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months and years, incurs no small hazard of moral infection. Where there is also but one general treatment, the individuality of original temperament will often be destroyed. From such dangers this system is exempt. It seizes the good alone. The child is still the inmate, though not without the shifted scene, of the habitation where its infancy was reared. Its most frequent, though not exclusive, companions are brothers and sisters. Its return, after the few hours of absence, reinstates it in all its freedom of idiosyncrasy and development. There seems no consistency in any objection which the educationist can raise against the Sabbath School.
But the valuable influence of these institutions, because of their unpretending character, has often been depreciated. The jeer has been raised against them, that the knowledge which they convey is so circumscribed. It has been forgotten, or concealed, that the knowledge was descriptive, that it was the most important, and that the agency employed in communicating it was precisely adapted to the knowledge itself. For none have boasted that this was, in a large sense, an education: all that has been asserted is, that scriptural knowledge may be, and that it is, in this manner, impressed most appropriately and most efficiently on an order of minds, which must be otherwise wholly unblessed with the knowledge of Divine truth, utterly untrained to the practice of Christian virtue. When a substitute can be found for it, there
will be no bigoted pertinacity to retain it. When the necessity shall itself have passed away, the labours which are now cheerfully rendered for the abatement of a tremendous amount of popular ignorance, will be still more cheerfully resigned. We can easily conceive of a better state of things. This is but a remedial and corrective measure. And still we should not wish to do away with the
In it we have discovered not only a mighty fulcrum of good; we have gained a principle. Most happy would it be if every child that entered such a school was thoroughly grounded in the practice of reading and writing: for these acquirements, it is self-apparent, do not constitute knowledge, but are only particular means of attaining it. Knowledge might then be immediately pursued. Every mind would be prepared and quickened for its investigation. The furniture of the room, only now not unsightly because of its utility, would be exchanged for the more intellectual exhibitions of Christianity. There would hang the map on which might be traced the walks of Christ and the voyages of his apostles; or the chart, by which might be explained the descents of patriarchal line and the epochs of synchronous history. The spelling-book and the primer would be forgotten. Another apparatus would appear. The most educated youth could find advantage in its discipline. The most cultivated method of teaching would not be here misplaced. The system, always and exclusively related
to the genius of the Christian Sabbath, would carry the religious education of our best families to a precision and a firmness, which, to speak leniently, it has scarcely yet approached. Hours of the week might be gracefully occupied to agree with the scriptural studies of the Holy Day. And there, as in an institution beyond the partialities and interruptions of the household, and yet scarcely standing out of the shadow of its eaves, -amidst the generous and inciting passions of a collegiate emulation, -might our children command a proficiency and reach a mastery, that would be an armour of light, proof against the weapons of infidelity,--and a wing of immortality, soaring above the enticements of the world. Happy homes, when the sabbath sunlight shall rest on them,-no holy office suspended, no benignant influence restrained, within their precincts, — which shall send forth their groups to the Christian Seminary as well as to the Christian Temple, - welcoming their return to stead and hearth with fairer smiles and fonder blessings ! Very different Sabbath Schools do we hope to see: but far, ever far, be the period when their facility shall be disused and their principle be surrendered !
We are no apologists for any evil which may be detected in the administration of the system. We are no blind admirers of its too obvious defects. But it is power, and we desire its perfect action. It is infancy, and we seek its holy growth. There are peculiarities in it which ought to redeem it from the destruction
which awaits the fashion of the hour and the expedient of the age. It deserves a heraldic perpetuity.
Public gratitude has not failed to record its beneficial influence. Slow as its suffrage commonly is, and in this testimony most reluctant, it is all but universally acknowledged to have been the principal agent of the change, which, it is admitted, has taken place in our national manners. This is now a page
unquestioned History. We are a different people. There were opponents of the innovation. They would gladly have preserved the pastimes of village buffoonery and rudeness. They mixed up the national character with sports of barbarous cruelty and strife. Ignorance was the only aliment on which such brutal revels could depend. They are well nigh swept away. There were, indeed, senators, who denounced the change as the depression of public spirit and the breaking down of patriotic bravery; the confessed means which wrought that change even the mighty Horsley most unworthily and unprovokedly assailed. But the encomiasts of that former state of things are few, are reserved, are selfashamed. The enemies of Sabbath-School Instruction are too scattered to band, too imbecile to argue, too abashed to confront. The senate and the cathedral will never again ring with these idle declamations.
We are bound, in estimating the measure of any national good, not merely to guage the positive merits of that measure, but the collateral benefits. That which can establish for itself a very scanty proof of
immediate influence, may often justly claim a large indirect operation. And were we unable to show the rise of a distinct intelligence, among the commonalty, as the effect of this system, still should we prove greatly in its favour if we could adduce its beneficial bearing on all intellectual improvement. Now we are confident of its actual sweep. But there is more than this. It has given a universal impulse. Look around on the March of Education. How much has it been exalted in its character and enlarged in its compass! Three results are specially manifest. The first is, the mental elevation of the wealthier classes, which, at no distant date, were little raised in mental culture above the hind. It was when the common people felt the desire, and formed the resolve, to learn, that those who are socially superior betook themselves to letters in selfdefence. A second consequence was, the abrogation of that great inequality of mind which existed in a former century. There was a deep abyss dividing one rank of the nation from the other. Riches created no such inequality as did mind. It removed orders farther from each other which were already sufficiently apart. The educated were as a scantling to the uneducated. A true sympathy was impossible. But now no order, as an order, is left in ignorance. And thus knowledge binds all the members of the commonwealth together, informs them all, and assimilates them all. And a third advantage is, the character it has stamped upon all education. The grammar - school taught a