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    CHAPTER VII. THE BIBLE’S RIGHT TO SUPREME PLACE IN CHRISTIAN EDUCATION

    FROM the evidence presented by the United States Government, it is certainly plain that, for the welfare of both the Church and the State, in this nation, there is demanded on the part of the professed Christian Church an education which shall be Christian. The document published by the United States Government, from which we have quoted, is nothing less than an appeal, a powerful appeal, that the Church leaders and teachers shall plant themselves upon the ground of a religious education which shall indeed be religious, instead of being a “more and more perfect adoption of the secular.”PBE 63.1

    And when history has demonstrated that when the Church adopts the secular method in education it ends only in the ruin of the State, and the rise of the Church over that ruin into an ecclesiastical world-power, a theocratical world kingdom, of the most desperately oppressive character of all powers that ever were on earth: then is it not for the highest possible welfare of the State, and of human society as a whole, that the Church shall be called back from this secular ground, to her own fair realm of the Christian religion in its purity and its sincerity, and to the education which is wholly becoming to her as the true and sincere Christian Church?PBE 63.2

    This education, to be Christian, must find its spring in the Word of God alone. That Word must be the basis, the inspiration, and the guide in every line of study. And there must be such a true faith and such perfect confidence in that Word as the Word of God, in which are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge; and such a profound study of that Word, illuminated by the Divine Spirit; that it shall be clearly seen that truly “There is no subtlety in grammar, neither in logic, nor in any other science that can be named, but that it is found in more excellent degree in the Scriptures.” This will make her that she shall be indeed the light of the world.PBE 64.1

    For anybody to profess to believe the Bible for what it is,—the Word of God,—and at the same time not allow that the Bible must be the leading book in all education, are two things that will not hold together at all.PBE 64.2

    The Bible claims for itself that it is the Word of God. It comes to men as the Word of God. If it is not accepted and held as the Word of God, it is no more than any other peculiarly national book. To believe the Bible, is to accept it as the Word of God; for that is the only claim that the Bible makes for itself. Not to accept the Bible as the Word of God, is not to believe the Bible at all.PBE 64.3

    But how shall men know that it is the Word of God? This is the question that thousands of people ask. They ask, “What proof is there, where is the evidence, that it is the Word of God?”PBE 64.4

    There is evidence,—evidence that every man can have,—evidence that is convincing and satisfactory. Where is it, then? Let us see.PBE 65.1

    Being the Word of God, where alone could evidence be found that it is such? Where should we expect to find such evidence?PBE 65.2

    Is there any one of greater knowledge than God, or of greater authority than He, of whom we may inquire?—Certainly not. For whoever God may be, there can be no higher authority, there can be none of greater knowledge.PBE 65.3

    Suppose, then, we were to ask God whether this is His Word. And suppose that, apart from the Bible, He should tell us, in so many words, “The Bible is My word,” we should even then have only His word for it.PBE 65.4

    But we have that already, over and over; so that even then we should have no more evidence than we now have in abundance: and the evidence would be in nowise different; for it would be the evidence of His word, and that we already have.PBE 65.5

    Therefore the truth is that the Word of God bears in itself the evidence that it is the Word of God. And it is impossible that it could be otherwise.PBE 65.6

    If God had never yet spoken a word to the human family, and should this day send a message to all people at once, and in their own native tongues, that word, being the word of God, would have to bear in itself the evidence of its being the word of God; for the people could not possibly inquire of any other, because there is no person whose knowledge or authority is superior to this. And that word, bearing in itself the evidence of its being the word of God, all the people could obtain this evidence by accepting it as the word of God. Each one who did this would know it to be the word of God; for he would have the evidence in the word, and by accepting it. also in himself.PBE 65.7

    This is precisely the position that the Bible occupies toward the people of this world. It comes as the Word of God. As such, it must bear the evidence in itself; for there can be no higher, no better, evidence. Whoever receives it as the Word of God receives in it and in himself the evidence that it is the Word of God. And so it is written, “When ye received the Word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the Word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.” 1 Thessalonians 2:13.PBE 66.1

    “Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in Him and in you.” 1 John 2:8.PBE 66.2

    And again: “My doctrine is not Mine, but His that sent Me. If any man will [is willing to] do His will, He shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of Myself.” John 7:16, 17.PBE 66.3

    Thus he who accepts the Word as the Word of God finds the evidence that it is the Word of God. He who will not accept the Word can not have the evidence. In rejecting the Word, he rejects the evidence; because the evidence is in the Word.PBE 66.4

    To make this yet plainer, if possible, especially to those who do not know that the Bible is the Word of God, we may, for the sake of the case, suppose that the Bible were not the Word of God, and that the God of the Bible were not the true God. Suppose, then, that we should find the true God, and ask Him whether the Bible is the Word of God; and suppose He should say, “It is not the Word of God.” We should then have only His word; and the only way that we could know whether or not this answer were true would be by believing it, by accepting it as the word of God.PBE 66.5

    So, then, the only possible way in which any person could surely know that the Bible is not the Word of God would be by the Word of God. And even though he had the Word of God to this effect, the only way that be could be sure of it—the only evidence he could have—would be by believing that Word.PBE 67.1

    But there is no word of God that the Scriptures are not the Word of God; while there is the Word of God that the Scriptures are the Word of God. That Word of God bears in itself the evidence that it is the Word of God: and every soul who will receive it as it is, will have the evidence. The evidence will be plain to him who believes the Word.PBE 67.2

    The Bible, then, being the Word of God, is supreme knowledge and supreme authority upon every subject that is true. There can not be any truer knowledge than that of God: there can not be any higher authority than that of the Word of God. As certainly, therefore, as the Bible is an educational book at all, so certainly is it the supreme educational Book.PBE 67.3

    And the Bible is educational only. The Author of it presents Himself as the Teacher of men: “I am the Lord thy God which teacheth thee to profit.” “And they shall be all taught of God.”PBE 68.1

    He by whom that Word came, and who is indeed the Word of God, calls all men to Him to learn: “Come unto Me, all ye.... Learn of Me.” In calling all men to Him to learn of Him, in that very thing He presents Himself as the Teacher of all. He is the great Teacher “sent from God.”PBE 68.2

    And these two Supreme Teachers have given the Holy Spirit, and Themselves in Him, to be the Teacher of men. “The Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in My name, He shall teach you all things”—not all things good, bad, and indifferent; not all things speculative, conjectural, and false; but all things that are true: not false science, but true science; not false philosophy, but true philosophy. For He is the Spirit only of truth. He is a guide only into truth: and “He will guide you into all truth.” And He teaches only the Word of God: “He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” “He shall not speak of [from] Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak.”PBE 68.3

    The Holy Spirit being the Representative of the Godhead to men, being the Spirit of Truth, teaches only in and through and by means of the Word of God, as that Word is the truth. The Godhead, therefore, in the Holy Spirit, is the Supreme Instructor; and the Word of God is the basis of all true instruction. To the Bible, therefore, being the Word of God and being instruction from the Lord, belongs, by divine right, the place of first consideration in all Christian, in all true, education.PBE 68.4

    What kind of treatment, then, is it of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit—what kind of treatment is it of the Godhead, by Christians, when they put men before the Godhead, and the books of men, the books of even pagan and infidel men, before the Book of God, in education? Is this fair? Is it reverent? Is it of faith? Is it Christian?PBE 69.1

    To the Bible by divine right belongs the first consideration and the supreme place in all Christian education. To the Bible also by the very philosophy of education itself belongs the first consideration and the supreme place in Christian education.PBE 69.2

    The Bible should be the first thing in every line of study, for the reason that is expressed in a saying familiar to all: First impressions are most lasting. For this reason the Bible should be the source of the first instruction that the child receives in the world; and, as everybody is a child in the beginning of every line of study, the Bible should be the first of all things in all studies.PBE 69.3

    It is the truth that when a person lives, and a few do live, to such an age that the life simply fades out because of age, the last thing that such a person thinks of is the first thing that he ever learned. This may be said again, for it is a principle of education: The first thing that is ever fixed upon a person’s mind is the last thing that that mind dwells upon, if the life of that person is completed and simply fades out in old age.PBE 69.4

    A notable instance of this is William Ewart Gladstone, the great English statesman, who died in 1898. He died a very old man. As his life was fading out indeed, it was noticed that he was saying over and over again the Lord’s prayer in French. That excited some query: as he was an Englishman, why should he be saying the Lord’s prayer in French? Inquiries were made, and it was learned that when he was a little child, he was in charge of a French nurse, and that that French nurse was a Christian, and had taught him the Lord’s prayer in her native language. And as that happened to be the first thing that was fixed upon his mind, it was the last thing that was dwelt upon by his mind as it faded out in death.PBE 70.1

    Now, if that nurse had not been a Christian, and had taught that child, “Hi, diddle, diddle, the cat’s in the fiddle,” it would have worked precisely the same way, and that would have been the last thing that he would have spoken on his death-bed. If she had taught him Esop’s fables or fairy tales instead of the Lord’s prayer, these would have been the last things that he would have murmured as his mind faded away.PBE 70.2

    Another, who was personally known to the writer, died at a little past ninety-six years of age. The Lord’s prayer was also one of the last things that that person repeated. Another thing she did in the last days of her life was to count—one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, and so on up to ten, but not beyond—just as a little child learns to count. So that mind, in its last hours, was dwelling on the things of her first hours of conscious memory—the things that were first fixed in her mind.PBE 70.3

    How beautiful it is that the last thought of a mind fading out in death is the thought of God in His Word! How aptly in the resurrection will the first thought take up the connection! This is enough to illustrate the principle that is the basis of the philosophy of using the Bible as the first thing in all Christian education.PBE 71.1

    This, all will admit, is all well enough in the case of the child, who is learning the first things. Yet it is no more necessary there than it is everywhere else; for every one is a child, an infant, in the things that he is first learning. If you or I were to begin to study any new language, we should be altogether babes in that language. We know nothing at all there: there is not a thought in the language that is ours; not a word in the language that can possibly convey a thought.PBE 71.2

    To illustrate: suppose you would learn the German language, and that the first words you ever learn are these: “Im anfang war das Wort.” Then the first thought which ever enters your mind in the German language is, “In the beginning was the Word.” Then, having learned this, wherever after that, as long as you live, you meet the word anfang, that word will unfailingly recall the expression, “Im anfang war das Wort,“ and the thought, “In the beginning was the Word.”PBE 71.3

    Or suppose it be Greek, and the first words that you ever learn in it are the same: “[Greek words]” “En arche en ho Logos.” The word arche means “the beginning,” and the word logos means “the word.” “In the beginning was the Word.” Then, having learned this, wherever you meet either the word arche or Logos, instantly occurs the thought first lodged in your mind with the passage, “In the beginning was the Word.”PBE 71.4

    But suppose you unfortunately fall into the hands of a teacher with whom the Bible is not supreme, and therefore is not the first and most important book in every line of study. Suppose that the first words in the language that he gives to you are from some fairy story, some fable, some novel, some play, or from any other source than the Bible. When you learn those words, you receive the thought expressed by the words. And having learned that, then afterward, when you meet those same words in the Bible, instantly and irresistibly your mind will revert to that first thought in those words, and the clear rays of light and truth in the words of the Bible will be clouded and confused by being mixed up with that fairy scene, or whatever it was that was first associated in your mind with those words. Then your very study of the Bible will be hindered, and you will be crippled, by such a bad beginning in the new language. On the other hand, when you begin right, with the words of the Bible and the thoughts of God first, then if, for any purpose, you should find it necessary to read these other books, you will find the precious light and wisdom and strength of the thoughts of God constantly recurring and abiding with you, guiding you in the way of truth, and guarding you against that which is false.PBE 72.1

    In illustration, an actual occurrence can be cited: A few years ago the author of this book was passing through a high school, in which persons of another language were taking first lessons in English. The students had just gone from the room, and lying on the desks were their books of study in English; some of them open at the latest lesson. And the subject of that lesson was “The Mischievous Monkey.” Those students were taking their first lessons in a new language. The first and only thoughts that they were getting in that language were thoughts about a mischievous monkey. When they had studied that piece clear through so that they could intelligently read it in English, a large proportion of what they knew, and of the thoughts that they were able to think, in English were solely concerning a mischievous monkey.PBE 73.1

    In the account of that mischievous monkey words were used that are frequently met in the Bible; because they were common English words. Suppose then that those students should soon afterward turn to the Bible in English, and there meet some of these same words: every time they should meet one of those words, there would be that mischievous monkey obtruding himself upon, and rollicking among, the thoughts of the Word of God. That is as certain as that those students received the thoughts about that mischievous monkey as their first thoughts in English. And that would also be a positive hindrance to their ever getting from the Word of God in English the clear, pure thoughts of that Word.PBE 73.2

    What a lasting injury, then, it is to students, and especially the young: what an imposition upon them: when they are kept for years in the wild, foolish, false, and wicked imaginings of pagan poets, philosophers, or dramatists, or even the writings of historians, before they are qualified to read New Testament Greek or Bible Latin! Is a mind whose whole warp and woof in Greek is pagan, the better qualified to understand and appreciate Christian Greek? Is a mind that has roamed from one to three years all over Gaul, amid the barbarities of Caesar and the Gauls, or that has dwelt all its Greek or Latin life in the pagan miasma of Homer or Virgil,—is such a mind the better prepared to read in Latin, to Christian profit, the gospel of John or the epistles of Paul? Are paganism and barbarism an essential basis for Christianity? Are pagan thoughts and heathen conceptions an essential antecedent to Christian thoughts and divine conceptions?PBE 74.1

    If not, why do teachers who consider themselves, and expect others to consider them, Christians, cause their students of Greek, or Latin, or any other language, to build up their minds in that language wholly of pagan material, and that from one to three years, before they are expected, or given any chance, to form their minds of the Lord’s thoughts—the perfectly good, the perfectly pure, the perfectly true?PBE 74.2

    For all practical purposes, the mind is composed of thoughts. The object of study is to build up the mind, to obtain thoughts—knowledge. What, then, can be the object of professed Christian teachers in having students study pagan Greek and pagan Latin first of all? Whatever their object, the certain result is to build up the minds of the students in paganism and of paganism. What the mind is, the man is. And when the mind is pagan, the man is pagan; and if the mind is mostly, or even partly, pagan, then the man is mostly’ or partly pagan.PBE 74.3

    But is it the God-given task, or responsibility, of Christian teachers to cause students to become even in any degree whatever, pagan? The only possible answer is, No. Then what Christian teacher can ever put any pagan book into the hands of any student as a text-book, or as a book for study at all?PBE 75.1

    This is not to say that no other book but the Bible can ever be read or studied in a foreign language; but it is to say that no other book should ever be read or studied in any foreign language until that language has been learned from the Bible, and until the Bible can readily be read at sight in that language. When this has been, and can be, done by a person, then that person can read with perfect safety, and to profit, any other book in that language which he may find it necessary to consult.PBE 75.2

    Which is the better, which affords the better prospect to the mind and soul—to begin a study in such a way that wherever the person shall go afterward in that field, the thought of God shall accompany him; or to begin in such a way that paganism, infidelity, or worldliness, shall be first in all the field, even to the overshadowing of the Word of God when it is studied?—To ask that question is certainly to answer it in all Christian minds.PBE 75.3

    It is therefore perfectly plain that, both by divine right and by the simple philosophy of education, to the Bible belongs the first consideration and the supreme place in all Christian education. What Christian teacher, then, can be loyal to the Godhead in putting any book but the Bible first of all into the thoughts of any student on any subject?PBE 76.1

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