John Williamson Nevin against D. G. Hart

Union College had at this time a better reputation than it deserved. Dr. Nott himself took only a very small part in its actual work of instruction, and this itself never amounted to much more than empty form. The institution lived largely on the outside credit of his name. It was a mistake in my own case, at the same time, that I was sent to college at too early an age. I was the youngest and smallest student in my class, and a mere un-fledged boy, I may say, on to the end of my college course. I maintained a very respectable standing however, in my studies, and graduated with honor in the year 1821. But my health was broken; and I returned home, to be the next three years a burden myself, and all around me, through a long course of dyspeptic sufferings, on which I still look back as a sort of horrible nightmare, covering with gloom the best season of my youth.

My college years exercised, of course, an important influence on my religious life. Favorable, it might be considered in some respects; but in other respects, as I have since come to see, it was decidedly unfavorable. Union College was organized on the principle of representing the collective Christianity of the so-called evangelical denominations; and in this view proceeded throughout, practically, on the idea, that the relation of religion to secular education is abstract and outward only- -the two spheres having nothing to do with each other in fact, except as mutually complemental sides in the end of what should be considered a right general human culture. The common delusion by which it is imagined so widely, that the school should be divorced from the Church, and that faith is of no account for learning and science. We had religion in college, so far at least as morning and evening prayers went; and we were required, on Sundays, to attend the different churches in town, But there was no real church life, as such, in the institution itself. It seemed to be set only for apprenticing its pupils in the different departments of common academical knowledge, and not at all for bringing them forward in the discipline of a true Christian life. That was left to outside, more or less sporadic and irregular appliances altogether, and entered in no way into the educational economy of the college itself as its all-pervading spirit and soul.

via Repost: “My Own Life” by John Williamson Nevin (continued) » Mark Horne.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *