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They may be moving along several roads, all bearing to the same place; they they may be different in their language, nation, dress, yet they all carry the same colours; they are all serving under the same commander; they will all meet at last on the same field. So it is with those who are travelling along the way of destruction. All are going in the same direction; all are servants of sin; all have forsaken God; all are pleasing themselves. But the besetting sin, the ruining sin, that which holds each in especial bondage, is different in different men. It may be the love of money, or the love of pleasure, or of ease, or the sinful lusts of the flesh. One openly breaks God's commandments; another secretly keeps back his heart from God. Thus the way of destruction is a broad way, because there are many paths in it. But it is also called a broad, because it is easy travelling there. It is smooth and pleasant to the flesh. Sin and Satan spread their delights along it. Fruits pleasant to the eye hang by the road side, and tempt us to gather them. Men go along carelessly and joyously. “It is a good way, they say, ‘what matter where it leads to * * (pp. 168-9.)
In the 23rd sermon, the distinction between slander and evil speaking is thus forcibly, but at the same time affectionately and naturally, brought home to the conscience :—
“Does the apostle, when he bids the believer put away all evil speaking, mean only that he should not slander his neighbour? Nay, then, many might think that the precept had little to do with them; for they are not, they believe, guilty of wilful calumny. But, in truth, the sin is of far wider extent. All that a man says of another may be true, and yet the saying it be evil speaking. For, as it has been well observed, “evil speaking is neither more nor less than speaking evil of an absent person, relating something evil which was really done or said by one that is not present when it is related.' Suppose, for example, that having seen a man drunk, or heard him swear, I tell this in his absence, merely for the sake of telling it: this is evil speaking. Do any start? for we are apt to think if what we say be true, there is no harm in telling it. No harm beloved brethren? Is it our part to expose a brother's nakedness? Is it keeping the law of love to trumpet abroad his fall —to hold him up to public gaze and unpitying censure ? Is this the charity that covers a multitude of sins 2 Oh, no! and though the tale be softly whispered, with expressions of pity, with hope that things may not be quite so bad, with declarations of good will to the person; what is this but honeying over the sting P Still it is evil speaking to relate the fault of a third person, when he is not present to answer for himself. But if this be so, beloved brethren, then how widely prevalent is this sin! It spreads through all orders and degrees of men; high and low, rich and poor, wise and foolish, learned and unlearned,—all run into it continually. Persons who differ in all things else, agree in this. How few, how very few, are there who can testify before God, ‘I am clear in this matter; I have always set a watch before my mouth, and kept the door of my lips.’” (pp. 249-51.)
“The Sleep of sin,” the subject of an advent sermon, is thus illustrated in its different forms by a comparison with the various modes in which the body is affected by sleep :—
1. “Have you ever watched the sleep of one labouring under disease—of one who is delirious with a raging fever? Have you seen how wild it is, how restless, uneasy, distempered? The sick man starts, and tosses, and sometimes raves in unmeaning words: it is a grievous sleep. Like this is the state of the willing slave of sin, the drunkard, or the quarreller, or the revengeful, or the dishonest, or any worker of ungodliness. They are asleep as to all that concerns the world to come, to eternal realities: they believe them not. Heaven with its pure and holy joys, hell with its eternity of unspeakable torments, are to them as an idle tale, the subject of profane mockery or mad derision. Warnings, threatenings, calls of mercy, are alike in vain. They sleep the sleep of death, and will not be awakened; but there is no calmness in that sleep. ‘The wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest.’’ + * + 2. “Again, have you ever seen the sleep of one who has taken some powerful drug, some medicine producing slumber? What a deep and heavy sleep is there! How entirely is all sense and feeling overcome! There is no sound, no motion. Like this is the state of those to whom this present world is all in all, whose hearts are engrossed with its cares, its business, its pursuits, its possessions. To buy and sell, to make gain, to plant and build, to eat, drink, and be merry: for this end they live—live little above the brutes. If any glimmering of holier light, if any whispering of a better mind arise within them, it speedily sinks, overwhelmed and quenched beneath the load of worldly mindedness. Their soul cleaveth to the dust; they have their portion in this life: here is their treasure.” + + + + 3. “Once more: you know what it is to be dreaming in your sleep; what wild fancies pass before us! We think that we are following something, but just as we reach it, it is gone. We imagine ourselves hungry, and that food is before us; but when we stretch the hand to seize it, it proves a shadow. So it is with us, when we are seeking happiness from anything earthly; when we think that we will lay up goods for many years; when things go well with us, and we say, how shall I enjoy myself and be at rest? If, meantime, we look not to a higher end ; if God is not in all our thoughts; if we think not of our souls, and of eternity; then are we but in a dream. Now a man who is asleep in the day time, and dreaming of a thousand vanities, knows nothing of what is doing around him, though people may be passing to and fro, and all the realities of life be going on. So we may be asleep as to another world, and dreaming about this: but the things we thus forget are still real and true. God is on His eternal throne in heaven; Jesus, our Redeemer and Mediator, sits at His right hand; angels are singing his praise, or passing on errands of mercy to this lower world. Years are rolling on; the judgment day is approaching —all this is real, but men are dreaming on of a home and happiness on earth, as if we were to live here for ever. 4. “And there is a state between sleeping and waking. The man is not sound asleep, and yet not broad awake. He sees a little, but not clearly he hears sounds, but not distinctly. If any danger came, he would not be quite insensible to its approach, but he could hardly defend himself. Such is the state of many, even real christians. They are but half awake to those truths which ought to have our most serious, our whole attention. They do believe the gos: pel, but their faith is weak and dim. Is not this so, brethren? Do we feel as we ought and might, what the word of God tells us, the great and wondrous things therein revealed? Are we not dull of hearing 2 Is not our heart stony and dead 2 Which make most impression on us, the things of this world, or the things of the world to come? " + 4 + Alas! my brethren, I fear we may join in the last words of a good and pious minister, who on his o: bed exclaimed, “We are but half awake.' Eternity was then rising upon him; he saw and felt its unutterable importance; earth and all its concerns were fast sinking; he began to awake in earnest.” (pp. 374-379.)
WE went off to see the “common schools,” which are also excellent of their kind: they are supported by a public tax, and the children pay nothing. The instruction professes to be entirely secular, and to exclude all religious teaching;
but it is found, as must be the case, impossible to preserve perfect consistency in this respect; and the rule is so far infringed upon, that the bible is read, though explanation is forbidden, and in most of the schools business is opened by the master saying the Lord's Prayer, which is a decided outrage on the consciences of scrupulous Jews. This last practice is, however, commived at, not prescribed. There has been lately, as you may recollect to have heard, a great agitation on the part of the Roman Catholics, upon this subject; and they have so far succeeded in it, that the law is now to be altered from what it has hitherto been, and whenever a certain number of people apply, a proportional part of the education fund is to be allotted to them, to educate their children after their own fashion. Other communions will of course follow this example, and the result will, in the opinion of many, be a break-up of the whole system of common and non-religious education. The fact is, that human nature naturally revolts against it, when not perverted by nineteenth century theories; three hundred years ago it would not have been thought of for a moment by any sect or party; the very term “non-religious education” would have been considered as self-contradictory, and as tending to confound the ideas of instruction in certain comparatively unimportant branches, with education in its highest and most comprehensive sense; that it should be now commonly received, is in itself symptomatic of the disproportionate importance which one age attaches to all that is “of the earth, earthy.” As yet I know of no instances where the principle mooted in it has been carried out, or attempted to be so, in practice at home; but here everybody thinks that it is fully established, and till lately has maintained, that it is advisable and good. There is now, however, as I have said, a re-action against it, which, unless the American mind be entirely materialized, must, we would hope, spread and prevail. Whether the direction which it has taken in asking for a separate proportion of the common fund be a right one, is another question, and one which I should be inclined to dispute. I cannot conceive a body of men, conscious of holding the position of supremacy which the Catholic church claims for her ministers, at the same time acquiesing in accepting obligations from a system which proposes them simply as one among many sects, equally true and equally useful. The quality of the instruction given at the New York schools is exceedingly good, as it well may be, for the salaries of the masters are very large in proportion to the ordinary scale of literary remuneration in this country; they vary according to the number of scholars, so as to create an emulation among the recipients; and some are as high as 1,000 dollars a-year. The primary schools for little children, and the girls' schools, are taught by women, who get from 200 to 400 dollars a-year. I was greatly pleased with the meat, well-dressed, and healthy appearance of the children, and with the excellence of the rooms and machinery. There are schools for the coloured children, taught by blacks; and the master of one that I visited, a very intelligent negro, told me that he received 700 dollars a-year. The little “blackberries” read, wrote, and ciphered, in a manner which quite astonished me; both the pronunciation and the calligraphy were infinitely superior to any thing I have seen in a similar rank of life at home. There is such a demand for this sort of instruction here, and the Americans are so sharp-sighted with respect to their material interests, that they scruple at no expense to secure the best that can be got of the kind. It is, however, I think, a mistaken and shallow motion, to attribute the intelligence, precocity, and cleverness of the people, to the excellent education provided for them; those who do so, confound cause and effect: the education is a symptom of the intelligence, and not necessarily, though of course usually, coexistent with it. The true causes of American sagacity and worldly wisdom, are to be found in the circumstances of the country and the nature of its institutions; every man has an ample scope for his exertions, and a certainty, or at least a reasonable prospect, that they will be rewarded ; every man is forced into social and political activity; he feels that he is of consequence, that he has a stake in the country, and an influence, more or less direct, upon the administration of its affairs; he feels, too, that in the race of private individual advaneement, there are prizes within his reach. These are the feelings which develope and exercise his faculties, and give him such an immense advantage, as regards success in life, over the “masses” in Europe. Of course, where such a state of things exists, there will be a demand for reading, writing, and every other branch of secular instruction; and where no external obstacles interpose, it will naturally be supplied; but if the supply comes first, if the instruction be provided while the excitements to make use of it are wanting, it will be vain to expect any effects upon national character. Take the example of Prussia: there every child is driven to school, and forced to imbibe a certain quantity of such instruction as the government thinks fit. Now I have not the slightest doubt, that the suppression of individuality (as it were), the interference on the part of the state with the liberum arbitrium of parents in the education and disposal of their children, does far more to retard the progress of national intelligence than the education given does to advance it; or that if an American from one of the southern states, who, as is often the case there, had been debarred from opportunities of acquiring school instruction, were compared with a Prussian who had gone through the regular state course of education, and who fairly represented that class of his countrymen who are not officially employed, his superiority in resource, energy, and activity of mind, would be nearly as remarkable as if the circumstances of their education, as it is miscalled, had been reversed. I am not now speaking of the moral and religious effect upon the two systems, but of their effect upon intellectual advancement. Instruction is not education, even in its purely secular sense; and to force it upon the people, while their social and political condition precludes them from having any interest or motive for its use, is, with reference to national progress, as absurd as it would be to give a man a sword, and impose a heavy penalty upon him if he drew it.—Letters from America by John Robert Godley, 1844. EDUCATION IN CANADA.
EDUCATION among the lower orders is in rather an unsatisfactory state in Canada; the elementary parts of it, reading, writing, and arithmetic, are perhaps as generally diffused as at home; and at any rate, where the population are so well off, as is the case here, the demand for such “practical” education will inevitably produce the supply. But at the national schools it is impossible, from the state of society and the policy of government, to impart any religious instruction. At present there is in each “district” a school, supported by the state, the master of which gets £100 a-year: these schools are subject to the inspection of trustees, appointed by the provisional government, and consisting generally of the Anglican, Roman Catholic, and Presbyterian ministers, and of any layman who may be deemed proper for the purpose. These schools are, I believe, tolerably well taught and managed; but of course they avail nothing to the great mass of the peasantry scattered through the district, which embraces a vast extent of country. . Recently, by an act of Lord Sydenham's parliament, municipal councils have been established after the American mode, elected by the people, who transact the local business of each township, very much in the same way that magistrates at quarter sessions do in England; and among their duties is the establishment and maintenance of township schools, for the support of which they are empowered to levy a tax, and the masters of which they of course appoint. It is very easy to conjecture, from the composition of these councils, what sort of appointments they are likely to make ; as in our poor-law unions at home, politics, private friendships, every thing in short but what is proper qualifications, influence these selections; so badly, indeed, has the plan worked, and so great is the outcry against it, that I believe there is no doubt it will be altered and remodelled. But as there is not the least chance that government will make the church the means of educating the people, and as secular education will take care of itself where it is wanted, I look to the various schemes of state education without much hope or interest.—Ibid. A GOOD TEACHER. He, whene'er he taught,
Put so much of his heart into his act,
That his example had a magnet's force,
And all were swift to follow, whom all loved.
THE BASIS OF A LIBERAL EDUCATION,
WE do not hesitate to say that ancient literature—the Greek and Latin languages—should be the foundation of the education of youth. If you change the system, we venture to affirm you will cause the national mind to degenerate. Infancy is pre-eminently apt for the study of language, because at that age the understanding, unfit for the exercise of reflection, is well disposed for that of memory. * * Without the ancient languages we do not know antiquity; we have but a pale, imperfect representation of it; now, antiquity, we venture to say, to an age proud of itself, is that which is most beautiful in the world. Independently of its beauty, it possesses for childhood an unequalled meritthat of simplicity. If simple food be necessary for the body of a child, it will also be necessary for its mind; as their palates should not be palled by things too savoury, the mind should not be stimulated by the often exaggerated beauty of modern literature. Homer, Sophocles, and Virgil, should occupy, in the teaching of literature, the same place that Phidias and Praxiteles occupy in the teaching of the Arts. And it is not merely words that children are taught when they learn Latin and Greek; they are noble and sublime things, the history of human nature under images simple, great, and ineffaceable.—M. Thiers.
GoD be gracious (I can say from my heart) to your precious little branch May you be taught of God to bring him up wisely. The great danger is from surfeiting a child with religious doctrines, or over-much talk. Doctrines they are too young to understand; and too frequent talking to them is wearisome to them. Too many parents greatly err, in expecting the religion of a child should be nearly the same as their own. . Much have I thought on the subject: and much pains, indeed, have I taken with my children; and, God knoweth, desiring this one thing—that He would give them the knowledge and love of His ever-blessed name. But I did not give them formal instructions till they were eight years old; and then chiefly set before them the striking facts in the Old Testament, or the miracles in the New ; and laboured much to set before them the goodness of our God, in things they could understand—in inclining my heart to love them—in all the comforts we enjoyed together. And, watching providential occurrences, I made use of them, to give a body and substance to spiritual truth. One method, I remember, used to affect them much, which I was careful to improve—carrying them to see an afflicted child of God, rejoicing in tribulation, and speaking of his love. To this day they tell me of one and another whom they saw happy, though poor and in pain.-Life and Selection from the Letters of the late Rev. Henry Venn.
THE BIBLE OUR GUIDING STAR.
THE bible has been found a spiritual world,—spiritual, and yet at the same time outward and common to all. You in one place, I in another, all men, somewhere or at some time, meet with an assurance that the hopes and fears, the thoughts and yearnings that proceed from, or tend to a right spirit-in us, are not dreams or fleeting singularities, no voices heard in sleep, or spectres which the eye suffers but not perceives. As if on some dark night a pilgrim on suddenly beholding a bright star moving before him, should stop in fear and perplexity. But lo! traveller after traveller passes by him, and each being questioned whither he is going, makes answer, “I am following yon guiding star.’ The pilgrim quickens his own steps, and presses onward in confidence. More confident still will he be, if by the way side he should find, here and there, ancient monuments, each with its votive lamp, and on each the name of some
former pilgrim, and a record that there he had first seen or begun to follow the benignant star.—S. T. Coleridge.