educated themselves in vice, and their consciences are seared.
Many parents overrate the stability and good qualities of their children. They do not seem to consider that they will be exposed to the deceptive influences of vicious youth. Parents have their fears as they send them some distance away to school, but flatter themselves that, as they have had good examples and religious instruction, they will be true to principle in their high-school life. Many parents have but a faint idea to what extent licentiousness exists in these institutions of learning. In many cases the parents have laboured hard and suffered many privations for the cherished object of having their children obtain a finished education. And after all their efforts, many have the bitter experience of receiving their children from their course of studies with dissolute habits and ruined constitutions. And frequently they are disrespectful to their parents, unthankful, and unholy. These abused parents, who are thus rewarded by ungrateful children, lament that they sent their children from them to be exposed to temptations and come back to them physical, mental, and moral wrecks. With disappointed hopes and almost broken hearts they see their children, of whom they had high hopes, follow in a course of vice and drag out a miserable existence.
But there are those of firm principles who answer the expectation of parents and teachers. They go through the course of schooling with clear consciences and come forth with good constitutions and morals unstained by corrupting influences. But the number is few.
Some students put their whole being into their studies and concentrate their mind upon the object of obtaining an education. They work the brain, but allow the physical powers to remain inactive. The brain is overworked, and the muscles become weak because they are not exercised. When these students graduate, it is evident that they have obtained their education at the expense of life. They have studied day and night, year after year, keeping their minds continually upon the stretch, while they have failed to sufficiently exercise their
muscles. They sacrifice all for a knowledge of the sciences, and pass to their graves.
Young ladies frequently give themselves up to study to the neglect of other branches of education even more essential for practical life than the study of books. And after having obtained their education, they are often invalids for life. They neglected their health by remaining too much indoors, deprived of the pure air of heaven and of the God-given sunlight. These young ladies might have come from their schools in health, had they combined with their studies household labour and exercise in the open air.
Health is a great treasure. It is the richest possession mortals can have. Wealth, honour, or learning is dearly purchased, if it be at the loss of the vigour of health. None of these attainments can secure happiness, if health is wanting. It is a terrible sin to abuse the health that God has given us; for every abuse of health enfeebles us for life and makes us losers, even if we gain any amount of education.
In many cases parents who are wealthy do not feel the importance of giving their children an education in the practical duties of life as well as in the sciences. They do not see the necessity, for the good of their children's minds and morals, and for their future usefulness, of giving them a thorough understanding of useful labour. This is due their children, that, should misfortune come, they could stand forth in noble independence, knowing how to use their hands. If they have a capital of strength they cannot be poor, even if they have not a dollar. Many who in youth were in affluent circumstances may be robbed of all their riches and be left with parents and brothers and sisters dependent upon them for sustenance. Then how important that every youth be educated to labour, that they may be prepared for any emergency! Riches are in deed a curse when their possessors let them stand in the way of their sons and daughters' obtaining a knowledge of useful labour, that they may be qualified for practical life.
Those who are not compelled to labour, frequently do not
have sufficient active exercise for physical health. Young men, for want of having their minds and hands employed in active labour, acquire habits of indolence and frequently obtain what is most to be dreaded, a street education -- lounging about stores, smoking, drinking, and playing cards.
Young ladies will read novels, excusing themselves from active labour because they are in delicate health. Their feebleness is the result of their lack of exercising the muscles God has given them. They may think they are too feeble to do housework, but will work at crochet and tatting, and preserve the delicate paleness of their hands and faces, while their care-burdened mothers toil hard to wash and iron their garments. These ladies are not Christians, for they transgress the fifth commandment. They do not honour their parents. But the mother is the one who is most to blame. She has indulged her daughters and excused them from bearing their share of household duties, until work has become distasteful to them, and they love and enjoy delicate idleness. They eat, and sleep, and read novels, and talk of the fashions, while their lives are useless.
Poverty, in many cases, is a blessing; for it prevents youth and children from being ruined by inaction. The physical as well as the mental powers should be cultivated and properly developed. The first and constant care of parents should be to see that their children have firm constitutions, that they may be sound men and women. It is impossible to attain this object without physical exercise. For their own physical health and moral good, children should be taught to work, even if there is no necessity so far as want is concerned. If they would have pure and virtuous characters they must have the discipline of well-regulated labour, which will bring into exercise all the muscles. The satisfaction that children will have in being useful, and in denying themselves to help others, will be the most healthful pleasure they ever enjoyed. Why should the wealthy rob themselves and their dear children of this great blessing?
Parents, inaction is the greatest curse that ever came upon
youth. Your daughters should not be allowed to lie in bed late in the morning, sleeping away the precious hours lent them of God to be used for the best purpose and for which they will have to give an account to Him. The mother does her daughters great injury by bearing the burdens that they should share with her for their own present and future good. The course that many parents pursue in allowing their children to be indolent and to gratify their desire for reading romance is unfitting them for real life. Novel and storybook reading are the greatest evils in which youth can indulge. Novel and love-story readers always fail to make good, practical mothers. They are air-castle builders, living in an unreal, an imaginary world. They become sentimental and have sick fancies. Their artificial life spoils them for anything useful. They are dwarfed in intellect, although they may flatter themselves that they are superior in mind and manners. Exercise in household labour is of the greatest advantage to young girls.
Physical labour will not prevent the cultivation of the intellect. Far from it. The advantages gained by physical labour will balance a person and prevent the mind from being overworked. The toil will come upon the muscles and relieve the wearied brain. There are many listless, useless girls who consider it unladylike to engage in active labour. But their characters are too transparent to deceive sensible persons in regard to their real worthlessness. They simper and giggle, and are all affectation. They appear as though they could not speak their words fairly and squarely, but torture all they say with lisping and simpering. Are these ladies? They were not born fools, but were educated such. It does not require a frail, helpless, overdressed, simpering thing to make a lady. A sound body is required for a sound intellect. Physical soundness and a practical knowledge of all the necessary household duties will never be hindrances to a well-developed intellect; both are highly important for a lady.
All the powers of the mind should be called into use and developed in order for men and women to have well-balanced
minds. The world is full of one-sided men and women who have become such because one set of their faculties was cultivated while others were dwarfed from inaction. The education of most youth is a failure. They overstudy, while they neglect that which pertains to practical business life. Men and women become parents without considering their responsibilities, and their offspring sink lower in the scale of human deficiency than they themselves. Thus the race is fast degenerating. The constant application to study, as the schools are now conducted, is unfitting youth for practical life. The human mind will have action. If it is not active in the right direction, it will be active in the wrong. In order to preserve the balance of the mind, labour and study should be united in the schools.
Provision should have been made in past generations for education upon a larger scale. In connection with the schools should have been agricultural and manufacturing establishments. There should also have been teachers of household labour. And a portion of the time each day should have been devoted to labour, that the physical and mental powers might be equally exercised. If schools had been established upon the plan we have mentioned, there would not now be so many unbalanced minds.
God prepared for Adam and Eve a beautiful garden. He provided for them everything that their wants required. He planted for them fruit-bearing trees of every variety. With a liberal hand He surrounded them with His bounties. The trees for usefulness and beauty, and the lovely flowers which sprang up spontaneously and flourished in rich profusion around them, were to know nothing of decay. Adam and Eve were rich indeed. They possessed Eden. Adam was lord in his beautiful domain. None can question the fact that he was rich. But God knew that Adam could not be happy unless he had employment. Therefore He gave him something to do; he was to dress the garden.
If men and women of this degenerate age have a large amount of earthly treasure, which, in comparison with that
Paradise of beauty and wealth given the lordly Adam, is very insignificant, they feel themselves above labour and educate their children to look upon it as degrading. Such rich parents, by precept and example, instruct their children that money makes the gentleman and the lady. But our idea of the gentleman and the lady is measured by the intellect and the moral worth. God estimates not by dress. The exhortation of the inspired apostle Peter is: "Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; but let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price." A meek and quiet spirit is exalted above worldly honour or riches.
The Lord illustrates how He estimates the worldly wealthy who lift up their souls unto vanity because of their earthly possessions, by the rich man who tore down his barns and built greater, that he might have room to bestow his goods. Forgetful of God, he failed to acknowledge whence all his possessions came. No grateful thanks ascended to his gracious Benefactor. He congratulated himself thus: "Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry." The Master, who had entrusted to him earthly riches with which to bless his fellow men and glorify his Maker, was justly angry at his ingratitude and said: "Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God." Here we have an illustration of how the infinite God estimates man. An extensive fortune, or any degree of wealth, will not secure the favour of God. All these bounties and blessings come from Him to prove, test, and develop the character of man.
Men may have boundless wealth; yet if they are not rich toward God, if they have no interest to secure to themselves the heavenly treasure and divine wisdom, they are counted
fools by their Creator, and we leave them just where God leaves them. Labour is a blessing. It is impossible for us to enjoy health without labour. All the faculties should be called into use that they may be properly developed and that men and women may have well-balanced minds. If the young had been given a thorough education in the different branches of labour, if they had been taught labour as well as the sciences, their education would have been of greater advantage to them.
A constant strain upon the brain while the muscles are inactive, enfeebles the nerves, and students have an almost uncontrollable desire for change and exciting amusements. And when they are released, after being confined to study several hours each day, they are nearly wild. Many have never been controlled at home. They have been left to follow inclination, and they think that the restraint of the hours of study is a severe tax upon them; and since they do not have anything to do after study hours, Satan suggests sport and mischief for a change. Their influence over other students is demoralizing. Those students who have had the benefits of religious teaching at home, and who are ignorant of the vices of society, frequently become the best acquainted with those whose minds have been cast in an inferior mould, and whose advantages for mental culture and religious training have been very limited. And they are in danger, by mingling in the society of this class and by breathing an atmosphere that is not elevating but that tends to lower and degrade the morals, of sinking to the same low level as their companions. It is the delight of a large class of students, in their unemployed hours, to have a high time. And very many of those who leave their homes innocent and pure become corrupted by their associations at school.
I have been led to inquire: Must all that is valuable in our youth be sacrificed in order that they may obtain a school education? Had there been agricultural and manufacturing establishments connected with our schools, and had competent teachers been employed to educate the youth in the different branches of study and labour, devoting a portion of each
day to mental improvement and a portion to physical labour, there would now be a more elevated class of youth to come upon the stage of action to have influence in moulding society. Many of the youth who would graduate at such institutions would come forth with stability of character. They would have perseverance, fortitude, and courage to surmount obstacles, and such principles that they would not be swayed by a wrong influence, however popular. There should have been experienced teachers to give lessons to young ladies in the cooking department. Young girls should have been instructed to manufacture wearing apparel, to cut, make, and mend garments, and thus become educated for the practical duties of life.
For young men there should be establishments where they could learn different trades which would bring into exercise their muscles as well as their mental powers. If the youth can have but a one-sided education, which is of the greater consequence, a knowledge of the sciences,--with all the disadvantages to health and life,--or a knowledge of labour for practical life? We unhesitatingly answer: The latter. If one must be neglected, let it be the study of books.
There are very many girls who have married and have families who have but little practical knowledge of the duties devolving upon a wife and mother. They can read, and play upon an instrument of music; but they cannot cook. They cannot make good bread, which is very essential to the health of the family. They cannot cut and make garments, for they never learned how. They considered these things unessential, and in their married life they are as dependent upon someone to do these things for them as are their own little children. It is this inexcusable ignorance in regard to the most needful duties of life which makes very many unhappy families.
The impression that work is degrading to fashionable life has laid thousands in the grave who might have lived. Those who perform only manual labour frequently work to excess without giving themselves periods of rest; while the intellectual class overwork the brain and suffer for want of the healthful
vigour the physical labour gives. If the intellectual would to some extent share the burden of the labouring class and thus strengthen the muscles, the labouring class might do less and devote a portion of their time to mental and moral culture. Those of sedentary and literary habits should take physical exercise, even if they have no need to labour so far as means are concerned. Health should be a sufficient inducement to lead them to unite physical with mental labour.
Moral, intellectual, and physical culture should be combined in order to have well-developed, well-balanced men and women. Some are qualified to exercise greater intellectual strength than others, while others are inclined to love and enjoy physical labour. Both of these classes should seek to improve where they are deficient, that they may present to God their entire being, a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to Him, which is their reasonable service. The habits and customs of fashionable society should not gauge their course of action. The inspired apostle Paul adds: "And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God."
The minds of thinking men labour too hard. They frequently use their mental powers prodigally, while there is another class whose highest aim in life is physical labour. The latter class do not exercise the mind. Their muscles are exercised while their brains are robbed of intellectual strength, just as the minds of thinking men are worked while their bodies are robbed of strength and vigour by their neglect to exercise the muscles. Those who are content to devote their lives to physical labour and leave others to do the thinking for them, while they simply carry out what other brains have planned, will have strength of muscle but feeble intellects. Their influence for good is small in comparison to what it might be if they would use their brains as well as their muscles. This class fall more readily if attacked by disease; the system is vitalized by the electrical force of the brain to resist disease.
Men who have good physical powers should educate themselves to think as well as to act, and not depend upon others to be brains for them. It is a popular error with a large class to regard work as degrading. Therefore young men are very anxious to educate themselves to become teachers, clerks, merchants, lawyers, and to occupy almost any position that does not require physical labour. Young women regard housework as demeaning. And although the physical exercise required to perform household labour, if not too severe, is calculated to promote health, yet they will seek for an education that will fit them to become teachers or clerks, or will learn some trade which will confine them indoors to sedentary employment. The bloom of health fades from their cheeks, and disease fastens upon them, because they are robbed of physical exercise and their habits are perverted generally. All this because it is fashionable! They enjoy delicate life, which is feebleness and decay.
True, there is some excuse for young women not choosing housework for employment, because those who hire kitchen girls generally treat them as servants. Frequently their employers do not respect them and treat them as though they were unworthy to be members of their families. They do not give them the privileges they do the seamstress, the copyist, and the teacher of music. But there can be no employment more important than that of housework. To cook well, to present healthful food upon the table in an inviting manner, requires intelligence and experience. The one who prepares the food that is to be placed in our stomachs, to be converted into blood to nourish the system, occupies a most important and elevated position. The position of copyist, dressmaker, or music teacher cannot equal in importance that of the cook.
The foregoing is a statement of what might have been done by a proper system of education. Time is too short now to accomplish that which might have been done in past generations; but we can do much, even in these last days, to correct the existing evils in the education of youth. And because
time is short, we should be in earnest and work zealously to give the young that education which is consistent with our faith. We are reformers. We desire that our children should study to the best advantage. In order to do this, employment should be given them which will call the muscles into exercise. Daily, systematic labour should constitute a part of the education of the youth, even at this late period. Much can now be gained by connecting labour with schools. In following this plan the students will realize elasticity of spirit and vigour of thought, and will be able to accomplish more mental labour in a given time than they could by study alone. And they can leave school with their constitutions unimpaired and with strength and courage to persevere in any position in which the providence of God may place them.
Because time is short, we should work with diligence and double energy. Our children may never enter college, but they can obtain an education in those essential branches which they can turn to a practical use and which will give culture to the mind and bring its powers into use. Very many youth who have gone through a college course have not obtained that true education that they can put to practical use. They may have the name of having a collegiate education, but in reality they are only educated dunces.
There are many young men whose services God would accept if they would consecrate themselves to Him unreservedly. If they would exercise those powers of the mind in the service of God which they use in serving themselves and in acquiring property they would make earnest, persevering, successful labourers in the vineyard of the Lord. Many of our young men should turn their attention to the study of the Scriptures, that God may use them in His cause. But they do not become as intelligent in spiritual knowledge as in temporal things; therefore they fail to do the work of God which they could do with acceptance. There are but few to warn sinners and win souls to Christ, when there should be many. Our young men generally are wise in worldly matters, but
not intelligent in regard to the things of the kingdom of God. They might turn their minds in a heavenly, divine channel and walk in the light, going on from one degree of light and strength to another until they could turn sinners to Christ and point the unbelieving and desponding to a bright track heavenward. And when the warfare is ended, they might be welcomed to the joy of their Lord.
Young men should not enter upon the work of explaining the Scriptures and lecturing upon the prophecies when they do not have a knowledge of the important Bible truths they try to explain to others. They may be deficient in the common branches of education and therefore fail to do the amount of good they could do if they had had the advantages of a good school. Ignorance will not increase the humility or spirituality of any professed follower of Christ. The truths of the divine word can be best appreciated by an intellectual Christian. Christ can be best glorified by those who serve Him intelligently. The great object of education is to enable us to use the powers which God has given us in such a manner as will best represent the religion of the Bible and promote the glory of God.
We are indebted to Him who gave us existence, for all the talents which have been entrusted to us; and it is a duty we owe to our Creator to cultivate and improve upon the talents He has committed to our trust. Education will discipline the mind, develop its powers, and understandingly direct them, that we may be useful in advancing the glory of God. We need a school where those who are just entering the ministry may be taught at least the common branches of education and where they may also learn more perfectly the truths of God's word for this time. In connection with these schools, lectures should be given upon the prophecies. Those who really have good abilities such as God will accept to labour in His vineyard would be very much benefited by only a few months' instruction at such a school.