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Mind, Character and Personality, volume 2

Chapter 63

Imagination

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Christ Employed the Imagination.-Through the imagination He [Christ] reached the heart. His illustrations were taken from the things of daily life, and although they were simple, they had in them a wonderful depth of meaning. The birds of the air, the lilies of the field, the seed, the shepherd and the sheep-with these objects Christ illustrated immortal truth; and ever afterward, when His hearers chanced to see these things of nature, they recalled His words. Christ's illustrations constantly repeated His lessons.

Christ never flattered men. He never spoke that which would exalt their fancies and imaginations, nor did He praise them for their clever inventions; but deep, unprejudiced thinkers received His teaching and found that it tested their wisdom. They marveled at the spiritual truth expressed in the simplest language.-The Desire of Ages, 254 (1898).

Duty to Control Imagination.-Few realize that it is a duty to exercise control over the thoughts and imaginations. It is difficult to keep the undisciplined mind fixed upon profitable subjects. But if the thoughts are not properly employed, religion cannot flourish in the soul. The mind must be preoccupied with sacred and eternal things, or it will cherish trifling and superficial thoughts. Both the intellectual and the moral powers must be disciplined, and they will strengthen and improve by exercise.-Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, 544 (1913).

Disease Sometimes Produced by Imagination. [See chapter 75, "Imagination and Illness."]-Disease is sometimes produced and is often greatly aggravated by the imagination. Many are lifelong invalids who might be well if they only thought so. Many imagine that every slight exposure will cause illness, and the evil effect is produced because it is expected. Many die from disease the cause of which is wholly imaginary.-The Ministry of Healing, 241 (1905).

Perverted Imagination.-From what the Lord has shown me, the women of this class [those with an exaggerated concept of their qualities] have had their imaginations perverted by novel reading, daydreaming, and castle-building-living in an imaginary world. They do not bring their own ideas down to the common, useful duties of life. They do not take up the life burdens which lie in their path and seek to make a happy, cheerful home for their husbands. They rest their whole weight upon them, not bearing their own burden. They expect others to anticipate their wants and do for them, while they are at liberty to find fault and to question as they please. These women have a love-sick sentimentalism, constantly thinking they are not appreciated, that their husbands do not give them all the attention they deserve. They imagine themselves martyrs.-Testimonies for the Church 2:463 (1870).

Counsel to a Man With a Diseased Imagination.-I saw that the Lord had given you light and experience that you might see the sinfulness of a hasty spirit and control your passions. So surely as you fail to do this, just so surely you will fail of everlasting life. You must overcome this disease of the imagination.

You are extremely sensitive, and if a word is spoken favoring an opposite course from that which you have been pursuing, you are hurt. You feel that you are blamed and that you must defend yourself, save your life; and in your earnest effort to save your life, you lose it. You have a work to do to die to self and to cultivate a spirit of forbearance and patience. Get over the idea that you are not used right, that you are wronged, that somebody wants to crowd or harm you. You see through false eyes. Satan leads you to take these distorted views of things.-Testimonies for the Church 2:424 (1870).

Reason Controlled by Imagination.-You are capable of controlling your imagination and overcoming these nervous attacks. You have willpower, and you should bring it to your aid. You have not done this, but have let your highly wrought imagination control reason. In this you have grieved the Spirit of God. Had you no power over your feelings, this would not be sin; but it will not answer thus to yield to the enemy. Your will needs to be sanctified and subdued instead of being arrayed in opposition to that of God.-Testimonies for the Church 5:310, 311 (1885).

Diet Affects the Imagination.-Intemperance commences at our tables in the use of unhealthful food. After a time, through continued indulgence, the digestive organs become weakened, and the food taken does not satisfy the appetite. Unhealthy conditions are established, and there is a craving for more stimulating food. Tea, coffee, and flesh meats produce an immediate effect. Under the influence of these poisons the nervous system is excited, and in some cases, for the time being, the intellect seems to be invigorated and the imagination to be more vivid.-Testimonies for the Church 3:487 (1875).

Effect of Tea, Coffee, and Other Popular Beverages.-Tea acts as a stimulant and, to a certain extent, produces intoxication. The action of coffee and many other popular drinks is similar. The first effect is exhilarating. The nerves of the stomach are excited; these convey irritation to the brain, and this in turn is aroused to impart increased action to the heart and short-lived energy to the entire system. Fatigue is forgotten; the strength seems to be increased. The intellect is aroused, the imagination becomes more vivid.-The Ministry of Healing, 326 (1905).

Popular Revivals and Imagination.-Popular revivals are too often carried by appeals to the imagination, by exciting the emotions, by gratifying the love for what is new and startling. Converts thus gained have little desire to listen to Bible truth, little interest in the testimony of prophets and apostles. Unless a religious service has something of a sensational character, it has no attractions for them. A message which appeals to unimpassioned reason awakens no response. The plain warnings of God's Word, relating directly to their eternal interests, are unheeded.-The Great Controversy, 463 (1888).

Theater Depraves the Imagination.-Among the most dangerous resorts for pleasure is the theater. Instead of being a school of morality and virtue, as is so often claimed, it is the very hotbed of immorality. Vicious habits and sinful propensities are strengthened and confirmed by these entertainments. Low songs, lewd gestures, expressions, and attitudes deprave the imagination and debase the morals. Every youth who habitually attends such exhibitions will be corrupted in principle.

There is no influence in our land more powerful to poison the imagination, to destroy religious impressions, and to blunt the relish for the tranquil pleasures and sober realities of life than theatrical amusements. The love for these scenes increases with every indulgence, as the desire for intoxicating drink strengthens with its use. The only safe course is to shun the theater, the circus, and every other questionable place of amusement.-Testimonies for the Church 4:652, 653 (1881).

Fiction Creates an Imaginary World.-You have indulged in novel and story reading until you live in an imaginary world. The influence of such reading is injurious to both the mind and the body; it weakens the intellect and brings a fearful tax upon the physical strength. At times your mind is scarcely sane because the imagination has been overexcited and diseased by reading fictitious stories. The mind should be so disciplined that all its powers will be symmetrically developed....

If the imagination is constantly overfed and stimulated by fictitious literature, it soon becomes a tyrant, controlling all the other faculties of the mind and causing the taste to become fitful and the tendencies perverse.-Testimonies for the Church 4:497 (1881).

Reading Affects Brain.-I am personally acquainted with some who have lost the healthy tone of the mind through wrong habits of reading. They go through life with a diseased imagination, magnifying every little grievance. Things which a sound, sensible mind would not notice become to them unendurable trials and insurmountable obstacles. To them life is in constant shadow.-Christian Temperance and Bible Hygiene, 124, 1890. (Fundamentals of Christian Education, 162, 163.)

Seeing Corrupts the Imagination.-This is an age when corruption is teeming everywhere. The lust of the eye and corrupt passions are aroused by beholding and by reading. The heart is corrupted through the imagination. The mind takes pleasure in contemplating scenes which awaken the lower and baser passions. These vile images, seen through defiled imagination, corrupt the morals and prepare the deluded, infatuated beings to give loose rein to lustful passions. Then follow sins and crimes which drag beings formed in the image of God down to a level with the beasts, sinking them at last in perdition.

Avoid reading and seeing things which will suggest impure thoughts. Cultivate the moral and intellectual powers. Let not these noble powers become enfeebled and perverted by much reading of even storybooks. I know of strong minds that have been unbalanced and partially benumbed, or paralyzed, by intemperance in reading.-Testimonies for the Church 2:410 (1870).

Masturbation and the Imagination.-When persons are addicted to the habit of self-abuse, it is impossible to arouse their moral sensibilities to appreciate eternal things or to delight in spiritual exercises. Impure thoughts seize and control the imagination and fascinate the mind, and next follows an almost uncontrollable desire for the performance of impure actions. If the mind were educated to contemplate elevating subjects, the imagination trained to reflect upon pure and holy things, it would be fortified against this terrible, debasing, soul-and-body-destroying indulgence. It would, by training, become accustomed to linger upon the high, the heavenly, the pure, and the sacred, and could not be attracted to this base, corrupt, and vile indulgence.-Testimonies for the Church 2:470 (1870).

Dreamings of the Mind Lead to Self-exaltation.-If the thoughts, the dreamings of the mind, are of great purposes in which self figures, there will be revealed in words and actions self-exaltation, a lifting up of self. These thoughts are not such as lead to a close walk with God. Those who move without thoughtful consideration move unwisely. They make fitful efforts, strike out here and there, catch at this and that, but it amounts to nothing. They resemble the vine; its tendrils untrained and left to straggle out in every direction will fasten upon any rubbish within their reach; but before the vine can be of any use, these tendrils must be broken off from the things they have grasped and trained to entwine about those things which will make them graceful and well formed.-Lt 33, 1886.

Controlling the Imagination.-Had you trained your mind to dwell upon elevated subjects, meditating upon heavenly themes, you could have done much good. You could have had an influence upon the minds of others to turn their selfish thoughts and world-loving dispositions into the channel of spirituality. Were your affections and thoughts brought into subjection to the will of Christ, you would be capable of doing good. Your imagination is diseased because you have permitted it to run in a forbidden channel, to become dreamy. Daydreaming and romantic castle-building have unfitted you for usefulness. You have lived in an imaginary world; you have been an imaginary martyr and an imaginary Christian.-Testimonies for the Church 2:251 (1869).

Keep Off Satan's Enchanted Ground (counsel to a self-centered family).-You should keep off Satan's enchanted ground and not allow your minds to be swayed from allegiance to God. Through Christ you may and should be happy and should acquire habits of self-control. Even your thoughts must be brought into subjection to the will of God and your feelings under the control of reason and religion. Your imagination was not given you to be allowed to run riot and have its own way without any effort at restraint or discipline. If the thoughts are wrong, the feelings will be wrong; and the thoughts and feelings combined make up the moral character. When you decide that as Christians you are not required to restrain your thoughts and feelings, you are brought under the influence of evil angels and invite their presence and their control. If you yield to your impressions and allow your thoughts to run in a channel of suspicion, doubt, and repining, you will be among the most unhappy of mortals, and your lives will prove a failure.-Testimonies for the Church 5:310 (1885).

Seeing Life as It Is.-Unless you view life as it is, cast aside the brilliant fancies of imagination, and come down to the sober lessons of experience, you will awake when it is too late. You will then realize the terrible mistake you have made.-Testimonies for the Church 3:43 (1872).

Acquisitiveness Creates Imaginary Wants.-The case of Brother I is fearful. This world is his god; he worships money.... He needs the censure of none but the pity of all. His life has been a terrible mistake. He has suffered imaginary pecuniary want while surrounded with plenty. Satan has taken possession of his mind and, exciting his organ of acquisitiveness, has made him insane upon this subject. The higher, nobler powers of his being have been brought very much into subjection to this close, selfish propensity.

His only hope is in breaking the bands of Satan and overcoming this evil in his character. He has tried to do this by undoing something after his conscience has been wrought upon, but this is not sufficient. This merely making a mighty effort and parting with a little of his mammon, feeling all the time that he is parting with his soul, is not the fruit of true religion.

He must train his mind to good works. He must brace against his propensity to acquire. He must weave good works into all his life. He must cultivate a love for doing good and get above the little, penurious spirit which he has fostered.-Testimonies for the Church 2:237, 238 (1869).

Superstition Arising Out of Imagination.-Your experience was shown to me as not reliable because opposed to natural law. It is in conflict with the unchangeable principles of nature. Superstition, my dear sister, arising from a diseased imagination, arrays you in conflict with science and principle. Which shall be yielded? Your strong prejudices and very set ideas in regard to what course is best to be pursued relative to yourself have long held you from good. I have understood your case for years but have felt incompetent to present the matter in so clear a manner that you could see and comprehend it and put to a practical use the light given you.-Testimonies for the Church 3:69 (1872).

Mothers and Imagination.-I have been shown mothers who are governed by a diseased imagination, the influence of which is felt upon husband and children. The windows must be kept closed because the mother feels the air. If she is at all chilly, and a change is made in her clothing, she thinks her children must be treated in the same manner, and thus the entire family are robbed of physical stamina. All are affected by one mind, physically and mentally injured through the diseased imagination of one woman, who considers herself a criterion for the whole family....

Persons bring disease upon themselves by their wrong habits; yet in the face of light and knowledge, they will adhere to their own course. They reason thus: "Have we not tried the matter? and do we not understand it by experience?" But the experience of a person whose imagination is at fault should not have much weight with anyone.-Testimonies for the Church 2:524 (1870).

Harnessing the Mind.-All are free moral agents, and as such they must bring their thoughts to run in the right channel. Here is a wide field in which the mind can safely range. If Satan seeks to divert the mind to low and sensual things, bring it back again and place it on eternal things; and when the Lord sees the determined effort made to retain only pure thoughts, He will attract the mind, like the magnet, purify the thoughts, and enable them to cleanse themselves from every secret sin. "Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:5).

The first work of those who would reform is to purify the imagination. If the mind is led out in a vicious direction, it must be restrained to dwell only upon pure and elevated subjects. When tempted to yield to a corrupt imagination, then flee to the throne of grace and pray for strength from Heaven. In the strength of God the imagination can be disciplined to dwell upon things which are pure and heavenly.-Und MS 93.