Education and Character
True education does not ignore the value of scientific knowledge or
literary acquirements; but above information it values power; above
power, goodness; above intellectual acquirements, character. The world
does not so much need men of great intellect as of noble character. It
needs men in whom ability is controlled by steadfast principle.
"Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom."
"The tongue of the wise useth knowledge aright." Proverbs 4:7;
15:2. True education imparts this wisdom. It teaches the best use not
only of one but of all our powers and acquirements. Thus it covers the
whole circle of obligation--to ourselves, to the world, and to God.
Character building is the most important work ever entrusted to human
beings; and never before was its diligent study so important as now.
Never was any previous generation called to meet issues so momentous;
never before were young men and young women confronted by perils so
great as confront them today.
At such a time as this, what is the trend of the education given? To
what motive is appeal most often made? To self-seeking. Much of the
education given is a perversion of the name. In true education the
selfish ambition, the greed for power, the disregard for the rights and
needs of humanity, that are the curse of our world, find a
counterinfluence. God's plan of life has a place for every human being.
Each is to improve his talents to the utmost; and faithfulness in doing
this, be the gifts few or many, entitles one to honor. In God's plan
there is no place for selfish rivalry. Those who measure themselves by
themselves, and compare themselves among themselves, are not wise. 2
Corinthians 10:12. Whatever we do is to be done "as of the ability
which God giveth." 1 Peter 4:11. It is to be done "heartily,
as to the Lord, and not unto men; knowing that of the Lord ye shall
receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord
Christ." Colossians 3:23, 24. Precious the service done and the
education gained in carrying out these principles. But how widely
different is much of the education now given! From the child's earliest
years it is an appeal to emulation and rivalry; it fosters selfishness,
the root of all evil.
Thus is created strife for supremacy; and there is encouraged the
system of "cramming," which in so many cases destroys health
and unfits for usefulness. In many others, emulation leads to
dishonesty; and by fostering ambition and discontent, it embitters the
life and helps to fill the world with those restless, turbulent spirits
that are a continual menace to society. Nor does danger pertain to
methods only. It is found also in the subject matter of the studies.
What are the works on which, throughout the most susceptible years of
life, the minds of the youth are led to dwell? In the study of language
and literature, from what fountains are the youth taught to drink?--From
the 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 also 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!
Besides these 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 really fraught with
evil. It is robbing thousands upon thousands of the time and energy and
self-discipline demanded by the stern problems of life.
In the study of science, as generally pursued, there are dangers
equally great. Evolution and its kindred errors are taught in schools of
every grade, from the kindergarten to the college. Thus the study of
science, which should impart a knowledge of God, is so mingled with the
speculations and theories of men that it tends to infidelity.
Even Bible study, as too often conducted in the schools, is robbing
the world of the priceless treasure of the word of God. The work of
"higher criticism," in dissecting, conjecturing,
reconstructing, is destroying faith in the Bible as a divine revelation;
it is robbing God's word of power to control, uplift, and inspire human
As the youth go out into the world to encounter its allurements to
sin,--the passion for money getting, for amusement and indulgence, for
display, luxury, and extravagance, the overreaching, fraud, robbery, and
ruin, --what are the teachings there to be met?
Spiritualism asserts that men are unfallen demigods; that "each
mind will judge itself;" that "true knowledge places men above
all law;" that "all sins committed are innocent;" for
"whatever is, is right," and "God doth not condemn."
The basest of human beings it represents as in heaven, and highly
exalted there. Thus it declares to all men, "It matters not what
you do; live as you please, heaven is your home." Multitudes are
thus led to believe that desire is the highest law, that license is
liberty, and that man is accountable only to himself.
With such teaching given at the very outset of life, when impulse is
strongest, and the demand for self-restraint and purity is most urgent,
where are the safeguards of virtue? what is to prevent the world from
becoming a second Sodom?
At the same time anarchy is seeking to sweep away all law, not only
divine, but human. The centralizing of wealth and power; the vast
combinations for the enriching of the few at the expense of the many;
the combinations of the poorer classes for the defense of their
interests and claims; the spirit of unrest, of riot and bloodshed; the
world-wide dissemination of the same teachings that led to the French
Revolution--all are tending to involve the whole world in a struggle
similar to that which convulsed France.
Such are the influences to be met by the youth of today. To stand
amidst such upheavals they are now to lay the foundations of character.
In every generation and in every land the true foundation and pattern
for character building have been the same. The divine law, "Thou
shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart; . . . and thy neighbour
as thyself" (Luke 10:27), the great principle made manifest in the
character and life of our Saviour, is the only secure foundation and the
only sure guide. "The stability of thy times and the strength of
thy happiness shall be wisdom and knowledge" (Isaiah 33:6, Leeser's
translation)--that wisdom and knowledge which God's word alone can
It is as true now as when the words were spoken to Israel of
obedience to His commandments: "This is your wisdom and your
understanding in the sight of the nations." Deuteronomy 4:6.
Here is the only safeguard for individual integrity, for the purity
of the home, the well-being of society, or the stability of the nation.
Amidst all life's perplexities and dangers and conflicting claims the
one safe and sure rule is to do what God says. "The statutes of the
Lord are right," and "he that doeth these things shall never
be moved." Psalms 19:8; 15:5.
[ Back ] [ Up ] [ Next ]