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Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students

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    Teaching from Nature

    While the Bible should hold the first place in the education of children and youth, the book of nature is next in importance. God's created works testify to His love and power. He has called the world into being, with all that it contains. God is a lover of the beautiful; and in the world which He has fitted up for us He has not only given us everything necessary for our comfort, but He has filled the heavens and the earth with beauty. We see His love and care in the rich fields of autumn, and His smile in the glad sunshine. His hand has made the castle-like rocks and the towering mountains. The lofty trees grow at His command; He has spread earth's green velvet carpet and dotted it with shrubs and flowers.CT 185.1

    Why has He clothed the earth and trees with living green, instead of with dark, somber brown? Is it not that they may be more pleasing to the eye? And shall not our hearts be filled with gratitude as we read the evidences of His wisdom and love in the wonders of His creation?CT 185.2

    The same creative energy that brought the world into existence is still exerted in upholding the universe and continuing the operations of nature. The hand of God guides the planets in their orderly march through the heavens. It is not because of inherent power that year by year the earth continues her motion round the sun and produces her bounties. The word of God controls the elements. He covers the heavens with clouds and prepares rain for the earth. He makes the valleys fruitful and “grass to grow upon the mountains;” Psalm 147:8. It is through His power that vegetation flourishes, that the leaves appear and the flowers bloom.CT 185.3

    The whole natural world is designed to be an interpreter of the things of God. To Adam and Eve in their Eden home, nature was full of the knowledge of God, teeming with divine instruction. To their attentive ears it was vocal with the voice of wisdom. Wisdom spoke to the eye and was received into the heart, for they communed with God in His created works. As soon as the holy pair transgressed the law of the Most High, the brightness from the face of God departed from the face of nature. Nature is now marred and defiled by sin. But God's object lessons are not obliterated; even now, rightly studied and interpreted, she speaks of her Creator....CT 186.1

    The most effective way to teach the heathen who know not God is through His works. In this way, far more readily than by any other method, they can be made to realize the difference between their idols, the works of their own hands, and the true God, the Maker of heaven and earth.... There is a simplicity and purity in these lessons direct from nature that makes of the highest value to others besides the heathen. The children and youth, all classes of students, need the lessons to be derived from this source. In itself the beauty of nature leads the soul away from sin and worldly attractions, and toward purity, peace, and God.CT 186.2

    For this reason the cultivation of the soil is good work for children and youth. It brings them into direct contact with nature and nature's God. And that they may have this advantage, there should be, as far as possible, in connection with our schools, large flower gardens and extensive lands for cultivation.CT 186.3

    An education amid such surroundings is in accordance with the directions which God has given for the instruction of youth; but it is in direct contrast with the methods employed in the majority of schools.... The minds of the young have been occupied with books of science and philosophy, where the thorns of skepticism have been only partially concealed; with vague, fanciful fairy stories; or with the works of authors who, although they may write on Scripture subjects, weave in their own fanciful interpretations. The teaching of such books is as seed sown in the heart. It grows and bears fruit, and a plentiful harvest of infidelity is reaped. The result is seen in the depravity of the human family.CT 187.1

    A return to simpler methods will be appreciated by the children and youth. Work in the garden and field will be an agreeable change from the wearisome routine of abstract lessons to which the young minds should never be confined. To the nervous child or youth, who finds lessons from books exhausting and hard to remember, it will be especially valuable. There is health and happiness for him in the study of nature; and the impressions made will not fade out of his mind, for they will be associated with objects that are continually before his eyes.CT 187.2

    In the natural world, God has placed in the hands of the children of men the key to unlock the treasure house of His word. The unseen is illustrated by the seen; divine wisdom, eternal truth, infinite grace, are understood by the things that God has made. Then let the children and youth become acquainted with nature and nature's laws. Let the mind be developed to its utmost capacity and the physical powers trained for the practical duties of life. But teach them also that God has made this world fair because He delights in our happiness; and that a more beautiful home is preparing for us in that world where there will be no more sin. The word of God declares: “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9.CT 187.3

    The little children should come especially close to nature. Instead of putting fashion's shackles upon them, let them be free like the lambs to play in the sweet, fresh sunlight. Point them to shrubs and flowers, the lowly grass and the lofty trees, and let them become familiar with their beautiful, varied, and delicate forms. Teach them to see the wisdom and love of God in His created works; and as their hearts swell with joy and grateful love, let them join the birds in their songs of praise.CT 188.1

    Educate the children and youth to consider the works of the great Master Artist, and to imitate the attractive graces of nature in their character building. As the love of God wins their hearts, let them bring into their lives the beauty of holiness. So shall they use their capabilities to bless others and to honor God.—Special Testimonies On Education, 58-62; written May 20, 1896.CT 188.2

    *****

    Nature is full of lessons of the love of God. Rightly understood, these lessons lead to the Creator. They point from nature to nature's God, teaching those simple, holy truths that cleanse the mind and bring it into close touch with God.CT 188.3

    The Great Teacher calls on nature to reflect the light that floods the threshold of heaven, that men and women may be led to obey His word. And nature does the bidding of the Creator. To the heart softened by the grace of God, the sun, the moon, the stars, the lofty trees, the flowers of the field, utter their words of counsel and advice. The sowing of the seed carries the mind to spiritual seed sowing. The tree stands forth declaring that a good tree cannot bear evil fruit, neither can an evil tree bear good fruit. “Ye shall know them by their fruits.” Matthew 7:16. Even the tares have a lesson to teach. They are of Satan's sowing, and if left unchecked, will spoil the wheat by their rank growth.CT 189.1

    When man is reconciled to God, the things of nature speak to him in words of heavenly wisdom, bearing testimony to the eternal truth of God's word. As Christ tells us the meaning of the things in nature, the science of true religion flashes forth, explaining the relation of the law of God to the natural and the spiritual world.CT 189.2

    *****

    The swallow and the crane observe the changes of the seasons. They migrate from one country to another to find a climate suitable to their convenience and happiness, as the Lord designed they should. They are obedient to the laws which govern their life. But the beings formed in the image of God fail to honor Him by obeying the laws of nature. By disregarding the laws that govern the human organism, they disqualify themselves for serving God. He sends them warnings to beware how they break His law in breaking the laws of life; but habit is strong, and they will not heed. The days are filled with pain of body and disquietude of mind because they are determined to follow wrong habits and practices. They will not reason from cause to effect, and they sacrifice health, peace, and happiness to their ignorance and selfishness.CT 189.3

    The wise man addresses the indolent in the words: “Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest.” Proverbs 6:6-8. The habitations that the ants build for themselves show skill and perseverance. Only one little grain at a time can they handle, but by diligence and perseverance they accomplish wonders.CT 190.1

    Solomon points to the industry of the ant as a reproach to those who waste their hours in idleness or in practices that corrupt soul and body. The ant prepares for future seasons; but many gifted with reasoning powers fail to prepare for the future immortal life.CT 190.2

    *****

    The sun, the moon, the stars, the solid rocks, the flowing stream, the broad, restless ocean, teach lessons that all would do well to heed.CT 190.3

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