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Benjamin Lyon Smith
The Millennial Harbinger Abridged (1902)


      On the 10th of December, 1857, the College building was burned. On May 31st the corner-stone of the new building was laid, with the following address, appearing in vol. 1858, page 362:


      Circles have their centres, squares their rectangles, and all terrestrial edifices their corner-stones. These should always rest upon the solid earth. The solid earth itself rests upon the heavens, and the heavens rest upon the omnipotent will of God. Such is the splendid architecture of the present domicile of man. A practical recognition of these facts is honorable to man--to educated reason, and to the wisdom, power and goodness of God,--himself the supreme projector and architect of the universe. He "weighed the mountains in scales, He placed the hills in a balance." He measured the waters of oceans and of seas, of lakes and of rivers, in the hollow of his hand. He gave to these oceans and seas, to these lakes and rivers, limits and boundaries which they can not pass:--a decree that their waters shall not cover the earth,

      A man of good sense, of well-developed mind, who is always a Christian, recognizes the hand of God; the power, wisdom, and goodness of God, in every work of his hand. He recognizes the Bible as the Book of Divine wisdom, the oracle of God, the volume of human redemption, the charter of a future and an eternal life to man. [463]

      He, therefore, delights to honor it, to build all his hopes of an eternal future upon it, and to regard and venerate it as the star of his own eternal destiny in this magnificent creation.

      While a rock is the only reliable basis of terrestrial edifices, the Rock of Ages is the sub-basis of the entire empire of the universe. All that we truthfully and satisfactorily know of our origin, our destiny, and our eternal relations to the whole creation is contained in the Holy Bible, It is, indeed, the true philosophy of Divinity and the true science of humanity.

      Bethany College, not the edifice so called, but the institution of which it was the domicile, was the first College in the Union, and the first known to any history accessible to us, that was founded upon the Holy Bible, as an every-day lecture and an every-day study--as the only safe and authoritative text-book of humanity, theology, and christology--of all true science upon the problems of Divinity and humanity--of the world or worlds that preceded this, or that shall succeed it.

      From the origin of Bethany College on the first Monday of November, 1841, till this day, a period over sixteen years, there has been a Bible study and a Bible lecture for every College day in the College year. The Bible is read, as it was written, in chronological order, and a lecture on every reading is delivered, exegetical of its facts and documents--historical, chronological, geographical; whether they be natural, moral or religious, in reference to the past, the present, and the future of man. Theories, speculations, sometimes called doctrines, faith, orthodoxy, heterodoxy, come not within the legitimate area of Collegiate literary, moral, or Christian education.

      In Natural Science we have the facts of natures as its appropriate area of observation, comparison, and deduction,

      In Intellectual Science we have the powers, facts and acts of the human understanding--the powers of perception, reflection, comparison, deduction, abstraction, imagination, ratiocination, and generalization.

      In Moral Science we have conscience, or the moral sense of personal and social right and wrong; moral law, moral obligation, rewards and punishments, etc.

      In religion--or in Christianity, we have a Divine remedial interposition; a mediatorial institution--a prophet, priest and king, invested with all Divinity and humanity in one personality--himself the altar, the sacrifice and the priest; all forms of majesty, honor and glory culminating in him, "the Alpha and the Omega" of all legislation and interpretation, of all judicial and executive authority.

      Such is Christianity, scientifically conceived and exhibited, in the Christian or remedial institution. But Christianity, if actually enjoyed, [464] is a new and spiritual life; a life of communion and fellowship with God, through Christ--in our hearts the hope of glory.

      Such, therefore, being the premises of all social institutions connected with the social system called the state, the nation, the empire, the world, unless based on these premises and conducted in harmony with them, no system of education is rational, scientific, philanthropic, or adequately adapted to the real condition and cravings of our common humanity.

      Education is, therefore, a theme perfectly transcendental, possessing paramount claims on the patriot, the philanthropist, the philosopher and the Christian. It comprehends in its premises the development of creator and creature, heaven and earth, time and eternity, in full and perfect adaptation to the cultivated and capabilities of man.

      True, and lamentably true it is, that few--comparatively very few, indeed, have the capacity, the patience, the perseverance, the taste and the means adequate to its acquisition and consummation; and, equally to be regretted is the fact, that larger and more liberal provisions are not made for its extension and perfection, both by the State and the Church; as to both it is the greatest known or conceivable auxiliary.

      There are no people in the civilized world, known to us, that have indicated a higher estimation of the value and importance of education, in its fullest latitude and longitude--in its height and in its depth, in its length and its breadth, than the citizens of these United States of North America. We have more schools and academies, male and female; more colleges and universities of all growths and varieties, than are possessed and sustained by the same amount of population under any one Federal Government--whether or not so denominated--or whether national or imperial, aristocratical or monarchial. We have more graduates in languages, sciences, arts and professions, annually issuing from our numerous literary and scientific institutions, our medical, theological and legal schools and colleges, than can be shown by any people on the civilized globe, of the same number, means, and facilities.

      We have, indeed, too many colleges and universities, too many institutions so called, in all the religious denominations of our country. And we, as a Christian people, have, in one sense, already outgrown ourselves, as well as outgrown other denominations of religionists in the penchant for colleges and universities. We have the Missouri Canton University, the Indiana Indianapolis University, and the Kentucky Harrodsburg University, on paper and in print--in stones and in brick, as well as in men, women and children. We have also in Illinois no less than three stripling colleges, Abingdon, Eureka and Jacksonville. One in Arkansas, one in the environs of Nashville, and I know not how many more in inception. [465]

      England has had her two great Universities for hundreds of years; to these she has added another two of recent origin.

      Scotland's glory, in this particular, for centuries flourished in her Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen Universities. Ireland in her Dublin, Maynooth and Belfast Universities.

      Pennsylvania has sundry such Institutions--two of them within twenty miles of Bethany College, in the bosom of the Presbyterian Church. Ohio has one, twenty miles west of us, so that we at Bethany are living in a constellation of colleges. This speaks loftily for Young America, however it may speak for the cause of literature, science and religion. But a college well endowed, well furnished with buildings, with libraries, with apparatus, and with a well-educated corps of professors, is not quite so easily reared and consummated, as Young America dreams or imagines. We have had some little experience on this subject in the colleges of the old world and the new. We have some volumes of theory and a few chapters of experience, which have been read and studied with care; and the impression is deep and abiding--that it is men and not stone, nor brick, nor mortar, nor a charter, nor a good code of by laws, nor a few ten thousands of dollars, safely invested in good banks, or loaned on mortgaged real estates; nor even a board of annual or semi-annual curators in attendance, on any emergency, that constitute the essentials of a college, or endow it with claims on the patronage of a discriminating population, much less make it a fountain of blessings to society--to the Church or to the State.

      'Tis mind alone that works on mind. 'Tis educated mind that educates mind. 'Tis living men and living books that quicken, inspire, develop, energize and polish mind. It is not theory nor a dead letter that animates and actuates the faculties of man. It is the animation of the teacher that animates the student. Hence it was Paul that made Timothy and Titus, and neither Moses nor Aaron. Paul owed much to Dr. Gamaliel. Had there not been a Demosthenes amongst the Greeks, there might never have been a Marcus Tullius Cicero amongst the Romans. It is the present living generation that gives character and spirit to the next. Hence the paramount importance of accomplished and energetic teachers in forming the taste, the manners and the character of the coming age.

      Man never lives for a past generation. He lives for the present and for the future. Colleges, too, are for the present and the coming generations. The good or the evil that men do is not always interred with their bones. Both the good and the evil that we may do, not unfrequently survive us for several generations.

      Colleges are, in every point of view, the most important, and inappreciable institutions on earth, second only to the Church of Christ [466] in their inherent claims upon Christian liberality and Christian patronage. If they be not worthy of the smiles and the prayers and the contributions of a Christian community, I know not, beyond the Church, what is, or ought to be, an appropriate and approved object of Christian patronage and Christian liberality. We must have educated mind in order to the prosperity and progress of society.

      And needs there be, or can there be a question, or a doubt, whether the educated mind shall be Christian or Infidel? And can there be in any Seminary of learning a Christian education without the Christian Oracles? But, unfortunately, we have a patented orthodoxy and an unpatented heterodoxy, altogether, in most cases, factitious and accidental. How, then, shall we dispose of these? Abjure them both! Proscribe them both! Substitute for them the five historical books of Moses, and the five historical books of the Evangelists and Apostles of Jesus Christ! The wisdom of God was and is displayed in presenting neither a theory nor an abstract formula of doctrine or mere learning--but facts, documents, precepts, and promises. These, too, are the only appropriate themes of faith, hope and love. And these three, says Paul, shall ever abide in the Church.

      On these views and premises, Bethany College was first conceived, matured and founded. We have had an ample and a most satisfactory experience and proof of the perfect practicability of the views long cherished upon the whole premises of mental development and moral culture. There is an energy of spirit, and a moral polish of character which this system has demonstrated as perfectly practicable, and, indeed, exhibited as a natural, necessary, and rational result, of such communings with the spirit that breathes upon the inner man, from the Divine unction and effusions of that spirit of wisdom and of cultivation which clothes itself in a language peculiarly its own; and which kindles in the soul aspirations and longings which, in many instances, terminate in a spiritual renovation of the inner man, and a consecration of body, soul, and spirit, to the Lord of life and glory.

      The calamity which has befallen Bethany College will, we hope, soon be turned to good advantage, through the liberality already developed, and still being developed, to raise its towers and bulwarks, and to furnish its libraries and laboratories with all that is essential to the increasing demands of the age--to place it in the front rank of beneficent and potent institutions, literary, scientific, and moral.

      With these aims and objects, and through the encouragement already vouchsafed by a generous public--the friends and patrons of Bethany College, and especially by the Alumni of this institution, we now proceed this 31st day of May to lay the corner-stone of the edifice of the second edition of Bethany College, enlarged and improved. Hic jacet non lapis terminalis, sed lapis angularis, Collegii Bethaniensis, [467] Literaturae, Scientiae, et religions sacri; hoc die Trigesimo primo, Mai, Anno Domini unum mille, octingenti quinquaginta octo.

      In this corner-stone we deposit a copy of the Holy Bible, not to bury it in the earth, but as a monumental symbol of the fact, that this book, this everlasting document ought to be the true and proper foundation of every Literary, Scientific, Moral, and Religious institution--that it is of right Divine, entitled to be, and ought to be, the basis, the sub-basis of every public and benevolent institution--essential to the perfect and complete development of man in his whole constitution--as a citizen of the commonwealth, a citizen of the kingdom of Heaven, an heir of the universe through all the cycles of an eternal future. To whom be all glory and honor, now, henceforth, and forever!

      Is not this in harmony with the all-suggestive and eloquent fact--that the whole universe was founded and continues to rest securely upon the Word of God--the everlasting Word? Hear John the beloved Apostle, the most philosophic and elevated in his conceptions of the original Twelve--"In the beginning was THE WORD, and THE WORD was with God, and THE WORD was God." All things were made for him, as well as by him. Hence he is "the ALPHA and the OMEGA" of universal being and blessedness.

      It is, in our esteem, apposite to the occasion--this solemn and sublime occasion--of erecting a monument in honor of the paramount claims of Literature, Science, Religion, and the Arts, both the useful and the ornamental, to call upon all true patriots, philanthropists, and Christians--irrespective of local or partizan feelings--pro or con, to co-operate with us on the broad basis of a common humanity--a common country--a common political destiny--and a common Christianity.

      We, therefore, desire it to be known and realized, that we do not selfishly refuse the generous and liberal contributions of our fellow-citizens, of every creed and of every name, to re-erect, furnish and garnish Bethany College; which, we doubt not, will be an investment on their part, as profitable to themselves, their heirs, and representatives, as it will be acceptable and gratifying to us. We have taken pleasure in assisting our fellow-citizens in such like benevolent institutions. And may it not be due to them to extend to them, such opportunities as they have been pleased to vouchsafe to us?

      But to conclude: The legitimate position, end, and aim of all colleges, properly so called, is, or ought to be, the education, or development of the whole man--body, soul and spirit; and this, too, in harmony with the attributes and laws of God, exhibited and developed in the five cardinal dramas of the universe:--Creation, Legislation, Providence, Moral Government and Redemption.

      The analytic and synthetic methods of investigation and development, already canonized, with the consent and concurrence of the [468] great masters of science, truly so called, are those we have judged supreme in the conduct and career of all schools, adapted to the wants and cravings of man in the world that now is, and also in reference to that which is to come. Years of experience in schools and colleges in the old world and in the new, have fully satisfied us that this is the true philosophy of education; and that it has the approval of every well-informed man; indeed, of all who are capable of understanding the subject.

      We, therefore, have no new positions to assume or defend on the premises. We consequently do no more than to pledge ourselves to prosecute the same course, which at the commencement we adopted, and have prosecuted till now. It is simply that which educationally meets and satisfies all the wants of man, in reference to the present, now, and to the eternal future, of his being, relations, obligations, and destiny.

[A. C.]      

      Alexander Campbell. "The Corner-Stone Address of Bethany College." The Millennial Harbinger 29 (July
1858): 361-367.


[MHA2 463-469]

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Benjamin Lyon Smith
The Millennial Harbinger Abridged (1902)