Ellen G. White Writings

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The Youth’s Instructor

May 6, 1897

Benefits of the Study of Nature

Christ was the greatest teacher the world has ever known. He, the Son of God, came to earth in the form of a man, clothed in the habiliments of humanity, in order that he might reach the comprehension of the young as well as of the middle-aged and the aged. Through his servant David he had declared, “I will open my mouth in a parable: I will utter dark sayings of old.” In parables drawn from nature and from human life, Christ showed the harmony of the natural with the spiritual. He revealed the unknown by lessons derived from the known. The heavenly was symbolized by the earthly. Natural things were presented as a reflection of the law of his kingdom.

The Lord does not require children to be anything but children; but his word is an interesting book for them. He desires that they shall learn the lessons contained therein, and become acquainted with its precious truths; for these will prove a safeguard against evil. In the plan of redemption there are mysteries that the human mind cannot fathom,—things which human wisdom cannot explain,—but nature can teach as much concerning the mystery of godliness. Then let the minds of the young, as far as possible, learn from nature's book. Every shrub, every tree bearing fruit, all vegetation, is given for our benefit. The mysteries of the kingdom of God are to be read in the growth of the seed.

Through transgression, through his many inventions and the abuse of the laws of his being, man has partially destroyed the harmony of nature with God's purpose in creating the world. God designed that nature should be to man a lesson-book to guide him from the path of disobedience back to God. There is need of a close study of nature, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. The Lord is giving object-lessons, he is making holy truths familiar to the human mind, through the most simple things in nature.

God designs that our minds shall be impressed, awakened, and instructed by his sacred parables. He would have nature counteract the attempts made to divorce science from Bible Christianity. He desires that the things of nature that greet our senses shall hold the attention, and imprint heavenly truths upon the mind.

The glory of God is displayed in his handiwork. In the simple leaf, the blades of grass covering the earth with their green velvet carpet, the plants and flowers, the stately trees of the forest, the lofty mountains, the granite rocks, the restless ocean, the precious gems of light studding the heavens to make the night beautiful, the exhaustless riches of the sunlight, the solemn glories of the moon, the winter's cold, the summer's heat, the changing, recurring seasons, in perfect order and harmony, controlled by infinite power,—all these things are subjects which call for deep thought, for the stretch of the imagination.

If the frivolous and pleasure-seeking will allow their minds to dwell upon the real and the true, the heart cannot but be filled with reverence, and they will adore the God of nature. The study of God's character as revealed in his created works will open a field of thought that will draw the mind away from low, enervating pleasures. The knowledge of God's works and ways we can only begin to obtain in this world; the study will be continued throughout eternity. God has provided for man subjects of thought that will bring into activity every faculty of the mind. We may read the character of the Creator in the heavens above and in the earth beneath, filling the heart with gratitude and thanksgiving. Every nerve and sense will respond to the expressions of God's love in his marvelous works.

God, who created everything lovely and beautiful that the eye rests upon, is a lover of the beautiful. He shows us how he estimates true beauty. The ornament of a meek and quiet spirit is in his sight of great price. Shall we not seek earnestly to gain that which God estimates as more valuable than costly dress, or pearls, or gold? The inward adorning, the grace of meekness, a spirit in harmony with the heavenly angels, will not lessen true dignity of character, or make us less lovely here in this world.

The Redeemer has warned us against the pride of life, but not against its grace and natural beauty. He pointed to the glowing beauty of the flowers of the field, and said, “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: and yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” Here he shows that even though persons may toil with weariness to make themselves objects of admiration, that which they value so highly will not bear comparison with the flowers of the field. Even these simple flowers, with God's adornment, would outvie in loveliness the gorgeous apparel of Solomon. “Even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.”

Here is an important lesson for every follower of Christ. The Redeemer of the world speaks to the youth. He presents before you themes for thought that will purify, refine, and ennoble the character, and strengthen the intellect. His voice is speaking to you: “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid.... Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”

There is a power in the symbols that Christ presents which the most elaborate reasoning does not possess. God does not want you to worship these symbols, but to listen to their voice as they speak to your senses, and utter words of wisdom, of eternal truth, of the sure workings of God's infinite grace. In the growth and development of nature, learn the principles of Christ's kingdom. Thus the light of heaven will quicken the mind. Christ himself will be your teacher. Those who combine with their school education a knowledge of God's working through physical life, in the garden of nature, will receive lessons simple, yet full of instruction, in regard to his working through spiritual life, in the garden of the heart.

Mrs. E. G. White

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