But the teacher should not be expected to do the parent’s work. There has been, with many parents, a fearful neglect of duty. Like Eli, they fail to exercise proper restraint; and then they send their undisciplined children to college to receive the training which the parents should have given them at home. The teachers have a task which but few appreciate. If they succeed in reforming these wayward youth they receive but little credit. If the youth choose the society of the evil disposed and go on from bad to worse, then the teachers are censured and the school denounced.
In many cases the censure justly belongs to the parents. They had the first and most favorable opportunity to control and train their children, when the spirit was teachable and the mind and heart easily impressed. But through the slothfulness of the parents the children are permitted to follow their own will until they become hardened in an evil course.
Let parents study less of the world and more of Christ; let them put forth less effort to imitate the customs and fashions of the world, and devote more time and effort to molding the minds and character of their children according to the divine Model. Then they could send forth their sons and daughters, fortified by pure morals and a noble purpose, to receive an education for positions of usefulness and trust. Teachers who are controlled by the love and fear of God could lead such youth still onward and upward, training them to be a blessing to the world and an honor to their Creator.
Connected with God, every instructor 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 for 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.
The evils of self-esteem and an unsanctified independence, which most impair our usefulness and which will prove our ruin if not overcome, spring from selfishness. “Counsel together” is the message which has been again and again repeated to me by the angel of God. By influencing one man’s judgment, Satan may endeavor to control matters to suit himself. He may succeed in misleading the minds of two persons; but, when several consult together, there is more safety. Every plan will be more closely criticized; every advance move more carefully studied. Hence there will be less danger of precipitate, ill-advised moves, which would bring confusion, perplexity, and defeat. In union there is strength. In division there is weakness and defeat.
God is leading out a people and preparing them for translation. Are we, who are acting a part in this work, standing as sentinels for God? Are we seeking to work unitedly? Are we willing to become servants of all? Are we following our great Exemplar?
Fellow laborers, we are each sowing seed in the fields of life. As is the seed, so will be the harvest. If we sow distrust, envy, jealousy, self-love, bitterness of thought and feeling, we shall reap bitterness to our own souls. If we manifest kindness, love, tender thought for the feelings of others, we shall receive the same in return.
The teacher who is severe, critical, overbearing, heedless of others’ feelings, must expect the same spirit to be manifested toward himself. He who wishes to preserve his own dignity and self-respect must be careful not to wound needlessly the self-respect of others. This rule should be sacredly observed toward the dullest, the youngest, the most blundering scholars. What God intends to do with those apparently uninteresting youth you do not know. He has, in the past, accepted persons no more promising or attractive to do a great work for Him. His Spirit, moving upon the heart, has aroused every faculty to vigorous action. The Lord saw in those rough, unhewn stones, precious material that would stand the test of storm and heat and pressure. God seeth not as man sees. He judges not from appearance, but He searches the heart and judges righteously.
The teacher should ever conduct himself as a Christian gentleman. He should ever stand in the attitude of a friend and counselor to his pupils. If all our people–teachers, ministers, and lay members–would cultivate the spirit of Christian courtesy, they would far more readily find access to the hearts of the people; many more would be led to examine and receive the truth. When every teacher shall forget self and feel a deep interest in the success and prosperity of his pupils, realizing that they are God’s property and that he must render an account for his influence upon their minds and character, then we shall have a school in which angels will love to linger. Jesus will look approvingly upon the work of the teachers and will send His grace into the hearts of the students.
Our college at Battle Creek is a place where the younger members of the Lord’s family are to be trained according to God’s plan of growth and development. They should be impressed with the idea that they are created in the image of their Maker and that Christ is the pattern which they are to follow. Our brethren permit their minds to take too narrow and too low a range. They do not keep the divine plan ever in view, but are fixing their eyes upon worldly models. Look up, where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God, and then labor that your pupils may be conformed to that perfect character.
If you lower the standard in order to secure popularity and an increase of numbers, and then make this increase a cause of rejoicing, you show great blindness. If numbers were evidence of success, Satan might claim the pre-eminence; for in this world his followers are largely in the majority. It is the degree of moral power pervading the college that is a test of its prosperity. It is the virtue, intelligence, and piety of the people composing our churches, not their numbers, that should be a source of joy and thankfulness.
Without the influence of divine grace, education will prove no real advantage; the learner becomes proud, vain, and bigoted. But that education which is received under the ennobling, refining influence of the Great Teacher will elevate man in the scale of moral value with God. It will enable him to subdue pride and passion and to walk humbly before God, as dependent upon Him for every capability, every opportunity, and every privilege.
I speak to the workers in our college: You must not only profess to be Christians, but you must exemplify the character of Christ. Let the wisdom from above pervade all your instruction. In a world of moral darkness and corruption, let it be seen that the spirit by which you are moved to action is from above, not from beneath. While you rely wholly upon your own strength and wisdom, your best efforts will accomplish little. If you are prompted by love to God, His law being your foundation, your work will be enduring. While the hay, wood, and stubble are consumed, your work will stand the test. The youth placed under your care you must meet again around the great white throne. If you permit your uncultivated manners or uncontrolled tempers to bear sway, and thus fail to influence these youth for their eternal good, you must at that day meet the grave consequences of your work. By a knowledge of the divine law, and obedience to its precepts, men may become the sons of God. By violation of that law they become servants of Satan. On the one hand they may rise to any height of moral excellence, or on the other hand they may descend to any depth of iniquity and degradation. The workers in our college should manifest a zeal and earnestness proportionate to the value of the prize at stake–the souls of their students, the approval of God, eternal life, and the joys of the redeemed.
As colaborers with Christ, with so favorable opportunities to impart the knowledge of God, our teachers should labor as if inspired from above. The hearts of the youth are not hardened, nor their ideas and opinions stereotyped, as are those of older persons. They may be won to Christ by your holy demeanor, your devotion, your Christlike walk. It would be much better to crowd them less in the study of the sciences and give them more time for religious privileges. Here a grave mistake has been made.
The object of God in bringing the college into existence has been lost sight of. Ministers of the gospel have so far shown their want of wisdom from above as to unite a worldly element with the college; they have joined with the enemies of God and the truth in providing entertainments for the students. In thus misleading the youth they have done a work for Satan. That work, with all its results, they must meet again at the bar of God. Those who pursue such a course show that they cannot be trusted. After the evil work has been done, they may confess their error; but can they as easily gather up the influence they have exerted? Will the “well done” be spoken to those who have been false to their trust? These unfaithful men have not built upon the eternal Rock. Their foundation will prove to be sliding sand. “Know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.”
No limit can be set to our influence. One thoughtless act may prove the ruin of many souls. The course of every worker in our college is making impressions upon the minds of the young, and these are borne away to be reproduced in others. It should be the teacher’s aim to prepare every youth under his care to be a blessing to the world. This object should never be lost sight of. There are some who profess to be working for Christ, yet occasionally go over to the side of Satan and do his work. Can the Saviour pronounce these good and faithful servants? Are they as watchmen giving the trumpet a certain sound?
Every man will at the judgment receive according to the deeds done in the body, whether they be good or evil. Our Saviour bids us: “Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation.” If we encounter difficulties, and in Christ’s strength overcome them; if we meet enemies, and in Christ’s strength put them to flight; if we accept responsibilities, and in Christ’s strength discharge them faithfully, we are gaining a precious experience. We learn, as we could not otherwise have learned, that our Saviour is a present help in every time of need.
There is a great work to be done in our college, a work which demands the co-operation of every teacher; and it is displeasing to God for one to discourage another. But nearly all seem to forget that Satan is an accuser of the brethren, and they unite with the enemy in his work. While professed Christians are contending, Satan is laying his snares for the inexperienced feet of children and youth. Those who have had a religious experience should seek to shield the young from his devices. They should never forget that they themselves were once enchanted with the pleasures of sin. We need the mercy and forbearance of God every hour, and how unbecoming for us to be impatient with the errors of the inexperienced youth. So long as God bears with them, dare we, fellow sinners, cast them off?
We should ever look upon the youth as the purchase of the blood of Christ. As such they have demands upon our love, our patience, and our sympathy. If we would follow Jesus we cannot restrict our interest and affection to ourselves and our own families; we cannot give our time and attention to temporal matters and forget the eternal interests of those around us. I have been shown that it is the result of our own selfishness that there are not one hundred young men where now there is one engaged in earnest labor for the salvation of their fellow men. “Love one another, as I have loved you,” is the command of Jesus. Look at His self-denial; behold the manner of love He has bestowed upon us; and then seek to imitate the Pattern.
There have been many things displeasing to God in the young men and young women who have acted as teachers at our college. You have been so absorbed in yourselves, and so devoid of spirituality, that you could not lead the youth to holiness and heaven. Many have returned to their homes more decided in their impenitence because of your lack of love for God and Christ. Walking without the spirit of Jesus, you have encouraged irreligion, lightness, and unkindness in that you have indulged these evils yourselves. The result of this course you do not realize–souls are lost that might have been saved.
Many have strong feelings against Brother —–. They accuse him of unkindness, harshness, and severity. But some of the very ones who would condemn him are no less guilty themselves. He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone.” Brother —– has not always moved wisely, and he has been hard to convince where he has not taken the best course. He has not been as willing to receive counsel, and to modify his methods of instruction and his manner of dealing with his students, as he should have been. But those who would condemn him because of his defects could in their turn be justly condemned. Every man has his peculiar defects of character. One may be free from the weakness which he sees in his brother, yet he may at the same time have faults which are far more grievous in the sight of God.
This unfeeling criticism of one another is wholly satanic. I was shown Brother —– deserves respect for the good which he has done. Let him be dealt with tenderly. He has performed the labor which three men should have shared. Let those who are so eagerly searching for his faults recount what they have done in comparison with him. He toiled when others were seeking rest and pleasure. He is worn; God would have him lay off some of these extra burdens for a while. He has so many things to divide his time and attention he can do justice to none.
Brother —– should not permit his combative spirit to be aroused and lead him to self-justification. He has given occasion for dissatisfaction. The Lord has presented this before him in testimony.
Students should not be encouraged in their faultfinding. This complaining spirit will increase as it is encouraged, and students will feel at liberty to criticize the teachers who do not meet their liking, and a spirit of dissatisfaction and strife will rapidly increase. This must be frowned down until it shall become extinct. Shall this evil be corrected? Will teachers put away their desire for the supremacy? Will they labor in humility, in love, and harmony? Time will tell.
Chap. 4 – Parental Training
I have been shown that very many of the parents who profess to believe the solemn message for this time have not trained their children for God. They have not restrained themselves and have been irritated with anyone who attempted to restrain them. They have not by living faith daily bound their children upon the altar of the Lord. Many of these youth have been allowed to transgress the fourth commandment by seeking their own pleasure upon God’s holy day. They have felt no compunctions of conscience in going about the streets on the Sabbath for their own amusement. Many go where they please and do what they please, and their parents are so fearful of displeasing them that, imitating the management of Eli, they lay no commands upon them.
These youth finally lose all respect for the Sabbath and have no relish for religious meetings or for sacred and eternal things. If their parents mildly remonstrate with them, they shield themselves by telling of the faults of some of the church members. In place of silencing the first approach to anything of the kind, the parents think just as their children think; if this one or that one were perfect, their children would be right. Instead of this they should teach them that the sins of others are no excuse for them. Christ is the only true pattern. The wrongs of many would not excuse one wrong in them or lessen in the least their guilt. God has given them one standard, perfect, noble, elevated. This they must meet, irrespective of the course which others may pursue. But many parents seem to lose reason and judgment in their fondness for their children, and, through these indulged, selfish, mismanaged youth, Satan in turn works effectually to ruin the parents. I was referred to the wrath of God which came upon the incredulous and disobedient of ancient Israel. Their duty to instruct their children was plainly enjoined upon them. It is just as binding upon believing parents in this generation. Give ear, O My people, to My law: incline your ears to the words of My mouth. I will open My mouth in a parable: I will utter dark sayings of old: which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children, showing to the generation to come the praises of the Lord, and His strength, and His wonderful works that He hath done.”
Children are what their parents make them by their instruction, discipline, and example. Hence the overwhelming importance of parental faithfulness in training the young for the service of God. Children should early be taught the sacredness of religious obligations. This is a most important part of their education. Our duty to God should be performed before any other. The strict observance of God’s law, from principle, should be taught and enforced. For He established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which He commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children: that the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born; who should arise and declare them to their children: that they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments: and might not be as their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation; a generation that set not their heart aright, and whose spirit was not steadfast with God.”
Here is seen the great responsibility devolving upon parents. Children who are allowed to come up to manhood or womanhood with the will undisciplined and the passions uncontrolled, will generally in afterlife pursue a course which God condemns. These are eager for frivolous enjoyments and irreligious associates. They have been allowed to neglect religious duties and indulge the inclinations of the carnal heart, and, as a consequence, Satan controls the mind and principles. In —– —– parents have given him ample room thus to work. Most of the backsliding from God that has occurred in that place has come in consequence of the parents’ neglect to train their children to a conscientious, religious life. The condition of these children is lamentable. They profess to be Christians; but their parents have not taken upon themselves the burden of teaching them how to be Christians–how to recount the mercies of God, how to praise Him, how to exemplify in their lives the life of Christ.
When these children enter school and associate with other students, those who have been really trying to be Christians are ashamed to act out their faith in the presence of those who have had so much light. They are ashamed to appear singular and deny inclination, and so they throw away their armor at the very time when it is most needed, when the powers of darkness are working through these irreligious companions to lead them away from Christ.
Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 5 pp. 29-38