Fundamentals of Christian Education

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Chapter 29—To Teachers and Students

To the Teachers and Students in Our College at Battle Creek, and in All Our Educational Institutions

In the night seasons messages have been given to me to give to you in Battle Creek, and to all our schools. While it is in the order of God that the physical powers shall be trained as well as the mental, yet the physical exercise should in character be in complete harmony with the lessons given by Jesus Christ to His disciples. That which is given to the world should be seen in the lives of Christians, so that in education and in self-training the heavenly intelligences should not record in the books that the students and the teachers in our schools are “lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God.” This is the record now being made of a large number. “Lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God.” Thus Satan and his angels are laying their snares for your souls, and he is working in a certain way upon teachers and pupils to induce them to engage in exercises and amusements which become intensely absorbing, but which are of a character to strengthen the lower powers, and create appetites and passions that will take the lead, and counteract most decidedly the operations and working of the Holy Spirit of God upon the human heart. FE 220.1

What saith the Holy Spirit to you? What was its power and influence upon your hearts during the General Conference, and the Conferences in other states? Have you taken special heed to yourselves? Have the teachers in the school felt that they must take heed? If God has appointed them as educators of the youth, they are also “overseers of the flock.” They are not in the school work to invent plans for exercises and games to educate pugilists; not there to bring down sacred things on a level with the common. FE 220.2

I was speaking to the teachers in messages of reproof. All the teachers need exercise, a change of employment. God has pointed out that this should be useful, practical work; but you have turned away from God's plan, to follow human inventions, and that to the detriment of spiritual life. Not a jot or tittle of the after-influence of an education in that line will fit you to meet the severe conflicts in these last days. What kind of education are our teachers and students receiving? Has God devised and planned this kind of exercise for you, or is it brought in by the human inventions and human imaginations? How is the mind prepared for contemplation and meditation, and serious thoughts, and the earnest, contrite prayer, coming from hearts subdued by the Holy Spirit of God? “As it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of Man.” “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” FE 220.3

The Lord opened before me the necessity of establishing a school at Battle Creek that should not pattern after any school in existence. We were to have teachers who would keep their souls in the love and fear of God. Teachers were to educate in spiritual things, to prepare a people to stand in the trying crisis before us; but there has been a departure from God's plan in many ways. The amusements are doing more to counteract the working of the Holy Spirit than anything else, and the Lord is grieved. FE 221.1

“Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before Mine eyes; cease to do evil [but do not rest here; move onward in following the Light of the world]; learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow. Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” Here is your field in which to exercise your intellect and give you change of exercise. “If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land.” FE 221.2

“How is the faithful city become an harlot! it was full of judgment; righteousness lodged in it; but now murderers. Thy silver is become dross, thy wine mixed with water: thy princes are rebellious, and companions of thieves: every one loveth gifts, and followeth after rewards: they judge not the fatherless, neither doth the cause of the widow come unto them.” FE 222.1

“O house of Jacob, come ye, and let us walk in the light of the Lord.” “Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils: for wherein is he to be accounted of?” “Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help. His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish. Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God.” “O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths.” FE 222.2

I am alarmed for you at Battle Creek. Teachers are very exact in visiting with denunciation and punishments those students who violate the slight rules, not from any vicious purpose, but heedlessly; or circumstances occur which make it no sin for them to deviate from rules which have been made, and which should not be held with inflexibility if transgressed, and yet the person in fault is treated as if he had grievously sinned. Now I want you to consider, teachers, where you stand, and deal with yourselves and pronounce judgment against yourselves; for you have not only infringed the rules, but you have been so sharp, so severe upon students; and more than this, there is a controversy between you and God. You have not made straight paths for your feet lest the lame be turned out of the way. You have departed from safe paths. I say “teachers”; I do not specify names. I leave that to your own consciences to appropriate. The Lord God of Israel has wrought in your midst again and again. You have had great evidences of the stately steppings of the Most High. But a period of great light, of the wonderful revealings of the Spirit and power of God, is a period of great peril, lest the light shall not be improved. Will you consider Jeremiah 17:5-10; 18:12-15? For you are most surely coming under the rebuke of God. Light has been shining in clear and steady rays upon you. What has this light done for you? Christ, the Chief Shepherd, is looking upon you with displeasure, and is inquiring, “Where is the flock that was given thee, thy beautiful flock?” “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. Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which He hath purchased with His own blood.” “Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind.” FE 222.3

Those teachers who have not a progressive religious experience, who are not learning daily lessons in the school of Christ, that they may be ensamples to the flock, but who accept their wages as the main thing, are not fit for the solemn, awfully solemn, position they occupy. For this scripture is appropriate to all our schools established as God designed they should be, after the order or example of the schools of the prophets, imparting a higher class of knowledge—mingling not dross with the silver, and wine with water—which is a representation of precious principles. False ideas and unsound practices are leavening the pure, and corrupting that which should ever be kept pure, and looked upon by the world, by angels, and by men, as the Lord's institution—schools where the education to love and fear God is made first. “And this is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent.” “Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.” FE 223.1

Let the teachers who claim to be Christians be learning daily in the school of Christ His lessons. “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” I ask you, Is every educator in the school wearing the yoke of Christ, or manufacturing yokes of his own to place upon the necks of others, yokes which they themselves will not wear, sharp, severe, exacting; and this, too, while they are carrying themselves very loosely toward God, offending every day in little and larger matters, and making it evident in words, in spirit, and in actions, that they are not a proper example for the students, and are not having a sense that they are under discipline to the greatest Teacher the world ever knew? There needs to be a higher, holier mold on the school in Battle Creek, and on other schools which have taken their mold from it. The customs and practices of the Battle Creek school go forth to all the churches, and the pulse heartbeats of that school are felt throughout the body of believers. FE 223.2

It is not in God's order that thousands of dollars shall be expended in enlargements and additions in institutions in Battle Creek. There is altogether too much there now. Take that extra means and establish the work in suffering portions of other fields, to give character to the work. I have spoken the word of God upon this point. There are reasons many do not see, that I have no liberty to open before you now; but I tell you in the name of the Lord, you will make a mistake in your adding building to building; for there are being centered in Battle Creek responsibilities that are altogether too much for one location. If these responsibilities were divided and placed in other localities, it would be far better than crowding so much into Battle Creek, robbing other destitute fields of the advantages God would have them privileged with. FE 224.1

There are too many lords in the school who love to rule over God's heritage. There is altogether too little of Christ and too much of self. But those who are under the dictation of the Spirit of God, who are under rule to Christ, are ensamples to the flock; and when the Chief Shepherd shall appear, they shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away. FE 224.2

“Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time.” All your self-uplifting works out the natural result, and makes you in character such as God will not for a moment approve. “Without Me,” says Christ, “ye can do nothing.” Work and teach, work in Christ's lines, and then you will never work in your own weak ability, but will have the co-operation of the divine, combined with the God-given human ability. “Casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you. Be sober, be vigilant” (not in kicking football and in educating yourselves in the objectionable games which ought to make every Christian blush with mortification at the afterthoughts) “be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” Yes, he is on your playground watching your amusements, catching every soul that he finds off his guard, sowing his seeds in human minds, and controlling the human intellect. For Christ's sake call a halt at the Battle Creek College, and consider the after-workings upon the heart and the character and principles, of these amusements copied after the fashion of other schools. You have been steadily progressing in the ways of the Gentiles, and not after the example of Jesus Christ. Satan is on the schoolground; he is present in every exercise in the schoolroom. The students that have had their minds deeply excited in their games, are not in the best condition to receive the instruction, the counsel, the reproof, most essential for them in this life and for the future immortal life. FE 225.1

Of Daniel and his fellows the Scripture states: “As for these four children, God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom: and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.” In what manner are you fitting yourselves to co-operate with God? “Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you.” “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” Let the diet be carefully studied; it is not healthful. The various little dishes concocted for desserts are injurious instead of helpful and healthful, and from the light given me, there should be a decided change in the preparation of food. There should be a skillful, thorough cook, that will give ample supplies of substantial dishes to the hungry students. The education in this line of table supplies is not correct, healthful, or satisfying, and a decided reform is essential. These students are God's inheritance, and the most sound and healthful principles are to be brought into the boarding-school in regard to diet. The dishes of soft foods, the soups and liquid foods, or the free use of meat, are not the best to give healthful muscles, sound digestive organs, or clear brains. O how slow we are to learn! And of all institutions in our world the school is the most important! Here the diet question is to be studied; no one person's appetite, or tastes, or fancy or notion is to be followed; but there is need of great reform; for lifelong injury will surely be the result of the present manner of cooking. Of all the positions of importance in that college, the first is that of the one who is employed to direct in the preparation of the dishes to be placed before the hungry students; for if this work is neglected, the mind will not be prepared to do its work, because the stomach has been treated unwisely and cannot do its work properly. Strong minds are needed. The human intellect must gain expansion and vigor and acuteness and activity. It must be taxed to do hard work, or it will become weak and inefficient. Brain power is required to think most earnestly; it must be put to the stretch to solve hard problems and master them, else the mind decreases in power and aptitude to think. The mind must invent, work, and wrestle, in order to give hardness and vigor to the intellect; and if the physical organs are not kept in the most healthful condition by substantial, nourishing food, the brain does not receive its portion of nutrition to work. Daniel understood this, and he brought himself to a plain, simple, nutritious diet, and refused the luxuries of the king's table. The desserts which take so much time to prepare, are, many of them, detrimental to health. Solid foods requiring mastication will be far better than mush or liquid foods. I dwell upon this as essential. I send my warning to the College at Battle Creek, to go from there to all our institutions of learning. Study up on these subjects, and let the students obtain a proper education in the preparation of wholesome, appetizing, solid foods that nourish the system. They do not have now, and have not had in the past, the right kind of training and education as to the most healthful food to make healthful sinews and muscle, and give nourishment to the brain and nerve powers. FE 225.2

The intellect is to be kept thoroughly awake with new, earnest, whole-hearted work. How is it to be done? The power of the Holy Spirit must purify the thoughts and cleanse the soul of its moral defilement. Defiling habits not only abase the soul, but debase the intellect. Memory suffers, laid on the altar of base, hurtful practices. “He that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.” When teachers and learners shall consecrate soul, body, and spirit of God, and purify their thoughts by obedience to the laws of God, they will continually receive a new endowment of physical and mental power. Then will there be heart-yearnings after God, and earnest prayer for clear perception to discern. The office and work of the Holy Spirit is not for them to use it, as many suppose, but for the Holy Spirit to use them, molding, fashioning, and sanctifying every power. The giving of the faculties to lustful practices disorders the brain and nerve power, and though professing religion, they are not now and never will be agents whom God can use; for He despises the practices of impurity, which destroy the vital nerve energies. This sin of impurity is lessening physical vigor and mental capabilities, so that everything like mental taxation will after a short time become irksome. Memory is fitful; and, O what a loathsome offering is thus presented to God! FE 227.1

Then when I look upon the scenes presented before me; when I consider the schools established in different places, and see them falling so far below anything like the schools of the prophets, I am distressed beyond measure. The physical exercise was marked out by the God of wisdom. Some hours each day should be devoted to useful education in lines of work that will help the students in learning the duties of practical life, which are essential for all our youth. But this has been dropped out, and amusements introduced, which simply give exercise, without being any special blessing in doing good and righteous actions, which is the education and training essential. FE 228.1

The students, every one, need a most thorough education in practical duties. The time employed in physical exercise, which, step by step, leads on to excess, to intensity in the games and the exercise of the faculties, ought to be used in Christ's lines, and the blessing of God would rest upon them in so doing. All should go forth from the schools with educated efficiency, so that when thrown upon their own resources, they would have a knowledge they could use which is essential to practical life. The seeking out of many inventions to employ the God-given faculties most earnestly in doing nothing good, nothing you can take with you in future life, no record of good deeds, of merciful actions, stands registered in the book of heaven,—“Weighed in the balances and found wanting.” FE 228.2

Diligent study is essential, and diligent hard work. Play is not essential. The influence has been growing among students in their devotion to amusements, to a fascinating, bewitching power, to the counteracting of the influence of the truth upon the human mind and character. A well-balanced mind is not usually obtained in the devotion of the physical powers to amusements. Physical labor that is combined with mental taxation for usefulness, is a discipline in practical life, sweetened always by the reflection that it is qualifying and educating the mind and body better to perform the work God designs men shall do in various lines. The more perfectly youth understand how to perform the duties of practical life, the more keen and the more healthful will be their enjoyment day by day in being of use to others. FE 228.3

The mind thus educated to enjoy physical taxation in practical life becomes enlarged, and through culture and training, well disciplined and richly furnished for usefulness, and acquires a knowledge essential to be a help and blessing to themselves and to others. Let every student consider, and be able to say, I study, I work, for eternity. They can learn to be patiently industrious and persevering in their combined efforts of physical and mental labor. What force of powers is put into your games of football and your other inventions after the way of the Gentiles—exercises which bless no one! Just put the same powers into exercise in doing useful labor, and would not your record be more pleasing to meet in the great day of God? FE 229.1

Whatever is done under the sanctified stimulus of Christian obligation, because you are stewards in trust of talents to use to be a blessing to yourself and to others, gives you substantial satisfaction; for all is done to the glory of God. I cannot find an instance in the life of Christ where He devoted time to play and amusement. He was the great Educator for the present and the future life. I have not been able to find one instance where He educated His disciples to engage in amusement of football or pugilistic games, to obtain physical exercise, or in theatrical performances; and yet Christ was our pattern in all things. Christ, the world's Redeemer, gave to every man his work and bids them “occupy till I come.” And in doing His work, the heart warms to such an enterprise, and all the powers of the soul are enlisted in a work assigned of the Lord and Master. It is a high and important work. The Christian teacher and student are enabled to become stewards of the grace of Christ, and be always in earnest. FE 229.2

All they can do for Jesus is to be in earnest, having a burning desire to show their gratitude to God in the most diligent discharge of every obligation that is laid upon them, that, by their fidelity to God, they may respond to the great and wonderful gift of the only-begotten Son of God, that through faith in Him they should not perish, but have everlasting life. FE 230.1

There is need of each one in every school and in every institution, being, as was Daniel, in such close connection with the Source of all wisdom, that his prayers will enable him to reach the highest standard of his duties in every line, that he may be able to fulfill his scholastic requirements not only under able teachers, but also under the supervision of heavenly intelligences, knowing that the All-seeing, the Ever-sleepless Eye was upon him. The love and fear of God was before Daniel, and he educated and trained all his powers to respond as far as possible to the loving care of the Great Teacher, conscious of his amenability to God. The four Hebrew children would not allow selfish motives and love of amusements to occupy the golden moments of this life. They worked with a willing heart and ready mind. This is no higher standard than every Christian may attain. God requires of every Christian scholar more than has been given him. Ye are “a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men.”—Special Testimonies On Education, October, 1893. FE 230.2