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Quoniam refert a quibus et quo quisque modo sit institutus. Quintillian.*

THE importance of education has ever been acknowledged by all civilized communities. To the diffusion of knowledge, and its influence on the economy of life, may be traced the superiority of one age and country over another; and it is the neglect or the cultivation of their minds, which forms the only true distinction between man and his fellow.

The education of their youth was esteemed by some nations as so intimately connected with the public weal, that they placed the children of the subject under the superintendence of teachers chosen by the state; a practice which, no doubt, inspired a political patriotism, but at the expense of many better feelings, and with the enfeebling, if not dissolving, those parental ties, on which the conduct and happiness of life must greatly depend.

There have been many writers on this subject, and widely differing from each other in their re

"It is of great moment by whom and in what manner every one is educated."

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spective theories. The opinions of some are so extravagant and opposed to all sound practical wisdom, as scarcely to deserve an allusion. Who could have supposed that a grave and intelligent author would recommend a parent to leave his child without instruction until nearly the age of manhood, under the pretence of not embarrassing freedom of thought? If such a strange conceit could be acted upon, it would soon reduce an enlightened people to the condition of barbarians. But the experiment is impracticable, for "the process in the formation of character, though rude and ruinous by neglect, will go on." From the cradle to the grave, a succession of hourly events and influences of a thousand kinds will gradually and ultimately establish habits, and give a capacity for happiness or misery on an entrance into the eternal world according to their result. A bias of some kind or other will be received, and the only alternative for our choice is, whether that predisposition which arises from the inculcation of good principles, and a reliance on authority for a time, is not preferable to the impulse of corrupt inclination and the influence of more corrupt communication.

There have been other writers who seem disposed to consider man as the mere creature of circumstances, and education as forming "the only ground of difference between the judge on the bench and the prisoner at the bar." These attach too great an importance to human effort and the force of habit, when they compare a rational agent to the plant of the field, and expect that he will of necessity take his form and shape from the hand of the cultivator. If they do not deny in plain terms the need of divine interposition, they make no appeal to it, and seem to regard it as superfluous to the purposes and ends of education. But whatever value we set on moral culture, its failure, in many

instances, a failure so great that corrupt nature seems as it were exasperated to evil by the very means employed for its correction,-affords a mournful proof, that "it is a poor centre of a man's actions, himself." Another equally affecting fact leads us to look higher than mere human agency; for have not many useful and virtuous characters sometimes appeared like lights in the midst of darkness, emerging from influences the least calculated to warrant such an exception. It never must be concealed or forgotten by a teacher, that "God worketh both to will and to do of his good pleasure." He gives to the mind its first impulse, and directs every step in its progress wherever the culture of man is successful. Independence is no attribute of a creature; and to challenge success as the necessary result of our own efforts is a presumption no less opposed to reason than denounced by revelation. "Not by might nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord."


There is a third error which has its advocates. While some attribute too much to human culture, others expect too little from it. There is a pride which inspires an undue confidence in the use of means, and there is an indolent iance on aid which vainly looks for an end without them, and disposes men to neglect or wholly disregard them. This perversion of a truth generates a reckless feeling, and has done great mischief in religious families. It is perhaps a chief cause of the melancholy spectacle not unfrequently exhibited in the ruin of many children whose parents have professed to respect and value christian principles. They 'seem to overlook both the precept and the promise of the word of God'-"Train up a child in the way in which he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it."

But dismissing whatever is chimerical or mis

taken in these theories, (for it is not to my purpose to carry the discussion to a greater length,) I would observe, that to train and prepare the soul for its eternal destiny is the proper business and end of education. It must be admitted that there are subordinate ends which may be desired, and means of the same character which may be employed for their attainment: that a competent provision; acquirements which will render us respectable in life; all that is connected with the security and promotion of present happiness, are lawful objects of pursuit, and it is folly to neglect or despise them. In many cases it would be a dereliction of duty ; for we must not consider ourselves as insulated beings, and "go out of the world," but continue in it as "the salt of the earth," to dispense a purifying influence. I am not the advocate of superstition or eccentricity; but I contend that the chief end of education is to train for eternity. There may be an awful consistency in the sentiments of those whose hopes and prospects are bounded by time, when they say, We and our children will eat and drink, for to-morrow we die. But, independently of revelation, and assuming only the belief of a future ate,—a state to be determined by our conduct in the present world, it follows as a necessary consequence, that whatever we teach or do, ought to have a bearing on another condition of being, and be made subservient to its interests. Here I stand on the vantage ground, and fear not to make my appeal to every thinking man; not only whether the welfare of a future life can be reasonably set aside, and children taught to despise and disregard it, but whether it be consistent with the expectation of another world to give it less than the chief and foremost place in our thoughts and actions. It cannot be regarded as subordinate or secondary without exciting a just suspicion that we do not

admit its existence. Such an appeal may be made with still greater force to an avowed disciple of the Christian faith. The whole bearing of revelation goes to this point, "Seek first the kingdom of God." Let it be observed that the question is not here one of mere opinion. Few would venture to deny the principle, for this would be to deny the authority of the principle; but we must look to opinion as realized in practice, and insist on the propriety and necessity of interweaving religious principle as a golden thread in the whole texture of education; deriving from it the motives, the means, and the end; and so steadily keeping in view the final result, as to make a cheerful sacrifice of every thing which would be likely to impair or interfere with it.

I may be censured for rashly libelling the community in which we live, yet it must be apparent to an unprejudiced mind, that for the most part we are a nation of christians by profession, and of heathens in opinion and practice. Christianity may have improved the moral sense, or at least driven into the shade the grosser abominations of ancient times, but it is a palpable fact, that the Bible is not our standard; no a provision for the world to come, our object, and end. Are not our motives derived from reputation, interest, or gratification; and were not these the fulcrum employed by the gentile world to move the youthful mind to exertion? What are the virtues which are prized and commended? We hear of a becoming pride-a conscious dignity-a noble ambition-a deserved scorn and contempt-a just revenge-dispositions and impulses of corrupt nature which are totally condemned by the word of God. In what light are many acknowledged vices regarded by us? The Christian and the heathen moralist equally reprobate murder, impurity, and fraud; and legislators of

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