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Christianity has worked in secret upon the emotions and the will;-controlling the passions,-awakening higher desires,-shewing the infinite worth and the eternal destination of humanity, as well in its meanest as in its highest garb; giving an ideal of moral purity after which to strive; cultivating the fountains of human brotherhood amongst rich and poort; and shewing how the whole struggle of life is guided by the hand not merely of Omnipotence, but of infinite goodness also, to one benevolent end.
Unfortunately it has too often been the case that science in its eagerness for mere intellectual results has repudiated Christianity; and that Christianity wrapping itself up in a dark veil of artificial sanctity has repudiated science. It is not yet popularly understood that the terms secular and religious are merely empty contrasts, that have no meaning at all out of the passing controversies of the day. All knowledge earnestly pursued is really religious, since every fresh step we take leads us a step nearer to the thoughts and purposes of God as realised in the world; and all religion, however supernatural its origin, is really secular, for it never is religion, in the true sense, so long as it is an excrescence upon humanity and fails to mingle up with the life, the experience, and the progress of the age. It is a lesson we have yet to learn that the whole of human history is a divine drama, and that every development of truth, whether physical, or moral, or theologic has its proper part to play in that grand final resultin which knowledge shall become love as well as power, and the secular (as a portion of God's work) shall become sacred to the reverential mind of the scholar.
Here then we come round to the point from which we started, and find that philosophy in its true sense (i. e., the love of wisdom, as the passion of an aspiring soul) is the great end, to which all true education tends. Do not imagine, then, that your education
is complete when you have acquired languages, and geography, and history, and mathematics, and a number of other scientific facts-no, not even if they have all been clenched with a catechism. Believe me the process lies deeper than this in the very core and centre of your nature. It is only when the intellectual faculties of man shall be progressively expanded from one step of advancement to another;-when the will shall be trained to put forth its power unrestrained, except by reason and conscience; when the emotions shall be at once controlled and refined;when the energies of the whole man in fine shall be taught to meet in one point, where all distinctions are lost in the love of truth (all truth alike) for its own sake; it is only then I say, that education in its spirit and its results can be pronounced complete.
And if this be truly education-then, I say, education is a great work; and perhaps the very dissatisfaction we may all feel in having so imperfectly accomplished it, is to a healthy mind the very best stimulus it can have to press forward with new vigour towards the end.
THE PHILOSOPHY OF PROVERBS;
REV. THOMAS WILSON, B.A.
[The following lecture on "Proverbs, what they are and what they teach,"-delivered in the Keswick Mechanics' Institution, -though an enlarged and improved edition of "Poor Richard's Almanack" in the amount of proverbial old-world wisdom it contains, is yet an illustration of the saying of Solomon, which has itself passed into a proverb, "The thing which has been is that which shall be, and there is nothing new under the sun.”"]
We have lately heard several lectures on scientific topics, in which much has been said on the inventions and discoveries of modern times; I think therefore it will not be unprofitable or uninteresting to consider this evening some subject for which we are exclusively indebted to the past, to the worthies who once occupied our places on earth, but who are now gone to their rest. It is both unjust and undutiful to boast of our achievements, if that boast be made, as it too often happens to be, at the expense of our progenitors ;-unjust, for if they had not the elegant refinements and luxurious comforts which we have, they had, as I hope to show, far better possessions-good sense, prudence, and wisdom;—undutiful, for if we have advanced beyond them in aught, we have enjoyed the use of all their discoveries, the benefit of all their experience.
The literature of all nations is exceedingly rich in proverbs, especially that of Spain, Germany, England, and Scotland. And it has been ascertained that the Chinese possess a vast amount of proverbial philosophy. The greatest poets, philosophers, and historians, the most eloquent orators, and the most pungent satirists, have frequently introduced proverbs in their writings, and nothing is more forcible sometimes than the way in which an argument is clenched, or a lesson enforced, by a striking and appropriate proverb. In an age, however, of false refinement, and an over-fastidious taste, it has been considered vulgar and low-bred in the so-called upper ranks of society, to quote a proverb in conversation. Lord Chesterfield, that grand master of a hollow and ridiculous courtesy, has said "that no man of fashion ever uses a proverb." There is a healthier tone of feeling in this respect in the writings of Shakspere. It is an error to suppose that all proverbs spring from the inferior orders of society: nay, the bulk of them, for their polished wit, and genuine soundness of thought, are clearly of highly respectable parentage. Their vitality and universality are unquestionable. There are proverbs current among us, which we know indisputably to have been reckoned "old saws two thousand years ago. As some of the innumerable instances of their universality, take the beautiful saying, "Man proposes, God disposes," which has made its home in every European tongue. Nothing is there merely trifling in this! Nay, there manifests itself a solemn and all-pervading impression, deeply rooted in man's heart, that
"There's a divinity that shapes our ends
Rough-hew them how we will."
That proverbs have ever been dear to the learned and noble in intellect is sufficiently evident. Aris totle, the most profound of Greek scholars, made a collection of them. Shakspere, besides continually putting them into the mouths of his characters, and
throwing out ever and anon half-hidden allusions to them, has affixed them as names to two or three of his comedics, viz., "Measure for Measure," and "All's Well that Ends Well." Cervantes, the author of "Don Quixote," has shown his affection for proverbs by making the conversation of that estimable squire, Sancho Panza, amount almost wholly of "wise saws.' It is hardly necessary to mention the genial Latin poet, Plautus, the witty Church historian, Fuller, the congenial and humourous French writers, Rabelias and Montaigne, and the laughter-moving author of Hudibras, to prove the proposition that if proverbs are vulgar, so have been and are many of the wisest and wittiest of men. But I can adduce, and this I do with all becoming reverence, a higher and holier sanction for the use of proverbs. They have been written under the immediate influence of Inspiration; they have been spoken by Him "who spake as never man spake." The rich and royal Solomon owed his undying fame mainly to his matchless proverbs. And one Greater than Solomon on more than one occasion quoted proverbs current among his countrymen, thus-"Physician heal thyself"" A prophet is not without honour save in his own country;" and "Where the carcass is, there will the eagles be gathered together."
Proverbs convey in a few terse and forcible words the concentrated wisdom of ages; they display the sharpest insight into human virtues and human weaknesses; they unveil the specious intent which so often covers an unholy design; they pull off the painted mask which too frequently conceals a hideous deformity. Nay, more, they teach lessons of purest morality, and re-echo, not seldom, the precepts of a true and living faith.
If the greater part of proverbs were fashioned in the bright armoury of Heaven, others were undoubtedly forged in the doleful workshops of Hell. For example" Common fame is seldom to blame:" here