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KC: Bible class


KMcI 571231




letter, McIlvaine, Smith. Kenyon College


Dec. 31, 1857

Rev. and dear sir,

In yours of the 26th I find there are 22 Theol. students–15 of which are candidates in [Ohio] of their Diocese–and two [?] and [Lathrop] are wanting–I hope more in the Seminary are uniting any part of the College course with that of the Seminary. I think it must have a very unfavorable [impression] on the college students as to the Seminary course when a student can get on with that of the [?] [Club] in the College and the [?] the Seminary together. They must infer that one course or the other is [?] than the time, requested for it, demands sufficient to fill it–or else they must expect to pay inadequate attention to one of the two, and, as much as the college course has more competition in it, that in the Seminary will always be the one that will suffer. The imperfections I have always found was that the [?] [Club] was too little [?]–and that arose, after [out] of the case being so–or else from the facility with which [your] [?] was known to get on with it in connection with the College course. I am so determined to set myself against that unison of courses hereafter that I will not hereafter admit any student while in college a candidate for orders, nor will I accept [?] [them] three years of candidateship out of college– and I must insist on them seeing to their candidateship without the delay they have so often allowed. Has any catalogue of this year been published[?] If so please send me a copy. I trust that as soon as the rooms of Ascension Hall are finished, there will be no more students [residing] in Bexley Hall except [?] Theol. students.

Your son has gone to a [?] where he will not only have a wide field of usefulness, but a special opportunity, in connection with his [predecessor's] influence, of helping Gambier. I congratulate you very much on his [?] character, and trust he will be kept in the Lord’s hand for imminent service. You say in your letter that you have submitted “the lists of Books” sent to you by me to the faculty. I hope you have not misunderstood me. You will wonder at me, but I perceive great [unrest] in my memory. Now I have not the least recollection what books those are–I have an indistinct remembrance of having worked in some printed list one or two [works], but not [?] and [recommended] them for approval, but more than that–what they were I have not the least idea. My fear is that you have understood me to recommend more than I did to be purchased. My memory has become so defective that except for present employment and interest, I am discouraged in attempting to profit by [reading] or study. What I read, almost all papers [anyway]. I am apprehensive also that you have not quite understood me as to the scripture study about which I wrote before. I think the great defect of [?] students when they come from [us] or any other [Theol. Seminary] is ignorance of what is in the Bible, often more ignorant than many uneducated people to what they preach. Take a case – a youth in college is [converted] in his [junior] or [senior] year. Up to that [point] he has lived in neglect of the [?], and worse than that. He has not had a religious [training]. He knows next to nothing of the Bible. He graduates [and becomes] a [?] student. He reads his chapter or two daily for [?] purposes, but has so little preparation of knowledge that by this disjointed method–probably in no connected sequence of chapters, he gains little acquaintance with the scriptures [or their] spiritual [wealth]. Then when a [Christian] of a year and a half, he becomes a [Theol. Student]. He [leaves] [some] [proof] [texts] in his [systematic] course. He reads some chapters in Hebrew, studies entirely [Romans] and [Hebrews]–in [Greek]–reads about [?]–[?]. Interpretation all about the Bible–comes out something of a [theologian], but he has not studied the Bible, just the thing he ought to have studied, so that in the presence of Christians of ordinary acquaintance with their English Bible he feels afraid of betraying his [ignorance]. Now what I seek for is a [regular] introduction with the course of the [interior] of the Bible–not biblical literature–not criticism–not Hebrew or Greek– let them go on as they do–but to [take] the Bible (English) recite it and be examined on it, from book to book just as a [?] from Bible [class], not of theological students, would do. For instance the [?] is 5 chapters of a Gospel–[?]–[restate] the contents of the first–[?]–the second–then when all have been thus gone over, I would examine on the geography of any places mentioned–or any customs alluded to–any reference to the [?]–or the general harmony without going into much detail there, and after going over such points I would ask what [doctrines] are taught, what duties–[?]–avoiding any thing like a critical study, which would prevent them passing over as much ground as is desirable. This I consider to be properly in your department, seeing that we cannot [make] very definite and technical boundaries. It is not Biblical Literature, which I understand to have in it care– all outside of the Bible that helps to the knowledge of what is in it. It is the proper [?] of all divinity, as much as the Bible is the [?] of all faith. Here is where English [?] clergymen are superior to ours. Ours–at best those of our seminaries know more about the system of divinity–biblical literature. They know more about the Bible–are a great deal more at home in the scriptures. We want a union of both. I hope you will be able to do a good deal in this direction. I have no fear of pressing the students too much by it. I suspect they can study more without damage. The only question in my mind is how much more you can do. Have you “the New Biblical Atlas and Scripture Gazetteer–with descriptive notices of the Tabernacle and Temple”–published by the American Sunday School Union. The [maps] are very good, and the geography just what the students need–vastly better than [?] [?]–on Scriptural Geography. It is what each ought to have, and I should think would be a capital book for the course. It is a thin 8 [?] of 100 pages.

Yours affectionately,


Letter to Professor Smith