페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

to explain the origin, aim, and processes of the Church Lyceum, and to show its possible value to individuals, to the Church, to institutions of learning, and to general society. The book also contains many practical suggestions in regard to methods and collateral work, which will be useful to pastors and others. There is a brief “ Introduction” by Reverend Bishop H. W. Warren, which, as might be expected, is pointed and positive. "The Church,” says the Bishop, “is the school of all schools, teaching health, cleanliness, temperance, hardihood, wisdom, holiness; that is, perfect manhood.” And Mr. Neely affirms that the purpose of the Lyceum “is intellectual, as distinguished from that which is specifically called spiritual ; " and, in response to the objection that this looks like an attempt to save the world by culture, he pertinently says, “It is not an effort to save by culture, but to culture the saved, or those who may be saved." The apprehension that the Lyceum may interfere with the regular religious work of the Church has some good ground on which to rest ; and the fear will, in some cases, become a fact, if the organization be not kept well in hand by the Quarterly Conference.

There are those who object to this scheme of popular Church education as likely to impart only loose, general information, without accuracy or thoroughness, which will mislead and betray rather than discipline and develop. The objection would have force if it were designed to substitute the Lyceum for the Academy and College, or to make it the end instead of the beginning of an intellectual career. It is probable that an enthusiast in the cause, like Mr. Neely, may expect altogether too much from the Lyceum, and it is certain that it will have to be thoroughly worked to produce the satisfactory results which he contemplates. But we have no question that its influence will be salutary so far as it extends, and that very positive good may be realized. Pope's celebrated couplet,

" A little learning is a dangerous thing:

Drink deep, or taste not, the Pierian spring," is essentially false. “A little learning” is not “a dangerous thing," if it be real learning. If a man thinks that he knows a language because he has mastered its alphabet, or if he is led to believe that 2+2=5, or that 5 — 2=4, the results may be

disastrous. The unfortunate outcome is not, however, to be attributed to his knowledge, but to his ignorance. All learning is restricted, to begin with, and the wisest man's acquisitions are inconsiderable compared with the wide domain of knowledge. “ A little learning” excites an intense thirst for deeper draughts from “the Pierian spring.” It is only absolute ig. norance which is content

only bias and perversion which are dangerous. Knowledge is more than accumulation; it is aspiration. It feeds the mind, to be sure, but it also kindles desire. Its greatest benefit is its awakening power. It clears the mental vision, and it widens, at the same time, the circle of observation. What it gives is a prophecy of what it has. to bestow. That something, however little, has been actually learned, reveals our possibilities, and demonstrates that to the magic touch of our persistent research every gateway of knowledge will swing open in all the boundless universe of God.

The great necessity, in order to the success of the Church Lyceum, and, indeed, of our whole educational work, is that the ministers and members of our denomination should realize that mental cultivation is manifestly the design of God, and, therefore, unmistakably a Christian duty.

The mental constitution which we possess indicates the Divine will in this regard. The mind is capable of acquiring knowledge, of receiving discipline, and of being enriched by cultivation. It must, therefore, have been the design of God that the powers and faculties of our intellectual natures should be improved by study and trained for usefulness. A being made in the image of God-that is, in some sense, in the similitude of God-is under the highest conceivable obligation to make the most of his endowments, resources, and opportunities, to know and serve his Creator and Benefactor.

The whole process of the great salvation which God has given us is stimulative to the mental faculties. Men must “reason,” “consider,” “ask," "seek," "strive," "contend," “watch,” and “endure,” with patient perseverance, in order to obtain the crown of life. The general rule of Gospel acqnisi-. tion is expressed by the wise man, in the inspired declaration : “If thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; if thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for

FOURTH SERIES, VOL. XXXV.-43

[ocr errors]

her as for hid treasures; then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.”* The very conditions of God's promises of mercy and grace demand mental activity, and show that it is the Divine will that our intellectual powers be cultivated. We are bound to know God and to be like him—to know ourselves, our relations, duties, and privileges.

The apostolic injunctions, “Give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine," and “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth,”+ are precepts which concern not only evangelists, but all Christian workers. Every argument in favor of ministerial education applies, if not with equal force, yet as certainly and conclusively, in favor of Christian education. We need, for the greatest prosperity of the Church, cultured men, not only in the pulpit, but also in the pews, in the Sunday-school, in the official bodies, and in all the active relations of life. Can it be doubted, then, that it is the will of God that every follower of the Lord Jesus improve his mental powers to the fullest extent of his opportunities? Ought not a Christian to be, in every particular, the highest style of man? And is it not manifest that He who is the author of mind, as well as heart, may be as truly served with the intellect as with the emotions?

A Christian ought to cultivate his mind, that he may more clearly comprehend the revelations of God, in the material universe, in the government of the world, in the written Word, and in the office and work of the Holy Spirit. Ruskin complained, some years ago, of “the stern impossibility of getting any thing understood that required patience to understand.” We need not marvel at this statement, or at its pertinent application to modern society; for “ patience to understand” is the ripe fruit of mental discipline and culture. The comprehension of any important truth requires this “patience”—this attitude of persistent, painstaking thought. How many of . the most thrilling utterances and powerful appeals and monitions of the pulpit and of the religions press are largely, if not entirely, lost, because the doctrines and sentiments presented are not held before the mind and considered in all their * Prov. ii, 3-5.

+ 1 Tim. iv, 13, and 2 Tim. ii, 15.

facts and relations, till the half-inspired, or, it may be, wholly inspired, truth rises into clearness of view !-rises, not like an exhalation, but as a continent emerges from ocean depths and mists, grand and imposing in outline and magnitude.

God has placed us in a universe which is a miracle of beauty and splendor. There are perfections and adaptations and utilities in God's works which our heavenly Father must be pleased to have us observe and admire.

"Some years ago," says an English essayist, “in passing through the cells of the Grand Chartreuse, noticing that the window of each apartment looked across the little garden of its inhabitant to the wall of the cell opposite, and commanded no other view, I asked the monk beside me why the window was not rather made on the side of the cell whence it would open to the solemn fields of the Alpine valley.

"We do not come here,' he replied, 'to look at the mountains. Such is the monastic spirit; and such teachings may be in harmony with a system which holds that “ignorance is the mother of devotion;" but such was not the strain of the Psalmist when he sung, “O Lord, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all ;” nor is this monkish declaration after the manner of Jesus who showed to his disciples, in mountains and seas, in the earth and in the heavens, and even in the grass and flowers of the field, the tokens and signs of the care and love of a wise and merciful Father. There are visions and voices of God in his works and in his providence; but they are a sealed volume to us, except we have eyes to hear, and faculties to understand.

Christianity, moreover, is the religion of a book, of an ancient book, of a Book of books; of a book written in languages which are no longer living languages; of a book which is historic, biographic, dogmatic, narrational, poetic, epistolary, and apocalyptic; of a book which reveals God, announces creation, celebrates redemption, declares human relations, duties, and privileges, discloses a world beyond the grave, and points the way to life and immortality. Is it possible that such a book can be comprehended without research and reflection? Since God has thus revealed his mind and purpose to our race, is it not plainly his will that men should study and understand these sacred Oracles? With a Bible in his hand, can any

to see,

and ears

Christian fail to discern his obligation to cultivate, to the utmost, all his rational powers ?

The Holy Spirit, it may be claimed, is given to enlighten our minds, and to teach us the things of God. But the Holy Spirit never imparts any new truth; he sanctifies us through the Word; he shows the startling significance and appropriate applications of the truth which we have learned, and he brings all essential things to our remembrance. The Holy Spirit, however, does not enrich the barren mind, does not supply the wastes of indolence and inefficiency, and does not honor ignorance and stupidity. And no marvel; for ignorance is the mildew of piety, the source of superstition, and the bane of progress.

God honors intelligence, and the industry, self denial, and perseverance which render it possible, when the knowledge and discipline thus secured are consecrated to Christ and to the work of the world's redemption. “The most devout and useful men,” says an eloquent Wesleyan Methodist, « that have ever served the Lord Jesus Christ in our community have been men of sound and varied scholarship.” Is it not evident, from all these considerations, that mental culture must be regarded as a Christian duty ? and do not nature, Providence, Scripture, and the Holy Spirit unite in demanding its performance ?

Mental culture is a condition of wide nsefulness, especially in a cultured age, and is, therefore, an unmistakable Christian obligation. There are two conditions of usefulness-character and consecration; mental culture creates and exalts character, and leads indirectly to consecration; for although mental and moral culture may be divorced, they are naturally allied. “Studies,” says Bacon, "serve for delight, for ornament, and for ability.” The momentum of a body depends on its weight and velocity; if the former be less, the latter may be more, and so a given result be secured. But it is the special felicity of mental culture that it produces both weight and velocity ; or, in other words, it adds to our resources and to our skill in their use. It develops reason, broadens observation, quickens reflection, and intensifies our conceptions of right, duty, and holiness; and so increases the domain and power of conscience. It enables us to discern the proper objects of individual choice, reveals the moral quality of conduct, makes manifest

« 이전계속 »