Study the word of God. Let all at this meeting make a covenant with God to put away light and trifling conversation and frivolous, unimportant reading, and, for the coming year, diligently and prayerfully study the Bible, that you may be able to give to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is within you, with meekness and fear. Will you not, without delay, humble your hearts before God and repent of your backslidings?
Let none entertain the thought that I regret or take back any plain testimony I have borne to individuals or to the people. If I have erred anywhere, it is in not rebuking sin more decidedly and firmly. Some of the brethren have taken the responsibility of criticizing my work and proposing an easier way to correct wrongs. To these persons I would say: I take God’s way and not yours. What I have said or written in testimony or reproof has not been too plainly expressed.
God has given me my work, and I must meet it at the judgment. Those who have chosen their own way, who have risen up against the plain testimonies given them, and have sought to shake the faith of others in them, must settle the matter with God. I take back nothing. I soften nothing to suit their ideas or to excuse their defects of character. I have not spoken as plainly as the case required. Those who would in any way lessen the force of the sharp reproofs which God has given me to speak, must meet their work at the judgment.
Within a few weeks past, standing face to face with death, I have had a near look into eternity. If the Lord is pleased to raise me from my present state of feebleness, I hope, in the grace and strength that comes from above, to speak with fidelity the words which He gives me to speak. All through my life it has been terribly hard for me to hurt the feelings of any, or disturb their self-deception, as I deliver the testimonies given me of God. It is contrary to my nature. It costs me great pain and many sleepless nights. To those who have taken the responsibility to reprove me and, in their finite judgment, to propose a way which appears wiser to them, I repeat: I do not accept your efforts. Leave me with God, and let Him teach me. I will take the words from the Lord and speak them to the people. I do not expect that all will accept the reproof and reform their lives, but I must discharge my duty all the same. I will walk in humility before God, doing my work for time and for eternity.
God has not given my brethren the work that He has given me. It has been urged that my manner of giving reproof in public has led others to be sharp and critical and severe. If so, they must settle that matter with the Lord. If others take a responsibility which God has not laid upon them; if they disregard the instructions He has given them again and again through the humble instrument of His choice, to be kind, patient, and forbearing, they alone must answer for the results. With a sorrow-burdened heart, I have performed my unpleasant duty to my dearest friends, not daring to please myself by withholding reproof, even from my husband; and I shall not be less faithful in warning others, whether they will hear or forbear. When I am speaking to the people I say much that I have not premeditated. The Spirit of the Lord frequently comes upon me. I seem to be carried out of, and away from, myself; the life and character of different persons are clearly presented before my mind. I see their errors and dangers, and feel compelled to speak of what is thus brought before me. I dare not resist the Spirit of God.
I know that some are displeased with my testimony. It does not suit their proud, unconsecrated hearts. I feel more and more deeply the loss which our people have sustained by their failure to accept and obey the light which God has given them. My younger brethren in the ministry, I entreat you to reflect more upon your solemn responsibility. If consecrated to God, you may exert a powerful influence for good in the church and the world; but you lack heartfelt piety and devotion. God has sent you to be a light to the world by your good works as well as by your words and theories. But many of you may truly be represented by the foolish virgins, who had no oil in their lamps.
My brethren, heed the reproof and counsel of the True Witness, and God will work for you and with you. Your enemies may be strong and determined, but One mightier than they will be your helper. Let the light shine, and it will do its work. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.
Chap. 3 – Our College
There is danger that our college will be turned away from its original design. God’s purpose has been made known, that our people should have an opportunity to study the sciences and at the same time to learn the requirements of His word. Biblical lectures should be given; the study of the Scriptures should have the first place in our system of education.
Students are sent from a great distance to attend the college at Battle Creek for the very purpose of receiving instruction from the lectures on Bible subjects. But for one or two years past there has been an effort to mold our school after other colleges. When this is done, we can give no encouragement to parents to send their children to Battle Creek College. The moral and religious influences should not be put in the background. In times past, God has worked with the efforts of the teachers, and many souls have seen the truth and embraced it, and have gone to their homes to live henceforth for God, as the result of their connection with the college. As they saw that Bible study was made a part of their education, they were led to regard it as a matter of greater interest and importance.
Too little attention has been given to the education of young men for the ministry. This was the primary object to be secured in the establishment of the college. In no case should this be ignored or regarded as a matter of secondary importance. For several years, however, but few have gone forth from that institution prepared to teach the truth to others. Some who came at great expense, with the ministry in view, have been encouraged by the teachers to take a thorough course of study which would occupy a number of years, and, in order to obtain means to carry out these plans, have entered the canvassing field and given up all thought of preaching. This is entirely wrong. We have not many years to work, and teachers and principal should be imbued with the Spirit of God and work in harmony with His revealed will instead of carrying out their own plans. We are losing much every year because we do not heed what God has said upon these points.
Our college is designed of God to meet the advancing wants for this time of peril and demoralization. The study of books only cannot give students the discipline they need. A broader foundation must be laid. The college was not brought into existence to bear the stamp of any one man’s mind. Teachers and principal should work together as brethren. They should consult together, and also counsel with ministers and responsible men, and, above all else, seek wisdom from above, that all their decisions in reference to the school may be such as will be approved of God.
To give students a knowledge of books merely is not the purpose of the institution. Such education can be obtained at any college in the land. I was shown that it is Satan’s purpose to prevent the attainment of the very object for which the college was established. Hindered by his devices, its managers reason after the manner of the world and copy its plans and imitate its customs. But in thus doing, they will not meet the mind of the Spirit of God.
A more comprehensive education is needed, an education which will demand from teachers and principal such thought and effort as mere instruction in the sciences does not require. The character must receive proper discipline for its fullest and noblest development. The students should receive at college such training as will enable them to maintain a respectable, honest, virtuous standing in society, against the demoralizing influences which are corrupting the youth.
It would be well could there be connected with our college, land for cultivation and also workshops under the charge of men competent to instruct the students in the various departments of physical labor. Much is lost by a neglect to unite physical with mental taxation. The leisure hours of the students are often occupied with frivolous pleasures, which weaken physical, mental, and moral powers. Under the debasing power of sensual indulgence, or the untimely excitement of courtship and marriage, many students fail to reach that height of mental development which they might otherwise have attained.
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. Some of these very youth frequent haunts of dissipation, and the powers of the mind and body suffer in consequence. This class lead others to follow their pernicious ways. Thus, while principal and teachers are giving instruction in the sciences, Satan, with hellish cunning, is exerting every energy to gain control of the minds of the pupils and lead them down to ruin.
Generally speaking, the youth have but little moral strength. This is the result of neglected education in childhood. A knowledge of the character of God and our obligations to Him should not be regarded as a matter of minor consequence. The religion of the Bible is the only safeguard for the young. Morality and religion should receive special attention in our educational institutions.
The Bible as a Textbook
No other study will so ennoble every thought, feeling, and aspiration as the study of the Scriptures. This Sacred Word is the will of God revealed to men. Here we may 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 craving 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 the sons of God, the associates of sinless angels.
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.
As an educating power the Bible is without a rival. Nothing will so impart vigor to all the faculties as requiring students to grasp the stupendous truths of revelation. The mind gradually adapts itself to the subjects upon which it is allowed to dwell. If occupied with commonplace matters only, to the exclusion of grand and lofty themes, it will become dwarfed and enfeebled. If never required to grapple with difficult problems, or put to the stretch to comprehend important truths, it will, after a time, almost lose the power of growth.
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 we find an authentic account of 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.
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 singlehanded 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.
If morality and religion are to live in a school, it must be through a knowledge of God’s word. Some may urge that if religious teaching is to be made prominent our school will become unpopular; that those who are not of our faith will not patronize the college. Very well, then, let them go to other colleges, where they will find a system of education that suits their taste. Our school was established, not merely to teach the sciences, but for the purpose of giving instruction in the great principles of God’s word and in the practical duties of everyday life.
This is the education so much needed at the present time. If a worldly influence is to bear sway in our school, then sell it out to worldlings and let them take the entire control; and those who have invested their means in that institution will establish another school, to be conducted, not upon the plan of popular schools, nor according to the desires of principal and teachers, but upon the plan which God has specified.
In the name of my Master I entreat all who stand in responsible positions in that school to be men of God. When the Lord requires us to be distinct and peculiar, how can we crave popularity or seek to imitate the customs and practices of the world? God has declared His purpose to have one college in the land where the Bible shall have its proper place in the education of the youth. Will we do our part to carry out that purpose?
It may seem that the teaching of God’s word has but little effect on the minds and hearts of many students; but, if the teacher’s work has been wrought in God, some lessons of divine truth will linger in the memory of the most careless. The Holy Spirit will water the seed sown, and often it will spring up after many days and bear fruit to the glory of God.
Satan is constantly seeking to divert the attention of the people from the Bible. The words of God to men, which should receive our first attention, are neglected for the utterances of human wisdom. How can He, who is infinite in power and wisdom, bear thus with the presumption and effrontery of men!
Through the medium of the press, knowledge of every kind is placed within the reach of all; and yet, how large a share of every community are depraved in morals and superficial in mental attainments. If the people would but become Bible readers, Bible students, we would see a different state of things.
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, 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.
Principal and teachers should have a living connection with God, and should stand, firmly and fearlessly, as witnesses for Him. Never from cowardice or worldly policy let the word of God be placed in the background. Students will be profited intellectually, as well as morally and spiritually, by its study.
Object of the College
Our college stands today in a position that God does not approve. I have been shown the dangers that threaten this important institution. If its responsible men seek to reach the world’s standard, if they copy the plans and methods of other colleges, the frown of God will be upon our school.
The time has come for me to speak decidedly. The purpose of God in the establishment of our college has been plainly stated. There is an urgent demand for laborers in the gospel field. Young men who design to enter the ministry cannot spend a number of years in obtaining an education. Teachers should have been able to comprehend the situation and adapt their instruction to the wants of this class. Special advantages should have been given them for a brief yet comprehensive study of the branches most needed to fit them for their work. But I have been shown that this has not been accomplished.
Brother —– could have done a much better work than he has done for those who were to be ministers. God is not pleased with his course in this matter. He has not adapted himself to the situation. Men who have left their fields of labor at a considerable sacrifice to learn what they could in a short time have not always received that help and encouragement which they should have had. Men who have reached mature years, even the meridian of life, and who have families of their own, have been subjected to unnecessary embarrassment. Brother —– is himself extremely sensitive, but he does not realize that others can feel the sting of ridicule, sarcasm, or censure as keenly as he. In this he has wounded his brethren and displeased God.
Teachers in the College
There is a work to be done for every teacher in our college. Not one is free from selfishness. If the moral and religious character of the teachers were what it should be, a better influence would be exerted upon the students. The teachers do not seek individually to perform their own work with an eye single to the glory of God. Instead of looking to Jesus, and copying His life and character, they look to self, and aim too much to meet a human standard. I wish I could impress upon every teacher a full sense of his responsibility for the influence which he exerts upon the young. Satan is untiring in his efforts to secure the service of our youth. With great care he is laying his snare for the inexperienced feet. The people of God should jealously guard against his devices.
God is the embodiment of benevolence, mercy, and love. Those who are truly connected with Him cannot be at variance with one another. His Spirit ruling in the heart will create harmony, love, and unity. The opposite of this is seen among the children of Satan. It is his work to stir up envy, strife, and jealousy. In the name of my Master I ask the professed followers of Christ: What fruit do you bear?
In the system of instruction used in the common schools the most essential part of education is neglected, namely, the religion of the Bible. Education not only affects to a great degree the life of the student in this world, but its influence extends to eternity. How important, then, that the teachers be persons capable of exerting a right influence. They should be men and women of religious experience, daily receiving divine light to impart to their pupils.
Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 5 pp. 19-28