« FöregåendeFortsätt »
felt and deplored. Education has now become the want and watchword of the people. The cry of “ Educate! educate !" has been made to resound from one end of the land to the other. Much has been said on this subject. Much has been said wisely, and much ignorantly. There are some who advocate an education wholly secular in its character. They would exclude from their schools the Bible, and all books treating on the subject of religion. Reading, writing, arithmetic, and such other branches of learning as would be likely to make our youth able artists, skilful machinists, and clever tradesmen. These things would form the staple of their teaching—the all, and in all.
With such educationists we do not coincide, but would recommend to them a more excellent way." Any system of education, deserving the name, must be based upon the doctrines of the Bible, and must be adapted to the moral as well as mental constitution of man. It must provide for his spiritual as well as temporal necessitiesfor his mortal and immortal existence. Now, no course of training or instruction, severed from religion, can do this. In teaching our youth the arts and sciences, in giving them a knowledge of trade and commerce, you have taught them simply as beings for this world. You have had no reference whatever to the momentous and eternal future. You have taught them nothing about God—nothing about the soul-nothing about the wants of their moral nature. You have said nothing to them respecting their state as sinners, and their need of pardon; nothing respecting Christ, and the means of salvation. You have said nothing to them about their responsibility, and the business of the last judgment; nothing about heaven; nothing about hell, nor of that eternal duration which lies before them, when their existence in this world is terminated. Education, in the secular application of the term, never once recognises man's relationship to these things, and, consequently, his best, his noblest, most necessitous, and most enduring part, is left utterly neglected and uncared for.
Now that course of instruction, mental discipline, or education, (call it by whatever name you please,) which does not view man in his true light-in his whole nature, as a mortal and immortal being ; as connected with other worlds than the present; as having relationships and sympathies with other beings than human, and as possessing powers and capabilities, which nothing earthly can ever supply; that system of training which either ignores, or overlooks these things, must be pronounced at once defective and insufficient.
Happily Sabbath Schools acknowledge these great principles. The Bible is the basis of all your instructions. Your aim is to give to the children a Scriptural education-an education unsectarian, enlightened, and free. And such an education must be a great and inestimable boon not only to the children themselves but society at large.
Education, as generally understood, involves two points, consists of two parts-viz, doctrine and discipline, or in other words, knowledge and practice. In communicating religious education, these two parts must be united. Christian knowledge must be imparted, and Chris
tian practice must be inculcated-the one as the way to the other. Light must lead to love, and the knowledge of Christian doctrine to the performance of Christian duty. It is only by combining these two parts into one system, that the grand objects of Christian education can be realized.
Our children must be taught the knowledge of “the holy Scriptures.” The great facts, doctrines, and precepts of Christianity, must be explained and urged upon their attention again and again. “ Line must be upon line-line upon line ; precept upon precept, precept upon precept.” They must be taught that these things are to enter into their experience, and be embodied in their daily practice. It is only by such a course of continued instruction, in humble dependence upon the blessing of God, that the designs of Christian teachers can be accomplished, or their labours crowned with success.
Such an education will be preventive of evil. Adopting the Scriptures as the basis of your teaching, you proceed upon the most enlightened views of human nature. You recognise the fact of man's fall, and the means provided for his recovery. Your instructions are intended to benefit your children, not only for this life, but also to afford them assistance and direction in reference to the life that is to come.
The Bible has made known to us the sad fact, that our children bring into the world a sinful naturema nature inclined only to evil. That evil exists, is a fact respecting which no man can affect igno
It enters into every-day life-it meets you in the street ; it stares you in the face, and cleaves to your very existence, and nothing but the power of the truth, in connexion with the agency of the Spirit, can free
you from its guilt and its dominion. Men may talk of the innocence of human nature, and of the spotlessness of the human character as long as they please, but the fact is too patent and too glaring not to be observed, and all such dogmas about the perfection of human beings are infidel, and are utterly exploded by the every-day scenes which are being enacted around us, and can only produce in the minds of those who are better instructed, mingled feelings of pity and of grief.
Man is not now, what he was when he came forth fresh from the plastic hand of his holy and benevolent Creator. Then he bore the impress of the Divine holiness-then he reflected the Divine likeness. But a sad change has come over him since then. He is now a fallen creature-a lapsed intelligence. His whole being is corrupt-all the faculties of his mental and moral nature have suffered fearful damage by the fall. His understanding, his memory, his judgment, his will and affections, are all in a disordered condition. The moral image of God has been lost from the soul, and his whole nature is in a state of spiritual prostration.
And these are not evils which have happened only to a few of our race, and which have befallen them in their course through life. No, those evils are innate. We inherit them from our parents, as they did from theirs. They have descended as a sort of heir-loom from Adam to all his posterity. They belong to the race. They exist in
all, from the peasant to the prince-from the rudest and most debased, to the most cultivated, enlightened, and free. And observe, these evils do not lie hid out of sight in our nature, in a state of dormancy and quietude ; no, they exist in constant and active operation. They grow with our growth, and strengthen with our strength, and become more deeply rooted with our years. And unless they are counteracted by the influence of Christian education, the truth of the Gospel, or the controlling providence of God, we can expect nothing but that they will break out in acts of daring rebellion, impiety, and sin.
If you wanted proof, you have only to look at the state of society around you. The evils which exist in embryo in the hearts of our children, are seen among the adult population in a state of awful development. What multitudes do we behold abandoned to the unrestrained dominion of evil! Need you be told of that vast portion of our fellow men who live regardless of all the acknowledged principles of right and wrong, and who obtain a subsistence by pursuing a regular system of robbery, injustice, and fraud ? Need you be told of the thousands and tens of thousands of abandoned and systematic profligates, Sabbath breakers, swearers, gamblers, theatrical performers, and wandering stage-players, who fatten on the hard earnings of the poor and ignorant ? And need we remind you of those miserable multitudes who waste their money, sacrifice their reputation, and health, and happiness, and the health and happiness of their families, and bring themselves down to an unhonoured and premature grave by the damning sin of intemperance ? O here is proof enough of the innate and deeply-seated depravity of human nature. And who are the parties most addicted to these evils ? Are they not mostly young men and young women, reaching onward from twenty to fortyfive years of age—the flower and hope of our country—the very strength and sinews of the nation ?
We talk of the number of our places of religious worship, of our godly and evangelical ministers, of our Bible Societies, and of our goodly Missionary Institutions, and certainly they are the noblest bulwarks of our liberty, and the glory of Britain. But the number of taverns, public-houses, and houses of ill-fame, far out-number our houses of religion. Our places of worship may be thrown open, both on the Sabbath, and on the week days, but by multitudes they are never entered. Our Bibles and religious tracts may be freely circulated, but by thousands they are never read. Our ministers and town missionaries may perambulate the lanes and courts of our cities and neighbourhoods, and there try to grapple with the evil in its lowest and worst stages ; but neither their number, nor their resources, are at all adequate to the necessities of the people.
We require a system of instrumentality that will nip the evil in the bud—that will crush the viper in the egg; an instrumentality that shall correct the first essays of evil, and that shall throw up a kind of breakwater mound against the first swellings of the torrent. We want an agency to take up the mind while it is young, and tender, and impressible; that will give a right direction to childhood and youth. And such an agency we have in our Infant, Day, and Sabbath-schools; in our “ Youth's Guardian Societies,” and our "Young Men's Christian Associations.” These institutions commence their labours with our children and youth while their minds are tender and susceptible of impression-before a life of sin and dissipation has shed its blighting and chilling influence over the heart and affections—before principles and habits of evil have become fixed and inveterate, and before worldly friendships have become indissoluble. This applies especially to the Sabbath-school, which is designed to give to the young a knowledge of “the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make them wise unto salvation, through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.” It is here that our children are taught to believe in the existence and government of one living and true God, and thus at the commencement of the path of life there is given to them a preventive against the horrors of Atheism and Infidelity. Here they are taught that God is their Creator, their Preserver, and bountiful Benefactor; that he is their gracious Redeemer, and will come to be their final Judge ; that He is infinitely wise, infinitely powerful, infinitely holy, infinitely benevolent, and infinitely just; that “ He is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity, and that He will by no means clear the guilty.” It is here they are taught their condition as sinners, their need of a Saviour, and the means of salvation. Their obligations to God, the duties they owe to their parents, to themselves, and to their fellow-creatures, are here explained and urged upon their attention as matters of Divine injunction, and as demanding their uniform and constant observance.
Then we say—taking the lowest estimate of an education based upon such principles, and connected with the communication of such truths—that when our children shall have arrived at the age of maturity and manhood, when they shall have become active members of civil society and the centres of other circles, that then the truths taught them in childhood in the Sabbath-school, will exert a restraining and salutary influence over the evil propensities and passions of their nature, even where they may not have operated so as to change the heart and save the soul.
Give to a child a religious education, teach him the fear of God and the love of his neighbour, and you have taught him everything essential to his own well-being, and the well-being of society around him. You have taught him to believe in the being and perfections of an ever-present Deity; in One who is about his bed, and about his path, and who spieth out all his ways; who records every thought, word, and action of his life ; and who will bring every work into judgment, and every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” And what is so well calculated to operate as a check against the commission of sin, as the vivid and abiding impression, “ Thou, God, seest me."
But a religious education will operate not merely as a preventive of evil; this is only the negative view of the subject. education will be promotive of good-good to the individual, and good to the body politic. Christianity when received, implants a principle
of virtue in the heart, and gives a law of rectitude for the governmei of the life. It works a thorough change in the human mind ar character. “ If any man be in Christ he is a new creature, o things are passed away, and behold all things are become new !" : this respect Christianity differs from, and is infinitely superior to : the schemes and laws of mere human device and appointmei Our legislature may make laws, and impose penalties, and appoi judges and magistrates to enforce them; they may build prisons 1 felons, and transfer convicts to penal settlements, and taxt nation to support them. And what have they done ? They ha punished crime. And their having punished one offender, may bi warning and a check upon another. But even this does not alws prove a sufficient barrier to prevent the commission of crime. W! then have they done? They have punished vice; but they have implanted virtue—they have punished the offence, but they have changed the heart of the offender. They leave him in almost as 1 a state, and sometimes worse, than that in which they found him. was ungodly then, he is ungodly now; he was wicked then, he wicked now. And having learned the utmost the law can inflict different offences, he returns home in many instances a greater ai in cunning and in crime than he was before. This is no uncomi occurrence, it is patent on the calendar of crime. The proces easy. The liberated prisoner feels that he is a ruined man; h bankrupt in character ; he cannot hide from himself the fact, tha is a felon, or a convict; the brand of infamy is upon his brow. will take him into their service now, who will treat him as ti worthy now ? All respectable society will shun him; he feels the thought of his ruin is burning in his heart, and in utter de: of ever retrieving his character, or of taking a respectable positio society again, he betakes himself to habits of theft and plunde the means of supporting a miserable and wretched existence.
So that human laws and enactments are in themselves inade for the reformation of character. Then would you abando useless all human laws and enactments ? By no means. Wer not give the most distant hint of such a thing. But we introduce a system of prevention which would render their appli as unfrequent and unnecessary as possible. We would mu prevent, than punish crime. As a piece of policy and as a mat pounds, shillings, and pence, the one is much more economical the other. It is much cheaper to support schools than to prisons ; and then as to the results, for weal and for w the individual and the nation, there is no comparison ; th elevates, the other debases ; the one saves, the other de
Righteousness exalteth a nation ; but sin is a reproach 1 people."
Just, then, as you love your country, and desire her in prosperity and glory, just as you hate sin and love holiness, you deprecate the loss of health, the ruin of character, the dest of the body, and the eternal damnation of the soul ; just in th portion, will you desire to extend to your fellow beings the pri