On The Art of Reading eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 188 pages of information about On The Art of Reading.
God with Joshua’s?) My simple advice is that you not only read the Bible early but read it again and again:  and if on the third or fifth reading it leave you just where the first left you—­if you still get from it no historical sense of a race developing its concept of God—­well then, the point of the advice is lost, and there is no more to be said.  But over this business of teaching the Book of Joshua to children I am in some doubt.  A few years ago an Education Committee, of which I happened to be Chairman, sent ministers of religion about, two by two, to test the religious instruction given in Elementary Schools.  Of the two who worked around my immediate neighbourhood, one was a young priest of the Church of England, a medievalist with an ardent passion for ritual; the other a gentle Congregational minister, a mere holy and humble man of heart.  They became great friends in the course of these expeditions, and they brought back this report—­’It is positively wicked to let these children grow up being taught that there is no difference in value between Joshua and St Matthew:  that the God of the Lord’s Prayer is the same who commanded the massacre of Ai.’  Well, perhaps it is.  Seeing how bloodthirsty old men can be in these days, one is tempted to think that they can hardly be caught too young and taught decency, if not mansuetude.  But I do not remember, as a child, feeling any horror about it, or any difficulty in reconciling the two concepts.  Children are a bit bloodthirsty, and I observe that two volumes of the late Captain Mayne Reid—­“The Rifle Rangers,” and “The Scalp Hunters”—­have just found their way into The World’s Classics and are advertised alongside of Ruskin’s “Sesame and Lilies” and the “De Imitatione Christi.”  I leave you to think this out; adding but this for a suggestion:  that as the Hebrew outgrew his primitive tribal beliefs, so the bettering mind of man casts off the old clouts of primitive doctrine, he being in fact better than his religion.  You have all heard preachers trying to show that Jacob was a better fellow than Esau somehow.  You have all, I hope, rejected every such explanation.  Esau was a gentleman:  Jacob was not.  The instinct of a young man meets that wall, and there is no passing it.  Later, the mind of the youth perceives that the writer of Jacob’s history has a tribal mind and supposes throughout that for the advancement of his tribe many things are permissible and even admirable which a later and urbaner mind rejects as detestably sharp practice.  And the story of Jacob becomes the more valuable to us historically as we realise what a hero he is to the bland chronicler.

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Project Gutenberg
On The Art of Reading from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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