The course above recommended is not trying lax and inefficient measures for a long time in hopes of their being ultimately successful, and then, when they are found not to be so, changing the policy. There should be, through the whole, the tone and manner of authority, not of persuasion. The teacher must be a monarch, and, while he is gentle and forbearing, always looking on the favorable side of conduct so far as guilt is concerned; he must have an eagle eye and an efficient hand, so far as relates to arresting the evil and stopping the consequences. He may slowly and cautiously, and even tenderly, approach a delinquent. He may be several days in gathering around him the circumstances of which he is ultimately to avail himself in bringing him to submission; but, while he proceeds thus slowly and tenderly, he must come with the air of authority and power. The fact that the teacher bases all his plans on the idea of his ultimate authority in every case may be perfectly evident to all the pupils, while he proceeds with moderation and gentleness in all his specific measures. Let it be seen, then, that the constitution of your school is a monarchy, absolute and unlimited; but let it also be seen that the one who holds the power is himself under the control of moral principle in all that he does, and that he endeavors to make the same moral principle which guides him go as far as it is possible to make it go in the government of his subjects.
In consequence of the unexampled religious freedom possessed in this country, for which it is happily distinguished above all other countries on the face of the earth, there necessarily results a vast variety of religious sentiment and action. We can not enjoy the blessings without the inconveniences of freedom. Where every man is allowed to believe as he pleases, some will, undoubtedly, believe wrong, and others will be divided, by embracing views of a subject which are different, though perhaps equally consistent with truth. Hence we have among us every shade and every variety of religious opinion, and, in many cases, contention and strife, resulting from hopeless efforts to produce uniformity.
A stranger who should come among us would suppose, from the tone of our religious journals, and from the general aspect of society on the subject of religion, that the whole community was divided into a thousand contending sects, who hold nothing in common, and whose sole objects are the annoyance and destruction of each other. But if we leave out of view some hundreds, or, if you please, some thousands of theological controversialists who manage the public discussions, and say and do all that really comes before the public on this subject, it will be found that there is vastly more religious truth admitted by common consent among the people of New England than is generally supposed. This common ground I shall endeavor briefly to describe; for it is very plain that the teacher must, in ordinary cases, confine himself to it. By common consent, however, I do not mean the consent of every body; I mean that of the great majority of serious, thinking men.