That is what, it seems to me, Mr. Martineau means in that dark passage, “We shall never have a proper system of education until we have a proper religion.” We are a good deal lacking in the study of the Bible nowadays. We go to it to prove the text, to “break the scales” of our adversaries, and for other purposes. I do not use it for that purpose myself. If you will read that old book until you can walk the street arm in arm with Gideon and David and Jepthah and old Samson, too, yes, heaven bless him, and Moses and Samuel, the prophets, then we are reading it to some purpose. Until you know them all as your best friends, you have not begun to read that book; for that is what it was intended for. The Bible is an advanced text book of biology, the science of life. If you will train your boys and girls to walk the streets and live with the heroes of the world, make them form an intimate friendship with them, then you have trained those boys and girls to be heroes themselves.
Did you ever try reading to them the defense which old Socrates makes, which Plato wrote down for us? I do not know whether Socrates ever said it, but it was worthy of him. Read it to your boys and girls some day. See what they say about the Apology. And read the Crito. Let them sit with Socrates in his prison there on the hillside and listen to his discussion, until, as he says, he hears the voice of the law ringing in his ears and he cannot hear anything else, and stays on to die. When the prison door is opened for him to walk out, provided he would walk out with dishonor, he will not go. Let them see the old hero die in Athens as the sun goes down. You have not only awakened a new interest, you have evoked a higher life, and that is what we are after, that is what you and I are here for, that is the only way in the end to beat the record. That is the essential power of great leaders, of great prophets, and of great teachers, and the seat of it is in their personality.
I don’t know what I am talking about there either, for personality defies analysis and it defies resistance. It leaps from soul to soul just like an infection. We hear a great deal about the infectiousness of bad things and people are always talking about infectious disease and of corrupting influences in the world and all that sort of thing. Do you suppose the Lord has made this world so that everything that is bad is contagious and everything that is good is not contagious? Are you going to slander the Lord like that? It is about time that we wake up to the fact that the real genuine article of goodness is a good deal more contagious than smallpox.