The Bible In Schools -- By: J. H. Seelye

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 013:52 (Oct 1856)
Article: The Bible In Schools
Author: J. H. Seelye

The Bible In Schools1

Rev. J. H. Seelye

There is no tendency among us to revolutionize our present theory of government. The American public are content with this theory as it is; and whether our civil institutions would satisfy us better if formed upon a radically different plan, is a question which no special interest is felt in discussing. There are, however, many cases arising where the precise application of this theory is a much disputed point. How should it regulate domestic servitude? In what relation does it stand to a protective tariff? Does it authorize or conflict with the doctrine that a certain portion of our public domain may be given away to furnish homes for the homeless? What does it permit or prohibit respecting laws for preventing intemperance? These, and other questions, relating solely to the application of our theory of government, have awakened a profound interest and an animated discussion. The subject of the Bible in schools belongs to this class, and is exciting much feeling at the present time. We propose to examine this in the present Article, hoping to

bring out some of those principles upon which the whole matter must ultimately be adjusted.

The question before us does not relate to the Divine authority of the Bible, nor to the propriety of giving religious instruction to the young. It is admitted that the sacred Scriptures came from God; it is also conceded that children should, very early, be made acquainted with their Divine teachings. The simple question which we have to answer is, whether this instruction should be wholly left to the parents, the church, the special religious teachers of the child, or whether it should be incorporated as a fixed element in a public and secular system of education. Ought the Bible, as the word of God, to be read in our public schools? Ought the doctrines and the duties of the Bible to be taught in our public schools? These are the only points now before us.

In discussing this subject, however, a wide field has to be surveyed. How shall we determine what ought to be done, in a system of public education? The ought is never a question of expediency, but always of duty. It is not therefore to be settled by a calculation of questionable and changing advantages, but only by the attainment of unquestioned and unchanging principles. To determine what an individual, in any given case, ought to do, we must first attain some general principle for his action, and then settle the particular conduct in conformity to this. So also of a society, a community, a state. Whenever we speak of duty, or of something which ought to be done, we settle it, or at ...

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