The following is part of the transcript from a letter written in 1791, which was published by the American Tract Society in 1830. To purchase the whole text of Dr. Rush’s letter, see The Bible in Schools pamphlet that can be found in the WallBuilders store.
It is now several months since I promised to give you my reasons for preferring the Bible as a schoolbook to all other compositions. Before I state my arguments, I shall assume the five following propositions:
- That Christianity is the only true and perfect religion; and that in proportion as mankind adopt its principles and obey its precepts they will be wise and happy.
- That a better knowledge of this religion is to be acquired by reading the Bible than in any other way.
- That the Bible contains more knowledge necessary to man in his present state than any other book in the world.
- That knowledge is most durable, and religious instruction most useful, when imparted in early life.
- That the Bible, when not read in schools, is seldom read in any subsequent period of life.
My arguments in favor of the use of the Bible as a schoolbook are founded,
I. In the constitution of the human mind.
- The memory is the first faculty which opens in the minds of children. Of how much consequence, then, must it be to impress it with the great truths of Christianity, before it is preoccupied with less interesting subjects.
- There is a peculiar aptitude in the minds of children for religious knowledge. I have constantly found them, in the first six or seven years of their lives, more inquisitive upon religious subjects than upon any others. And an ingenious instructor of youth has informed me that he has found young children more capable of receiving just ideas upon the most difficult tenets of religion than upon the most simple branches of human knowledge. It would be strange if it were otherwise, for God creates all His means to suit His ends. There must, of course, be a fitness between the human mind and the truths which are essential to it happiness.
- The influence of early impressions is very great upon subsequent life; and in a world where false prejudices do so much mischief, it would discover great weakness not to oppose them by such as are true. I grant that many men have rejected the impressions derived from the Bible; but how much soever these impressions may have been despised, I believe no man was ever early instructed in the truths of the Bible without having been made wiser or better by the early operation of these impressions upon his mind. Every just principle that is to be found in the writings of Voltaire is borrowed from the Bible; and the morality of Deists, which has been so much admired and praised where it has existed, has been, I believe, in most cases, the effect of habits produced by early instruction in the principles of Christianity.
- We are subject, by a general law of our natures, to what is called habit. Now, if the study of the Scriptures be necessary to our happiness at any time of our life, the sooner we begin to read them, the more we shall probably be attached to them; for it is peculiar to all the acts of habit, to become easy, strong, and agreeable by repetition.
For the whole text of Dr. Rush’s letter, see the WallBuilders store to purchase the The Bible in Schools pamphlet.