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A variety of remarks might here be made on the nature of the religious culture thus strongly
most important beings, the very beings in this enlightened country whose immortal interests are the most neglected !
“ If every English gentleman did but seriously reflect, how much the future moral prosperity of his country depended on the education he may at this moment be giving his son, even if his paternal feelings did not stimulate his zealous endeavours, his patriotic would.
“Let it be your principal concern to train up your son in the fear of God. Make this fear, which is not only the beginning of wisdom ’ in point of excellence, the same also in priority of time. Let the beginning of wisdom be made the beginning of education. Imbue the youthful mind betimes with correct tastes, sound principles, good affections, and right habits. Consider that the tastes, principles, affections, and habits, he now forms, are to be the elements of his future character, the fountain of honourable actions, the germ of whatever may hereafter be pure, virtuous, lovely, and of good report.
“ There is no true elevation of soul, but what the youth must acquire by the knowledge of God, as revealed in his
word; no perfect example, but that exhibited to him in the • 1 character of his Divine Son; nothing but the Gospel, through
the grace of God, will check his corruptions, give him a sense of his accountableness, and raise his nature above the degraded state to which sin has reduced it.
"Fancy not that these acquisitions and pursuits will blight the opening buds of youthful gaiety, that they will check his vivacity, or obstruct his amiable cheerfulness. The ingenuous unvitiated mind is never so happy as when in a state of virtuous exertion, as when engaged about some object to which it must look up, something which, kindling its energies, raises its views; something which excites the ambition of lifting it above itself.
recommended; but as some of these will occur when we come to consider the Christian education of the poor, it will not be necessary to touch upon the subject at present.
There is, however, one point which must not be passed by unnoticed; namely, the great importance of impressing on the minds of children and young persons in the respectable walks of life, from which our clergy are usually taken, and especially on those who are themselves designed for holy orders, the exalted nature of the duties of the sacred profession. In the third Section we shall have occasion to consider the great responsibility of the ministerial office, and the necessity of introducing a more specific and devotional line of education for it than is now attainable in the usual course of school and college discipline: but, in the mean time, it seems not superfluous
“ Much less fear that the pursuits here recommended will depress his genius ; they will exalt it: his mind will find wider room in which to expand, bis horizon will be more extensive, his intellectual eye will take in a wider range, the whole man will have an ampler region in which to expatiate. To know that he is formed for immortality is not likely to contract his ideas, or to shorten his views. It is irreligion which shrinks and shrivels up the faculties, by debasing the spirit and degrading the soul.”
The whole chapter is equally excellent, and deserves an ate tentive perusal.
to urge upon the minds of parents the duty of giving their children just and scriptural ideas of the obligations of that most important function. Let a youth destined for holy orders learn from his very childhood that much will be required of him; that if he should be privileged with the investiture of the sacred profession, and become a teacher of others, he must be himself an active, devoted, disinterested, and faithful soldier of Jesus Christ; that he must be willing to “ spend and be spent” in his service; that he must shew himself in all things “an ensample to the flock," and endeavour, in humble reliance on the grace of God, and by the diligent use of every means in his power, " to save himself and them that hear him." It is not, however, of course, to be expected that a young person should obtain adequate ideas of the duties of the sacred office; but he may at least be prevented imbibing those false and degrading notions respecting it which are too current in society: he needs not, for example, be instructed that he is “ to go into the church," as the phrase runs, for the sake of an easy life, or because there is a living in the family,” or because he is not qualified to shine in secular pursuits. Rather let him be taught early, and as far as he can comprehend the subject, the high importance of the function,
the awful hazard of discharging it unworthily, and the nature of the spiritual qualifications, necessary for a right performance of its duties. Let it be set before him as an office of the highest moment; and at which he is to aim, as a man of the world would say, only by endeavouring to become worthy of it; or, to speak more correctly, as an office which he must take upon him, like the great Apostle, in “ weakness and fear, and in much trembling,” as conscious of his unworthiness. If every parent would habitually impress upon his child,and every preceptor upon his pupil, considerations like these, and would moreover consider it a point of absolute duty not to encourage the entrance of any young person into holy orders who does not evidence some hopeful germ of early piety and a personal predilection for the sacred office, much religious benefit would doubtless accrue to the present and future generations; for on nothing, as we shall see more at large hereafter, does the devotional spirit of a country more depend, than upon the ideas entertained of the sacred office by its members and society at large.
iii. Religious Education of the Infant Poor.
We now arrive at the consideration of a third mode in which the laity, without at all overstepping the line of their specific duties, may
foster and perpetuate devotion and church principles throughout the country; namely, by providing for the religious education of the infant poor. The great importance of this topic, and the controversies which have been agitated respecting it, will justify our devoting a considerable space for its discussion.
“ That the soul be without knowledge is not good,” was the opinion of him who was the wisest of mere men, and who himself possessed à variety of knowledge, “ from the cedar of Lebanon, to the hyssop that springeth out of the wall.” Such, also, has been the judgment of wise and good men in every age* ; such is
“ I think,” said the Honourable Robert Boyle, “ the rectifying the education of youth to be a thing so important, that till it shall please God to awaken men to a greater sense than they now have of the necessity and usefulness of that, I shall scarcely expect any such reformation as I wish either of men's principles or manners.” A similar opinion seems now to be spreading widely throughout the world. In Russia, Prussia, Poland, Sweden, France, and in various parts of Italy and Germany, and other places, great exertions are being made to diffuse education among the people. And it is somewhat remarkable, that while controversialists in England have been debating whether the education of the poor would prove a general blessing, documents like the following should have issued from a Negro cabinet. The extract is taken from the preamble of the slate] King of Hayti's truly enlightened Proclamation for the general establishment of schools throughout his part of the island of St. Domingo.