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truth which shall guide it, and to impart to those who are mentally alert the motive which shall utilize their knowledge and gifts in the service of mankind.
The pulpit thus is enlarged in range and emancipated from bondage. It no longer expends its force in defending a system of doctrines against objection, and in showing that they may reasonably be believed. But it takes the living truth and makes it real to life, thus most cogently defending it. It restores the history of the human Jesus in its actual detail, so that it has gospel as well as epistle. The type of preaching to-day, to which, of course, there are many exceptions, as at any former time to the prevalent type, is the interpretation and application of spiritual Christianity by the aid of all the light which God's ways in nature and history afford. In comparison with almost any period of the past there is greater comprehensiveness and a real deliverance from yokes of bond
It may be said, however, and it is often implied, that while the range of topics suitable to the pulpit is widened, yet the same subjects are so thoroughly treated elsewhere that there is little interest in what the preacher has to say about them. We have a true respect for the intelligence of our fellow-citizens, but, at the same time, believe that the reading of the vast majority of those who attend church will not exhaust their interest in the preacher's views. The religious newspaper is for news of organizations and churches, with occasional discussion on social and moral questions so brief that the reader's appetite is only sharpened for more. The magazines are filled with stories and sketches, interspersed with articles on the public aspects or the controverted forms of a few religious movements. Such articles are not as widely read as others of a more popular character. Books pertaining to subjects which are suitable to the pulpit are read scarcely at all except by specialists. Besides, as we have already said, the more people read and become interested, the more strongly disposed they are to get a religious interpretation of what they read and talk about. The preacher has a decided advantage when he can assume a knowledge equal with his own on subjects which have a relation to Christianity, and of which they and he are seeking the controlling use or principle.
Canon Farrar, in the passage we have quoted, remarks that "there was a time when to most hearers the sermon was the Bible, the history, the romance, the newspaper, and the political harangue, all in one." We are curious to know when that time was. We should like to see a sample of one of those remarkably comprehensive and exciting discourses. Perhaps the Canon means that while we now have sermon, Bible, history, romance, newspaper, and political harangue, there was a time when people had only sermon and Bible, and that these filled the place now filled also by history, romance, newspaper, and political harangue. The remark may, however, suggest the thought that these additional sources of inter
est have a tendency to take just so much away from interest in church and preaching. The apprehension is groundless. Only irreligious interests can draw men away from Christianity. The social and political movements of the world, past and present, for which history, romance, newspaper, and political harangue stand, are related to religion, and require its interpretation. And besides, it is a law of the mind that the multiplication of intellectual interests does not leave less energy for each, but makes the mind more active in all it touches, while a limitation which approaches narrowness creates stagnation through monotony.
Canon Farrar opened his article by alluding to the dullness of modern sermons, as if it were a new complaint. "It has become," he says, a fashion of society to speak of the weariness and emptiness of preaching. To listen to a sermon is jestingly recommended as the surest soporific.” If any jest is ancient and endowed with perpetual motion more than another, it is this. It is a jest which will doubtless have its occasion till the millennial dawn. It probably has more vitality in England than in America, for the average preaching of the Church of England is but little, if any, more wakeful than it was when Sydney Smith characterized the discourses of the preachers of that church as nothing but Bible and water. But there are preachers and preachers, and, in comparison of types, the present with the former, there cannot be a doubt that the later type has more scope, more intelligence, and more power. What Canon Farrar himself says about sermons formerly preached on atonement and retribution and the change which has occurred refutes his argument concerning the diminishing power of preaching.
In a word, then, we maintain that the pulpit, in its own sphere, has ample room. While it does not profess to make its province all knowledge, while it does not discuss farming, electrical engineering, deep-sea dredging, or Darwinism (all of which, however, furnish illustration), it does occupy the field of religion as truth and as life. And in respect to its great theme, it is now in part emancipated from former limitations, and is gaining, with all progress, new and more commanding points of view from which to find the correspondences of Christian truth with human life.
PUBLIC READING OF THE SCRIPTURES.
A PARAGRAPH in a recent number of the "Old Testament Student " recommends the custom of making more or less extended comments while reading a passage of Scripture in the public worship of the church. In our opinion, however, such comment should be the exception rather than the custom. It is admitted in the paragraph that peculiar gifts of mind are necessary to achieve the highest success in scattered or running comment. But peculiar gifts are needed to achieve any success whatever in such a practice. The rule should be to make no remarks, either explan
atory, instructive, or hortatory, when a passage of the Bible is being read in immediate connection with public worship. There are proper times for exposition of Scripture. Expository may profitably supplement textual and topical preaching. An extended section of the Bible may be made the subject of instruction and persuasion at that part of the services when attention is definitely called to such objects. The second service of the Lord's day, the midweek meeting of the church, the meetings of teachers, and the sessions of the Sunday-school are also suitable occasions for explanatory and practical comments on portions of Scripture. But the place which readings from the Bible have in the midst of public worship and as part of it is not appropriate to comment. The thoughts of the congregation are disposed for worship. There has already been prayer and praise. The reading is to be followed by the prayer of thanksgiving, confession, and adoration. Scripture at that time is read as an adjunct of worship, and is listened to as the authoritative word of God, speaking out of its own dignity and divineness to the humble worshiper. If reverently and intelligently read, it may be trusted to make its own impression without the aid of interjected remarks. The remarks may be correct as explanation, and proper enough as application, but the transition into comment and back to the word of God is unnatural. The contrast is painful. A listener's mind is jolted along, bumping every moment against the obstacle of a needless if not an irrelevant remark. The verse read is of stately diction, the observation is colloquial; the truth announced is profound, the explanation is superficial; the sentence heard has that inimitable quality which is called Scriptural, the comment is destitute of any fine quality but is only a bald comment. It is as if one personating a character of Shakespeare's, attempting to render in his own words and very spirit the thought of the dramatist, should halt now and then to explain that there are various readings of a certain line, that allusion is made to an obsolete custom, that a popular proverb is quoted, or that in the locality described other important events had occurred several centuries before, and then resume the tone and manner from which he had broken off. In a lecture on Othello such explanations would be entirely appropriate, but not in a personation. Reading in public worship should be not so much as a personation, but no less than a reproduction, of the truth in its original, simple, natural impression, without impeding the progress or reducing the elevation of the truth. A closer comparison to scattered comments is the practice of one who, when he is reading a fine poem aloud, with cadence, rhythm, tone, expression in keeping, stops now and then at the end or in the middle of a line to read a foot-note, and then tries to resume where and as he left off. It may be doubted if there are five clergymen alive who can so weave in phraseology, suggestion, and tone with the diction and thought of Scripture that there shall be no loss of spiritual impressiveness. It is much better to ponder the selected pas
sage in advance, to catch the lights and shades of its meaning, to recognize the delicate suggestiveness of its every phrase, and then to read it with just emphasis and with faithful correctness of expression, to let it say what it really does say of itself, than to depend on bringing in something from outside as if to complete what seems insufficient. For our own part, we go so far in the direction of a reverent reading of the Word that we object to that manner which, although no comment is made, converts the reading into an address to the audience. We do not like to see the eye frequently raised from the page and turned on the congregation, but rather to see attention earnestly fixed on the words, as if for the purpose of losing nothing, and of assuring the listeners that what they hear is identically that which is written. We agree with the Scotchman who said to a clergyman: "I enjoyed your reading of the Bible. You did not lift your eyes from the page, but read the word reverently and gentlemanly." Good taste as well as reverence dictate that in the public reading of Scripture heart and mind should be concentrated on the message from heaven, which should be rendered without interpolated remark and wandering glance. As a public reader does not explain by additions, but interprets by using his author's own expressions, so the reader of Scripture should not try to preach when he reads, but should reproduce with fidelity and reverence the exact thought of the Word of God.
PAROCHIAL SCHOOLS IN MASSACHUSETTS.
COMPLETE statistical reports of the number of scholars attending parochial schools in Massachusetts appear in the Boston " Daily Advertiser" of November 12. The reports come from school superintendents, supervisors, members of school boards, and others, and are believed to include all the parochial schools in the State, with the possible exception of a few opened recently. No section of the country affords a better illustration of the growth of the parochial system than Massachusetts, which has a larger proportion of Catholic population than any State in the Union, and which has that population distributed in many cities and manufacturing towns all over its territory.
In those places where Catholic schools have been established the actual numbers are as follows: Number of scholars in the public schools, 178,097; number of scholars in parochial schools, 39,301; whole number, 217,398. That is, about 18 per cent. of the scholars reported as in actual attendance are sent to parochial schools. Boston sends 55,599 to the public and 8,000 to the parochial schools, or 12.5 per cent.; Worcester, 12,000 to public, 1,935 to parochial schools, or 13.9 per cent.; Cambridge, 10,462 and 1,400, or 11.8 per cent.; Fall River, 8,605 and 3,000, or 25.8 per cent.; Lowell, 7,700 and 2,500, or 24.5 per cent. ; Lynn, 7,723 and 600, or 7.2 per cent.; Springfield, 6,639 and 800, or
10.8 per cent.; Somerville, 5,488 and 640, or 9.8 per cent.; Lawrence, 5,300 and 1,670, or 24 per cent.; Chelsea, 5,000 and 550, or 9.9 per cent.; New Bedford, 4,643 and 1,818, or 28.2 per cent.; Gloucester, 4,000 and 250, or 5.9 per cent.; Holyoke, 3,387 and 3,220, or 48.8 per cent.; Haverhill, 3,200 and 900, or 21.9 per cent.; Salem, 3,600 and 1,268, or 26 per cent.; Newburyport, 1,600 and 800, or 33 per cent. ; Chicopee, 2,200 and 1,000, or 31.3 per cent. In Southbridge only is the parochial in excess of the public school attendance, the numbers being 830 and 725 respectively. The town has a large French population, and 650 of the 830 parochial scholars are in the French parochial school. There are thirty-seven towns and cities in which parochial schools exist, and in six of these places the whole number of parochial scholars is only 1,313. Computing the entire school population between the ages of five and fifteen at 350,000 and the number in attendance at 320,000, there would remain in other towns and cities about 100,000 school children attending the public schools. The percentage of attendance in parochial schools in the entire State is, then, about 12.3 per cent. (39,301 to 320,000). It is really less than that, for the number of pupils over fifteen years of age is not included. It appears, then, that the extension of parochial schools has been considerable only at a few centres, and has not reached nine tenths of the towns of Massachusetts at all, and that in those centres there is accommodation for only a fraction of the children even of Catholic parents. In Boston, the children of Catholic parents number about 30,000, of whom only 8,000 can be accommodated in the parochial schools. Even in Holyoke, where there are only 1,638 Protestant children out of a total school population of 6,402, there is room in the parochial schools for only about 3,000, so that one half the pupils in the public schools are Catholics.
In nearly all cases where the Catholics build a school-house, the immediate effect is to relieve over-crowded public schools of the neighborhood. The relief is usually temporary only, as increase of population soon fills up every room. In a few instances, the number of teachers and the appropriation of money have been reduced. Fifty teachers in all have been displaced, twelve of them in Fall River and nine in Southbridge. In six places only has the appropriation been reduced, Newburyport, Malden, Woburn, Waltham, Canton, and Southbridge.
The rate of increase is not indicated by the statistics of the "Advertiser." In Boston, several school-houses have been built since the Baltimore decree of 1886, which urged more activity in religious education. In Worcester, since 1874, when a large school-house was built, the only increase is a French school opened in 1880, two small houses a little later, and in 1888 a school for boys, with 200 pupils. In Woburn, a school-house was built in 1884, but nothing has been done since. In New Bedford, no buildings have been erected since the first was built in 1884. In Fall River, some of the six school-houses have been opened recently.