The Signs of the Times


August 12, 1886

The Teacher's Responsibility


In an age like ours, in which iniquity abounds, and God's character and his law are alike regarded with indifference, and even contempt, special pains should be taken to teach the youth to study and to reverence and obey the divine will as revealed to man. Through the medium of the press, knowledge of every kind is placed within the reach of all; and yet how large a proportion in every community are depraved in morals, and superficial in mental attainments. This is because the words of God to men, which should receive our first attention, are neglected for the utterances of human wisdom. The fear of the Lord is fading from the minds of the youth because of their neglect of Bible study. If all, both old and young, would become Bible readers and students, we should see a different state of things. ST August 12, 1886, par. 1

In our schools and colleges, moral and religious influences should not be put in the background. The study of the sciences, taken alone, cannot give students the discipline they need. A broader foundation must be laid. The student must receive such discipline as will afford the fullest and noblest development of character. An education is needed that will demand from teachers and principal such thought and effort as mere instruction in the sciences does not require. ST August 12, 1886, par. 2

The young should every day be impressed with a sense of their obligation to God. His law is continually violated, even by the children of religious parents. As a general thing the youth have but very little moral strength, because their education in this direction has been neglected; and a knowledge of the character of God, and of our obligations to him should not be regarded as of minor importance. ST August 12, 1886, par. 3

Morality and religion should receive special attention in our educational institutions; for the religion of the Bible is the only safeguard of the young. This is the education that is so much needed at the present time. ST August 12, 1886, par. 4

If morality and religion are to live in a school, it must be through a knowledge of God's word. As an educating power, the Bible is without a rival. This sacred word is the will of God revealed to men, and its study will ennoble every thought, feeling, and aspiration. Here we learn what God requires of the creatures formed in his image. Here we learn how to improve the present life so as to secure the future, immortal life. Here we may hold communion with patriarchs and prophets, and listen to the voice of the Eternal as he speaks with men. Here we may behold the Majesty of the Heavens, as he humbles 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 such themes as these, cannot fail to soften, purify, and ennoble the heart, and, at the same time, to inspire the mind with new strength and vigor. No other book can satisfy the questionings of the mind and the cravings of the heart. ST August 12, 1886, par. 5

A clear conception of what God is, and what he requires us to be, will give us humble views of self. He who studies the sacred word until he is imbued with its sacred spirit, will learn that human intellect is not omnipotent; that without the help that none but God can give, human strength and wisdom are but weakness and ignorance. ST August 12, 1886, par. 6

Connected with God, every teacher will exert an influence to lead his pupils to study God's word and to obey his law. He will direct their minds to the contemplation of eternal interests, opening before them vast fields of thought, grand and ennobling themes, which the most vigorous intellect may put forth all its powers to grasp, and yet feel that there is an infinity beyond. How important it is, then, that teachers be persons capable of exerting a right influence; that they be men and women of religious experience, daily receiving divine light to impart to their pupils. ST August 12, 1886, par. 7

The object of our institutions of learning is to educate and train young men and women for lives of usefulness. This can only be accomplished by ever keeping before them their high and holy calling, the exalted claims which God has upon them, and by properly cultivating the mind and talents to meet the high standard of God's word. We cannot over-estimate the importance of having a right class of educators. They should be men and women of irreproachable morals, who have stability of character, a clear conception of duty, and a depth of experience which will enable them to guide, counsel, and properly educate the youth under their care. ST August 12, 1886, par. 8

Everything connected with the work and influence of educators of youth is of importance. If they are lax in morals, if they are trifling in their deportment, if they are wanting in devotion, if they are not spiritual, the same want will be seen in the students under their care. If teachers bear the stamp of a pampered, petted life, if their parents have neglected the work of properly bringing them up, and educating them to meet the great moral standard of God's law, to bow in obedience to its claims, they will not be inclined to see the necessity of strict discipline in our schools, of yielding obedience to the ruler themselves, and thus giving a worthy example to their students. Those who have never been taught to yield to discipline, to be subordinate to authority, who have been left to their own head, their own master, will not be the ones to wisely discipline others, to preserve order in the school-room, and require obedience to the laws of the school. If this work is left to them, any amount of disorder and irregularity will be allowed to come in and demoralize the school. ST August 12, 1886, par. 9

Very much is at stake. Teachers should rule with all wisdom, observing invariably the laws of Christian politeness, courtesy, and kindness, at the same time possessing a firmness and dignity that will not be trampled upon. Educators should be men and women who value the souls of those placed under their charge; they are all to be treated as younger members of the Lord's family, as the purchase of the blood of Christ, his property. Teachers should not manifest preferences, nor have pets; but they should treat all with equity, without partiality. Life and immortality are brought to light in the gospel, and for every one who believes in Christ there is an immortal life in the future world. This fact gives dignity to every human being. All the instruction and every act of the teacher should be with the view of so educating the pupils under his charge as to not disappoint the expectations of Christ in these youth; for they are the purchase of his blood. ST August 12, 1886, par. 10

Teachers should ever bear in mind that in their lives, and characters, they should represent Christ's character, exemplifying his meekness, lowliness, and purity. They should always have one aim, one object in life,—the perfection of character according to the Divine Model, and the purpose to so teach, so educate, so labor, that they will, through the Mighty Helper, present every youth under their charge perfect in Christ Jesus. They may fail in some instances; for not all the youth will be subordinate. Some have so long chosen their own wills, that they will act without reference to God or man, they will not bring their lives within the line of law or duty. Self, undisciplined, rough, coarse and untamable, will seek for the mastery; and when the will is crossed they will lose self-control, and take the bit in their own mouth. Persuasion, counsel, prayers, entreaties are of no account with them. They are as unreasonable as the inebriate, and Satan controls their thoughts and their actions. The demon within them is enraged and they are as verily under his control as the person whose reason is dethroned by the intoxicating glass. ST August 12, 1886, par. 11

When these persons come to a better state of mind, they will consider how much they have lost. In the place of bruising Satan under their feet, they have opened the door of their lips and permitted him to control their tongues; they have opened the door of their minds and permitted him to take possession of them; they opened the door of their hearts and permitted him to occupy the highest seat in the soul temple. After these inglorious defeats, they will ever carry the wounds and scars with them. Even if Christ has mercy upon them, and pardons their sins, the scars remain; they were conquered instead of conquering. In such conflicts with the enemy they are taken captives by Satan at his will. ST August 12, 1886, par. 12

Many times parents are justly censurable for the failures of their children. They have neglected their duty, and the teacher should not be expected to do the parent's work. The parents have the first and most favorable opportunity to control and train their children, when the spirit is teachable, and the mind and heart easily impressed. But sometimes they neglect these golden opportunities, and permit their children to follow their own will until they become hardened in an evil course; and then they send these undisciplined children to school, to receive the training which should have been given them at home. If the teachers succeed in reforming these wayward youth, they receive but little credit; but if the youth choose the society of the evil-disposed, and go on from bad to worse, the teachers are censured, and the school is denounced. ST August 12, 1886, par. 13

In our conversation one with another, our influence is constantly at work. Every one is dependent upon others, and there are obligations resting upon all,—something every day to receive, something to impart. By the human associations around us we are bound to one another, as by cords, in one great web of mutual obligations. These attachments are firm and strong and genuine. We may ignore or abuse them, but we cannot possibly break one of them. We may be disloyal to every one of them, but they exist all the same, and our accountability and responsibility are the same. Every teacher should impress these principles upon all who are under his influence. If the teacher is a Christian, he will reveal these principles in his every-day life. As one connected with God, as a representative of Jesus Christ, he will not require of the student that which he does not exemplify in his own life,—purity, impartiality, nobility of soul. He may then, as Christ's servant, teach all under his charge what is really a Christian life. ST August 12, 1886, par. 14