The Signs of the Times


May 19, 1887

Search the Scriptures


Every Christian should become thoroughly acquainted with the word of God. The importance of this study can hardly be over estimated. “Given by inspiration of God,” able to make us “wise unto salvation,” rendering “the man of God perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works,” the Book of books has the highest claim to our reverent attention. We must not be satisfied with a superficial knowledge, but must seek to learn the full meaning of the words of truth, and to drink deep of the spirit of the holy oracles. ST May 19, 1887, Art. A, par. 1

It is of but little profit to read a certain number of chapters daily, or to commit to memory a stipulated amount, without careful thought as to the meaning of the sacred text. Earnest attention and prayerful study are required. Some portions of Scripture are, indeed, too plain to be misunderstood; but there are others whose meaning does not lie upon the surface, to be seen at a glance. Scripture must be compared with scripture; there must be careful research and patient reflection. And such study will be richly repaid. As the miner discovers veins of precious metal concealed beneath the surface of the earth, so will he who searches the word of God as for hid treasure find truths which are concealed from careless seekers. ST May 19, 1887, Art. A, par. 2

Great pains should be taken to establish a right habit of study. If the mind wanders, bring it back. If the intellectual and moral taste has been perverted by over-wrought and exciting tales of fiction, so that the mind is disinclined to the diligent study of God's word, then there is a battle to be fought with self to overcome this depraved habit. A love for fictitious reading should be broken up at once; and rigid rules should be enforced to hold the mind in a proper channel. The pernicious practice of story-reading is one of the means employed by Satan to destroy souls. The mind that is occupied with exciting stories loses all relish for solid reading that would improve the memory and strengthen the intellect. ST May 19, 1887, Art. A, par. 3

I am acquainted with many sad examples of the evil effects of this baneful practice. I have known persons of well-balanced minds, whom God had endowed with mental powers of no ordinary character, to take up the reading of romance; and the more they indulged the appetite for this kind of mental food, the greater was the demand. The imagination constantly craved its accustomed stimulus, as the inebriate longs for his wine or tobacco. Their mental and moral powers were weakened and perverted. They lost their interest in the Scriptures, and their relish for prayer; and they were as truly ruined, mentally and spiritually, as is the liquor drinker or the tobacco devotee. Novel-readers are mental inebriates; and they need to sign a pledge of total abstinence as verily as does the victim of any other form of intemperance. ST May 19, 1887, Art. A, par. 4

There is another source of danger against which we should constantly be on our guard, and that is the works of infidel authors. Such works are inspired by Satan, and no one can read them without loss to the soul. Some who are affected by them may finally recover; but all who tamper in the least with their foul influence place themselves on Satan's ground, and he makes the most of his advantage. They invite his temptations, and they have neither wisdom to discern nor strength to resist them. With a fascinating, bewitching power, unbelief and infidelity fasten themselves upon the mind. To harbor them is like taking to your bosom a serpent, whose sting is always poisonous and often fatal. ST May 19, 1887, Art. A, par. 5

We are surrounded by unbelief. The very atmosphere seems charged with it; and only by constant effort can we resist its power. Those who value their soul's salvation should shun infidel writings as they would shun the leprosy. ST May 19, 1887, Art. A, par. 6

To the youth I would say, Be careful what you read. So long as the mind is directed into wrong channels by an improper course of reading, it is impossible for you to make the truth of God the constant subject of meditation. If there was ever a time when a knowledge of the Scriptures was more important than at any other, that time is the present. I appeal to old and young, Make the Bible your text-book. Here you will find the true standard of character. Here you will learn what is required of you in order to become a child of God. ST May 19, 1887, Art. A, par. 7

Parents and children should improve the precious opportunity for the study of God's word which is afforded by the Sabbath-school. Sufficient time should be devoted to the study of the lesson to obtain a thorough knowledge of the facts presented, and of the spiritual truths which these facts are designed to teach. Special pains should be taken to impress upon the minds of the young the importance of seeking the full significance of the scripture under consideration. ST May 19, 1887, Art. A, par. 8

Parents should set apart a little time each day for the study of the Sabbath-school lesson with their children. They should give up the social visit if need be, rather than sacrifice the hour devoted to the precious lessons in sacred history. Parents as well as children will receive benefit from this study. Let the more important passages of Scripture connected with the lesson be committed to memory, not as a task, but as a privilege. Though at first the memory may be defective, it will gain strength by exercise, so that after a time you will delight in thus treasuring up the precious words of truth; and the habit will prove a most valuable aid to religious growth. ST May 19, 1887, Art. A, par. 9

What blessings would be secured if the time that is worse than wasted in gossip, in ministering to pride or the gratification of appetite, were devoted with equal interest to the study of the Bible. But when parents are more anxious to have their children fashionably dressed than to have their minds stored with the truths of God's word, it is not strange that the children themselves soon learn to regard dress and display as of more consequence than the things which concern their eternal interests. ST May 19, 1887, Art. A, par. 10

Parents, upon you rests an important and solemn responsibility. Make it your life-work to form the characters of your children according to the standard given in the word of God. If they ever possess the inward adorning, the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, it will be because you perseveringly trained them to love the teachings of God's word, and to seek the approval of Jesus above the approbation of the world. ST May 19, 1887, Art. A, par. 11

The study of the Scriptures in the family should be conducted with system. It is better to neglect anything of a temporal nature, to dispense with all unnecessary sewing and with needless provision for the table, than to neglect to feed the soul with the bread of life. It is impossible to estimate the good results of one hour, or even half an hour, each day devoted, in a cheerful, social manner, to the study of the Scriptures. Make the Bible its own expositor, bringing together all that is said concerning a subject at various times and under different circumstances. Do not break up the home class for callers or visitors. If they come in, invite them to take part in the exercises. Let it be seen that you consider a knowledge of the word of God of great importance. All through the book of revelation are scattered the glad words of truth, and peace, and joy. These precious words of inspiration, pondered in the heart, will be as streams flowing from the river of the water of life. Our Saviour prayed that the minds of the disciples might be opened to understand the Scriptures. And wherever we study the Bible with a prayerful heart, the Holy Spirit is near to open to us the meaning of the words we read. ST May 19, 1887, Art. A, par. 12

The youth should be taught to love the study of the Bible. The first place in our thoughts and affections should be given to the Book of books; for it contains knowledge that we need above all other. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Let us seek to be thoroughly furnished unto all good works. Let us draw near to God, that his angels may protect and bless us. Thus may we gain the victory over the powers of darkness, and finally receive the crown of glory, honor, and immortal life in the kingdom of God. ST May 19, 1887, Art. A, par. 13

Basel, Switzerland.