Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Religious Education for the Young

the Presbyterian Magazine
February, 1858.
edited by Rev. C. Van Rensselaer, D.D.
Published in Philadelphia by Joseph M. Wilson, p86.

From Household Thoughts: “Religious Education for the Young.”

“...The true idea of religious education may be stated in general terms as consisting in the proper cultivation and improvement of our moral powers; yet not independent of intellectual culture, but in connection with it. While the mental faculties are developed and improved by science and literature, the understanding and conscience must be enlightened with regard to our relations and duties to God, as our Creator, moral Governor, and Redeemer; and also with regard to our personal and social duties, such as sobriety, integrity, justice, and benevolence. And, inasmuch as all systems of religion are not entitled to equal credit, the true idea of religious education requires a careful discrimination between the genuine and the spurious, the divine and human, the true and false.

In religious education properly conducted, science becomes the handmaid of religion, by employing scientific facts and principles in vindicating and illustrating the claims of Christianity. Such an education is, therefore, not only compatible with a thorough literary course, but is greatly aided by such a course. It might easily be shown that (other things being equal) the most thorough and ripe scholars in secular learning, have been those who, while prosecuting their researches, devoted a portion of time daily to the study of the Bible; and further, that their attention to God’s word facilitated their progress in science and philosophy.

But though the true idea of religious education does not exclude or diminish literary or scientific attainments, its special object requires us, in opposition to Deistical sentiments, to hold and teach the divine origin of the Holy Scriptures; to explain the glorious mystery of redemption, which it is the grand object of the Scriptures to reveal; and to inculcate and to enforce those moral principles and precepts which constitute the essence and glory of practical Christianity.”