[from The Original Covenanter, Vol. II, No. 10., June 1879, pp. 302-307.]
Webster says, “the word secular has reference to something pertaining to this present world, not to things spiritual or holy; not to things relating to the soul, but to the body.” “New foes arise threatening to bind our souls with secular chains.” (Milton). Then things secular relate to this world and are carnal; but things relating to Christianity have reference to the world to come and are spiritual. Then, is it not manifest that Christian and secular schools are antagonistic; and if the first is right, the second is wrong—the one is for, the other against Christ—antichrist. Then is it not manifestly wrong for a nation or state in their public schools, to give a secular and to withhold a Christian education? Has a state a right to command the former and withhold the latter? Or has a nation a right to say that her children shall be heathen and not Christian? infidels and not believers? Can kings thus become nursing fathers and their queens nursing mothers? Or can their officers thus become peace, and their exactors righteousness? If nations would have their children to be Christians, they must give them a Christian education and not one that is secular only. And if we would give our children a Christian education, we must do so while they are young; “train up a child in the way he should go.” “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.” A secular education never yet made any one a Christian, and never will, never yet made any one better, but worse. All who either give or receive a secular or heathen education, are committing sin, not performing duty: because “without faith it is impossible to please God.” And “whatsoever is not of faith is sin.” Whatsoever we do without knowing that we are performing duty—without knowing that we are doing what God has commanded in his word, is sin, not duty. The teacher in teaching and the scholar in learning heathen literature cannot know that they are right, but that they are wrong. And so, the legislature in setting aside Christian, and in establishing secular education in its stead, cannot know that they are right; for this is all done in open violation of the divine law; it is done in unbelief and disobedience, with a hardened and blinded conscience. It is a virtual legislating against the Scriptures of truth, against Christianity and its author. When God says, “In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths,” he means nations as well as individuals. And in acknowledging him, our faith “must stand not in the wisdom of man, but in the power of God. Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect, yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought.” None have ever profited by a secular education, until they first become Christians. All are the children of wrath until they become Christians, but when they become Christians they are heirs of all things—they being the children of the free woman. And it is said, “Cast out the bond woman and her son; for the son of the bond woman shall not be heir with the son of the free woman.”—Gal. 4:30. All kinds of literature are good for the children of the free woman, whether Christian or secular; whether it pertain to this world or to that which is to come, to the soul or to the body: but to the pagan, the heathen, or unbeliever, all things are evil, both Christian and heathen literature; because their carnal nature leads them to profane and abuse all things. Then to seek first for a secular education for our children is to seek first for that which will lead them to dishonor God and destroy themselves. Those who seek first a secular education, are reversing the divine order, which is to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, by way of seeking first a Christian education. Without this how can we call on him in whom we have not believed? and how can we believe in him of whom we have not heard? and how can we hear without a preacher, or teacher? and how can they preach except they be sent? 2. If nations would have a Christian education for their children, they must have Christian teachers to teach them; and Christian teachers only. God’s plan of teaching children is not first to train them by secular unbelieving teachers to be sons of Belial, and then by religious teachers to be sons of God. It is not His plan first to provide secular and then Christian teachers, but to provide Christian teachers only. “But know that the Lord hath set apart him that is godly for Himself.” Ps. 4:3. And it is only the godly that the Lord sets apart for himself, “in every station in life, but especially to train his elect to be children of the kingdom.” Then before the nations can have a Christian education for their children, they must choose such teachers as Christ himself has chosen, and such only—Christian and not secular. A secular education never yet qualified any person for teaching or receiving the true Christian faith or practice, and never can; because things secular pertain to this world, not to that which is to come; to things carnal, not to things spiritual or holy. Those who would have the Christian faith and practice must be taught by Christ, by those sent by him for that purpose. Isa. 54:13. Again, it does not belong to nations to educate either the old or young, themselves or others. Christ himself appointed all the teachers both of the present and past dispensations. He said to his apostles, “Go teach all nations.” None need to be taught more than the nations: “for all the gods are idols dumb, which blinded nations fear.” “That ye walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, having their understanding darkened.” Eph. 4:17. Again, “The civil magistrate may not assume to himself the administration of word or sacraments, or the power of the keys of the kingdom of heaven; but it is his duty to maintain piety, justice and peace in the commonwealth, and unity and peace in the church.” Westminster Confession of Faith, chapter 23. The civil magistrate being a Christian, sound in the faith and exemplary in practice, as the of God requires him to be, 2 Sam. 23:3, knows how to maintain piety, justice and peace in the commonwealth and unity and peace in the church. An exemplary Christian magistrate knows that these matters in the church and commonwealth can never be maintained and preserved in any other way than by “keeping the truth of God pure and entire, suppressing all blasphemies and heresies, preventing or reforming all corruption and abuses in worship and discipline, and having all the ordinances of God duly settled, administered and observed.” And the Christian magistrate knows that these great attainments never can be made in either church or state without a faithful ministry and faithful church courts. It is thus that the faithful teachers may be trained and set apart for the work of teaching. When Christ gave some pastors and teachers, He gave them authority and power to train, set apart, and ordain other pastors and teachers; and thus these church officers are to be perpetuated in the church, for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, etc. Eph. 4:11. But Christ never gave any such power or authority to an ungodly and unbelieving state, or to any of their unbelieving secular teachers; but all the attainments that ever can be made by unbelieving states, and their unbelieving secular teachers is to make attainments in doing evil. “Evil men and seducers wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.” 2 Tim. 3:13.
Faithful pastors and teachers of Christ’s appointment, are “as the path of the just that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.” “They that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars forever and forever.” Dan. 12:3. All such are the salt of the earth and the light of the world. But these carnal, worldly minded teachers, that have nothing to recommend them but their so-called morality—no fear of God or regard for man—no faith, repentance, love or new obedience, are not the salt of the earth, nor the light of the world. Such have no advantage over so-called civilized heathens; for, in spite of all their so-called morality, they are still “walking as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart.” Eph. 4:17.
All such being without spiritual illumination, are the darkness of the world. Eph. 5:8. And the devils are the rulers of the darkness of this world. Eph. 6:12. And all unbelieving secular teachers are the darkness of this world; because “the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them that believe not.” 2 Cor. 4:4. And all such remain in the power of darkness until “the Father delivers them from the power of darkness, and translates them into the kingdom of His dear Son.” Col. 1:13, or until Christ, by His word and Spirit, “calls them out of darkness into His marvelous light.” 1 Pet. 2:9. Then is not the state virtually placing the children of the state under the tuition of the rulers of the darkness of this world, and at the same time placing the whole state under the general superintendency of “the prince of the power of the air—the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience?” or under the power of the god of this world who hath blinded the minds of them that believe not? And this dreadful condition of the state, its secular teachers and children, can never be made better until the parties cease to be secular and unbelieving; and until they are all become spiritual or Christian. So long as the state, teachers and children, are unbelieving and secular—not spiritual or holy, darkness covers the earth, and gross darkness the people; and all—all states, teachers and children are wicked—we repeat it, they are all wicked; “and the wicked shall be turned into hell, with all nations that forget God.” Ungodly, unbelieving teachers—so-called moral teachers, are already lost, because they are unbelieving and ungodly. “He that believeth not is condemned already,” John 3:18—whether male or female—whether a state or an individual—a teacher or a scholar; and all such hate the light. How then can such be instrumental in turning others from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God? To all such the gospel is hidden—to all unbelieving, but not to any believing teachers. “If our gospel be hid it is hid to them that are lost, in whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them that believe not.” 2 Cor. 4:3. The god of this world wants all men to be lost like himself: hence he wants the gospel to be hid from all that all may be lost. He is afraid of the light of the glorious gospel of Christ shining unto any, lest they might be saved. The god of this world blinds the minds of all those that believe not; but he cannot blind the minds of those who believe; because “Christ has called them out of darkness into his marvelous light.” 1 Pet. 2:9. The prince of the power of the air cannot blind the minds of them that believe, because Christ has delivered them from the power of darkness; and then they are no longer the children of darkness, but of the light. Satan, unbelieving nations and carnally minded secular teachers all blind the minds that believe not: 1. By not teaching and applying the word, its doctrine, worship, discipline and government. 2. By perverting and misapplying them. 3. By teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.
Again, all unbelieving states, secular teachers and unbelieving scholars are lost; and have not the least desire of being saved, unless in their sins, and on their own plan, and by their own righteousness. Finally, so far as love of sin and hatred of God, and all righteousness is concerned; all unbelieving children can harmoniously cooperate with Satan, the god of this world, unbelieving states and carnal secular teachers, in opposing Christ and Christianity. “The wicked are estranged from the womb, they go astray as soon as they are born—speaking lies.” Ps. 58:3.—written March, 20th, 1879.