great Master Artist, rivaling in its loveliness the artificial adorning of Solomon, teach us the lessons of simplicity and faith. If men and women would devote less time to the preparation of elaborate meals, for the gratification of the appetite, and spend more time in the contemplation of God’s work in nature, they would be better fitted to serve their Creator. 14LtMs, Ms 35, 1899, par. 8

If men will show perfect trust and unwavering faith in God, if they will not work after their own imaginations to counterwork the purposes of divinity, if they will place their God-given faculties under the discipline of grace, they will see that they have a work to do in becoming conversant with the growth of plans and animals. This lesson book is ever open to all. 14LtMs, Ms 35, 1899, par. 9

None have an excuse for misusing their God-given faculties. Such misuse robs God of the powers He demands. Man is the Lord’s by creation and by redemption. The superior qualities with which he has been endowed show how high an estimate the Lord places on human beings. He has given every man his work. Every youth, every child has a work to do in accordance with the Lord’s revealed will. No one can waste his opportunities and privileges without robbing God. Shall not men and women learn from God’s great lesson book that He bestows His love, mercy, and grace on us every moment of our lives? How can man ignore the responsibilities which rest upon him? The sun, the moon, the stars, the solid rocks, the flowing stream, the broad, restless ocean, [all teach lessons] which we would do well to heed. 14LtMs, Ms 35, 1899, par. 10