The Review and Herald


August 26, 1884

Importance of Education

[An address delivered before the teachers and students of Battle Creek College at the time of the General Conference, in Battle Creek, Mich., November 15, 1883.]



Text: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Psalm 111:10. RH August 26, 1884, par. 1

With Daniel, the fear of the Lord was the beginning of wisdom. He was placed in a position where temptation was strong. In king's courts, dissipation was on every side; selfish indulgence, gratification of appetite, intemperance and gluttony, were the order of each day. Daniel could join in the debilitating, corrupting practices of the courtiers, or he could resist the influence that tended downward. He chose the latter course. He purposed in his heart that he would not be corrupted by the sinful indulgences with which he was brought in contact, let the consequences be what they might. He would not even defile himself with the king's meat, or with the wine that he drank. The Lord was pleased with the course that Daniel pursued. He was greatly beloved and honored of heaven; and to him the God of wisdom gave skill in the learning of the Chaldeans, and understanding in all visions and dreams. RH August 26, 1884, par. 2

If the students who attend our colleges would be firm, and maintain integrity, if they would not associate with those who walk in the paths of sin, nor be charmed by their society, like Daniel they would enjoy the favor of God. If they would discard unprofitable amusements and indulgence of appetite, their minds would be clear for the pursuit of knowledge. They would thus gain a moral power that would enable them to remain unmoved when assailed by temptation. It is a continual struggle to be always on the alert to resist evil; but it pays to obtain one victory after another over self and the powers of darkness. And if the youth are proved and tested, as was Daniel, what honor can they reflect to God by their firm adherence to the right. RH August 26, 1884, par. 3

A spotless character is as precious as the gold of Ophir. Without pure, unsullied virtue, none can ever rise to any honorable eminence. But noble aspirations and the love of righteousness are not inherited. Character cannot be bought; it must be formed by stern efforts to resist temptation. The formation of a right character is the work of a lifetime, and is the outgrowth of prayerful meditation united with a grand purpose. The excellence of character that you possess must be the result of your own effort. Friends may encourage you, but they cannot do the work for you. Wishing, sighing, dreaming, will never make you great or good. You must climb. Gird up the loins of your mind, and go to work with all the strong powers of your will. It is the wise improvement of your opportunities, the cultivation of your God-given talents, that will make you men and women that can be approved of God, and a blessing to society. Let your standard be high, and with indomitable energy, make the most of your talents and opportunities, and press to the mark. RH August 26, 1884, par. 4

Will our youth consider that they have battles to fight? Satan and his hosts are arrayed against them, and they have not the experience that those of mature age have gained. RH August 26, 1884, par. 5

Satan has an intense hatred for Christ, and the purchase of his blood, and he works with all deceivableness of unrighteousness. He seeks by every artifice to enlist the young under his banner; and he uses them as his agents to suggest doubts of the Bible. When one seed of doubt is sown, Satan nourishes it until it produces an abundant harvest. If he can unsettle one youth in regard to the Scripture, that one will not cease to work until other minds are leavened with the same skepticism. RH August 26, 1884, par. 6

Those who cherish doubts will boast of their independence of mind; but they are far enough from possessing genuine independence. Their minds are filled with slavish fear, lest some one as weak and superficial as themselves should ridicule them. This is weakness, and slavery to the veriest tyrant. True liberty and independence are found in the service of God. His service will place upon you no restriction that will not increase your happiness. In complying with his requirements, you will find a peace, contentment, and enjoyment that you can never have in the path of wild license and sin. Then study well the nature of the liberty you desire. Is it the liberty of the sons of God, to be free in Christ Jesus? or do you call the selfish indulgence of base passions freedom? Such liberty carries with it the heaviest remorse; it is the cruelest bondage. RH August 26, 1884, par. 7

True independence of mind is not stubbornness. It leads the youth to form their opinions on the word of God, irrespective of what others may say or do. If in the company of the unbelieving, the atheist, or the infidel, it leads them to acknowledge and defend their belief in the sacred truths of the gospel against the cavilings and witticisms* of their ungodly associates. If they are with those who think it a virtue to parade the faults of professed Christians, and then scoff at religion, morality, and virtue, real independence of mind will lead them courteously yet boldly to show that ridicule is a poor substitute for sound argument. It will enable them to look beyond the caviler to the one who influences him, the adversary of God and man, and to resist him in the person of his agent. RH August 26, 1884, par. 8

Stand up for Jesus, young friends, and in your time of need Jesus will stand up for you. “By their fruits ye shall know them.” Either God or Satan controls the mind; and the life shows so clearly that none need mistake to which power you yield allegiance. Every one has an influence either for good or for evil. Is your influence on the side of Christ or on that of Satan? Those who turn away from iniquity enlist the power of Omnipotence in their favor. The atmosphere that surrounds them is not of earth. By the silent power of a well ordered life and a godly conversation, they may present Jesus to the world. They may reflect Heaven's light, and win souls to Christ. RH August 26, 1884, par. 9

I am glad that we have institutions where our youth can be separated from the corrupting influences so prevalent in the schools of the present day. Our brethren and sisters should be thankful that in the providence of God our colleges have been established, and should stand ready to sustain them by their means. Every influence should be brought to bear to educate the youth and to elevate their morals. They should be trained to have moral courage to resist the tide of moral pollution in this degenerate age. With a firm hold upon divine power, they may stand in society to mold and fashion, rather than to be fashioned after the world's model. RH August 26, 1884, par. 10

There can be no more important work than the proper education of our youth. We must guard them, fighting back Satan, that he shall not take them out of our arms. When the youth come to our colleges, they should not be made to feel that they have come among strangers, who do not care for their souls. There should be fathers and mothers in Israel who will watch for their souls, as they that must give account. Brethren and sisters, do not hold yourselves aloof from the dear youth, as though you have no particular concern or responsibility for them. You who have long professed to be Christians have a work to do to patiently and kindly lead them in the right way. You should show them that you love them because they are younger members of the Lord's family, the purchase of his blood. RH August 26, 1884, par. 11

The future of society will be determined by the youth of today. Satan is making earnest, persevering efforts to corrupt the mind and debase the character of every young person; and shall we who have more experience stand as mere spectators, and see him accomplish his purpose without hindrance? Let us stand at our post as minute men, to work for these youth, and through the help of God hold them back from the pit of destruction. In the parable, while men slept, the enemy sowed tares; and while you, my brethren and sisters, are unconscious of his work, he is gathering an army of youth under his banner; and he exults, for through them he carries on his warfare against God. RH August 26, 1884, par. 12

The teachers in our schools have a heavy responsibility to bear. They must be in words and character what they wish their students to be,—men and women that fear God and work righteousness. If they are acquainted with the way themselves, they can train the youth to walk in it. They will not only educate them in the sciences, but train them to have moral independence, to work for Jesus, and to take up burdens in his cause. RH August 26, 1884, par. 13

Teachers, what opportunities are yours! What a privilege is within your reach of molding the minds and characters of the youth under your charge! What a joy it will be to you to meet them around the great white throne, and know that you have done what you could to fit them for immortality! If your work stands the test of the great day, how like sweetest music will fall upon your ear the benediction of the Master, “Well done, good and faithful servant; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” RH August 26, 1884, par. 14

In the great harvest field there is abundance of work for all, and those who neglect to do what they can, will be found guilty before God. Let us work for time and for eternity. Let us work for the youth with all the powers God has bestowed upon us, and he will bless our well-directed efforts. Our Saviour longs to save the young. He would rejoice to see them around his throne clothed in the spotless robes of his righteousness. He is waiting to place upon their heads the crown of life, and hear their happy voices join in ascribing honor and glory and majesty to God and the Lamb in the song of victory that shall echo and re-echo throughout the courts of heaven. RH August 26, 1884, par. 15