The words "Give attendance to reading" invited Timothy (I Tim. 4:13) to the
joys of discovering hidden treasures. They pointed out the path to growth and
undreamed of possibilities. Although they include reading the Bible in church
services, yet the words apply to secular reading as well, and they address all
Christians in all ages (ML 89). The appeal to read, then, has to do with mental
culture as a principle of the Christian life. Our faculties are to be kept alert
and keen, ready "to give an answer to every man that asketh" a reason for our
hope (I Peter 3:15).
If "Give attendance to reading" were the only directive on the subject,
Christians might feel free to read anything. But protective limitations have
been provided, facilitating guidelines, issued by the same high authority. Each
imperatives "read" and "avoid" has a purpose equally constructive and loving,
namely, solicitude for our well being and happiness (SD 53, MH 114).
Directional and warning notices are strategically placed to make safe
journeys possible. With a "thousand ways" to allure and beguile, Satan is busy
preparing more bewildering sophistries. His power to deceive, we are told, has
increased tenfold since apostolic days (2SG 277). What cause for gratitude,
then, that a well-signed highway has been prepared!
It seems clear that the counsels on books and reading from the Spirit of
Prophecy are given to draw a line between good and bad, between suitable reading
matter and unsuitable, and to give guidance and warning that are needed. They
are marked by a sense of urgency, as having to do with an important matter where
there is grave and subtle danger. "As I can see the danger that threatens the
youth from improper reading, I cannot forbear to present still further the
warnings given me in regard to this great evil." 7T 203.
See also FE 164. (In this study, all emphases in the quotations from the
Spirit of Prophecy writings are supplied.)
The writer deals with this subject many times, directly and in detail. The
Index lists more than four hundred fifty such references, including duplications
but excluding the hundreds of entries about studying the Bible and other
inspired writings. For sixty odd years Ellen G. White continued to repeat,
elaborate, and emphasize these counsels. And we know of no exceptions in this
long list of messages, reaching from her first book to almost her last words to
On the contrary, they continue undeviatingly to warn and exhort: Beware of
questionable reading, which Satan uses mightily to allure, corrupt, and destroy.
"Preoccupy the soil of the heart" with good reading, which God uses to guide,
strengthen, and sanctify (FE 164, 368). On this topic she wrote in her last
illness in her last message to the youth: "These things are too lightly
regarded; therefore our people should become acquainted with what I am saying"
(FE 547-9). Her very last vision, we are told, seems to have included a
communication on this subject.
Why this urgency? The reading we choose may be a life-or-death matter. A wily
foe, Satan seeks to control beginnings. If he can defile a young mind, tender
and impressionable, he is doubly sure of leading the soul to ruin. This shows
why we should closely watch the avenues to the soul. Often has God emphasized
its importance, as: "All should guard the senses, lest Satan gain the victory
over them; for these are the avenues to the soul" (3T 507).
Faithful Sentinel. "You will have to become a faithful sentinel over your
eyes, ears, and all your senses if you would control your mind and prevent vain
and corrupt thoughts from staining your soul. The power of grace alone can
accomplish this most desirable work.
Senses paralyzed. "Satan and his angels are busy creating a paralyzed
condition of the senses so that cautions, warnings, and reproofs shall not be
heard; or if heard, that they shall not take effect upon the heart and reform
the life" (AH 401).
Satan's Strategy is to confuse the senses. "Satan's work is to lead men to
ignore God, to so engross and absorb the mind that God will not be in their
thoughts. The education they have received has been of a character to confuse
the mind and eclipse the true light.
Satan does not wish the people to have a knowledge of God; and if he can set
in operation games and theatrical performances that will so confuse the senses
of the young that human beings will perish in darkness while light shines all
about them, he is well pleased" (AH 401-2).
He utilizes the avenue of reading. "The apostle (Peter) sought to teach the
believers how important it is to keep the mind from wandering to forbidden
themes, or from spending its energies on trifling subjects. Those who would not
fall a prey to Satan's devices, must guard well the avenues of the soul; they
must avoid reading, seeing, or hearing that which will suggest impure thoughts.
The mind must not be left to dwell at random upon every subject that the enemy
of souls may suggest. The heart must be faithfully sentineled, or evils without
will awaken evils within, and the soul will wander in darkness" (AA 518, MYP
For convenience in reviewing, it may be helpful to quote; also to list some
of the expressions used concerning
READING MATTER TO BE SHUNNED
A. General characterizations
Confuse and perplex youth CT 383, 390
Depraved food, corrupt, corrupting CT 134; MH 444
Drama, opera, theater, Satan employs PP 459-60
Educates into familiarity with sin 3T 471-2; MH 444
Excitement, unhealthy, created by ET 58; MYP 272
Fevers and perverts the imagination 1T 241; MYP 283
Frivolous, unimportant 5T 19
Infatuating 5T 516
Leads the mind in a wrong direction MYP 273
Light reading, evil results from; havoc 2T 236; 5T 545
Literature, erroneous, polluted; of Satan CT 389; FE 92-3
Publications of Satan and his agents EW 96
Seeds of sin, ideas that are; contamination CT 389; MYP 280
Sensational, educate in evil; satanic fascination CT 133
Superficial and unreal, the CT 543
Unsanctified, ungodly authors; dissolute FE 174-5; CT 368
Weans the soul from prayer 1T 242
B. Nonfiction that is condemned
Cruel; horrible doings 8T 249
Cultivates a taste for fiction FE 162
Delineating satanic practices of human beings MH 444-5
Detailing crime, atrocities, horrible particulars PP 459
Enticing error MH 445
Giving publicity to evil, vice, crime 3T 471-2; CT 133-4
History reciting enormities CT 133-4
Infidelity, in its various forms PP 111; CT 136, 401
Immoral books, exciting passion 3T 472; MYP 277
Paganism, wells of; pagan sentiments Ed 226; FE 167-73
Pantheism, and threads of MM 98
Philosophy, deceptive, conjecture IT 297; Ed 74; 8T 319
Pictures, ridiculous, by satanic agencies MYP 286; 2T 410
Skepticism, mists of; miasmas of hell MM 91; FE 93
Specious errors MM 98
Spiritistic sophistry, fables, pagan philosophy MM 87-103
Stories, trashy, true or fictitious, like poison 5T 544-5
Theories, new and fanciful; lead away MM 96, 9T 68
Tales, frivolous and exciting MH 445
War and bloodshed MYP 277
C. Fiction condemned
Can excite, intoxicate, abuse mind 4T 497, 581; MH 446
Fiction, no suggestion of impurity and intended to teach excellent principles,
yet is harmful CT 383
Fiction, though of the better class, is harmful MH 446
Fiction, total abstinence from, only safety MH 446
Fables; also Aesop's Fables FE 184, 391
Imagination may be overexcited and diseased by 4T 497
Love stories, a curse MYP 272
Magazines, story CT 120
Myths, fairy tales; false views; want the unreal 8T 308-9
Novels, put away every MYP 286
Novels, all are pernicious in their influence 2T 236
Novel and story magazines, Satan's agencies CT 121
Novel, story reading harms mind, body 2T 302; 4T 497-8
Novel, story reading greatest evil youth indulge 3T 152
Novel reading, no time for
Romance MH 445
Stories, exciting, fascinating, idle 1T 504; MYP 283
Storybooks, Sunday-school, a snare 1T 124-26; 5T 506, 516
Story-reading, imagination of devotees diseased MYP 290
READING MATTER TO BE USED
A. General characterizations
Advance in every branch of true knowledge Ed 18
Awakens a desire to reach God's ideal Ed 19
Blessing to mind and soul MYP 288
Dwelling on practical faith and godliness 7T 158
Encourages sincerity of life; leads to the Bible MYP 288
Grasp the stupendous truths of revelation MYP 255-6
Interesting; imparts knowledge, right principles CW 134
Of vital importance FE 547
Proper food; pure, strengthening thoughts CT 121, 137
Solid reading; sensible reading CT 137; 5T 519
Store the mind with valuable knowledge CT 133
Substantial knowledge; strength of intellect 5T 544
Testimonies to be in every family, read repeatedly 4T 390
Useful information, scientific knowledge 5T 545
Useful, instructive, elevating books 1T 399; CW 134
Very best material into character-building CT 133
B. To preoccupy the soil, give tone to the mind CT 121, 544
Bible to be our study above every other book MYP 426
Bible stories may teach principles of God's law Ed 185
Points of our faith to be stamped on memory FE 547
Scan the religious attractions of the truth FE 548
Must follow directions from Spirit of Prophecy 8T 298
"We could begin a course of reading so intensely interesting that it would
attract and influence many minds." FE 548
C. In school
Elementary and intermediate level
Common branches "fully," "prayerfully taught" CT 210, 215
Literary training FE 368
Secondary and advanced
Bible in the first place
Language, mother tongue fundamental CT 216-7
Literary acquirements, God's smile may be on FE 192
Literary attainments, not cheapened by religion FE 118
Literary qualifications, be urgent need for (1981) FE 192
Literary talent to be appreciated FE 120-1
Literary training needed to develop harmoniously FE 255
Literary training required for some positions FE 256
Literary training be combined with the practical FE 368
Premedical and scientific
All the literary and scientific training needed CT 479-81
"The Lord desires us to obtain all the education possible, with the object in
view of imparting our knowledge to others. None can know where or how they may
be called to labor or speak for God. Our Heavenly Father alone sees what He can
make of men. There are before us possibilities which our feeble faith does not
discern --Christ's Object Lessons, p. 333
"What havoc has this love for light reading wrought with the mind! How it has
destroyed the principles of sincerity and true godliness, which lie at the
foundation of a symmetrical character." --Testimonies, vol. 5, p. 545.
"Our minds should be so trained that if necessary we can present the truths
of His word before the highest earthly authorities in such a way as to glorify
His name." --Christ's Object Lessons, p. 333.
"A love for fictitious reading should be overcome at once." --Counsels to
Teachers, p. 136.
"When a wrong impression is left upon the mind in youth, a mark is made, not
on sand, but on enduring rock." --Testimonies, vol. 5, p. 545.
"Each should aim just as high as the union of human with divine power makes
it possible for him to reach." --Education, p. 267.
"Keep reaching higher and still higher." --Testimonies, vol. 7, p. 281.
2 Quotations: what to avoid
How eager we are to read! Yet before we set out, let us think of a bombing
mission. Though expertly trained and equipped, the crew, before taking off, are
carefully briefed about their objective and the plans of the enemy to be
So with reading. When we learn of the snares and pitfalls in improper
reading first, then the positive instructions stand out clear and meaningful.
The wealth of counsel from Heaven centers in one great guiding principle: read
what will strengthen and perfect character; avoid the opposite. But since Satan
has "a thousand ways and plans" to beguile us, God has in kindness broken down
His instruction into many precious details to help us avoid the hosts of
enticements and sophistries of the foe. The quotations in this chapter, then,
give instructions to help us return safely from each reading "mission."
Professionals, reading of. The duties of professionals may sometimes
require them to read that which others should not read. And a kindly caution was
given to warn that dangers attend such reading. "There is danger that the false
sentiments expressed in the books that they have been reading will sometimes be
interwoven by our ministers, teachers, and editors, with their arguments, discourses, and publications, under the belief that they are the same in
principle as the teachings of the Spirit of truth" (9T 68).
"Never should books containing a perversion of truth be placed in the hands
of children or youth. Let not our children, in the very process of obtaining an
education, receive ideas that will prove to be seeds of sin. If those with
mature minds had nothing to do with such books, they would themselves be far
safer, and their example and influence on the right side would make it far less
difficult to guard the youth from temptation" (MH 447).
"The harm that results to the workers (publishing house) from handling matter
of an objectionable character is too little realized. Their attention is
arrested, and their interest aroused by the subject matter with which they are
dealing. Sentences are imprinted in the memory. Thoughts are suggested. Almost
unconsciously the reader is influenced by the spirit of the writer, and mind and
character receive an impress for evil. There are some who have little faith and
little power of self-control, and it is difficult for them to banish the
thoughts suggested by such literature" (7T 203).
This was written about the printing of secular books of an objectionable
character in our publishing houses. The reproof given was made a part of the
records to be preserved for study by the church.
"In the study of these objectionable books (of infidel authors) the minds of
teachers as well as students become corrupted, and the enemy sows his tares. It
cannot be otherwise" 6T 164).
Enticing error. "The world is flooded with books that are filled with
enticing error. The youth receive as truth that which the Bible denounces as
falsehood, and they love and cling to deception that means ruin to the soul" (MH
Sensational stories, tales. "It is Satan's work to present to our youth
newspaper stories and storybooks that fascinate the senses and thus destroy
their relish for the word of God" (5T 517).
"Books on sensational topics, published and circulated as a money-making
scheme, might better never be read by the youth. There is a satanic fascination
in such books. The heart-sickening recital of crimes and atrocities has a
bewitching power upon many, exciting them to see what they can do to bring
themselves into notice, even by the wickedest deeds" (CT 133).
"Many of the popular publications of the day are filled with sensational
stories, that are educating the youth in wickedness, and leading them in the
path to perdition. Mere children in years are old in a knowledge of crime. They
are incited to evil by the tales they read. In imagination they act over the
portrayed, until their ambition is aroused to see what they can do in committing
crime and evading punishment.
"To the active minds of children and youth, the scenes pictured in imaginary
revelations of the future are realities. As revolutions are predicted, and all
manner of proceedings described that break down the barriers of law and
self-restraint, many catch the spirit of these representations. They are led to
the commission of crimes even worse, if possible, than these sensational writers
depict. Through such influences as these society is becoming demoralized. The
seeds of lawlessness are sown broadcast. None need marvel that a harvest of
crime is the result.
Romance. "Works of romance, frivolous, exciting tales, are, in hardly
less degree, a curse to the reader. The author may profess to teach a moral
throughout his work he may interweave religious sentiments; but often these
serve only to veil the folly and worthlessness beneath" (MH 444-5).
Fiction, common. "Cheap works of fiction do not profit. They impart no
real knowledge; they inspire no great and good purpose; they kindle in the heart
no earnest desires for purity; they excite no soul hunger for righteousness. On
the contrary, they take time which should be given to the practical duties of
life and to the service of God--time which should be devoted to prayer, to
visiting the sick, caring for the needy, and educating yourself for a useful
life" (FE 92).
"There is a multitude of fiction-writers, luring to pleasant dreams in
palaces of ease. These writers may not be open to the charge of immorality, yet
their work is no less truly fraught with evil" (Ed 227).
"The readers of fiction are indulging an evil that destroys spirituality,
eclipsing the beauty of the sacred page. It creates an unhealthy excitement,
fevers the imagination, unfits the mind for usefulness, weans the soul from
prayer, and disqualifies it for any spiritual exercise" (MYP 272).
Fiction, "high-class." "There are works of fiction that were written for
the purpose of teaching truth or exposing some great evil. Some of these works
have accomplished good. Yet they have also wrought untold harm. They contain
statements and highly wrought pen-pictures that excite the imagination and give
rise to a train of thought which is full of danger, especially to the youth. The
scenes described are lived over and over again in their thoughts. Such reading
unfits the mind for usefulness, and disqualifies it for spiritual exercise. It
destroys interest in the Bible. Heavenly things find little place in the
thoughts. As the mind dwells upon the scenes of impurity portrayed, passion is
aroused, and the end is sin.
"Even fiction which contains no suggestion of impurity, and which may be
intended to teach excellent principles, is harmful. It encourages the habit of
hasty and superficial reading, merely for the story. Thus it tends to destroy
power of connected and vigorous thought; it unfits the mind to contemplate the
great problems of duty and destiny.
"It is often urged that in order to win the youth from sensational or
worthless literature, we should supply them with a better class of fiction. This
is like trying to cure the drunkard by giving him, in place of whiskey and
brandy, the milder intoxicants, such as wine, beer, and cider. The use of these
would continually foster the appetite for stronger stimulants. The only safety
for the inebriate, and the only safeguard for the temperate man, is total
abstinence. For the lover of fiction the same rule holds true. Total abstinence
is his only safety" (MH 445-6).
Novels. "Put away every novel...." (MYP 286). "Novel and storybook
reading are the greatest evils in which youth can indulge. Novel and love-story
readers always fail to make good, practical mothers. They are air-castle
builders, living in an unreal, imaginary world. They become sentimental, and
have sick fancies. Their artificial life spoils them for anything useful. They
are dwarfed in intellect, although they may flatter themselves that they are
superior in mind and manners" (3T 152).
"Love stories, frivolous, exciting tales, and even that class of books called
religious novels--books in which the author attaches to his story a moral
lesson are a curse to the readers. Religious sentiments may be woven all
through a story-book, but in most cases, Satan is but clothed in angel-robes,
the more effectively to deceive and allure. None are so confirmed in right
principles, none so secure from temptation, that they are safe in reading these
stories" (MYP 272). (Temcat notes: the book called Paula, the Waldensian is of
this type and even historic Adventists are lapping it up!)
"By fostering love for mere amusement, the reading of fiction creates a
distaste for life's practical duties. Through its exciting, intoxicating power,
it is not infrequently a cause of both mental and physical disease. Many a
miserable, neglected home, many a lifelong invalid, many an inmate of the insane
asylum, has become such through the habit of novel reading" (MH 446).
Novels should not find a place in the homes of those who believe in Christ"
(ML 89). "We do not need novels" (CW 147). Though some are not of as dangerous a
character as others, "all are pernicious in their influence" (2T 236).
Light reading, stories. "If their (children's) minds are filled with
stories, be they true or fictitious, there is no room for the useful information
and scientific knowledge which should occupy them. What havoc has this love for
light reading wrought with the mind! How it has destroyed the principles of
sincerity and true godliness, which lie at the foundation of a symmetrical
character. It is like a slow poison taken into the system, which will sooner or
later reveal its bitter effects. When a wrong impression is left upon the mind
in youth, a mark is made, not on sand, but on enduring rock" (5T 545).
Myths and fairy tales. "In the education of children and youth, fairy
tales, myths, and fictitious stories are now given a large place. Books of this
character are used in the schools, and they are to be found in many homes. How
can Christian parents permit their children to use books so filled with
falsehood? When the children ask the meaning of stories so contrary to the
teachings of their parents, the answer is that the stories are not true; but
this does not do away with the evil results of their use. The ideas presented in
these books mislead the children. They impart false views of life, and beget and
foster a desire for the unreal. "The widespread use of such books at this time
is one of the cunning devices of Satan" (MH 446-7).
Fables, Aesop's. "It seems wonderfully strange to me, considering all I
have written in regard to the reading of exciting stories, to see a
recommendation from your pen to read Robinson Crusoe, Uncle Tom's Cabin, and
Aesop's Fables. My brother, you made a mistake in writing that article. If these
books are among those which you have for sale, I beg of you never to offer them
again to our youth" (5T 519). The foregoing statements were written from Europe
to D. M. Canright, then one of our prominent ministers, who had just published
an article in the Review.
Funnies, Comics. "We would do well to clear our houses of all the story
magazines and the publications containing ridiculous pictures --representations
originated by satanic agencies. The youth cannot afford to poison their minds
with such things. `What is the chaff to the wheat?'" (MYP 286).
Trashy reading. "Let the mind grasp the stupendous truths of revelation,
and it will never be content to employ its powers upon frivolous themes; it will
turn with disgust from the trashy literature and idle amusements that are
demoralizing the youth of today."
"Resolutely discard all trashy reading."
"Keep the mind free from everything that would lead it in a wrong direction.
Do not encumber it with trashy stories, which impart no strength to the mental
powers. The thoughts are of the same character as the food provided for the
mind" (MYP 255-6, 273).
Skepticism and infidelity. "Human minds are easily charmed with studies
that lead to infidelity" (CT 401).
"Skepticism is attractive to the human mind. The youth see in it an
independence that captivates the imagination, and they are deceived. Satan
triumphs. He nourishes every seed of doubt that is sown in young hearts. He
causes it to grow and bear fruit, and soon a plentiful harvest of infidelity is
"It is because the human heart is inclined to evil that it is so dangerous to
sow seeds of skepticism in young minds. Whatever weakens faith in God robs the
soul of power to resist temptation. It removes the only real safeguard against
sin. . . .
"In order to obtain an education, many think it essential to study the
writings of infidel authors, because these works contain many bright gems of
thought. But who was the originator of these gems of thought? -- It was God, and
God only. He is the source of all light. Why then should we wade through the
mass of error contained in the works of infidels for the sake of a few
intellectual truths, when all truth is at our command?
"How is it that men who are at war with the government of God come into
possession of the wisdom which they sometimes display? Satan himself was
educated in the heavenly courts, and he has a knowledge of good as well as of
evil. He mingles the precious with the vile, and this is what gives him power to
deceive" (MH 439-40). See also FE 167-73.
"Evil angels are ever alert that they may exalt before the minds of the youth
that which will do them injury, and as books expressing infidel and pagan
sentiments are read, these unseen agents of evil seek to impress those who study
them with the spirit of questioning and unbelief" (FE 168).
"In the study of these objectionable books (of infidel authors) the minds of
teachers as well as students become corrupted, and the enemy sows his tares. It
cannot be otherwise. By drinking of an impure fountain, poison is introduced
into the system. Inexperienced youth taken over this line of study receive
impressions which lead their thoughts into channels that are fatal to piety" (6T
"Suffer not yourselves to open the lids of a book that is questionable. There
is a hellish fascination in the literature of Satan. It is the powerful battery
by which he tears down a simple religious faith. Never feel that you are strong
enough to read infidel books; for they contain a poison like that of asps. They
can do you no good, and will assuredly do you harm. In reading them, you are
inhaling the miasmas of hell. They will be to your soul like a corrupt stream of
water, defiling the mind, keeping it in the mazes of skepticism, and making it
earthly and sensual. These books were written by men whom Satan employs as his
agents; and by this means he designs to confuse the mind" (FE 93).
Confusing the mind. "For thousands of years Satan has been experimenting
upon the properties of the human mind, and he has learned to know it well. By
his subtle workings in these last days, he is linking the human mind with his
own, imbuing it with his thoughts; and he is doing this work in so deceptive a
manner that those who accept his guidance know not that they are being led by
him at his will. The great deceiver hopes so to confuse the minds of men and
women that none but his voice will be heard" (MM 111).
Drama, opera, theater. "Through the drama" Satan "has worked for ages to
excite passion and glorify vice. The opera, with its fascinating display and
bewildering music, the masquerade, the dance, the card-table, Satan employs to
break down the barriers of principle, and open the door to sensual indulgence"
"Among the most dangerous resorts for pleasure is the theater. Instead of
being a school for morality and virtue, as is often claimed, it is the very
hotbed of immorality. Vicious habits and sinful propensities are strengthened
confirmed by these entertainments. Low songs, lewd gestures, expressions, and
attitudes, deprave the imagination and debase the morals. Every youth who
habitually attends such exhibitions will be corrupted in principle. There is no
influence in our land more powerful to poison the imagination, to destroy
religious impressions, and to blunt the relish for tranquil pleasures and sober
realities of life, than theatrical amusements" (MYP 380).
False science. "We need to guard continually against those books which
contain sophistry in regard to geology and other branches of science" (CT 390).
"False science is one of the agencies that Satan used in the heavenly courts,
and it is used by him today. The false assertions that he made to the angels,
his subtle scientific theories, seduced many of them from their loyalty" (8T
"We must not forget that Satan still lives to exercise his deceptive power
through false science" (9T 69).
"Satanic agencies are clothing false theories in an attractive garb, even as
Satan in the Garden of Eden concealed his identity from our first parents by
speaking through the serpent. These agencies are instilling into human minds
that which in reality is deadly error. The hypnotic influence of Satan will rest
upon those who turn from the plain word of God to pleasing fables.
"It is those who have had most light that Satan most assiduously seeks to
ensnare. He knows that if he can deceive them, they will, under his control,
clothe sin with garments of righteousness, and lead many astray" (8T 294).
"Knowledge and science must be vitalized by the Spirit of God in order to
serve the noblest purposes. The Christian alone can make the right use of
knowledge. Science, in order to be fully appreciated, must be viewed from a
religious standpoint" (TM 196; MM 97).
Literature in our schools. "There is need of separating from our
educational work an erroneous, polluted literature, so that ideas which are the
seeds of sin will not be received and cherished as the truth. Let not any
suppose that a study of books which will lead to the reception of false ideas,
is valuable education" (CT 389). (1913)
"Many books of no real value, books that are exciting and unhealthful, are
recommended or at least permitted to be used, because of their supposed literary
value. Why should we direct our children to drink of these polluted streams,
when they may have free access to the pure fountains of the word of God?" (Ed
"A mass of tradition, with merely a semblance of truth, is being brought into
education, which will never fit the learner to live in this life so that he may
obtain the higher, immortal life. The literature placed in our schools, written
by infidels and so-called wise men, does not contain the education that students
should have" (FE 407).
"In the study of language and literature, from what fountains are the youth
taught to drink? -- From wells of paganism; from springs fed by the corruptions
of ancient heathendom. They are bidden to study authors, of whom, without
dispute, it is declared that they have no regard for the principles of morality.
And of how many modern authors might the same be said! With how many are grace
and beauty of language but a disguise for principles that in their real
deformity would repel the reader" (Ed 226-7).
"The Lord expects our teachers to expel from our schools those books that
teach sentiments which are not in accordance with His word, and to give place to
those books that are of the highest value" (FE 517).
"A pure education for youth in our schools, undiluted with heathen
philosophy, is a positive necessity in literary lines" (FE 388).
Greek and Latin. "There are callings in which a knowledge of Greek and
Latin is needed. Some must study these languages. But the knowledge of them
essential for practical uses might be gained without a study of literature that
is corrupt and corrupting" (MH 444).
Historical and theological lore; research. In Chapter 3 we shall read
such appealing words as these: "All who engage in the acquisition of knowledge
should strive to reach the highest round of the ladder. Let students advance as
fast and as far as they can; let the field of their study be as broad as their
powers can compass; but let them make God their wisdom."
"There is a study of history that is not to be condemned." Yet God saw the
need of accompanying these with cautions and warnings, which, being remembered,
will help us avoid dangers and gain success:
"As a preparation for Christian work, many think it essential to acquire an
extensive knowledge of historical and theological writings. They suppose that
this knowledge will be an aid to them in teaching the gospel. But their
study of the opinions of men tends to the enfeebling of their ministry, rather
than to its strengthening. . . .
"And, to a great degree, theology, as studied and taught, is but a record of
human speculation, serving only to darken counsel by words without
knowledge.' Too often the motive in accumulating these many books is not so
much a desire to obtain food for the mind and soul, as it is an ambition to
become acquainted with philosophers and theologians, a desire to present
Christianity to the people in learned terms and propositions.
"Not all the books written can serve the purpose of a holy life. "`Learn of
Me,' said the great Teacher, "Take My yoke upon you,' learn My meekness and
lowliness.' Your intellectual pride will not aid you in communicating with souls
that are perishing for want of the bread of life. In your study of these books,
are allowing them to take the place of the practical lessons you should be
learning from Christ. With the results of this study the people are not fed.
little of the research which is so wearying to the mind furnishes that which
help one to be a successful laborer for souls" (MH 441-2).
Gems of thought in a framework of error. "The Lord bestowed upon these
men whom the world admires, priceless intellectual gifts; He endowed them with
master-minds; but they did not use their powers to the glory of God. They
separated themselves from Him, as did Satan; but while they separated
themselves from Him, they still retained many of the precious gems of thought
which He had given them. These they have placed in a framework of error, to
give luster to their human sentiments, to make attractive the utterances
inspired by the prince of evil.
"It is true that in the writings of pagans and infidels there are found
thoughts of an elevated character, which are attractive to the mind. But there
is a reason for this. Was not Satan the light-bearer, the sharer of God's glory
in heaven, and next to Jesus in power and majesty? . . .
"The greatness and power with which the Creator endowed Lucifer, he has
perverted; yet when it suits his purpose, he can impart to men sentiments that
are enchanting. Satan can inspire his agents with thoughts that appear elevating
and noble.... It is thus that he comes to men, disguising his temptations under
an appearance of goodness and making them believe him to
be the friend rather than the enemy of humanity. In this way he has deceived
and seduced the race" (CT 26-7).
(Edward) "Gibbon the skeptic, and many others whom God endowed with giant
minds, and whom the world called great men, rallied under the banner of Satan
and used the gifts of God for the perversion of truth and the destruction of the
souls of men. Great intellect, when made a minister of vice, is a curse to the
possessor and to all who come within the circle of its influence" (4T 520).
"There is another class of books that you should avoid -- the productions of
such infidel writers as Paine and (Robert) Ingersol" (FE 93). Satan "was so
intimately connected with Paine upon the earth, aiding him in his work, that it
is an easy thing for him to know the very words Paine used and the very
handwriting of one who served him so faithfully and accomplished his purposes so
well. Satan dictated much of his writings, and it is an easy thing for him to
dictate sentiments through his angels now and make it appear that they come
through Thomas Paine, who, while living, was a devoted servant of the evil one"
(EW 90-1, 264-5).
"Byron had intellectual conception and depth of thought, but he was not a man
according to God's standard. He was an agent of Satan. His passions were fierce
and uncontrollable. Through his life he was sowing seed which blossomed into a
harvest of corruption. His lifework lowered the standard of virtue. This man was
one of the world's distinguished men; still the Lord would not acknowledge him
as a man, but only as one who had abused his God-given talents" (4T 519-20).
Shakespeare. "Let them see the sinfulness of exalting such men as
Shakespeare, calling the attention of the people to those who did not in their
lives honor God or represent Christ." This statement is from a letter written to
our leaders at the Pacific Press in 1902, which also said: "I was greatly pained
to see on the first page of a recent issue of the Signs a picture of the
of Shakespeare, accompanied by an article on Shakespeare. May the Lord pity
our discernment if we have no better food than this to give the flock of God. It
greatly distresses me to see those in positions of trust, who should daily be
gaining a rich experience, placing such matter before the people" (CW 172-6).
See also MS 169 '02. It was made a part of the record left for the instruction
of the church.
Excessive study and reading. "Too great devotion to study, even of true
science, creates an abnormal appetite, which increases as it is fed. This
creates a desire to secure more knowledge than is essential to do the work of
the Lord. The pursuit of knowledge merely for its own sake, diverts the mind
from devotion to God, checks advance along the path of practical holiness, and
hinders souls from traveling in the way which leads to a holier, happier life.
The Lord Jesus imparted only such a measure of instruction as could be utilized"
(FE 338). See also CH 185-88.
"There are men and women now in the decline of life who have never recovered
from the effects of intemperate reading.... Many have never recovered their
original vigor of mind.... Nor is the physical effect less disastrous. The
nervous system is unnecessarily taxed by this passion for reading. In some cases
youth, and even those of mature age, have been afflicted with paralysis from no
other cause than excess in reading.... Intemperate habits of reading exert a
pernicious influence upon the brain as surely as does intemperance in eating and
drinking" (MYP 280-1).
Improper habits of reading, effects of. "Those who have indulged the
habit of racing through exciting stories, are crippling their mental strength,
disqualifying themselves for vigorous thought and research" (MYP 280).
"Wrong habits of thought, when once accepted, become a despotic power that
fastens the mind as in a grasp of steel" (CT 402). See also 2T 433.
Satan's thousand ways and plans. "There are a thousand ways and plans
that Satan has of creeping in to unsettle the minds of youth; and unless the
soul is firmly and fully stayed upon God, and conscientiously guarded upon the
very point of keeping the mind employed in searching the Scriptures and becoming
grounded in our faith, they will surely be ensnared. We cannot be off guard for
a moment. We cannot allow ourselves to move from impulse. We must set a guard
about our minds and the minds of our children" (5T 519-20).
Unceasing watchfulness. "Yet we have a work to do to resist temptation.
Those who would not fall a prey to Satan's devices must guard well the avenues
of the soul; they must avoid reading, seeing, or hearing that which will suggest
impure thoughts. The mind should not be left to wander at random upon every
subject that the adversary of souls may suggest. Girding up the loins of your
mind,' says the apostle Peter, `be sober, . . not fashioning yourselves
according to your former lusts in your ignorance; but like as He which called
you is holy, be ye yourselves also holy in all manner of living.' Says Paul,
`Whatsoever things are true,.. honest,.. just,.. pure,.. lovely,.. of good
report; if there be any virtue,.. any praise, think on these things.' This will
require earnest prayer and unceasing watchfulness. We must be aided by the
abiding influence of the Holy Spirit, which will attract the mind upward, and
habituate it to dwell on pure and holy things. And we must give diligent study
to the word of God" (PP 460).
Mental tastes to be trained. "The mental tastes must be disciplined and
educated with the greatest care" (CT 136).
Experimental knowledge of God first. "While the pursuit of knowledge in
art, in literature, and in trades, should not be discouraged, the student should
first secure an experimental knowledge of God and His will" (CT 19).
"If their minds are filled with stories, be they true or fictitious, there is
no room for the useful information and scientific knowledge which should occupy
them." --Testimonies, vol. 5, p. 545.
"Amusements and unprofitable reading spoil the judgment." --Testimonies, vol.
9, p. 43.
"Little do parents consider that injurious impressions are far more readily
received by the young than are divine impressions." --Testimonies, vol. 5, p.
"We should not let slip even one opportunity to qualify ourselves intellectually
to work for God." --Christ's Object Lessons p. 334
"All who engage in the acquisition of knowledge should strive to reach the
highest round of the ladder." --Counsels to Teachers, p. 394.
"Put your highest power into all your effort. Call to your aid the most
powerful motives. You are learning. Endeavor to go to the bottom of everything
you set your hand to. Never aim lower than to become competent in the matters
which occupy you. Do not allow yourself to fall into the habit of being
superficial and neglectful in your duties and studies." --Sons and Daughters of
God, p. 106
"Satan is doing more through the productions of the press to weaken the minds
and corrupt the morals of the youth than by any other means." --Counsels to
Writers and Editors, p. 134
"There is one straight chain of truth, without one heretical sentence, in
that which I have written." --E. White Letter 329a, 1905.
"Everyone should feel that there rests upon him an obligation to reach the
height of intellectual greatness." --Gospel Workers, p. 279
God wants as perfect work as it is possible for human beings to do."
--Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 535.
3 Quotations: What to Read and Study
The very best material into character-building. "Supply books that will
help the youth to put into their character-building the very best material --
the love and fear of God, the knowledge of Christ. Encourage your children to
store the mind with valuable knowledge, to let that which is good occupy the
soul and control its powers, leaving no place for low, debasing thoughts.
Restrict the desire for reading matter that does not furnish good food for the
mind" (CT 133).
The primal object. "While religious principle is held paramount, every
advance step taken in the acquirement of knowledge or in the culture of the
intellect, is a step toward the assimilation of the human with the divine, the
finite with the infinite" (CT 52).
Direct minds to the sources of truth -- nature and revelation. "Every
human being, created in the image of God, is endowed with power akin to that of
the Creator -- individuality, power to think and to do. The men in whom this
power is developed are the men who bear responsibilities, who are leaders in
enterprise, and who influence character. It is the work of true education to
develop this power; to train youth to be thinkers, and not mere reflectors of
other men's thoughts. Instead of confining their study to that which men have
said or written, let students be directed to the sources of truth, to the vast
fields opened for research in nature and revelation. Let them contemplate the
great facts of duty and destiny, and the mind will expand and strengthen."
The highest standard. "Before the student there is opened a path of
continual progress. He has an object to achieve, a standard to attain, that
includes everything good, and pure, and noble. He will advance as fast and as
far as possible in every branch of true knowledge, but his efforts will be
directed to objects as much higher than mere selfish and temporal interests as
the heavens are higher than the earth" (Ed 17-19).
"All who engage in the acquisition of knowledge should strive to reach the
highest round of the ladder. Let the students advance as fast and as far as they
can; let the field of their study be as broad as their powers can compass; but
them make God their wisdom, clinging to Him who is infinite in knowledge,
who can reveal secrets hidden for ages, and who can solve the most difficult
problems for minds that believe in Him" (CT 394-5).
The Bible as a source of culture. "The Bible contains all the principles
that men need in order to be fitted either for this life or for the life to
come. And these principles may be understood by all. No one with a spirit to
teaching can read a single passage from the Bible without gaining from it some
helpful thought. But the most valuable teaching of the Bible is not to be gained
by occasional or disconnected study. Its great system of truth is not so
presented as to be discovered by the hasty or careless reader. Many of its
treasures lie far beneath the surface, and can be obtained only by diligent
research and continuous effort. The truths that go to make up the great whole
must be searched out and gathered up, here a little, and there a little.'"
"And not alone in searching out truth and bringing it together does the
mental value of Bible study consist. It consists also in the effort required to
grasp the themes presented. The mind occupied with commonplace matters only,
becomes dwarfed and enfeebled. If never tasked to comprehend grand and
far-reaching truths, it after a time loses the power of growth. As a safeguard
against this degeneracy, and a stimulus to development, nothing else can equal
the study of God's word. As a means of intellectual training, the Bible is more
effective than any other book, or all other books combined. The greatness of its
themes, the dignified simplicity of its utterances, the beauty of its imagery,
quicken and uplift the thoughts as nothing else can. No other study can impart
such mental power as does the effort to grasp the stupendous truths of
revelation. The mind thus brought in contact with the thoughts of the Infinite
cannot but expand and strengthen."
"In its wide range of style and subjects, the Bible has something to interest
every mind and appeal to every heart. In its pages are found history the most
ancient; biography the truest to life; principles of government for the control
of the state, for the regulation of the household -- principles that human
wisdom has never equaled. It contains philosophy the most profound, poetry the
sweetest and most sublime, the most impassioned and the most pathetic.
Immeasurably superior in value to the productions of any human author are the
Bible writings, even when thus considered; but of infinitely wider scope, of
infinitely greater value, are they when viewed in their relation to the grand
central thought. Viewed in the light of this thought, every topic has a new
significance. In the most simply stated truths are involved principles that are
as high as heaven and that compass eternity" (Ed 123-25).
"The grand subjects upon which the Bible treats, the dignified simplicity of
its utterances, the elevated themes which it presents to the mind, the light,
sharp and clear, from the throne of God, enlightening the understanding, will
develop the powers of the mind to an extent that can scarcely be comprehended,
and never fully explained" (MYP 253-55).
The Bible as history. "The grand truths of sacred history possess amazing
strength and beauty, and are as far-reaching as eternity" (CT 427).
"The Bible is the most ancient and the most comprehensive history that men
possess. It came fresh from the fountain of eternal truth, and throughout the
ages a divine hand has preserved its purity. It lights up the far-distant past,
where human research in vain seeks to penetrate. In God's word only do we
behold the power that laid the foundations of the earth, and that stretched out
the heavens. Here only is given a history of our race unsullied by human pride
"The Bible reveals the true philosophy of history" (Ed 173).
Poetry; the Psalms. "The oldest as well as the most sublime of poetic
utterances known to man are found in the Scriptures" (Ed 159).
"But with new inspiration he (David) composed his melodies, and played upon
his harp. Before him spread a landscape of rich and varied beauty. The vines,
with their clustering fruit, brightened in the sunshine. The forest trees, with
their green foliage, swayed in the breeze. He beheld the sun flooding the
heavens with light, and coming forth as a bridegroom out of his chamber, and
rejoicing as a strong man to run a race. There were the bold summits of the
hills reaching toward the sky; in the faraway distance rose the barren cliffs of
the mountain wall of Moab; above all spread the tender blue of the overarching
heavens. And beyond was God. He could not see him but his works were full of his
praise. The light of day, gilding forest and mountain, meadow and stream,
carried the mind up to behold the Father of lights, the Author of every good and
perfect gift. Daily revelations of the character and majesty of the Creator,
filled the young poet's heart with adoration and rejoicing. In contemplation of
God and his works, the faculties of David's mind and heart were developing and
strengthening for the work of his after-life. He was daily coming into a more
intimate communion with God. His mind was constantly penetrating into new
depths, for fresh themes to inspire his song, and to wake the music of his harp.
The rich melody of his voice poured out upon the air, echoed from the hills as
if responsive to the rejoicing of the angels' song in heaven.
"Who can measure the results of those years of toil and wandering among the
lonely hills? The communion with nature and with God, the care of his flocks,
the perils and deliverances, the griefs and joys, of his lowly lot, were not
only to mould the character of David, and to influence his future life, but
through the psalms of Israel's sweet singer, they were, in all coming ages, to
kindle love and faith in the hearts of God's people, bringing them nearer to the
ever-loving heart of Him in whom all his creatures live" (PP 641-2).
Stories of the Bible. "In all that men have written, where can be found
anything that has such a hold upon the heart, anything so well adapted to awaken
the interest of the little ones, as the stories of the Bible?"
Bible stories illuminate God's law. "In these simple stories may be made
plain the great principles of the law of God" (Ed 185).
The Bible a living power. "The creative energy that called the worlds
into existence is in the word of God. This word imparts power; it begets life.
Every command is a promise; accepted by the will, received into the soul, it
brings with it the life of the Infinite One. It transforms the nature, and
re-creates the soul in the image of God" (Ed 126).
Bible; lives of its great men. "Sacred history "presents many noble
examples of men whose characters were formed under divine direction, men whose
lives were a blessing to their fellow-men, and who stood in the world as
representatives of God. Among these are Joseph and Daniel, Moses, Elisha, and
Paul -- the greatest statesmen, the wisest legislator, one of the most faithful
reformers, and, except Him who spoke as never man spake, the most illustrious
teacher that this world has known" (Ed 51).
Joseph. "At the time when he was called to the court of Pharaoh, Egypt was
the greatest of the nations. In civilization, art, learning, she was unequaled.
Through a period of utmost difficulty and danger, Joseph administered the
affairs of the kingdom; and he did this in a manner that won the confidence of
the king and the people." "Loyalty to God, faith in the Unseen, was Joseph's
anchor. In this lay the hiding of his power. `The arms of his hands were made
strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob'" (Ed 53-54).
Moses. "Moses was fitted to take pre-eminence among the great of the earth,
to shine in the courts of its most glorious kingdom, and to sway the scepter of
its power. His intellectual greatness distinguishes him above the great men of
all ages. As historian, poet, philosopher, general of armies, and legislator, he
stands without a peer" (PP 246). See also 1BC 1113.
Daniel and companions. "At the court of Babylon were gathered representatives
from all lands, men of the choicest talents, men the most richly endowed with
natural gifts, and possessed of the richest culture this world could bestow; yet
amidst them all, the Hebrew captives were without a peer. In physical strength
and beauty, in mental vigor and literary attainment, they stood unrivaled" (Ed
55). See also 4T 570.
Paul. "No man ever lived who was a more earnest, energetic, and
self-sacrificing disciple of Christ than was Paul. He was one of the world's
greatest teachers. He crossed the seas and traveled far and near, until a large
portion of the world had learned from his lips the story of the cross of Christ.
He possessed a burning desire to bring perishing man to a knowledge of the truth
through a Saviour's love" (4T 409).
"Foremost among those called to preach the gospel of Christ stands the
apostle Paul, to every minister an example of loyalty, devotion, and untiring
"Paul carried with him the atmosphere of heaven. All who associated with him
felt the influence of his union with Christ. The fact that his own life
exemplified the truth he proclaimed, gave convincing power to his preaching" (GW
Bible biographies. "As an educator no part of the Bible is of greater
value than are its biographies. These biographies differ from all others in that
they are absolutely true to life. It is impossible for any finite mind to
interpret rightly, in all things, the workings of another. None but He who reads
the heart, who discerns the secret springs of motive and action, can with
delineate character, or give a faithful picture of a human life. In God's word
alone is found such delineation" (Ed 146).
"The lives recorded in the Bible are authentic histories of actual
individuals. From Adam down through successive generations to the times of the
apostles we have a plain, unvarnished account of what actually occurred and the
genuine experience of real characters" (4T 9).
Take time for the Book of books; neglect. "Above all, take time to read the
Bible -- the Book of books. A daily study of Scriptures has a sanctifying,
uplifting influence upon the mind. Bind the holy volume to your hearts. It will
prove to you a friend and guide in perplexity."
"Both old and young neglect the Bible. They do not make it their study, the
rule of their life. Especially are the young guilty of this neglect. Most of
them find time to read other books, but the book that points out the way to
eternal life is not daily studied."
"The importance of seeking a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures can hardly
be estimated" (CT 138, 139).
Denominational history. "In reviewing our past history, having traveled
over every step of advance to our present standing, I can say, Praise God! As I
see what the Lord has wrought, I am filled with astonishment, and with
confidence in Christ as leader. We have nothing to fear for the future, except
as we shall forget the way the Lord has led us, and His teaching in our past
history" (LS 33 196).
Books like Early Writings, Life Sketches, Captains of the Host, A Prophet
Among You, and others, are calculated to fire our hearts as we read of the
inception and rise of the third angel's message.
Study health principles. "Let our people show that they have a living
interest in medical missionary work. Let them prepare themselves for usefulness
by studying the books that have been written for our instruction in these lines.
These books deserve much more attention and appreciation than they have
received. Much that is for the benefit of all to understand has been written for
the special purpose of instruction in the principles of health. Those who study
and practice these principles will be greatly blessed, both physically and
Form a home reading circle. "Take time to read to your children from the
health books, as well as from the books treating more particularly on religious
subjects. Teach them the importance of caring for the body -- the house they
live in. Form a home reading circle, in which every member of the family shall
lay aside the busy cares of the day, and unite in study. Fathers, mothers,
brothers, sisters, take up this work heartily, and see if the home church will
not be greatly improved" (CH 426, 427).
Dawn of reason. "From the first dawn of reason, the human mind should
become intelligent in regard to the physical structure. Here Jehovah has given a
specimen of Himself; for man was made in the image of God."
Physical law divine in origin. "The Creator of man has arranged the
living machinery of our bodies. Every function is wonderfully and wisely made.
And God has pledged Himself to keep this human machinery in healthful action if
the human agent will obey His laws and cooperate with God. Every law governing
the human machinery is to be considered just as truly divine in origin, in
character, and in importance as the word of God. Every careless, inattentive
action, any abuse put upon the Lord's wonderful mechanism, by disregarding His
specified laws in the human habitation, is a violation of God's law" (MM 221).
Learn how to eat, drink, dress. "Knowledge must be gained in regard to
how to eat, and drink, and dress so as to preserve health" (DF 21).
The mind influences the body; the body, the mind. "The influence of the mind
on the body, as well as of the body on the mind, should be emphasized. The
electric power of the brain, promoted by mental activity, vitalizes the whole
system, and is thus an invaluable aid in resisting disease. This should be made
plain. The power of the will and the importance of self-control, both in the
preservation and in the recovery of health, and the depressing and even ruinous
effect of anger, discontent, selfishness, or impurity, and, on the other hand,
the marvelous lifegiving power to be found in cheerfulness, unselfishness,
gratitude, should be shown" (Ed 197).
The mind expresses itself through the body. "Since the mind and the soul find
expression through the body, both mental and spiritual vigor are in great degree
dependent upon physical strength and activity; whatever promotes physical
health, promotes the development of a strong mind and a well-balanced character.
Without health, no one can as distinctly understand or as completely fulfill his
obligations to himself, to his fellow-beings, or to his creator. Therefore the
health should be as faithfully guarded as the character. A knowledge of
physiology and hygiene should be the basis of all educational effort" (Ed 195).
Know thyself. "No one can properly understand his obligations to God
unless he understands clearly his obligations to himself as God's property."
"Perfect obedience to God's commands calls for conformity to the laws of the
being" (CT 295). Let us read and reread such books as Ministry of Healing,
Medical Ministry, Counsels on Health, Counsels on Diet and Foods, Temperance.
Testimonies for the Church. "The volumes of the Spirit of Prophecy, and
also the Testimonies, should be introduced into every Sabbath-keeping family,
and the brethren should know their value and be urged to read them. It was not
the wisest plan to place these books at a low figure and have only one set in a
church. They should be in the library of every family and read again and again.
Let them be kept where they can be read by many, and let them be worn out in
being read by all the neighbors.
Evening readings; one should read aloud. "There should be evening
readings, in which one should read aloud to those assembled at the winter
fireside. There is but little interest manifested to make the most of the light
given of God. Much of it is concerning family duties, and instruction is given
to meet almost every case and circumstance" (4T 390-1).
Testimonies more important as end nears. "As the end draws near and the
work of giving the last warning to the world extends, it becomes more important
for those who accept present truth to have a clear understanding of the nature
and influence of the Testimonies, which God in His providence has linked with
the work of the third angel's message from its very rise" (5T 654). See also SD
Satan's special object. "It is Satan's special object to prevent this
light from coming to the people of God, who so greatly need it amid the perils
of these last days" (5T 667).
Under the discipline of God. "Everyone who has a knowledge of the truth
should awake and place himself, body, soul, and spirit, under the discipline of
God. The enemy is on our track. We must be wide awake, on our guard against him.
We must put on the whole armor of God. We must follow the directions given
through the spirit of prophecy. We must love and obey the truth for this time.
This will save us from accepting strong delusions. God has spoken to us through
His word. He has spoken to us through the testimonies to the church and through
the books that have helped to make plain our present duty and the position that
we should now occupy. The warnings that have been given, line upon line, precept
upon precept, should be heeded. If we disregard them, what excuse can we offer?"
Read of mission lands and missions. "It is acquaintance that awakens
sympathy, and sympathy is the spring of effective ministry. To awaken in the
children and youth sympathy and the spirit of sacrifice for the suffering
millions in the `regions beyond,' let them become acquainted with these lands
and their peoples. In this line much might be accomplished in our schools.
Instead of dwelling on the exploits of the Alexanders and Napoleons of history,
let the pupils study the lives of such men as the apostle Paul and Martin
Luther, as Moffat and Livingstone and Carey, and the present daily-unfolding
history of missionary effort. Instead of burdening their memories with an array
of names and theories that have no bearing upon their lives, and to which, once
outside the schoolroom, they rarely give a thought, let them study all lands in
the light of missionary effort, and become acquainted with the people and their
needs" (Ed 269).
The Lord's builders. "The enemy of righteousness left nothing undone in
his effort to stop the work committed to the Lord's builders. But God left not
Himself without witness.' Workers were raised up who ably defended the faith
once delivered to the saints. History bears record to the fortitude and heroism
these men. Like the apostles, many of them fell at their post, but the building
the temple went steadily forward. The workmen were slain, but the work
advanced. The Waldenses, John Wycliffe, Huss and Jerome, Martin Luther and
Zwingle, Cramer, Latimer, and Knox, the Huguenots, John and Charles Wesley,
and a host of others brought to the foundation material that will endure
throughout eternity. And in later years those who have so nobly endeavored to
promote the circulation of God's word, and those who by their service in heathen
lands have prepared the way for the proclamation of the last great message
--these also have helped to rear the structure."
"Paul and the other apostles, and all the righteous who have lived since
then, have acted their part in the building of the temple. But the structure is
not yet complete. We who are living in this age have a work to do, a part to
act" (AA 598, 599). See also 1T 371-4.
Bunyan. "In a loathsome dungeon crowded with profligates and felons, John
Bunyan breathed the very atmosphere of heaven; and there he wrote his
wonderful allegory of the pilgrim's progress from the land of destruction to the
celestial city. For over two hundred years that voice from Bedford jail has
spoken with thrilling power to the hearts of men. Bunyan's "Pilgrim's Progress'
and "Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners" have guided many feet into the
path of life.
"Baxter, Flavel, Alleine, and other men of talent, education, and deep
Christian experience, stood up in valiant defense of the faith which was once
delivered to the saints. The work accomplished by these men, proscribed and
outlawed by the rulers of this world, can never perish. Flavel's "Fountain of
Life" and "Method of Grace" have taught thousands how to commit the keeping of
their souls to Christ. Baxter's "Reformed Pastor" has proved a blessing to many
who desired a revival of the work of God, and his "Saints' Everlasting Rest" has
done its work in leading souls to the rest that remaineth' for the people of
God" (GC 252-3).
Wesley. "While preaching the gospel of the grace of God, Wesley, like his
Master, sought to magnify the law and make it honorable.' Faithfully did he
accomplish the work given him of God, and glorious were the results which he
was permitted to behold. At the close of his long life of more than four score
years -- above half a century spent in itinerant ministry -- his avowed
numbered more than half a million souls. But the multitude that through his
labors had been lifted from the ruin and degradation of sin to a higher and
purer life, and the number who by his teaching had attained to a deeper and
richer experience, will never be known till the whole family of the redeemed
shall be gathered into the kingdom of God. His life presents a lesson of
priceless worth to every Christian. Would that the faith and humility, the
untiring zeal, self-sacrifice, and devotion of this servant of Christ, might be
reflected in the
churches of today!" (GC 264).
History. "There is a study of history that is not to be condemned. Sacred
history was one of the studies in the schools of the prophets. In the records of
His dealings with the nations were traced the footsteps of Jehovah. So today we
are to consider the dealings of God with the nations of the earth. We are to see
in history the fulfillment of prophecy, to study the workings of Providence in
great reformatory movements, and to understand the progress of events in the
marshalling of the nations for the final conflict of the great controversy.
"Such study will give broad, comprehensive views of life. It will help us to
understand something of its relations and dependencies, how wonderfully we
are bound together in the great brotherhood of society and nations, and to how
great an extent the oppression and degradation of one member means loss to all"
Try beginning with these: The Great Controversy, Wylie's History
of Protestantism, D'aubigue's History of the Reformation.
True stories. True secular stories of good character, are not mentioned
as such, it would appear, but are covered by such general expressions as "the
very best material" and the like. The warnings against true stories apply only
to those of an objectionable character.
Nature a key. "In the natural world, God has placed in the hands of the
children of men the key to unlock the treasure-house of His word. The unseen is
illustrated by the seen" (CT 187).
"So full of beauty, so perfect."
"Well do we know of Ellen White as the Lord's messenger; but are our eyes
"holden" (Luke 24:16) to her literary stature? On history's long roster of women
writers, her name stands, we may feel sure, without a peer. Excepting the Bible,
her writings are the greatest literary force for good in the world. Who can
estimate their influence in America and other lands? Should we not realize the
worth of the treasure entrusted to us? See what a scholar said to a class in
"Of all the writings, ancient, medieval, or modern, there are no writings so
full of beauty, so perfect in every way, so pure, and yet so simple, outside of
the Bible, as the writings of Mrs. E. G. White." Miss E. McMillan, as quoted by
Eld. Harold N. Williams, a member of the class.
How was it that a frail, unschooled child of the common people, member of a
tiny group, cast out, poor, unknown, should capture the full temperament and
proportions of the gospel message, so that her writings continue the great
central stream of the Christian evangel, that has flowed down the centuries? How
did she achieve such an unfailing avoidance of side channels and delusions? Such
a full balance and control of the mental faculties? Such sureness of touch?
Whence came the enthusiasm of utterance, the glowing faith, that never ceased?
Her writings, how did she encompass their rich qualities: the perfect balance
between doctrine and conduct; a passion for the lost which saw in every soul the
purchase of Christ's blood; a steadfast, lofty morality which yet leaves the
imagination its full stature; a union of seriousness and simplicity; and above
these, an all-suffusing love for God, for His appearing and kingdom? What made
her the voice of the honest in heart everywhere -- those who will come out of
the world for conscience' sake, and for the word of God will suffer the loss of
all things? It was the "finger of God." The hand of the Lord was upon her, and
her life of untiring ministry was nourished by the Bible and by prayer.
"Should BECOME acquainted." "There are books that are of vital importance
that are not looked at by our young people. They are neglected because they are
not so interesting to them as some lighter reading.
"We should advise the young to take hold of such reading matter as recommends
itself for the upbuilding of Christian character. The most essential points of
our faith should be stamped upon the memory of the young. They have had a
glimpse of these truths, but not such an acquaintance as would lead them to look
upon their study with favor. Our youth should read that which will have a
healthful, sanctifying effect upon the mind. This they need in order to be able
to discern what is true religion. There is much good reading that is not
"Now is our time and opportunity to labor for the young people. Tell them
that we are now in a perilous crisis, and we want to know how to discern true
godliness. Our young people need to be helped, uplifted, and encouraged, but in
the right manner; not, perhaps as they would desire it, but in a way that will
help them to have sanctified minds. They need good sanctifying religion more
than anything else."
"In the night season I was selecting and laying aside books that are of no
advantage to the young. We should select for them books that will encourage
them to sincerity of life, and lead them to the opening of the word. This has
been presented to me in the past, and I thought I would get it before you and
make it secure. We cannot afford to give to young people valueless reading.
Books that are a blessing to mind and soul are needed. These things are too
lightly regarded; therefore our people should become acquainted with what I am
saying" (FE 547-8). Also in MYP 287-8.
"We made it a practice to read instructive and interesting books, with the
Bible, in the family circle, and our children were always happy as we thus
entertained them. Thus we prevented a restless desire to be out in the street
with young companions, and at the same time cultivated in them a taste for solid
reading. . . .The volumes of "Spirit of Prophecy,"* should be in every family,
and should be read aloud in the family circle. . . . The Testimonies contain
instruction which meets the case of all, both parents and children. Should these
be read to the entire family, the children as well as the parents would be
benefited by their counsels, warnings, and reproofs. . . . Let the time be
devoted to the reading of the Scriptures and other interesting books that will
impart knowledge and inculcate right principles. Let the best reader be selected
to read aloud, while the other members of the family are engaged in useful
occupations. Thus these evenings at home may be made both pleasant and
profitable. *The Conflict of the Ages series replaced this four-volume set.
"Children need proper reading, which will afford amusement and recreation,
and not demoralize the mind or weary the body.
"Most children and young people will have reading matter; and if it is not
selected for them, they will select it for themselves. They can find a ruinous
quality of reading anywhere, and they soon learn to love it; but if pure and
reading is furnished them, they will cultivate a taste for that.
"By practicing right-doing, a disgust will be created in the heart for that
which is low, cheap, disorderly.
"Pure healthful reading will be to the mind what healthful food is to the
body. You will thus become stronger to resist temptation, to form right habits,
and to act upon right principles" (SD 178).