The Review and Herald

452/1902

August 21, 1888

The Book of Books

EGW

The study of the Bible will give strength to the intellect. Says the psalmist, “The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.” The question has often been asked me, “Should the Bible become the important book in our schools?” It is a precious book, a wonderful book. It is a treasury containing jewels of precious value. It is a history that opens to us the past centuries. Without the Bible we should have been left to conjectures and fables in regard to the occurrences of past ages. Of all the books that have flooded the world, be they ever so valuable, the Bible is the book of books, and is most deserving of the closest study and attention. It gives not only the history of the creation of this world, but a description of the world to come. It contains instruction concerning the wonders of the universe, and it reveals to our understanding the Author of the heavens and the earth. It unfolds a simple and complete system of theology and philosophy. Those who are close students of the word of God, and who obey its instructions, and love its plain truths, will improve in mind and manners. It is an endowment of God that should awaken in every heart the most sincere gratitude; for it is the revelation of God to man. RH August 21, 1888, par. 1

If the truths of the Bible are woven into practical life, they will bring the mind up from its earthliness and debasement. Those who are conversant with the Scriptures, will be found to be men and women who exert an elevating influence. In searching for the heaven-revealed truths, the Spirit of God is brought into close connection with the sincere searcher of the Scriptures. An understanding of the revealed will of God, enlarges the mind, expands, elevates, and endows it with new vigor, by bringing its faculties in contact with stupendous truths. If the study of the Scriptures is made a secondary consideration, great loss is sustained. The Bible was for a time excluded from our schools, and Satan found a rich field, in which he worked with marvelous rapidity, and gathered a harvest to his liking. RH August 21, 1888, par. 2

The understanding takes the level of the things with which it becomes familiar. If all would make the Bible their study, we should see a people further developed, capable of thinking more deeply, and showing a greater degree of intelligence, than the most earnest efforts in studying merely the sciences and histories of the world could make them. The Bible gives the true seeker an advanced mental discipline, and he comes from contemplation of divine things with his faculties enriched; self is humbled, while God and his revealed truth are exalted. It is because men are unacquainted with the precious Bible histories, that there is so much lifting up of man, and so little honor given to God. The Bible contains just that quality of food that the Christian needs, in order that he may grow strong in spirit and intellect. The searching of all books of philosophy and science, cannot do for the mind and morals, what the Bible can do, if it is studied and practiced. Through the study of the Bible, converse is held with patriarchs and prophets. The truth is clothed in elevated language, which exerts a fascinating power over the mind; the thought is lifted up from the things of earth, and brought to contemplate the glory of the future immortal life. What wisdom of man can compare with the grandeur of the revelation of God? Finite man, who knows not God, may seek to lessen the value of the Scriptures, and may bury the truth beneath the supposed knowledge of science. RH August 21, 1888, par. 3

Those who boast of wisdom beyond the teaching of the word of God, need to drink deeper of the fountain of knowledge, that they may learn their real ignorance. There is a boasted wisdom of men, that is foolishness in the sight of God. Let no man deceive himself. “If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool that he may be wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God: for it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness.” Those who have only this wisdom, need to become fools in their own estimation. The greatest ignorance that now curses the human race, is in regard to the binding claims of the law of God; and this ignorance is the result of neglecting the study of the word of God. It is Satan's determined plan to so engage and absorb the mind, that God's great guide book shall not be the Book of books, and that the sinner may not be led from the path of transgression to the path of obedience. RH August 21, 1888, par. 4

The Bible is not exalted to its place, and yet of what infinite importance it is to the souls of men. In searching its pages, we move through scenes majestic and eternal. We behold Jesus, the Son of God, coming to our world, and engaging in the mysterious conflict that discomfited the powers of darkness. O how wonderful, how almost incredible it is, that the infinite God would consent to the humiliation of his own dear Son! Let every student of the Scriptures contemplate this great fact, and he will not come from such a contemplation without being elevated, purified, and ennobled. RH August 21, 1888, par. 5

The Bible is a book which discloses the principles of right and truth. It contains whatever is needful for the saving of the soul, and at the same time, it is adapted to strengthen and discipline the mind. If used as a text book in our schools, it will be found far more effective than any other book in the world, in guiding wisely in the affairs of this life, as well as in aiding the soul up the ladder of progress which reaches to heaven. God cares for us as intellectual beings, and he has given us his word as a lamp to our feet and a light to our pathway. “The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.” It is not the mere reading of the word that will accomplish the result that is designed by Heaven, but the truth revealed in the word of God must find an entrance into the heart, if the good intended is obtained. RH August 21, 1888, par. 6

The best educated in the sciences are not always the most effective instruments for God's use. There are many who find themselves laid aside, and those who have had fewer advantages of obtaining knowledge of books, taking their places, because the latter have a knowledge of practical things that is essential to the uses of every-day life; while those who consider themselves learned, often cease to be learners, are self-sufficient, and above being taught, even by Jesus, who was the greatest teacher the world ever knew. Those who have grown and expanded, whose reasoning faculties have been improved by deep searching of the Scriptures, that they may know the will of God, will come into positions of usefulness; for the word of God has had an entrance into their life and character. It must do its peculiar work, even to the piercing asunder of the joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intents of the heart. God's word is to become the nourishment by which the Christian must grow strong, in spirit and in intellect, that he may battle for truth and righteousness. RH August 21, 1888, par. 7

Why is it that our youth, and even those of maturer years, are so easily led into temptation and sin?—It is because the word of God is not studied and meditated upon as it should be. If it were appreciated, there would be an inward rectitude, a strength of spirit, that would resist the temptations of Satan to do evil. A firm, decided will-power is not brought into the life and character, because the sacred instruction of God is not made the study, and the subject of meditation. There is not the effort put forth that there should be, to associate the mind with pure, holy thoughts, and to divert it from what is impure and untrue. There is not the choosing of the better part, the sitting at the feet of Jesus, as did Mary, to learn the most sacred lessons of the divine Teacher, that they may be laid up in the heart, and practiced in the daily life. Meditation upon holy things will elevate and refine the mind, and will develop Christian ladies and gentlemen. RH August 21, 1888, par. 8

God will not accept one of us who is belittling his powers in lustful, earthly, debasement, by thought, or word, or action. Heaven is a pure and holy place, where none can enter unless they are refined, spiritualized, cleansed, and purified. There is a work for us to do for ourselves, and we shall be capable of doing it only by drawing strength from Jesus. We should make the Bible our study above every other book; we should love it, and obey it as the voice of God. We are to see and to understand his restrictions and requirements, “thou shalt,” and “thou shalt not,” and realize the true meaning of the word of God. RH August 21, 1888, par. 9

When God's word is made the man of our counsel, and we search the Scriptures for light, angels of heaven come near to impress the mind, and enlighten the understanding, so that it can truly be said, “The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.” It is no marvel that there is not more heavenly-mindedness shown among the youth who profess Christianity, when there is so little attention given to the word of God. The divine counsels are not heeded; the admonitions are not obeyed; grace and heavenly wisdom are not sought, that past sins may be avoided, and every taint of corruption be cleansed from the character. David's prayer was, “Make me to understand the way of thy precepts; so shall I talk of thy wonderful works.” RH August 21, 1888, par. 10

If the minds of our youth, as well as those of more mature age, were directed aright when associated together, their conversation would be upon exalted themes. When the mind is pure, and the thoughts elevated by the truth of God, the words will be of the same character, “like apples of gold in pictures of silver.” But with the present understanding, with the present practices, with the low standard which even professed Christians are content to reach, the conversation is cheap and profitless. It is “of the earth, earthy,” and savors not of the truth, or of heaven, and does not come up even to the standard of the more cultured class of worldlings. When Christ and heaven are the themes of contemplation, the conversation will give evidence of the fact. The speech will be seasoned with grace, and the speaker will show that he has been obtaining an education in the school of the divine Teacher. Says the psalmist, “I have chosen the way of truth: thy judgments have I laid before me.” He treasured the word of God. It found an entrance to his understanding, not to be disregarded; but to be practiced in his life. RH August 21, 1888, par. 11

Unless the sacred word is appreciated, it will not be obeyed as a sure, and safe, and precious text book. Every besetting sin must be put away. Warfare must be waged against it until it is overcome. The Lord will work with your efforts. As finite, sinful man works out his own salvation with fear and trembling, it is God who works in him, to will and to do of his own good pleasure. But God will not work without the co-operation of man. He must exercise his powers to the very utmost; he must place himself as an apt, willing student in the school of Christ; and as he accepts the grace that is freely offered to him, the presence of Christ in the thought and in the heart will give him decision of purpose, to lay aside every weight of sin, that the heart may be filled with all the fullness of God, and of his love. RH August 21, 1888, par. 12

The students of our schools should consider that, through the contemplation of sin, the sure result has followed, and their God-given faculties have been weakened and unfitted for moral advancement, because they have been misapplied. There are many who admit this as the truth. They have cherished pride and self-conceit, until these evil traits of character have become a ruling power, controlling their desires and inclinations. While they have had a form of godliness, and have performed many acts of self-righteousness, there has been no real heart change. They have not brought their life practices into definite and close measurement with the great standard of righteousness, the law of God. Should they critically compare their life with this standard, they could not but feel that they were deficient, sin-sick, and in need of a physician. They can only understand the depth to which they have fallen, by beholding the infinite sacrifice that has been made by Jesus Christ, to lift them out of their degradation. RH August 21, 1888, par. 13

There are but few who have an appreciation of the grievous character of sin, and who comprehend the greatness of the ruin that has resulted from the transgression of God's law. By examining the wonderful plan of redemption to restore the sinner to the moral image of God, we see that the only means for man's deliverance was wrought out by the self-sacrifice, and the unparalleled condescension and love of the Son of God. He alone had the strength to fight the battles with the great adversary of God and man, and, as our substitute and surety, he has given power to those who lay hold of him by faith, to become victors in his name, and through his merits. RH August 21, 1888, par. 14

We can see in the cross of Calvary what it has cost the Son of God to bring salvation to a fallen race. As the sacrifice in behalf of man was complete, so the restoration of man from the defilement of sin must be thorough and complete. The law of God has been given to us, that we may have rules to govern our conduct. There is no act of wickedness that the law will excuse; there is no unrighteousness that will escape its condemnation. The life of Christ is a perfect fulfillment of every precept of this law. He says, “I have kept my Father's commandments.” The knowledge of the law would condemn the sinner, and crush hope from his breast, if he did not see Jesus as his substitute and surety, ready to pardon his transgression, and to forgive his sin. When, through faith in Jesus Christ, man does according to the very best of his ability, and seeks to keep the way of the Lord, by obedience to the ten commandments, the perfection of Christ is imputed to cover the transgression of the repentant and obedient soul. RH August 21, 1888, par. 15

There will be an effort made on the part of many pretended friends of education to divorce religion from the sciences, in our schools. They would spare no pains or expense to impart secular knowledge; but they would not mingle with it a knowledge of what God has revealed as constituting perfection of character. And yet a training in the truth of God would develop the mind, and impart secular knowledge as well; for the very foundation of true education is in the fear of the Lord. Says the psalmist, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” The living oracles of God reveal the deceptions of the father of lies. Who of our youth can know anything of what is truth, in comparison with error, unless they are acquainted with the Scriptures? The simplicity of true godliness must be brought into the education of our young people, if they are to have divine knowledge to escape the corruptions that are in the world through lust. Those who are truly the followers of Christ, will not serve God only when it is in accordance with their inclination, but, as well, when it involves self-denial and cross-bearing. The earnest counsel given by the apostle Paul to Timothy, that he might not fail in doing his duty, should be set before the youth of today: “Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” Besetting sins must be battled with, and overcome. Objectionable traits of character, whether hereditary or cultivated, should be taken up separately, and compared with the great rule of righteousness; and in the light reflected from the word of God, they should be firmly resisted and overcome, through the strength of Christ. “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.” RH August 21, 1888, par. 16

Day by day, and hour by hour, there must be a vigorous process of self-denial and of sanctification going on within; and then the outward works will testify that Jesus is abiding in the heart by faith. Sanctification does not close the avenues of the soul to knowledge, but it comes to expand the mind, and to inspire it to search for truth, as for hidden treasure; and the knowledge of God's will advances the work of sanctification. There is a heaven, and O, how earnestly we should strive to reach it. I appeal to the students of our schools and college, to believe in Jesus as your Saviour. Believe that he is ready to help you by his grace, when you come to him in sincerity. You must fight the good fight of faith. You must be wrestlers for the crown of life. Strive, for the grasp of Satan is upon you; and if you do not wrench yourselves from him, you will be palsied and ruined. The foe is on the right hand, and on the left, before you, and behind you; and you must trample him under your feet. Strive, for there is a crown to be won. Strive, for if you win not the crown, you lose everything in this life and in the future life. Strive, but let it be in the strength of your risen Saviour. RH August 21, 1888, par. 17

Will the students of our schools study, and endeavor to copy the life and character of Him who came down from heaven to show them what they must be, if they would enter the kingdom of God? I have borne you a message of the near coming of the Son of God in the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. I have not presented before you any definite time, but have repeated to you the injunction of Christ himself, to watch unto prayer, “for in such an hour as ye think not, the Son of man cometh.” The warning has come echoing down the ages to our time, “Behold, I come quickly, and my reward is with me to give every man according as his work shall be. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.” RH August 21, 1888, par. 18