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It has already appeared that I rested my hopes almost solely on the proper education of the young. It was in this view, and in reference to the peculiar character of the work, that in writing to one of my liberal friends about this time, after adverting to the various means which were employed for the promotion of liberal christianity, I gave it as my unhesitating opinion that the only monthly journal then published on the subject of education, and which had just been established under the direction of Unitarians, was doing more for the cause of Unitarianism than all things else put together. * This remark, whether just or not, was, as I was afterwards told, extensively circulated; and while I was not a little flattered by the attention it received, I was not altogether pleased to have my letters carried about from place to place, or their contents made the subject of frequent remark. I liked the treason much better than the traitor.
At this period it was impossible for me to conceive how people could reconcile improved views
* My meaning was, that by its aid in improving mankind in early infancy, and keeping what I called "systems” and “creeds” out of the way, the work in question would indirectly promote Unitarianism. The journal referred to passed, soon afterward, into other hands.
of education, especially of infant education, with the old-fashioned theology. Had any one told me that within six years from that period, I should myself come to believe them perfectly compatible with evangelical sentiments, I could no more have believed his prediction, than had he said that Jupiter would become a comet in the same time.
So far as the existing fashionable systems of education tend to develope mere intellect, at the expense, or with the neglect of the body or the affections, the tendency will be anti-evangelical. And that such is the tendency of fashionable systems of education, I have already intimated ; and shall, in another place, attempt to prove.*
I am not ignorant that there are many who would bring up children without any religious opinions. They would implant good babits, by the force of example and other means, as early as possible, but leave them to form their creed for themselves, when they come to years of discretion. But is such a thing possible ? By no means. What though you never say a word to a child in regard to your own, or any other religious opinions ? Unless brought up like Caspar Hauser, he still has his creed. Not written, it is true ; but
* See Appendix, note B.
what is the difference? He just as surely imbibes opinions in morals and religion from his parents character and conduct, as he does opinions in regard to his parents' mode of life, occupations, &c., &c. And those opinions, have as much influence on his conduct, as if they were written; perhaps even more. It is vain therefore, to talk of educating the young in a neutrality of opinion on moral subjects, more than on any
and still more in vain to raise a hue and cry against creeds.
Sickness of a young man.-Reflections.-Sickness and death
of a disciple in error.—My own “management.”
In the neighborhood where I resided, a young man was taken sick with a fever, which lasted nearly three months. As I was an intimate friend of the family, I often visited him. He was about twelve years of age.
His relatives were eminently pious people ; and both his father and grandfather, deacons in the church. The young man possessed a most excellent moral character, but had hitherto given no decided evidence of piety.
In the progress of the disease, some of the symptoms became alarming. The physician, who acquainted the parents with his state from day to day, at length candidly told them that the danger was much greater than it had hitherto been, though the case was by no means hopeless. It was his general practice—and a judicious one too—to tell but one story; he did not in the sick room represent the symptoms to be favorable, and then go into the next room and pronounce the patient very
dangerous. The curious parents and friends, however, were not equally judicious in improving the warning given them, in relation to the young man; and, in the present instance, particularly,the results of his disclosures were deeply unfortunate. For no sooner was the word danger mentioned than they took the alarm at once, and what was worse, alarmed the young man.
A state of things was now produced which rendered the actual danger far greater than before. Sighs and sobs, and down-cast and dismal looks, —perhaps tears, also—and the cold wishes of parting friends, who visited him quite too often, told more plainly than words could have done it, that they looked daily and hourly for his dissolution. The prayers of pious friends at his bedside were frequent and ardent, and notwithstanding doubts in the minds of the parents of my own orthodoxy, I was once or twice called on to lead in these exercises. Nothing was more abhorrent to my feelings at this period than the idea of trying to benefit the souls of the sick in this manner ; but to gratify friends, and save my reputation, which, as an evangelical man, with them had been for sometime on the decline, I consented. There is no room for doubt that the disease was rendered much more formidable and protracted