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when the thought of our sins is kept ever before us. even grow morbid and sentimental if we dwell exclusively on the thought of God's love and forgiveness. But a healthy and genuine faith tones up the spirit of a man and nerves him for noble deeds.
There are two aspects of faith which come out of daily life. One is conviction, the other confidence. we commonly use the word is faith in persons. faith in reality without reference to personal feelings. The most of the great questions of a lifetime have to be answered not on the ground of demonstrable fact, of certain knowledge, but on the ground of half knowledge, half faith-to the best of one's knowledge and belief. So a man's strong and intelligent convictions, where the way is dim with mist, may have greater significance for his success in life than his certain knowledge in things that are plain and easy. And convictions on the higher plane work down on the lower planes with deepening and ennobling power. Commercial insight is a good thing. Let high political principle be added, and the view of the mere man of business is broadened and elevated thereby. Add a sound moral sense, beyond what is necessarily involved in the others, and the affairs of business, and public policy are brought into truer perspective, convictions in these domains are charged with greater meaning. Now let the convictions be raised to the realm of the divine; let them be sober and sincere, and see how new order, light and certainty are introduced into all the subordinate concerns of life, by bringing them into relations with the center of all things. So much for faith as conviction. In like manner faith as confidence is good and beautiful in the commonest things of life. The confidence of a child in its parents, of a friend in his friend, gives courage and joy to the
heart. The sight of a great leader of men putting his trust in the general right-mindedness of countrymen in things political, a William of Orange, a Lincoln, a Gladstone, is truly inspiring. Let confidence be advanced beyond the mere relations of earth, let it be centered in God, and the light caught from the Father's face will shine down through all lower faiths and loves, transfiguring them into the likeness of Heaven. Faith as conviction will prompt a man to be a Christian because it is right. Faith as confidence persuades a man to be a Christian because the love of Christ constraineth. The true faith of the Christian is conviction and confidence in one-right joined with love—and fixed on the righteous and loving God our Savior. This is the faith that re-makes lives after the image of Christ our Lord. For the sake of transforming faith like this I would urge men and teachers to enter the Christian life.
I will mention but one more reason here. Be a Christian because of sin and its forgiveness, because of faith, and finally because of permanence. The desire of man for eternal life is no mean desire. It is a noble aspiration, a true and manly instinct. The shallow and trifling run after the things of a day; but earnest souls strive for those things that endure.
Ruskin says in speaking of Architecture: "Every human action gains in honor, in grace, in all true magnificence by its regard to things that are to come. It is the far sight, the quiet and confident patience, that, above all other attributes, separate man from man, and near him to his Maker; and there is no action nor art, whose majesty we may not measure by this test. Therefore, when we build, let us think that we build forever."
I take it our ambition in the making of a life should not
be lower than in the building of a house.
And how shall we
build forever? The world passeth away. even on princes among men is but vain. go but to Him who has the words of eternal life. The world passeth away, but he that doeth the will of God abideth for
nothing about the
My time is half gone and I have said special obligation resting upon teachers. But the time thus spent is not wasted if the one word that I had in mind to speak has come home to your hearts. It is more than half the work of a teacher that he begin by being a noble, Christian man.
Now how is the obligation of following Christ increased by the fact that one is a teacher? The true teacher is moved to his work by a high and sacred love of his pupils. His heart goes out to them in all their needs. Their interests are his own. The great facts of sin, and faith and immortality are facts for each of them as much as for himself. If these facts prompt him to enter the Christian life on his own account, they prompt him as many times over as the number of pupils in his charge, to be a Christian for their sake. He knows their conflicts with sin, and often their surrender, better perhaps than their fathers and mothers can know. It calls for all his faith to believe that wrong already deeply fixed can be uprooted and forgiven. His best efforts often seem but things of a day, erased at night like chalk marks from a black-board and leaving no trace behind. What hope has he of permanence, but in bringing each day's work at its close and laying it with simple trust in the hands of his Father in Heaven.
It is such a life as this that has glorified the work of the great teachers down through all the ages.
Comenius is said to have "consecrated himself to infancy,"
and to have felt that he was working. "for the regeneration of humanity.
The gentlemen of Port Royal engaged, with extraordinary zeal and intelligence in the work of their "Little Schools, feeling that they were saving the souls of their young charges from the greatest danger.. "We must always pray for souls," said one of them, "and always be on the watch, standing guard as in a city menaced by the enemy. On the outside the devil makes his rounds."
La Salle organized his Christian Schools and led the way with faith and zeal and self sacrifice for the efforts of the Catholic church toward the education of the little children of the poor.
Pestalozzi in. the days of his greatest poverty and depression held fast to his purpose to teach those poorer than himself, stayed in his mind with the thought that he was performing a religious duty. "Christ teaches us," he wrote, "by his example and doctrine to sacrifice not only our posessions but ourselves for the good of others.
Dean Stanley writes of Thomas Arnold, "The relation of an instructor to his pupils was to him, like all the other relations of human life, only a healthy state when subordinate to their common relation to God. The business of a schoolmaster,' he used to say, 'no less than that of a parish minister, is the cure of souls.'
Mary Lyon gave her days and nights, her strength, her all, to the end that young women might have opportunities of higher education, and still more that they might rise to higher Christian character and service.
Examples might be multiplied indefinitely.. Among the rank and file of our teachers to-day like motives are by no
means rare. Witness the high ground taken at the outset of the late meeting of the association of teachers of this state, and maintained throughout the sessions of that gathering.
The great majority of American teachers are engaged in public schools and in these schools the teaching of religious creeds is prohibited by law. Why should a teacher in a public school be a Christian? It is generally agreed that the chief business of the public schools is to train up citizens to be not only intelligent but moral. But this most important problem of the schools is also the most difficult. We can train pupils to right habits of thought; how can we insure information of right habits of action? Some things in this direction we certainly can do. Through our school discipline we can secure the exercise of some of the most obvious and objective virtues. By skillful instruction and questioning we can accustom our pupils to pass correct ethical judgments. Through instruction in history and literature we can set before them high ideals of life. A right mechanism of daily routine, sound judgment, and high ideals; these three steps once taken, it is but one step further to the realizing of ideals of personal character. And just here, at this last, essential step, in critical cases our system breaks down and can go no further. What can the public school do beyond this point? It can go a little further still, but that little further cannot be expressed in formulas or defined in a course of study. After instruction and training have done their best, the true teacher has still the power of imparting by a subtle, sympathetic influence, somewhat of his own spirit to the children in his care. This is the necessary condition of efficient moral training in public schools. This is the fine edge of the art of all great educators. Such moral influence as this violates no constitutional provision regarding the separation of