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Can there be need of further evidence to show that apperception is a fundamental principle of all the teaching of our Divine Master? Were we to continue our investigation, and consider each and every parable uttered during the course of His public instruction, would we not inevitably arrive at the same conclusion? The images used were always those objects lying nearest to the daily experience of the persons to whom He spoke. These images were varied by the all-wise Teacher in accordance with the particular characteristics or the occupations of those by whom He was surrounded on each occasion, and also with the nature and customs of the district or country in which He delivered the parable. In some instances, as we have seen, when addressing a mixed multitude, He used a number of different images, reaching one class of persons with the first parable, another class with the second, and so on until He had touched the apperception masses of all present. The images having been carefully chosen, each idea contained in the parable was so carefully linked to the one preceding and following it, as to form an unbroken chain of thought; while the resemblance between the image and the person or thing thereby represented was carefully maintained throughout. When the lesson intended by the parable involved a rearrangement or readjustment of the ideas composing the apperception mass, this was most carefully brought about by the Master in preparation for the assimilation of the new idea. The sequence of ideas was always such as to secure a thorough comprehension of the lesson to be taught, clearness governed all His statements, and His choice of words made His teaching suitable to all classes of persons. The highest and most sublime truths were conveyed to them by means of the simplest expressions and the most commonplace images. The Master also proportioned His teaching to the capacity of the minds of His hearers; His infinite wisdom suited the quantity as well as the quality of His instruction to the limitations of the intelligence of those with whom He came in contact. Every detail in the process of apperception was most skilfully carried out, and with it were combined the other principles of teaching that have been so much emphasized by modern educators, namely those of interest, repetition, association, imitation, and application.


It has been the purpose of this dissertation to analyze the method of teaching used by Christ, more particularly to show that the dominant principles which are clearly evident in the process of His instruction include the fundamental principles of modern pedagogy, embraced in the comprehensive term,— apperception. The practical conclusion to which our consideration naturally leads is that the teacher of religion cannot do better than look upon Him as the Ideal Master, and endeavor to embody in her daily work the effective means that characterized His labors as the Teacher of mankind. In imparting to children the truths of the Christian religion, the teacher is dealing with the same subject-matter with which the Divine Master Himself was concerned in His intercourse with the multitude who flocked about Him from day to day, as also in His more intimate discourses with His Apostles and disciples. Is it not, therefore, a mark of presumption and folly for a teacher of religion to hope to attain good results by the use of any other method than that employed by the Divine Founder of Christianity? It is self-evident that in the teaching of religion, the instructor cannot afford to disregard the principles that have been dealt with in this dissertation as forming a basis upon which the Divine Teacher built up His system of instruction.

This does not mean, however, that the teaching of religion must be carried on entirely by the use of parables. It is true that a large number of the lessons of the Saviour was delivered in this form of discourse, but He did not confine Himself exclusively to it. What we do maintain is that the teaching of religion must be a vital process, not merely a setting forth or a memorizing of the abstract statements of the Catechism. The teacher must prepare the minds of the pupils for the new lesson to be taught, by calling forth the proper apperception mass, using analogies and illustrations that will help to make clear and intelligible the new ideas, and in this way adapt the new material, without in the least changing its nature, to the psychological condition of the pupils. This is precisely what the Divine Master did in his daily intercourse with the multitude. He possessed the fulness of knowledge on all subjects; being Himself the Author of nature, of the elements, and of the laws govern

ing all creation, He understood perfectly the intricate workings of all things that He had made. Yet He offered to His hearers no scientific explanations of physical phenomena, no subtle or abstruse theories in regard to things human or divine, but confined Himself to the use of the simplest illustrations, always calling their attention to the most common and obvious facts and processes, to the most ordinary occurrences, which were within the realm of consciousness of the ignorant as well as the learned, of the poor as well as the rich, of the child as well as of the person of more mature judgment. By such references to familiar things, He led their minds from the known to a knowledge of what was hitherto entirely unintelligible to them, and enabled them not only to acquire this new knowledge of the point in question, but exercised their minds in the practice of consciously combining one idea with another so as to arrive. by their own power of thought to an ever-increasing understanding of facts and processes. In other words, His hearers were enabled by the Master's method of procedure to learn also the art of acquiring knowledge for themselves. It is further evident from the pages of the Gospels, that the Saviour, by the use of concrete illustrations, reached not only the minds but also the hearts of His hearers. He appealed to certain emotions which, when aroused, not only aided the intellect to understand the truth presented, but moved the will to act in accordance with the line of conduct which the new knowledge suggested. This is also the purpose of the teacher of religion; for what will it avail to have educated the intellect of the child, to have given him a thorough understanding of the truths of religion, if the lesson does not touch the will, and urge it to the cultivation of habits that will be in conformity with Christian principles?

We are justified, therefore, it would seem, in concluding that since the teacher of religion is dealing with the same subjectmatter as used by Christ in His work of instruction; since her object, like that of the Saviour, is to impart a knowledge of the truths of religion, and to dispose the hearts of her pupils to live in accordance with this acquired knowledge, the method best calculated to reach the desired end is precisely the method used by the Divine Master.

It may be objected, however, by some educators who are not in sympathy with the views herein expressed, that there is an

other factor in the teaching of religion which has not been taken into consideration,-that, though the subject-matter and the purpose of the teacher of religion are the same as those of Christ, yet the auditors are of a different nature or type. "Christ," they say, "spoke to Orientals, to whose minds the parable or figure appeals rather strongly. These parables and figures are not adapted to the minds of the Western world." In reply to this objection it may be admitted that there are differences in mental characteristics as well as in physical traits of the various races, but the workings of the human mind are fundamentally uniform. The same faculties of memory, imagination, understanding, and volition are found in all races and peoples, though the degree of development of these several faculties may vary greatly. The Western mind exercises its imagination as well as the other faculties, though perhaps not to the same extent as does the Oriental, yet the parables and analogies of the Gospels are not of such a nature as to be beyond the reach of the imagination of the people of the Western world.

Another objector may say, "Christ spoke to adults, we deal with children." This objection would seem to imply that the concrete processes used in the parables for the purpose of illustration might be familiar to the mature mind but they are not within the realm of the experiences of the child, hence beyond his comprehension. It is evident that this charge is somewhat overdrawn, since the majority of the images used by Christ were concerned with the most common and ordinary processes in nature, with which even children are acquainted. In this connection it may be well also to distinguish between the parables used by Christ and the principles of teaching upon which they are based. Though in some instances the image used in the parable may be one that would not appeal to children, the teacher of religion should bear in mind the underlying principle, that in all instruction the best results are attained by the use of illustrations that come nearest to the child's experience. It is not required that she confine herself strictly to the images used by Christ, but she should exercise her tact in selecting those analogies that are most suitable to the minds of her pupils. These will not be the same for all children, much will depend on the child's inheritance and environment. St. Paul's forcible words are again applicable here: "The letter


In the

(of the law) killeth, but the spirit quickeneth. teaching of this great Apostle of the Gentiles we find an example of the use of an image that is not contained in the discourses of Christ, but which was better adapted to the minds, of his audience than would have been, perhaps, the figures of the Gospels. Writing to the Corinthians he says, "Know you not that they that run in the race, all run indeed, but one receiveth the prize? So run that you may obtain. ''264 This reference was to something that was very familiar to the inhabitants at Corinth, for the "race" formed one of the contests of the Isthmian games which were held there and which served, more than its commercial prosperity, to make Corinth famous.265 The prize, which was considered as the highest distinction which the Greeks could bestow, was a wreath of olive or laurel. This figure, therefore, called forth a larger number of and more forcible apperceiving ideas to the minds of the Corinthians, than could have been aroused by an image which was less familiar to the Greeks.

It may be further objected that the Church does not teach by parables but by dogmatic pronouncements. It is true that the Church sets forth dogmatically the truths which all must accept and believe who would be members of the fold of Christ. These, however, are proclaimed as ends to be attained by the teaching body, while parables and analogies, as used by the Divine Master Himself, are means to be used for securing the end. While the Church defines doctrines and requires their acceptance, she does not prescribe the means that must be employed to explain these doctrines to the faithful. The teacher of religion is at liberty to follow the method of teaching that will bring the best results. By the use of illustrations and analogies she can adapt the doctrine to the understanding of the immature mind, and prepare the way for the fuller comprehension of the great truths in maturer years, when the adult can be offered more scientific arguments for the defense of his Faith.

263 2 Cor., III, 6.

264 1 Cor., IX, 24.

265 M'Carthy, Daniel, Epistles and Gospels, p. 94. Dublin, 1866.

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