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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/577

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EDITOR'S TABLE.

observation and reason. In one of the dispatches received by "The New York Times" from the scene of the disaster it was stated that some persons who had been rescued from the flood only to find themselves sole survivors of their families had abandoned all faith in Providence, and had emphasized their change of mind by casting away their Bibles. This affords an illustration of a kind of faith that never should have existed. These persons had evidently cherished the idea that, if they tried to live religiously, Providence would see that they did not suffer from the effects either of their own or of others' carelessness; and that natural agencies of a destructive character would in some mysterious way be instructed to pass them over, even while causing havoc all around. This expectation having been falsified by facts, their faith in the divine government is not only shaken but destroyed. Their standpoint is manifestly a less reasonable and noble one than that of the patriarch Job, who in the depth of his trouble could exclaim, "Though He slay me, yet will I trust him."

Herein lies a lesson for the clergy and for all teachers of youth. The only stable faith is one that reposes upon the order of nature, or at least that fully accepts that order, and is therefore prepared for all that may flow from it. The man who supposes that by any pious observances he can, to even the smallest extent, guarantee himself or bis household from fire or flood, from pestilence, famine, or any form of physical disaster is virtually a fetich-worshiper. The pact he strives to make with the power he recognizes is of the nature of a private bargain, according to the terms of which exceptions to the general working of natural laws are to be made whenever his individual interests seem to require it. That man, on the other hand, has a rational faith which will never be put to shame, who, accepting the general scheme of things as something fixed, and preparing himself for all that may necessarily flow therefrom, strives to make the best possible life for himself and others. Such a man does not expect security if the conditions that guarantee it have not been fulfilled. Ho knows that pestilence will "come nigh his dwelling" unless sanitary measures are enforced in the neighborhood. He knows that vigilance is the price not only of civil liberty but of freedom from all the avoidable ills of life. He sees that the laws of life rightly observed are the source of abundant happiness, and that all that is needed to make life increasingly worth living is greater insight into the natural order of things, and a due inclination of the heart to do the things which the book of the law prescribes. It seems too much almost to hope that any adequate compensation can be found for so stupendous a disaster as that at Johnstown and in the valley of the Conemaugh; but the suffering and loss it has entailed will not have been wholly in vain if we can bring ourselves to regard the calamity as a great national object-lesson in the paramount necessity of placing human life under the safeguards that science is prepared, to supply, and in the duty that devolves upon every individual in the community to contribute his own quota of reflection and action to the general welfare. One man, by a policy of masterly inactivity, re-established the falling fortunes of the Roman state: who knows what one man, by a resolute activity founded on common sense, might have done to avert one of the greatest calamities of modern times?

 

 

MENTAL GROWTH FROM MANUAL TRAINING.

The new class of schools which includes in its course of study exercises for the hands has been much misunderstood, even by some who have undertaken the charge of such institutions. The phrase "manual training" in the names of these schools has conveyed the impression that hand-work is not only their