Fundamentals of Christian Education


Chapter 3—An Appeal for Our Students

We have had many fears that students who attend Battle Creek College will fail to receive all the benefit they might, in the way of religious culture, from the families that furnish them rooms. Some families do not enjoy the sweet influences of the religion of Christ, although they are professed Christians. The influence which this class of persons exert over the students is more objectionable than that of those who make no pretensions to godliness. These irreligious, irresponsible formalists may stand forth before the world in pretentious leaves, while, like the barren fig-tree they are wholly destitute of that which alone our Saviour values,—fruit to His glory. The work wrought on the heart by the grace of God, they know nothing about. These persons exert an influence which is detrimental to all with whom they associate. There should be committees, to see that the homes provided for the students are not with mere formalists, who have no burden for the souls of the dear youth. FE 50.1

Very much may be done for those who are deprived of the softening, subduing influences of the home circle. The spirit manifested by many shows that the language of the heart is, “‘Am I my brother's keeper?’ I have no burden or responsibility aside from my own family. I have no special burden or interest for the students who occupy rooms in my house.” I would ask these persons if they have burdens and feel responsibilities for their own children. I am sorry to see so little anxiety on the part of some parents that all the influences surrounding their children should be favorable to the formation of Christian character; but those who do have soul-burdens for their own loved ones should not selfishly confine their interest to their own family. Jesus is our example in all things; but He has given us no example of such selfishness as we see manifested by many who profess to be His followers. If we abide in Christ, and His love abides in us, we shall love those for whom Christ died; for He has commanded His followers to love one another as He has loved them. Do we who profess His name obey this injunction? If we fail in this point we shall in others also. Had Christ studied His own profit, convenience, and pleasure, the world would have been left to perish in its sin and corruption. FE 50.2

A strange indifference in reference to the salvation of souls seems to have taken possession of many professed Christians. Sinners may be perishing all around them, and they have no particular burden in the matter. Will Christ say to these indifferent ones, “Well done, good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord”? The joy of Christ consists in seeing souls redeemed through the sacrifice He has made for them. FE 51.1

Young men and women who are not under home influences need some one to look after them, and to manifest some interest for them; and those who do this are supplying a great lack, and are as verily doing a work for God and the salvation of souls as the minister in the pulpit. This work of disinterested benevolence in laboring for the good of the youth is no more than God requires of every one of us. How earnestly should the experienced Christian work to prevent the formation of those habits that indelibly mar the character. Let the followers of Christ make the word of God attractive to the youth. Let your own characters, softened and subdued by the beauties of holiness, be a daily, hourly sermon to the youth. Manifest no spirit of grumbling; but win them to holiness of life and obedience to God. Some professors, by their sourness, repel the young. The hearts of youth are now like impressible wax, and you may lead them to admire the Christian character; but in a few years the wax may become granite. FE 51.2

I call upon the professed Christians of Battle Creek as a church and as individuals, take up your God-given responsibilities. Walk with God yourselves; and exert an influence over the young which shall preserve them from falling under the manifold temptations made attractive to seduce the young of this generation. Satan is getting the start of God's professed people. They seem to be asleep to the dangers of the young, and the ruin that threatens them. Satan exultingly displays his victories gained over the youth; and those who profess to be soldiers of the cross allow him to take his victims from under the very rooftree, and appear wonderfully reconciled. FE 51.3

The cases of many are looked upon as hopeless by those who did not reach out a helping hand to save them. Some of these might have been saved; and even now, if proper interest was manifested in them, they could be reached. What have any of us that we did not receive? We are debtors to Christ for every ability, every grace, every good thought, and every proper action. Of ourselves we have nothing of which to boast. In lowliness and humility, let us bow at the foot of the cross; and let all our words and acts be such as shall win others to Christ, and not drive them farther from Him. FE 52.1

I address you who reside at the great center of the work. You cannot be careless, irreverent formalists all to yourselves. Many witnesses are looking upon you, and many pattern after your course. An irreligious life not only seals your own condemnation, but ruins others also. You who live where such weighty interests are to be maintained, should be minute men, faithful sentinels, never off guard. One incautious moment spent in selfish ease or in self-gratification may give the enemy an advantage which years of hard labor may not recover. Those who choose Battle Creek for their home should be men and women of faith and prayer, true to the interests of those around them. There is no safety only as they walk with God. FE 52.2

There will be diversity of character among the youth who attend the College at Battle Creek. They have been differently educated and trained. Many have been left to follow the bent of their own inexperienced minds. The parents have thought they loved their children, but have proved themselves their worst enemies. They have let evil go unrestrained. They have allowed their children to cherish sin, which is like cherishing and petting a viper, that will not only sting the victim who cherishes it, but all with whom he is connected. FE 52.3

Some of these petted children are among the students who attend our College. Teachers, and all who are interested in the students and would help them, have an unenviable task in seeking to benefit this class of untamed youth. They have not been in subjection to their parents at home, and have no idea of having a head at school or in the homes where they board. What faith, and patience, and grace, and wisdom are required to deal with these neglected, much-to-be-pitied youth. The deceived parents may even take sides with the children against school and home discipline. They would restrain others from doing the duty God requires of them, and which they have grossly neglected. What wisdom from God is needed to deal justly and love mercy under these trying circumstances. How difficult to balance in the right direction minds that have been warped by this mismanagement. While some have been unrestrained, others have been governed too much; and when away from the vigilant hands that held the reins of control harshly, leaving love and mercy out of the question, they have felt that they would not be dictated to by any one. They despise the very thought of restraint. FE 53.1

Should not those who have the difficult task of educating these young people and molding their characters have the faithful prayers of the children of God? Care, burdens, and weighty responsibilities must fall to the lot of the conscientious, God-fearing teacher, as well as that of the burden-bearing fathers and mothers in Israel who reside in Battle Creek. All sincere Christians, who value souls for whom Christ died, will make earnest efforts to do all in their power to correct even the wrongs and neglects of the natural parents. The teachers will feel that they have a duty devolving upon them to present their pupils before the world and before God with symmetrical characters and well-balanced minds. But the teachers cannot bear all this burden, and should not be expected to be alone responsible for the good manners and elevated morals of their pupils. Every family that provides rooms for them should have rules to which they must conform. It will not be doing them or their parents a kindness to allow them to form lawless habits and break or deface furniture. If they have exuberant spirits and pent-up energy, let them do vigorous manual labor, until weariness prepares them to appreciate rest in their rooms. FE 53.2

The rooms of some of the students last year bore an unfavorable record of the roomers. If students are coarse and rude, their rooms frequently make this fact apparent. Reckless sport, boisterous laughter, and late hours should not be tolerated by those who rent rooms. If they allow this conduct in the students, they do them a serious wrong, and make themselves, in a great degree, responsible for the misconduct. The rooms of students should be frequently visited, to see if they are favorable to health and comfort, and to ascertain if all are living in accordance with the rules of the school. Any remissness should be pointed out, and the students should be faithfully labored with. If they are insubordinate and will not be controlled, they are better off at home, and the school is better off without them. Our College should not become depraved for the sake of a few lawless students. The colleges in our land are many of them places where the youth are in danger of becoming immoral and depraved through these evil associations. FE 54.1

The associations of our students is an important matter, and should not be neglected. Many who come to our College are professed Christians. Especial interest should be manifested in these, and they should be encouraged in their endeavors to live a Christian life. They should be guarded, as far as possible, from the temptations that meet the youth whichever way they may turn. To those who have had years of experience, the temptations which overcome these young people may seem so light and trivial that they will withdraw their sympathies from the tempted and tried ones. This is wrong. Their own life and early experience may have been even more varying than those of the youth they would censure for their weakness. FE 54.2

Many who profess to be followers of Christ are weak in moral power. They have never been heroes of the cross, and are easily attracted from their allegiance to God by selfish pleasures or amusements. These persons should be helped. They should not be left to chance in choosing their companions and roommates. Those who love and fear God should bear the burden of these cases upon their souls, and should move discreetly in changing unfavorable associations. Christian youth who are inclined to be influenced by irreligious associates should have for companions those who will strengthen good resolutions and religious inclinations. A well-disposed, religiously inclined youth, and even a professor of religion, may lose his religious impressions by association with one who speaks lightly of sacred and religious things, and perhaps ridicules them, and who lacks reverence and conscientiousness. A little leaven may leaven the lump. Some are weak in faith; but if placed with proper roommates, whose influence is strong for the right, they may be balanced in the right direction, obtain a valuable religious experience, and be successful in the formation of Christian character. FE 55.1

I would that our brethren and sisters would watch for souls as they that must give an account. My mind has been deeply exercised upon this subject. I would urge upon those who profess Christ the necessity of putting on the whole armor; then work for our youth who attend Battle Creek College. They may not need sermons and long censorious lectures as much as they need genuine interest. Let them know by your works that you love them and have a care for their souls. If you would manifest for the tender youth now coming to Battle Creek, who are thrown into the very arms of the church, one half the care you have for your temporal interests, you might bind them to you by the strongest bonds of sympathy; and your influence over them would be a power for good.—The Review and Herald, February 21, 1878. FE 55.2