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HINTS

TOWARDS THE

FORMATION OF CHARACTER.

CHAPTER I.

Introductory.

Two architects, we are told, once were candidates for the building of a certain temple at Athens: the first harangued the crowd very learnedly upon the different orders of architecture, and shewed them in what manner the temple should be built; the other only observed, that what his brother architect had spoken, he could perform. The author of the present volume makes no pretension either to the science of the one, or the practical skill of the other, of these Athenian worthies : all she proposes is, occasionally, to hand a few bricks, and thereby facilitate the operations of the builders.

The necessity of religious instruction forming a prominent part of the education of youth, being

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now universally admitted, if not universally acted upon, a few remarks on so important a subject will not, it is hoped, be deemed inopportune. Many parents, especially in the middle rank of life, although wishing most sincerely that their children should grow up Christian characters, have not, from their avocations, the time requisite to bestow upon their mental and moral training. Others consider the matter too lightly, and think, that if they bring up their offspring in the usual forms of religion, neglecting none of the ceremonies prescribed by their church, they have done every thing necessary for them in the way of spiritual tuition; and these, indeed, are the external tokens, the “outward and visible sign;" but the “inward and spiritual grace” may, nevertheless, be utterly wanting. The conduct of but too many persons, whom we may presume to have been thus reared, prove, when they come to think and act for themselves, that although professing Christianity, the heart has never been regenerated by its divine spirit.

Religious instruction, to have its full influence, ought to enter into the minutest details of life; and the Author of our faith, knowing our deficiencies and infirmities, has left us precepts so clear and practical, as well as sublime, that they are capable of being applied in every event in life, whether of momentous import, or seemingly trivial—suitable alike to rich and poor, the great and the lowly. With such distinct and comprehensive rules for

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our guidance, one would think it almost impossible that we should perpetually run counter to them: that we do so, can only be attributed to the stubbornness of human nature, and its proneness to evil.

Deeply is it to be deplored, that in this enlightened age, and this Christian land, when, to use a hackneyed phrase, the march of intellect is proceeding with such rapid strides—when all that tends to man's physical welfare is made the object of so much solicitude and study-when the fine arts and elegant accomplishments are cultivated with so much assiduity, and at such cost—that so little thought, and care, and time should be devoted to the education of the heart; and yet it is upon that we must build, not only our hope of eternal happiness, but of our temporal well being as a people.

Notwithstand our advancement in science, refinement and luxury, it were impossible to take a survey of the present social condition of England, without becoming painfully aware, that, as yet, little progress has been made in that regenerative knowledge in comparison of which the mightiest efforts of human ingenuity are of small account. In a word, that the moral education both of the upper and lower classes is exceedingly defective, equally so perhaps among the wealthy as among

the poor.

“I have given my son or my daughter an excellent education,” says the exulting parent, and proceeds to enumerate the various acquirements of the youthful prodigy. To insinuate a doubt of the accuracy of this assertion, or rather of the parent's ideas on the subject of education, would be considered as unreasonable as ill-bred; and yet, were we to put the question to a very large majority, each individual so interrogated, would probably give a different definition of the term; and it is equally probable that not one among them would be found to connect with the idea of education any notion of the general improvement of the faculties of the mind, the regulation of the passions, or the cultivation of the affections.

Some, and of these not a few, estimate education according to the money it has cost, taking credit to themselves for having incurred pecuniary inconvenience, in order to send their children, generally their daughters, to the most expensive schools. These are the parents, themselves holding no very exalted station in society, who split upon the rock of ambition. To have their girls, at whatever cost, educated in a school resorted to by the children of persons of fashion, possibly of rank, is, they conceive, doing for them the very utmost parental solicitude can achieve, when, in fact, such an education is, ninety-nine times out of a hundred, worse than none at all. It is but charitable, however, to presume that it is well intended, and that the error, partaking largely of the foible of the age, occurs through ignorance.

Where ambition is not the actuating motive,

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