Vital godliness is a principle to be cultivated. The power of God can accomplish for us that which all the systems in the world cannot effect. The perfection of Christian character depends wholly upon the grace and strength found alone in God. Without the power of grace upon the heart, assisting our efforts and sanctifying our labors, we shall fail of saving our own souls and of saving the souls of others. System and order are highly essential, but none should receive the impression that these will do the work without the grace and power of God operating upon the mind and heart. Heart and flesh would fail in the round of ceremonies, and in the carrying out of our plans, without the power of God to inspire and give courage to perform.
The Sabbath school at Battle Creek was made the one great theme of interest with Brother E. It absorbed the minds of the young, while other religious duties were neglected. Frequently, after the Sabbath school was closed, the superintendent, a number of the teachers, and quite a number of scholars would return home to rest. They felt that their burden for
the day was ended and that they had no further duty. When the bell sounded forth the hour for public service, and the people left their homes for the house of worship, they would meet a large portion of the school passing to their homes. And however important the meeting, the interest of a large share of the Sabbath school could not be awakened to take any pleasure in the instruction given by the minister upon important Bible subjects. While many of the children did not attend public service, some that remained were not advantaged by the word spoken; for they felt that it was a wearisome tax.
There should be discipline and order in our Sabbath schools. Children who attend these schools should prize the privileges they enjoy and should be required to observe the regulations of the school. And even greater care should be taken by the parents to see that their children have their Scripture lessons than is taken to see that their day school lessons are prepared. Their Scripture lessons should be learned more perfectly than their lessons in the common schools. If parents and children see no necessity for this interest, then the children might better remain at home; for the Sabbath school will fail to prove a blessing to them. Parents and children should work in harmony with superintendent and teachers, thus giving evidence that they appreciate the labor put forth for them. Parents should take special interest in the religious education of their children, that they may have a more thorough knowledge of the Scriptures.
There are many children who plead a lack of time as a reason why their Sabbath school lessons are not learned, but there are few who could not find time to learn their lessons if they had an interest in them. Some devote time to amusement and sight-seeing; others to the needless trimming of their dresses for display, thus cultivating pride and vanity. The precious hours thus prodigally spent are God's time, for which they must render an account to Him. The hours spent in needless ornamentation or in amusements and idle conversation will, with every work, be brought into judgment.