Inaugural Address, Delivered January 1, 1833
by James Blythe, D.D.,
at his Inauguration into Office, as President
of South Hanover College.
Edited with Introduction by Mark Plozay
Dr. James Blythe, the first president of Hanover College, began his distinguished career in education as a pastor at Transylvania University. Blythe became a professor of chemistry at Transylvania, and later its president. John Finley Crowe first met Dr. Blythe as a student at Transylvania University. Blythe was a member of the faculty of the prestigious Lexington Medical School when called to Hanover upon nomination by Dr. Crowe. Dr. Crowe describes Blythe as "a man of ardent temperament, warm in his attachments, firm in his purposes and always reliable. He had no concealment, always frank and explicit in the expression of his sentiments. He had moreover important qualifications for the place which he occupied as the head of the College."(1)
In his inaugural address, Dr. Blythe presented his Christian vision
of the world and the role that Hanover College would play in it. Assuming
an audience of individuals who shared his vision, Blythe set a stage with
liberty, philosophy, philanthropy, and Christianity acting in harmony.
The Providence of God was presented as an all-encompassing and illuminating
director of the affairs of the Christian church, guiding the peoples of
the world and the students and faculty of Hanover College. Blythe considered
the role of education in the West and the continuing need to learn as essential
prerequisites to being an active player in the theater of American society.
Upon setting this stage and describing his vision, Dr. James Blythe began
his tenure as the first president of Hanover College.
It cannot have escaped the most superficial observer, that the whole
world is at this moment in a peculiar state of effort and enterprise. This
spirit has diffused itself over every department of human life.
1st. It has given birth to a new desire for liberty.
In Asia and Europe, from Pekin to Lisbon, the people of every country, and under every form of government, are saying to their rulers, we will have more liberty. And the rulers, though with reluctance, yet with uniformity, are compelled to relax, by little and little, the reins of sovereignty. This announces the ultimate triumph of liberty.
2d. It has given a new direction to philosophy.
The ingenious artisans of the world, in the ten thousand departments of life, have combined to say, we will substitute the labor of the intellect for the labor of the hand. We will multiply our means without increasing our labor. The earth shall yield her full increase. The necessaries of life shall be multiplied as fast as the population of the world advances. Philosophy shall only tender her service to convenience, to comfort and to plenty. Mountains and seas and rivers shall no longer obstruct the car of commerce. Distant climes shall approach and pour their needed bounties into each others bosom. Thus is philosophy becoming the handmaid to religion, and the precursor of the millennium.
3rd. It has called into action a high-toned philanthropy.
A few years ago philanthropy would do little more than weep over human misery unaided, and youthful inexperience untaught and unguided. Now she has but to cast her eye over this world of wo [sic], and step out of her own door, and a thousand openings to good-doing present themselves. She has but to enter, and the best feelings of the heart are gratified, and many of the deepest fountains of human misery are dried up.
4th. It has especially aroused Christian effort.
Christianity seems to have slumbered ever since the Reformation, upon the pillow of an ill-directed faith, unaccompanied by corresponding effort. She too has woke up. And what has she not done? She has done much to redeem the ancient, apostolic, missionary spirit, from the disgrace cast upon it, by that abandoned, shameless mother of harlots, who had filled the world with her missionaries, but it was to promote political and commercial purposes; who converted the heathen by the sword, and substituted in the room of their idolatry, a religion more irrational, shameless, cruel and barbarous, than that which the unhappy converts had abandoned. Christianity has done much to soften the heart of cruelty and oppression; to pour comfort and light into the cottage of poverty and crime; to introduce civilization and the arts of life, and the hope of immortality, and the love of the Saviour into the habitations of cruelty. She has visited the nursery, the school-room, the alms-house, the penitentiary, and the dungeon. She has entered the palace; looked up to the throne; mingled with the court; and substituted diplomacy for war, the voice of reason and of right for the thunder of the cannon. To what else are we to ascribe the fact, that within the last half century many causes of war have arisen among the nations of Europe and have been tranquilized, which, but for the influence of enlightened Christian sentiment, would have deluged half the world in blood? Christianity has taught the world to abhor slavery; to pity the black man in his chains; to take men of every clime and color by the hand, and call them brothers. She has enkindled a light on the western coast of Africa, which is at once to overwhelm that benighted continent in gospel glory, to convert the American master and tyrant into the negroes' friend, and to mark the dark path of the most abandoned of all human character, the slaver. In all these things, the church acknowledges she has but begun: still the work is in glorious progress. Her motto is, The regeneration of the world.
5th. The same enterprising spirit has extended itself to literature.
I am sorry to say, that in this age of activity and good doing, the cause of general or common literature presents but a melancholy picture. While colleges and public seminaries are rising up in every part of our happy land, some of them richly endowed by public munificence, and others left to sustain themselves by their talents, their industry, their manual labour systems, and their consequent and deserved hold on public confidence. While these things cheer the patriot, the scholar, and the Christian, who does not weep, as he travels through the land, to find whole districts without even one common school, and thousands of children rearing up without any knowledge of letters? This is the greatest deformity of the age in which we live. It is to be deeply regretted, especially in America, where public tranquility and social order, to be permanent, must be built on general intelligence. The man who will point out an adequate remedy for this evil will erect himself a monument more durable than brass.
Such, fellow citizens, is an epitomized view of the present state of the world, as it respects the desire of liberty, the progress of practical philosophy, of philanthropy, of Christianity, and of letters.
II. Let us next take a view of the present indications of Providence.
I hope I have not the infelicity of addressing a single individual who does not firmly believe that all the affairs of our world, both great and small, are under the control of infinite wisdom. What do these indications proclaim? Their language at this moment is certainly of a peculiar character. They seem to me to announce the same fact as that which is announced to the audience, by the hurry and bustle of the stage, by the development of the plot, viz.: the speedy dropping of the curtain. I do not say that the world is presently to come to an end, but I do say that independently of the declarations of the word of God on this subject, the whole frame of divine Providence, both toward the nations and the church, as it throws itself upon the eye of philosophical piety, announces the no distant dominion of liberty, of truth, and of righteousness, upon the earth. The approach of that period when the angry passions of nations and of men shall be softened, by the love of the gospel; "when the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid." When this blessedness shall have been accomplished, then shall be heard the voice of the angel who shall swear by him that liveth for ever, "there shall be time no longer."
Hitherto the government of God over our world appears to have been his dominion exercised by fractions, or over fractional parts of the human species: and though doubtless a government of wisdom, yet to imperfect mortals it presented a scheme without a governing principle, a machine moved, not by one, but by many springs. At present, the plan of God's Providence seems to be greatly simplified. His footsteps, though still in the great deep, are less covered by the waves. His gospel is daily becoming more the governing principle of the world. Who does not hail the events of the last quarter of a century? Who does not anticipate the speedy triumphs of Christ over Mohammed, over the Pope, over Jewish prejudice, and the long dominant genius of idolatry?
The gospel was made for the world; and God, in his Providence, is about to make the world for the gospel. In proof of this proposition, we shall mention three facts:
1. God's Providence in directing the talents of men.
The time was when astrology was dignified with the name of philosophy, when alchymy [sic] employed half the literary talents in the world. More lately, visionary and impudent materialists have surfeited the public with their baseless theories of phrenology, sympathy, equivocal generation, and optimism; but all these have passed, or are passing away. While the visionary speculator disgraces himself, and bewilders his readers, by attempting to point out the goods and the bads, the virtues and the vices, the acuteness or the stupidity of his neighbors, by elevations or depressions on his cranium, the man of sober and useful intellect blesses the world with a system of mental philosophy. While the speculative man of the pulpit talks of rational religion, of disinterested benevolence, of human depravity as only to be predicated of man when he has arrived at such maturity as to have become capable of moral action, of human ability as alone "creative of obligation;" his humble and pious neighbor, while he weeps over such pitiful driveling, sits down at the feet of Jesus, and from thence goes forth and preaches Christ, "the power of God, and the wisdom of God." While the semi-Atheist talks of the power of the earth, or the water, to produce animals or vegetables, without any parent stock, the sober-minded philosopher sees God in all that have life, believes that at first he made all things very good, and that in him they live and move and have their being. While the theorist talks of sailing through the air, the practical man constructs a rail road; or while he talks of lunar influence upon the earth, upon vegetables and animals, his neighbor builds a plough, by the use of which the earth is made to produce more bountiful crops. While one patriotic philosopher labors to erect a college, at which the sons of the rich may squander their talents, their money, and their morals, his neighbor, feeling the demand, and the impulse of the times, builds up a manual labor institution, where the sons of the poor and the rich meet together and are taught to ennoble and enlighten their minds, while they invigorate their bodies; opens up a way by which they may enter the pulpit or the senate chamber, make their way to the forum or to the sick man's chamber, as an angel of health; shows them how they may become great and wise and good, without being a burthen [sic] to their parents or to a generous public. Practice is evidently the growing spirit of the age. It is not what is new, but what is true; not what will astonish, but what will benefit mankind; not what will gain the appellation of talented, original, and bold thinkers, but what will enroll our names among the lovers of truth, and the benefactors of our species.
These are some of God's providences over the intellects of the world, by which time and distance are almost annihilated; by which the sea has become the property of far inland countries; by which the inhabitants of distant lands may become neighbors; by which the ignorant husbandman, while he ploughs and sows, may plough and sow in hope; by which the pious father, weighed down with poverty and care, is enabled to indulge the hope that he shall see a beloved son trained up for usefulness, and hear him proclaim Christ; by which the gospel shall be preached in the ends of the earth; by which wealth shall be rendered humble, kind, and sympathetic, and poverty be stripped of half its horror; by which the light of science, and the more glorious light of the gospel may visit every land, and the whole race of man be as one family, and with one voice say, "our Father who art in heaven."
2d. The Providence of God as manifested in the diseases of our world.
An important lesson appears to me to have been impressed upon the world by the doings of God; especially during the last quarter century, viz.: the universal obligation of benevolence and sympathy, irrespective of climate, or government, or color. Nothing tends to bring mankind so immediately upon an equality as common suffering. Prosperity renders us haughty, independent, and separates man from man. General and unavoidable suffering creates a furnace in which the whole community are digested into one mass. Until within the last twenty years, so far as I know, there was known in our world but one disease, which would be called a disease of the world; that is, a disease which raged irrespective of climate or season. Against this disease, the ingenuity of man has pretty much thrown around himself a shield. You know I allude to the small pox. Within twenty years the great sovereign of the universe has called for another servant to proclaim his displeasure against sin, and to awaken the sympathies of one portion of the world with every order. The sending forth of the cholera, like many of the recent dispensations of God's Providence, seems to be an appeal to the world. The cholera is a disease for the world. It operates with an equal hand among the frosts of the north and the burnings of the south; during the heat of August and the cold of December. This is not a New Orleans or yellow fever voice, which is rarely heard beyond middle latitude. It is the voice of God to the world. It is the "terror by night, the arrow that flieth by day, the pestilence that walketh in darkness, the destruction that wasteth at noon-day."
By it God says to the world, It is in me ye live. Not because you are surrounded with a balmy, bracing atmosphere, or quench your thirst at the pure mountain stream. I am the God of health and of life. When God thus speaks to man he intends to be heard and obeyed, and we have no doubt but that in the great cities of the world, and especially in America, the cholera has produced more confession of sin, more dependence upon God, more thanksgiving, more flowing together in acts of sympathy and good feeling, between the high and the low, the rich and the poor, than would have been produced by twenty years of health and prosperity.
We cannot now see it, but we have no doubt this afflicting disease is the precursor of great blessedness to our world. And when it operates, it will operate upon the scale of the world; for there is not a more invariable law of God's government, or gospel, than that, "though weeping may endure for a night, yet joy cometh in the morning."
3d. The Providence of God as it respects the languages of the world.
Who does not know the obstructions which the multiplicity of languages has cast in the way of good national feeling, of commerce, of science, and the almost insurmountable difficulties which the same diversity has thrown in the way of the consecrated missionary of the cross? The question occurs, is this to last forever? Are the curse and the rebellion at the tower of Babel to descend to the latest ages? We hope not. The eye of speculative philosophy, a few years ago, saw the evils arising out of the multiplicity of languages, and furnished the world with what was called a universal alphabet, by which it was proposed all nations should hold intercourse. The general principle was, that signs should be used, not for words, but for things, as is the case with the Chinese language, and in ordinary arithmetic and algebra. The scheme, though plausible, was never attempted to be put into practice, and has been forgotten. The question again returns, is the world to labor under this evil perpetually? I repeat it, I hope not. For which opinion I have two reasons. It is well known that one of the most potent principles that has governed the world, and especially Europe and America, has been commerce. A desire to extend or to monopolize trade, has been the prolific source of most of the wars of Europe and America for two hundred years. How has the struggle resulted? Why, seven-eighths of the commerce of the whole earth are in the hands of those who speak the English language. Is there a port or country in the world, which is not visited by American or British vessels? Every such vessel, while in port, is a school of the English language. Every article bought and sold, is bought and sold in English, or that language has been employed either directly or remotely, in the transaction. Most of the British and American seamen speak no other language, and they are often on shoremingling with the people, for weeks and months together, and thus, each one, for the time, is a teacher of the English language. The high estimation in which the American and the English are held, by all nations, contributes to make it a matter of ambition to be able to speak the English language.
It is well known that the power which the Romans once exercised over the nations of the earth, gave to the Latin language a universality, which is felt even at this day, in every language and country of Europe. A similar impetus is about to be given to the English language, not by arms, but by a much more durable power, the power of commerce. I therefore conclude that the English language will, to a great extent, be the language of the world at some distant period, unless God, in his Providence, should wrest commerce out of the hands of the Americans and British, and transfer it elsewhere.
But there is another consideration on this subject, of no less importance, which goes still further to prove our position. It is well known that few things attract so much attention at present as the missionary spirit with which God has recently blessed his church. And no one who confides in the promises of God hesitates for a moment to believe, that the spirit of the gospel is sooner or later to guide and bless the world. In the providence of God, this grand missionary work is, in a great measure, committed to the charities and labors of those who use the English language. Every American and English missionary, who goes forth to evangelize the nations, carries with him the English language and English Bibles; and he appears before a darkened world with all the commanding influence imparted to him, by being an American or an Englishman. Hence every British missionary station is slowly but certainly assuming the character of a British colony. The Sandwich Isles have at present the appearance of an American colony; and this is true of all American missionary stations; and Africa, at no distant period, is to follow in this glorious train. Indeed, most of the missionary stations in the world are so many grand seminaries in which the English language is taught, and it seems to me as though the diffusion of the English language, as widely as possible, ought to form part of the labor of every American or British missionary, that thus the difficulty of access to the heathen may be perpetually lessening. A question here presents itself, which we have not time to discuss, but which surely merits discussion. Can Christianity ever become the religion of the world, while these countless languages and dialects are casting their almost insuperable difficulties in the pathway of the missionary?
Viewing all this effort of talent, and these indications of Providence,
we proceed to inquire,
III. What are our present duties in the West?
That Western America presents an aspect that never was presented in any part of the world before, will not be denied by any person at all acquainted with the subject. When before did four millions of people, coming from all quarters of the globe, and within the short space of half a century, embody themselves into similar religious communities, and convert an unbroken forest into fields, and towns, and cities? When did more than half a million of families all at once demand for their children the benefit of seminaries and colleges?
Before I enter into a statistical view of the state of literature in the West, I have to make a preliminary remark. If I am not mistaken, the time has arrived in our country when in the opinion of the intelligent part of the community, neither the pulpit, the bar, nor the office of the physician can be any longer occupied by any but by men of science, and to some extent, of letters. That this is true, is demonstrated by the following facts. There is not a religious denomination in our free and happy country without its literary and theological seminaries. In most of the states, these institutions have been smiled upon and fostered by legislative enactments. All this is as it should be. And as the world stands at this time, to talk of breaking down a sectarian spirit, or preventing the influence of any denomination by denying to any institution the facilities of conferring literary honors, to say the least of it, is an infringement upon equal liberty. Such policy, whether pursued by state legislatures, or by rival literary institutions, never has, and never will attain its object. In America at least, the human mind is like the palm tree - the more it is pressed, the more it expands and thrives. But not only have we theological schools and colleges founded chiefly by sectarian munificence, but law schools are multiplying all over our country; and our medical halls are numerous and crowded. All these facts put together form an announcement of public sentiment, which appears to us conclusive. It is, that the three leading professions of our country must be filled with scientific men. And when society shall have received its most perfect form, then shall stand in company the man who twines the cord that binds the soul of man to eternity and he who, in the name of the great lawgiver of the universe, helps to administer justice, and the enlightened and sympathetic physician, who, while he enters the room of disease, carries in his hand the lamp of medical science, and has in his heart that piety which directs his dying patient to heaven. I repeat it, the testimony of the public is, that these concerns are of too sacred a character to be, any longer, committed to the hands of ignorance.
You will therefore accompany me in a short statistical view of the condition of learning in the West. There are in what may be called Western America 4,000,000 inhabitants. Now, supposing you allow one physician, one lawyer, and one divine to every 4000 inhabitants, which, upon an average, will constitute 666 families. To meet the wants of this 4,000,000, you ought to have at your public seminaries at this time 3000 students, preparing themselves for some one of the three learned professions; to say nothing about the additional number who ought to be qualifying themselves as statesmen and teachers. I ask, have you the half of this number at all your public schools in Western America? One of two things must take place. Either these important functions mentioned above must continue to be performed by ignorant and unqualified men, or the number of your students must be doubled.
But, to come nearer home, Indiana had at the last census 343, 031 inhabitants. At present there cannot be less than 400,000. To meet the present demand for literary men, there ought to be at your public schools 350 or 400 young men. Have you more than half that number? And what political man or enlightened friend of Indiana or of science is prepared to say that these 3 or 400 young men are to be educated at one seminary?
We are happy to find that the late legislature of Indiana have been actuated by a noble and liberal policy, as it respects the institution at South Hanover. They have not suffered themselves to be governed by a narrow and selfish policy. They have correctly thought that a monopoly of literary power would be as dangerous as any other monopoly. They have not been willing to acknowledge the right of primogeniture in colleges; but have so enlarged and amended our charter as to confer on the manual labor seminary of South Hanover the style and power of a college. We think we can venture to say, in behalf of the Board of Trustees and the Faculty, that, feeling conscious of our devotedness and power, the legislature and the public shall not be disappointed as to the elevated standard of literature which will be adopted at South Hanover College.
All that is wanting are funds to enlarge our library, to add to our mathematical, philosophical, and chemical apparatus; - a large and commodious building having been already erected by the unparalleled enterprise and industry of the corporation. For these necessary funds we look up to the state and a generous public; for we fearlessly pronounce it, that if any school ought to be confided in and patronized by public enactments and private munificence, it is a manual labor college.
But there is another subject relative to education, which I am willing
to grant is of the most vital importance. It relates to common school education.
The statistics of a neighboring state, viz.: Kentucky, as it respects this subject, are of the most appalling character. Our facts are deduced from returns made by the assistant marshals engaged in taking the last census of that state. Full certified returns were received from 78 out of 83 counties, which show that there are in these counties but between 11 and 1200 English schools, in which schools there were, in the summer of 1830, 31,834 out of 139,142 in all the counties, between the ages of 5 and 15 years, going to school; leaving 107,308, of the same ages, not going to school. Now, what is to be the condition of Kentucky in twenty years, if this state of things be permitted to remain? In that state there are 107,308 children growing up without any knowledge of letters. Make a deduction of twenty or thirty thousand, in hope there may have been some mistake made by the marshals in their returns; still you have more than one half of the children in the state of Kentucky not going to school at all. Compare Kentucky with New York, as it respects common education. In New York the number of children between the ages of 5 and 16, reported for 1831, was 497,593. The number at school the same year was 499,424. Surplus at school in New York, above the entire number of children between 5 and 16, 1916. How cheering the prospect in the latter case! How appaling [sic] in the other! Is Indiana in a better condition, as to common education, than Kentucky? I hope it is. But who is prepared to prove to us today, that one half of the children in Indiana are now going, or ever have been going to school? Surely means ought to be taken to ascertain the real state of things, as it respects common education; and if it be as bad as it is with some of our neighbors, which I greatly fear, the most vigorous efforts ought to be made by every patriot, parent, and Christian, to have the evil remedied. It ought not to be forgotten that a greater curse cannot fall upon a country, and especially upon a republican, voting community, than to suffer the people to go uneducated.
I have thrown my thoughts on this subject before the public in that state from which I have lately removed. Suffice it at this time to say, there are thousands of children in the West, and probably in this state, whose parents are too poor, or too much scattered from one another, or perhaps too regardless of the whole matter, to have their children educated upon the ordinary plan of English schools. In those states where there is no school system incorporated with the civil government, as in New England, how are these children to be educated? This is a question of deep import, and ought to be so considered by every statesman, by every parent, and especially by every Christian.
Can an interest so vital to society be safely confided to parents? The experience of Kentucky answers the question in the negative.
I will venture to say, the blessings of common education can never be imparted to the numerous children of Indiana, by the common method of conducting English schools. The only effective plan that has ever occurred to me, is that of itinerating schoolmasters. In parts of our country where people live so contiguous to each other as that a reasonable support can be given to a schoolmaster, one such teacher upon the present plan is required for at least every four miles square, as two miles is as far as children can conveniently walk. If a person be employed who is at all qualified, the expenses will be so great as to put it out of the power of poor people to meet the demand. So the education of their children will be wholly neglected. To remedy this evil, I would propose that during eight months in the year, beginning with March, the same man should teach two hours in each day, at three places, four miles distant from each other. Say at No. 1, he should commence at 8 o'clock, A.M.; teach until ten, and travel four miles, and arrive at No. 2 at eleven o'clock; teach until one, P.M.; travel four miles again, and open school at No. 3 at three o'clock, and teach until five o'clock. This will close the business of the first day. Let him commence on the next day at No. 3, and proceed back; and thus every day in the week, except the Sabbath. We have no hesitation in saying that on this plan of spending only two hours in the day six days in the week, in school, most children would learn more in eight months, than by spending six or eight hours in school five days in the week, during the whole year; leaving four months in the year, for them to be employed as auxiliaries to their parents in their ordinary business. Upon this plan, the same man may spread the blessings of common education over 48 square miles, whereas upon the present plan his influence can be felt only over 16 square miles. Besides, upon the plan of itinerating schoolmasters, the expenses to parents would be considerably diminished, and still better salaries would be given, and consequently better talents employed. This plan may operate with advantage in every part of the country. But to me it seems indispensably necessary in the border and more thinly settled regions.
I have said the education of children is of such vital importance, it is not safe to confide it to parents. We have examples, from the earliest times, of states exercising a supervision over this matter, and so salutary has such an oversight been in a large district of our beloved country, that it is difficult, if not impossible, to find an uneducated person, born and brought up in New England. How may a similar result be brought about in Indiana? Not by permitting the present school system to progress. I would respectfully suggest to the authorities of the state, the trial of an experiment, for one or two years, upon some of the most destitute parts of the country. Let school committees, consisting of about three persons each, be raised. Let a school fund be created and $200 dollars be put at the disposal of each committee, by the state. With $100 a man, competent to teach reading and writing, can be procured to serve for eight months in the year. With $50 all necessary books and stationary can be procured, and $50will be more than sufficient to meet the expenses of the teacher in boarding. The necessary houses might be put up by a few days' labor in the several neighborhoods. $10,000 of a school fund, created by the state and put at the disposal of such committees as mentioned above, would furnish the country with fifty teachers, which, upon my plan of itinerating schoolmasters, would extend the blessings of common English education over 2,400 square miles. On the common plan, the same number of teachers would cover only 800. I would say with Dr. Franklin, on a more sublime but certainly not a more important occasion, "let the experiment be made."
There is still another subject, to which I have once or twice alluded, but to which I must more particularly call the attention of my audience. That is the subject of manual labor in schools. It is well known that in most of the colleges of the United States a great amount of money is necessary to enable a young man to complete his education. At the same time there is much endangerment of morals, arising as much from the manner in which the students spend their hours of relaxation, as from any other cause. There is not one young man in a hundred who does not, for the preservation of his health, require two or three hours of vigorous bodily exercise, every day. Is it not strange that among the improvements in the management of colleges, of which we boast, it should have occurred to no one, till lately, to ask the following questions? Is there no means of turning those hours of relaxation to some profitable account? Do not all the sports in college put on, in some way, the form of games? Is it possible for a company of warm-blooded young men to engage in any sport, where victory is the object, and not thereby be surrounded by temptations too hazardous to be encountered, and too numerous to mention? Who is prepared to prove that the love of play and the desire for victory, which have been contracted in a college campus, have not been the latent seeds of that noxious growth which has sprung up in the bosom of the cheat, the gamester, and the son of lawless ambition? Can the Faculty of any institution, who conduct things in this way, appeal to God that they are obeying the apostle's injunction, "abstain from all appearance of evil?" Besides, how can the sons of poor men, whose fathers are, by daily labor, earning their college expenses, or the beneficiaries of some benevolent society, whose funds are in part composed of the widow's mite, justify it to God and their own consciences, or to any principle of honorable feeling, to spend two or three hours in each day, in an idle saunter, or vitiating play. Is there no remedy? The manual labor system presents an easy and permit me to say the only effectual remedy.
Again, it is well known how many of our most promising young men leave college with emaciated, broken constitutions. In most instances, it is not because they have studied too many hours in any month, or session; for with proper and regular habits of exercise, as a duty, and in compliance with college regulations, the same amount of study might have been accomplished without the incurment of any bodily evil. In many instances, it is not so much the want of exercise, as the want of daily regular exercise, that dyspepsia and other bodily diseases are produced. And if I mistake not, such is the excitement produced in the college campus, that the exercise is too violent and protracted to answer the purpose, either of bodily health or of renovated mental energy. The only remedy is the manual labor system. It presents exercise as a duty, in a double point of view. First, as a preservative to health, without which the most cultivated mind is in a great measure useless; and secondly, as a compliance with a salutary college regulation, by which every moment of time is made to turn to a good account.
The object of our college is, to furnish the literary departments of society with cultivated men. In doing this, it is well known that the resort must be had to the grand source of talent, the poorer class of society. Thus it has hitherto been. And for reasons, of a physical as well as moral character, thus it will continue to be. To poor candidates for the civil occupations of life, the manual labor system presents peculiar claims. Poor and pious young men who are seeking the gospel ministry, find aid in the sympathies and charities of a religious public. Not so other young men of talents. For this and many other reasons which might be mentioned, had we time, if any school ought to meet with public patronage, and legislative enactments, it is manual labor schools. They put education within the power of the poorest man's son. They cherish a noble spirit of self-support and independence, which, when once lost, is scarcely ever regained. These schools say to the delicate, infirm youth, whose frail casket often contains a jewel of inestimable worth, Do not break to pieces, by protracted study or fitful play, but build up and strengthen, by daily regular manual labor, that fragile frame upon which your future energies are to operate, to the blessing of the world. They speak louder still to beneficiaries seeking the gospel ministry, and they now speak to every such student in the whole church. It is the glory of South Hanover College, that there is no beneficiary connected with it, who does not, with his own hands, earn a large portion of his support. Is this, even generally, the case in any but in manual labor schools? If not, let every such beneficiary say, I disdain for one day to hang alone on public charity. I will no longer help to exhaust that fund which should be employed in sending the gospel to the heathen.
On the subject of manual labor schools, I feel an interest not felt on any other subject connected either with the church or state. I would say to the liberal patrons of talented poverty in civil life, is it not probable, nay certain, that your young friends would appear on the forum, or in the council chamber, with more dignity and effect, if they should carry with them a noble consciousness that they had created their own sun, and were basking in their own rays? To all the Education Societies of our church and all their benevolent patrons, I would say, you have done nobly. You have furnished the Lord's vineyard with many laborers. You have blessed the heathen. But your schemes, though perhaps as wise as the times would have given birth to, are all marked with many imperfections. The manual labor plan proposes to train up men for the church and also for the state, who can endure hardness, who feel that noble independence which self-sustainment inspires; who can sympathize with laboring people, for they have labored; who, if duty demands, can live on coarse fare, for it has been the food of their youth. When these things shall be so, and they never can be so but by the agency of manual labor schools; when this is to be the training of those who are to legislate in our land; legislation will no longer be, what it has sometimes been, a curse to the land and an outrage to heaven. When this shall be the training of those called to obey the Saviour's command, "Go ye into the world, and preach the gospel to every creature," then, and not till then, will this command be obeyed.
South Hanover college presents peculiar claims to the attention of the pious youth of the West, who are seeking the gospel ministry. At South Hanover is located the Theological Seminary under the patronage and supervision of the Synod of Indiana. This institution is based upon the same strictly Calvinistic principles as is the Theological Seminary at Princeton. In it the same course of study is pursued. The Confession of Faith is made a text book, and the subjects are taken up in the order of that system; other books being freely referred to. It is intended that the Theological Seminary of Hanover shall be, to the churches in the West, what Princeton is to the churches in the East. At South Hanover young men may commence or complete their literary course, and progress with their theological studies, without changing their location, and under able and approved professors, with the aid of a well selected though small library. Thus, these young men will be trained up with western feelings and habits, and be presented to the churches as the firm supporters of the doctrines of the Reformation, as set forth in the works of Baxter, and Owen, and Witherspoon, &c. &c.,(3) and in the incomparable standards of our church.
Finally, as President of South Hanover college, I shall not inquire into the sectarian views of any young men who may be put under my care, nor attempt to bias the minds of the students, as to induce them to become Presbyterians. This, as a minister of the gospel, I have never done; much less will it become me to do so as President of a literary institution. Still, infidelity, that bane of youth, and the love of novelty and metaphysical theology, the bane of the church, shall both be guarded against, and the great practical doctrines of the gospel be constantly and warmly pressed upon every pupil. The Bible shall be a text book, and form the base of our moral science.
We hold it to be a sound principle, that the college which does not make the cultivation of the heart a primary object had better never have been founded. Such will prove a curse to the world.
I am not to be considered as having secularized myself by accepting this presidency. I hope to preach while I have strength, and I wish it to be distinctly understood that as a Presbyterian, I feel myself bound, firmly though mildly to adhere to and promote, in the church to which I belong, an adherence to the doctrines of the Reformation, as expressed in our excellent standards, unsophisticated by any glosses whatever, and to our form of church government. To the maintenance of both, I have solemnly sworn. I pray that God may so enlighten and strengthen me, that I may neglect no duty, nor ever make a covenant with sin or error.
2. James Blythe. Inaugural Address (Cincinnati: McMillan and Clopper Printers, 1833).
3. Richard Baxter (1615-1691), English Puritan minister; John Owen (1616-1683), English Puritan minister;
John Witherspoon (1723-1794), Scottish-American Presbyterian minister
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