Ellen G. White Writings

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The Review and Herald

March 11, 1880

Dangers of the Young

By Mrs. E. G. White

Says the beloved apostle: “I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one. Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof; but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.”

This exhortation includes the young of both sexes. Their youth does not excuse them from responsibilities. They are not oppressed with cares or the weight of years, and should be strong to labor in every good word and work. Their affections are ardent, and if withdrawn from the world, and placed upon Christ and Heaven, a well-founded hope may be cherished of being finally crowned with glory, honor, immortality, eternal life. But if, on the other hand, they live to gratify the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, they please their great adversary, and are separating themselves from the Father. Then when these earthly things pass away, their hopes will be blasted and their expectations will perish. Separated from God, they will bitterly repent the folly of serving their own pleasure, of gratifying their own desires, and of selling an eternity of happiness for a little imaginary good.

“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world,” says the inspired writer. “If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” It is an alarming fact that the love of the world predominates in the minds of the young; and for this very reason the love of God finds no room in their hearts. Their pleasures are found in the world, with the things of the world, and they are strangers to the Father and the graces of his Spirit. Frivolity and fashion, vain talking and laughing, characterize the life of the youth generally, by which God is dishonored. Paul in writing to Titus exhorts the youth to sobriety. “Young men, likewise, exhort to be sober-minded. In all things showing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine showing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, sound speech that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you.”

I entreat the youth, for their souls’ sake, to heed the exhortation of the inspired apostle. All these gracious instructions, warnings, and reproofs, will be either a savor of life unto life, or of death unto death. Many of the young are reckless in their conversation. They forget that by their words they shall be justified or condemned. Take heed to the words of our Saviour: “A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things; and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. But I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of Judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.” How little regard is paid even to the instructions of the Heavenly Teacher. By many of the young, the word of God is either neglected altogether, or if studied at all, its solemn admonitions are unheeded, and these plain truths will rise up in the Judgment and condemn them.

Words and acts testify plainly what is in the heart. If vanity, pride, love of self, and love of dress fill the mind, the conversation will be upon the fashions, the dress, and the appearance, instead of on Christ and the kingdom of Heaven. If envious feelings dwell in the heart, the same will be manifested in words and acts. Those who excuse their own wrongs because of the faults of others, are feeding on husks, and will remain spiritual dwarfs as long as they gratify Satan by thus indulging their own unconsecrated feelings.

Some dwell upon what they shall eat and drink, and with what they shall be clothed. Their hearts are filled with these thoughts, and they forget the words of Christ, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.”

Many of the youth have their hearts filled with love of self, which is manifested in the desire to see their faces portrayed by the artist; and they will not be satisfied with being once represented, but will sit again and again for their picture, hoping to appear more beautiful than they really are. Their Lord's money is squandered in this way, and what is gained? Merely their poor shadow upon paper. Hours that should be spent in prayer are devoted to their own poor selves,—precious hours of probation are thus wasted. The adversary of souls is gratified to have the attention of youth diverted from the right object, so that he may steal a march upon them, and ensnare them in his devices. They are not aware that the great Heavenly Artist is taking cognizance of every act, every word; and that even the thoughts and intents of the heart are faithfully recorded. Oh that the young might realize that every defect in the moral character is not only revealed to the gaze of the pure and sinless angels, but that they themselves will have the faithful picture presented to them in all its deformity at the execution of the Judgment. Those vain, frivolous words are all written in the book. Those selfish acts, the motives of which may be concealed from human eyes, are discerned by the all-seeing eye of Jehovah, and are written in living characters.

Young persons generally conduct themselves as though the precious hours of probation were one grand holiday, and they were placed in this world merely for their own amusement, to be gratified with a continued round of excitement. Satan makes special efforts to lead the youth to find happiness in worldly amusements, and to justify themselves in thus doing, by endeavoring to show that these amusements are harmless, innocent, and even essential to health. He represents the path of holiness as difficult, and that of worldly pleasures as strewn with flowers. The impression has been given by some physicians that spirituality and devotion to God are detrimental to health. This suits the adversary well.

Those whose moral faculties are beclouded by disease are not the ones to rightly represent the Christian life, or the beauties of holiness. They are too often in the fires of fanaticism, or the waters of cold indifference or stolid gloom. Some are scourging themselves all through life because of their sins; all they can see is an offended God of justice. Christ and his redeeming power, through the merits of his blood, they fail to see. Such have not faith. Through disease transmitted to them from their parents, and an erroneous education in youth, they have imbibed wrong habits, injuring the constitution, affecting the brain, causing the moral organs to become diseased, and making it impossible for them to think and act rationally upon all points. Such have not well-balanced minds.

Godliness is health to the body and strength to the soul. Says Peter: “He that will love life, and see good days, ... let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace and ensue it. For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers; but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.... But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye; and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled.”

The consciousness of right-doing is the best medicine for diseased bodies and minds. The special blessing of God is health and strength to the receiver. A person whose mind is quiet and satisfied in God is in the pathway to health. To have a consciousness that the eyes of the Lord are upon us, and his ears open to hear our prayers, is a satisfaction indeed. To know that we have a never-failing Friend in whom we can confide all the secrets of the soul, is a privilege which words can never express. The words of Christ are of more worth than the opinions of all the physicians in the universe. “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” This is the first great object,—the kingdom of Heaven, the righteousness of Christ. The attainment of all other objects should be secondary to this.

The young may urge that they need something to enliven and divert the mind. But there is pleasure in industry, a satisfaction in pursuing a life of usefulness. Some may still urge that they must have something to interest the mind, when business ceases,—some mental occupation or amusement to which the mind can turn for relief and refreshment from labor. The Christian's hope is just what is needed. Religion will prove to the believer a comforter and a sure guide to the fountain of true happiness. The young should study the word of God, and give themselves to meditation and prayer, and they will find that their spare moments cannot be better employed. Young friends, you should take time to prove your own selves, whether you are in the love of God. Be diligent to make your calling and election sure. All depends upon your course of action, whether or not you secure to yourselves the better life.

Wisdom's “ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.” The future abode of the righteous, and their everlasting reward, is a high and ennobling theme for the young to contemplate. Let the mind dwell upon the marvelous plan of salvation, the great sacrifice made by the King of glory, that we might be elevated through the merits of his blood, and finally, by obedience, be exalted to the throne of Christ. This subject should engage the noblest powers of the mind. To be brought into favor with God,—what a privilege! To commune with him,—what can more elevate, refine, and exalt us above the frivolous pleasures of earth? To have our corrupt natures renovated by grace, our lustful appetites and animal propensities in subjection, and to stand forth with noble moral independence, achieving victories every day, will give peace of conscience which can alone arise from right doing.

With such employment and diversion as this, the youth may be happy. But the reason why some are restless is, that they do not go to the only true source for happiness. They are ever trying to find out of Christ that enjoyment which is found alone in him. In him are no disappointed hopes. Oh how is the precious privilege of prayer neglected! The reading of the word of God prepares the mind for prayer. One of the greatest reasons why many have so little disposition to draw near to God by prayer is, that they have unfitted themselves for this sacred work by reading fascinating stories, which have excited the imagination and aroused unholy passions. The word of God becomes distasteful; the hour of prayer is not thought of. Prayer is the strength of the Christian. When alone, he is not alone; he feels the presence of One who has said, “Lo, I am with you alway.”

The young want just what they have not, namely, Religion. Nothing can take the place of it. Profession alone is nothing. Names may be registered in the church-books upon earth, and yet not be recorded in the book of life above. The life of Christ is an example of good works. He wept over Jerusalem, because its inhabitants would not be saved by accepting the redemption he offered them. They would not come to him, and have life. Let the young compare their pleasure-seeking life with that of the Master, who made so great a sacrifice to save them.

See that company gathered. Listen to the frivolous, light, and vain conversation; hear the laugh, the jesting, the joking. Is this imitating the Pattern? Still listen,—is Jesus mentioned? Is the truth the theme of conversation? Are they glorying in the cross of Christ? No; they are talking of this fashion, that bonnet, that dress, what that young man or that young lady said, or of the amusements they are planning. Hear that song; it is a frivolous ditty, fit only for the dance hall. The pure angels, with sadness on their countenances, move from the scene, and darkness envelops those thoughtless ones. Music, when turned to a good account, is a blessing. When abused, it leads the unconsecrated to pride, vanity, and folly, and becomes one of Satan's most attractive agencies to ensnare souls. When music is allowed to take the place of devotion and prayer, it is a terrible curse.

Paul says: “I will therefore that men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting. In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; but (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.”

Peter says: “Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance; but as He which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.”

The inspired Paul calls on Titus to give special instructions to the church of Christ, “that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things.” He says, “The grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.”

Peter thus exhorts the churches: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” “But the end of all things is at hand; be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.”

Again he says: “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts; and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear: having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evil-doers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ. For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing.”

Are the youth prepared to give an answer to every man that asks a reason of their hope, with meekness and fear? Terrible scenes are just before them,—a time of trouble which will test the value of character. Those who have the truth abiding in them will then be developed. Those who have shunned the cross, neglected the word of life, and paid adoration to their own poor selves, will be found wanting. They are ensnared by Satan, and will learn when it is too late that they have made a terrible mistake. The pleasures they have sought after will prove bitter in the end. Then sacrifice all for God. Self must die. The natural desires and propensities of the unrenewed heart must be subdued. Flee to the neglected Bible. The words of inspiration are spoken to you; pass them not lightly by; for you will meet every word again, to render an account whether you have been a doer of the work, shaping your life according to the holy teachings of God's word. Holiness of heart and life is necessary. Every one who has taken the name of Christ, and has enlisted in his service, should be a good soldier of the cross. He should show by his daily walk that he is dead to the world, and that his life is hid with Christ in God.

Paul writes to his Colossian brethren as follows: “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.” “And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.”

To the Ephesians he writes: “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

But few of the youth understand what it is to be Christians, to be Christ-like. A prayerful study of the word of God is necessary if they would conform their lives to the perfect Pattern. Few experience that separation from the world which God requires of them in order to become members of his family, children of the heavenly King. “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.”

What a promise is here made upon condition of obedience. Is it necessary to sever your connection with friends and relatives in deciding to obey the elevated truths of God's word? Take courage; God has made provision for you, his arms are opened to receive you. He promises to be a Father unto you. Oh, what a relationship is this! higher and holier than any earthly tie. If you make the sacrifice, even forsaking father, mother, sisters, or brothers, for Christ's sake, you will not be friendless. God will adopt you into his family; you will become members of the royal household, sons and daughters of the Heavenly King who rules in the Heaven of heavens. Can you desire a more exalted position than is here promised? Is it not enough? What could God do for the children of men more than he has already done? If such love, such exalted promises, are not appreciated, could God devise anything higher, anything richer and more lofty? All has been done for the salvation of man that God could do, and yet the hearts of the children of men have become hardened. Because of the multiplicity of the blessings with which God has surrounded them, they are received as common things and the gracious Benefactor is forgotten.

Young men and women, God has a work for you to do. If you neglect to take up your cross and follow Christ, you are unworthy of him. While you remain in listless indifference, how can you know what is the will of God concerning you? and how do you expect to be saved, unless as faithful servants you do your Lord's will? Those who possess eternal life will all have done well. The king of glory will exalt them to his right hand, while he says to them, “Well done, good and faithful servants.”

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