ePub 版

The experience he has enjoyed in the work of education, even more than the honourable station he fills, gives hin a right to be heard ; and much of what he has offered will approve itself, we doubt not, to serious and reflecting minds. We can cordially concur with him in all bis convictions of the paramount importance of religion in education, though we should be unable to follow bim in some of bis speculative views. He thus exposes his ideas as to the prevailing indifference of parents on this subject, contrasted with their zeal and anxiety to secure the temporal advantage of their children.

" Is a son intended for a learned profession ? He is sent to school. The father is earnest that the master should ground him well in gramınar, give him a taste for classical literature, and call forth his powers in composition. A college and tutor are selected with anxious care to promote his intellectual improvement. An earnest solicitude is felt, that he should become a sound and elegant scholar ; and inquiring friends are told what progress be makes in his pursuits. Again, suppose, that a more humble walk of life is chosen by the parent, and that the boy is to be a tradesman ; with what' care does he select a master, who perfectly understands his business, and will be likely to make the boy thoroughly acquainted with it? But how seldom are their spiritual interests the objeet of equal solicitude ! Are masters chosen with the same care for the promotion of these joterests ? In fixing on schools and colleges for boys destined to the higher professions, and on masters and counting houses for those, who are to move in a more bumble line, is it a matter of prime consideration to select those, which are known to be favourable to true religion ?" p. 15.

And after an ample illustration of the same subject, he asks,

“Can we consult our experience on these points without exclaimingWhat prudent care in buman things ! what negligence in divjpe! The resalt of such negligence may be easily anticipated, and is lamentably apparent in the character and habits of our young Men." p. 18.

Now there is no one, who thinks seriously upon the subject of religion, but will cordially subscribe to these septiinents, as applied to simple uncorrupt christianity, and will lament with him the great inattention that prevails. Let religion in its puo rity and beauty be made the very basis of education. Let its plain, its alluring, its undisputed truths be continually impressed, as entering essentially into all our hopes of present, as well as of future usefulness and happiness; and let their influence constantly accompany and sanctify the intellectual progress. But there is infinite danger from attempting to indoctrinate the youthful, and still more the infant mind, in the peculiarities of a sect. It is rendering that disgusting, which should appear, as it indeed is, most lovely and attractive: and it is well if, in the end, it do New Series--vol. 1.


not create a disrelish for every thing connected with religion itself.

It seems to us, that there can be scarcely a greater abuse ia education, than to inake it ibe instrument of a'sectarian theology. Here, if any where, controversy is out of place. It impedes the native growth and expansion of the powers ; it makes religion a prejudice instead of a principle ; calls to its aid our passions and our ignorance, when its peculiar province is to enlighten the one and subdue the other; or else, by a re-action, produced partly by impatience of constraint and parily by dis. gust at a revolting system, it drives the pupil to ihe miserable refuge of infidelity. These remarks will not be thought misplaced by any, who have considered the history of those academic institutions, where literary and intellectual progress bave been made subordinate to the views of a party.

In the second chapter the author recommends a very early attention to the temper avd habits of children, and exposes what he justly deems the error of delay or neglect. His general views on this subject seem to us very judicious, though they borror something of their complexion from the system, with which the mind and pen of the writer seem strongly tinctured. We quote the following.

“In a few weeks after its birth a child's reason begins to dawn; and with the first dawn of reason ought to commence the moral culture, which may be best suited to counteract the evils of its nature. Let me appeal to every mother, who delights to view her infant, as it lies in her arms, whether it does not soon begin to read the human face divine, to recognize her smile, and to show itself sensible of her affection in the little arts she employs to entertain it. Does it not in bo long time return that smile, and repay her maternal caresses with looks and motions, su expressive, that she cannot mistake their import? She will not doubt then the importance of fostering in its bosom those benevolent sympathies which delight her, by banishing from her nursery whatever is likely to contradict them."

“ Bat parental cares soon extend. In a short time, impatience and selfishness show themselves in a child, and are accompanied by fretfulness, jealousy, anger and envy. At so early a period does innate corruption display its powers, and call for the restraining hand of a parent ! But how are these evils to be counteracted at an age, when both the body and mind are so tender, and neither arguments nor explanations can be understood ? Undoubtedly great delicacy of treatment is required. The character of the child innst be studied, and if possible such corrections must be applied as will not deeply wound its feelings. It is surprising what female ingenity, quickened by maternal tenderness, will atchieve in this way." pp.32.33.

And after adducing some particular examples, he proceeds with the following adinirable sentiments, which are so just and interesting, that we feel unwilling, as we are compelled, to abridge.

"But how, some parents may ask, how can this be effected at so tender an age? It seems to us impossible. Believe me, much may be done with very young children, by placing gradually before them with cheerfulness and affection, and in a spirit suited to the occasion, religious truths, associated as much as may be with images pleasing to their minds. These may be 60 set forth and brought home to the feelings by little and simple illustra. tions, that while the tender mind is embued with the first rudiments of religious knowledge, reverence and affection for divipe things, if God smile upon the endeavour, shall be excited in the heart. But special care must be taken not to give fatiguing lectures, nor to make too powerful calls on the feelings. •Here a little and there a little' must be a parent's motto in conveyiog instruction at this age; and for that little, the lessons must be chosen. when the child is most likely to lend a willing ear ; and the subject must always be dropped, before it becomes tiresome. Very short and simple stories from Holy Writ may be employed with great advantage. But in conveying instruction, it is a most important point for the parent always to have in mind, that far more may be done by exciting the sympathy of the child, than by appealing to its reason. Things indeed should always be presented to it in the garb of truth and good sense; but unless its feelings are in unison with its convictions, it may be perfectly persuaded of truths without being influenced by them in practice. And how are the appropriate feelings to be excited in its bosom? Chiefly by the feelings of the parent being ip unison with the subject on which he speaks. Is he dwelling on the greatness of God, or on his all seeing eye, or on his eternity. or op his glory ? Let his own heart harmonize with his lofty theme, and probably the right strings in that of his child will vibrate. Is he describing the divine love and tenderness, and mercy, especially as exemplified in Jesus Christ? If his own feelings are impressed by the picture be presents, those of his child are not likely to be altogether unmoved. But who can be so absurd as to hope, that when religious truths are taught as a schoolmaster teaches the grammar, good impressions will be made on the heart ? Do we see in fact, that when the Catechism is so taught, any such impression is made ? Step into a village school, when that compendium is learnt merely as a task, and you will fiud the children as little affected by its truths (even if they understand it) as they are by the lessons in their spelling boos. One would almost think that they conceived it pointed out the high privileges and the sacred duties of the inhabitants of the moon, and that they had nothing to do with it, but to get it by heart. Few if any parents, it is hoped, who make religion a branch of education, proceed in a way so utterly irrational, as the generality of village schoolmasters in teaching the catechism ; but, in whatever degree they approach to the village school system, in that degree, must they look for a similar result.” p. 35.

The third chapter contains general recommendations to guard parents against some evils, not uncommon in families. They are for the most part characterised by great judgment and good sepse; and obviously the result of experience. We were particularly pleased with the last, on the importance of parents being much with their children, and attentively studying their characters.

“ The mother is much more with her children than the father, but generally, I think, not so much as she ought to be. This is the more to be laidented, because women are admirably fitted for training their offspring in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. They have a remarkably quick insight into character; and a warmth of affection, a tenderness and a deli. cacy, which win the affection of others, and enable them to correct faults without giving offence, and to present christian principles and virtues to their children in their most amiable form. I believe there has seldom bred a man, that has not in after life looked back on her instructions and exaınple with reverence and delight.-Every hour which a christian another spends with her children has balm on its wings. She contrives to make even their pastimes a moral lesson ; and though she cannot (and it is not desirable that she should) make their regular lessons a pastime, yet sbe adapts them well to the abilities of her scholars, accommodates them well to times and circumstances, and divests them of whatever is oppressive and revolting. To mix the pleasant with the useful is at least as important in education as in poetry ; but good mothers far exceed good poets in that art. Surely, then, a mother should be jealous of every thing, which keeps her from the bosom of her family; a spbere, in which she is so gifted to shine, and to be a blessing to those most dear to her. How sad is it, when she throws away this pure gold for mere dross, by giving up those hours to an excess of visiting and company, which ought to be spent among her children !" p. 62.

We seriously recommend this to the attention of those moth. ers, who allow theniselves to forget their highest and noblest duties in unnecessary and superfluous allention to domestic concerns, or amiust the gayetjes of fashiopable amusements. The habitual presence, and unseen, but certain, influence of a mother, is of inestimable importance on the minds and bearts of her children. We have witnessed and adipired it in soine of its choicest and holiest influences. It is like the small raiv upon the sender herb.

The extracis, we have already made, will be sufficient to indicate the nature and spirit of the work, and will supersede ibe necessity of a inore minute description of its merits. O! iis style and literary execution we forbear to speak, except to remark, that these were clearly a very subordinate object in the mind of the writer. We just add, that among the topics of the following chapter, we noticed with pleasure some remarks on the effect of the personal character of parents, on the means for the support of parental authority and influence, and particularly on the difficult and disputed subject of emulation, which, as distinguished from the simple desire of excellence, and involving the wish to surpass others, he condemns as an unhallowed principle of action; as scarcely, if at all, to be disjoined from jealousy and envy, from pride and contention, incompatible with loving our neighbour as ourselves, and a principle of such potency as to be likely to engross the mind and turn it from the motives, which it should be the great business of education to cherish and render predominant.-We readily agree with the author, that the principle of emulation is questionable and dangerous ; that its natural tendency is to call into exercise our

most selfish feelings, and that through disappointed ambition it is not seldorn a source of misery. But it is difficult in the course of intellectual, much more we conceive than in that of moral education, to substitute an equivalent; or to say, by what efficient motives boys of the same standing, in pursuit of the same studies, and desirous of the same honours, shall be quickened to their exertions without somewhat, at least, of that inutual comparison and competition, which are inseparable from the principle of emulation.

There is however one sentiment, which has been strongly impressed upon us from the perusal of this work, and that is, The importance of a simple, affectionate, and encouraging view of religion io the work of education ; in other words, of a strict adherence to the simplicity and tenderness, that pervade the gospel. We do not mean, that our author has exhibited a strong contrast to this, for his good sense and observation, and still more his paternal feelings, evidently correct and soften what in less kind and skilful hands would have been repulsive. But notwithstanding this, we see the influences of a mistaken theology; something of that obscurity and much of that gloom, which belong to the doctrines he has espoused, and which render the system, wbich contains them, in our apprehension, unsuited to conduct the instruction of the infant mind. In the first place, it seems to us of infinite importance, that the character and government of God should be exhibited to the understanding of a child in the simplest and most alluring mander ; that nothing should be offered to obscure the grand idea of his unity, and still less of bis perfect, impartial goodness. For it must be remembered, that none of the explanations, by which contradictions may be reconciled to a theologian, can be comprehended by the young · pupil ; and that what is difficult or obscure to others, must be utter darkness and confusion to him. When therefore Mr. Babington tells us, (page 91) that "children must not be puzzled in religion-That we must avoid passages, that have a direct bearing upon disputed points," we most cordially concur. But when he adds, as he does in the next sentence, ibat “the great aim should be to make by divine aid their heavenly Father and their sanctifier, but ABOVE ALL their Saviour and his Gospel, the object of their reverence and their affections,”-it seems to us, he is falling into the very error, he is desirous to guard. We stay not here to discuss the question of the equality of the Son with the Godhead; but we ask, whether, under any system of faith, there can be the least truth or propriety in exhibiting our Saviour (and that in his mediatorial, consequently his subordinate character) as an object of reverence ABOVE Our heav

« 上一頁繼續 »