Ill.) Western Baptist Educational Convention. (1871 : Ch.

Proceedings of the Western Baptist Educational Convention, held in the First Baptist Church, Chicago, May 24 and 25, 1871 online

. (page 6 of 13)
Online LibraryIll.) Western Baptist Educational Convention. (1871 : ChProceedings of the Western Baptist Educational Convention, held in the First Baptist Church, Chicago, May 24 and 25, 1871 → online text (page 6 of 13)
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property, in building and grounds attractive in site and of good dimensions,
amounts to some $30,000. It lias an invested fund of $17,000, bearing inter-
est at from seven to ten per cent., and a library and apparatus — the former
containing two thousand volumes — which are valued at $4,000. It has thus,
either in real estate, in interest-bearing funds, or in other valuable assets, a
property of $50,000, entirely unincumbered. The whole number in attend-
ance, during the year ending June 2ist, has been sixty-eight, of whom thirty-
eight were females and five theological students. Tlie range of study
embraces a considerable amount of what is taught in colleges. In the esti-
mation of intelligent friends of education in Iowa — though others equally
entitled to respect hold different views — it is the preferable course to main-
tain this institution at Burlington, as well as those at Pella and at DesMoines
for the present, simply as first-class collegiate schools, leaving the question
of a fully-endowed college and its location to be determined hereafter.

Those of our institutions which at present hold the college grade have
had full experience of the vicissitudes incident 10 the history of educational
enterprises in a country wholly or comparative!}' new. Franklin College,
after a considerable period of useful service, under the presidency, first of
Dr. Chandler, afterwards of Dr. Silas Bailey, was for a few years suspended,
and grave doubts have been felt by its friends as to the possibility of replacing
it in a career of hopeful progress. Self-denying and enterprising brethren,
however, took up the work where financial difficulties, variously caused, had
compelled others to lay it down ; and now, under the presidency of Dr.
H. L. Wayland, it is resuming its place among the colleges of the land.
The effort to raise a professorship endowment of $100,000 is advancing


prosperously, while a full college faculty an J a complement of college classes
will no doubt be soon announced. William Jewell College suffered heavily
from the late war, and was indeed for a time entirely suspended, with Httle
apparent prospect of recovery fiom its disasters. Three years since an effort
to revive it was entered upon, and has been signally successful. The college
now has property, in buildings and grounds, valued at $40,000. and a pro-
fessorship endowment of $100,000 Under the administration of Dr. Thomas
Rambaut, the President, with his associates in a faculty of five professors
besides himself, it has achieved a measure of public favor that warrants
the expectation of soon completing its endowment and providing it with
all the equipments of a first-class college. Others, like Shurtleff and Kala-
mazoo, while less endangered in their existence by such vicissitudes, have
had full experience of the ordeals so occasioned, although now, it is believed,
in a position to feel less seriously the effect of changes and reverses.

In speaking of the place filled by our Western colleges among institutions
of this class throughout the land, we would not wish to claim more than is
fairly their due, yet, upon the other hand, must not be expected to under-
value them. They are a part of our Western growth, and partake of those
characteristics which the West as a whole necessarily bears. What they
have gained in endowments, in lands and buildings, in public favor, in lite-
rary standing, they have so gained as the fruit of strenuous exertion. They
have received from the State simply the charters that make them legal cor-
porations. Their beginnings have often been small, and their progress has
been in a road beset with difficulties. Vicissitudes and reverses have been
inevitable. Large subscriptions have' more than once been lost in conse-
quence of general financial derangement putting it out of the power of those
making them to fulfill their pledges. A period of lively hope has been often
closely followed by a period of discouragement and depression, when faith,
patience and persistence have been taxed to the utmost. Debt and the con-
sequent embarrassment have been found more or less unavoidable, while
the resources of energy and hopefulness in those upon whom the care and
the work devolved have been in some instances well-nigh consumed in con-
tending with the enormous difficulties so caused. If any of these college
enterprises have been premature, or in any other way at fault in their incep-
tion, that was purely an error of judgment under circumstances rendering it
eminently excusable, and on the part of men whose public spirit, and energy,
and self-devotion might cover and extenuate far more serious mistakes.

That, in these circumstances. Western colleges have succeeded thus early
in achieving their present measure of financial strength and literar}^ power,
is certainly much to their credit. The oldest of them has not seen forty
years of history, while the majority of them are not yet a quarter of a cen-
tury old. The period within which they have claimed full rank as colleges
is even less. It is simply just that they be judged in the light of all these
facts. At the same time it is not necessary to speak of even these things in
any way of apology. The scholarship of Western colleges may not have
all the breadth of that found in some Eastern ones, yet in the essentials of
a classical, scientific and literary training it is believed to be no less thorough
and complete. They have upon their faculties scholars and instructors
whose reputation is national ; while, if others have not yet achieved this
position, it may be said of them that they are meriting it, both by their
talents, their personal culture, and the fidelity and efficiency with which their
daily work is done. Western students, besides, in seeking the advantages of
a collegiate training, do so, for the most part, with the earnest purpose char-


acteristic of the Western mind. A 3'oung man here enters upon life, as a
rule, thoroughly comprehending that he has his career not only to choose,
but to make. He comes to the college, often, imperfectly prepared for the
higher grades of study, but with "a mind to work," so that the disadvantage
of this defective preparation is in most instances successfully surmounted by
subsequent zealous arM resolute application. Such opportunities as offer,
in the mutual relations of colleges, to judge of comparative attainment,
would indicate that the Western student ranks fairly with the Eastern one.
Young men from our colleges going to Eastern colleges find no difficulty in
entering there with the same grade as here, while instances have occurred of
students failing to maintain standing in a Western college and being received
to an advanced standing in an Eastern one. Such facts are only mentioned
as showing that so far as these interchanges represent the standard of schol-
arship and the measure of attainment in Eastern and Western colleges,
respectively, the practical result is at least not to our discredit; and as show-
ing, also, that in the essentials of a collegiate course the Western college —
young, and in some respects immature, as it may be — may justly, in com-
parison with the Eastern one, assert its right to the honorable designation it

Such defects as appear in the courses of stud}- so far adopted in the col-
leges of the West are chietly due, it would seem, to two causes : the necessity
of having respect in them to the imperfect preparation of the student upon
entering, and deficient provision of instruction occasioned by deficiency of
endowments. The preparatory departments connected with the several col-
leges enable them to control the first of these conditions in some degree, and
this, with the perfecting of our academical system, generally, will no doubt
in time so far surmount the difficulty as to bring the student to his college
course with a measure of scholarship preparing him to encounter on more
equal terms the ordeals of advanced study. It needs no argument in detail
to show how much more breadth, variety, and completeness a scholar's work
may have, where he enters upon it with a mastery of first principles such as
both warrants and facilitates scholarly enterprise. A more ample provision
of instructors, however, would even then be necessary : such as that the sev-
eral professors, no longer overworked as they now are in class-drill, may
have both leisure and strength for that more discursive and suggestive
method of teaching which the lecture supplies; such also as may render
practicable opportunities for special study when such are desired. To this
more ample endowments are plainly indispensable.

It is simply claimed for our Western collegiate course as it now stands that
it embraces, in the classics, in modern languages, in mathematics, pure and
applied, in science, in philosophy and in letters, what in any American col-
lege is considered in the strict sense essential. In arranging it, the American
system is adopted, with modifications in certain particulars. Thus the sep-
arate scientific course is more common in Western colleges than in Eastern
ones, especially those of the same grade. Hence, the eclectic principle is
probably with us allowed freer scope. William Jewell College divides its
course of study into schools, such as the School of Greek, the School of
Latin, the School of Mathematics, the School of Natural Sciences, the School
of English and History, the School of Theology, and others. Students are
received in these several schools " upon probation," and only matriculated
as members of the college after fair trial of their scholarship. They may
graduate from one or more of the schools after due examination. Each
school, for the completion of its assigned course, seems to require three



years of study, styled, the Junior, the Intermediate, and the Senior For
students who need more elementary instruction in any one of them, there is
also a Sub-Junior Class. The courses adopted in our other colleges vary
from the customary one only in certain special features. Thus, in the Uni-
versity of Chicago and in Franklin College a different order from the usual
one is preferred in the studies belonging to the depaftment of l-'hilosophy.
Metaphysics is assigned for the Junior year. Logic and Moral Philosophy for
the Senior; the reason being that an acquaintance with the principles of
Metaphysics seems essential to the most successful prosecution of studies,
like Logic and Moral Philosophy, into which they so largely enter. In the
Western college classical study is made to occupy its long-established place
in the American as well as the European curriculum. It is to be hoped that
such will continue to be the fact, and that one feature of that development
and enlargement which is expected as resources increase, will be a measure
of culture in this department commensurate with that afforded in each other
one. E\en should our Western scholarship, in accordance with tendencies
of the Western mode of thought, come to rate ever so highly the practical and
the available, it will not, it is believed, any the less value what is so essential
in a generous culture while it opens doors to ranges of literature so rich and

Leaving now, however, these details, the object of which has been to afford
something like an adequate view of the character and condition of Western
Baptist colleges, the remainder of this paper will be devoted to the considera-
tion of two or three general questions having reference more to what may be
anticipated in the future of these institutions.

I. First of all, it is believed to be a condition funtlamental to that larger
development for which we hope, and that better adjustment of our whole
denominational system of higher education in the West, that our brethren
generally shall come to rate more adequately the functions of the college, and
the collegiate course of study, considered simply in itself.

It was unquestionably an admirable thing in those who were early upon
the ground in these newer States, that they saw so clearly, and felt so pro-
foundly, the great claim of the opening field around them, as a field to be
cultivated in the interests of truth ; and that they were so prompt and so
much in earnest in asking, "Whence are to come the sowers and the reapers
in the vast spiritual husbandry of the West.'" It was natural, and it was
right, for them to feel that among the earliest and most urgent wants of this
region would be the school for the education of ministers. Pressed by that
conviction, they began to make provision to this end as almost the first pur-
pose of denominational enterprise and union. Hence it has resulted that in
founding colleges, or institutions out of which it was proposed to make col-
leges, in time, the main thought has been, " It is for the education of our
Western Baptist ministry." Brethren charged with the practical care and
work of such enterprises, have felt this so strongly in themselves, and have
seen its influence so much among the churches, that naturally, and quite
properly, they have put it forward as the grand plea in behalf of such inter-
ests. Entirely becoming as this was, it is a question whether there has not
resulted from it a predisposition, on the part of many of the best friends of
our colleges and universities, to value them almost solely in proportion as
they are schools for educating ministers. Surely the time has now cotne, at
least, when, we may, in our sympathies and plans, embrace other interests
with this, and may remind ourselves of what a good college essentially is,
apart from any one of its more especial designs.


It is a very important and hopeful feature of the American collegiate s_ys- 1
tern that it is to such an extent framed and directed by religious men, and
controlled hy the various religious denominations. All experience shows
that education purely secular tends to skepticism and ungodliness, while
nothing is more needed, even in the highest ranges of study and inquiry,
than that reverence for revealed truth which may save men from the mis-
leading tendencies of intellectual vanity. To separate learning from religion
is to make it the plaything of human caprice, or the instrument of human
irreligiousness ; while science itself, though ever so wide in its research and
rich in its results, is left at the mercy of mere speculation until it may
scarcely have enough of either clear discernment or steady faith to know
even the man from the brute. Besides, it is plainly right that all of human
culture, as all of human achievement in otlier respects, religion shall conse-
crate. The Christian people of a country like ours, should not suppose that
their work, as such, begins and ends with the establishment of churches and
the provision of a ministry. They are in circumstances to influence in favor
of what is true, and pure, and honoring to God, the whole national develop-
ment; and in no respect more than in that of the national culture. Here the
college finds its sphere. Planted by a denomination of Christian people, its
chairs filled by men who love Christian truth and know how discreetly to
mingle its inculcation with that of true knowledge in other things, embracing
in its course of study the Christian evidences and the moral principles fun-
damental to all right faith and right life, honoring God in daily worship and
daily reading of the Scriptures, while the Christian example and testimony
of pious 'eachers and pious students appeal unanswerably to conviction and
to everj' best feeling, — such an institution, above and beyond all that it is
in an intellectual point of view, is a power for good, religiously, whose effect
enters into the hearts and lives of those who make our national history,
moulds those whose work it will ever after be to mould others, and perpetu-
ates itself, and widens, with the generations and the ages.

Then it is a privilege by no means to be undervalued, that of sharing in
the work of higher education. Baptists, apart from what is due to tliem-
selves as a religious denomination, and apart from all consideration of
the value to them as a people of the sympathy and good will of such,
educated in their schools, as may ever after retain a sense of personal
indebtedness and a consequent kindly interest, though unconnected with
them denominationally — apart from all that. Baptists should rate highly
the opportunity they have, and the power they have, to bear their part fully
in the general service of national cu'ture. Our colleges should be valued
just in that view of their functions. They should be made as ample in their
resources as possible, as complete in all their equipments, as efficient in
every element of literary power, in order that we may take our place
squarely beside the best and foremost in this work, and may be able, not
with pride, but with just self-appreciation to declare that we are " not a whit
behind the very chiefest." To this it is plainly essential that our generous
brethren adequately appreciate the function of the college in this point of
view, and realize how worthy an object it is for their most liberal donations,
to thus render our denominational college system, simply as such, equal to ,

the best in the land.

The practical bearing of this view, in one respect, may be seen if we
notice a class of facts connected with national legislation. Some writer
has been at the pains to ascertain how many members of the present Con-
gress are college graduates, and where they were educated. He finds that


"of 265 members, 99 have had an education in institutions known as col-
leges and universities, 71 are recorded as educated in academies, and the
remaining 95 as educated at home or in the public schools. The ninety-nine
college graduates were educated in fifty-tive different colleges in this country
and one in Europe. No college sends more than Yale, which numbers six.
Next comes Western Reserve college and Brown University, with five each,
and these are followed by Princeton and Union with four each." Harvard
College has only three. This writer calls special attention to the fact that
a Western college ranks next to Yale in the number it sends to the present
Congress. Of the whole number, 99, of college graduates now in Congress,
he notes the fact that only twenty are from New England, and adds : " The
nation's destiny has already passed to new hands, and the influence of our
old colleges and universities, as well as of Eastern usages and habits of
thought, has relatively declined. Western Reserve College, with its five
graduates in Congress, takes precedence of the oldest college in New Eng-
land, which has but three!" * * "The nation's destiny," he says,
" in the hands of its representatives is to be determined by the character of
the population that is so rapidly filling the Mississippi Valley. Whether
they shall have educated men to represent it in Congress, and whether these
educated men shall be trained under Christian influence, is one of the moFt
important questions which it falls to the living generation to determine."
This testimo ly of an intelligent Eastern man may be emphatically com-
mended to the consideration of the men of the West.

2. Another point proposed for consideration here relates to the multipli-
cation of colleges.

The territorial lines fixed in the political organization of this country
very naturally, and to a certain extent properly, influence organization in
other respects. It is found both convenient and serviceable to arrange
missionary work, and other joint enterprises in accordance with outlines
thus ready-made and suggestive. It is clearly possible, however, for these
territorial lines to create distinctions where there is really no difference, and
to interfere with that sort of union for which such lines should have no
existence whatever. There can be no good reason, for example, why the
interest of higher education, even as represented in particular institutions,
should not be an interest common to all the States; no good reason why it
should be thought a disparagement to one State that its young men receive
such education in some other State; no good reason why to give money for
the endowment of colleges in another State than one's own should be viewed
as giving support to something foreign or competitory ; no good reason why
interests which are comparatively local should be crippled by premature
attempts to localize this one which is in such a large sense cominon to all.
These points, it is believed safe to assume in this argument; and there will
then remain simply the question what principle ought to govern in the
founding of new institutions of the higher grade, and to decide, in general,
as to the number and location of Baptist colleges in the West.

It is respectfully submitted whether such a principle may not be stated
thus: That colleges should noru and hereafter be created with a view to
meet, not anticipated, but actual needs of the denomination ; and so far as
present resources may warrant, not with a lien upon resources of the

A time comes, in the development of any new country, when such a prac-
tical rule as this becomes sound and safe. Upon foundations early laid,
structures have risen adequate to meet existing needs, and that necessity



once so stringent of anticipating both wants and resources ceases to be felt.
It is a fair question whether that time has not now come for us in the West.
If an exception be allowed, it must be in behalf of that farther West for
which the Ottawa University in Kansas seems intended to provide. Even as
respects those remoter districts it must be conceded that the existing pressure
is not so urgent as to make it imperative upon us to embarrass other work
in order to push this one to a speedier result. With existing facilities of
travel, the Western student, though his home should be in the very shadow
of the Rocky Mountains, may make his choice among half-a-dozen colleges,
more or less accessible to him. Without doubt, the movement to secure a
basis of ultimate large endowment, such as we now have at Ottawa, was
wise; but it is believed that without serious detriment even that institution
may, for its more complete organization, await the sure and steady growth
of the noble State in the heart of which it is planted ; and its friends not
fear that they are losing valuable time if the work of endowment proves to
be slower than they had hoped.

There are strong reasons to be urged for each of the opposite views held
upon the subject of the multiplication of colleges — a subject of such great
practical interest to us in the West. Upon the one hand, it is not to be
denied that even a very few fully-endowed and efficient colleges accomplish
a better present work than many such, all poor, all embarrassed, and each
necessarily crippled in its work by its poverty in educational means If the
question were now a new one, and if we had at this moment to decide how
many colleges our denomination in the West shall undertake to found and
sustain, those who would severely limit the number might have arguments
to urge which it would be difficult to answer. But, upon the other hand, the
question is not a new one. To a certain extent it must be conceded that the
point as to the number of our colleges is one already settled. Each of those
whose names have been given as having reached the college grade has made
for itself a position, a history, a hold upon public confidence and denomina-
tional sympathy such as that probably no one amongst us would go so far as
to say that either should be denied the right to live. Then, it must be con-
ceded that colleges, while they subserve various other denominational and
general interests, supply stimulus, also, to educational zeal, and while prose-
cuting their assigned and expected work educate the denomination itself to
a higher view and purpose in this regard. Some, impressed by these and
other considerations, would say that schools of this class ought to be
increased to that extent, at least, that each State may have its own college.
The correctness of this view may be admitted, if we look simply to the remote
future, and speak of the time when all these Western States shall be full of
people and full of wealth, and when to endow a college shall no longer be,
as it is now, the work of a generation. Speaking with reference to things
as they are, the suggestion is ventured whether what we have already begun

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Online LibraryIll.) Western Baptist Educational Convention. (1871 : ChProceedings of the Western Baptist Educational Convention, held in the First Baptist Church, Chicago, May 24 and 25, 1871 → online text (page 6 of 13)