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necessity now. The dangerous and immoral elements of society seem to be constantly becoming more disproportioned to the better classes. Nor can it be truthfully affirmed that this arises wholly from the influx of foreign population. Our own nativeborn youth, as a rule, lack the moral fiber, the sturdy strength, the genuine manliness and lofty integrity, which come from true moral training persistently applied through all the years of early youth and opening manhood. The State, in relying upon the family for this training, makes too large a presumption upon the general morality and fidelity of parents. Dr. Peabody, of Harvard College, in contrasting the past with the present in respect to parental training, much to the discredit of the latter, says: “A very large proportion of the pupils in our cities and populous towns come from houses utterly destitute of culture, and of the means and the spirit of culture, where a book is never seen, and reading is with the adult members a lost art, or one never acquired. There are schools in which four-fifths or more of the pupils are of this class.” He might have painted the moral aspect of the home picture in still darker colors. Nor is it in the lowest classes of society alone that the moral teaching of the family is wholly inadequate to the child's need. Herbert Spencer, speaking of the subject in its general aspects, says: “The management of children, and more especially the moral management, is lamentably bad. Parents either never think of the matter at all, or else their conclusions are crude and inconsistent.”
And yet the State is to intrust the moral training of its future citizens wholly to such agents as these. But is it not the duty of parents to attend to the moral and religious instruction of their children? Certainly; and so it would be their duty to provide them intellectual culture if the State made no provision for it. So it is the duty of all to obey the laws without police force or courts of justice or prisons; but the State does not in these matters presume on every one's doing his duty, and so it makes provision for him in case of his failure in this respect. Why does it not take into consideration undeniable facts respecting the inadequate moral training of its youth, and make preventive as well as punitive provision for the welfare of society? The fact is, there is too much shifting of responsibility in this entire matter of the moral and religious instruction
of the young. The State commits it to the family, the family
, relies upon the Church, the Church intrusts it to the Sundayschool, and between these several agencies, with their indifference or inefficiency, the one transcendent work of the republic, the proper education of its youth, is most negligently and imperfectly achieved.
There is something inspiring in Sparta's training of her youth for the one object she wanted to compass, that of making hardy soldiers. For this purpose the boy was taken at seven years of age, and kept in the hands of the State until he was sixty. He was fed on black broth at the public tables, toughened by exposure, inured to hunger, thirst, fatigue, scourging, too loyal and too brave ever to utter a word of complaint. Not an example by any means of a perfect education, but worthy, nevertheless, of careful study. Cannot an enlightened Christian State, far on in the wiser ages, exhibit at least equal wisdom and zeal in the education of her more favored youth for the higher ends she seeks to compass, and the nobler arena of life into which they are to pass ?
It ought to be added, also, that the theory of providing exclusively secular education by the State exerts a most unfavorable influence upon our youth, tending to demoralize and atheize them. This attitude of the State cannot fail to be interpreted by young and susceptible minds as one of indifference to morality and religion. With the State assuming such an attitude,
, and the natural disrelish of the young for moral instruction and restraint, the parent and the religious teacher, however willing and capable they may be, find it almost impossible to impress these higher truths on the mind that is indurated rather than made more susceptible by its purely intellectual culture. Five or six days of the week devoted exclusively to secular instruction, with rarely or never an appeal to the higher nature of a child, is a poor preparation for that higher instruction, be it from mother or minister. The receptivity of his moral nature is gradually lessened by the overshadowing pre-eminence given to mental culture, and his indifference to all moral and religious truth constantly increases by a kind of logical sequence under this fearfully one-sided and irrational method of training. If the Bible is not honored in the school-room, it will not be likely to receive much attention in the pupil's chamber; if God is not
recognized as authority there, he will not be often in the pupil's thought elsewhere; if moral and religious truths find no place in the daily instruction from the teacher, the parent and Sunday-school teacher will have a hard and ungracious task to find any place to crowd these truths into the pre-occupied mind in the occasional half-hour reluctantly yielded to them for such a purpose. And so it happens, by the practical working of laws which are as inexorable as destiny, that the moral nature of multitudes of young people is an uncultivated waste; and the State, pursuing such a policy, will annually pour out upon society multiplied thousands of youth as unqualified for the duties of life and as dangerous to all the best interests of the nation as if they had never received any training at the public expense.
This theory of pure secularism in education is revolutionary. Whatever merits it may claim, it is in direct antagonism to the history, the spirit, and genius of our common-school system. It is an unquestioned historical fact, well-known by all intelligent persons, that the common school owes its origin to the intense religious spirit of its founders. It is the child of Christianity, and the Bible is its fountain head. If we refer to that famous original order of the General Court of Massachusetts, in 1647, by which every township of fifty householders was required to establish a school, we find its inspiration in the emphatic recognition of God and the Bible. Thus originated and thus has been developed a system of education, permeated and inspired with the highest moral and religious ideas—a system which has given us, as a nation, a history of unparalleled growth and prosperity; a system which has achieved for us greatness and honor unprecedented; a system which, in its essential features, is the admiration of the civilized world. Is it, then, the part of wisdom and statesmanship to strike away the very foundations of this vaunted institution, and smite it with paralyzing force by one fell revolutionary blow from the destructive hand of atheistic secularism? If we consent to such a revolutionizing departure from the honored past, let us do it with open eyes and clear understanding of the logical consequences. Let us consider what this secularization of the government, and of the public schools especially, means, and what will be the inevitable results. It is not a question of teaching sectarian tenets, nor of reading a few verses from any version of the sacred Scriptures, nor of opening the school with a brief religious exercise of whatever form; all these questions are of minor importance, as compared with the great question at issue. That question is this, Shall the State become unqualifiedly atheistic ? Shall it assume an attitude of absolute indifference to religion and that whole domain of fundamental truths and historic facts, based upon religion? Shall it entirely ignore God, the Bible, Christianity, the Sabbath, with all the moral teachings that have their roots in these fundamental ideas ? Shall it forbid its teachers to give instruction in any of these truths and the duties arising therefrom? Shall it, at this late day, assume an attitude of antagonism to the very principles which have hitherto permeated every department of our government, and have given it stability, greatness, and power? And shall all this be done at the clamorous bidding of a few restless spirits, who are dissatisfied with the noble structure which our fathers reared with sacrifices of toil and tears and blood, and who seek to smite the proud edifice with destructive hand?
All this the State must do if it honestly concede the demand for complete secularization. It must expurgate every text-book in use, it must eliminate every extract from the Bible, every allusion to God as the beneficent Creator, to Christ as the world's Redeemer, to the Sabbath as God's appointed day of rest for man, to Christianity as the purest type of religion. There must be no allusion to the great First Cause, none to the evidence of design in the human system nor in the universe; no reference to a Divine Providence whose bounty makes the earth to smile, no word of instruction respecting man's responsibility to his Maker, the true foundation of moral obligation, the fundamental distinction between right and wrong. All this savors, it is said, of religious prej. udice, and is offensive to some of the State's subjects; therefore the State must take care that it has no place in its public schools. This and nothing less is the issue; this and nothing else is the legitimate result. It is useless to say that the Bible can be introduced “as literature to be studied, as Homer and Virgil and Shakspeare.”
The plea for secularism on the part of the State is either a quibble or it is an honest objection to theism and Christianity having any recognized place in our national government. If it be the former, it is unworthy of a moment's thought; if it be the latter, then it demands all that we have specified, and more. It demands that the nation shall banish the recognition of God and the Christian religion from every governmental department in the whole national domain. It demands that the Bible shall have no recognized authority in the nation's laws nor in their administration; that no prayer shall ever be offered in legislative assemblies, that no oath shall be administered to bind the conscience of a witness in a court of justice, that the name of God shall never be invoked at the inauguration of the nation's high officials, that no chaplain shall be employed, and no minister of the gospel be permitted to offer prayer in the various governmental institutions of the land. In a word, it demands that the nation shall be atheistic, purely, confessedly, emphatically, persistently atheistic, refusing any and all recognition of God and religion throughout all its departments.
With the issue thus before us, carried out to its logical consequences, little more need be said to convince thoughtful persons of the utter fatuity and fatality of such a course. It would smite with complete destruction our whole common-school system. To use the language of the University Report of the School Board of New Haven, Conn.: “If there is to be any thing like education in our schools, if any thing is to be taught other than the use of the alphabet and the processes of arithmetic, with, perhaps, the higher branches of mathematical science, the teacher, and the text-book, if there be one, must recognize religion as an element of human nature; as a fact and a dominant factor in all history; as implied in laws, governments, and the being of society; as an influence pervading the literature of all languages in all ages; and as modifying to-day the thinking, the morals, the usages, the institutions, and the national character of every people under heaven. Such recognition of religion is not religious teaching in any sense in which any man, be he Christian, Mohammedan, Pagan, or Atheist, can reasonably complain of. A prayer at the opening of a legislature, or at the opening of a judicial court, is not an intermeddling of the State with the rights or duties of any Church, nor is it an attempt by the State to teach religion.” “If the simple recognition of religion in the public schools is objectionable,