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providence and the debates of parliament compel her, year after year, to publish her own weakness and shame. The dense masses of an ignorant and irreligious population in her towns, the incendiary fires of England, the midnight and daylight assassinations of Ireland, the desperate outbreaks of the Chartists, and the more loathsome blasphemies of Socialism, have presented a spectacle, within these few years, which the patriot must gaze upon with the blush of shame, and the Christian mourn over with tears of sorrow.
These evils have now reached a fearful crisis. It is plain that no slight remedies will suffice for a cure. Mere penal laws are felt, even by statesmen themselves, to be unequal to the task. The annual cost of our criminal administration exceeds 1,200,000l. and yet crime does not diminish. Men of all parties are beginning to see that our only prospect of national safety lies deeper—in the training of our population to habits of order, morality, and religion. In short, with all classes of thoughtful men, the sheet anchor of their hopes for the country is NATIONAL EDUCATION.
The interest arising from the vital importance of the subject is heightened greatly by the anomalous aspect it has now assumed. In the need of enlarged education for the people all are agreed: but in the views taken of its nature, its machinery, its main objects, and fittest agents, there is the utmost variance. The rulers of the Church are at variance with the rulers of the State; the Upper House condemns the course adopted by the Lower and in the Commons themselves, party is balanced against party, and five or six votes turn the scale. So that, at the present moment, a few votes of the Lower House, the result of fictitious and perjured Irish registrations, are deciding the basis of our national measures on education, against the loudly-expressed sense of the people, the majority of British members, the express judgment of the House of Peers, and the almost unanimous feeling of the Bishops and Clergy.
It was in this strange and unhappy state of things, that the pamphlet before us appeared. It wears the character of a Government manifesto, to explain and justify the recent measures of our Executive, and to clear them, if possible, from the jealousy and distaste of the Christian public. Some months have now elapsed since its publication; but the causes that gave it birth still continue; the danger that threatens us seems as great as ever; and the importance of the topic is unimpaired. We hope then, with the blessing of God, to do service to our readers and the Church, by submitting it to a brief dissection, and testing its principles in the light of Christian policy and by the lessons of Divine truth.
The pamphlet consists of the Report of Council, June 3, 1839-four chapters, and an Appendix of tabular documents. In the first chapter, facts are adduced upon the state of education in England, to prove the need of Government interference. The second reviews the past course and present state of education on the continent, with the superior resources and actual dangers of England. The third is occupied with a defence of the existing Minute of June 3; and the fourth does the same office for the half-rescinded Minute of the 11th of April. The numerical state of education in Manchester, Liverpool, Bury, York, Westminster, and Coventry, forms the Appendix.
Now the first thing that must strike a Christian reader in this ministerial defence, is the cold, dull, earthly tone which marks it throughout. There is no breadth or fulness in its statement of facts, and there is no frankness or dignity in its vindication of principles. The poor, frigid cast of its thoughts, forms a painful contrast with the intense and overwhelming grandeur of the theme. That our nation has the world at its feet, and corruption preying on its vitals; that we have enjoyed for ages the light of Revelation, with all its bright and immortal hopes, and yet that our rustics are sunk in ignorance, and rebellion and blasphemy ranging through our towns, these are facts which, brought out in their full relief, might startle the conscience of the public, and sink deep into every Christian heart. But what conscience will be impressed by carving up immortal souls, into averages and per centages, with two places of decimal fractions? Or even if the Bishop of Calcutta could, without garbling of facts, be made evidence against his Grace of Canterbury, how does this help us to sound views of national education, or justify the maxims and plans of Government?
Surely there never was an occasion which called more loudly for clearness and fulness of thought, large and comprehensive views, and a generous fervour of expression. The Government of the first Christian nation in the world bending its thoughts to the high purpose of training millions of immortal souls, and guiding the destinies of unborn ages: what a noble spectacle for men and for angels! But when we ask for solid thought, our mouth is filled with the pebbles of a sandy arithmetic; when we look for the earnest manliness of the Christian statesman, we find only the tortuous excuses of a creeping expediency.
The next great feature that calls for our notice in this pamphlet, is its total silence upon man's immortality. There are a few expressions, we grant, about "reverence for revealed truth,” a sentiment of piety, and gifts of Providence. On the
other hand, to balance these, we have the orthodox faith expounded (p. 46) as "private opinions on abstruse points of theology;" and set in contrast with "the demonstrable temporal happiness of millions." But with regard to man's future account and eternal destiny, the great truth which forms the very touchstone of all sound education,-on this there is the silence of the grave. We are astonished, as well as pained, at this ominous fact. Do my Lords of the Council assign this also to the special department? Can they dream that their manifesto will quiet the scruples of one single Christian, when they will not tell us whether their system is to train men, like horses, as useful animals for state purposes, or as responsible and immortal beings-as pilgrims for eternity?
Here, then, we must pause in our examination. We cannot consent, with the Committee of Council, to bury ourselves in gaols, or wander over the continent for details of instruction or registers of crime, till the great point is first decided,-what is the true object and final aim of all right education. We shall then be more able to form a just decision upon the Government plan.
What, then, is the right aim of National Education? To answer this enquiry, we must reflect on the true aspect of a nation in the sight of God. What is a nation? It is a multitude of immortal, accountable, dying creatures, who are passing through a short pilgrimage to an eternal abode. It is an assemblage, within certain geographical bounds, and cemented by fixed human laws, of thousands and millions who have soon to appear in judgment, and to give an account before the supreme King of Nations, of their conduct here below. It is a noble compartment of that vast field of Divine Providence, concerning which the song always resounds in heaven, "Thou art worthy to receive honour, and glory, and power: for Thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they were created." The permanence of a nation is the permanence of the sunshine on the waves of a stream. Each separate drop that now sparkles to the eye, is fast travelling to the ocean; and each of the million immortals that compose the state, is swiftly passing to his solemn account, and his eternal abode.
Such is the Christian view of a nation-a view which none but the blinded Atheist can dare to deny. And now the question recurs, what is the true scope and object of any National Education that deserves the name? And, surely, but one reasonable answer can be given-it is the training of men for their future account and for a blessed immortality. Eternity is too vast to be thrust into a corner, and life is too short to be
squandered upon a lower aim. There is nothing in all its domestic and civil relations, in the fields of natural knowledge, or the range of social duty, which ought not to revolve around this object as the great sun and centre of the whole. The system which would train men only as machines for state service, the raw material of capital, the national stock-in-trade of labour, or turn their education into a bare preventive police for crime, is a cruel mockery on the true rights of conscience, a fraud on their immortal hopes, and an insult to their Maker. And whoever, under the name of secular education, would wrest or turn aside any part from this high purpose, which ought to consecrate the whole, so far despoils religion of its just supremacy, and commits robbery against the souls of his fellow men.
However various the departments of education, this noble character, a training for immortality, belongs in common to all. It is the last harbour to be reached that determines the course of the vessel, though other ports may have to be touched at by the way. And thus, too, each season of life ought to prepare for that which follows; every rank and profession may require its distinct and peculiar training, but the pole star in every case must be the hope of the life to come. Whatever forsakes this grand object, is not education-it is a delusion of darkness. The teaching which is mute upon man's immortality, is no light from heaven to cheer and to bless, but an ignis fatuus to destroy.
National Education, in this its true sense, has been one great purpose of God's Providence since the world began. The rain and the sunshine, the stars of heaven, and the flowerets of earth, are parts of one vast economy, which all centres in the instruction of the sojourners of mankind, to prepare them for the searching scrutiny through which they must pass, and that blessed home to which they ought to aspire. The Family and the State have, from the first, been two chief agents employed by Providence in this noble work. But, when the darkness of idolatry and sensual lust had corrupted both, and perverted them from their true aim, the Son of God himself appeared as the great Prophet and Teacher of a fallen world. Founding his Church immovably on the rock of his own promise, he sent her forth as a fresh agent in this work of mercy, and gave her a large commission to teach all nations and families to the end of time, and to train them in the pathway of life eternal.
There is, indeed, a spurious counterfeit, which in every age has sought to usurp the name of education, while flatly opposed to its true object. It may fitly be called "Secular Education,"
a training for this world alone, without caring for the next. It is made up of half truths, perverted into falsehood-of earthly facts divorced from moral truth and religious obedience and of a pandering to a corrupt appetite for unseasonable knowledge. By these characters was it marked when it began in Paradise, and these serpent-features it has retained ever since. "Your eyes shall be opened"-there was a partial truth in the words. But the truth served only to bait the delusion, and do the work of falsehood. "Ye shall be as Gods, knowing good and evil;" here was intellectual progress set at variance with the will and command of God. And what were the natural effects? Misery and death! Such was secular education at its birth-and such, in its main features, it still continues. May our country never fall into the fatal snare! May she never believe the syren voice which tells her that "the sole effectual means of preventing the tremendous evils of anarchy, is by giving the working people a good secular education!" (pp. 44.) May she never accept these apples of Sodom in exchange for the living truth of God's holy word!
But as some may question the sufficiency of the view just given of Christian education, we will shortly test its truth, as applied to one or two classes. Let us take, first, the Christian child. Is there any part of his education, when rightly conducted, which stretches beyond the definition-a training for immortality? The simplest division, perhaps, is domestic training, preparation for future employment, and instruction purely religious. Now what is the domestic training of a child but one lesson of obedience to those great commands"Honour thy father and thy mother"-" Love one another as brethren?" And what motive so powerful for this end as the sense of God's authority and the consciousness of his presence? And what is its true purpose, its guiding aim? Surely it is the culture, in the infant mind, of whatever is pure, lovely, and of good report, as a preparation for the pure society and unfading joys of heaven. What, again, is the preparation for the future engagements of life, but a training in heavenward lessons of diligence and obedience on a larger scale, and an awakening of the soul to hopes which are never to be satisfied but in the fruition of the life to come? In short, the whole education of a child is contained in those elements of which the Church Catechism is the brief summary. It is an implanting of the unseen truths of faith, an instilling of lessons of duty and habits of obedience, with the awakening of spiritual desires and aspirations; but all these based on a covenant re