Ellen G. White Writings

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Australasian Union Conference Record

July 31, 1899

The Avondale School Farm

(Mrs. E. G. White.)

Read by her at the Avondale Church, Sabbath Afternoon, July 22.

I have words of counsel for our brethren regarding the disposition and use of the lands near our school and church. I have been learning of the great Teacher. Many particulars regarding the work at Cooranbong have not been opened before me until recently, and not until now have I felt at liberty to speak of them. And even now I do not feel free to reveal all things, because our people are not yet prepared to understand all that will be developed at Avondale in the providence of God.

At the beginning of the Sabbath I fell asleep, and some things were clearly presented before me. There were persons selecting allotments of land on which they proposed to build houses and establish their homes. But one stood in our midst who said, You are making a great mistake, which you will have cause to regret. This land is not to be occupied with buildings, except to provide the facilities essential for the teachers and students of the school. This land about the school is to be reserved as the school farm. It is to become a living parable to the students. The students are not to regard the school land as a common thing, but are to look upon it as a lesson book which the Lord would have them study. Its lessons will impart knowledge in the spiritual culture of the soul.

If you should settle this land near the school with private houses, and then be driven to select for cultivation other land at a distance from the school, it would be a great mistake, and one always to be regretted. All the land near the building is to be considered the school farm, where the youth can be educated under well qualified superintendents. The youth that shall attend our school need all the land near by. They are to plant it with ornamental trees and fruit trees, and to cultivate garden produce. The school farm is to be regarded as a lesson book in nature, from which the teachers may draw their object lessons. Our students are to be taught that Christ, who created the world and all things that are therein, is the life and light of every living thing. The life of every child and youth who is willing to grasp the opportunities for receiving a proper education will be made thankful and happy while at school by the things which his eyes shall rest upon.

The Work Before Us

We need more teachers and more talent, to educate the students in various lines, that there may go forth from this place many persons willing and able to carry the knowledge which they have received to many others. Orphan boys and girls are to find a home here. Buildings should be erected for a hospital; boats should be provided to accommodate the school; and we should have wise, energetic, and active men to act as superintendents of the several enterprises, men who will use their whole and undivided talents in teaching the students how to work. A competent farm manager should be employed, that before the winter school shall open again the grounds around our school buildings may become a school farm.

Lads are to come in from different localities, and nearly all will take the industrial course. This course should include the keeping of accounts, carpenter's work, and everything that is comprehended in farming. Preparation should also be made for the teaching of blacksmithing, painting, shoemaking, cooking, baking, washing, mending, typewriting, and printing. Every power at our command is to be brought into this training work, that students may go forth equipped for the duties of practical life.

Cottages and buildings essential to the school-work are to be erected by the students themselves. These buildings should not be crowded close together, or located near the school buildings proper. In the management of this work, small companies should be formed who should be taught to carry a full sense of their responsibility. All these things cannot be accomplished at once, but we are to begin to work in faith.

The Land to be Reserved

The Lord would have the grounds about the school dedicated to Him as His own school room. We are located where there is plenty of land, and the grounds near the church should not be occupied with private houses. Those who believe the truth for this time are not all transformed in character. They are not all proper object lessons, for they do not represent the character of Christ. There are many who would be pleased to get close to the church and the school who will not be helps, but hindrances. They feel that they should be helped and favoured. They do not appreciate the character and the situation of the work in which we are engaged. They do not understand how that all which has been done at Avondale has been accomplished with the hardest labour, and the use of money given with sacrifice, or which must be paid back again to those from whom it was borrowed.

Among those who will desire to settle at Avondale, there will be some who are filled with importance and anxiety about their own reputation. They are sensitive and cautious. These need to be converted, for they are far from standing where they can receive the blessing of the Lord. Satan tempts them to ask favours which will only injure them if granted, and thus they bring anxiety to their brethren. The living principles of the Word of God need to be brought into the lives of many who now find no room for these principles. Those who are learning in the school of Christ will count every favour from God as too good for them. They will realize that they do not deserve all the good things which they receive, and they will count themselves happy. Their faces will express peace and rest in the Lord, for they have the Word of God that He cares for them.

“Thus saith the Lord, the heaven is My throne, and the earth is My footstool; where is the house that ye build unto Me? and where is the place of My rest? for all those things hath Mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the Lord: but to this man will I look, even to him that is of a poor and a contrite spirit, and that trembleth at My word.” During the last days of 1898 we had many experiences to teach us what these words mean. My heart was greatly burdened, and matters were opened before me then in regard to the evils to arise from disposing of the land near the school to be occupied with dwelling houses. We seemed to be in a counsel meeting, and there stood one in our midst who was expected to help us out of our difficulties. The words which he spoke were plain and decided: “This land, by the appointment of God, is for the benefit of the school.” You have had evidences of the working of human nature, and what it will reveal under temptation. The more families that you settle around the school buildings, the more difficulties you throw in the way of teachers and students. The natural selfishness of the children of men is ready to spring into life if everything is not convenient for them. This land about the school is to be the school farm, and this farm is to occupy much more space that we have thought it would. Work in connection with study is to be done here according to the counsels given. Avondale is to be a philanthropic centre. God's people in Australasia are to be moved upon by the Spirit of the Lord to give sympathy and means to support and encourage many charitable and benevolent enterprises, which shall teach the poor, the helpless, and the ignorant how to help themselves.

A Panorama

On several occasions the light has come to me that Avondale is to be used as the Lord's farm. In a special sense there is to be connected with this farm land that shall be highly cultivated. Spread out before me there was land planted with every kind of fruit trees that will bear fruit in this locality, also vegetable gardens, where seeds were sown and cultivated.

If the managers of this farm and the teachers in the school will receive the Holy Spirit to work with them, they will have wisdom in their management, and God will bless their labours. The planting and the sowing, the gathering of the harvest, and the care of the trees, are to be wonderful lessons for all the students. The invisible links which connect the sowing and the reaping are to be studied, and the goodness of God is to be pointed out and appreciated. It is the Lord that gives the virtue and the power to the soil and to the seed. Were it not for His divine agency, combined with human tact and ability, the seed sown would be useless. There is an unseen power constantly at work as man's servant, to feed and to clothe him. The parable of the seed as studied in the daily experience of teacher and student is to reveal that God is at work in nature, and it is to make plain the things of the kingdom of heaven.

God and Nature

Next to the Bible, nature is to be our great lesson book. But there is no virtue in deifying nature, for this is exalting the thing made above the great Master Artist who designed the work, and who keeps it every hour operating according to His appointment. As we plant the seed, and cultivate the plant, we are to remember that God created the seed, and He gives it to the earth. By His divine power He cares for that seed. It is by His appointment that the seed in dying gives its life to the blade, which contains in itself other seeds to be treasured and again put into the earth to yield their harvest. We may also study how the co-operation of man acts a part. The human agent has his part to act, his work to do. This is one of the lessons which nature teaches, and we shall see in it a solemn, a beautiful work.

There is much talk about the Lord in nature, as if God were bound by the laws of nature to be nature's servant. In this men do not know what they are talking about. Do they suppose that nature has a self-existing power without the continual agency of Jehovah? Many theories would lead minds to suppose that nature was a self-sustaining agency apart from Deity, having its own inherent power with which to work. The Lord does not exert His laws to supersede the laws of nature. He does His work through the laws and the properties of His instruments, and nature obeys a “Thus saith the Lord.”

“The God of nature is perpetually at work. His infinite power works unseen, but manifestations appear in the effects which the work produces. The same God who guides the planets works in the fruit orchard and in the vegetable garden. He never made a thorn, a thistle, or a tare. These are Satan's work, the result of degeneration, introduced by him among the precious things. It is through God's immediate agency that every bud bursts into blossom. When He was in the world, in the form of humanity, Christ said, “My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.” So, when the students employ their time and strength in agricultural work, in heaven it is said of them, “Ye are labourers together with God.”

Let the lands near the school and the church be retained. Those who come to settle in Cooranbong can, if they choose, find for themselves homes near by, or on portions of, the Avondale Estate. But the light given to me is that all that section of land from the school orchard to the Maitland road, and extending on both-sides of the road from the meeting house to the school, should become a farm and a park, beautified with fragrant flowers and ornamental trees. There should be fruit orchards and every kind of produce cultivated that is adapted to this soil, that this place may become an object lesson to those living close by and afar off.

Then let everything not essential to the work of the school be kept at a distance, and thus prevent any disturbance of the sacredness of the place through the proximity of families and buildings. Let the school stand alone. There must not be this one and that one claiming personal property near it. It will be better for private families, however devoted they may be in the service of the Lord, to be located at some distance from the school buildings. The school is the Lord's property, and the grounds about it are His farm, where the great Sower can make His garden a lesson book. The results of the labours will be seen, “first the blade, then the ear, then the full corn in the ear.” The land will yield its treasures, bringing the joyousness of an abundant harvest, and the produce gathered through the blessing of God is to be used as nature's lesson book from which spiritual lessons can be made plain, and applied to the necessities of the soul.

An Object Lesson

There are great things before us which we see must be done, and as fast as we obtain the means with which to work, we shall go forward. There needs to be patient, painstaking effort made for the encouragement and uplifting of the surrounding communities, and for their education in industrial and sanitary lines. The school and everything connected with it should be object lessons, teaching the ways of improvement, and appealing to the people for reform, so that taste, industry, and refinement, may take the place of coarseness, uncleanness, disorder, ignorance, and sin. Even the poorest can improve their surroundings by early rising and putting forth diligent, painstaking effort. By our lives and example we can help others to discern that which is repulsive in their characters, or about their premises, and with Christian courtesy we may encourage improvement.

The question will often arise, What can be done where poverty prevails, and is to be contented with at every step? Under these circumstances how can we impress minds with correct ideas of improvement? Certainly the work is difficult, and unless the teachers, the thinking men, and the men who have means, will exercise their talents, and will lift just as Christ would lift were He in their places, an important work will be left undone. The necessary reformation will never be made unless men and women are helped by a power outside of themselves. Those who have entrusted talents and capabilities must use these gifts to bless their fellow men, labouring to place them upon a footing where they can help themselves. It is thus that the education gained at our schools must be put to the very best use.

God's entrusted talents are not to be hid under a bed or under a bushel. “Ye are the light of the world,” Christ said. As you see families living in hovels, with scant furniture and clothing, without tools, without books or anything indicative of refinement about their homes, will you become interested in them, and endeavour to teach them how to put to the very best use their vital forces, that there may be improvement, and that their work may move forward? It is by diligent labour, by putting to the wisest use every capability, by learning to waste no time, that they will become successful in improving their premises and cultivating their land.

Physical effort, moral power, and intellectual achievements are to be united in our effort to regenerate and reform. We are to seek to gain knowledge both in temporal and spiritual lines, that we may diffuse it to others. We are to seek to live out the Gospel in all its bearings, that its temporal and spiritual blessings may be felt all around us.

Missionary Effort The Highest Training

The Lord will surely bless all who seek to bless others. The school is to be so conducted that teachers and students will be continually increasing in power through the faithful use of the talents given them. By faithfully putting to a practical use that which they have learned, they will constantly increase in wisdom and knowledge. We are to learn from the Book of books the principles upon which we are to live and labour. By consecrating all our God-given abilities to Him who has the first right to them, we may make precious everything that is worthy of our attention.

When entered upon with this spirit, the missionary work becomes an elevating and uplifting work, both to the labourer and to the person helped. Let everyone who claims to be a child of the Heavenly King seek constantly to represent the principles of the kingdom of God. Let each remember that in word, in spirit, and in works, he is to be loyal and true to all the precepts and commandments of the Lord. We are to be faithful, trustworthy subjects of the kingdom of Christ, that those who are worldly wise may have a true representation of the riches, the goodness, the mercy, the tenderness, and the courtesy of the manners of the citizens of the kingdom of God.

The students who will get the most good out of life are those who will live the Word of God in their connections and dealings with their fellow-men. Those who receive to give will feel the greatest satisfaction in this life. The members of the human family who live for themselves are always in want, for they are never satisfied. There is no Christianity in shutting up our sympathies to our own selfish hearts. We are to bring the brightness and the blessing into the lives of others, thus doing a good and holy work. The Lord has ordained channels through which He lets flow His goodness, mercy, and truth; and we are to be co-workers with Jesus Christ in communicating to others practical wisdom and benevolence.

If the Avondale school becomes what the Lord is seeking to make it, the missionary effort of teachers and students will bear fruit. Both in the school and outside there will be willing subjects brought to allegiance to God. The rebellion which took place in heaven under the power of a lie, and the deception which led Adam and Eve to disobey, opened the floodgates of woe upon our world, and all who believe in Christ may become sons and daughters of God, and labourers together with Him, that restoration may take place through the truth. The truth, peculiar in its working power, is adapted to the minds and hearts of the wandering sheep. Through its influence they may be brought back to the fold.

Whatever may be the position or possessions of any individual who has the knowledge of the truth, the Word of God teaches him that all that he has he holds in trust. It is lent him to test his character. His worldly business in all its lines, his talents, his income, his opportunities, are all to be accounted for to Him to whom he belongs by creation and redemption. When he uses every precious talent in carrying forward God's great work of education, when he strives to obtain the very best knowledge of how to be useful, how to labour for the salvation of souls ready to perish, God's blessing will surely attend his efforts. God bestows His gifts upon us that we may minister to others, and thus become like Him. Those who receive His gifts that they may impart to others, become like Jesus Christ. It is in helping and uplifting others that we become ennobled and purified. This is the work that causes glory to flow back to God. We must become intelligent upon these points. Our souls must be purified of selfishness, for God desires to use His people as representatives of the heavenly kingdom.

Our school must be conducted under the supervision of God. There is a work to be done for young men and young women that is not yet accomplished. There are much larger numbers of young people who need to have the advantages of our school. They need the manual training course, that will teach them how to lead an active, energetic life. All kinds of labour must be connected with our school. Under wise, judicious, God-fearing directors, the students are to be taught. Every branch of the work is to be conducted on the most thorough and systematic lines that long experience and wisdom can plan and execute.

Let the teachers in our school wake up, and impart knowledge they have in agricultural lines, and in the industries that it is essential for the students to understand. Seek in every line of labour to reach the very best results. Let the science of the Word of God be brought into the work, that the students may understand correct principles, and may reach the highest possible standard. Exert your God given abilities and bring all your energies into the development of the Lord's farm. Study and labour, that the best results and the greatest returns may come from the seed sowing, that there may be an abundant supply of food both temporal and spiritual, for the larger number of students that shall be gathered in to attend the school.

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