Page images

Associations frequently license, churches call, and councils ordain and install, men of the most meagre intellectual equipment, without culture, without knowledge, without training. Men who could not enter a seminary or even a college seem to find little difficulty in jumping over into the ministry, especially if they have had some experience and success as laymen in Christian Associations or evangelistic enterprises. From other denominations, also, there is a constant influx of ministers, many of whom have had limited educational advantages; it has been said with some force, that the shortest and easiest way into the Congregational ministry is through some other church.

In our system there is no control over this matter by ecclesiastical law or authority; if it is to be checked, the churches must be brought to feel that upon them, even more directly than upon the seminaries, rests the responsibility for maintaining the high standards of the Congregational ministry; and that on the churches, in the end, the consequences fall.

III. The seminaries should have the confidence of the churches. They cannot efficiently do their work in an atmosphere of distrust or suspicion; and nothing could be in the end, more disastrous to the churches themselves than a settled alienation between them and their theological schools, such as exists in some other countries.

Agreement in opinion cannot here, any more than elsewhere, be the ground or the measure of our mutual confidence. There always have been, and so long as “we know in part and prophesy in part" there always will be wide differences between churches, ministers, and seminaries about questions of doctrine, polity, and practice; nor are these diversities confined to small and indifferent matters.

There will always be those to whom the conservation of established truth in accepted formulation seems of prime moment, and others to whom the true conservatism appears to be the advancing knowledge and enlarging apprehension of truth; and upon these or more fortuitous differences, schools and parties will align themselves. It is right that we should discuss these questions freely, earnestly, and with the warmth of conviction; that we should zealously controvert what we hold to be serious error wherever it appears, and contend as zealously for the truth we uphold. Neither truth nor love tolerates indifference, nor has progress ever been made in any other way than through controversy.

The church, in every period of active theological intelligence, has been engaged in such discussions; and it is the manifest duty of the seminaries not timidly to avoid controversy, but to take a leading part in it, as ours have always done. In so doing they cannot but set forth and defend views on historical, doctrinal, or practical issues which are at variance with those entertained by many in the churches and the ministry. These views will appear novel, questionable, erroneous, or even dangerous. It is the duty of those who, after honest and thorough examination, believe them to be so to oppose them manfully. As Protestants of the Protestants we recognize no infallibility in professors individually or collectively, any more than in bishops, councils, or presbyteries. But in the midst of controversy, however earnest, it is not impossible to maintain Christian confidence in one another's intelligence, sincerity, and loyalty to truth and the common faith. The teachers in our seminaries are most of them men of mature years, with the caution which scientific training inspires, and the conservatism of historical learning. They are Christian men, full of faith in the Gospel and of love to the church, and with a deep sense of their responsibility as teachers of teachers. Only blind prejudice can think of such men as rash iconoclasts, or as wicked conspirators, in the vanity of science, falsely so called, seeking to undermine the foundations and leave the righteous without a refuge. It is reasonable, as well as charitable, to believe that if they err they have erred in the quest of truth, and that persistence in the pursuit will lead them to the fuller light. It is an ill service to the church to endeavor, by railing accusations or poisoned insinuations, to destroy the influence and malign the character of its theological teachers and to undermine its confidence in its educational institutions.

Ministers have here a peculiar responsibility. They are themselves educated men; they are acquainted with the methods of learning in theology as well as in other fields; they know the history of opinion; they must have some sense of the proportion of truth; they are capable of estimating the significance and the bearing of new views as laymen cannot. To them the churches naturally look for the interpretation of theological progress. Their attitude may either inspire confidence in the seminaries, or fomentan unwarranted and injurious distrust which paralyzes all our efforts.

IV. Finally, when the churches recognize the importance of thorough education for the ministry and have confidence in the agencies they employ, they may be expected, for their own interest, to see to it that the seminaries are fully equipped in every way for the work they are expected to do. New conditions bring to every educational institution new and growing needs. Enlargement of the scope and advance in the methods of theological education, demand more teachers and a larger apparatus; and it is only a wise economy for the churches to furnish them generously.

I am aware that I have said only the obvious things; I shall not have said them in vain if they come to you with the convincing power of self-evident truths.



BOSTON. As a student of the problem of the schools I am to state the attitude of the school toward the church in the great work in which both must unite. The public school has a right to expect appreciation, confidence, and non-interference, and also that the church will do its own work so well that the school will not need to divert its energies to doing anything neglected or omitted by the church. The church must appreciate the definite work of the school, the magnitude of its responsibility, and the success already attained. It is assumed that the school does appreciate the church. *The two must work in perfect accord. The public school deserves this appreciation in unstinted measure. Its work is definite, and there is slight indication that it will be diverted from its mission. There is no greater responsibility for the perpetuity of the Union and for the continuance of prosperity than that which rests upon the schools. The success of the public schools certainly deserves and demands-appreciative recognition. It may be said guardedly that no other feature of American life has more complete evidence to offer for its success in the nineteenth century than has the public school. Never before in this land, nor ever in other lands, has there been

any such display of power on the part of all classes and conditions of men to advance themselves by sheer intellectual vigor into a higher class and better condition of life. Vigor is strength in action, and it is precisely this activity of power that the associations and contests of the American schools give. Nor are the results less remarkable when we test the schools by the poise of the people. Even a mob in America is more orderly and composed than anywhere else in the world, and an American industrial strike has come to be dignified and law-abiding in a sense undreamed of in any other land or time. A nobler testimony to the American school could not be asked.

* Page 22.

The public school accomplishes almost as much by indirection as it does directly. It has set a fast pace for all private and parochial schools so that there is no liability that any school in America will be seriously inferior to the public schools. The school, then, points with pride to the fineness and firmness of the American mind, to its vigor, poise, and alertness, and asks the church to appreciate what it has done and what it is capable of doing.

Nearly every year some great religious body raises a cry of terror because the public schools, notably the State universities, are going too fast. Have faith in the schools of the people. In no other way can you help them so well as by adding to your appreciation of the present, confidence in their future, in their ability and disposition to lead all the people of the nation.

In no way does the church harm the schools more than when it arrays itself against the schools in their search for truth. The schools in the nature of the case are responsible for the discovery of truth in science and nature. The church owes it to the schools to encourage every effort to search for any truth.

The churches owe it to the public schools that they teach the Bible standards of living to all the people, especially to all the children, so that they shall be applied in the life of the people. It is not sufficient that truth be preached. It is not sufficient that Sunday-school lessons be perfunctorily learned on the one hand, or emotionally taught on the other. The world heeds not, nor long remembers, how many children are enrolled in the Sunday schools, what percentage of the whole number attend, nor the amount of the penny collection for a great variety of causes that cannot get a hearing from the church committee, but the world does demand that both the school and the church shall so teach the Bible standards of virtue, integrity, and brotherly love that all the youth shall know, and most of them shall live, by these standards. The churches must help the schools by accepting responsibility for representing divine sympathy with charity and ardor in society. The school cannot be impressive or inspiring. Its mission is one of training, of close instruction, holding each child up to a little clearer, keener, closer work to-day than yesterday. It is for the church to help the school by being responsible for the belief of all the people. The church is peculiarly conditioned to offer the world, notably the youth, the privilege of loving and confiding. The school cannot do this, and its intellectual work without this will fail of its purpose. The churches should help the public schools by non-interference. In the nature of the case, the church thinks that it is the custodian of all wisdom. There is not the slightest reason why the church should not run all the private habits and public and professional conduct of everybody in the world, after it has secured universal morality, brotherly love and belief, but so long as it has not done these things it is eminently proper that it should leave other people's affairs alone until it has fulfilled its own mission, and the schools are in position to insist that they be allowed to do their own work in their own way.



W. W. STETSON, AUBURN, MAINE. The church as an organized agency has no claim for help from the public schools. The schools have only an academic interest in the church. Its legends, traditions, history, work, present condition, future possibilities, are to be studied as records, means, methods, organizations, which help to explain the progress or deterioration of the race. Its beliefs and teachings should be studied in their historical rather than their theological aspects. What the church has taught or what its members believe is a proper subject for study, if the work is limited to mastery of facts. There is no place in the public schools for the teachings of the sect significance of the tenets held by any person or persons. This work belongs to the home, the private tutor, the Sunday school, the church.

The school and the church are both striving to make the best things in boys and girls something better. Each has its special work and peculiar methods. It is not wise for either to attempt to usurp the functions of its accepted rival. Neither can do its best

Page 22.

« PreviousContinue »