The Review and Herald


July 27, 1886

Experience as a Teacher


Experience is said to be the best teacher. Genuine experience is indeed superior to book knowledge. But habits and customs gird men and women as with iron bands, and they are generally justified by experience, according to the common understanding of experience. Very many have abused precious experience. They have clung to their injurious habits, which are decidedly enfeebling to physical, mental, and moral health, and when you seek to instruct them, they sanction their course by referring to their experience. But true experience is in harmony with natural law and science. RH July 27, 1886, par. 1

Here is where we have met with the greatest difficulties in religious matters. The plainest facts may be presented, the clearest truths brought before the mind, sustained by the word of God; but the ear and heart are closed, and the all-convincing argument is “my experience.” Some will say, The Lord has blessed me in believing and doing as I have; therefore I cannot be in error. “My experience” is clung to, and the most elevating, sanctifying truths of the Bible are rejected for what they are pleased to style experience. Many of the grossest habits are cherished, with the plea of experience. Many fail to reach that physical, intellectual, and moral improvement it is their privilege and duty to attain, because they will contend for the reliability and safety of their experience, although that misjudged experience is opposed to the plainest revealed facts. Men and women, with constitution and health gone because of their wrong habits and customs, will be found recommending their experience, which has robbed them of vitality and health, as safe for others to follow. Very many examples might be given to show how men and women have been deceived in relying upon their experience. RH July 27, 1886, par. 2

The Lord made man upright in the beginning. He was created with a perfectly balanced mind. The size and strength of the organs of the mind were perfectly developed. Adam was a perfect type of man. Every quality of mind was well proportioned, each having a distinctive office, and yet dependent one upon another for the full and proper use of any one of them. Adam and Eve were permitted to eat of all the trees in the garden, save one. The Lord said to the holy pair, In the day that ye eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, ye shall surely die. Eve was beguiled by the serpent to believe that God would not do as he had said he would. Ye shall not surely die, said the serpent. Eve ate, and imagined that she felt the sensations of a new and more exalted life. She bore the fruit to her husband; and that which had an overpowering influence upon him, was her experience. The serpent had said that she should not die, and she felt no ill effects from the fruit which could be interpreted to mean death, but just as the serpent had said, a pleasurable sensation, which she imagined was as the angels felt. RH July 27, 1886, par. 3

Her experience stood arrayed against the positive command of Jehovah, and Adam permitted himself to be seduced by the experience of his wife. Thus it is with the religious world generally. God's express commands are transgressed, and because “sentence against the evil-doer is not executed speedily, the hearts of the sons of men are fully set in them to do evil.” RH July 27, 1886, par. 4

Men and women, in the face of the most positive commands of God, will follow their own inclination, and then dare to pray over the matter, to prevail upon God to consent to allow them to go contrary to his expressed will. God is not pleased with such prayers. Satan comes to their side, as he did to Eve in Eden, and impresses them, and they have an exercise of mind, and this they relate as a most wonderful experience which the Lord has given them. A true experience will be in perfect harmony with natural and divine law. False experience will array itself against science and the principles of Jehovah. The religious world is covered with a pall of moral darkness. Superstition and bigotry control the minds of men and women, and blind their judgment, so that they do not discern their duty to their fellow-men, and their duty to yield unquestioned obedience to the will of God. RH July 27, 1886, par. 5

Balaam inquired of God if he might curse Israel, because in so doing he had the promise of great reward. God said, Ye shall not go; but he was urged by the messengers, and greater inducements were presented. Balaam had been shown the will of the Lord in this matter, but he was so eager for the reward that he ventured to ask God the second time. The Lord permitted Balaam to go. Then he had a wonderful experience; but who would wish to be guided by such an experience as that of Balaam? There are those who would understand their duty clearly if their duty was in harmony with their natural inclinations. Circumstances and reason may indicate clearly their duty, but when against their natural inclination, these evidences are frequently set aside. Then these persons will presume to go to God to learn their duty. But God will not be trifled with. He will permit such persons to follow the desires of their own hearts. Psalm 81:11, 12: “But my people would not hearken to my voice; ... So I gave them up unto their own hearts’ lust; and they walked in their own counsels.” RH July 27, 1886, par. 6

Those who are desirous to follow a course which pleases their fancy, are in danger of being left to follow their own inclinations, supposing them to be the leadings of God's Spirit. Some have their duty indicated by circumstances and facts sufficiently clear, but have, through the solicitations of friends, in harmony with their own inclinations, been swerved from the path of duty, and passed over the clear evidences in the case; and, with apparent conscientiousness, they have prayed long and earnestly for light. They have had earnest feeling in the matter, and they interpret this to be the Spirit of God. But they have been deceived. This course has grieved the Spirit of God. They had light, and in the very reason of things, should have understood their duty; but a few pleasing inducements balance their minds in the wrong direction, and they urge these before the Lord, and press their case, and the Lord allows them to have their own way. They have so strong an inclination to follow their own course that God permits them to do so, and to suffer the results. These imagine they have a wonderful experience. RH July 27, 1886, par. 7

God made Adam and Eve in paradise, and surrounded them with everything that was useful and lovely. God planted for them a beautiful garden. No herb, nor flower, nor tree was wanting, which might be for use and ornament. The Creator of man knew that this workmanship of his hands could not be happy without employment. Paradise delighted their souls, but this was not enough; they must have labor to call into exercise the wonderful organs of the body. The Lord had made the organs for use. If happiness consisted in doing nothing, man in his state of holy innocence would have been left unemployed. But he who formed man, knew what would be for his best happiness; and he no sooner made him, than he gave him his appointed work. In order to be happy, he must labor. RH July 27, 1886, par. 8

God has given us all something to do. In the discharge of the various duties which we are to perform, which lie in our pathway, we shall be blessed, and our lives will be useful. Not only will the organs of the body be gaining strength by their exercise, but the mind will be acquiring strength and knowledge, in the action of all the organs of the body. The exercise of one muscle, while other muscles are left with nothing to do, will not strengthen the inactive ones any more than the use of one of the organs of the mind, if continually exercised, will develop and strengthen the organs not brought into use. Each faculty of the mind and each muscle have their distinctive office, and all require to be exercised in order to become properly developed and retain healthful vigor. RH July 27, 1886, par. 9