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The foundation of all right education is a knowledge of God. Many parents who make great sacrifices to educate their children, seem to think that a well-trained intellect is more essential than a knowledge of God and his truth. They neglect to train up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, and act as though they supposed this important part of education would come naturally, as a matter of course. But the first and most important lesson to be impressed upon young minds is the duty of regulating the life by the principles of the word of God.
Parents and teachers should make God first. The influence of his Spirit purifies the heart and stimulates the intellect. If the fear of God is made the basis of education, the result will be a well-developed and symmetrical character, one that is neither dwarfed nor one-sided. Care should be taken to keep constantly before the mind the fact that we are dependent on God, and that we owe him willing obedience, a life-time of loving service. The true object of education is to fit us for this service by developing and bringing into active exercise every faculty that we possess. Satan desires to defeat this object. He is the great enemy of God, and it is his constant aim to lead souls away from their allegiance to the King of Heaven. He would have minds so trained that men and women will exert their influence on the side of error and moral corruption, instead of using their talents in the service of God. to save souls and bless society. His object is effectually gained, when, by perverting their ideas of education, he succeeds in enlisting parents and teachers on his side; for a wrong education often starts the mind on the road to infidelity.
The conclusions which learned men have reached as the result of their scientific investigations are carefully taught and fully explained; while the impression is distinctly given that if these learned men are correct, the Bible cannot be. These philosophers would make us believe that man, the crowning work of creation, came by slow degrees from the savage state, and that farther back, he was evolved from the race of brutes. They are so intent upon excluding God from the sovereignty of the universe, that they demean man, and defraud him of the dignity of his origin. Nature is exalted above the God of nature; she is idolized, while her Creator is buried up and concealed from sight by science falsely so-called.
Cold philosophical speculations, and scientific research in which God is not acknowledged, are a positive injury. The thorns of skepticism are disguised; they are concealed and made attractive by the bloom and verdure of science and philosophy. Skepticism is attractive to the human mind. The young see an independence in it that captivates the imagination, and they are deceived. Satan triumphs; it is altogether as he meant it should be. He nourishes every seed of doubt that is sown in young hearts. He causes it to grow anti bear fruit, and soon a plentiful harvest of infidelity is reaped. Teachers who sow these doubts do not lead the mind through the mist of unbelief to faith in the inspired word. But ignorance of God, of his might, his infinity, and his majesty, is the real reason that there in an infidel in the world.
Many teach that matter possesses vital power. They hold that certain properties are imparted to matter, and it is then left to act through its own inherent power; and that the operations of nature are carried on in harmony with fixed laws, that God himself cannot interfere with. This is false science, and is sustained by nothing in the word of God. Nature is not self-acting; she is the servant of her Creator. God does not annul his laws nor work contrary to them; but he is continually using them as his instruments. Nature testifies of an intelligence, a presence, an active agency, that works in, and through, and above her laws. There is in nature the continual working of the Father and the Son. Said Christ, “My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.”
God has finished his creative work, but his energy is still exerted in upholding the objects of his creation. It is not because the mechanism that has once been set in motion continues its work by its own inherent energy that the pulse beats and breath follows breath; but every breath, every pulsation of the heart, is an evidence of the all-pervading care of Him in whom we live and have our being. It is not because of inherent power that year by year the earth produces her bounties and continues her motion around the sun. The hand of God guides the planets, and keeps them in position in their orderly march through the heavens. It is through his power that vegetation flourishes, that the leaves appear and the flowers bloom. His word controls the elements, and by him the valleys are made fruitful. He covers the heavens with clouds, and prepares rain for the earth; he “maketh grass to grow upon the mountains.” “He giveth snow like wool; he scattereth the hoar frost like ashes.” “When he uttereth his voice, there is a multitude of waters in the heavens, and he causeth the vapors to ascend from the ends of the earth; he maketh lightnings with rain, and bringeth forth the wind out of his treasures.”
Parents and teachers should aim to impress minds with the beauty of truth: They should realize that the safety of the young depends upon combining religious culture with general education, that they may escape the snare of unsanctified knowledge. Who and what are the men of learning, that the minds and characters of the young should be moulded by their ideas? They are not connected with the great Source of wisdom; and if they do. not actually deny God, they at least lose sight of his direct agency in the operations of nature. But his care over all the works of his hands. Nothing is too great to be directed by him; nothing is too small to escape his notice.
God is the foundation of everything. All true science is in harmony with his works; all true education leads to obedience to his government. Science opens new wonders to our view; she soars high and explores new depths; but she brings nothing from her research that conflicts with divine revelation. Ignorance may seek to support false views of God by appeals to science; but the book of nature and the written word do not disagree; each sheds light on the other. Rightly understood, they make us acquainted with God and his character by teaching us something of the wise and beneficent laws through which he works. We are thus led to adore his holy name, and to have an intelligent trust in his word.
The Bible should be read every day. It is the correct standard of right and wrong and of moral principle. A life of devotion to God is the best shield for the young against the temptations to which they are exposed while acquiring an education. The first consideration should be to honor God; the second to be faithful to humanity, performing the duties and meeting the trials that each day brings, and bearing its burdens with firmness and courage. Earnest and untiring effort, united with strong purpose and entire trust in God, will help in every emergency, and will qualify for a useful life. Such a life is a series of triumphs, not always seen and understood, but reaching far into the future, when we shall see as we are seen and know as we are known.
If we work in harmony with the Spirit of God, we shall see of his salvation. The education begun here will not be completed in this life; it will be going forward through all eternity, — progressing, ever, never completed. Day by day the wonderful works of God, the evidences of his miraculous power in creating and sustaining the universe, will open before the mind in new beauty and grandeur. shines from the throne, mysteries will disappear, and the soul will be filled with astonishment at the simplicity of the things that were never before comprehended.