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hood, man is scarcely at all a subject treated as a mere ceremony, an inof moral discipline or spiritual bless- sulated act, unconnected with the ings. We have, indeed, reason to daily principles in which the child bless God, that we have not yet in is brought up ; and that from the general aspired to so courageous first the form of godliness is taught, and enlightened a resolution, as that while the power of it is neglected ? of withholding from our offspring in But let us follow the child to his their early years the very name of re- seminary of classical instruction.-If Jigion: we are desirous to have them he be trained up here in the nurture baptised as soon as possible; we re- and admonition of his Saviour, it is quire them to say the Lord's Prayer, not, I fear, to be ascribed to the preand perhaps some other prayers, caution and selection of his parents. morning and evening; and we teach If the situation recommend itself to them to repeat the Catechism with them by cheapness, salubrity, the accuracy. Beyond this, however, prospect of good connections, and we proceed but a little way: it is the master's reputation for general scarcely ever made a matter of serious ability, they have satisfied their coninquiry,whether they understand any science, without ever making it a part of those great elementary truths subject of minute inquiry, whether which their tongues recite. Thus the sound religious principles be habireligious career of the future scholaris tually instilled into the minds of the somewhat inauspicious in its begin- scholars. But what is the general ning. From the care of his mother, fact? what,for example, is the general (for to the fair sex are we in general impression left upon the mind, with indebted for whatever piety is in- respect to our greal systems of pubstilled into our infant minds), he is lic instruction? Do they strike us removed to some introductory school; in any other light than as processes where, perhaps, be reads through the whereby a competent skill is acwhole Bible from beginning to end, quired in the Latin and Greek lanwithout ever being taught to reflect guages? We are accustomed to speak upon the awful subjects through of effect in specimens of art. In like which he passes, and to which he is manner, in contemplating our mealmost as insensible as the brute thods of education, the effect, if I animal, pacing the same dull weary may be allowed the expression, seems round, to the mechanical principles barely literary, scarcely moral, much of the work which he is employed less religious; though, occasionally, to set in motion.
considerable attention may be paid What shall we say to these things? to religion. This is an argument Can any man, who really considers that Christian piety is not the prehis children in a more interesting vailing concern, the pervading prinlight than as amusing playthings, ciple, the spirit that influences and or mere objects of natural affection; gives a character to the whole sy who seriously contemplates them as stem. If we enter more into detail, heirs of human corruption, but de- little care appears to be taken fully signed, through the infinite mercy of to secure a conscientious observance God, to be made partakers of redemp- of the Lord's-day. All the boys, it tion by a spiritual renovation of their is true, are obliged to attend public fallen nature :--can any man, believ- worship with the strictest punctuaing these momentous truths, fail to lity; and to the honour of some, I perceive that the very commence- fear not all, of our great seminaries, ment of the great work of education it must be remembered, that an outis commonly controuled and directed ward decorum is observed in their by other principles than the wisdom behaviour there :~but are they not that is from above, and the doctrine suffered to enter the house of God that is according to godliness ; that without being habitually taught even the divine sacrament of baptism is the pature of that preparation of the heart, without which the prostration dental objects, or rather, I fear, no of the body does but mock the puc objects at all. Now, though it would rity of Heaven? That quick sense of be absurd to assert that the Bible the evil of sin, that ardent love of ought never to be opened but with the Redeemer, that profound vene- an immediate view to the salvation ration of God's presence in holy of ourselves and others; yet it must places, that longing desire of the in- be strenuously maintained, that this fluence of the Spirit, which alone should be exclusively our main and constitute the Christian's fitness for predominant design in studying it, entering the house of prayer, are so and especially on the Sabbath; otherrarely made the subjects of admoni- wise it is in vain to profess a belief tion, that the master who should in its inspiration. And what is the harangue them warmly and repeat- effect produced upon the mind of edly on such points, would perhaps the youth ? His idea of the Bible is strike them at first, as St. Paul at insensibly associated either with the Athens did the philosophers, as an painfulness of vexatious composition, enthusiastic setter-forth of strange the toil of school-drudgery, and the doctrines.
smart of punishment, which are calDuring the intervals of public culated to provoke a disrelish of the worship, the chief employment of sacred volume; or with classical reyouth consists either in composing finements of style & pagan represenan exercise on a classical, or a copy tations of virtue-a taste for which, of verses on some scriptural, subject. if not most judiciously regulated by Expositions of Scripture, or some reflection, and chastised by devo other religious book, appear to be tion, is perhaps incompatible with required only in some few instances. an unreserved reception of evangeConcerning the pursuit of any mere lical truth. All those subjects in classical study at such times, ihere the Scripture, wbich are calculated can be but one opinion, with those to be useful to him as a Christian, who make it their delight to honour are unpropitious to him as an imitator God upon his own day, by giving of Catullus, Virgil, or Horace. Where him then all their time, except what shall he find expressions, in the whole unavoidable necessity withholds. vocabulary of heathen poets, that The plan of writing Latin verses on approach at all near to the Christian some sacred subject, appears to me sense of the words sin, holiness, huin the awkward light of an attempt to mility; to say nothing of justificaeffect a compromise between the ser- tion, sanctification, redemption ? He vice of Jehovah and secular study. I is reduced to the painful alternative remember, a humorous writer of the of either mixing barbarous phrases early part of the last century *, with the polished diction of the Laamong the expedients which he iro- tin muse, or of degrading, by inanically suggests for making an En. dequate representations, the immuglish Poet, recommends the careful table truths of the word of God. It perusal of the poetical parts of the is easy to anticipate which course Bible. Every one sees the impiety, he will pursue. or at least the want of piety, implied On ordinary days, the principal in such an expedient. And is not the methods used for inculcating relipractice we refer to, adopted in a si- gion, as I apprehend, are the occa. milar spirit? For what is the mani. sional construing of the Greek Tes. fest purpose with which the young tament (accompanied, in some few scholar consults the Book of Life? instances, by expositions on the part To improve himself in the art of of the master, and examination of versification. The knowledge of re- the class by question and answer), and demption, and the sanctification of forms of prayer morning and evenhis soul, are only subordinate, inci. ing, and sometimes at other seasons * Dean Swift.
of the day. As far as the Greek
Testament is employed as a task- similar conduct in most of our moral book, in order to perfect the scholar writers who try to establish their in his conjugation of Greek verbs, systems independently of the great and bis application of the rules of Christian sanctions and motives syntax, the interests of religion are namely, that many propositions in perhaps injured instead of being pro- morals are true on the foundation of moted by this process. The inve- expediency or some other foundation terate force of early associations is a of their own, not much insisted upon matter of universal experience, and in the Scriptures; that the peculiar many Christians, who at an advanc- doctrines of the Gospel are suffied period of life have been awaken- ciently detailed there, and in books ed to a deep sense of their guilt in directly theological; and that, thereneglecting the living oracles of God, fore, philosophical accuracy requires bave long experienced inconvenience morality to be treated of as an enfrom such associations, even after tirely distinct science ;-it must be their influence has ceased to predo- answered, that we would by no means minate in the mind; as a man, who exclude those grounds of moral truth has carried a burden, seems to feel which are independent of revelation, the pressure of it, even after it has but we maintain the necessity of albeen removed. Nor does it appear ways viewing them in connection that the principles of the Gospel are with the peculiar doctrines of the one habitually applied, in the various les- Mediator between God and man; sons and exercises of the school, to which doctrines do assume an absoamend the perverted or defective lute right of interference with every views of virtue, which are found branch of human duty, and were inin every part of the most sublime tended to cast a totally new light on schemes of pagan philosophy. On the every maxim in the moral system contrary,the introduction, into themes of his disciples. To this we may add written upon moral subjects, of ex- the words of a late Essayist, in whose amples and illustrations from the hands taste and genius have been word of God, though in some schools made eminently subservient to the permitted, is in none warmly encou- interests of pure Christian devotion. raged, and in others expressly prohi- “This” (says he, speaking of morabited. Why the latter step has been lity founded on independent ground) taken, it is not easy to conceive. If "was not the manner in which the the great Apostle of the Gentile last divinely inspired instructors of world had been informed in his days, the world inculcated moral princiof a seminary professedly Christian, ples: it is found to have very small of the highest eminence for the edu. practical efficacy among mankind ; cation of the first youth in the land, and I am convinced from observain which all reference to the cross of tion, that this mode of presenting the Christ was formally prohibited from system of morals, rather in the form admission into their moral exercises, of pure philosophical theory than of there can be little doubt but he evangelical precept, tends to produce would have addressed the conductors an oblivion in the writers, and a dis. of it, and indeed the British nobility like in the readers, of the Christian and gentry in general, in the same style of moral speculation.” straio of indignant reproof which he With respect to school prayers, applied to the foolish Galatians; "who the fact of their being, regularly hath bewitched you, that ye should used will, it is hoped, admit of no not obey the truth, before whose eyes dispute. The very learned and much Jesus Christ bath been evidently set respected author of a pamphlet, forth crucified among you :" If any expressly written in vindication of of the advocales of this practice the plan of religious instruction should assign as a reason for it, what adopted in one of our great schools, has been assigned in defence of a clearly shews that they are adminiStered there with a frequency in the best and noblest motives of exertion, course of the day, by the statutes, without any limitation or restriction; which perhaps some might even whereas the Scripture expressly think excessive. But to read prayers condemns the love of human praise, is not to pray. The difference be- if it be not subordinate to the love of iween real prayer, and the form of God, and puts emulation in the it, is the same as the difference same class with envy; not meaning between a man and a statue: the to explode all virtuous emulation, form is but a cold, lifeless, spirit- but to intimate that there is a speJess representation of the reality. cies of emulation which, though it The essence of prayer consists in the may fall short of envy, yet, being earnest longing of a penitent heart, unsubdued by the love of God, is to humbled by a deep sense of sin, for be considered as sinful an interest in the covenant of grace, And if it be so, that the manners of which Jesus Christ is the Medi- and sentiments of schoolboys are ator. Take away this, and what re- incompatible with such expedients mains is a vain oblation. Now the for holding communion with their nature and necessity of this essen- God, can any thing shew more detial part of prayer is almost entire- cisively, to every real Christian, the ly forgotten. It must indeed be necessity of more urgent and rementioned, to the honour of the emis peated efforts, on the part of the nent author of the pamphlet already instructors, to revive a declining alluded to, that, in order to qualify cause, and make the voice of the his elder scholars for the Lord's Sup. Son of man to be heard within those per, he was accustomed to admonish classic walls which have hitherto ihem upon the great subject of in- resounded chiefly with the din of ternal religion, and did occasionally elementary rules, or the harmonious, deliver to some of them familiar and but certainly not holy, accents of impressive exhortations to religion Greek and Roman eloquence ? in general. But is any endeavour Upon the whole, though it would made to implant and cherish from seem very unjust to repeat the time to time, in the minds of all the charge, that in our public schools boys, as their capacity will allow, (in there is a studious and systematic order to prepare them for those acts neglect of religion ; yet it must be of worship in which the whole school reluctantly admitted, that they do is called upon to join) a clear, live- not manifest a studious and systely, and habitual conception of the matic attention to it.
The overdistinction between the form and whelming interests of eternity, the spirit of prayer?
peculiarities of the Gospel scheme, It seems, moreover, to be forgot. its marked contradiction to heathen ten in the instruction of our youth, morality, its practical application to that Christian piety is the private all the motives and pursuits of the and personal concern of every indic human breast, do not meet the young vidual, the soul's intimate trafficwith candidate for eternity at every turn Heaven, the result of habitual self-ex. of his classic walk; are not habituamination, secret prayer, and a prac- ally brought back to his recollectical self-appropriating study of the tion; do not decidedly govern his word of God. If we have a Creator taste for human literature; are not and Redeemer to be remembered in repeatedly pressed upon him, as the the days of our youth, why are not most interesting and attractive subthese indispensable methods of draw. jects of private meditation. Is it any ing nigh to him, more inculcated wonder, then, that vice should preupon us at that impressible season of vail, where the only principles that life? It must be observed too, that can purify the fountain of it, the the love of fame and emulation are human heart, are so much slighted? generally held forth to boys, as the That the licentiousness of a profli. gate metropolis should have found its terests of religion, correct taste and way among juvenile libertines; and powerful eloquence are engaged on that some of our ingenuous youth its side? It is a matter of regret, should behave as if they thought our that the above essay should not great seminaries rather the nurseries more strongly oppose such a slep. of vice, than the tranquil retreats of Let us rather endeavour to make learning and science?
learning the handmaid of religion, II. Upon the second part of the to guard against her seductions subject it is needless to occupy much to an unchristian spirit, and 10 of our time, as we may easily infer bring her into captivity to the the improvements of which the re- obedience of Christ. But how is ligious part of our public plans of this grand object to be secured ? education are capable, from what The following means are briefly sughas been already advanced.
gested. Persons of refined taste, and pro
In the first place, then, let us, as found science, are sometimes uphap- parents, begin early with our offpily accustomed to view the nur- spring. It is not too much to say, ture and admonition of the Lord as that an infant in the nurse's arms is inseparably connected with the capable of associating some ideas of decay of human learning. Some pleasure and pain with the words of them contemplate the propaga- good and naughty, and regulating tion of the highly spiritual precepts its little desires by some regard to of the Prince of Peace, as they the authority of the parent. Let us would do the march of a Saracen or learn to regard the intant mind in a a Vandal. But it is far from my truly sublime and interesting point design to discourage classical stu- of view, as the nascent germ of an dies. On the contrary, I am con- eternal existence; which, if the invinced that if they were but go- herent canker-worm of natural corverned, animated, and consecrated, ruption be mortified and subdued by the piety of the Gospel, they by Divine grace (promised to the would more exclusively prevail, and faithful use of the means of grace), be more rationally admired, than at will put forth its hopeful bud here, present. It is true, indeed, that the and its full blossom hereafier, in the most splendid schemes of pagan vir- paradise of God's presence, diffusing tue and happiness, though admira- an everlasting fragrance through the ble in themselves, are cold, selfish, courts of heaven. and unholy, when compared to the Let us make the solemn sacraGospel, and will utterly vanish from ment of Baptism, and the washing the Christian's view ; as the magic of regeneration, the actual groundpalace of ice, built amidst the norih- work of all our parental discipline ; ern snows, soon melted away, and above all things seeking of God for left not a trace behind. It is true, our child that invaluable blessing, still further, that the principles of an effectual change and renovation the pagan orators, poets, and histo- of heart. The chief means of atrians, have a secret tendency to taining this end are, to pray for produce in the scholar's mind an this blessing fervently; to teach hostility to the great doctrines of Re. bim to distinguish between the form demption; as has been strikingly and spirit of prayer; to question him pointed out, in a late Essay on the frequently as to the understanding Aversion of Men of Taste to Evan- of what he reads in the holy Scripgelical Religion, by Mr. Foster. tures, and to excite a curiosity upon But shall we, on account of this subjects connected with our evertendency, reject the muse of anti- lasting salvation from the daily ob. quity, by whose means, to say no. jects and incidents of human life. thing of some other respects in which Is it then our wish to mar the easy, she is calculated to promote the in- playful simplicity of children? Such CHRIST. Obsery. No. 127.