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the most important have been considered by your Committee, thus speaks of the Hebrew language.
This ancient and peculiar tongue, apart from its claims upon our attention as the vehicle emploved by the sacred penmen to communicate to the world the messages of inspiration, presents a curious object of study to the lover of philological pursuits. It is the oldest language, probably, of which we have any authentic records. It bears every internal mark of being strictly an original, a primitive language. Its vocabulary is limited; but at the same time, it seems wonderfully adapted to the purposes of simple narration, lyric poetry, and the sublimest flights of oriental and inspired imagination. The strength and living glow of its expressions have been the admiration of scholars, and have set at defiance, in the intensely animated pictures they present, the periphrastic coldness of modern times.'
Considering merely their literary character, Professor Stuart asks with great force, 'why the Hebrew Scriptures are not as well worthy of a place in a plan of liberal education, as the writings of Homer and Virgil, of Xenophon and Livy? He goes on to observe, · The Germans, (those great masters of the science of liberal education) have judged that they are. Yes, even they who have renounced the Bible as a divine book, have so judged. They have made the study of the Hebrew Scriptures a part of their plan of discipline, in all their universities; they have done this in their best and most important Gymnasia.' And all this from the mere feeling of consistency, and classic taste. The same enthusiasm which leads them to spend twenty years on the antiquities of Greece and Rome, leads many of them to spend the like time on those of the land of Israel. Here is consistency, at least, if nothing more. But are our plans of education equally consistent ?
With no less energy and interest, Professor Turner, of New York, inquires; “Why are not these works more valued, and their contents more studied and better understood ? How is it that in literary communities, their legitimate claims, as works of talent, are so generally overlooked ? And what is more serious still, how is it that in Christian communities their rightful demands are neglected ? How is it, I would ask, in the language of one whose name as associated with sacred literature, is well known, (Prof. Stuart,) How is it that “ believing the Hebrew Scriptures to contain a revelation from Heaven, they are not to be counted worthy of study/? Shall years of toil and expense be occupied in the study of Greek and Roman history and mythology; shall no efforts be deemed too great to accomplish this purpose ; and yet not one feeble attempt be made to lead the youthful mind to the original source of all true history, and of the only true theology ?" Shall we insist upon our children becoming “ familiarly acquainted with all the actions” of the so called deities “ of Greece and Rome, actions shameful to be recorded, beyond measure shocking to be perpetrated ;” and yet never instruct them in those original oracles, “which unfold the glorious and perfect character of Him in whose sight the heavens are not clean ?” With the same animated writer, I would express my own sentiments in the phraseology of a Hebrew, and declare that “as a sword in my bones," I feel the bitter reproach of such a question. And I beg leave to add the conviction of my own mind, that it is a question which no consistent believer in divine revelation, who reflects with a suitable degree of seriousness on the subject, can answer to his own satisfaction.'
It is often objected that the study of the original Scriptures is professional; that it must be left to the clergy. In reply to this, Professor Stuart asks with conclusiveness, are not Navigation, and Surveying, and Chemistry, and Mineralogy, far more professional than that study which introduces us to subjects of the deepest interest to every immortal veing? Shall the people of this land, professedly and proverbially, of free inquiry, leave themselves dependent on the clergy, for all their knowledge of those books which profess to bring life and immortality to light ? On this point, he thus expresses his own feelings. Much as I respect and love my brethren in the ministry, I do not wish the keys of the kingdom of heaven to be entrusted solely to their hands. This has once been tried, and the shadow of death spread over the nations. The sun of righteousness set, and polar midnight succeeded. No; I would fain have ten thousand times ten thousand laymen in our land who are studying the divine word with all their might, and in the best manner, and who keep a watchful eye on all the authorized interpreters of the same.'
On the whole, your Committee cannot but appeal to the Convention, as literary men, and as members of a Christian community, whether, while they are devising means to elevate and improve our course of classical and scientific studies, they can venture to refuse the Bible a place among those honored works, which are to occupy the days and nights of our youth, and thus remand it to the nursery and the Sunday school, as unworthy of a place in the temple of literature? Whether they are not called upon, in view of the high responsibility they have assumed, to adopt some measures to recommend and promote the thorough study of the Bible in every place of education ? They would respectfully propose that the Convention express a distinct opinion on this subject, and that a Committee, embracing gentlemen, of experience, in our literary institutions, be appointed to prepare and report a plan for a course of biblical instruction, commencing with our common schools, and extending through the academical and collegiate course, which shall embrace the literature and antiquities of the Scriptures.
In behalf of the Committee,
WM. C. WOODBRIDGE, Chairman.