« ForrigeFortsett »
sciences, and that these two natural orders must be un
question. But I am happy that it has been started here, and I sincerely hope that its discussion will not end with the exercises of this day. I believe results of the greatest practical moment depend upon the proper discussion and decision of this question. I hope the attention of the members of this noble Institute may be given to it another year, and that we may have a paper prepared upon it that it may be properly brought before us, and that we may have a discussion commensurate with its merits and importance.
One thought further, and I have done. I am one of those who believe that correct physical culture has a tendency to promote good morals. I am one of those who believe that filthy habits and a pure heart cannot live together. It has been asserted on high authority, by a divine whose name I will not mention, nor do I make the statement because I wish to be understood as endorsing it, that there is a more intimate relation between soap and salvation than most men are aware of. I believe, to say the least, that there is a great deal of philosophy in that assertion, and I derive my highest argument for those physical exercises, we have witnessed to-day, from this consideration. I will not admit that there is a single gentleman on this floor who feels more deeply than I, the importance of proper, direct efforts, for the moral education of our youth ; and I will go so far as to say that I will not call that education at all which ignores direct efforts for the moral and religious culture of youth. But I do not on this account undervalue intellectual culture, believing that this intellectual nature is given us to minister to our higher, spiritual nature ; and I believe these two departments of our nature are inseparably and indissolubly connected ; and I say, “ What God has joined, let no man put asunder.” (Applause.)
REV. B. G. NORTHROP said: – Mr. President, — In the discussion of this question, much depends upon the definition given to the term “good morals,” which, as I understand it, signifies the system and practice of the duties of men in their social character.
To this question three answers may be given : 1. That purely intellectual culture tends to immorality.
2. That it is neutral in its character, exerting no positive influence in either direction.
3. That purely intellectual culture does tend to promote good morals.
I. The theory that purely intellectual culture is demoralizing, has found able and earnest advocates. As ignorance has been regarded as the mother of devotion, so learning has been stigmatized as the parent of pride, sophistry, infidelity, and immorality. But the experience of the world has proved that ignorance is the mother of superstition, rather than devotion, and it is only philosophy, falsely so called, - philosophy perverted, — that tends to scepticism, diffuses error, encourages immorality, and upholds systems of wrong and oppression.
True, learning may become a splendid implement of evil, and it has often been made to minister to man's corrupt desires. But what may not be perverted to evil? It is no more a fault of learning, than it is of Christianity, that each has been leagued with tyranny, distorted into superstition, and allied to cant or to heartless formalism. It is not the fault of poetry that the muse has pandered to our worst passions, as well as inspired our highest and noblest emotions. It involves no just condemnation of music, that its voluptuous strains have contributed to the excitements of revelry or riot, or its clarion tones provoked the atrocities of war, as effectually as its plaintive harmonies have quickened the aspirations of faith, and the raptures of praise.
II. Is intellectual culture a mere neutral thing, having no influence upon morals ?
Education is a power, a formative and controlling power, and, even when addressed purely to the intellect, reaches beyond that, and in some degree affects the whole complex nature, physical and moral, as well as mental. True culture of the mind invigorates even the body, and conduces to health, makes the blood course in stronger currents through the system, enlarges the brain, erects the form, softens the features, brightens the eye, animates the countenance, and dignifies the whole person. So also it penetrates within and reaches the heart, influencing the passions, quickening the natural desires of the soul, appealing to the sensibilities, and disciplining the will. The mind is a unit, and, however we may analyze and subdivide its powers, we cannot address and develop any one faculty independently. They are so interlaced that the right culture of any one in some measure quickens and develops others also. When, for example, the teacher seeks to train the eye to the close and exhaustive study of objects, he is at the same time — however unconsciously - educating the faculties of conception, memory, imagination, and reason. For these clear perceptions are the source of distinct conceptions, of accurate remembrances, and, by their varied combinations, of all beautiful ideals. Such accurate perceptions of the qualities of individual objects prepare pupils to trace the resemblances and difference of things, and thus early lead to the important exercise of comparison and classification and the discipline of the reflective faculties. So, between the mental and moral nature, there is a certain connection, not, indeed, so close and necessary as that now traced between the different intellectual faculties, but still an intimate and vital relation, and reciprocation of influence, which cannot be severed or interrupted without doing violence to our whole nature.
The question now under consideration is not whether intellectual culture is sufficient to secure good morals, but whether it has any tendency in that direction. In illustration of our position, we confidently affirm that even purely physical culture has a tendency to promote good morals. · A great portion of the vice which afflicts the world, comes from physical causes; from sloth, and consequent idleness, want and destitution on the one hand, and voluptuousness, luxury, and intemperance on the other. When self-induced, as is so commonly the case, it may well be said, in the words of Horace Mann, just quoted by the gentleman from N. Jersey: “A disordered stomach is an abomination to the Lord, as truly as lying lips.” A cold heart and a dull head may often be traced to repletion, and fasting may sometimes be as good a prescription for the mind as for the body. As vice enervates the body, so physical ailments enfeeble and derange the mind, and mar and deface, if not vitiate and debase, the character. . · Irritability, moroseness, misanthropy, despair and selfishness, are often confirmed, if not caused, by diseases, which proper regimen and exercise would have prevented. Who can doubt, that the general adoption of some measure of the rigid training and simple fare of the professed pugilist, would remove a frightful mass of immorality and misery from the community ? Much as we abhor the brutalities and atrocities of the ring, the “ Champion of the World” may, unwittingly, become the benefactor of men, if we learn from him the value and self-denying
methods of physical training, and its important results in the different directions of health, strength, endurance, agility, and courage.
A great advance in morals will mark the era in which men understand that health is a duty, as well as a privilege, and that they wrong their conscience, as well as their constitution, when they violate the laws of hygiene.
III. This subject will appear in a clearer light if we speak not only of general tendencies, but specify in what particulars intellectual culture is favorable to good mor
1. It tends to raise one above the region of sensuality, and the pursuit of low and grovelling pleasures, and fosters a taste for higher employments and enjoyments: Culture does not prevent all vices, but its tendency is to ameliorate the character and condition of men, and raise them from the depths of barbarism and savageness, to the higher plane of civilization, checking the coarser vices, and inspiring men with nobler aims and aspirations.
2. Intellectual culture tends to free the mind from superstition and narrow prejudice. Truth is the basis of morality, while error and bigotry must ever be unfavorable to virtue.
3. Intellectual culture stimulates and energizes the mind, and gives it a new and exbilarating life and higher power, while it quickens the currents of life in the body itself. Energy of mind ministers to strength of the body while physical health and vigor conduce to activity of mind, decision of character, and force of will.
4. Intellectual culture increases the incentives to activity, and proffers rich and precious advantages as the rewards of scholarship. It greatly multiplies our sources of rational enjoyment. Earnest, intellectual effort, especially when stimulated by success, - brings its own