Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 4, pp. 419-428 Day 240

Since man cost heaven so much, the price of God’s dear Son, how carefully should ministers, teachers, and parents deal with the souls of those brought under their influence. It is nice work to deal with minds, and it should be entered upon with fear and trembling. The educators of youth should maintain perfect self-control. To destroy one’s influence over a human soul through impatience, or in order to maintain undue dignity and supremacy, is a terrible mistake, for it may be the means of losing that soul for Christ. The minds of youth may become so warped by injudicious management that the injury done may never be entirely overcome. The religion of Christ should have a controlling influence on the education and training of the young. The Saviour’s example of self-denial, universal kindness, and long-suffering love is a rebuke to impatient ministers and teachers. He inquires of these impetuous instructors: “Is this the manner in which you treat the souls of those for whom I gave My life? Have you no greater appreciation of the infinite price I paid for their redemption?”

All connected with our college must be men and women who have the fear of God before them and His love in their hearts. They should make their religion attractive to the youth who come within the sphere of their influence. The professors and teachers should constantly feel their dependence upon God. Their work is in this world, but the Source of wisdom and knowledge from which they must continually draw is above. Self must not obtain the mastery. The Spirit of God must control. They must walk humbly with God, and they should feel their responsibility, which is not less than that of the minister. The influence which professors and teachers exert upon the youth in our college will be carried wherever these youth may go. A sacred influence should go forth from that college to meet the moral darkness existing everywhere. When I was shown by the angel of God that an institution should be established for the education of our youth I saw that it would be one of the greatest means ordained of God for the salvation of souls.


Those who would make a success in the education of the youth must take them as they are, not as they ought to be nor as they will be when they come from under their training. With dull scholars they will have a trial, and they must bear patiently with their ignorance. With sensitive, nervous students they must deal tenderly and very kindly, remembering that they are hereafter to meet their students before the judgment seat of Christ. A sense of their own imperfections should constantly lead educators to cherish feelings of tender sympathy and forbearance for those who are struggling with the same difficulties. They may help their students, not by overlooking their defects, but by faithfully correcting wrong in such a manner that the one reproved shall be bound still closer to the teacher’s heart.

God has linked old and young together by the law of mutual dependence. The educators of youth should feel an unselfish interest for the lambs of the flock, as Christ has given us an example in His life. There is too little pitying tenderness, and too much of the unbending dignity of the stern judge. Exact and impartial justice should be given to all, for the religion of Christ demands this; but it should ever be remembered that firmness and justice have a sister, which is mercy. To stand aloof from students, to treat them indifferently, to be unapproachable, harsh, and censorious, is contrary to the spirit of Christ.

We need individually to open our hearts to the love of God, to overcome selfishness and harshness, and to let Jesus in to take possession of the soul. The educator of youth will do well to remember that with all his advantages of age, education, and experience he is not yet a perfect overcomer; he is himself erring and makes many failures. As Christ deals with him, he should endeavor to deal with the youth under his care, who have had fewer advantages and less favorable surroundings than he himself has enjoyed. Christ has borne with the erring through all his manifest perversity and rebellion. His love for the sinner does not grow cold, His efforts do not cease, and He does not give him up to the buffeting of Satan. He has stood with open arms to welcome again the erring, the rebellious, and even the apostate. By precept and example, teachers should represent Christ in the education and training of youth; and in the day of judgment they will not be put to shame by meeting their students and the history of their management of them.


Again and again has the educator of youth carried into the schoolroom the shadow of darkness which has been gathering upon his soul. He has been overtaxed and is nervous, or dyspepsia has colored everything a gloomy hue. He enters the schoolroom with quivering nerve and irritated stomach. Nothing seems to be done to please him, he thinks that his scholars are bent upon showing him disrespect, and his sharp criticisms and censures are given on the right hand and on the left.

Perhaps one or more commit errors or are unruly. The case is exaggerated in his mind, and he becomes unjust and is severe and cutting in reproof, even taunting the one whom he considers at fault. This same injustice afterward prevents him from admitting that he has not taken the proper course. To maintain the dignity of his position, he has lost a precious, golden opportunity to manifest the spirit of Christ, perhaps to gain a soul for heaven.

Men and women of experience should understand that this is a time of especial danger for the young. Temptations surround them on every hand; and while it is easy work to float with the current, the strongest effort is required to press against the tide of evil. It is Satan’s studied effort to secure the youth in sin, for then he is more sure of the man. The enemy of souls is filled with intense hatred against every endeavor to influence the youth in the right direction. He hates everything which will give correct views of God and our Saviour, and his efforts are especially directed against all who are placed in a favorable position to receive light from heaven. He knows that any movement on their part to come in connection with God will give them power to resist his devices. Those who are at ease in their sins are safe under his banner. But as soon as efforts are made to break his power, his wrath is aroused, and he commences in earnest his work to thwart the purpose of God if possible.


If the influence in our college is what it should be, the youth who are educated there will be enabled to discern God and glorify Him in all His work; and while engaged in cultivating the faculties which God has given them, they will be preparing to render Him more efficient service. The intellect, sanctified, will unlock the treasures of God’s word and gather its precious gems to present to other minds and lead them also to search for the deep things of God. A knowledge of the riches of His grace will ennoble and elevate the human soul, and through connection with Christ it will become a partaker of the divine nature and obtain power to resist the advances of Satan.

Students must be impressed with the fact that knowledge alone may be, in the hands of the enemy of all good, a power to destroy them. It was a very intellectual being, one who occupied a high position among the angelic throng, that finally became a rebel; and many a mind of superior intellectual attainments is now being led captive by his power. The sanctified knowledge which God imparts is of the right quality and will tell to His glory.

The work of the teachers in our college will be laborious. Among those who attend the school there will be some who are nothing less than Satan’s agents. They have no respect for the rules of the school, and they demoralize all who associate with them. After the teachers have done all they can do to reform this class, after they have, by personal effort, by entreaties and prayer, endeavored to reach them, and they refuse all the efforts made in their behalf and continue in their course of sin, then it will be necessary to separate them from the school, that others may not be contaminated by their evil influence.

To maintain proper discipline and yet exercise pitying love and tenderness for the souls of those under his care, the teacher needs a constant supply of the wisdom and grace of God. Order must be maintained. But those who love souls, the purchase of the blood of Christ, should do their utmost to save the erring. These poor sinful ones are too frequently left in darkness and deception to pursue their own course, and those who should help them let them alone to go to ruin. Many excuse their neglect of these careless, wayward ones by referring to the religious privileges at Battle Creek. They say that if these do not call them to repentance, nothing will. The opportunities of attending Sabbath school, and listening to the sermons from the desk, are indeed precious privileges; but they may be passed by all unheeded, while if one with true interest should come close to these souls in sympathy and love, he might succeed in reaching them. I have been shown that personal effort, judiciously put forth, will have a telling influence upon these cases considered so hardened. All may not be so hard at heart as they appear. Our people in Battle Creek should feel a deep interest for the youth whom the providence of God has brought under their influence. We have seen a good work done in the salvation of many who have come to our college, but much more can be accomplished by personal effort.


The selfish love of “me and mine” keeps many from doing their duty to others. Do they think that all the work they have to do is for themselves and their own children? “Inasmuch,” says Christ,” as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.” “Are your own children of more value in the sight of God than the children of your neighbors? God is no respecter of persons. We are to do all we can to save souls. None should be passed by because they have not the culture and religious training of more favored children. Had these erring, neglected ones enjoyed the same home advantages, they might have shown far more nobility of soul and greater talent for usefulness than many who have been watched over day and night with gentlest care and overflowing love. Angels pity these stray lambs; angels weep, while human eyes are dry, and human hearts are closed against them. If God had not given me another work, I would make it the business of my life to care for those whom others will not take the trouble to save.


In the day of God somebody will be held responsible for the loss of these dear souls.

Parents who have neglected their God-given responsibilities must meet that neglect in the judgment. The Lord will then inquire: Where are the children that I gave you to train for Me? Why are they not at My right hand?” Many parents will then see that unwise love blinded their eyes to their children’s faults and left those children to develop deformed characters, unfit for heaven. Others will see that they did not give their children time and attention, love and tenderness; their own neglect of duty made the children what they are. Teachers will see where they could have worked for the Master by seeking to save the apparently incorrigible cases that they cast off in the youth of tender years. And the members of the church will see that they might have done good service for the Master in seeking to help those who most needed help. While their interest and love were lavished upon their own families, there were many inexperienced youth who might have been taken to their hearts and homes, and whose precious souls could have been saved by interest and kindly care.

Educators should understand how to guard the health of their students. They should restrain them from taxing their minds with too many studies. If they leave college with a knowledge of the sciences but with shattered constitutions, it would have been better had they not entered the school at all. Some parents feel that their children are being educated at considerable expense, and they urge them forward in their studies. Students are desirous of taking many studies in order to complete their education in as short a time as possible. The professors have allowed some to advance too rapidly. While some may need urging, others need holding back. Students should ever be diligent, but they ought not to crowd their minds so as to become intellectual dyspeptics. They should not be so pressed with studies as to neglect the culture of the manners; and, above all, they should let nothing interfere with their seasons of prayer, which bring them in connection with Jesus Christ, the best teacher the world has ever known. In no case should they deprive themselves of religious privileges. Many students have made their studies the first great object and have neglected prayer and absented themselves from the Sabbath school and the prayer meeting, and from neglect of religious duties they have returned to their homes backslidden from God. A most important part of their education has been neglected. That which lies at the foundation of all true knowledge should not have been made a secondary consideration. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness.” This must not be made last, but first. The student must have opportunities to become conversant with his Bible. He needs time for this. A student who makes God his strength, who is becoming intelligent in the knowledge of God as revealed in His word, is laying the foundation for a thorough education.


God designs that the college at Battle Creek shall reach a higher standard of intellectual and moral culture than any other institution of the kind in our land. The youth should be taught the importance of cultivating their physical, mental, and moral powers, that they may not only reach the highest attainments in science, but, through a knowledge of God, may be educated to glorify Him; that they may develop symmetrical characters, and thus be fully prepared for usefulness in this world and obtain a moral fitness for the immortal life.

I wish I could find language to express the importance of our college. All should feel that it is one of God’s instrumentalities to make Himself known to man. The teachers may do a greater work than they have hitherto calculated upon. Minds are to be molded and character is to be developed by interested experiment. In the fear of God, every endeavor to develop the higher faculties, even if it is marked with great imperfection, should be encouraged and strengthened. The minds of many of the youth are rich in talents which are put to no available use because they have lacked opportunity to develop them. Their physical powers have been strengthened by exercise; but the faculties of the mind lie hidden, because the discernment and God-given tact of the educator have not been exercised in bringing them into use. Aids to self-development must be given to the youth; they must be drawn out, stimulated, encouraged, and urged to action.


Workers are needed all over the world. The truth of God is to be carried to foreign lands, that those in darkness may be enlightened by it. God requires that a zeal be shown in this direction infinitely greater than has hitherto been manifested. As a people, we are almost paralyzed. We are not doing one-twentieth part of the good we might, because selfishness prevails to a large extent among us. Cultivated intellect is now needed in the cause of God, for novices cannot do the work acceptably. God has devised our college as an instrumentality for developing workers of whom He will not be ashamed. The height man may reach by proper culture has not hitherto been realized. We have among us more than an average of men of ability. If their talents were brought into use, we should have twenty ministers where we now have one.

Teachers should not feel that their duty is done when their pupils have been instructed in the sciences. But they should realize that they have the most important missionary field in the world. If the capabilities of all engaged as instructors are used as God would have them, they will be most successful missionaries. It must be remembered that the youth are forming habits which will, in nine cases out of ten, decide their future. The influence of the company they keep, the associations they form, and the principles they adopt will be carried with them through life.

It is a terrible fact, and one which should make the hearts of parents tremble, that the colleges to which the youth of our day are sent for the cultivation of the mind endanger their morals. As innocent youth when placed with hardened criminals learn lessons of crime they never before dreamed of, so pure-minded young people, through association with college companions of corrupt habits, lose their purity of character and become vicious and debased. Parents should awake to their responsibilities and understand what they are doing in sending their children from home to colleges where they can expect nothing else but that they will become demoralized. The college at Battle Creek should stand higher in moral tone than any other college in the land, that the safety of the children entrusted to her keeping may not be endangered. If teachers do their work in the fear of God, working with the spirit of Christ for the salvation of the souls of the students, God will crown their efforts with success. God-fearing parents will be more concerned in regard to the characters their children bring home with them from college than in regard to the success and advancement made in their studies.


I was shown that our college was designed of God to accomplish the great work of saving souls. It is only when brought under full control of the Spirit of God that the talents of an individual are rendered useful to the fullest extent. The precepts and principles of religion are the first steps in the acquisition of knowledge, and lie at the very foundation of true education. Knowledge and science must be vitalized by the Spirit of God in order to serve the noblest purposes. The Christian alone can make the right use of knowledge. Science, in order to be fully appreciated, must be viewed from a religious standpoint. The heart which is ennobled by the grace of God can best comprehend the real value of education. The attributes of God, as seen in His created works, can be appreciated only as we have a knowledge of the Creator. In order to lead the youth to the fountain of truth, to the Lamb of God who taketh away the sins of the world, the teachers must not only be acquainted with the theory of the truth, but must have an experimental knowledge of the way of holiness. Knowledge is power when united with true piety.


Duty of Parents to the College

Our brethren and sisters abroad should feel it their duty to sustain this institution which God has devised. Some of the students return home with murmuring and complaints, and parents and members of the church give an attentive ear to their exaggerated, one-sided statements. They would do well to consider that there are two sides to the story; but instead, they allow these garbled reports to build up a barrier between them and the college. They then begin to express fears, questionings, and suspicions in regard to the way the college is conducted. Such an influence does great harm. The words of dissatisfaction spread like a contagious disease, and the impression made upon minds is hard to efface. The story enlarges with every repetition, until it becomes of gigantic proportions, when investigation would reveal the fact that there was no fault with teachers or professors. They were simply doing their duty in enforcing the rules of the school, which must be carried out or the school will become demoralized.

Parents do not always move wisely. Many are very exacting in wishing to bring others to their ideas, and become impatient and overbearing if they cannot do this; but when their own children are required to observe rules and regulations at school, and these children fret under the necessary restraint, too often their parents, who profess to love and fear God, join with the children instead of reproving them and correcting their faults. This often proves the turning point in the character of their children. Rules and order are broken down, and discipline is trampled underfoot. The children despise restraint and are allowed to speak disparagingly of the institutions at Battle Creek. If parents would only reflect, they would see the evil result of the course they are pursuing. It would indeed be a most wonderful thing if, in a school of four hundred students, managed by men and women subject to the frailties of humanity, every move should be so perfect, so exact, as to challenge criticism.

Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 4 pp. 419-428