« PreviousContinue »
the institutions and observances of religion as part of its organic life — the Sabbath worship, the daily prayers, and the sacred Lord's Day.
Christian ethics and evidences, it may well be expected, will continue to be taught, and perhaps with increasing fullness. Biblical study will naturally retain its place, but — may we not hope? - will be invested with additional prominence, interest, and profit. If we may not attain the completeness of the German gymnasium, there would seem to be no difficulty in arranging for a far more adequate and systematic study of God's Word in its various aspects, partly in the original and largely in the translation. Such a system of study might be made one not only of great value but of great interest. For here are minds alert to receive; and here also are instructors apt to teach, and of course, in a Christian college, in hearty sympathy with the Christian religion. An exceedingly liberal religious journal recently put forth this manly utterance: “A Christian college has this characteristic, chief above all others, that it does not put into its faculty men who sneer at or even who disbelieve in the Christian religion. We would despise a college which limits its appointments by denominational lines; but any college is justified in making it a bar against the election of a professor of ethics, or history, or political economy, or Greek, or geology, that he is an atheist. If that is narrowness or bigotry, then make the most of it. More than this, a Christian college has more in view, in the selection of its teachers, than the negative aim of getting men who are not hostile to the Christian faith. It should seek men who are decided in their faith and who love to teach it." heedless to his folly, till the cup is full and a sudden retribution comes, has certainly inistaken his calling. He was not summoned on a court-martial, nor to be a public executioner, but called to be a guide to the inexperienced, a friend of humanity, a lover of youth.
Thus we see how the Christian character of a Christian college can show itself in its instructors. They are set as guides of young men in the formative period of life. Genuine guides let them be, and magnify their office. The institution which, founded as Christian, has come nearest to eliminating Christianity has declared, at least through one of its leading officials, that the old notion of a "paternal relation" of the faculty is wholly exploded, and furthermore that the instructor's whole work and duty ends with the lecture or the recitation. Now it was an ancient inquiry, “Am I my brother's keeper?" To leave a great body of young men at the critical time of their whole history with no effort, beyond the lecture room, of friendly interest, no counsel from experience, no cautions against indolence or temptation, no care for their moral welfare, no personal effort to mold the man as well as to sharpen his intellect, will never commend itself to wise men as fulfilling the function of a true teacher. The heathen pedagogue was more than that. Too many priceless interests and incalculable hopes are bound up in those young men Maturity should in every practicable way be helpful to immaturity. Discipline will, so far as is possible, be forestalled by wise counsel and timely caution. And while the proved incorrigible should be summarily ejected, the instructor who knowingly leaves the laggard to his indolence, the weak to his temptations, his
Christianity thus enthroned in the polity of the corporation and the spirit of the faculty will show itself in the deportment of the students. It should be no wonder if, where the college faculty or any considerable portion of them are indifferent to religion, its claims, and its observances, the students should be noted for riotous conduct and even collisions with the police. Indeed we look back with disgust and horror upon some brutal and even dangerous customs that prevailed in the schools of England and formerly in the colleges of this country. They seem almost incredible among a body of students of the humanities. They took their worst form, apparently, at a time when religion in the college was at its lowest ebb. The true recital fills one with somewhat of the feeling that he has in a continental museum when viewing the thumbscrews, Spanish boots, racks, and other instruments of torture of the mediæval ages. From most colleges, and certainly from this college, thank God! these things have passed away.
But much yet remains for Christianity to achieve in these institutions. There are certain notions and customs, mostly traditional, the relics of a darker time, but hard to eradicate, which have nothing to commend them and everything to condemn; certain tendencies to lawlessness and conflict and to forms of collective
unscrupulousness that cannot be tolerated elsewhere in society and which call for extermination. There are false codes of honor, moral compromises, and depressions of æsthetic, social, and even religious standards, which should forever disappear. While it may be firmly maintained that in no equal collection of young men is there on the whole greater safety, a higher tone of morals, or manlier conduct than in a college like this, we may as firmly maintain that all these things should rise higher yet. The student must stand up in his lot like other men, expecting and receiving no toleration in wrongdoing and no discharge from duty because he is a student. Indeed, greater privilege carries greater responsibility. Things that might be palliated elsewhere would seem to be inexcusable here. Good citizenship, solid worth, true religion, if ever they are to assert themselves, should do so in college. For where there is no germ there will be no fruit. The professing Christian who cannot maintain a consistent, manly piety, and resist the temptations here, will probably be but a frail dependence elsewhere. It is time that all such concessions, compromises, excuses, palliations, and evasions of duty were forever swept away, and that the young men in our institutions of learning should stand forth in a true Christian manhood as marked and exalted as are the opportunities they enjoy. They should show themselves in training to be leaders and examples in a great Republic.
Young Gentlemen of the Graduating Class : You are about to close your connection with an institution that was founded wholly in the interest of Christianity. During your student life we have endeavored to carry out the aim of its founders by throwing around you the daily influences of the Christian religion and giving instruction weekly in the volume that embodies it. Neither of these things, we confess, has been done so effectually as it should have been done and as, we would hope, it will yet be done. But such has been our effort and aim.
And now I give you your final instructions in the same direction. If any of you depart without at least a thorough intellectual persuasion of the truth and importance of the theme, it has not come to my knowledge. But as you go
you will encounter a numerous body of men who set themselves resolutely against it.
Let me, then, solemnly charge you, as wise men and good citizens if not as true Christians, to maintain throughout your life a profound regard and a lively and helpful interest for the institutions and the Book of our most holy religion. Ever look upon it as, whether tested by its standard, its aims, or its effects, the most extraordinary phenomenon in all history. Behold it steadily and surely full filling its Founder's unparalleled prediction : “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.” See how, in affection or in antagonism, he is more and more seizing the eye of the human race, till his strongest opponents are constrained to be meeting that question : “What think ye of Christ?” It is the problem which the world must face. Meet it manfully yourselves.
Look upon it as the supreme authority and the sole