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    Chapter 12—False Impressions Concerning Experience

    Experience is said to be the best teacher. Genuine experience is indeed superior to mere theoretical knowledge, but many have an erroneous idea as to what constitutes experience. Real experience is gained by a variety of careful experiments, made with the mind free from prejudice, uncontrolled by previously established opinions and habits. The results are marked with careful solicitude, and an anxious desire to learn, to improve, and to reform on every point that is not in harmony with physical and moral laws.CTBH 109.1

    That which many term experience is not experience at all; it has resulted from mere habit, or from a course of indulgence, thoughtlessly and often ignorantly followed. There has not been a fair trial by actual experiment and thorough investigation, with a knowledge of the principles involved in the action. Experience which is opposed to natural law,—which is in conflict with the unchangeable principles of nature,—is not to be relied upon. Superstition arising from a diseased imagination is often arrayed in opposition to reason and to scientific principles. To many a person, the idea that others may gainsay what he has learned by experience, seems folly, and even cruelty itself. But there are more errors received and held through false ideas of experience than from any other cause. There are many invalids today who will ever remain such because they cannot be convinced that their experience is not to be relied upon.CTBH 109.2

    Erroneous habits and customs gird men and women as with iron bands, and they too often justify themselves in these customs by what they term experience. Many of the grossest habits are cherished under this plea. Many fail to reach that physical, mental, and moral development to which they might attain, because they cling to an experience that is opposed to the plainest revealed facts. Men and women whose wrong habits have destroyed their health, and broken down their constitution, will be found recommending their experience as safe for others to follow, when it is this very experience that has robbed them of health and vitality. When you seek to instruct them, they defend their course by referring to their experience.CTBH 109.3

    Here is where we have met the greatest difficulties in religious matters. The plainest facts may be presented, the clearest truths, sustained by the word of God, may be brought before the mind; but the ear and the heart are closed, and the all-convincing argument is, “my experience.” Some will say, “The Lord has blessed me in believing and doing as I have; therefore I cannot be in error.” “My experience” is clung to, and the most elevating, sanctifying truths of the Bible are rejected.CTBH 110.1

    Balaam inquired of God if he might curse Israel. He was anxious that the permission might be given, because he had the promise of great reward. But God said, “Thou shalt not go.” Balaam was urged the second time, by messengers more honorable than the first, and greater inducements were offered. He had been shown the will of the Lord in this matter, but he was so eager for the reward that he ventured to ask God a second time, and the Lord permitted him to go. Then he had a wonderful experience; but who would wish to have such an experience?CTBH 110.2

    Many examples might be given to show how people have been deceived by relying upon what they supposed to be their experience.CTBH 110.3

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