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teacher nor scholar can evade, that piety shall be taught in our public schools, and I turn now to my adversaries, to ask the question that terminates this controversy forever—from what book is piety to be taught in a Republic where Christianity is a part of the law of the land ? Is it to be taught from Confucius, or from the Vedas and Puranas of the Hindoos ? Shall Plato be our instructor in piety, or shall we go back to Zoroaster ? No, Sir, there is but one answer that can be given. No skill of the opposing counsel can evade it. And I feel that he will not, and dare not attempt to answer it. What course he may take in his argument I cannot anticipate, but this I know, that he will pass this question by in prudent silence. And yet the whole case turns upon this one question, and it must and will be answered. No craft of the Jesuit can avoid it. No form of words can conceal it. The answer comes from every lip, Catholic as well as Protestant—it comes from the altar, from the pulpit, and from the statesman's closet-from the street and from the fireside—from the heart of every mother, from the lips of every child. There is but one book from which we dare teach piety, and that book is God's Holy Bible.
It would seem that by slow steps we are somewhat advanced in this our investigation. We have found that all government is based upon religion. That the government of our free republic is based upon the Christian religion, and that it is a part of the law of the land—that in all public education given by the State to its citizens, it is essential that morality, religion and piety should be taught we have found this principle to be recognized by our laws and enacted as a positive statute; and the only question remaining is from what book are we to seek this instruction—if that indeed can be called a question which admits of but one answer—which answers itself. And here I might well pause, if this great point is established—for when this is settled all the conclusions follow, of necessity—but there are many points raised, many arguments advanced, which I must attempt to answer.
It will be said, perhaps, we do not object to your use of the Bible—we object only to the common English version of it. I feel constrained to say that I cannot believe this is the true question. Unless I misunderstand wholly a late letter from the Bishop of Boston, if our regulations required the pupils to
read the Douay Bible together, to recite the Ten Commandments together, to repeat the Lord's Prayer, or chant the Psalms of David together, even although they were to use the text of the Douay Bible, it would be a “ brotherhood in a simulated union of prayer and adoration, which his church expressly forbids "*_but this may not be the ground taken by the counsel here, and I will therefore attempt to answer the suggestion that our common version should give place to the Douay Bible. And the first answer is, that as some version is to be taken ; as the Bible in some translation is to be used, as there is a difference of opinion, as to which is the best, the question must be decided by that tribunal to which the laws have intrusted the decision. The school committee are by law required to select and decide upon the question of the books to be used, and they have determined this question. The common version is by an express statute to be read daily, and the committee have used and adopted the same version for all other purposes.
I uphold and justify that decision upon many grounds; and I say first to these gentlemen who are so earnest for toleration, who are so fearful of sectarianism, that I object to their Douay Bible because it is avowedly a sectarian book, written and published with that acknowledged object. Our Saxon Bible never has been, never can be sectarian. It is quite worthy of remark that at this hour it has no express sanction of any sect or of any church. No creed can claim it as peculiarly its own; it is the common property, the common heritage of all. Nay more —it is well known there are more real and essential differences of opinion between the various Protestant sects, as to the correct translation of various important texts, than between the Catholics and the Protestants. But for all that, this version is -with one exception only—accepted by all sects of Christians who speak the English tongue, as a translation sufficiently correct—not for sectarian arguments—not for disputes upon points of doctrine—not for creeds or schisms—but for the common and daily use of Christians, for instruction in piety, in morality, and in that pure religion which is high above sects and doctrines, as the stars are above the earth ; and for this very reason-because the Christian sects who differ upon so many points, are with
* Letter from the Bishop of Boston to the School Committee.
one exception willing to unite upon this version-is it fitting and proper that this should be adopted. It was the English Bible centuries ago. The descendants of Englishmen still cherish it. It has been the American Bible for centuries also. The Catholics who have emigrated found it here when they came, found it here as the people's Bible, found it here in the schools which they came to share with us. These reasons alone should be sufficient, but there are other reasons for the use of our Bible which will, I am sure, appeal to the heart and the brain of every foreigner who sends his children to our public schools.
I appeal to their gratitude now, to their sense of honor now, as I would appeal to their generosity, if it were necessary, and ask them if they would wish to come here to share our freedom, to ask our hospitality, to enjoy the liberties,—the free education—the institutions which our fathers purchased at such a price, and then take our Bible away? It was to read that Bible in safety that our fathers came to this cold and barren shore—that Bible lay in the narrow cabin of the “ May Flower”-it was the only star that shone for the Puritan in that long night of toil and strife and famine, which well nigh ended in despair. It was with hands clasped above that Bible that Washington prayed in his tent, through those seven long years of doubt and distrust, when the “ God of Battles” alone sustained him. It has been the household god of the school-room from the infancy of the country. The schools which made us free, which will make worthy and true citizens of your children, have grown up under its influences. And will you take it from us now ?
It is difficult to discuss this question calmly. I imagine that feelings which it is best not to express, are aroused in the heart of every American who is told that we must justify or defend the use of our old Saxon Bible. I will not trust myself to express them. I will ask for any reason for rejecting our common familiar version and for substituting another in its place. If this were a fitting time or place, I should be very willing to discuss the comparative merits of the two versions, either as literary productions, or as faithful translations. The Douay Bible has its history too, of which I should be very willing to
speak if it were proper to do so, but this is not a suitable occasion.
May it please your Honor, I ask now for a single candid objection to the use of King James's Bible—not the Rostestant Bible, but the Christian Bible—the Saxon Bible, which we love. Are the particular portions of it which are used in the schools objectionable ? Our children are to learn piety from it, not sectarianism, or creeds; but pure religion, undefiled before God. They are to learn from it piety, a sacred regard to truth, justice, chastity and humanity. Was it from sectarian views that the Lord's Prayer and the Ten Commandments were selected as fit lessons of these cardinal virtues ? What sect, Catholic or Protestant, has received the monopoly of these portions of God's Word ? What priest or preacher can call them his own ? Are they indeed offensive to the tender consciences of children? Is it indeed dangerous that they should hear or repeat them ? I am inclined to believe that no one who has heard the evidence of the father or his boy, would be willing to say that it is either unnecessary or very dangerous to repeat to either of them the divine injunction, “ Thou shalt not bear false witness.” Does bishop or priest dare to say that it would be dangerous to repeat to the children those sacred portions of the Bible ?
Can it be that even bigotry and fanaticism would take exception to the prayer which Christ taught us to the tables of the law which Jehovah himself gave to his children on Mount Sinai? Is it one of that order of priesthood which has assumed to itself the name of the “ Society of Jesus," who has found it a necessity of Christian duty to forbid his followers from repeating the Lord's Prayer ? Has he forgotten that it was Jesus who said 6 suffer little children to come unto me and forbid them not." Jesus who bade his disciples go forth into every land and teach the Gospel to every creature—that he dictated to his disciples the lofty worship, the simple and pathetic beauty of that miraculous prayer, in which all the nations of the earth might together lift up their hearts to God without remembering any distinction of sect or race or creed? Subtle and artful as men have been in raising doubts, untiring as they have been in creating differences of opinion—no sect, no dogma, has yet been founded upon that marvelous, that inspired prayer, which in its divine
sweetness and purity embraces in itself the whole Christian religion, and the universal worship of God—that simple but sublime prayer in whose thanksgivings still linger the tender tones of a gentle mother's voice teaching it at eventide ; the sweet, natural music of home. Was that priest unwilling that his flock should unite with the children of heretics, and joining their hands and their hearts, say with them, “ Our Father which art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name?” Was he unwilling that the children of the Huguenots and the Puritans —the children of those Protestants who remembered the mountains of Piedmont and the Waldenses—who remembered the night of St. Bartholomew and the fires of Smithfield-should join with his flock, and say “ forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those that trespass against us?”
But it is said there is a difference between the Catholic and Protestant version of this prayer. I have not forgotten it; it will be very long I think before I shall forget it, or forget that in the book which was produced here in court; the hands of some little fanatic, who had been taught hatred and bigotry under the name of Christianity—or of some priest who feared for the tender consciences of his flock, had carefully and industriously obliterated the closing words of the prayer, “ For thine is the Kingdom, the power and the glory forever. Amen." .
Are those reverential ascriptions of praise dangerous and heretical? Is the worship which acknowledges our Heavenly Father as the source of all power, as the Ruler of the Universe -is that worship to be denounced and proscribed by one who calls himself the priest of the living God? Was it for this that he gathered the children of his flock together, and by threats of a shameful exposure from God's altar, persuaded them to violate the laws of their country-persuaded them to rebel against their teachers-persuaded them to sacrifice the great gifts of education ?
How vain and how shallow are such pretences. How trifling and immaterial are the verbal differences which are now insisted upon. Does any one fail to see that this movement is only a settled, and determined, and preconcerted opposition to our Holy Bible ? Does any one fail to see that it is because the prayer is read with Protestants, that the Catholic children are forbidden to join in it—that the Catholic priests are resolved to