Education comprises more than a knowledge of books. Proper education includes not only mental discipline, but that training which will secure sound morals and correct deportment. We have had many fears that those who take students into their houses will not realize their responsibility and will neglect to exert a proper influence over these youth. Thus students will fail to obtain all the benefit which they might receive at the college. The question too often arises: "Am I my brother's keeper?' What care, what burden or responsibility, should I have for the students who occupy rooms in our houses?" I answer: The very same interest that you have for your own children.
Says Christ: "Love one another, as I have loved you." The souls of the youth that are brought under your roof are as precious in the eyes of the Lord as are the souls of your own dear children. When young men and women are separated from the softening, subduing influences of the home circle, it is the duty of those who have the care of them to make home influences for them. They would thus supply a great lack and would be doing a work for God as verily as the minister in the desk. To throw around these students an influence which would preserve them from temptations to immorality, and lead them to Jesus, is a work which heaven would approve.
Grave responsibilities rest upon those who reside at the great center of the work, where are important interests to be sustained. Those who choose their homes at Battle Creek should be men and women of faith, of wisdom, and of prayer.
Hundreds of youth of various dispositions and of different education are associated in the school, and great care as well as much patience is required to balance in the right direction minds that have been warped by bad management. Some have never been disciplined, and others have been governed too much, and have felt, when away from the vigilant hands that held the reins of control, perhaps too tightly, that they were free to do as they pleased. They despise the very thought of restraint. These varying elements brought together in our college bring care, burdens, and weighty responsibility, not only upon teachers, but on the entire church.
The students at our college are exposed to manifold temptations. They will be brought in contact with individuals of almost every stamp of mind and morals. Those who have any religious experience are censurable if they do not place themselves in a position to resist every evil influence. But many choose to follow inclination. They do not consider that they must make or mar their own happiness. It is in their own power to so improve their time and opportunities as to develop a character that will make them happy and useful.
The youth who reside at Battle Creek are in constant danger because they do not connect with heaven. If they would be true to their profession they might be living missionaries for God. By manifesting Christian interest, sympathy, and love, they might greatly benefit the youth who come to Battle Creek from other places. An earnest effort should be made to keep these strangers from choosing superficial, frivolous, pleasure-seeking associates. This class exert a demoralizing influence upon the college, upon the sanitarium, and upon the office of publication. Our numbers are constantly increasing, and vigilance and zeal to keep the fort are steadily decreasing. If they will open their eyes, all may see whither these things are tending.
Many move to Battle Creek to give their children the advantages of the college, and at the same time do not feel their own responsibility in making this move. They do not realize that something more is to be considered than their own selfish interest; that they may be a hindrance instead of a blessing, unless they come with the full purpose to do good as well as to get good. Yet none need lose their spirituality in coming to Battle Creek; if we will follow Christ, it is not in the power of any to lead us astray from the path cast up for the ransomed of the Lord to walk in. No one is compelled to copy the errors of professed Christians. If he sees the mistakes and faults of others, he will be responsible before God and before his fellow men if he does not set a better example. But some make the faults of others an excuse for their own defects of character, and even copy the very objectionable traits which they condemn. Such persons strengthen those of whom they complain as pursuing an unchristian course. With their eyes open they walk into the enemy's snare. Not a few in Battle Creek have pursued this course. Some have come to the place where our institutions are located, with the selfish motive of making money. This class will be no help to the youth either by precept or example.
The dangers of the young are greatly increased as they are thrown into the society of a large number of their own age of varied character and habits of life. Under these circumstances many parents are inclined to relax rather than redouble their own efforts to guard and control their children. Thus they cast a tremendous burden upon those who feel the responsibility. When these parents see that their children are becoming demoralized, they are inclined to find fault with those who have charge of the work at Battle Creek, when the evils have been caused by just such a course as these parents themselves have pursued.
Instead of uniting with those who bear the burdens, to lift up the standard of morals, and working with heart and soul in the fear of God to correct the wrongs in their children,
many parents soothe their own consciences by saying: "My children are no worse than others." They seek to conceal the glaring wrongs which God hates, lest their children shall become offended and take some desperate course. If the spirit of rebellion is in their hearts, far better subdue it now than permit it to increase and strengthen by indulgence. If parents would do their duty, we should see a different state of things. Many of these parents have backslidden from God. They do not have wisdom from Him to perceive the devices of Satan and to resist his snares.
In this age of the world, children should have strict watchcare. They should be advised and restrained. Eli was cursed of God because he did not promptly and decidedly restrain his wicked sons. There are parents at Battle Creek who are doing no better than did Eli. They are afraid to control their children. They see them serving Satan with a high hand and pass it by as a disagreeable necessity which must be endured because it cannot be cured.
Every son and daughter should be called to account if absent from home at night. Parents should know what company their children are in and at whose house they spend their evenings. Some children deceive their parents with falsehoods to avoid exposure of their wrong course. There are those who seek the society of corrupt companions and secretly visit saloons and other forbidden places of resort in the city. There are students who visit the billiard rooms, and who engage in card playing, flattering themselves that there is no danger. Since their object is merely amusement, they feel perfectly safe. It is not the lower grade alone who do this. Some who have been carefully reared, and educated to look upon such things with abhorrence, are venturing upon the forbidden ground.
The young should be controlled by firm principle, that they may rightly improve the powers which God has given them. But youth follow impulse so much and so blindly, without reference to principle, that they are constantly in
danger. Since they cannot always have the guidance and protection of parents and guardians they need to be trained to self-reliance and self-control. They must be taught to think and act from conscientious principle.
Those who are engaged in study should have relaxation. The mind must not be constantly confined to close thought, for the delicate mental machinery becomes worn. The body as well as the mind must have exercise. But there is great need of temperance in amusements, as in every other pursuit. And the character of these amusements should be carefully and thoroughly considered. Every youth should ask himself: What influence will these amusements have on physical, mental, and moral health? Will my mind become so infatuated as to forget God? shall I cease to have His glory before me?
Card playing should be prohibited. The associations and tendencies are dangerous. The prince of the powers of darkness presides in the gaming room and wherever there is card playing. Evil angels are familiar guests in these places. There is nothing in such amusements beneficial to soul or body. There is nothing to strengthen the intellect, nothing to store it with valuable ideas for future use. The conversation is upon trivial and degrading subjects. There is heard the unseemly jest, the low, vile talk, which lowers and destroys the true dignity of manhood. These games are the most senseless, useless, unprofitable, and dangerous employments the youth can have. Those who engage in card playing become intensely excited and soon lose all relish for useful and elevating occupations. Expertness in handling cards will soon lead to a desire to put this knowledge and tact to some use for personal benefit. A small sum is staked, and then a larger, until a thirst for gaming is acquired, which leads to certain ruin. How many has this pernicious amusement led to every sinful practice, to poverty, to prison, to murder, and to the gallows! And yet many parents do not see the terrible gulf of ruin that is yawning for our youth.
Among the most dangerous resorts for pleasure is the theater.
Instead of being a school of morality and virtue, as is so often claimed, it is the very hotbed of immorality. Vicious habits and sinful propensities are strengthened and 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 the tranquil pleasures and sober realities of life than theatrical amusements. The love for these scenes increases with every indulgence, as the desire for intoxicating drinks strengthens with its use. The only safe course is to shun the theater, the circus, and every other questionable place of amusement.
There are modes of recreation which are highly beneficial to both mind and body. An enlightened, discriminating mind will find abundant means for the entertainment and diversion, from sources not only innocent, but instructive. Recreation in the open air, the contemplation of the works of God in nature, will be of highest benefit.
The great God, whose glory shines from the heavens, and whose divine hand upholds millions of worlds, is our Father. We have only to love Him, trust in Him, as little children in faith and confidence, and He will accept us as His sons and daughters, and we shall be heirs to all the inexpressible glory of the eternal world. All the meek will He guide in judgment, the meek will He teach His way. If we will walk in obedience to His will, learn cheerfully and diligently the lessons of His providence, by and by He will say: Child, come home to the heavenly mansions I have prepared for you.