Every Christian, whether old or young, will be assailed by temptations; and our only safety is in carefully studying our duty, and then doing it at any cost to ourselves. Everything has been done for us to secure our salvation, and we must be not only willing but anxious to learn the will of God, and do all things to his glory. This is the Christian’s life-work. He will not try to see how far he can venture in the path of indifference and unbelief, and yet be called a child of God; but he will study to see how closely he can imitate the life and character of Christ.
Young friends, a knowledge of the Bible will help you to resist temptation. If you have been in the habit of reading story books, will you consider whether it is right to spend your time with these books, which merely occupy your time and amuse you, but give you no mental or moral strength? If you are reading them, and find that they create a morbid craving for exciting novels, if they lead you to dislike the Bible, and cast it aside, if they involve you in darkness and backsliding from God—if this is the influence they have over you, stop right where you are. Do not pursue this course of reading until your imagination is fired, and you become unfitted for the study of the Bible, and the practical duties of real life.
Cheap works of fiction do not profit. They impart no real knowledge; they inspire no great and good purpose; they kindle in the heart no earnest desires for purity; they excite no soul hunger for righteousness. On the contrary, they take time which should be given to the practical duties of life and to the service of God—time which should be devoted to prayer, to visiting the sick, caring for the needy, and educating yourself for a useful life. When you commence reading a story book, how frequently the imagination is so excited that you are betrayed into sin. You disobey your parents, and bring confusion into the domestic circle by neglecting the simple duties developing upon you. And worse than this, prayer is forgotten, and the Bible is read with indifference or entirely neglected.
There is another class of books that you should avoid—the productions of such infidel writers as Paine and Ingersoll. These are often urged upon you with the taunt that you are a coward, and afraid to read them. Frankly tell these enemies who would tempt you—for enemies they are, however much they may profess to be your friends—that you will obey God, and take the Bible as your guide. Tell them that you are afraid to read these books; that your faith in the word of God is now altogether too weak, and you want it increased and strengthened instead of diminished; and that you do not want to come in such close contact with the father of lies.
I warn you to stand firm, and never do a wrong action rather than be called a coward. Allow no taunts, no threats, no sneering remarks, to induce you to violate your conscience in the least particular, and thus open a door whereby Satan can come in and control the mind.
Suffer not yourselves to open the lids of a book that is questionable. There is a hellish fascination in the literature of Satan. It is the powerful battery by which he tears down a simple religious faith. Never feel that you are strong enough to read infidel books; for they contain a poison like that of asps. They can do you no good, and will assuredly do you harm. In reading them, you are inhaling the miasmas of hell. They will be to your soul like a corrupt stream of water, defiling the mind, keeping it in the mazes of skepticism, and making it earthly and sensual. These books are written by men whom Satan employs as his agents; and by this means he designs to confuse the mind, withdraw the affections from God, and rob your Creator of the reverence and gratitude which His works demand.
The mind needs to be trained, and its desires controlled and brought into subjection to the will of God.
Instead of being dwarfed and deformed by feeding on the vile trash which Satan provides, it should have wholesome food, which will give strength and vigor.
Young Christian, you have everything to learn. You must be an interested student of the Bible; you must search it, comparing Scripture with Scripture. If you would do your Master good and acceptable service, you must know what He requires. His word is a sure guide; if it is carefully studied, there is no danger of falling under the power of the temptations that surround the youth, and crowd in upon them.
The Youth’s Instructor, September 10, 1884.