Page images



ciple of crime, and those affections which lead to it are suffered to remain without moral counteraction; human laws, however severe, will be altogether inefficient, either for eradicating, or repressing it.

An efficient education is likewise essentially necessary for preparing men to listen with attention and intelligence, to the declarations of the gospel. For want of that intelligence which education should produce, neither rational mor moral arguments make the least impression on the mind. We cannot, in many instances, persuade such persons to attend a place of worship where Scriptural instruction is communicated ; and when they are constrained to enter a religious assembly, they are incapable of fixing their attention on spiritual subjects, or of understanding and appreciating the nature and importance of the truths delivered; so that the most solemn considerations and admonitions produce no more effect in exciting to repentance, and serious reflections, than " a sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal."

Hence, likewise, the confused and distorted conceptions of Divine truth which are entertained by many of the regular hearers of the gospel; hence the little effect produced on their moral characters, and hence the want of holy energy, and of that noble spirit of Christian heroism and generosity, which ought to distinguish every member of a religious community.

Again, universal education is essential for preparing the way for the arrival of the predicted millennium. Such a period cannot possibly be ushered in, till a moral, intellectual, and religious education be universally established, and the benefits of it enjoyed by all ranks and conditions of men. It is in this and the effects which will flow from it, that the essence of the millennium will chiefly consist. For, at that period, “ all shall know Jehovah from the least to the greatest," in consequence of which “ all the ends of the world shall remember and turn to the Lord, and all kindreds of the nations worship before him."

At present, we have little or nothing that truly de- serves the name of education. In the system of edu


cation which has hitherto prevailed in our country, almost every thing that is interesting to a rational and immortal being has been overlooked and omitted. Words have been substituted in place of things ; the elements of language instead of the elements of thought, the key of knowledge, instead of knowledge itself ; Pagan maxims instead of Christian principles and precepts; a farrago of trash selected from Heathen Orators, Poets, old plays, fables, romances, and novels, instead of the grand and interesting facts of sacred history, the scenes of domestic life, the useful arts and sciences, the beauties of creation, and the sublime and magnificent scenery of the universe. Man has been considered rather as a kind of machine, thạn as a rational intelligence, and our systems of education have treated him as if he had been little else than'a puppet, formed for mechanical movements. The idea that he is a being destined to a future and eternal existence, and that his training ought to have a respect to his ultimate destination, has been almost entirely overlooked in our scholastic arrangements; and the government of the temper and conduct, according to the maxims and precepts of Christianity, has never formed a prominent object in our seminaries, either for the higher or the lower ranks of society. Besides, our scholastic instructions, deficient as they are, are not enjoyed by the one half of our population. We, therefore, require a system of education to be established, commencing at two years of age, and continued till twenty, which shall communicate to young minds the elements of thought, and which shall comprehend all those useful branches of knowledge in which man is interested as a rational and social intelligence, and as a candidate for a blessed immortality. Our grand object ought now to be, that there shall no one of our population who stands in need of instruction, be without the means of education, so that, in the course of another generation, there shall not be an ignorant, and scarcely a vicious individual found in our land.

In order to accomplish such a grand and beneficent object, we must have infant schools established for all


classes, and throughout every corner of the land ; schools for the intellectual and religious education of the young, from the of six to the age of fourteen years; seminaries for instructing apprentices, journeymen, clerks, shop-keepers, and other classes of young men and women, from the age of fourteen to twenty, or upwards, accommodated to their conveniency, and calculated to convey to them instruction in the higher departments of knowledge and religion; and colleges for the moral and intellectual training of teachers fitted to conduct such institutions.

These, with similar institutions, and courses of lectures on every branch of knowledge, human and divine, require to be established in every district throughout the length and breadth of our land.

These are objects not only of vast importance, but which would require for their accomplishment, a vast expense. For the island of Great Britain alone, there would require to be established no less than about sixty thousand seminaries of the description to which I allude; every one of which, including an apparatus, museum, and every thing else which an intellectual seminary should contain, would require at least £1200 to be devoted to its erection and establishment, which would amount to seventy-two millions of British pounds! Great as this sum may appear, it is only a mere item, when compared with the hundreds, or rather, thousands of millions which, during the first century, were spent in the folly and madness of warfare. But, by what means are such sums to be raised, so long as covetousness holds its sway, as it has hitherto done, over the human mind? Neither governments, communities, nor individuals, will come forward to lend their aid in promoting such objects, till the principle of avarice be undermined, and the legitimate use of wealth, on the principles of Christianity, be generally appreciated. But, were this object in some measure effected, and a principle of Christian generosity beginning to gain the ascendant, there would not be the least difficulty in accomplishing every thing which has now been proposed, We have the means in our power, if we have

[ocr errors]

the will to apply them; for there is more money spent every year in folly, extravagance, and vice, than would be amply sufficient to establish every institution requisite for the intellectual, moral, and religious instruction of persons of every age and sex, and of all ranks of the community. And, if they were once established, four or five millions. annually would be sufficient for conducting their operations and carrying forward every requisite improvement. And what a bright and enlivening prospect would then be gradually unfolding to our view! the young rising up in wisdom and knowledge, and in favor with God and man; useful knowledge, and Christian principles extending their influence throughout all ranks; the principle of crime undermined and almost eradicated; property secure from the inroads of the pilferer and depredator; improvements of every description, carried forward with alacrity and vigor; and harmony, and order introduced into every department of the moral world.

All these, and similar effects would undoubtedly be accomplished, in a greater or less degree, were we now to concentrate all our physical and mental energies on such objects, and consecrate a fair proportion of our wealth towards their accomplishment. It is by such means, we may rest assured, that God will accomplish his eternal purposes, and the predictions of his word in reference to that period, when “the glory of Jehovah shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together,” and “when all shall know him from the least to the greatest."

4. The progress of science and art would be promoted, were covetousness counteracted, and a spirit of generosity diffusing itself throughout society.

The progress of the sciences and arts has generally kept pace with the progress of Christianity. They are intimately connected with religion, and have been instrumental in its propagation and extension. Without the aid of printing, the revelations of heaven, could never have been so extensively circulated as they now

[ocr errors]

are, by the millions of Bibles, and other books on theology, that have issued from the press. Without the mariner's compass, and the art of navigation, we could never have visited the “isles afar off” in the midst of the ocean, to communicate to their benighted inhabitants, the knowledge of salvation. Without a knowledge of the globular form of the earth, which science has demonstrated, many regions of our world could never have been explored, and we should have remained in ignorance of America, Australasia, and many other countries, with which we now regularly correspond. Without a knowledge of this fact, and of the extent of the earth's diameter, we could not have measured the distances and magnitudes of the heavenly bodies'; and, without the use of the telescope, we could never have explored the magnificent scenes of the universe which it has laid open to view, and consequently, could never have formed such enlarged conceptions, as we can now do, of the attributes and operations of the Creator.

It is, therefore, of importance, in a religious point of view, that science and art should be improved, and carried forward towards perfection. For the more minutely the wonders of nature are explored, the more distinctly do we perceive the traces of Infinite wisdom and intelligence, and the boundless power and goodness of Him whose kingdom ruleth over all.”. In proportion too, to the extent and accuracy of our views of the system of creation, shall we be enabled to perceive the harmony which subsists between the operations of God in the visible universe, and the revelations of his word.

And, as art has, hitherto, facilitated the progress of the gospel, and the extension of Christianity to distant lands, so we have reason to believe, that it will contribute still more extensively to its propagation in future ages,

than it has ever yet done in the ages that are past. Great improvements are still required, both as to the safety, and the rapidity of our modes of conveyance, from one place to another, whether by sea, or land. Ships require to be constructed on improved plans, less

« PreviousContinue »