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church and state. In conflicts with no decision of the courts. Against such teaching, there is no law. It satisfies the claims of those who emphasize the demand that public schools be unsectarian.
But there is strong demand from another party in the state that non-sectarianism be not made equivalent to irreligion. If the requirement on the first named side that instruction be non-sectarian is a just demand--and in the name of freedom and equal rights, I believe it is fully justified; this counter requirement that the school shall not be irreligious is also a just demand, in the name of that Christian faith which gave us our schools and stands as the surest ground of equal rights and freedom. And these are not opposing policies. In the Christian teacher both demands are in a large sense satisfied. For the highest morality is Christian morality. The spirit in the teacher which, imparted to a school, will do the most for both intelligence and morality is the humble, reverent, earnest, loving spirit of the truly Christian man or woman. And if this be not the teaching of a creed it teaches more of the faith than any creed. The minister of Christ who turns many to righteousness is he who imparts the most of the spirit of Christ, by giving the most of himself, imbued in every fibre of his being with that spirit. If we had distinct religious teaching in the schools, this would still be the best part of it; and as between the formal teaching of the creeds without this spirit, and the imparting of this spirit without formal teaching of the creeds, from the standpoint of the faith we would unhesitatingly choose the latter. Where Christian people and Christian colleges devote a part of their wealth and strength to training teachers for the public schools, who are at once true to our laws and the spirit of our institutions, and true to Christ and filled with his spirit-I
know not whether the immediate result is increase in the membership of churches; but the ultimate result will be the spread of true and living faith, the surest defense of the church, the soundest prop of the state, the assurance of the healthiest morality.
But there is one thing more I wish to say regarding the Christian teacher in the public schools. While our schools are non-sectarian, and rightly so, let us not be beguiled into a hasty judgment on the spirit of our laws and institutions, so as to admit that Christian teaching is excluded from those schools. The catechism and articles of faith are excluded; I grant it and rejoice it is so. The reading of the Bible as a religious observance or a means of instruction is forbidden in many of the schools; I grant it-in many of the schools-but not in all and not in half of them; and if I taught where it is so forbidden, I would accept the condition in good faith, however unnecessary or unfortunate I might think such provision from my point of view. But Christian teaching still is not shut out. Let the laws be complied with in their letter and in their spirit, not unwillingly but heartily. But when the critic of the schools reads into the laws a veto on religion, an interdiction in the schools of what is best in modern thought and highest in modern civilization, I deny the interpretation. These laws were not passed in the interest of infidelity but of freedom. The legislators who voted for them were not in the main enemies of religion. They were not men who 'either for themselves or their children would have the state crush out the best part of the sweetness and the hope and the inspiration of our literature, our culture and our civilization. . The state is not the enemy of religion. The separation of church and state has not shut up the state against all recognition of relig ion in any form or manner. Men may see; the further secular
ization of the state if they will, but so long as the state is not irreligious do not ask the schools of the state to be.
But there is another reason why the schools of this Christian land in this Christian age must not be unchristian. The state puts certain persons into its schools to teach. It does not demand, and it has no right to demand, that these teachers teach in such a way as merely to bring up citizens for the state. A teacher must teach in accordance with true principles of education. It may fairly be questioned whether the state has any right to determine how a teacher shall teach than it has to determine how a farmer shall cultivate the soil, or how a captain shall sail his ship. In the one case the principles of navigation must be the guide, in the other the rules of agriculture, in the third the science of teaching. Within reasonable limits the laws of the art should be supreme. It does not then appear that the teacher is forbidden, whatever the science of education may direct, to mention the Bible or the name of God in his school-room. If Christ is the ideal of manhood in modern civilization, it would seem fair that the teacher in a modern school be not required to limit himself to a reference to lower ideals. The best literature is full of the spirit of Christ, and the best teaching avails itself of that literature and seeks to realize the Christian standard. And if the teacher shall send out his pupils from the common schools with the assurance that there are other and higher things to learn in life than the best books of the school contain, with open minds and heart for whatever instruction the various relations in life, the state, society, the church, can give to them, it will be a sign that he has cared for the continued growth and expansion of their intellect, and still more, for steady striving after higher and the highest things.
Let me in closing illustrate the thought I have to present. I received a letter a few weeks ago, the handwriting of which looked like that of one of my nearest friends; but the lines were so wavering and uncertain I feared at first that he was ill. This is the way the letter ran-I give you a part of it word for word:
"Dear Uncle ELMER,-I hope you are very well.Papa is holding my hand but I say what to write. and K-have two great big dolls.Papa reads to us almost every night. It is 'most time to go to bed.
and it was signed in printed letters all her own by my friend's little five-year-old girl. I don't know when I have received a letter that touched me as did that one from the little wee thing who called me uncle. It is not very much of the world that she has seen and she knows very little of school, but she has found a true philosophy of life for teachers as well as taught. Those little ones, our pupils, put their hands into ours and what they write will bear marks of our guidance. And I know nothing better that we teachers can do than to place our hand in that of the kind Heavenly Father and while putting our own words into the message, as He would have us do, still try our best not to jar or interfere while He writes the lines for us.
SIC UTERE TUO UT ALIENUM NON LAEDAS.
PROF. FLOYD R. MECHEM.
Delivered April 9, 1893.
The sentiment which I have chosen as the starting point. for what I have to say to-day, is contained in one of the old maxims of the law. Maxims have been said to be the condensed wisdom of nations, the crystalization of truths which the experience of ages has painfully and slowly evolved, and which have finally come to be regarded as so self-evident and necessary as to require no other authority than their own inherent force.
Conceptions of truth, however, almost invariably suffer from the attempt to put them into language. The moment they begin to crystalize, that moment they begin to lose their power of growth and expansion. At best, the maxims of one age can but represent the highest conception of the thought and progress of that age, and they need frequent revision and correction to enable them to keep pace with the growth of knowledge. The sententious wisdom of one age, therefore, ought not to be accepted as the best expression of the wisdom of a succeeding age. Maxims are dangerous bases of reliance, for though they may express the truths of to-day they are very apt to express but the half-truths of to-morrow.
The mental and moral condition of the race, like its physical condition, is the result of evolution. Each age shows the high-water mark which the tide of civilization has reached.