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The Inner Life - HAVERFORD COLLEGE Post by :studentbee Category :Essays Author :John Greenleaf Whittier Date :April 2012 Read :3056

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Letter to President Thomas Chase, LL. D.

AMESBURY, MASS., 9th mo., 1884.

THE Semi-Centennial of Haverford College is an event that no member of the Society of Friends can regard without deep interest. It would give me great pleasure to be with you on the 27th inst., but the years rest heavily upon me, and I have scarcely health or strength for such a journey.

It was my privilege to visit Haverford in 1838, in "the day of small beginnings." The promise of usefulness which it then gave has been more than fulfilled. It has grown to be a great and well-established institution, and its influence in thorough education and moral training has been widely felt. If the high educational standard presented in the scholastic treatise of Barclay and the moral philosophy of Dymond has been lowered or disowned by many who, still retaining the name of Quakerism, have lost faith in the vital principle wherein precious testimonials of practical righteousness have their root, and have gone back to a dead literalness, and to those materialistic ceremonials for leaving which our old confessors suffered bonds and death, Haverford, at least, has been in a good degree faithful to the trust committed to it.

Under circumstances of more than ordinary difficulty, it has endeavored to maintain the Great Testimony. The spirit of its culture has not been a narrow one, nor could it be, if true to the broad and catholic principles of the eminent worthies who founded the State of Pennsylvania, Penn, Lloyd, Pastorius, Logan, and Story; men who were masters of the scientific knowledge and culture of their age, hospitable to all truth, and open to all light, and who in some instances anticipated the result of modern research and critical inquiry.

It was Thomas Story, a minister of the Society of Friends, and member of Penn's Council of State, who, while on a religious visit to England, wrote to James Logan that he had read on the stratified rocks of Scarborough, as from the finger of God, proofs of the immeasurable age of our planet, and that the "days" of the letter of Scripture could only mean vast spaces of time.

May Haverford emulate the example of these brave but reverent men, who, in investigating nature, never lost sight of the Divine Ideal, and who, to use the words of Fenelon, "Silenced themselves to hear in the stillness of their souls the inexpressible voice of Christ." Holding fast the mighty truth of the Divine Immanence, the Inward Light and Word, a Quaker college can have no occasion to renew the disastrous quarrel of religion with science. Against the sublime faith which shall yet dominate the world, skepticism has no power. No possible investigation of natural facts; no searching criticism of letter and tradition can disturb it, for it has its witness in all human hearts.

That Haverford may fully realize and improve its great opportunities as an approved seat of learning and the exponent of a Christian philosophy which can never be superseded, which needs no change to fit it for universal acceptance, and which, overpassing the narrow limits of sect, is giving new life and hope to Christendom, and finding its witnesses in the Hindu revivals of the Brahmo Somaj and the fervent utterances of Chunda Sen and Mozoomdar, is the earnest desire of thy friend.

John Greenleaf Whittier's essays: Inner Life

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