The Signs of the Times


September 18, 1884

The True Object of Education


The true object of education should be constantly kept in view. God has intrusted to each one capacities and powers, that they may be returned to him enlarged and improved. His gifts are granted to us to be used to the utmost. He requires every one to attain the highest possible degree of usefulness. All the talents that we possess, whether of mental capacity, money, or influence, are of God, so that in dedicating them to his service we may say with David, “All things come of thee, and of thine own have we given thee.” ST September 18, 1884, par. 1

Dear young friends, what is your aim in life? Are you ambitious for education that you may one day have a name and position in the world? Have you thoughts that you dare not express, that you may one day stand upon the summit of intellectual greatness; that you may sit in deliberative and legislative councils, and help to enact laws for the nation? There is nothing wrong in lofty aspirations. You may every one of you make your mark. You should be content with no mean attainments. Aim high, and spare no pains to reach the standard. ST September 18, 1884, par. 2

But remember that the “fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,” and lies at the foundation of all true greatness. Integrity, unswerving integrity, is the principle that you need to carry with you into all the relations of life. Balanced by religious principle, you may climb to any height you please. We would be glad to see you rising to a noble elevation. Jesus loves the precious youth, and he is not pleased to see them grow up with uncultivated, undeveloped talents. They may become men and women of firm principle, fitted to be intrusted with high responsibilities, and to this end they may lawfully strain every nerve. ST September 18, 1884, par. 3

Let none commit so great a crime as to pervert their God-given powers to do evil and destroy others. There are gifted men who use their ability to spread moral ruin and corruption; but all such are sowing seed which will produce a harvest that they will not care to reap. It is a fearful thing to scatter blight and woe instead of blessing in society. It is also a fearful thing to fold in a napkin the talent intrusted to us, and hide it away in the world; for this is casting away the crown of life. God claims our service. There are responsibilities for every one to bear; and we can fulfill life's grand mission only when these responsibilities are fully accepted, and faithfully and conscientiously discharged. ST September 18, 1884, par. 4

Says the wise man, “Remember thy Creator in the days of thy youth.” But do not for a moment suppose that religion will make you sad and gloomy. Never lose sight of the fact that Jesus is a well-spring of joy. He takes no pleasure in the misery of human beings, but loves to see them happy. Religion will not block up the way to success; it does not obliterate or even weaken a single faculty. It in no way incapacitates you for the enjoyment of any real happiness; it is not designed to lessen your interest in life, or to make you indifferent to the claims of friends and society. ST September 18, 1884, par. 5

“The entrance of thy word giveth light; it giveth understanding to the simple,” is the testimony of the psalmist. As an educating power the Bible is without a rival. The study of the Scriptures will ennoble every thought, feeling, and aspiration, as the study of no other book can. Nothing else will so impart freshness and vigor to all the faculties. The mind gradually adapts itself to the subjects upon which it is trained to dwell. If occupied with commonplace matters only, it will become dwarfed and enfeebled. If never required to grapple with difficult problems, or tasked to comprehend important truths, it will, after a time, almost lose the power of growth. ST September 18, 1884, par. 6

The Bible is the most comprehensive and the most instructive history which men possess. It came fresh from the fountain of eternal truth, and a divine hand has preserved its purity through all the ages. Its bright rays shine into the far-distant past, where human research seeks vainly to penetrate. In God's word alone do we find an authentic account of the creation. Here we behold the power that laid the foundation of the earth, and that stretched out the heavens. Here only can we find a history of our race, unsullied by human prejudice or human pride. ST September 18, 1884, par. 7

In the word of God the mind finds subject for the deepest thought, the loftiest aspiration. Here we may hold communion with patriarchs and prophets, and listen to the voice of the Eternal as he speaks with men. Here we behold the Majesty of Heaven as he humbled himself to become our substitute and surety, to cope single-handed with the powers of darkness, and to gain the victory in our behalf. A reverent contemplation of the themes brought to view in the word of God, cannot fail to soften, purify, and ennoble the heart, and, at the same time, to inspire the mind with new strength and energy. ST September 18, 1884, par. 8

This sacred word is the will of God revealed to men. Here we learn what God expects of the beings formed in his image. Here we learn how to improve the present life, and how to secure the future life. No other book can satisfy the questionings of the mind and the cravings of the heart. By obtaining a knowledge of God's word, and giving heed thereto, men may rise from the lowest depths of ignorance and degradation, to become sons of God, associates of sinless angels. ST September 18, 1884, par. 9

A clear conception of what God is, and what he requires us to be, will give us humble views of self. He who studies aright the sacred word, will learn that human intellect is not omnipotent; that, without the help which none but God can give, human strength and wisdom are but weakness and ignorance. ST September 18, 1884, par. 10

This is the education so much needed at the present time. In an age like ours, in which iniquity abounds, and God's character and his law are alike regarded with contempt, special care must be taken to teach the youth to study, and to reverence and obey, the divine will as revealed to man. The fear of the Lord is fading from the minds of our youth because of their neglect of Bible study. ST September 18, 1884, par. 11

With Daniel, the fear of the Lord was the beginning of wisdom. He was placed in a position where temptation was strong. In kings’ courts, dissipation was on every side; selfish indulgence, 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 influences that tended downward. He chose the latter course. 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; to him the God of wisdom gave skill in the learning of the Chaldeans, and understanding in all visions and dreams. ST September 18, 1884, par. 12

If the youth who attend our various educational institutions would discard unprofitable amusements and indulgence of appetite, their minds would be clear for the pursuit of knowledge. If they would be firm for the right, and would not associate with those who walk in the paths of sin, like Daniel they would enjoy the favor of God. They would thus gain a moral power that would enable them to remain unmoved when assailed by temptation. It requires a continual struggle to be constantly on the alert to resist evil; but it pays to obtain one victory after another over self and the powers of darkness. ST September 18, 1884, par. 13

A spotless character is as precious as the gold of Ophir. None can rise to an honorable eminence without pure, unsullied virtue. But noble aspirations and the love of righteousness are not inherited. Character cannot be bought; it must be formed by daily efforts to resist temptation. The formation of a right character is the work of a lifetime, and must be the result of individual effort. Friends may encourage you, dear youth; 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 press to the mark. ST September 18, 1884, par. 14

The fear of the Lord is the very foundation of all progress. Your intellectual and moral faculties are God's gifts, talents intrusted to you; and you are not at liberty to let them lie dormant for want of proper cultivation, or be crippled and dwarfed for lack of exercise. It is for you to determine whether or not the weighty responsibilities that rest upon you shall be faithfully met, whether or not your efforts shall be well-directed and your best. ST September 18, 1884, par. 15