John Marshall Barker

Colleges in America

Published by Good Press, 2019
EAN 4064066161583

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Table of Contents

I cannot be unwilling to avail myself of any opportunity to turn the attention of the Christian public to the Christian College. It is a noble public and an equally noble object. I can conceive of no worthier or more Christian thing than the caretaking of one generation that the next one which must necessarily lie so long under its influence and for which it is therefore so thoroughly responsible, should receive a Christian education.

To put Christ at the center and make Him felt to the circumference (as Bungener said in speaking of Calvin's school policy), is exceedingly difficult. But it is exceedingly important. It is, indeed, vital and pivotal.

The dangers about it are great and ever greater. They come from the general worldliness of all things and everybody in this age of unprecedentedly rapid and splendid material development. They are increased by the growth of speculative infidelity whether of the philosophical or scientific phase. They spring out of everything which lowers the Bible from that supreme and sovereign consideration by which alone it can hold the place in education which the Old Testament economy gave it, and which all the books of all the other book-religions of the world most unquestioningly possess. They are born of all that false theorizing about the limits of government and the liberty of conscience which issues in the demands for utter secularization of every institution of the State, while at the same time the necessities of popular government are demonstrating that education must be by the State. They are intensified by the divided opinion of the church universal, of which the Catholic and Greek sections hold that education must be religious and under the care of the Church; while the State-Church Protestant section holds that it may be religious under certain conditions, and the extreme secularistic protestant wing holds that it cannot be religious because conducted by the State, and a rather diminishing protestant section in free-church nations holds that the higher education should be Christian, while the secondary and primary may safely be left to the secular State.

These dangers are not only imminent but actual. The whole effort to support a Christian education in the public schools is sometimes called a "bootless wrangle." One section is thrown over towards secularism, pure and simple, in recoiling from Church-education exclusive and reactionary. The leading of the little child, the favorite indication of the millennium's arrival, is frustrated amid the clamor of the free thinkers and the uncertainty of the Church and the necessities of the State. We are slowly but surely, if we go on in this way, taking our children out of Christ's arms and our youth from beside His footsteps. And that is at once the most fearful sin against Him, and the most terrible injustice to them, we could possibly commit. Who can do anything to stay this destructive tendency? "God bless him," I would say in Livingstone's spirit, "whoever he may be," that will help to heal this open wound of the world.

I think Mr. Barker's little book will help. It supplies much information carefully collected from scattered sources, given in brief and explicit statements. Its range of themes is wide and upon them all some standard thoughts are given. It is addressed to all readers and should find them among parents (whom it should make patrons), among those who have hearts to pray and those who have hands to help. It will prove to be of rare interest to all whose duty it is to teach, and it has much wise counsel for those who are to study.

The treatment of the function of the College for the cultivation of the moral and spiritual nature (Chapter IV) deserves special attention. Its declarations are firm, its ideals high and its selected opinions apt and forcible. It ought to end the reign of any institution in which religion is not put at the center and kept as efficient as human instrumentalities can make it. The demand for professors of pronounced Christian character and convictions is timely and is fearlessly made.

The discussion of the currents and counter-currents of influences in college life cannot but be useful, with a possibly increased emphasis against the secret societies and a caution against organizations of undergraduates for active partisan work in politics. The time for these fruits is "not yet."

Admirably the author shows that we have the best College material in the world and that it behaves itself best. And there can be no lack of agreement as to the arousing arguments and the closing chapters concerning the usefulness of colleges to the individual and the community. May it serve to kindle and to extend when kindled the wholesome enthusiasm its respected author manifests both by word and work.

Sylvester F. Scovel.

The University of Wooster,
July 9, 1894.


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The American college system is deeply rooted in the past. It will be better understood if we trace briefly its historic connection with the ancient and European seats of learning. Higher education has been promoted among all great nations. Flourishing colleges were founded among ancient people. In the kingdoms of Judah and Israel, schools of the Prophets were located at Bethel, Gibeah, Gilgal, Jericho and Naioth. The Academy of Athens, the Museum of Alexandria, the Athenæum of Rome were once centers of intellectual activity and spread their influence over the civilized world.

The Greek race especially commands our attention for its activity in matters relating to higher education. The Academy of Plato flourished for nine hundred years. The schools of Athens are noted for their great and permanent influence in awakening thought and shedding the light of their teaching among the nations of the world. "So charged," says Cardinal Newman, "is the moral atmosphere of the East with Greek civilization, that down to this day those tribes are said to show to most advantage which can claim relation of place and kin with Greek colonies established two thousand years ago." The influences of the scholastic halls of Plato and Aristotle span the centuries with their light and power.

Here truths were taught that have found universal acceptance. Down to the second century, Athens was a favorite resort for students. The college at Alexandria, where so many of the Fathers of the Church were educated, was founded and carefully organized by Ptolemy two centuries before the Christian era. For six hundred years it exerted a great influence on the youth who gathered from all parts of the civilized world to receive instruction from its eminent professors.

Roman colleges likewise exerted a wholesome influence in their day. They began during the life-time of Quintilian, in the second century, and it continued to be the deliberate policy of Augustus, Vespasian and Hadrian to multiply and extend the influence of endowed schools in Rome and provincial towns. Their object, says Merivale, was to "restore the tone of society and infuse into the national mind healthier sentiments." These Romano-Hellenic schools were so tenacious of life that they continued to flourish down to the fifth century. Owing to the decline of personal morality and the low conceptions of the ends of human life, and other general influences which led to the downfall of the empire, these schools finally degenerated and could no longer survive.

"Some great new spiritual force," says Professor Laurie, "was needed to reform society and the education of the young. That force was at hand in Christianity; and if it very early assumed a negative, if not a prohibitory, attitude to the old learning, it may be conceded that this was an inevitable step in the development of a new ethical idea."

The Christian system of education gradually superseded the pagan system. Christianity fortified the sense of personality and introduced the idea of a broader and deeper sentiment of human brotherhood, which helped to diffuse the spirit of education among the people and awaken in the human mind a sense of its native dignity and power.

There were in the first century such men as Clemens, Ignatius and Polycarp, who employed their talent to build up Christianity and encourage the education of the people. In the second century, "the number of the learned men increased considerably, the majority of whom were philosophers attached to the elective system." It was at the close of this century (181 AD) that the first Christian catechetical school was established at Alexandria, in accord with Christian requirements. Such schools soon became numerous and efficient, and were under the superintendence of the Bishops. The priests, as well as the laity, were educated in them. At the end of the fourth century they had entirely superseded the schools of the grammaticus, when ancient culture became practically extinct.

The monastic schools arose in the fifth century to supplant the Romano-Hellenic schools. Chief among the founders in the West was Benedict, who in 428 AD founded a monastery on Monte Cassino, near Naples. "He had educational as well as religious aims from the first, and it is to the monks of this rapidly extending order, or to the influence which their 'rule' exercised on other conventual orders, such as the Columban, that we owe the diffusion of schools in the early part of the Middle Ages and the preservation of ancient learning. The Benedictine monks not only taught in their own monasteries, but were everywhere in demand as heads of Episcopal or Cathedral schools."[A]

[A] Laurie.

The monastic schools multiplied rapidly throughout Europe and took the lead in education and gained more influence than the episcopal schools. These schools, sheltered by the church, existed from the fourth to the twelfth century for the benefit of the ecclesiastical body. The majority of them did not admit lay instruction until the middle of the ninth century. Education during this period, with few exceptional centers, was crude and unenlightened. The power of the mediæval machinery was such that these schools gave to the clergy only the mere rudiments of learning. The conception of education at first did not embrace the culture of the whole man. It was commonly thought that the religious life opposed the life of the world, and that the temporal life should be one of abnegation and asceticism. It was the belief that human reason could not be trusted to have independent activity, and so dogma was substituted for its free movement. The mind was cribbed and confined by rules, for fear that speculations in philosophy and free investigations would disturb and rationalize theology. Thought was so fettered that philosophy, literature and science were almost forgotten. Everything was done to subserve the faith and suppress heresy. The Latin and Greek classics were denounced as the offspring of the pagan world. It required several centuries for the Christian world to conceive that there was no antagonism between reason and authority, and between Greek and Roman culture and the Christian religion. These schools, however, did a valuable service to the cause of education by transcribing manuscripts and becoming repositories of ancient learning.

The intellectual chaos began to end about the tenth century. The re-establishment of civilization and the revival of learning was still more manifest during the eleventh century, and soon university life became possible. The time was evidently ripe for Europe to awake from its intellectual sleep and begin a new educational development. The general causes which contributed to give fresh impulse to higher education at this time were the growing tendency to organization, the Saracen influence and the desire for higher learning in the more important centers. "The universities were founded," says Professor Laurie, "by a concurrence of able men who had something they wished to teach, and of youth who desired to learn. * * * It was the eternal need of the human spirit in its relation to the unseen that originated the University of Paris. We may say then that it was the improvement of the professions of medicine, law and theology which led to the inception and organization of the first great schools."

The people felt the need of providing and obtaining instruction beyond the monastic and episcopal schools. By the natural development of these, a number of high-grade schools were established which afterwards gave rise to the universities. They came into existence without charter from either ecclesiastical or civil power, and were not controlled or directed by either. The importance of these institutions was soon discovered by both Pope and Emperor, who cultivated friendly relations with these free, voluntary and self-supporting centers of learning and gave them special privileges and encouragement.

Among the first European schools was that of Salerno, in Italy, which was known as a school of medicine as early as the ninth century. The University of Bologna arose at the close of the twelfth century. In 1211 the University of Paris became a legal corporation. Oxford began as a secondary school, and passed to the rank of a university in 1140, and Cambridge was established in the year 1200. Professor Laurie says that "in the course of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries there grew up in Europe ten universities; while in the fourteenth century we find eighteen added; and in the fifteenth century twenty-nine arose, including St. Andrew's (1411), Glasgow (1454), Aberdeen (1477). The great intellectual activity of the fourteenth century, which led to the rise of so many universities, coincides with the first revival of letters, or rather was one manifestation of the revival." The main center of this great intellectual movement was the University of Paris, the mother of universities, which gained pre-eminence in the great studies of theology and philosophy. It was chartered by Philip Augustus in the thirteenth century, and was fostered by France, Picardy, Normandy and England. These united and organized the Faculty of Arts, which became its chief glory. It taught the three arts, Latin grammar, rhetoric and dialectics, known as the trivium. The quadrivium, embracing arithmetic, geometry, astronomy and music, was likewise taught. The Faculty of Theology was created in 1257, that of Law in 1271, and that of Medicine in 1274.

Matthew Arnold says that "the University of Paris was the main center of mediæval science, and the authoritative school of mediæval teaching. It received names expressing the most enthusiastic devotion, the Fountain of Knowledge, the Tree of Life, the Candlestick of the House of the Lord. * * * Here came Roger Bacon, Saint Thomas Aquinas and Dante; here studied the founder of the first university of the empire, Charles the Fourth, Emperor of Germany and King of Bohemia, founder of the University of Prague."

The intellectual lead which belonged to France in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries passed to Italy in the fourteenth century. Some of the universities in Italy ranked among the best in Europe. They were chiefly distinguished for their studies in law and medicine. In the early part of the thirteenth century, the University of Bologna was famous throughout the world, having at one time 12,000 students from all parts of Europe. These universities continued to exert a powerful influence until Catholicism triumphed over the abortive attempts at religious reform, and there settled down over the brilliant Italy of the Renaissance an unprogressive and anti-intellectual influence from which she has never fully recovered.

"The importance of the university in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries," says Matthew Arnold, "was extraordinary. Men's minds were possessed with a wonderful zeal for knowledge, or what was then thought knowledge, and the University of Paris was the great fount from which this knowledge issued. The University and those depending on it, made at this time, it is said, actually a third of the population of Paris. * * * One asks oneself with interest, what was the mental food to which this vast, turbulent multitude pressed with such inconceivable hunger. Theology was the great matter; and there is no doubt that this study was by no means always that barren and verbal trifling which an ill-informed modern contempt is fond of representing it. It is evident that around the study of theology in the mediæval University of Paris there worked a real ferment of thought, and very free thought. But the University of Paris culminated as the exclusive devotion to theological study declined, and culminated by virtue of that declension."

The great business of the universities from the twelfth to the seventeenth century was that of scholastic philosophy, which largely governed their teaching.

The scholastic philosophy was "the legitimate development of the philosophy of Aristotle and his successors, and was the only philosophy possible in its day. Nay, it was an integral essential element in human progress. It taught men to distinguish and define, and has left its impress upon the language and thought of all civilized peoples, 'in lines manifold, deep-graven and ineffaceable.' Out of it has grown our modern civilization."

The schoolmen would freely canvass the deep problems of the mind and soul, but would blindly exclude the new influences at work in society. They had to meet the opposition of the humanists, who made the study of Latin and Greek the basis of culture. The humanists were great writers and artists, who worked for more modern ideas and a newer civilization. They introduced the Renaissance, which was a literary movement that began in Italy in the fourteenth century. It was believed that vital knowledge was gained by knowing oneself, and that the best way to attain this was to study poetry, philosophy, history and all knowledge that was created by the spirit of man. Unfortunately, the knowledge of letters in Italy tended to paganize its adherents. Infidelity spread and immorality abounded in all ranks of society.

The great movement of the Renaissance secured a stronghold in Germany, where its power was extended to the established systems of instruction and utilized in the interests of a purer Christianity. Melancthon and Erasmus and all the chief reformers except Luther, were eminent humanists and friends of classical learning. They were outside the established schools, and were the leading spirits in intellectual culture, so that the Renaissance triumphed with the Reformation. These two forces united and gave spirit and power to the humanists. The influence of the new learning in Germany was marked by comparative freedom from frivolities, skepticism and immoralities. There was a critical and enlightened study of classical literature and a reverent and rational study of the Bible. The literary treasures of antiquity were made to minister to religion. The Reformation also gave fresh impulses to all the schools and institutions of learning. The school teacher and preacher of the gospel joined hands in the common work of education.

The universities, however, under the control of the schoolmen, retrograded and decayed because they chose to remain mediæval. They refused to become the educational agencies of the times, and so failed to be at the head of a great intellectual movement. They could not be induced to assimilate the new studies and make themselves the organ of the Renaissance and the Reformation. The rapid growth of positive and experimental science, however, was fatal to scholasticism. The narrow scholastic spirit was exemplified by Cremonini, who is called the last of the schoolmen, and who was professor at Padua in 1631.

This countryman of Galileo, after the discovery of Jupiter's satellites, judging that this discovery contradicted Aristotle, would never consent to look through a telescope again. One could not have a better incident to end the career of the scholastic philosophy.

The Jesuits adopted a more liberal spirit and method. They established and controlled a large number of universities and schools, and made them the great channels of the movement of the counter-Reformation. Their educational activity gained for them a great reputation for teaching and a large patronage. In 1710, they had 612 colleges, 157 normal schools, 24 universities and 200 missions. They were inspired not so much by the value they placed on culture for its own sake, as to promote the authority of the old religion and prevent heresy.

The powerful initial impulse given to the cause of education by means of the humanists and the reformers in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries began to flag in the seventeenth century, when the Protestant Church, like the Catholic, became cold and petrified. The universities were regarded as appendages of the church, and classical training largely lost its hold in Europe.

The condition of contemporary institutions for superior instruction in the old world is full of promise. The importance of building up great universities is conceded by nearly all nations. In the judgment of Mr. L. D. Wishard, the Foreign Secretary of the College Y. M. C. A., there are 500,000 young men in Asia in the high-class institutions.

The government of Japan, that has lately joined the Western nations in the onward march of civilization, gives enlightened direction to higher education. There are, besides the Imperial College of Tokio, five great secondary schools located in different centers throughout the empire, which serve as feeders to the university. There are 5,000 youth in Christian colleges and schools in the kingdom. In the Christian university at Kioto there are 600 youth pursuing a college education under Christian teaching.

China has always encouraged colleges for the education of her magistrates. "The literary class consisting of the graduates, and those who attend the examinations for degrees, numbering some two and a half millions, are the rulers of China."

There is a growing tendency to universal education in India. "It is computed," says Bishop Hurst, "that in the small area of Calcutta and suburbs there are 28,000 alumni who have completed the curriculum in the five Christian colleges. There are about 2,000 who are alumni or students of the Calcutta University, and there are 1,000 youths besides who are studying up to the matriculation examinations of the university." The English language is the medium of instruction in all these institutions. It may not be wide of the mark to suppose that in all India there are not less than 40,000 natives who have graduated at some school of high grade, and that ten per cent. of the number have passed the university degrees. The number is now more probably 50,000. These men enjoy the highest respect and are the recognized leaders of native thought. Already many are, and many more are to be judges, lawyers, magistrates, professors, teachers, orators, physicians, engineers, merchants, authors and journalists of the country.

The University of Fez, in Morocco, established in the eighth century, is one of the oldest universities outside of Asia. The Mohammedan University at Cairo, in Egypt, has more than 200 instructors and 10,000 students assembled from Europe, Asia and Africa to be instructed in the Moslem faith.