صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

.would be contrary to our clearest notions of justice, for him to bear the curse and punishment of our sins, unless our guilt, or penal bond, had been taken upon himself. If it be said, that Christ, though not subject to guilt, might yet justly bear the curse, since he was willing to bear it ; I answer, Christ was willing to be our sponsor, and as such to make satisfaction for our sins, for which he became responsible. But he was not willing to suffer the punishment of sins, the guilt of which was not imputed to bim. Nor ought any one to be willing to be punished for sins, for which he is in no way responsible. For no one ought to be willing that injustice should be done. If we should suppose a person willing to suffer punishment, which was on no account due to him; this would not render the inflicting of such punishment less unjust, but it would render the sufferer accessary to the injustice.

In short, I cannot see how the sufferings of the Son of God, the Holy One and the Just, sufferings greater, than man ever endured, can be reconciled with the justice and goodness of God, or declare his righteousness in the forgiveness and justification of sinners, or answer the ends, for which punishment of sin is necessary, or be any reason, why God may forgive and be recon

ON THE STATE OF LITERATURE IN NEW ENGLAND.

(Concluded from p. 524.)

WE have seen that some of the changes, which have lately

Miscellaneous.

ciled to sinners; unless we admit, what seems to me to be the plain, obvious doctrine of the Scriptures, that our guilt, our penal obligation, was taken upon himself, and that he suffered for our sins, and in our stead, punishment equivalent, in the divine estimation and acceptance, to what was due to us for sin.

I have now, dear Sir, exhibited as plainly as I could, what seems to me to be the scripture doctrine of the atonement. I have endeavoured to express my ideas intelligibly, and with precision. My proposed brevity would not allow me to enlarge in illustrating the proofs, which have been adduced, nor to intro duce several other topics of ar gument. This, I imagine, was not expected, nor desired. I know there are shrewd objections to this doctrine. But, if it appear to be agreeable to the Scriptures, a Christian need not be much moved by them, though he should not be able fully to solve all difficulties, by reason of the weakness of his reason, and the narrowness of his views. But a brief answer to some of the most common and conside rable objections, I have met with, may be attempted, perhaps, in another epistle. In the mean time I shall remain your friend and humble servant, with much respect and affection.

A Christian of the Ancient School.

taken place, wear a favourable aspect. There are many things, however, less promising than could be desired. Science may even in this favoured country be

surrounded with cypress, rather than decorated with myrtle, or with laurel. She may well mourn that so many obstacles are yet to be overcome, that so many advantages, as might here be enjoyed, should be neglected and despised; that in a land remarkably blessed with respect to soil and climate, a land proverbial as the dwelling place of liberty, she should be slighted when put in competition with the most unworthy pursuits, and the basest gratifications. Thus reflecting, we are insensibly led to inquire, why the interests of learning are not in a more favourable state.

Might I be permitted to use language moderately figurative, I should say, that the first thing under this head, which strikes an observer, is, that the religion of the country is exceedingly unfavourable to literature. This may appear an odd assertion; but I trust it can be shown, that the god, who is the object of this religion, is a being the most sordid and base, and that he has the complete possession of the hearts of his votaries. His name is Mammon. Though covered with some disguise, and denying his real name, his footsteps are every where traced, and his worship every where offered. In the mechanic's workshop, behind the merchant's counter, in the farmer's granary, and the lawyer's office, no less than in the sumptuous edifice, and the more princely dome, his altars are erected; to him daily sacrifices are made; to him matins and vespers are chanted; to him many a fervent prayer is indited by the heart, if it does not escape the lips. Scarcely the image on

the plain of Dura received more implicit homage, or more unqualified adoration. There certainly were Three Worthies, and there probably were many humble and unnoticed Jews, who disdained to bow down to the golden god; so now, it is to be hoped, there are some exceptions to the prevailing system of idolatry; an idolatry which is totally at war with the liberal expansion, and the vigorous efforts of a free mind; which paralizes every no, ble attempt, and extinguishes the fire of genius.

To speak in plainer language, that state of society cannot be favourable to the interests of science, in which money is so gen. erally considered the great essential of excellence, as it is at the present time in this country. Since the revolution there has been a remarkable influx of wealth, and as remarkable an increase in elegance and taste; taste, I mean, in eating and drinking, and in destroying time. He, therefore, who can appear to be the richest man, will find little difficulty in gaining notice and honour. It cannot be expected that there should be many worldly inducements to sedulous study, and the prosecution of difficult attainments, when the fortunate speculator, or even the lucky gambler, can appear in society to much better advantage, and receive more universal attention, than the most finished and laborious scholar. It bas even become a maxim, that if a young man of a liberal education has no more flattering prospects with respect to money, than others who have not enjoyed his advantages, he has gained nothing as a recompense for his

time and labour. It is true that all men do not join in this estimation. Those who are possessed of judgment and principle rarely agree with the world in its opinions. But I speak of that as a maxim, which is so received by mankind in general. Nor are talents always buried under this discouragement. The pen of a Johnson sometimes ransoms its owner from oblivion and contempt: It sometimes raises him on high at once, and gives him, from his elevation, to command respect with silent, yet irresistible authority. But how many, possessed of similar mental en dowments, sink before they have opportunity to display their powers, merely because that favour and support, which is due to merit, is denied them, and transferred to coxcombs, and blockheads.

Nearly allied to the love of money, and a thing which springs from its indulgence, is extravagance in living; a trait in the general character, which is also very injurious to the cause of learning. That this has increased to an alarming degree for a number of years past, is a matter entirely without debate. It is known and lamented, by every sincere friend to his country, and to happiness. The fashion in this particular throws many obstructions in the path of knowledge, and encumbers the traveller with many difficulties. Numbers of those who, from their habits of industry and economy, and the necessity of improving their advantages, would bid fair to become the best scholars, are not unfrequently discouraged from attempting to procure a public education, on account of

the unavoidable expenses attending it. For the same reason, many, when they first enter from the College into the world, with the hope and design of pursuing science, find themselves obliged to abandon their books, and bestir themselves with not a little activity to acquire property sufficient to maintain a decent appearance among their fellow men. It is also to be regretted, that at the same time that extravagance is encouraged, extreme parsimony is used with respect to the means of education. Many a father would grudge a petty sum to be laid out in books, while he would think his son acting a manly part, if ten times as much were spent in costly dress, or frivolous amusements. No spirit which exists among men is so niggardly, when money is to be expended for any good purpose, as the spirit of extravagance.

On the heels of profusion always tread dissipation and vice. That these are the enemies of all laudable endeavours, needs not to be proved. Yet these baleful evils have stalked over the land with a giant stride, captivating and enslaving the youth, the flower of our country. It is owing to the firm resistance, and the paternal watchfulness of good instructors, that they have not ruined the more important seminaries, even in New England, where the most manful opposition has been made. Pleasure and study can have no union; they cannot even coexist in the same person. By pleasure is intended that round of sensual gratification, and that affectation of happiness, so common among the empty, and the

licentious, which have conspired the first of the human to usurp so deceitful a name. The mind which has once acquired a fondness for riotous mirth, and which has condescended to degrade itself by unworthy indulgence, cannot relish a confinement to faithful application, nor endure the stillness of academic bowers.

Some inconveniences of no small magnitude arise from the infancy of our country. Literature has here never been pursued, as the employment of a whole life. That a young man should addict himself entirely to scientific pursuits, regardless of pecuniary concerns, would be esteemed a thing entirely new; and many of his acquaintance would be ready to cry out, that he was beside himself. Indeed, few who have any desire of learning could possibly afford to live without some productive business. Scarcely does the student begin to make progress in the labours of the mind, before he is interrupted by the deficiency of his purse, and diverted from his contemplated advances in learning, by the near approach of the horrors of penury. The time is much to be desired, when individuals, who are fond of study and retirement, may be possessed of such a competency, as to leave the getting of money to others, and devote themselves to science entirely; or when private munificence shall have made provision for the encouragement and support of those, who are disposed to be useful, without engaging in the bustle of the world. Then may our country produce men not suffering in a comparison with

if, indeed, we cannot, in a few instances, now make that boast, under all our discouragements.

The circumstances which make it necessary that a student should leave his books, and engage in active life, lead him into such habits as almost of course preclude him from any farther prosecution of his studies. There are some such exceptions as Dr. Johnson, that eminently learned civilian, of whom Connecticut may well be proud. But it is much to be wondered at, if the mind, which has been employed in drawing declarations, and making out fee-bills, for years, should be capable of expanding so as to delight in the higher branches of learning. Those who are eminent in a profession, are usually crowded with professional business; and those who are not, are obliged to submit to inferior drudgery. In either case, the man seems too much trammelled to think of excelling in scientifical pursuits.

Besides, there is little encouragement to literary performances of our own countrymen, after they are accomplished. Perhaps not a single meritorious work of genius, written by an American, has met with a liberal patronage in the United States; though the vilest productions which Europe disgorges, have been purchased with avidity. While this is the case, it cannot be strange that, rather than strive after excellence, where there is so much reason to despair of obtaining either. honour or support, young men should apply themselves to pur

suits of better prospect, in which, though their talents may be hidden, they can keep themselves from poverty and want.

The spirit of the times may also be seen in the slender support which is given to instructors of youth. It is not an uncommon thing for music masters, mountebanks, and dancing masters to receive triple the pecuniary support that is given to young gentlemen of the best hopes and most unblemished characters, who have spent all their property in gaining their education, and who have under their care the children of the ablest, and every way the first men of the land.

An opinion has likewise crept abroad, that whatever is not dazzling, is to be regarded as of little importance; an opinion not only groundless and false, but very unfavourable to useful and patient investigation. If we search for men who have most extended the boundaries of science, and who have performed such essential services, as to deserve the appellation of benefactors of mankind, we shall not find them among those who made the most noise and uproar in their day, who glittered and dazzled for a time, and behaved as though, like Atlas, they bore the heavens on their shoulders. It is not an unsound maxim of Horace,

[blocks in formation]

growth, while the mushroom springs, and withers, in a day. Constant and persevering exertions in the cultivation of the mind, as in that of the soil, seldom fail to produce some correspondent effects; while the desultory efforts of those, who make haste to be eminent, are without force, being made without any well digested plan. Yet it is common in this country to ridicule that industry in literary pursuits, by which every thing valuable is attained, and that attention to common things, and common sense, by which men are principally benefited. A striking instance of this, is the manner in which a very valuable member* of the community has been treated by some of his fellow citizens. That the gentleman, to whom I refer, has rendered much assistance to the youth of our country, no person will have the injustice to deny ; & surely it reflects little honour on any person to stigmatize endeavours to make the education of youth easy, as a pursuit unwor thy of the most exalted talents, and the most benevolent heart. It is by attending to the things of ordinary life, that Count Rumford has performed such acceptable services to the world.

I shall mention but one more cause unfriendly to learning, though the catalogue might easily be enlarged. It is the influence of party politics. Such is the unhappy state of our country that the clamours of partisans excite more attention, than the calls of utility, or even of necessity. There is now

.....

* Mr. Webster.

« السابقةمتابعة »