In the night season I was in a large company where the subject of education was agitating the minds of all present. Many were bringing up objections to changing the character of the education which has long been in vogue. One who has long been our instructor was speaking to the people. He said: "The subject of education should interest the whole Seventh-day Adventist body. The decisions regarding the character of our schoolwork should not be left wholly to principals and teachers."
Some were strenuously urging the study of infidel authors and were recommending the very books which the Lord has condemned, and which, therefore, should not in any way be sanctioned. After much earnest conversation and discussion our instructor stepped forward, and, taking in his hand books that had been earnestly advocated as essential to a higher education, he said: "Do you find in these authors sentiments and principles that make it altogether safe to place them in the hands of students? Human minds are easily charmed by Satan's lies; and these works produce a distaste for the contemplation of the word of God, which, if received and appreciated, will ensure eternal life to the receiver. You are creatures of habit and should remember that right habits are blessings both in their effect on your own character and in their influence for good over others; but wrong habits, when once established, exercise a despotic power and bring minds into bondage. If you had never read one word in these books you would today be far better able to comprehend that Book which, above all other books, is worthy to be studied, and which gives the only correct ideas regarding higher education.
"The fact that it has been customary to include these authors among your lessonbooks, and that this custom is hoary with age, is no argument in its favor. Long use does not necessarily recommend these books as safe or essential. They have led thousands where Satan led Adam and Eve--to the tree of knowledge of which God has forbidden us to eat. They have led students to forsake the study of the Scriptures for a line of study that is not essential. If students thus educated are ever fitted to work for souls, they will have to unlearn much that they have learned. They will find the unlearning a difficult work; for objectionable ideas have taken root in their minds like weeds in a garden, and as a result some will never be able to distinguish between right and wrong. The good and the evil have been mingled in their education. The faces of men have been uplifted for them to behold, and the theories of men have been exalted; so that as they attempt to teach others, the little truth which they are able to repeat is interwoven with the opinions and sayings and doings of men. The words of men who give evidence that they have not a practical knowledge of Christ should find no place in our schools. They will be hindrances to proper education.
"You have the word of the living God, and for the asking you may have the gift of the Holy Spirit to make that word a power to those who believe and obey. The Holy Spirit's work is to guide into all truth. When you depend on the word of the living God with heart and mind and soul, the channel of communication will be unobstructed. Deep, earnest study of the word under the guidance of the Holy Spirit will give you fresh manna, and the same Spirit will make its use effectual. The exertion made by the youth to discipline the mind for high and holy aspirations will be rewarded. Those who make persevering efforts in this direction, putting the mind to the task of comprehending God's word, are prepared to be laborers together with God.
"The world acknowledges as teachers some whom God cannot endorse as safe instructors. By these the Bible is discarded, and the productions of infidel authors are recommended as if they contained those sentiments which should be woven into the character. What can you expect from the sowing of this kind of seed? In the study of these objectionable books the minds of teachers as well as of students become corrupted, and the enemy sows his tares. It cannot be otherwise. By drinking of an impure fountain, poison is introduced into the system. Inexperienced youth taken over this line of study receive impressions which lead their thoughts into channels that are fatal to piety. Youth who have been sent to our schools have learned from books which were thought to be safe because they were used and encouraged in the schools of the world. But from the worldly schools thus followed many students have gone forth infidels because of the study of these very books.
"Why have you not extolled the word of God above every human production? Is it not enough to keep close to the Author of all truth? Are you not satisfied to draw water fresh from the streams of Lebanon? God has living fountains from which to refresh the thirsty soul, and stores of precious food with which to strengthen the spirituality. Learn of Him, and He will enable you to give to those who ask a reason of the hope that is within you. Have you thought that a better knowledge of what the Lord has said would have a deleterious effect upon teachers and students?"
There was a hush in the assembly, and conviction came upon each heart. Men who had thought themselves wise and strong saw that they were weak and lacking in the knowledge of that Book which concerns the eternal destiny of the human soul.
The messenger of God then took from the hands of several teachers those books which they had been making their study, some of which had been written by infidel authors and contained infidel sentiments, and laid them aside, saying: "There never has been a time in your lives when the study of these books was for your present good and advancement, or for your future, eternal good. Why will you fill your shelves with books that divert the mind from Christ? Why do you spend money for that which is not bread? Christ calls you: 'Learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart.' You need to eat of the Bread of life which came down from heaven. You need to be more diligent students of the Holy Scriptures and to drink from the living Fountain. Draw, draw from Christ in earnest prayer. Obtain a daily experience in eating the flesh and drinking the blood of the Son of God. Human authors can never supply your great need for this time; but by beholding Christ, the Author and Finisher of your faith, you will be changed into His likeness."
Placing the Bible in their hands, he continued: "You have little knowledge of this book. You know not the Scriptures nor the power of God, nor do you understand the deep importance of the message to be borne to a perishing world. The time past has shown that both teachers and students know very little in regard to the awful truths which are living issues for this time. Should the third angel's message be proclaimed in all lines to many who stand as educators, it would not be understood by them. Had you the knowledge which comes from God, your whole being would proclaim the truth of the living God to a world dead in trespasses and sins. But books and papers that contain little of present truth are exalted, and men are becoming too wise to follow a 'Thus saith the Lord.'
"By every teacher in our schools the only true God is to be uplifted, but many of the watchmen are asleep. They are as the blind leading the blind. Yet the day of the Lord is right upon us. As a thief it is coming with stealthy tread, and it will take unawares all who are not watching. Who among our teachers are awake and as faithful stewards of the grace of God are giving the trumpet a certain sound? Who are proclaiming the message of the third angel, calling the world to make ready for the great day of God? The message we bear has the seal of the living God."
Pointing to the Bible he said: "The Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are to be combined in the work of fitting a people to stand in the day of the Lord. Earnestly improve your present opportunities. Make the word of the living God your lessonbook. If this had always been done, students lost to the cause of God would now be missionaries. Jehovah is the only true God, and He is to be reverenced and worshiped. Those who respect the words of infidel authors and lead students to look upon these books as essential in their education lessen their faith in God. The tone, the spirit, the influence of these books is deleterious to those who depend on them for knowledge. Influences have been brought to bear upon the students that have led them to look away from Christ, the Light of the world, and evil angels rejoice that those who profess to know God deny Him as He has been thus denied in our schools. The Sun of Righteousness has been shining upon the church to dispel the darkness and to call the attention of God's people to the preparation essential for those who would shine as lights in the world. Those who receive this light will comprehend it; those who do not receive it will walk in darkness, knowing not at what they stumble. The soul is never safe unless it is under the divine guidance. Then it will be led into all truth. The word of Christ will fall with living power upon obedient hearts; and through the application of divine truth the perfect image of God will be reproduced, and in heaven it will be said: 'Ye are complete in Him.'" Colossians 2:10.
In no case should students be allowed to take so many studies that they will be prevented from attending religious exercises.
None but He who has created man can effect a change in the human heart. God alone can give the increase. Every teacher is to realize that he is to be moved by divine agencies. The human judgment and ideas of the most experienced are liable to be imperfect and faulty, and the frail instrument, subject to his own hereditary traits of character, has need to submit to the sanctification of the Holy Spirit every day, else self will gather the reins and want to drive. In the meek and lowly spirit of the learner all human methods and plans and ideas must be brought to God for His correction and endorsement; otherwise the restless energy of Paul or the skillful logic of Apollos will be powerless to effect the conversion of souls.