As religion is the corner-stone on which alone we have attempted to rear the fabric of morality, the degree of attention which it has received in the instruction and discipline of the Institute, forms another topic in our report. And here while the retrospect affords cause for congratulation that much has been done, it still leaves room for regret that much also has been left undone. It would be an affectation of modesty, however, to disclaim the consciousness that in all our plans and operations, there has been a uniform and earnest endeavor to sustain our religious professions. Accordingly, pains have been taken to give interest to the services of the chapel, and the decorum with which these have been attended by the students has been peculiarly gratifying. The regular and private reading of the Holy Scriptures has been a prescribed, duty and provision made for it in the daily routine of business. Portions of the inspired volume have been explained, after having been committed to memory, weekly; as also the Catechism and Services of the Episcopal Church. The observance of the Lord’s day has been enforced, on the one hand, with a moderation which perceives the danger of rendering its duties tedious and irksome; yet on the other, with a strictness which would guard against the opposite and more common error, of allowing it to relax into a mere holiday for indulgence and amusement. With this view, the tasks of a sacred character required on Sundays have been light, while alluring and persuasive methods have been varied and multiplied, to induce a profitable employment of the time not appropriated to devotional exercises. We thus have succeeded, to an encouraging extent, in preserving the appropriate quiet of the day, and in using it as a means of spiritual edification, without investing it with the gloom and repulsiveness which not unfrequently counteract the beneficent design of the institution; a point which every one practically acquainted with the government of the young, will acknowledge to be as difficult as any other within the sphere of Christian education. In like manner we have been careful to render all the associations of Religion agreeable. Aware, too, that in moral culture, it is the indirect influence which the young disciple is exposed, in the tone and manner of things and in the every day habits of those around him, that operates to the formation of his sentiments and character more powerfully than any repetition of precepts or formal exhibition of example, we have endeavored that religion should be viewed as the source of contentment and self-government to its possessors, and not at variance with the declaration that its ways are “ways of pleasantness, and all its paths are peace.” Pious sensibility has been tenderly cherished whenever it has appeared, and in awakening it, much has been done in the way of private and familiar conversation.
—William Augustus Muhlenberg, Christian Education (1831)