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philosophy, is apparent to every thoughtful person. Yet such is the legitimate sequence of the vaunted secular theory of common-school instruction.
This theory of education, also, when practically carried into effect, is subversive of the very object for which the public schools are maintained. What is that object? Confessedly a moral one, the prevention of crime, the moral qualification of the present child for the future citizen. All advocates of education agree in this. “Remove ignorance and thus prevent crime,” is their constant cry. No class of persons are louder or more persistent in the advocacy of this theory than the secularists themselves. With this conclusion we may not be able fully to agree, but that the end sought in all State education is a moral one is clearly evident. This must be admitted to be the ultimate end in view. No other or lower end would justify the State in taxing its subjects for educational purposes. Education is supported at public expense for the same reason that government itself, in its various departments, is maintained, and that courts of justice are established-because the moral interests, the well-being of the nation, demand it. Hence it is the legitimate province of the State to tax its citizens for schools, because of their supposed necessity to its moral welfare. But the very acknowledgment that the end is a moral one is fatal to the theory of purely secular instruction. A moral end is the pre-eminent purpose in view; but, forsooth, the moral nature of the child must not be the objective point in your instructions, and you must take good care not to use moral methods, nor deal with moral truths, nor appeal to moral motives. You must not appeal to the Deity, a belief in whom underlies the moral nature, nor to the Bible, the highest and purest text-book of morals extant, for that would be obnoxious to some one's prejudices, and subject the State to the charge of teaching sectarianism. You are seeking to develop the moral nature, it is true, and to qualify the child to become a moral agent, to whom is to be committed the most sacred trusts and solemn responsibilities; but you must beware lest you appeal to his conscience, though no faculty in the young is weaker, more imperfect, and more susceptible, and none stands in such transcendent need of development as that, and none is so vitally related to his whole future and fitness for citizenship. Or, if the conscience
is ever the subject of appeal, it must not be by employing those truths and influences which the history of the world has proved to be most effective in developing the moral sense and ennobling human character.
Such is the shallow philosophy, or, rather, utter ignoring of every principle of philosophy, which an unfounded and unreasoning prejudice calls upon this nation to adopt in its public-school system—to seek a moral end by systematically discarding the highest and best-established moral means; to seek development of character by persistently and purposely refusing to touch the most potent forces and factors which constitute character.
If an attempt is made to parry the force of this reasoning by pleading that to impart intellectual instruction to a child improves his morals and thereby secures the end proposed, we reply, first, if we grant that this is true in some slight degree, still it is a most indirect and imperfect method of compassing the end sought, and at best it would be far more effective if coupled with direct moral training; for the two processes of culture are not antagonistic when rightly joined, but mutually dependent and helpful, the one complementing the other. But, secondly, it is not so apparent that simple intelligence without corresponding moral training is an effectual preventive of crime, or that, in itself alone, it tends largely to moral elevation. It is coming to be more and more a question with thoughtful men whether we have not claimed quite too much for intelligence as a preserving and elevating force in society. If statistics have seemed to authorize our general belief in this respect, it is because that hitherto intelligence among us has been almost invariably connected with no inconsiderable moral and religious training, while criminal classes, so-called, were almost wholly deprived of both intelligence and moral influence. But other facts are pressing on us now, and facts which are not at all flattering to our boasted intelligence, nor favorable to reliance upon it for national safety. Though general intelligence is supposed to be largely increasing, yet crime seems not to diminish, and nearly all our prisons are full. Besides, it is ascertained that only twenty per cent. of Stateprison convicts are illiterate.
It is not, then, surprising that there should be some honest questioning as to the more exact relation between the spelling
book and the State-prison. It is true, as we hear so frequently from our modern philosophers, that the “cure for unbalanced lives is training ”—that a bad environment makes bad men. It is also true that the only solution of the problem of much of our evil, South and North, is the school-house. But it is the school-house built upon the foundation principles of morals and theistic religion; it is the school-house where God is recognized and the Bible revered, and where the teachings of the world's noblest and best men are permitted to exercise their unrestrained influence.
We shall find wisdom in the practical maxim of the Prussians, that “whatever we would have in the State we must first introduce into the school-room.” We want self-government, respect for authority, a profound sense of moral responsibility, developed consciences, reverence for sacred things, the fear of God, truthfulness, honor, unswerving integrity, a moral manliness that cannot be bribed nor intimidated. How shall we secure these indispensable requisites of a safe and prosperous nation without the highest moral training in the schoolroom? The more thoughtfully we examine the question the more thoroughly shall we be convinced that to dissociate the ethical and the intellectual, the Bible and the grammar, is an unwise, unphilosophical, and unsafe procedure. We shall accept the words of Hon. D. D. Barnard, of New York, uttered some years since before the Legislature of that State. “Keeping all the while in view,” says he, “the object of popular education, the fitting of the people by morals as well as by intellectual discipline for self-government, no one can doubt that any system of instruction that overlooks the training and informing of the moral faculties must be wretchedly and fatally defective. Crime and intellectual cultivation merely, so far from being dissociated in history and statistics, are, unhappily, old acquaintances and tried friends. To neglect the moral powers in education is to educate not quite half the man. To cultivate the intellect only is to unhinge the mind and destroy the essential balance of the mental powers; it is to light up a recess only the better to see how dark it is. And if this is all that is done in popular education, then nothing, literally nothing, is done toward establishing popular virtue and forming a moral people."
II. But many who admit the importance of moral training, and even its necessity in order to the welfare of the nation, will argue that this is not the work of the State, that the “government is exclusively secular, as much so as a bank corporation or a railway company,” * and it must, therefore, depend upon the family, the Church, and the Sunday-school to train its future citizens in morals and religion. This reasoning has a surface plausibility, but contains a poorly disguised fallacy which is fatal to the nation. It makes assumptions which are wholly unwarrantable and contrary to facts.
The claim that the nation is exclusively secular, is not true in the sense that it has no individuality of character, no moral sense, no ethical principles, no religious belief, no moral responsibility. All these it has, and must have, or miserably perish of imbecility and inward rottenness. There is no proper analogy between the government and a “bank corporation” or a “railway company.” The grounds upon which the existence of each rests and the objects legitimately sought by each are as widely separated as the poles. The latter are carried on by private enterprise for individual ends, personal gain being a legitimate object in view; the former is the central source of power under whose authority all corporations exist, and the chief object of which is to promote the well-being of its subjects. To compare things as unlike as these is to confound reason and destroy all rational distinctions.
The theory that the government ought to be or can be entirely secular, that is neutral, in regard to all matters of religion is utterly untenable. Such an attitude on the part of government is absolutely impossible. What kind of a government would that be that had no mind, no opinions, no will, no expression of purpose in respect to the fundamental principles and practices upon which its very safety and perpetuity depends? The advocates of neutrality and absolute secularism cannot fail to see the utter impracticability of their theory, and so they prefer to theorize rather than to follow legitimately the resistless logic of facts, and see to what position their theory must inevitably lead the nation. They can hardly fail to see that its professed neutrality can mean nothing else than direct antagonism to the real ends for which it exists. Those ends
* Rev. Dr. Spear, “Princeton Review,” March, 1878, p. 377.
are of the highest moral character, and they stand most intimately related to theistic religion, not to say Christianity. We have already seen that government has an acknowledged moral end in educating its youth, and it cannot escape the moral responsibility of legitimately and logically carrying out that end to its completion; it cannot honestly shift this responsibility upon other parties. It taxes the people for a given object, confessedly a moral one, and it cannot in justice to its subjects turn to them and say, “We expect you as individuals to do the work for which we have exacted a tax from you. We call the object a moral one, and it is, but we will attend to the intellectual part of our work and leave the moral to you; we will teach the principles of language and mathematics, you must teach the principles of ethics and worthy living." Such an attitude is unworthy of a great and enlightened State; it is imbecility and cowardice, personified and enthroned.
But is the State warranted in assuming that the moral education of its future citizens will be properly attended to by families or other organizations if neglected by its agents, the public school teachers ? Possibly it will in some families, but 80 also would the same families furnish their children the necessary mental culture if that were neglected by the State, and would it not be equally wise and proper to rely upon the family or individual for the one as for the other? As a question of facts, is it true that the young people of our country are receiving, from any source whatever, the moral training requisite for the safety of the nation and the highest interests of society? Is it not rather true that one of the greatest perils to society lies in the fact that such vast numbers, of our young men especially, are coming upon the stage where life's responsibilities and issues are no longer play, but a solemn tragedy, with so little development of moral manhood, so slight a curb of moral restraint to hold in check the baser nature ?
Precisely here is our peril most menacing. And it is folly to suppose that any imagined or actual increase of intelligence is rendering this peril less. Rather let us acknowledge with frankness, though with sorrow, that the danger from this source never was so threatening as now, and seems increasing with each year of our national history. If ever moral instruction were necessary in our nation, much more is it an imperative