Source and Aim of True Education
Our ideas of education take too narrow and too low a range. There is
need of a broader scope, a higher aim. True education means more than
the pursual of a certain course of study. It means more than a
preparation for the life that now is. It has to do with the whole being,
and with the whole period of existence possible to man. It is the
harmonious development of the physical, the mental, and the spiritual
powers. It prepares the student for the joy of service in this world and
for the higher joy of wider service in the world to come.
The source of such an education is brought to view in these words of
Holy Writ, pointing to the Infinite One: In Him "are hid all the
treasures of wisdom." Colossians 2:3. "He hath counsel and
understanding." Job 12:13.
The world has had its great teachers, men of giant intellect and
extensive research, men whose utterances have stimulated thought and
opened to view vast fields of knowledge; and these men have been
honoured as guides and benefactors of their race; but there is One who
stands higher than they. We can trace the line of the world's teachers
as far back as human records extend; but the Light was before them. As
the moon and the stars of our solar system shine by the reflected light
of the sun, so, as far as their teaching is true, do the world's great
thinkers reflect the rays of the Sun of Righteousness. Every gleam of
thought, every flash of the intellect, is from the Light of the world.
In these days much is said concerning the nature and importance of
"higher education." The true "higher education" is
that imparted by Him with whom "is wisdom and strength" (Job
12:13), out of whose mouth "cometh knowledge and
understanding." Proverbs 2:6.
In a knowledge of God all true knowledge and real development have
their source. Wherever we turn, in the physical, the mental, or the
spiritual realm; in whatever we behold, apart from the blight of sin,
this knowledge is revealed. Whatever line of investigation we pursue,
with a sincere purpose to arrive at truth, we are brought in touch with
the unseen, mighty Intelligence that is working in and through all. The
mind of man is brought into communion with the mind of God, the finite
with the Infinite. The effect of such communion on body and mind and
soul is beyond estimate.
In this communion is found the highest education. It is God's own
method of development. "Acquaint now thyself with Him" (Job
22:21), is His message to mankind. The method outlined in these words
was the method followed in the education of the father of our race. When
in the glory of sinless manhood Adam stood in holy Eden, it was thus
that God instructed him.
In order to understand what is comprehended in the work of education,
we need to consider both the nature of man and the purpose of God in
creating him. We need to consider also the change in man's condition
through the coming in of a knowledge of evil, and God's plan for still
fulfilling His glorious purpose in the education of the human race.
When Adam came from the Creator's hand, he bore, in his physical,
mental, and spiritual nature, a likeness to his Maker. "God created
man in His own image" (Genesis 1:27), and it was His purpose that
the longer man lived the more fully he should reveal this image--the
more fully reflect the glory of the Creator. All his faculties were
capable of development; their capacity and vigour were continually to
increase. Vast was the scope offered for their exercise, glorious the
field opened to their research. The mysteries of the visible
universe--the "wondrous works of Him which is perfect in
knowledge" (Job 37:16)--invited man's study. Face-to-face,
heart-to-heart communion with his Maker was his high privilege. Had he
remained loyal to God, all this would have been his forever. Throughout
eternal ages he would have continued to gain new treasures of knowledge,
to discover fresh springs of happiness, and to obtain clearer and yet
clearer conceptions of the wisdom, the power, and the love of God. More
and more fully would he have fulfilled the object of his creation, more
and more fully have reflected the Creator's glory.
But by disobedience this was forfeited. Through sin the divine
likeness was marred, and well-nigh obliterated. Man's physical powers
were weakened, his mental capacity was lessened, his spiritual vision
dimmed. He had become subject to death. Yet the race was not left
without hope. By infinite love and mercy the plan of salvation had been
devised, and a life of probation was granted. To restore in man the
image of his Maker, to bring him back to the perfection in which he was
created, to promote the development of body, mind, and soul, that the
divine purpose in his creation might be realised--this was to be the
work of redemption. This is the object of education, the great object of
Love, the basis of creation and of redemption, is the basis of true
education. This is made plain in the law that God has given as the guide
of life. The first and great commandment is, "Thou shalt love the
Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy
strength, and with all thy mind." Luke 10:27. To love Him, the
infinite, the omniscient One, with the whole strength, and mind, and
heart, means the highest development of every power. It means that in
the whole being-- the body, the mind, as well as the soul--the image of
God is to be restored.
Like the first is the second commandment--"Thou shalt love thy
neighbour as thyself." Matthew 22:39. The law of love calls for the
devotion of body, mind, and soul to the service of God and our fellow
men. And this service, while making us a blessing to others, brings the
greatest blessing to ourselves. Unselfishness underlies all true
development. Through unselfish service we receive the highest culture of
every faculty. More and more fully do we become partakers of the divine
nature. We are fitted for heaven, for we receive heaven into our hearts.
Since God is the source of all true knowledge, it is, as we have
seen, the first object of education to direct our minds to His own
revelation of Himself. Adam and Eve received knowledge through direct
communion with God; and they learned of Him through His works. All
created things, in their original perfection, were an expression of the
thought of God. To Adam and Eve nature was teeming with divine wisdom.
But by transgression man was cut off from learning of God through direct
communion and, to a great degree, through His works. The earth, marred
and defiled by sin, reflects but dimly the Creator's glory. It is true
that His object lessons are not obliterated. Upon every page of the
great volume of His created works may still be traced His handwriting.
Nature still speaks of her Creator. Yet these revelations are partial
and imperfect. And in our fallen state, with weakened powers and
restricted vision, we are incapable of interpreting aright. We need the
fuller revelation of Himself that God has given in His written word.
The Holy Scriptures are the perfect standard of truth, and as such
should be given the highest place in education. To obtain an education
worthy of the name, we must receive a knowledge of God, the Creator, and
of Christ, the Redeemer, as they are revealed in the sacred word.
Every human being, created in the image of God, is endowed with a
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 the youth to be thinkers, and not mere reflectors of other men's
thought. 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.
Instead of educated weaklings, institutions of learning may send
forth men strong to think and to act, men who are masters and not slaves
of circumstances, men who possess breadth of mind, clearness of thought,
and the courage of their convictions.
Such an education provides more than mental discipline; it provides
more than physical training. It strengthens the character, so that truth
and uprightness are not sacrificed to selfish desire or worldly
ambition. It fortifies the mind against evil. Instead of some master
passion becoming a power to destroy, every motive and desire are brought
into conformity to the great principles of right. As the perfection of
His character is dwelt upon, the mind is renewed, and the soul is
re-created in the image of God.
What education can be higher than this? What can equal it in value?
"It cannot be gotten for gold, Neither shall silver be weighed for
the price thereof.
It cannot be valued with the gold of Ophir,
With the precious onyx, or the sapphire.
The gold and the crystal cannot equal it
And the exchange of it shall not be for jewels of fine gold.
No mention shall be made of coral, or of pearls:
For the price of wisdom is above rubies." Job 28:15-18.
Higher than the highest human thought can reach is God's ideal for
His children. Godliness--godlikeness--is the goal to be reached. 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.
He who co-operates with the divine purpose in imparting to the youth
a knowledge of God, and moulding the character into harmony with His,
does a high and noble work. As he awakens a desire to reach God's ideal,
he presents an education that is as high as heaven and as broad as the
universe; an education that cannot be completed in this life, but that
will be continued in the life to come; an education that secures to the
successful student his passport from the preparatory school of earth to
the higher grade, the school above.
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