The Schools of the Prophets

From The Signs of the Times, June 22, 1882

By Ellen G. White

[Emphasis added]

The institutions of human society find their best models in the word of God. For those of instruction in particular, there is no lack of both precept and example. Lessons of great profit, even in this age of educational progress, may be found in the history of God’s ancient people.

The Lord reserved to Himself the education and instruction of Israel. His care was not restricted to their religious interests. Whatever affected their mental or physical well-being, became also an object of divine solicitude, and came within the province of divine law.

God commanded the Hebrews to teach their children His requirements, and to make them acquainted with all His dealings with their people. The home and the school were one. In the place of stranger lips the loving hearts of the father and mother were to give instruction to their children. Thoughts of God were associated with all the events of daily life in the home dwelling. The mighty works of God in the deliverance of His people were recounted with eloquence and reverential awe. The great truths of God’s providence, and of the future life, were impressed on the young mind. It became acquainted with the true, the good, the beautiful.

By the use of figures and symbols, the lessons given were illustrated, and thus more firmly fixed in the memory. Through this animated imagery the child was, almost from infancy, initiated into the mysteries, the wisdom, and the hopes of his fathers, and guided in a way of thinking and feeling and anticipating, that reached beyond things seen and transitory, to the unseen and eternal.

From this education many a youth of Israel came forth vigorous in body and in mind, quick to perceive and strong to act, the heart prepared like good ground for the growth of the precious seed, the mind trained to see God in the words of revelation and the scenes of nature. The stars of heaven, the trees and flowers of the field, the lofty mountains, the babbling brooks, all spoke to him, and the voices of the prophets, heard throughout the land, met a response in his heart.

Such was the training of Moses in that lowly cabin home in Goshen; of Samuel, by the faithful Hannah; of David, in the hill-dwelling at Bethlehem; of Daniel, before the scenes of the captivity separated him from the home of his fathers. Such, too, was the early life of Christ, in the humble home at Nazareth; such the training by which the child Timothy learned from the lips of his “mother Eunice, and his grandmother Lois,” the truths of the Holy Writ.

Further provision was made for the instruction of the young, by the establishment of the “school of the prophets.” If a youth was eager to obtain a better knowledge of the Scriptures, to search deeper into the mysteries of the kingdom of God, and to seek wisdom from above, that he might become a teacher in Israel, this school was open to him.

These institutions were missionary seminaries, designed to maintain a higher standard of morals and religion at a period when the deplorable condition of degeneracy and corruption called loudly for such reformatory effort. The aged Eli had dishonored the Lord by his neglect to restrain and control his children. These degenerate sons called license liberty, and under the cover of their holy office practiced the most debasing sins. The character of these men as leaders of the nation, indicates clearly the state of things existing at that time. Had Eli restrained his excessive fondness for his sons, and performed his duty to them as a father and a priest, theirs had been a nobler life and a happier fate. They might have been an honor to their father, the crown of the nation, and the guardians of the sanctuary. But their crimes had polluted the ordinances of the Lord, and corrupted his people. To prevent the moral degeneracy from becoming universal, he resorted to a speedy and powerful remedy. Divine justice destroyed the father and the sons.

Then amid the moral darkness there shone forth once more the light of purity and holiness and truth. The chosen leader was a youthful Levite, whose infant years had been guarded by a faithful, praying mother, whose boyhood had been unsullied by the surrounding corruption. Samuel was now invested by the God of Israel with the threefold office of judge, prophet and priest. Placing one hand in the hand of Christ, and with the other taking the helm of the nation, he holds it with such wisdom and firmness as to preserve Israel from destruction.

By Samuel, the schools of the prophets were established, to serve as a barrier against the widespread corruption, and to promote the moral and spiritual welfare of the youth. These schools proved a great blessing to Israel, promoting that righteousness which exalteth a nation, and furnishing it with men qualified to act, in the fear of God, as leaders and counselors. In the accomplishment of this object, Samuel gathered companies of young men who were pious, intelligent, and studious. These were called the sons of the prophets. As they communed with God and studied his word and his works, they were imbued with wisdom from above, as well as richly endowed with intellectual treasures. The instructors were men not only well versed in divine truth, but those who had themselves enjoyed communion with God, and had received the special endowment of his spirit. They enjoyed the respect and confidence of the people, both for learning and piety.

In Samuel’s day there were two of these schools—one at Ramah, the home of the prophet, and the other at Kirjath-jearim, where the ark then was. Two more were added in Elijah’s time, at Jericho and Bethel, and others were afterward established at Samaria and Gilgal.

The pupils of these schools sustained themselves by their own labor as husbandmen and mechanics. In Israel this was not considered strange or degrading; indeed it was regarded a crime to allow children to grow up in ignorance of useful labor. In obedience to the command of God, every child was taught some trade, even though he was to be educated for holy office. Many of the religious teachers supported themselves by manual labor. Even so late as the time of Christ, it was not considered anything degradable that Paul and Aquila earned livelihood by their labor as tent-makers.

The chief subjects of study in these schools were, the law of God with the instructions given to Moses, sacred history, sacred music, and poetry. The manner of instruction was far different from that in the theological schools of the present day, from which many students graduate with less real knowledge of God and religious truth than when they entered. In those schools of olden time, it was the grand object of all study to learn the will of God and the duties of His people. In the records of sacred history, were traced the footsteps of Jehovah. From the events of the past were drawn lessons of instruction for the future. The great truths set forth by the types and shadows were brought to view, and faith grasped the central object of all that system, the Lamb of God who was to take away the sins of the world.

The Hebrew language was cultivated as the most sacred tongue in the world. A spirit of devotion was cherished. Not only were students taught the duty of prayer, but they were taught how to pray, how to approach their Creator, how to exercise faith in Him, and how to understand and obey the teachings of his Spirit. Sanctified intellects brought forth from the treasure-house of God, things new and old.

The Spirit of God was signally manifested in these seminaries, in prophecy and sacred song. Upon one occasion a company of prophets met Saul at the “hill of God,” not far from Gibeah, with psaltery and tabret, pipe and harp. Under the influence of the Holy Spirit, these men were prophesying and praising God with the music of instruments and the voice of song. The Spirit of the Lord and his converting power came also upon Saul, and he prophesied with them.

The art of sacred melody was diligently cultivated in those schools of the prophets. No frivolous waltz was heard, nor flippant song that should extol man and divert the attention from God; but sacred, solemn psalms of praise to the Creator, exalting His name and recounting His wondrous works. Thus music was made to serve a holy purpose, to lift the thoughts to that which was pure and noble and elevating, and to awaken in the soul, devotion and gratitude to God.

 

What Is Higher Education in God’s Sight?

“Higher education is an experimental knowledge of the plan of salvation, and this knowledge is secured by earnest and diligent study of the Scriptures. Such an education will renew the mind and transform the character, restoring the image of God in the soul. It will fortify the mind against the deceptive whisperings of the adversary, and enable us to understand the voice of God. It will teach the learner to become a co-worker with Jesus Christ, to dispel the moral darkness about him, and bring light and knowledge to men. It is the simplicity of true godliness—our passport from the preparatory school of earth to the higher school above.

“There is no education to be gained higher than that given to the early disciples, and which is revealed to us through the word of God. To gain the higher education means to follow this word implicitly; it means to walk in the footsteps of Christ, to practice His virtues. It means to give up selfishness and to devote the life to the service of God. Higher education calls for something greater, something more divine, than the knowledge to be obtained merely from books. It means a personal, experimental knowledge of Christ; it means emancipation from ideas, from habits and practices, that have been gained in the school of the prince of darkness, and which are opposed to loyalty to God. It means to overcome stubbornness, pride, selfishness, worldly ambition, and unbelief. It is the message of deliverance from sin.

“Age after age the curiosity of men has led them to seek for the tree of knowledge, and often they think they are plucking fruit most essential, when in reality it is vanity and nothingness in comparison with that science of true holiness which would open to them the gates of the city of God. Human ambition seeks for knowledge that will bring to them glory, and self-exaltation, and supremacy. Thus Adam and Eve were influenced by Satan until God’s restraint was snapped asunder, and their education under the teacher of lies began. They gained the knowledge which God had refused them—to know the consequences of transgression.

“The tree of knowledge, so-called, has become an instrument of death. Satan has artfully woven his dogmas, his false theories, into the instruction given. From the tree of knowledge he speaks the most pleasing flattery in regard to the higher education. Thousands partake of the fruit of this tree, but it means death to them. Christ says, ‘Ye spend money for that which is not bread.’ Isaiah 55:2. You are using your heaven-entrusted talents to secure an education which God pronounces foolishness.

“Upon the mind of every student should be impressed the thought that education is a failure unless the understanding has learned to grasp the truths of divine revelation, and unless the heart accepts the teachings of the gospel of Christ. The student who, in the place of the broad principles of the word of God, will accept common ideas, and will allow the time and attention to be absorbed in commonplace, trivial matters, will find his mind becoming dwarfed and enfeebled. He will lose the power of growth. The mind must be trained to comprehend the important truths that concern eternal life.”—Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, pp. 11–13. [Emphasis added.]

“The Bible is God’s great lesson book, His great educator. The foundation of all true science is contained in the Bible. Every branch of knowledge may be found by searching the word of God. And above all else it contains the science of all sciences, the science of salvation. The Bible is the mine of the unsearchable riches of Christ.

“The true higher education is gained by studying and obeying the word of God. But when God’s word is laid aside for books that do not lead to God and the kingdom of heaven, the education acquired is a perversion of the name. . . .

“By many, man’s wisdom is thought to be higher than the wisdom of the divine Teacher, and God’s lesson book is looked upon as old-fashioned, stale, and uninteresting. But by those who have been vivified by the Holy Spirit it is not so regarded. They see the priceless treasure, and would sell all to buy the field that contains it. Instead of books containing the suppositions of reputedly great authors, they choose the word of Him who is the greatest author and the greatest teacher the world has ever known, who gave His life for us, that through Him we might have everlasting life.”—Christ’s Object Lessons, pp. 107, 108. [Emphasis added.]

International Symposium of Sacred Music

The representatives of the units mentioned below of the Seventh Day Adventist Reform Movement General Conference, met together with members of the GC Council and Music Committee at the 1st International Symposium of Sacred Music, held from November 3-9, 2014, in Itu – Sao Paolo, Brazil, and, after careful study, VOTED UPON AND APPROVED THE FOLLOWING CONCLUSIONS:

GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS

1. We must praise God in the beauty of His holiness. He is on an infinitely superior level compared to created beings (Habakkuk 2:20). But at the same time, God is also accessible because of His closeness to humanity through Christ (Galatians 4:6). Therefore sacred music must always be reverent and cheerful yet solemn (James 5:13; Ev. 508).

2. Music is considered sacred that is specifically dedicated to God, has a message consistent with the present truth, and has musical characteristics that are in accordance with the principles of true worship. Sacred music possesses “beauty, pathos, and power” (Ev. 505) and is presented in a way that is “dignified, solemn, and impressive” (3 SM 333). Only sacred music is appropriate for the worship of God.

3. Music is considered secular that is not specifically produced for the worship of God, but is not offensive to Christian principles. Such music, if of wholesome quality, contributes to the development of good habits for a good musical education (1 Thessalonians 5:21; CG 171; Ed. 212-213).

4. Music is considered profane that disrespects sacred things or treats them with irreverence. Profane music is offensive to God and contributes to the formation of an uncouth musical taste and should not be heard.

5. Due to the origin as well as the rhythmic and sonic characteristics, the musical genres derived from profane contexts, such as rock, blues, jazz and pop (with all their variations) as well as those associated with pagan rituals, are considered profane and are unsuitable for worship.

6. Musical genres used by religious denominations based on musical styles associated with profane music are not appropriate for worship.

CONCLUSIONS ABOUT MUSIC AND CULTURE

Introductory notes:

The sacrifice of Christ makes salvation accessible to all peoples of the earth, and this draws all souls from all cultures to an adoration of the One who is worthy to be praised (Romans 10:12).

The Word of God does not authorize the affirmation of superiority of one culture in relation to another. In the new dispensation the people of God are dispersed throughout various nations and cultures.

7. Considering that all human beings are God’s creatures and possess equal value in His eyes, independent of their peculiar characteristics, cultural diversities are acceptable in the music of worship when they are in accordance with God’s Word.

8. Sacred music in the context of cultural diversity must reveal a Christian world view in accordance with the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy.

9. Not all cultural manifestations can be accepted in the worship of God. The biblical history reveals that the acceptance of the Christian doctrine was accompanied by the renunciation of certain cultural customs. When converted to Christ, the Gentiles had to renounce those habits that were culturally rooted in the worship of false gods.

10. The music based on the cultural traditions of a people is not itself considered inappropriate if it is in accordance with the principles that direct the worship of God.

11. The values of the European culture dominant in western civilization are based on Christian roots, and this is reflected in the good quality of its traditional hymnology. However, this does not mean that only those musical productions from determined historical periods and with European origin are appropriate for worship.

CONCLUSIONS ABOUT MUSIC AND INSTRUMENTATION

12. In general, the use of musical instruments is acceptable in the worship of God, and their use should be encouraged (9T 144).

13. In the presentation of music in worship, accompanying instruments should not overpower the human voice.

14. Musical instruments should be played with ability, with a good tone, correct intonation and expression, in such a way to make the worship of God beautiful (Psalm 33:3).

15. The human voice should be educated in order to render better praise unto God (Ed. 63).

16. It is preferable to use melodious and harmonious instruments in the worship of God.

17. The predominance of melody and harmony over rhythm is a basic principle in the structure of music in worship. The instruments must respect this principle, stressing the melody and harmony and not the rhythmic pattern.

18. The drum set and any other instruments acoustic or electronic that reproduce its sound are not appropriate for worship music due to its strong association with profane musical genres.

19. Besides that, the drum set is also inappropriate because of its constant use in opposition to the principle that the melody and harmony should have preeminence in relation to the rhythm, as it continually repeats the rhythmic pattern of the music.

20. Electronic amplification should only reach a sufficient volume for the voice and instruments to be heard. Excessive amplification is disagreeable and damaging to the human ear.

21. In the presentation of music in worship, accompanying instruments should not overpower the human voice.

22. In music for worship, there is no place for vocal or instrumental presentations with the purpose to exhibit oneself or to attract the attention to the human being. (20MR 187).

23. The distortion effects related to rock music found in the electric guitar or other instruments should not be used in worship.

24. As an element of musical language, syncopation of itself is not inappropriate. However, when syncopation is used frequently in the music it is rendered inappropriate for worship.

25. Music for worship must not be based on a repetitive rhythmic pattern that accents the off-beats (weak beats). The excessive repetition of such rhythmic patterns tends to cause a hypnotic state that diminishes the capacity of mental discernment. The same harmful effects happen when the music is performed at a slow tempo or at a low sound intensity. The use of such music is not recommended even when outside of the context of worship.

Davi P. Silva – GC Council – President Ionita Radu – GC Council
Liviu Tudoroiu – GC Council
Rômulo Borges – GC Council
Marcos Pedrazas – GC Music Committee – Chairman Barbara Montrose – GC Music Committee
Djordje Bosanac – GC Music Committee
Isaac Terceros – GC Music Committee
Vili Popovic – GC Music Commitee
Ádám Tóth – Hungarian Field
Adriana Blanco – Central American Union Andrés Linares – Bolivian Union
Barbu Corneliu – Romanian Union
Brajovic Jasmina – German Field
David Zic – Western US Union
Elias Devai – South American Southern Union Evanilson Luz – South Brazilian Union
Helen Vukotic – East Canadian Field Conference Homero Paredes – South East US Field
Inna Auzeac – British Mission
Israel Baez – Ecuadorian Union
Javier Bizama – Chilean Union
Jean Bosco – Rwuanda Union Mission
Joel A. da Silva – South Brazilian Union
Jose Antonio Cachipupu – Angola Union
Josias Almeida – North Brazilian Union
Mariceanu Anatoliev – Moldavian Union
Maxym Kalinin – East European Union
Nathan Tyler – Australasian Union
Orlando Estevez – Eastern US Field
Otoniel León – Peruvian Union
Oz Demis – Romanian Union
Pawel Zajac – Polish Field
Sandro Ribeiro – North Brazilian Union

 

Click here to view a copy of the official document stating the conclusions from the International Symposium of Sacred Music!

Why listen to classical music?

  • Classical music “makes you smarter”!

  • Classical music enriches your emotional experiences. 

  • Classical music inspires creativity.

  • Classical music is moral and lovely.

  • Classical music reflects the qualities of God.

 

Check out http://www.hisownhandmusic.com/blogs/naomi-harrow/five-reasons-why-teenagers-should-listen-classical-music# (written by a teenager to other teenagers) for more details on all of these points. 

Church Schools Needed

 

By Ellen G. White
As published in Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, pp. 198–205

Many families who, for the purpose of educating their children, move to places where our large schools are established, would do better service for the Master by remaining where they are. They should encourage the church of which they are members to establish a church school where the children within their borders could receive an all-round, practical Christian education. It would be vastly better for their children, for themselves, and for the cause of God if they would remain in the smaller churches, where their help is needed, instead of going to the larger churches, where, because they are not needed, there is a constant temptation to fall into spiritual inactivity.

Wherever there are a few Sabbathkeepers, the parents should unite in providing a place for a day school where their children and youth can be instructed. They should employ a Christian teacher who, as a consecrated missionary, shall educate the children in such a way as to lead them to become missionaries. Let teachers be employed who will give a thorough education in the common branches, the Bible being made the foundation and the life of all study. Parents should gird on the armor and by their own example teach their children to be missionaries. They should work while it is day, for “the night cometh, when no man can work.” John 9:4. If they will put forth unselfish efforts, perseveringly teaching their children to bear responsibilities, the Lord will work with them.

Some families of Sabbathkeepers live alone or far separated from others of like faith. These have sometimes sent their children to our boarding schools, where they have received help and have returned to be a blessing in their own home. But some cannot send their children away from home to be educated. In such cases parents

should endeavor to employ an exemplary religious teacher who will feel it a pleasure to work for the Master in any capacity and be willing to cultivate any part of the Lord’s vineyard. Fathers and mothers should co-operate with the teacher, laboring earnestly for the conversion of their children. Let them strive to keep the spiritual interest fresh and wholesome in the home and to bring up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Let them devote a portion of each day to study and become learners with their children. Thus they may make the educational hour one of pleasure and profit, and their confidence will increase in this method of seeking for the salvation of their children. Parents will find that their own growth will be more rapid as they learn to work for their children. As they thus work in a humble way unbelief will disappear. Faith and activity will impart assurance and satisfaction that will increase day by day as they follow on to know the Lord and to make Him known. Their prayers will become earnest, for they will have some definite object for which to pray.

In some countries parents are compelled by law to send their children to school. In these countries, in localities where there is a church, schools should be established if there are no more than six children to attend. Work as if you were working for your life to save the children from being drowned in the polluting, corrupting influences of the world.

We are far behind our duty in this important matter. In many places schools should have been in operation years ago. Many localities would thus have had representatives of the truth who would have given character to the work of the Lord. Instead of centering so many large buildings in a few places, schools should have been established in many localities.

Let these schools now be started under wise direction, that the children and youth may be educated in their own churches. It is a grievous offense to God that there has been so great neglect in this line when Providence has so abundantly supplied us with facilities with which to work. But though in the past we have come short of doing what we might have done for the youth and children, let us now repent and redeem the time. The Lord says: “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land.” Isaiah 1:18, 19.

The Character of Church Schools and of Their Teachers

The character of the work done in our church schools should be of the very highest order. Jesus Christ, the Restorer, is the only remedy for a wrong education, and the lessons taught in His word should ever be kept before the youth in the most attractive form. The school discipline should supplement in the home training, and both at home and at school simplicity and godliness should be maintained. Men and women will be found who have talent to work in these small schools, but who cannot work to advantage in the larger ones. As they practice the Bible lessons they will themselves receive an education of the highest value.

In selecting teachers we should use every precaution, knowing that this is as solemn a matter as the selecting of persons for the ministry. Wise men who can discern character should make the selection, for the very best talent that can be secured is needed to educate and mold the minds of the young and to carry on successfully the many lines of work that will need to be done by the teacher in our church schools. No person of an inferior or narrow cast of mind should be placed in charge of one of these schools. Do not place over the children young and inexperienced teachers who have no managing ability, for their efforts will tend to disorganization. Order is heaven’s first law, and every school should in this respect be a model of heaven.

To place over young children teachers who are proud and unloving is wicked. A teacher of this stamp will do great harm to those who are rapidly developing character. If teachers are not submissive to God, if they have no love for the children over whom they preside, or if they show partiality for those who please their fancy and manifest indifference to those who are less attractive or to those who are restless and nervous, they should not be employed; for the result of their work will be a loss of souls for Christ.

Teachers are needed, especially for the children, who are calm and kind, manifesting forbearance and love for the very ones who most need it. Jesus loved the children; He regarded them as younger members of the Lord’s family. He always treated them with kindness and respect, and teachers are to follow His example. They should have the true missionary spirit, for the children are to be trained to become missionaries. They should feel that the Lord has committed to them as a solemn trust the souls of the children and youth. Our church schools need teachers who have high moral qualities, those who can be trusted, those who are sound in the faith and who have tact and patience, those who walk with God and abstain from the very appearance of evil. In their work they will find clouds. There will be clouds and darkness, storms and tempests, prejudice to meet from parents who have incorrect ideas of the characters which their children should form; for there are many who claim to believe the Bible, while they fail to bring its principles into the home life. But if the teachers are constant learners in the school of Christ, these circumstances will never conquer them.

Let parents seek the Lord with intense earnestness, that they may not be stumbling blocks in the way of their children. Let envy and jealousy be banished from the heart, and let the peace of Christ come in to unite, the members of the church in true Christian fellowship. Let the windows of the soul be closed against the poisonous malaria of earth, and let them be opened heavenward to receive the healing rays of the sunshine of Christ’s righteousness. Until the spirit of criticism and suspicion is banished from the heart, the Lord cannot do for the church that which He longs to do in opening the way for the establishment of schools; until there is unity, He will not move upon those to whom He has entrusted means and ability for the carrying forward of this work. Parents must reach a higher standard, keeping the way of the Lord and practicing righteousness, that they may be light bearers. There must be an entire transformation of mind and character. A spirit of disunion cherished in the hearts of a few will communicate itself to others and undo the influence for good that would be exerted by the school. Unless parents are ready and anxious to co-operate with the teacher for the salvation of their children, they are not prepared to have a school established among them.

Results of Church School Work

When properly conducted, church schools will be the means of lifting the standard of truth in the places where they are established; for children who are receiving a Christian education will be witnesses for Christ. As Jesus in the temple solved the mysteries which priests and rulers had not discerned, so in the closing work of this earth children who have been rightly educated will in their simplicity speak words which will be an astonishment to men who now talk of “higher education.” As the children sang in the temple courts, “Hosanna; Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord,” so in these last days children’s voices will be raised to give the last message of warning to a perishing world. When heavenly intelligences see that men are no longer permitted to present the truth, the Spirit of God will come upon the children, and they will do a work in the proclamation of the truth which the older workers cannot do, because their way will be hedged up.

Our church schools are ordained by God to prepare the children for this great work. Here children are to be instructed in the special truths for this time and in practical missionary work. They are to enlist in the army of workers to help the sick and the suffering. Children can take part in the medical missionary work and by their jots and tittles can help to carry it forward. Their investments may be small, but every little helps, and by their efforts many souls will be won to the truth. By them God’s message will be made known and His saving health to all nations. Then let the church carry a burden for the lambs of the flock. Let the children be educated and trained to do service for God, for they are the Lord’s heritage.

Years ago school buildings suitable for church schools should have been erected in which the children and youth could receive a true education.

The lessonbooks used in our church schools should be of a character to bring the law of God to the attention. Thus the light and strength and power of the truth will be magnified. Youth from the world, some even whose minds have been depraved, will connect with these schools, and there they will be converted. Their witness for the truth may be stopped for a while by the false theories entertained by the parents, but in the end, truth will triumph. I am instructed to say that this kind of missionary work will have a telling influence in diffusing light and knowledge.

How important that families who settle where a school is located should be good representatives of our holy faith!

Churches where schools are established may well tremble as they see themselves entrusted with moral responsibilities too great for words to express. Shall this work that has been nobly begun fail or languish for want of consecrated workers? Shall selfish projects and ambitions find room in this enterprise? Will the workers permit the love of gain, the love of ease, the lack of piety, to banish Christ from their hearts and exclude Him from the school? God forbid! The work is already far advanced. In educational lines everything is arranged for an earnest reform, for a truer, more effective education. Will our people accept this holy trust? Will they humble themselves at the cross of Calvary, ready for every sacrifice and every service?

Parents and teachers should seek most earnestly for that wisdom which Jesus is ever ready to give; for they are dealing with human minds at the most interesting and impressible period of their development. They should aim so to cultivate the tendencies of the youth that at each stage of their life they may represent the natural beauty appropriate to that period, unfolding gradually, as do the plants and flowers in the garden.

The management and instruction of children is the noblest missionary work that any man or woman can undertake. By the proper use of objects the lessons should be made very plain, that their minds may be led from nature up to nature’s God. We must have in our schools those who possess the tact and skill to carry forward this line of work, thus sowing seeds of truth. The great day of God alone can reveal the good this work will do.

Special talent should be given to the education of the little ones. Many can put the crib high and give food to the sheep, but it is a more difficult matter to put the crib low and feed the lambs. This is a lesson which primary teachers need to learn.

The eye of the mind needs to be educated, or the child will find pleasure in beholding evil.

Teachers should sometimes enter into the sports and plays of the little children and teach them how to play. In this way they may be able to check unkind feelings and actions without seeming to criticize or find fault. This companionship will bind together the hearts of teachers and pupils, and school will be a delight to all.

Teachers must love the children because they are the younger members of the Lord’s family. The Lord will inquire of them as of the parents: “Where is the flock that was given thee, thy beautiful flock?” Jeremiah 13:20.

 

Unwise Marriages

By Mrs. E. G. White
As published in The Review and Herald, February 2, 1886

Few have correct views of the marriage relation. Many seem to think that it is the attainment of perfect bliss; but if they could know one quarter of the heartaches of men and women that are bound by the marriage vow in chains that they cannot and dare not break, they would not be surprised that I trace these lines. Marriage, in a majority of cases, is a most galling yoke. There are thousands that are mated but not matched. The books of heaven are burdened with the woes, the wickedness, and the abuse, that lie hidden under the marriage mantle. This is why I would warn the young who are of a marriageable age, to make haste slowly in the choice of a companion. The path of married life may appear beautiful and full of happiness; but why may not you be disappointed as thousands of others have been?

This question of marriage should be a study instead of a matter of impulse. Obedience to the last six commandments requires this. Obedience to the fifth commandment also requires that the young honor the judgment of their parents in the matter. Crimes of every kind may be traced to unwise marriages; then why should ignorant and inexperienced children be allowed to enter the marriage relation blindly? Parents should feel their responsibility to guard the interests of their children, when their own mature judgment teaches them that should they marry unwisely, life-long unhappiness would be the result.

While there are weighty responsibilities devolving upon the parents to guard carefully the future happiness and interests of their children, it is also their duty to make home as attractive as possible. This is of far greater consequence than to acquire estates and money. Home must not lack sunshine. The home feeling should be kept alive in the hearts of the children, that they may look back upon the home of their childhood as a place of peace and happiness next to heaven. Then as they come to maturity, they should in their turn try to be a comfort and blessing to their parents. They should not be too ready to leave the parental roof and give their affections and services to a stranger, at the very time when they are most needed at home.

Parents are entitled to the love of their children; and if the children would manifest in their words and acts more affection for the parents, it would be a blessing to both. Every kind attention is appreciated by parents. Before a marriage contract is made, every young person should look carefully to see how his or her absence from home will affect the happiness of the parents. Do they in their age of feebleness need the help that you alone can give them? Think carefully in regard to who has the strongest claims upon you.

When so much misery results from marriage, why will not the youth be wise? Why will they continue to feel that they do not need the counsel of older and more experienced persons? In business, men and women manifest great caution. Before engaging in any important enterprise, they prepare themselves for their work. Time, money, and much careful study are devoted to the subject, lest they shall make a failure in their undertaking. How much greater caution should be exercised in entering the marriage relation,–a relation which affects future generations and the future life? Instead of this, it is often entered upon with jest and levity, impulse and passion, blindness and lack of calm consideration. The only explanation of this is that Satan loves to see misery and ruin in the world, and he weaves this net to entangle souls. He rejoices to have these inconsiderate persons lose their enjoyment of this world and their home in the world to come.

Many make light of the Heaven-appointed institution of marriage, and after it has been entered into thoughtlessly, without a true sense of its sacredness, the obligations it imposes are often shamefully disregarded. Frequently a man who is entirely ignorant of the wants of one of the opposite sex, of the treatment she should receive, takes her under his proposed protection when his influence and his temperament are to her a desolating hail, beating down her will and her aspirations, and leaving her no freedom of mind or judgment. Ignoring her personal rights, he becomes unkind and authoritative. Her individuality is lost in his, and she becomes the slave of his caprice and passions, as though she had naught to do but to obey his whims.

He may even quote texts of Scripture to show that he is the head, and that he must be obeyed in all things. He feels that his wife belongs to him, and that she is subject to his order and dictation. But who gives him the right to thus dictate and condemn? Is it the law of God, which commands him to love God with all his heart, and his neighbor as himself? No; there is no moral or religious defense for such unjust authority. The same Bible that prescribes the duty of the wife, prescribes also the duty of the husband. It says, “Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them.” The husband is to be kind and affectionate. He is to love his wife as a part of himself, and to cherish her as Christ does His Church.

While women want men of strong and noble characters, whom they can respect and love, these qualities need to be mingled with tenderness and affection, patience and forbearance. The wife should in her turn be cheerful, kind, and devoted, assimilating her taste to that of her husband as far as it is possible to do without losing her individuality. Both parties should cultivate patience and kindness, and that tender love for each other that will make married life pleasant and enjoyable.

Those who have such high ideas of the married life, whose imagination has wrought out an air-castle picture that has naught to do with life’s perplexities and troubles, will find themselves sadly disappointed in the reality. When real life comes in with its troubles and cares, they are wholly unprepared to meet them. They expect in each other perfection, but find weakness and defects; for finite men and women are not faultless. Then they begin to find fault with each other, and to express their disappointment. Instead of this, they should try to help each other, and should seek practical godliness to help them to fight the battle of life valiantly. Their daily prayer should be—

 

“Help us to help each other, Lord,

Each other’s woes to bear.”

Self-denial must be practiced in the home. Every member of the family should be kind and courteous, and should studiously seek by every word and act to bring in peace, contentment, and happiness. All members of the family do not have the same disposition, the same stamp of character; but through self-discipline, and love and forbearance one for another, all can be bound together in the closest union. In many families there is not that Christian politeness, that true courtesy, deference, and respect for one another that would prepare its members to marry and make happy families of their own. In the place of patience, kindness, tender courtesy, and Christian sympathy and love, there are sharp words, clashing ideas, and a criticizing, dictatorial spirit. In every family where Christ abides, a tender interest and love will be manifested for one another; not a spasmodic love expressed only in fond caresses, but a love that is deep and abiding. True love is a high and holy principle, and is altogether different in character from that love that is awakened by impulse, and which suddenly dies when tested and tried.

My heart is drawn out for the young. God has given them talents, which, if improved, would be of great service in his cause. Satan knows this, and therefore seeks in every possible way so to occupy their minds that they will have no time or inclination to devote themselves to the service of God. There needs to be a great change in the home life of some. They need to overcome the defects in their characters, if they would become useful workers for God and useful members of society. They do not realize that the inconsistencies in their characters are great drawbacks to their usefulness, and that unless they war against those tendencies which have controlled them to a greater or less degree, they will surely fail of attaining the future life.

Many are seeking for happiness, but they know not how to obtain it. If such would find true happiness, their minds must first receive the right discipline. They must learn to have faith and confidence in God. Those who have not learned to subdue self, to control impulse, and to bring themselves into obedience to the principles of the law of God, will not, cannot be happy, or at peace and rest. They need the meekness and lowliness of Christ. They need to learn daily in his school, to wear his yoke, to lift his burdens, to deny inclination, to sacrifice a seeming present good for a future good, a personal advantage for a general advantage. The fountain of content must spring up in the soul. He who seeks happiness by changing his outward surroundings without changing his own disposition, will find that his efforts will produce only fresh disappointments. He carries himself with him wherever he goes. His unrest, his impatience, his uncontrollable thoughts and impulses, are ever present. The great trouble is in himself. Self has been cherished. He has never fallen upon the Rock and been broken. His will has never been trained to submit; his unyielding spirit has never been brought into subjection to the will of God.

There are many youth, who, because they cannot find happiness in plans of their own devising, will not accept it in God’s appointed way. They wonder over their unhappiness, and count their best friends, those who discern and point out their deficiencies, their enemies. They cling with tenacious grasp to their impressions, and their ideas of what they must have and what they must do in order to be happy; but they lose sight of the fact that it is the Lord who rules, and that it is he who shapes circumstances. He says, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Finite beings should be humble and submissive in their desires, realizing that God uses many influences which it is beyond their power to control. It is for them to subdue self, bringing it under the control of intelligent reason. And in faithfully doing this work, peace, rest, and happiness will surely come. “Learn of me,” says the Great Teacher, “for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls; for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Time is valuable. Now is our time of probation. There is an eternity of bliss to gain, a perdition to shun. Do not, my young friends, fritter away your God-given opportunities by trying to accomplish your own desires. Up to duty and to work for the Master! Many of you have lessons to learn that you have not yet dreamed of. The books of heaven reveal many things that you can have blotted from their pages by coming to God with a truly repentant heart, and exercising faith in the blood of Christ as the atoning sacrifice. The life that was once lived to the flesh must now be lived by faith on the Son of God. You may now be passing through a critical experience; but, I entreat of you, be not hasty, be not discouraged, but submit your case to God. Wait upon the Lord and do his will, and in this hour of trial he will work for you, and you will obtain a precious experience. Lie low at the foot of the cross. Give God a chance to work, and he will teach you precious lessons.

Ask yourselves the questions, What education am I receiving at the present time? What advancement am I making in the divine life? Some are training in the school of vice and deception, receiving an education that will unfit them for this life and for the future immortal life. Others are educating themselves for lofty positions where they may receive the praise and honor of men. Still others are educating themselves in Christ’s school, seeking goodness and truth, aiming to meet God’s great moral standard of righteousness, and fitting for the high school above. Every day we are learning lessons in good or evil. Every thought cherished, every impulse indulged, leaves its impression on the mind.

We are under obligations to God to be constantly learning of Christ how to guide and control our thoughts, our feelings, and our passions. Oh, how fearfully lax we are in our duty to ourselves, in allowing our ideas to be molded by our own faulty will, and in allowing ourselves to be controlled by circumstances. We must study the pattern Jesus Christ. Self-culture and divine grace will strengthen us in moral power. Every faculty should be employed to make of us all that Christ has made provision that we should become. How many are losing the balance of their minds for want of heart culture! All goodness commences in the heart.

God has entrusted the young with the ability to do a good work for the Master, if they will consecrate themselves wholly to his service. But there must first be a transformation of character, an overcoming of obstinacy and self-sufficiency, and a cultivation of kindness and affection. The critical and censorious spirit that is ever ready to find occasion for reproof and condemnation in others, shows a narrow mind, and plainly reveals that its possessor has never carefully studied and correctly read the pages of his own heart.

Our home here on earth is the place in which to prepare for the home above. If there are such temperaments in the family that they cannot live in harmony here, they would not, unless converted, be in harmony in the heavenly family. There is altogether too much careless talking, censuring, fault-finding, in families that profess to love and serve God. The unkind words, the irreverence and disrespect, found in many families make angels weep. What a record is made upon the books of heaven of unkind looks and words that bite and sting like an adder. And this is not the record of one day in the year merely, but of day after day. Oh that these families would consider that angels of God are taking a daguerreotype of the character just as accurately as the artist takes the likeness of the human features; and that it is from this that we are to be judged!

All should cultivate patience by practicing patience. By being kind and forbearing, true love may be kept warm in the heart, and qualities will be developed that Heaven will approve. He who goes forth from such a family to stand at the head of a family of his own, will know how to advance the happiness of the one whom he has selected as a companion for life. There will be mutual love, mutual forbearance. Marriage, instead of being the end of love, will then be as it were the very beginning of love.

If those who are contemplating marriage would not have miserable, unhappy reflections after marriage, they must make it a subject of serious, earnest reflection now. This step taken unwisely is one of the most effective means of ruining the usefulness of young men and women. Life becomes a burden, a curse. No one can so effectually ruin a woman’s happiness and usefulness, and make life a heart-sickening burden, as her own husband; and no one can do one hundredth part as much to chill the hopes and aspirations of a man, to paralyze his energies and ruin his influence and prospects, as his own wife It is from the marriage hour that many men and women date their success or failure in this life, and their hopes of the future life.