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writer of a leading article in the Age, of the 13th of last October, indited the following:
The man who would attempt to supersede the Bible as an organon of conduct, and a means of awakening the reverential instinct in the human breast, is a Goth, who is not worth throwing away words upon.
I think, then, that I am entitled to assume that the following propositions are on all sides admitted:
(1) That no system of education can be complete which ignores religious instruction.
(2) That the Bible, in whole or in part, is the only possible textbook of religious instruction, in the opinion of all Protestants. It will greatly simplify all future discussions on this subject, if these two admissions be always borne in mind.
We come next, however, to consider a much contested question. Granting that religious instruction is necessary, and that the Bible is its best text-book;-who shall impart it? Shall the State, or the Church, or the parent-or all of these, or some of these? It will greatly simplify our consideration of this question, if we can obtain some general idea of the part which each of these ought naturally to play in connection with Government education in a Christian country. No doubt the right and the duty to educate his child rests primarily with the parent. And in a patriarchal state of society he would naturally perform this duty. When, however, civilisation grows more complex, and the struggle for existence becomes intenser, it is the natural tendency of things to introduce a division of labour. The time of the parents among the poorer classes is almost wholly taken up in obtaining the means of subsistence and managing the home. At the same time, while strength and attention are required in other directions, the demands of an advancing civilisation make the task of education more and more difficult. For both reasons, working-people, saving perhaps a very few of exceptional energy of character, give up the task in despair. At first no one thinks of helping them, and great and increasing demoralisation follows. At length, perhaps, the Church wakes up to a sense of the existing evil, and establishes Sunday-schools to abate it. Last of all, the State becomes sensible that it is cheaper to maintain schools than gaols; and that, moreover, the growth of democratic institutions demands higher intelligence in its citizens. It establishes common schools, to be maintained out of the taxes, and to be filled by compulsory laws. So far all is normal and right. What has been done, is nothing more than a healthy result of the division of labour.
But here enters the great difficulty. By undertaking primary education, the Government makes competition impossible. It becomes the sole educator of the children of the poorer classes, and it is bound, therefore, to make the education which it gives complete. It is bound to attend to conduct, which is more important in the training of a child than all other things put together; and to form conduct, it will find itself obliged, sooner or later, to introduce religious instruction. With the advent of religious instruction there comes upon the scene the grave difficulty principally dealt with in Professor Pearson's paper.
Before, however, entering into the details of that difficulty, let us shortly remind ourselves of certain fundamental distinctions in the subject-matter of which we are treating. Religion is either objective or subjective. Objective religion is connected with a series of statements and revelations about the relation of God to man. Subjective religion is concerned with that state of the human mind which is produced by a believing attention to such statements. I believe, that from the nature of the case, the schoolmaster cannot be required to produce subjective religion. To do this, something of the fire and fervour of the prophetic temperament is required, and I quite agree with Professor Pearson, that this is not to be expected in the ordinary school-teacher. He may, indeed, possess it. If he does, then his teaching of objective truth will have the greater effect upon the children. But as you cannot require in him the prophetic faculty, you have no business to demand that his religious teaching shall quicken the feelings and change the hearts of his pupils. This office belongs to a body which requires in its teachers something of the prophetic faculty and impulse. It belongs to the Christian Church.
But now, secondly, objective religion is divisible into two portions; that which deals with dogmatic, and that which deals with ethical truth; roughly speaking, the means and the end. The dogmatic truth of the Christian faith is principally connected with the great fact and economy of redemption. Such doctrines as those of the divinity of the Son of God, the atonement, and justification by faith, are for instance inferences from this fact and its circumstances. This part of objective religion is largely treated of in St. Paul's Epistles. It supplies the Church with the ground of her most moving appeals. It is that upon which the churches mainly differ in opinion. For this last reason, if for no other, it is particularly unsuitable for the primary school, in a country where religious
opinion is so greatly divided. The parent and the teacher might differ in opinion on such subjects, or the teacher might be so far from having made up his mind on them, that he would be exceedingly reluctant to take them as the basis of instruction. It is these subjects which are excluded, except in their most general aspects, by that section of the English Education Act of 1870, which prescribes that "no religious catechism, or religious formularies, which are distinctive of any particular denomination shall be taught in the school."
There remains, then, that portion of objective religion which deals with ethical truth: that portion which describes the end, to which the earlier portion should lead. To this belongs the whole sphere of what is called practical religion, including principles and their moral application. The principles are very simple, being only these two: "Thou shalt love God with all thy heart," and "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." Their application, it is obvious, is as large as human life. Upon these principles, and upon their application, there is no material difference of opinion among Christian men. They are treated, too, in Holy Scripture in passages of surpassing beauty and interest. There can be no schoolmaster, unless he be an atheist, who would not gladly and willingly teach them.
I may, perhaps, be permitted to give a few examples of the parts of Holy Scripture, which, as I conceive, might be employed for such a purpose. As inculcating the former of these principles, I would mention St. Matthew, vi. 24-34; St. Mark, xii. 28-34; St. John, iv. 1-24; the parables of the Lost Sheep, of the Prodigal Son, of the Two Sons, of the Labourers in the Vineyard, of the Talents, and of the Pharisee and the Publican. In addition to these passages, the following Psalms might be made the basis of interesting scientific and moral illustration: Psalms viii., xix., xxiii., xxvii., xxxiv., ciii. and civ. As expounding the second fundamental principle of Christian morality, I would point to the parables of the Good Samaritan and of the Unmerciful Servant; the principal part of the Sermon on the Mount; Psalms i. and xxxvii., and very large extracts from the Book of Proverbs. As at once practical applications of these principles, and interesting illustrations of the historical relations of the Israelites with the two greatest peoples of the ancient world—the Egyptians and Babylonians-I would point to the history of Joseph, and that of the Babylonian captivity in the Books of Ezra and Nehemiah To these I would add, as illustrative of the foundation of the monarchy, the rise of the prophetic order, and the outburst of that literary
activity which produced the best of the Psalms and Proverbs, selections from the history of Saul, David and Solomon. All this might be taught without explicit reference to either miracle or dogma. In teaching it, the schoolmaster would take a position analogous to that of the scribe of old, leaving to ministers of religion the part of the prophet. He would inculcate great principles, leaving it to the churches to quicken those principles into life; he would lay deep the theoretic foundations of conduct, trusting to the churches to build thereupon the fair superstructure of the saintly character. But it might be objected, in thus dividing the whole region of religious instruction between the scribe and the prophet, you have left no place for the parent. This is a mistake. The parent will only have surrendered duties, which, with our modern distribution of labour, he would be unable to perform. He would still, however, continue to be to his children, as the Patriarch was, the house-priest and the houseteacher; and he ought to support with the whole force of his influence the official teacher and the official prophet.
Of course these duties may easily pass into each other. The schoolmaster who teaches duty may have so much of the prophetic temper, as to convert his teaching into a living emotional force. But this is not his primary duty, nor is it to be expected from him. The prophet, again, may be a great teacher, as skilful in instilling principles as in quickening those principles with the power of kindled feeling. This, however, is not his primary duty. Ordinarily, like the prophets of old time and the evangelists of modern days, he appeals to principles supposed to be known, and upon these builds up the superstructure of higher instruction and emotional purification. Lastly, the parent may be so great a teacher and prophet, that he will be better to his child than all its official instructors. But, generally, this will not be the case. Commonly, it will be necessary for him to call to his aid both the prophet and the teacher, supporting them as best he may by word and by example.
I have thus endeavoured to point out what, in the present state of our civilisation, I conceive to be the respective duties of the State, the Church, and the parent, in regard to the religious education of children. I must now add that, in opposition to Professor Pearson, I believe the co-operation of all these to be necessary and valuable. Professor Pearson holds that parents will provide the necessary instruction, and that teachers cannot. "Four parents in five," he says, " will find means of teaching their children, whether the State provides schools or not; four in five will teach their
children religion, as only parents can teach it." In illustration of his meaning, he cites his own case as a boy at Rugby School, where, as he says, the religious teaching was mainly indirect. "Our teachers wisely assumed that we had come informed on these points from our homes, or left us to the instruction of Sunday sermons." No comparison could well be more misleading, and hardly any person with a clergyman's knowledge of the homes of the poor would have been likely to make it. The boys at Rugby School had passed through a careful training at home, or at a preparatory school, before passing to the larger institution. Each had for his mother a cultivated woman, or for his preparatory teacher a Christian schoolmaster, who made moral and religious training a principal point during these earlier years. The child of the working man had none of these advantages. In the ordinary case, his mother had neither the leisure nor the culture required as a religious teacher. He depended for nearly the whole of his education on what was taught him in the infant or the primary school. Who that knows the homes of the poor could admit that there a child is taught, as a rule, "to love and honour his parents," or "habits of courteous speech, self-denial, temperance, and physical purity?” "The boy," says Professor Pearson, "who is not taught to be mannerly at home, is more likely to learn it in the playground than in the class-room." That That may be the case at Rugby, but the very opposite is nearer the truth at the primary school. A poor boy is taught to be mannerly, if at all, not at home, nor among his rough play-mates, but by the exact discipline of the school. In a word, among the poor, the school plays the principal, and home the subordinate part in moral and religious education. It is very hazardous to speak on such a matter without careful inquiry, but I say, without a moment's misgiving, that it is much nearer the truth to affirm that amongst the poor, four parents out of five will not-than that they will— give their children religious instruction. Professor Pearson knows that it was the almost universal neglect of this duty among the poor, which led to the establishment of Sunday-schools. And what is now the fact, as to the attendance of children at those institutions in Victoria? There are 211,000 children of school age, i.e., between six and fifteen years of age in the colony. At Sunday-schools there are 120,000 children, many of them below or above school age. Perhaps 100,000 children of school age are in attendance at Sunday-schools. This shows that more than one half, or at least that fully one-half of the children of school age do not attend Sunday-schools. Does Professor