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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 1

Simple Reading Lefended

Simple Reading Lefended,

Some contend that the mere reading of the Bible in schools, without note or comment, is an advantage so doubtful as not to be worth contending for. It is astonishing to hear this said by any professing Christian. To be consistent they must hold that that portion of divine service in every church where scripture is merely read is meaningless, and that the reading of the Bible in a household is of no account. But surely any one may learn from the mere reading of the Bible that God is to be loved with all the heart, and soul, and mind. Surely any one may learn that we are to love our neighbor as ourselves. Is it a doubtful advantage for a child to hear the words, Honor thy Father and Mother."? I have been present at the opening of one of our High Schools while the rector reads a portion of Scripture, the pupils meanwhile ranged in lines opposite, and the teachers by his side, prayer was reverently offered; and one could only feel assured that instead of being of doubtful advantage, the exercise was wholesome and profitable, such a manner of opening school seems calculated to aid definitely in the maintenance of discipline, not to speak of higher results. Scripture says of itself. "The entrance of thy word gives light. . . The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple." Why should not the advantage enjoyed in our High schools be extended to all of them?

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Judge Storer, in the famous Cincinnati case, 1870, says on this point, "Nor do we think that the mere reading of the Bible, without Comment, can be deemed an act of worship in the commonly received definition. The lessons selected are in all probability those which elevate the mind and soften the heart—an exercise not only proper but desirable to calm the temper of the children, while it impresses the truth of personal responsibility for good or evil conduct. It furnishes a perfect standard of moral rectitude, not to be found elsewhere, which is immutable as it is authoritative." He goes on to claim that the Bible may be properly read for its moral teaching,—its history, its geographical descriptions, "its pure Faxon English, so simple that every ordinary capacity may be instructed." He lays it down that it may well form a part of a school course from its antiquity, its bearings on modern travel and discovery, as well as from its historical value, and continues, "There is to be no censorship over Latin and Greek classics, or German and French literature, however, exceptionable may be the production, the crusade is against the Bible, and the Bible only,—the first printed volume after types were invented, a book which from its first publication in Latin has been translated and is now circulated in more than 200 languages, a volume recognised by every civilised government as sacred, and has ever retained as contradistinguished from all other books the name it bears—the Bible." In this