Ellen G. White Writings

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The Youth’s Instructor

August 31, 1899

True Education

True education is to know and to do the will of God. This education is as lasting as eternity. The Bible is to be our text-book; for true religion is the foundation of all true education. Intellectual training can never safely be disconnected from religion; and with the study of books, manual training is to be combined, that the mind may be correctly balanced, and solidity be given to brain, bone, and muscle. This world is our preparatory school. The school and the college are necessary for the development of the mind and the formation of the character. But the cultivation of the intellect alone, apart from a moral and religious education, has a baleful influence. The man who neither loves nor fears God may reach dazzling heights in intellectual attainments, and yet use his acquired knowledge to war against his Maker. If men accept the Lord God of heaven as their teacher, will they not gain the best kind of knowledge, for this world as well as for the next? Mental strength comes alone from a knowledge of the laws that God has established in nature and in the human structure. We must be obedient to these laws, or our lives will be a failure.

Under the controlling influence of Christ, the human intellect can achieve wonderful things. The youth should be encouraged to reach the highest standard of intellectual acquirement. If the fear and knowledge of God are made first, there is no danger that the student will soar too high. The knowledge of God, the understanding of his will in his word, as far as human minds may grasp it, incorporated into the thoughts and woven into the character, will make efficient men and women. The study of the word of God will enable us to do his work intelligently and acceptably. The mind will be enriched, enlarged, and broadened. Those who thus constantly study the Word will go upward and forward toward the highest standard, because they are partakers of the divine nature.

Daniel was closely connected with the source of all wisdom, and this was to him more precious than the gold of Ophir. He kept his religious training on an equality with the advantages that were given him for becoming a wise and learned man. He used his entrusted capital aright. He was aroused by the situation in which he found himself in the king's court. He co-operated with God in the use of every power that had been given him, and we read: “As for these four children, God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom: and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.” Daniel was connected with God, and the secrets of the Most High were opened to him; for God is with those that fear him. “And the king communed with them; and among them all was found none like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah; therefore stood they before the king. And in all matters of wisdom and understanding, that the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm.” Continual growth in religious wisdom and intelligence did not in any way disqualify these youth for the faithful discharge of the important duties assigned them in the kingdom of Babylon. God gave them his wisdom and knowledge for the perfecting of a thorough education.

Let children and youth be given true education. Teach them to give God their entire devotion; for they are wholly dependent on him in this life, and for the future, immortal life. The knowledge of truth is the nutrition that the soul needs, in order to be prepared to act as wise a part as did Daniel and his associates. Every time the conscience is violated, sin is committed, for which the wrong-doer must suffer the sure result. The penalty of sin is death. With persevering effort and patient forbearance, children must be taught that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. When very young, they may be taught the statutes and commands of God. The thoughts and sentiments of his law are to be interwoven with their knowledge of the sciences. A true knowledge of the word of God is the only true scientific education.

We can not afford to separate spiritual from intellectual training. Well may parents dread intellectual greatness for their children unless it is balanced by a knowledge of God and his ways. It is of great importance that the youth take with them from school an intelligent love for God and his truth. This lies at the foundation of all true knowledge. We are in a world subject to disease and death. He who during his lifetime serves God faithfully has the assurance that he will come forth from the grave to a glorious immortality. Of such a one it may indeed be said, “It is well with his soul.” In every school in our land the Lord God of Israel should be exalted, revered, and honored. In the place of unsanctified rivalry for earthly honor, the highest ambition of students should be to go forth strengthened, established missionaries for God, educators who can teach what they have learned.

Goodness alone is true greatness. With persevering faith, teachers are to hold to the infinite One, saying, as did Jacob, “I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.” Education is not perfect unless the body, the mind, and the heart are equally educated. Students who go from school with this education will draw to Christ not only men and women, but children and youth. These need to learn to discipline self; to take up the duties nearest them; and then, however unpleasant the work may seem, to advance steadily. When they learn what constitutes them true children of God, a work will be done that Satan himself can not undo nor make of none effect. He who opens his heart to receive true education receives power from God to impart light to others.

Mrs. E. G. White

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