Education (1861)

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As literature emerged in Europe from the cloisters of the monks, education gradually advanced, clouded by the superstitions she had imbibed during her thousand years’ obscurity. The condition of mankind improved; commerce opened an intercourse between countries hitherto strangers to each other; knowledge extended, but its elements were rather the legendary traditions of the monks, than the actual development of science. The introduction of printing into England, in the fifteenth century, which burst like a new dispensation on the benighted condition of humanity, proved a powerful aid in the diffusion of general learning, —tinctured as it was by the mystic subtleties of the schools, —obscured by technicalities, and confined to the circles of aristocracy.

Education, 1861

Blue (from “Utterances of Alalcol,” 1861)

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A woodpecker said one day to a blue jay, ‘How do you get such a reputation? I should like to learn your art, for with every endeavor I find it hard to get a name, or to make a good living.’ ‘Ha, ha!’ cried the blue jay, ‘it is by making a noise with my voice that I prevail; people suppose that where there is such a verbal strain and torrent of sounds, there must be some sense. I always light on the topmost boughs; never sit long in a place; scream as loud as I can, and by continually flitting about, and showing my feathers, produce the idea that I am very wise, as well as a very active and valuable bird. while you always light on dry trees, where there is nothing to shade you, and toil with a sort of mechanical industry, making sounds that are not only monotonous but not at all musical. The truth is,’ continued the jay, ‘I am a talker, a blusterer, a stormer; my father and mother were talkers, blusterers, and stormers. I take the ear of people, not like you with a peck, peck, peck! but by a flourish of sounds.’ ‘Heigho!’ answered the woodpecker, ‘I should never get a living by such a life. I am, as you see by the red paint on my head, a warrior; and the animals I hunt are so deeply down in the trunks of old trees that I am obliged to plunge in my war-like bill after them, and my daily pecking is my war-whoop.’

Utterances of Alalcol, 1861

Dearth of Information

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The dearth of information, following the Gothic conquest of imperial Rome, by Alaric, in the fourth century, and the destruction of the Alexandrian library by Omar in the sixth, banished literature to the churches and monasteries, and produced a debasement of human intellect which has no parallel in the records of history. Tyranny, bloodshed, and cruelty disgraced the nations of the earth. Kingdoms became battlefields, and the world a charnel house. As literature emerged in Europe from the cloisters of the monks, education gradually advanced, clouded by the superstitions she had imbibed during her thousand years’ obscurity. The condition of mankind improved; commerce opened an intercourse between countries hitherto strangers to each other; knowledge extended, but its elements were rather the legendary traditions of the monks, than the actual development of science.

Education, 1835


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‘What an addition to the society of the Dollarchinks and the Potiphars was the gay, the fashionable Tottle Dabchick! at once the envy of each lacteous Doodle, and the cynosure of each speculative mamma. His multifarious graces of mind and person eminently fitted him to adorn and beatify the society of the first of the land. At least, so said his friends — the brilliant Harry Mushroom and the volatile Felix Sophsop, who with an air of beaming patronage, drank his ‘Heidsieck,’ laughed at his jokes, and borrowed his money; and if men of their ton and calibre did not know, who on earth did? In a spirit of disinterestedness quite refreshing to behold, they undertook, like skillful lapidaries, to prepare the diamond that was destined to sparkle in their midst, and how well they succeeded is a matter of history. Under auspices so distingué, our happy little Dabchick fluttered in the sunshine of pure and refined aristocracy, like a giddy butterfly as he was, nor dreamt that cynics and out-heroded rivals were busy shaking their wise heads with ominous presage, and making mental calculations as to the length of time it would take him to reach the end of his tether.

Debut of Tottle Dabchick, 1858

Intellectual Character

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The intellectual character of Athens claimed and received, beneath the power of Rome, a degree of respect to which her proud, though less cultivated rival, Sparta, was a stranger. Her literature which ages had consecrated, arrested the remorseless tyranny of Sylla, who, while he leveled her lofty Acropolis, desecrated her altars, demolished her groves, and plundered her sacred temple, permitted her libraries and schools of learning to remian, either as monuments of his clemency — or, as contrasts to the desolation which surrounded them. A corresponding cause produced a like effect in the destruction of the Roman republic, and prepared its population for the blood-stained cruelties of a Tiberius, Domitian, Caligula, and Nero.

Education, 1835

Knowledge is Power

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Amid the various subjects which present themselves to the attention of the philosophic inquirer, we know not of anyone more national in its interests, or worthy of minute attention, than that which investigates the theory and practice of public instruction. The assertion that ‘knowledge is power,’ is verified on every page of history, present or past. To the neglect of this great auxiliary in the political condition of mankind, may be ascribed the downfall of the ancient republics. In tracing the history of Greece, as a commonwealth, we lose sight of her general condition in the contemplation of her few great names, and thus draw an unfair inference in reference to her intellectual character. We admit that her annals are enriched by some extraordinary exhibitions of original genius, between the period of Solon and that of her final subjugation by the Romans…..But the mass of her population was immersed in the grossest ignorance, and this circumstance materially hastened her decline.

Education, 1835

Check out Jacob Chamberlain’s classic book, “The Kingdom India”

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It is interesting to note that Full Well publisher has recently deemed the India missionary’s classic book worthy of reprinting in a paperback format. I recently read this book and found it very interesting, a richly detailed personification of 19th century missions programs around the world, particularly in India.

For those who are wondering about the rationale behind the explosion of Christian mission programs during the 19th and 20th centuries, Chamberlain’s book, “The Kingdom in India,” provides a very good place to start your studies. Jacob Chamberlain’s life story provides an exceptional model of Christian missionary service, one who served as Christ’s hands of ministry, fulfilling the Great Commission of the New Testament. Chamberlain’s life story echoes the words of Jesus as he began his ministry at the synagogue in Nazareth, unrolling the scroll to read aloud the words of the prophet Isaiah: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free,to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Then, in explanation of the text, Jesus said to those assembled there, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4)

Although critics typically accuse 19th century Christian missionaries of paternalism, the truth is that the backward conditions in countries such as India during the 19th century perhaps explain the need for the leadership they provided, which explains why American missionaries and doctors at the time found wide open doors for their service of providing educational and medical programs in the 19th and 20th centuries. Certainly the role of American missionaries in the 21st century may never be quite the same now that the nations of the world have been challenged to provide higher living standards, health care, and education for their peoples. And yet Jesus, in another place, tells us that the poor we have with us always, both the spiritually poor as well as the materially poor. In every age, in every place, in many ways Christ continues to seek disciples who will be his hands of ministry to those in need.

The Kingdom in India
Jacob Chamberlain
missionary adventure
Full Well Ventures
May 26, 2014

The Rev. Jacob Chamberlain, M.D., D.D., (1835-1908) served as a missionary to India with the Reformed Church in America for nearly fifty years, mainly stationed at Madanapalle, where he tended the sick, preached the Gospel in many cities and villages, distributed Christian literature, and contributed to the establishment of a number of schools and colleges, infirmaries and hospitals.

"[AMAZONPRODUCTS asin="1628340029"]," written in 1908, is his third and final book, written shortly before his death and published posthumously. In the first few chapters Chamberlain details some of the issues faced by Christian apologists introducing Jesus to a people whose country was dominated by the polytheistic religiosity of Hinduism and Buddhism. He goes on to summarize some of the amazing stories of conversions that he personally saw during his many years of missionary service.

A Few Plain Thoughts on Poetry

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An essay first published in the March 1837 issue of “The Knickerbocker” magazine in which the virtues and value of poetry are lauded in a most elegant style. Says the “Knickerbocker” writer:

Take from us the belief in a future existence, and Poetry is shorn of her beams; but let her discuss those subjects connected with our immortal destiny, and she assumes an appearance of inexpressible glory; she strips us for a time of our earthly garments, that we may follow her to the pure river of life, and like the repentant tear which the Peri conveyed to the angel, removes the crystal bar which binds the gates of paradise.

And also:

Poetry is the appropriate handmaid of Religion; and says Wolfe: ‘The homage of Voltaire to the muse’s piety remains a bright memorial of her allegiance to Christianity.’ When the powers of hell seemed for a time to prevail, and his principles had given a shock to the faith of Europe, the daring blasphemer ventured to approach the dramatic muse; but no inspiration would she vouchsafe to dignify the sentiments of impiety and atheism. He found that no impassioned emotion could be roused—no tragic interest excited—no generous and lofty feeling called into action, where those dark and chilling feelings pervade.

Of course this assumes that all could write poetry. Yes, if only I were a good poet and not merely a mediocre hack in that department. Well, I will not judge myself too harshly. The forms of poetry may be good or bad. It is the divine thought or the hissing snake that makes the difference, as one might imagine.