Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

tendency of the times. Every thing is verging towards equality, and men are beginning to feel an interest in the masses which they never felt before. We rejoice in this tendency. It is to us a proof that Christianity has not been preached, that great and good men have not sighed, and labored, and suffered, in vain. But even this tendency, glorious and promising as it is in our eyes, may not bring all the good we could wish. The boasted “ Reformers of the age, have, in many instances, more zeal and benevolence, than just appreciation of the work they should perform. They do not penetrate deep enough. They would introduce equality in our external circumstances; but this, admitting it practicable, would hardly deserve the name of a reform. Poverty is not itself an evil, it is only the symptom of an evil. The inequality, which now obtains, is in itself a small affair ; the mere physical suffering it involves, great as that may be, is hardly worth lamenting. The real evil lies deeper, and is infinitely greater. That evil is the injury done to mind. The waste of mind, is that over which the philanthropist weeps. The immortal mind, on which God has stamped his own image, is suppressed, is prevented from unfolding even the least of its inighty powers, in the vast majority of our race. Nine tenths of mankind are so situated, that they have neither the time nor the opportunity of attending to any thing but the wants of their animal na

This is the real evil; and the real work for the Reforiner, is to put into the hands of the whole, – not equal

wealth, - but the means of spiritual cultivation and growth. This is no slight work. Much has been done, much is now doing, but vastly more remains untouched. It is painful to reflect how many are born every day, who must live and die mute, inglorious, and forgotten, who yet, had opportunity been afforded them, would have displayed as much power of mind, loftiness of soul, strength of purpose, and even creative genius, as the greatest and most venerated of our race. The great end of existence, we have said, is spiritual growth; and, though we are far from believing that all men are born with equal capacities, we do believe that all are born susceptible of a growth. To aid this growth to the full extent of our power, in the humblest as well as in the most gifted of God's offspring, is the aim of all enlightened philanthropy; and to this end, instead of being wasted on

ture.

[ocr errors]

efforts to accomplish that comparatively slight affair, equality in men's external condition, we hope will be directed the exertions of all those who have the sentiment of something better for man than what he now has.

We have here touched upon some points in which we think the ideal of our age is superior to that of the age when Christianity was first preached. It seems to us, that the great law of love, the distinguishing law of our religion, is now more fully comprehended than it ever was before. But that it is so we attribute to the influence of Christianity, which has been silently but effectually exerted, strengthening our minds, shedding new light on our duties, and bringing them home with more energy to our hearts. If it has done this, let us not say that it has not thus far faithfully and successfully executed its mission.

We also think that the influence of Christianity in enabling the mind to form to itself loftier ideals of excellence, has not been confined to those who have believed themselves Christians. When men break away from the reigning form of Christianity, and look down upon it with a sort of contempt, it is because that forın does not come up to their ideas of the perfect; and that it does not, is owing to the fact that they have outgrown it, and become able to form to themselves a more perfect ideal. But it is not necessary to suppose that these are enemies to Christianity, as Christians are apt to suppose them, nor that they are what they are without the influence of Christianity, as they are apt themselves to imagine. Christianity demands a progress, and it invariably deserts those who refuse to advance. When its professed adherents become stationary, it breaks out in new sects, and sometimes joins with its professed opponents. This should teach us to listen to every new sect with interest and candor, and to hear without prejudice all that unbelievers have to offer in their own behalf. It

may

be they have, in some respects, had some more perfect visions of truth, and that we may, by their aid, enlarge our ideal of excellence. This should also admonish unbelievers that their work is to reform, improve, not to destroy ; that, if they have discovered any truth which Christians generally have not, they have only discovered a little more of Christianity than others, and ought therefore to be its warmer friends. Infidel philosophers have told us some truths, but VOL. XVII. — N. S. VOL. XII..NO. III.

89

they were Christian influences that enabled them to discover those truths ; and as Christianity is not stationary, but always advancing, always meaning more, it can receive them without any injury, but with great benefit to itself. Unbelievers, — that class of unbelievers, we mean, who are so because they desire a greater good for mankind, - should return to the Church; because it is that which has given them that desire, it is that alone which can give them power to gratify it, and because the desire which governs them is the most peculiarly Christian desire of any which Christianity has quickened in the human breast.

One consideration more and we close. If Christianity has aided past progress, if it be to Christianity that we are indebted for that loftier ideal of excellence which belongs to this generation than that of the generations which are gone, who shall say that it has no power to aid a future progress ; who shall say that love to our neighbour will not mean, two thousand years hereafter, as much more than it does now, as it now means more than it did two thousand years ago? May not the generations to come after us, improve as much upon our ideal, as we have improved upon the ideal of those who went before us? Shall we say that Christianity has spent its force, and that it bas done all that it can do for the world? Great changes in men's views of the rectitude of specific actions have taken place, and are there none to take place hereafter ? War was once deemed the business and the glory of nations, and was made the principal end of the most admired political and legislative institutions of antiquity. Armies could once be raised to fight for conquest and for glory ; but that time has passed away.

Wars can now be carried on only under pretence of securing or maintaining national or individual rights, or of obtaining peace. Armies cannot now be raised to fight for the mere honor of fighting, nor with the avowed object of stripping a neighbour of his territories. There needs some plea of right. Some even go further, and declare the resort to arms in all cases anti-christian and unjustifiable.

There is greater advance still. When Christianity was introduced, slavery was deemed right. Cruelty to slaves was condemned, but slavery itself was not even considered as requiring an apology. But now, in a vast majority of cases, it is declared a crime, and it is nowhere tolerated except on the ground of

a

expediency, and that miserable plea bids fair not to be available much longer. The slave-trade, which almost within our own memory was deemed honorable, is now ranked with piracy; the traffic in ardent spirits, in which the best of men few

years ago saw no evil, promises soon to be considered no better than the slave-trade. And why have all these changes taken place? Why do we condemn practices which our fathers approved? Simply because we form to ourselves a loftier ideal of excellence. Christianity means more with us than it did with them. But do we not tolerate practices which a more comprehensive view of Christianity, a clearer perception of the right, would condemn? Are there now no methods of gain, of applause, of promotion, approved and deemed honorable by us all, and even recommended by parents to their children, which are not sinful, only because we have not reached that degree of moral progress which would disclose their iniquity ? And who

And who among us dare say, that degree of moral progress will not be attained, and that even the best of us are not approving that which after generations will view as we do war, slavery, the slave-trade, and as we shall soon the traffic in ardent spirits? We believe it will be so; but in that belief we do not see the condemnation of the present, but its duty to be continually exerting itself to take more and more comprehensive views of the right, and to form to itself a less and less defective morality.

The belief of the possibility of this, would perhaps dictate a change in our treatment of a class of individuals who are generally condemned.

We allude to those who in every age demand reform. We have individuals of this class amongst us now. We call them “visionaries,” or brand them as disorganizers ; and this may be true of some; but perhaps the only fault of many consists in the fact, that in them the far-glancing sentiment of the future has some dim and shadowy visions of what generations to come will prove to be glorious realities. They may be the prophets of humanity. Half mad, it may be, as all prophets are to their contemporaries; but they should be listened to with interest, and their “ burdens” should be received with respect.

[ocr errors]

on the

ART. II. Remarks

Classical Education of Boys. By a Teacher. Boston. Hilliard, Gray, & Co. 1834. 18mo. pp. 119.

[ocr errors]

.

We will not say, in common language, that the above little work is “unpretending," since, though small and simple in appearance, it nevertheless undertakes a great deal;

and, what may be accounted very remarkable, in these presuming, book-making days, – it accomplishes what it undertakes.

It is addressed to the highest class of society, emphatically so called; and by this term, we do not mean to comprehend simply those who are distinguished for rank, talent, wealth, or education ; or, even those alone who combine all these desirable advantages; but we allude to that small number of persons, among these, who, sensible of the void in all our present school systems, and the highly injurious tendency of some of them, are capable of perceiving and appreciating, when presented, the best means which may and ought to be taken to remedy their defects. These errors and deficiencies are set forth briefly, but forcibly, in the volume before us, and the best remedies are prescribed. It is not to be supposed, that these remedies, like those for lesser evils, are very simple, or very cheap ones; nor are they expected to be embraced by the mass of the people. It is not necessary that they should be, any more than it is necessary for the mass of the people to be acquainted with the scientific cure of diseases ; but it is highly expedient that some among them should know, and be able to apply their knowledge.

For the comparative few then, above mentioned, this work is designed; but there are some valuable hints which may be made useful to all.

The first error in the prevailing system of classical education, to which our author refers, is the vast disparity between the length of time spent, and the quantity of actual knowledge obtained. This, he depicts in strong, though not exaggerated colors; for what reflecting parent has not perceived, that the acquirements of his son, when prepared for College in the common way, are almost altogether superficial ? It is true, that every bright, intelligent boy, fond of knowl

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »