Ellen G. White Writings

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The Youth’s Instructor

April 7, 1898

The True Object of Education—No. 2

Students are to bear in mind that their life is a talent, to be highly appreciated and dedicated to the Lord. Those who attend school are to study the Book of books, and through prayer, and close, deep research, obtain a Bible education. They are to learn lessons in the school of Christ; they are to work in Christ's lines.

The right use of one's self includes the whole circle of obligations to one's self, to the world, and to God. Then use the physical powers proportionately with the mental powers. Every action derives its quality from the motive which prompts it, and if the motives are not high, and pure, and unselfish, the mind and character will never become well balanced. Those who come from their school life without having educated the muscles proportionately with the brain will seldom recover from the harm they received in their one-sided education. On the part of such there is seldom a deep, earnest purpose that leads to deep, earnest work. They are not fit to train other minds, because their own have never been trained. They are fitful in their movements. They cannot reason from cause to effect. They will speak when it would be eloquence to keep silence, and will be silent on those themes on which they should speak,—themes that should occupy the heart and mind and regulate the life.

The talents entrusted of God are a sacred treasure, and should be put to practical use. Useful work is a valuable education. If either this practical education or the study of books must be neglected, let it be the study of books, and let the student take up the real, practical duties of life. The youth who have been educated to consider the best plans for doing good at home will extend their work to the neighborhood, the church, and every line of missionary work.

God calls upon us all to render obedience to the principles he has revealed to us in the work appointed to Adam in Eden. There will be employment in Eden restored. Our dear young students who have not been trained at home by their parents, need to have an education that will counteract their home education. Until they learn the first principles of proper education, they cannot be trusted as teachers of the youth. They are to engage in a career that requires settled purposes, high principles, and holy aims. If they do not learn anew, they will bring into their religious life a superficial work which will disqualify them to teach the word of God. Their minds grasp at ideas that lead to error. Capricious fancies may for a time supply the place of truth; but the thoughts grasped have no foundation in truth. Their minds do not penetrate deep enough to see the outcome of assertions that will counterwork the work of God.

The study of Latin and Greek is of far less consequence to ourselves, to the world, and to God than the thorough study and use of the whole human machinery. It is a sin to study books to the neglect of the various branches of usefulness in practical life. Never can one who is ignorant of the house we live in have an all-round life.

Exercise should be taken, not in play and amusement merely to please self, but exercise that will teach the science of doing good. There is a science in the use of the hand. Students who think that education consists only in book study never make a right use of their hands. They should be taught to do the work that thousands of hands are never educated to do. The powers thus developed and cultivated can be most usefully employed. In the cultivation of the soil, in building houses, in studying and planning various methods of labor, the brain must be exercised, and students can apply themselves to much better purpose when a portion of their time is devoted to physical taxation, wearying the muscles. Nature will then give sweet repose.

Students, your life is God's property. He has entrusted it to you, that you may honor and glorify him. You are the Lord's; for he created you. You are his by redemption; for he gave his life for you. The only begotten Son of God paid the ransom for your deliverance from Satan; and for his sake you should appreciate every power, every organ, every sinew and muscle. Preserve every portion of the living machinery, that you may use it for God. Preserve it for him. Your health depends upon the right use of your physical organism. Do not misuse any portion of your God-given powers, physical, mental, or moral. All your habits are to be brought under the control of a mind that is itself under the control of God.

If young men and women would grow up to the full stature of Christ Jesus, they must treat themselves intelligently. Conscientiousness in methods of education is as essential as in the consideration of the doctrines of our faith. Unhealthful habits of every order—late hours at night, late hours in bed in the morning, rapid eating—are to be overcome. Masticate your food thoroughly. Let there be no hurried eating. Have your room well ventilated day and night, and perform useful physical labor. Tight-lacing is a sin, and will bring its sure results. The lungs, the liver, and the heart need all the room the Lord has provided for them. Your Creator understood how much room the heart and liver require in order to act their part in the human organism. Let not Satan tempt you to crowd the delicate organs, so that they shall be trammeled in their work. Do not, because the fashion of this degenerate world requires it, so crowd the life forces that they will have no freedom. Satan suggested all such fashions, that the human family might suffer the sure results of abusing God's handiwork.

All this must be a part of the education received in school; for we are God's property. The sacred temple of the body must be kept pure and uncontaminated, that God's Holy Spirit may dwell therein. We need to guard faithfully the Lord's property; for any abuse of our powers shortens the time that our lives could be used for the glory of God. Bear in mind that we must consecrate all—soul, body, and spirit—to God. All is his purchased possession, and must be used intelligently, to the end that we may preserve the talent of life. By properly using our powers to their fullest extent in the most useful employment, by keeping every organ in health, by so preserving every organ that mind, sinew, and muscle shall work harmoniously, we may do the most precious service for God.

Mrs. E. G. White

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