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these apprehensions or expectations of positive evil or good, from the character and tendency of any of our new institutions, the Christian philanthropist can prognosticate success from no plan of public instruction which cannot claim God for its patron. To him it will seem to be a sound principle, that man must be dealt with, not merely as a religious being, but as belonging to a peculiar dispensation, from which must flow all his maxims of moral truth: that the purposes of universal education can never be accomplished without a specific and perpetual reference to the one, supreme, authentic model: that as the best learning for the rich, is that which best qualifies them to be guides to the poor; so for the poor, that which soonest carries them to the sources of comfort and contentment, duty and peace; which asks for few intermissions of labour, but makes its pauses refreshing and improving; in short, that the wisdom for the multitude is not the wisdom of the porch or the academy, but that which "uttereth her voice in the streets," and opens her school to every variety of condition, without interruption, without disturbance, without excess; that the only proper impelling power for giving motion and effect to all the new machinery of public instruction must be, if any good is to
come from it, the genuine purpose of educating the soul for another state, and widening the foundations of human hope.
The crude materials of an inapplicable knowledge lie in the mind only to ferment, perhaps to mount in noxious exhalation, or perhaps to vegetate in poisonous luxuriance.
That these consequences may not reward the spurious philanthropy of the times in which we live, is the earnest hope of the writer of these pages; but the only certain way of obviating such consequences, is to promote a direct instruction in scriptural and vital knowledge among those who are to live by the labour of their hands, in opposition to that unholy dogma which dictates a general and secular education as a preparative to the introduction of Christian doctrines. With the poorer classes, the Gospel is the end and means of instruction. Practical religion is the alpha and omega of their proper discipline; it is the most rapid way of generating an intellectual character among them: if it prompt to other inquiries and attainments, as it will often do, the great point is at the same time secured, of bringing those attainments into subserviency to a godly conscience: it keeps the heart whole, the affections chaste, and the practice steady; it may not excite genius, but it exercises wisdom;
and if it do not multiply the possibilities of eventual excellence, it secures the realities of actual good.
It is among God's plain appointments, that popular ignorance is not to be dispelled by a secular, or even a philosophical education. By throwing in certain ingredients, which general education may furnish, it may be made to boil and bubble, to fume and roar-but it will be ignorance still, in a more turbid and noxious state. None of that knowledge which lays the foundation of good neighbourhood, kind habits, political contentedness, and moral obedience, will be the result; while numbers will be added to the dupes of inflammatory falsehoods, and the victims of a debauching press. No good can come of any discipline for the common people, but that which may open their eyes to their awful predicament as accountable creatures.
But to come a little more to points. Has not the prevailing disposition towards physical inquiries produced an inordinate and contumacious spirit of research, under the pretext of an unlimited love of truth? Has it not, in some degree, perplexed the great landmarks by which the provinces of mathematical and moral evidence are authentically divided? Has it not tended to make man himself too unreservedly a subject of
experiment? Has it not led many to regard their species as an object of natural history, an aggregation of functions, and mind as the mere result of structure and organization?
These intimations are thrown out by way of general caution against the dangerous inroads of science on that sacred ground, into which modern philosophy is beginning to introduce the dry bones of her diagrams, and the smoke of her furnaces.”
Let the Christian householder be warned to trench around some of his indigenous convictions; and to let it be one among the number, that "man was formed out of the dust of the ground;" that his Maker "breathed into his nostrils the breath of life," and that thus "he became a living soul."
If God is a thinking Being, what necessary dependence can intelligence have upon organized matter or animal substance?
There are other notions hovering about this focus of philosophical intensity, which are hardly of dignity enough to be dangerous. Folly ferments in the neighbourhood of mischief, as flies swarm in the atmosphere of infection. Little more, perhaps, is necessary to protect the mind from the fever of phrenology, than to keep its chambers clean and ventilated.
But if this will not do, it may be worth a greater exertion to keep this mockery of science out of the family. Young minds and low capacities are captivated by easy methods of acquiring distinction. To conjure is shorter than to calculate; to decide than to inquire. Life is brief and study wearisome; many feel the greater practicability of being overwise than wise, and that it is more easy to run before the judicious than to rank with them; to go where they dare not follow, than to submit to their guidance.