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Why should not the Christian youth furnish himself in a good cause with the same natural armour which the enemies of religion wear in a bad one? It is certain that to set out with sentiments in favour of the religion of our country is no more an error or a weakness, than to grow up with a fondness for our country itself. Nay, if the love of our country be judged a fair principle, surely a Christian, who is a citizen of no mean city," may lawfully have his attachments too. If patriotism be an honest prejudice, Christ'anity is not a servile one. Nay, let us teach the youth to hug his prejudices rather than to acquire that versatile and accommodating citi. zenship of the world, by which he may be an Infidel in Paris, a Papist at Rome, and a Mussulman at Cairo.
Let me not be supposed so to elevate politics, or so to depress religion, as to make any comparison of the value of the one with the other, when I observe, that between the true British patriot and the true Christian, there will be this common resemblance : the more deeply each of them inquires, the more will he be confirmed in his respec. tive attachment, the one to his country, the other to his religion, I speak with reverence of the immeasurable distance; but the more the one presses on the firm arch of our constitution, and the other on that of Christiani. ty, the stronger he will find them both. Each chal. lenges scrutiny ; each has nothing to dread but from shallow politicians, and shallow philosophers; in each intimate knowledge justifies prepossession ; in each in. vestigation confirms attachment.
If we divide the human being into three component. parts, the bodily, the intellectual, and the spirtual, is it not reasonable that a portion of care and attention be assigned to each in some degree adequate to its impor. tance? Should I venture to say a due portion, a portion adapted to the real comparative value of each, would not that condemn in one word the whole system of mod. ern education? Yet the rational and intellectual part being avowedly more valuable than the bodily, while the spiritual and immortal part exceeds even the intel. lectual still more than that surpasses what is corporeal: is it then acting according to the common rules of pro. portion; is it acting on the principles of distributive jus. tice ; is it acting with that good sense and right judgment with which the ordinary business of this world is usually transacted, to give the larger proportion of time and care to that which is worth the least ? Is it fair that what relates to the body and the organs of the body, I mean those accomplishments which address themselves to the eye and the ear, should occupy almost the whole thonghts ; that the intellectual part should be robbed of its due proportion, and that the spiritual part should have almost no proportion at all? Is not this preparing your children for an awful disappointment in the tre. mendous day when they shall be stripped of that body, of those senses and organs, which have been made almost the sole objects of their attention, and shall feel them. selves left in possession of nothing but that spiritual part which in education was scarcely taken into the account of their existence ?
Surely it should be thought a reasonable compromise (and I am in fact undervaluing the object for the im. portance of which I plead) to suggest, that at least two. thirds of that time which is now usurped by externals, should be restored to the rightful owners, the under. standing and the heart ; and that the acquisition of re. ligious kpowledge in early youth, should at least be no less an object of sedulous attention than the cultivation of human learning or of outward embellishments. It is also reasonable to suggest that weshould in Christianity, as in arts, sciences, or languages, begin with the begin. ping, set out with the simple elements and thus 66
on unto perfection."
Why in teaching to draw do you begin with straight lines and curves, till by gentle steps the knowledge of outline and proportion be attained, and your picture be completed ; never losing sight, however, of the elemen. tary lines and curves? why in music do you set out with the simple notes, and pursue the acquisition through all its progress, still in every stage recurring to the notes? why in the science of numbers do you invent the sim.
plest methods of conveying just ideas of computation, 'still referring to the tables which involve the fundamental rules? why in the science of quantity do men in. troduce the pupil at first to the plainest diagrams, and clear up one difficulty before they allow another to appear? why in teaching languages to the youth do you sedulously infuse into his mind the rudiments of syntax? why in parsing is he led to refer every word to its part of speech, to resolve every sentence into its elements, to reduce every term to its original, and from the first case of nouns, and the first tense of verbs, to explain their formations, changes, and dependencies, till the principles of language become so grounded, that, by continually recurring to the rules, the speaking and writing cor. rectly are fixed into a habit ? why all this, but because you uniformly wish him to be grounded in each of his acquirements? why, but because you are persuaded that a slight, and slovenly, and superficial, and irregular way of instruction will never train him to excellenee in any thing? : Do young persons then become musicians, and paint. ers, and linguists, and mathematicians, by early study and regular labour; and shall they become Christians by accident? or rather, is not this acting on that very principle of Dogberry, at which you probably have often laughed? Is it not supposing that religion, like "read. 6 ing and writing, comes by nature ?" Shall all those accomplishments " which perish in the using” be so assiduously, so systematically taught ? Shall all these habits be so carefully formed, so persisted in, as to be in, terwoven with our very make, so as to become as it were a part of ourselves, and shall that knowledge which is to make us "wise unto salvation” be picked up at ran. dom, cursorily, or perhaps not picked up at all ? Shall that difficult divine science which requires “ line upon 65 line, and precept upon precept,” here a little and there a little; which parents, even under a darker dispensa. tion, were required "to teach their chihlren diligently, "and to talk of it when they sat down in their house,
66 and when they walked by the way, and when they " lay down, and when they rose up; shall this knowl. edge be by Christian parents deferred, or taught slightly; or be superseded by things of little comparative worth?
Shall the lively period of youth, the soft and impres. sible season when lasting habits are formed, when the seal cuts deep into the yielding wax, and the impression is more likely to be clear and strong; shall this warm and favourable season be suffered to slide by, without be. ing turned to the great purpose for which not only youth, but life, and breath, and being were bestowed? Shall not that “faith without which it is impossible to “please God;" shall not that "holiness without which
po man can see the Lord;" shall not that knowledge which is the foundation of faith and practice; shall not that charity without which all knowledge is sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal, be impressed, be inculcated, be inforced, as early, as constantly, as fundamentally, with the same earnest pushing on to continual progress, with the same constant reference to first principles, as are used in the case of those arts which merely adorn human life? Shall we not seize the happy period when the memory is strong, the mind and all its powers vigor. ous and active, the imagination busy and all alive, the heart flexible, the temper ductile, the conscience tender, curiosity awake, fear powerful, hope eager, love ardent; for inculcating that knowledge, and impressing those principles which are to form the character, and fix the destination for eternity?
Or, if I may be allowed to address another and a still more dilatory class, who are for procrastinating all con. cern about religion till we are driven to it by actual dis. tress, like the sailor who said, “he thought it was always “time enough to begin to pray when the storm began.' Of these I would ask, shall we, with an unaccountable deliberation, defer our anxiety about religion till the man and woman are become so immersed in the cares of life, or so entangled in its pleasures, that they will have little heart or spirit to embrace a new principle ? a principle whose precise object it will be to condemn that very life
into which they have already embarked ; nay to con. demn almost all that they have been doing and thinking ever since they began to act or think? Shall wc, I say, begin now? or shall we suffer those instructions, to re. ceive which requires all the concentrated powers of a strong and healthy mind, to be put off till the day of excruciating pain, till the period of debility and stupefac. tion ? Shall we wait for that season, as if it were the most favourable for religious acquisitions, when the senses shall have been palled by excessive gratification, when the eye shall be tired with seeing, and the ear with hearing ? Shall we, when the whole man is breaking up by disease of decay, expect that the dim apprehension will discern a new science, or the obtuse feelings delight themselves with a new pleasure ? a pleasure too, not only incom. patible with many of the hitherto indulged pleasures, but one which carries with it a strong intimation that those pleasures terminate in the death of the soul.
But, not to lose sight of the important analogy on which we have already dwelt so much ; how preposterous would it seem to you to hear any one propose to an illiterate dying man, to set about learning even the plain. est and easiest rudiments of any new art; to study the musical notes ; to conjugate an auxiliarly verb ; to learn, not the first problem in Euclid, but even the nu. meration table; and yet you do not think it absurd to postpone religious instruction, on principles which, if ad. mitted at all, must terminate either in ignorance, or in your proposing too late to a dying man to begin to fearn the totally unknown scheme of Christianity. You do not think it impossible that he should be brought to listen to the voice of this charmer,” when he can no longer listen to the voice of singing men and singing women."
You do not think it unreasonable that im. mortal beings should delay to devote their days to Heaven, till they have “no pleasure in them” them. selves. You will not bring them to offer up the first fruits of their lips, and hearts, and lives, to their Maker, because you persuade yourselves that he who has called himself a "jealous God,” may however be contented