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science, the favour of good men, and the high approval of God. And perhaps in the hour of danger they might be recalled, like the hero of Greece or the judge of Israel, with tenfold honour, by the very parties who had before driven them from the helm. The second course that a Christian Executive might adopt is one, perhaps, less liable to be thought Utopian by modern statesmen, since it would demand less of self-sacrifice, and would imply less maturity of discernment in sacred things. We may suppose rulers, as before, deeply convinced of the Divine truth and social power of the Christian faith in its grand outlines, but distracted by the rents and divisions of the Church, and lax in their view of its ordinances and visible form. They might still, in this case, adopt a course, lower indeed in its tone than the former, and more perplexed in its working, but still fraught with a large blessing, when compared to one of blind religious indifference. They might begin with laying down the great doctrinal truths of our faith as the basis of their plan, the guide of their efforts, and the standard of the instruction they seek to diffuse. They might then extend their aid, by funds or otherwise, to all schools or societies for national instruction which pledge themselves to those great principles. They might even dispense that aid in various degrees, according to the stability, constitutional weight, or practical efficiency of the schools or societies which required it. And having thus given a pledge themselves of the nature and honesty of their Christian profession, and their sincere desire for the religious training of the people, they might fairly claim to the same extent, and no further, the right of inspection, to ensure that the funds advanced by the State are honestly applied to the intended purpose. Such a plan is doubtless inferior in dignity of principle, in practical simplicity, and final efficiency, to the one first named. But still it is consistent in itself, and something easier in its immediate application to a State split into parties, and a Church surrounded with sects or rent with divisions. And perhaps the degree of Christian knowledge which it requires exceeds, rather than falls short of, what is now to be found commonly among our statesmen.
The third course possible, if course it may be called, is that of total, or nearly total inaction. We may conceive the case of rulers who feel deeply the wants of the country, the loud call for more wide-spread national instruction and the vital importance of a sound education diffused through the land. But they see also the need of a religious basis to the whole. They see the necessity, for this end, of sound doctrine, of effective discipline, and of a Divine authority as the sanction of both. Their own faith however is dim and feeble. They can scarce decide for them→
selves, among contending creeds, much less can they decide so clearly as to take the responsible task of diffusing any among their people. To choose amidst the varieties of discipline they find still more hopeless. They have indeed a twilight "reverence for revealed truth," but it is too dim to guide their steps in any practical measures. They have "a sentiment of piety and devotion," but it is far too thin and airy to bear them firmly along through the strife of parties, and the clash of opposing interests. One virtue, however, at least, they still retain. They have the sense to feel their weakness, and the frankness to confess it, and the honesty to follow out the confession. They still own what none can deny, without the most glaring folly, that all education, to be real, must be religious; and upon religious questions they feel themselves unfit to decide. They take, therefore, modestly and quietly, the lower place, to which their religious ignorance consigns. them. They leave the cause of Education, with outward facilities and their good wishes only, to those who possess the faith, zeal, and knowledge to mould it by Christian truth, and to direct it steadily to its great and holy aim. For themselves, they will be content to act as the head police and moral scavengers of the State; to preserve its outward order, sustain the rights of property, and clear it from more open and flagrant crimes. It would be melancholy that rulers, once Christian, should ever fall so low; more melancholy still, if Christians, self-called spiritual, should be found to cheer them on in the downward road of apostacy, and laud their base desertion of their true office as the glorious and perfect ideal of a Christian state. But while, in such a case, we must grieve at their fall, and pity the ignorant rashness of their spiritual advisers, we could at least commend their wisdom in confessing their shame, and renouncing all pretences of fulfilling that office of National Education for which they must know, in their own conscience, that they were utterly and hopelessly disqualified.
There is only one other course which seems to us possible for an Executive to adopt. It is when the civil rulers of a state, as a body, profess no special religion, adopt no special creed, adhere specially to no visible Church, but float in a vague and willing uncertainty; and with the question of Pilate in their hearts, and even in their mouths, embrace all doctrines, true or false, with a strictly impartial patronage. It is just conceivable that such statesmen, while devoid of any corporate religious profession, and virtually renouncing all conviction in matters of faith, may still claim to be patrons of education, and undertake to superintend its spread among a Christian people. We may conceive them to support, without distinction, every mode of faith, to
supply funds to every sect, to arrange for the instruction of the people in every existing creed; and, on the ground of this pecuniary support, to claim the right of inspection, and the controul which that inspection implies, over the visible Church, and every Christian communion, orthodox or heretical, within their dominions. What shall we say of such a Government, and of such a system? We will assert boldly, in the sight of God and men, that it bears on its very face the broad stamp of its own folly and guilt; that in theory it is a contradiction-in practice, a labyrinth without a clue; that it is dishonest in its pretensions, tyrannical in its plain tendency, and earthly and infidel to its very heart's core.
Let us now examine the actual course of our present Government, that we may discover to which of these it must be referred, and be able to judge what are its claims to our confidence, and to the co-operation of our Church and its rulers.
The first feature which must strike every one in these Recent Measures of our Government, is the manner in which the whole subject is brought before the public. The Education of a Christian country, almost the very highest of all moral and religious questions which a Legislature could entertain, comes to be discussed and decided in the shape of a Money Bill! If the object were to justify Napoleon's sarcasm, that the English are a nation of shopkeepers, we know not what more effectual course could have been taken. Instead of being ushered in as its importance demands, and based on a distinct, clearly-defined, and solemnly-expressed enactment, which might embody the deliberate judgment of the whole Legislature, the measure is thrust in among the crowd of estimates, and viewed merely as a small item in our annual expenditure. The vote for Education, as treated by our Executive, differs in nothing from the vote for the stables at Windsor, except in being of less than half the amount. The training of horses for the Royal hunt, and the "good secular education" of the people for State service, is thus placed on the same level by the Ministers of the Crown. This is the first pledge they offer to the public of the large and noble views which are to preside in the plans of Government. And when we remember that the professed design of this course is to lay the foundation of a new and complete system of State Education, surely no step could have been better contrived to fix the stamp of an incurable and narrow earthly-mindedness upon the whole project.
The next feature of these Recent Measures is the natural consequence of the last. The functions of the combined Legislature are superseded by the Lower House, and a vote of the
Commons puts the constitution in abeyance. On a subject the most vital to the permanent interests of the country, and involving the welfare of future generations, that House, which embodies our ancestral dignity and the permanence of our national life, is without ceremony set aside. This is a strain on the constitution, which no special pleading can justify. If it be urged, in excuse, that the motive was an earnest desire for immediate steps to meet a pressing evil, and that the difficulties could not be otherwise surmounted, the answer to such excuses is plain. No national measures, on so vital a subject, can ever work healthily or happily for the good of the people, unless there be first a general concurrence in their favour in the supreme legislature. Without this, they will only breed endless dissension, and multiply causes of irritation and strife. They cease, in fact, to be national, and become the measures of a mere party. They will act on the State by convulsive starts and spasms, instead of the quiet, vigorous power of a fixed, integral element of the national life. This ingenious stratagem, by which the constitution is destroyed, under the cover of its own forms-this new invention of state to depose the House of Peers by tacking a balance-sheet to every high matter of legislation, and turning the education of millions of immortal souls into a question of ways and means, and merchandize-this, we say, is the pledge we must accept from our Government, of the moral honesty, the high, manly, Christian tone which is to animate the new system of State Education.
The third feature to be noticed is the constitution and powers of the new Committee of Council. We will transcribe the words of the appointment, with the remarks of the pamphleteer :—
"Some of these defects appear to admit of an immediate remedy, and I am directed by Her Majesty to desire, in the first place, that your Lordship, with four other of the Queen's servants, should form a Board, or Committee, for the consideration of all matters affecting the Education of the People.
"For the present it is thought advisable that this Board should consist of,
The Lord President of the Council.
The Lord Privy Seal.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer.
The Secretary of State for the Home Department, and
The Master of the Mint.
"It is proposed that the Board should be entrusted with the application of any sums which may be voted by Parliament, for the purposes of Education in England and Wales.'
"A Committee of Council on Education was accordingly appointed on the 10th April, 1839-and it should be observed that the functions of
the Committee are limited to 'superintend the application of any sums voted by Parliament for the purpose of promoting public Education.' These functions are therefore precisely similar to those which were exercised by the Treasury in the years 1835, 6, 7, and 8.
"The Committee of Council is equally amenable to Parliament, annually, for all its proceedings: the sum confided to it is not greater than that entrusted to the Treasury. As it consists of five responsible Members of the Cabinet, instead of only one, the security for correct administration is augmented, and its proceedings are, in all respects, rendered more open to observation, by their separation from the mass of details with which the Treasury is encumbered, and their transference to a department where they can obtain more constant and deliberate attention from the Executive. In all these respects the change is a great improvement, though it appears to have been the source of much groundless alarm."
Now here it is plain that the Government writer skilfully evades the real grounds of the alarm which the Christian public must feel. It is neither the number of the Committee, nor the present amount of the funds entrusted to them, which awakens this fear. The alarm arises from the undefined nature of the powers of this Committee, and the spirit which too plainly guides them. When the funds were applied only to the National, or even the British Society, there was a tolerable pledge for their right and safe application. But now we learn from the Minute of June 3rd, The Committee do not feel themselves precluded from making grants in particular cases, which shall appear to them to call for the aid of Government, although the applications may not come from either of the two mentioned societies." The sole rule is, what shall appear fitting to the Lords of the Committee. The door, then, is left wide open they have only to frame such conditions of their grants, as either or both of those societies cannot in conscience receive, and the whole sum is at their ultimate disposal, to bestow in any direction, upon any sect, to the patronage of any falsehood, after their own mere will and pleasure.
But the chief cause of alarm is the nature of those views of education which the Committee too plainly adopt, and the secret and evil influence that controls them. We need go no further than the pamphlet for evidence of their views. Those who deliberately profess that, "the only remedy for the anarchical spirit is a good secular education, and a knowledge of the laws which regulate the distribution of wealth," will be sure, in their practical measures, to thrust revealed religion into some corner of "special" instruction, and to cast the minds of those whom they educate in an earthly and secular mould. And when the smallness of the sum is pleaded, we must remember, that if the