Ellen G. White Writings

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The Signs of the Times

April 21, 1890

The Danger of Skepticism in Our Youth

By Mrs. E. G. White

The words of Jesus addressed to this generation may well be regarded with sorrow and awe. He asks, “When the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” Christ looked down the ages, and with prophetic eye marked the conflict between the antagonistic principles of truth and error. He saw how real Christianity would become almost extinct in the world, so that at his second advent he would find a state of society similar to that which existed before the flood. The world would be engaged in festivity and amusement, in theatrical shows, in the indulgence of base passions. Intemperance of every grade would exist, and even the churches would be demoralized, and the Bible would be neglected and desecrated. He saw that the desperate revelries of the last days would only be interrupted by the judgments of God.

Society is now in a state of demoralization, and this will ripen until the nations become as lawless, as corrupt, as were the inhabitants of the world before the flood. The degradation that is found in the world today is largely due to the fact that the Bible no longer exerts a controlling influence upon the minds of men. It has become fashionable to doubt. The law of God has been made void to those in sacred office, and what can be expected of those who have listened to their sophistry and error? What can be expected of the youth who have come under the influence of those who have cast away the law of the Lord of hosts and have despised the word of the Holy One of Israel? It is no wonder that the Bible has come to be lightly regarded.

Infidelity is increasing in our land. Our youth are sent to college, and are brought into association with those who hold skeptical views; for even well-educated young men now boast of their unbelief in the word of God. Who is chargeable for this state of affairs? Is it not chargeable to those who from the sacred desk have belittled the claims of the law of God? Is it not chargeable to those who lead men away from the path of truth by terming the law of God a yoke of bondage, and who thereby picture transgression as a state of liberty? Oh, if those who make light of the requirements of God's law, did but know what they are doing, if they did but realize that they were undermining the faith of our youth in the Bible, sending them adrift without anchor or compass on a shoreless sea, they would recoil with horror from their fearful work!

I feel the most intense anguish for our youth. I warn you, as one who knows the danger, not to be entrapped by Satan through the little knowledge of science which you may have acquired. It is better to have a pure and humble heart than all the knowledge you can possibly gain without the fear of the Lord. The youth of today will be likely to meet skeptics and infidels wherever they may go, and how necessary that they be equipped, so that they may be able to give a reason of their hope with meekness and fear. Thomas Paine has passed into his grave, but his works live to curse the world, and those who doubt the truth of God's word, will place these infidel productions in the hands of the young and inexperienced, to fill their hearts with the poisonous atmosphere of doubt. The spirit of Satan works through wicked men to carry on his schemes for the ruin of souls.

We are living in an age of licentiousness, and men and youth are bold in sin. Unless our youth are sacredly guarded, unless they are fortified with firm principles, unless greater care is manifested in choosing their associates and the literature which feeds the mind, they will be exposed to a society whose morals are as corrupt as were the morals of the inhabitants of Sodom. The appearance of the people of the world may be very attractive, but if they are continually throwing out suggestions against the Bible, they are dangerous companions; for they will ever seek to undermine the foundations of your faith, to corrupt the conscientiousness of old-fashioned, gospel religion.

The youth often come in contact with those of skeptical tendencies, and their parents are in ignorance of the fact, until the terrible work of evil is consummated, and the youth are ruined. The young should be instructed diligently, that they may not be deceived in regard to the true character of these persons, and not form friendships with this class, or listen to their words of sarcasm and sophistry. Unless our young people have moral courage to sever their connection with these persons when they discover their unbelief, they will be ensnared, and will think and talk as do their associates, speaking lightly of religion and the faith of the Bible.

Could the eyes of deluded youth be opened, they would see the exultant leer of Satan at his success in ruining souls. In every conceivable way he seeks to adapt his temptations to the various dispositions and circumstances of those whom he wishes to entangle. He will try every device, and if the subjects of these temptations do not seek God, they will be blinded to his deceptions, and will be self-confident, self-sufficient, and in ignorance of their condition and danger. They will soon come to despise the faith once delivered to the saints. I speak to the youth as one who knows, as one to whom the Lord has opened the perils that attend their pathway. Self-confidence will lead you into the snare of the enemy. The youth do not ask counsel of God, and make him their refuge and strength. They enter society with all assurance, confident that they are fully able to choose the right and to comprehend divine mysteries, because of their powers of reason, as though they could discover truth for themselves. We fear more for those who are self-confident than for any others, for they will surely be entangled in the net that has been set by the great adversary of God and man. Some associate who has been chosen as a familiar friend, who has been tainted with the corruption of doubt, will instill his leaven of unbelief into the minds of this class. By fulsome flattery of their talent, their intellectual superiority, by inciting in them an ambition for high position, their attention will be gained, and moral blight will fall upon them. Those who are exalted in their own opinions will despise the blood of the Atoning Sacrifice, and will do despite to the Spirit of grace.

The children of Sabbath-keeping parents, who have had great light, who have been the objects of the tenderest solicitude, may be the ones who will leave a heritage of shame, who will sow to the wind and reap the whirlwind. In the judgment the names of those who have sinned against great light, will be written with those who are condemned to be separated from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his power. They will be lost, lost, and will be numbered with the scorners of the grace of Christ. I would rather see my children laid in the grave, than see them taking the path that leads to death. The terrible fact that I had nurtured children to fight against the God of heaven, to swell the ranks of apostates in the last days, to march under the black banner of Satan, would indeed be a thought of horror to me.

Our youth will meet temptations on every hand, and they must be so educated that they will depend upon higher power, higher teaching, than can be given by mortals. There are despisers of our Lord everywhere, who habitually throw contempt upon Christianity. They call it the plaything of children, invented to impose on the credulity of the ignorant. Those who have not moral power cannot stand in defense of the truth; they have not courage to say: “Unless such conversation ceases, I cannot remain in your presence. Jesus, the world's Redeemer, is my Saviour; in him is centered my hope of eternal life.” But this is the very way in which to silence them. If you argue with them, they will have arguments with which to meet you, and nothing you may say will touch them; but if you live for Christ, if you are firm in your allegiance to the God of heaven, you may do for them that which argument will fail to do, and convince them of the fallacy of their doctrines, by the power of godliness.

There is no sadder spectacle than that of those who have been purchased by the blood of Christ, who have been intrusted with talents wherewith they may glorify God, turning to jest the messages graciously sent to them in the gospel, denying the divinity of Christ, and trusting to their own finite reasoning, and to arguments that have no foundation. When tested with affliction, when brought face to face with death, all these fallacies they have cherished will be melted away like frost before the sun. How terrible it is to stand by the coffin of one who has rejected the appeals of divine mercy! How terrible to say: Here is a life lost! Here is one who might have reached the highest standard, and gained immortal life, but he surrendered his life to Satan, became ensnared by the vain philosophies of men, and was a plaything of the evil one!

The Christian's hope is as an anchor to the soul, both sure and steadfast, and entereth into that which is within the veil, whither Christ the forerunner is for us entered. We have an individual work to do to prepare for the great events that are before us. The youth should seek God more earnestly. The tempest is coming, and we must get ready for its fury, by having repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord will arise to shake terribly the earth. We shall see troubles on all sides. Thousands of ships will be hurled into the depths of the sea. Navies will go down, and human lives will be sacrificed by millions. Fires will break out unexpectedly, and no human effort will be able to quench them. The palaces of earth will be swept away in the fury of the flames. Disasters by rail will become more and more frequent; confusion, collision, and death without a moment's warning will occur on the great lines of travel. The end is near, probation is closing. Oh, let us seek God while he may be found, call upon him while he is near! The prophet says: “Seek ye the Lord, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought his judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness; it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the Lord's anger.”

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