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have real existence. They exist only in our fancy. Here is no grace, no redemption. Nature is not a real existence to such a theory, and hence there can be no natural science. In Christian countries the prevailing institutions and confessions of faith recognize this belief in a divine-human God of Grace, and their people more or less cultivate science. Some persons theoretically deny this belief, but cling to science, which is itself based on the deep-lying assumption that the world is a manifestation of Reason. Such skeptics have not yet measured the consequences of their theories, and for our purposes may be said to belong to the faith inasmuch as the reality of a finite would presuppose a personal God whose essential attribute is Grace. The agnostic, too, is strenuous in acknowledging the practical importance of the code of moral duties.
The prevailing view of the world in Christian countries is very properly called Faith, inasmuch as it is not a view pieced together from the experience of the senses nor a product of individual reflection unaided by the deep intuitions of the spiritual seers of the race.
Faith is a secular virtue as well as a theological virtue, and whoever teaches another view of the world — that is to say, he who teaches that man is not immortal, and that nature does not reveal the divine reason — teaches a doctrine subversive of faith in this peculiar sense, and also subversive of man's life in all that makes it worth living.
(2) Hope, the second theological virtue, is the practical side of faith. Faith is not properly the belief in some theory of the world, but in the particular theory of the world that Christianity teaches. So Hope is not a mere anticipation of some future event, but the firm expectation that the destiny of the world is in accordance with the scheme of faith, no matter how much any present appearances may be against it. Thus the individual acts upon this conviction. It is the basis of the highest practical doing in this world. A teacher may show faith and hope in the views of the world which he expresses, and in his dealings with his school, in his teaching of history, in his comments on the reading lesson, in his treatment of the aspirations of his pupils. Although none of these things may be consciously traced to their source by the pupils, yet their instinct will discover the genuine faith and hope. Nothing is so difficult to conceal as one's conviction in regard to the origin and destiny of the world and of man.
(3) Finally, Charity is the highest of these virtues, in the sense that it is the concrete embodiment and application of that view of the world which Faith and Hope establish.
The world is made and governed by divine grace, and that grace will triumph in the world. Hence, says the individual, “Let me be filled with this principle and hold within myself this divine feeling of grace towards all fellow-creatures.” Charity is therefore not almsgiving, but a devotion to others. “Sell all thou hast .... and follow me.” Faith perceives the principle; Hope believes in it where it is not yet visible; Charity sets it up in the soul and lives it. There might be conceived a faith or insight into this principle of divine grace and a hope that should trust it where not seen, and there be in the possessor of the faith and hope a lack of charity. In that case the individual would acknowledge the principle everywhere, but would not admit it into himself. With Charity all other virtues are implied — even Justice.
While courtesy acts towards men as if they were
ideally perfect and had no defects; while justice holds each man responsible for the perfect accordance of his deed with his ideally perfect nature, and makes no allowance for immaturity; charity sees both the ideal perfection and the real imperfection, and does not condemn but offers to help the other, and is willing and glad to sacrifice itself to assist the imperfect struggle towards perfection.
The highest virtue, Charity, has, of all the virtues, the largest family of synonyms: humility, considerateness, heroism, gratitude, friendliness, and various shades of love in the family (parental and filial, fraternal and conjugal), sympathy, pity, benevolence, kindness, toleration, patriotism, generosity, public spirit, philanthropy, beneficence, concord, harmony, peaceableness, tenderness, forgiveness, mercy, grace, long-suffering, etc., etc.
The typical form of this virtue as it may be cultivated in school is known under the name of kindness. A spirit of true kindness, if it can be made to pervade a school, becomes the highest fountain of virtue. That such a spirit can exist in a school as an emanation from a teacher we know from many a saintly example that has walked in the path of the great Teacher.
From the definition of this principle it is easy to deduce a verdict against all those systems of rivalry and emulation in school which stimulate ambition beyond the limits of general competition to the point of selfishness. Selfishness is the root of mortal sin, as theologians tell us, and the lowest type of it is cold, unfeeling pride, while envy is the type next to it.
Returning to our first question, we repeat :
In a State which has no established Church and in a system of public schools that is not permitted to be under the control of sects or denominations, what shall be the fate of dogmatic instruction in morals — especially instruction in that part of morals which rests upon the celestial virtues ? Of course the problem is still a simple one in parochial schools and denominational schools. But it is not proper for us to ignore the dangers incurred even in strictly parochial schools. The more strict the denominational control, the less likely is there to pervade the school that spirit of tolerance and charity towards others which is the acknowledged deepest tap-root of the virtues. Were the community homogeneous in its confession of faith, religious instruction could still properly remain in school. The movement of American society is not, hɔwever, in that direction, and it is quite likely that the Church must see formal religious instruction, even to the ceremony of reading the Bible, leave the common schools altogether. But a formal reading of the Bible - without note or comment,” or a formal prayer on opening the school, is surely not religious or moral instruction in any such efficient sense as to warrant any Christian man, or woman in sitting down in content and claiming a religious hold on the popular education. Such a delusive content is indeed too prevalent. There never was a time when the need was greater for a wide-spread evangelical movement to begin, that shall make real once more the faith that has well-nigh become a mere formula. A Robert Raikes now, and here, to give new vitality to the Sunday-school movement; a concerted series of movements like that of Dr. Vincent, is needed.
It is not the undoing of the separation of Church and State even in the common-school, nor the struggle to maintain a frigid and bloodless “ non-sectarian,” so-called, religion in our schools that is to succeed or do any good. It is for the churches to rouse from danger and proselyte by new means and appliances as well adapted to the present day as the Sunday-school movement was seventy years ago.
It is for the teachers not to claim the right to introduce formal religious ceremonies, but to make all their teaching glow with a genuine faith, hope, and charity, so that pupils will catch from them their view of the world as the only one that satisfies the heart and the intellect and the will.
Let us note the fact that in the mechanical virtues, so important to making good citizens, the training in the schools is already admirable. Human freedom is realized not by the unaided effort of the individual, but by his concerted or combined effort in organized institutions like the State and Civil Society. Those mechanical virtues make possible the help of the individual in this combination, and fit him for the modern world now bent on the conquest of nature.
The social virtues, justice, politeness, and obedience to to the law, may be equally well provided for, although in in fact they are not successfully taught in every school.
The celestial virtues can be taught by teachers inspired by those virtues, and by none others. The empty profession of such virtues without the devotion of the life to them, is likely in the school even more than elsewhere to produce the well-known practical result of atheism.
In conclusion let us call up the main principles and repeat them in their briefest expression :
1. Moral education is a training in habits, and not an inculcation of mere theoretical views.
2. Mechanical disciplines are indispensable as an elementary basis of moral character.