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that there must be an antecedent state of things, a mighty framework, within which are comprehended the duties which education is designed to explain and to enforce. The objects must be provided on which the unsealed eye may fix. The path must be laid for that footstep which shall henceforth press it. Civilization can spare no ornament, no elegance, no courtesy, no polish, — much less can it forego any principle, any influence, any usage, which preserves the citizen in order, in harmony, in good will, in peace. It is an exquisite poise of the natural and the artificial. A breath may peril it. The educationist ought to be the foremost in his reverence to it. It is not for him to slight a fabric which alone can furnish him with range for his experiments and with basis for his triumphs.
And there are those who repudiate all sympathy with such a school of thinkers, that still commit all human fortunes and destinies to education. As the word is commonly defined, even as the word can be most largely understood, we utterly dissent from the idea. The direct preaching of the gospel, together with its ordinances, we believe to be the only instrument of wide-spread and true melioration. If education be flattered to the slight of this divine appointment, if iu be thrust into its place, if it be abused to supersede it, it is from that hour an idolatry, a good unduly exalted and misplaced, a deified instrument of good, a Nehushtan, a useless, defiling, irreligious thing. It is quite necessary that we, in the argument of the most Christian education, do not betray it by an idle boast or an undeserved homage.
We forebode not evil nor doom of Britain. The progress it has made has been long, steady, glorious. It has redeemed the slave, at a price greater than many a nation's dower,-a nobler act than his mere emancipation. It has dedicated its proudest architecture to designs of mercy. It has purged its code of blood. It has granted many equal rights to its children. It is sending forth freedom through its mighty colonizations. Its shores offer sanctuary to them who are oppressed. Its liberty is a model for all people. It has a world-wide fame. From its high, cliff-cinctured, throne of rocks, while the waves sleep around it, it looks forth calm in conscious power, erect with generous purpose, casting its shield around freedom, mediating the elements of strife, — the luminary of knowledge and the angel of religion ! • Why should Britain fall? What canker is in its destiny ? What omen casts the lurid shadow over its disk ? Its difficulties are those of might, puissance, greatness. They may be overcome. They already yield. They are brought to view by the very means which grapple with them. If crisis come, if danger fall, let it burst upon an enlightened and religious people. In this will be our stay, whatever is the shock, —whatever the deluge, this will cause our ark to ride upon the waters !
We read not evil in the signs of the times. The events, which are the most threatening in their seeming, speak to us of hope. Instead of foreboding a redundance of population, we anticipate, in numbers, a strength and glory. Instead of regarding our fields as incapable of yielding an enlarged and a more adequate supply, we anticipate the foison of an unknown husbandry. Instead of bewailing that the national spirit is worn out and sunk into decay, we anticipate its waxing greatness. Instead of turning to the sun of a once mighty prosperity as now fast westering and going down, we anticipate a meridian for it which it has never scaled. Considering our constitutional privileges, and our Christian facilities, our progress as a people has been slow. But where the rudiments of character are gathered tardily, their development is frequently sudden. For ages there was not that advancement of right thought and feeling which might have been expected from the intellectual and moral causes then at work. But there was not pause. Every step may not be traced, but the course can be measured. A thousand things would shock the religious refinement of the present times, which our forefathers willingly brooked. In knowledge, in mental happiness, in temporal plenty, in political power, our common people never stood as they do now. Public opinion exerts a force hitherto unconceived. Remnants of tyranny give way, one after another, before the growth of liberty. The ferocity of manners is
allayed. The national relationships are founded upon intelligent reciprocations and honourable principles. Diplomacy supersedes war. Genius and science wait not for posthumous honours, but share contemporary fame. Religion transfuses itself into channels which formerly it could not reach. Biblical criticism gains an unwonted favour and celebrity. Missions begin to take a place in our characteristic tastes and habits, and a prominence among our declared and most favoured institutions. And, withal, the true condition of our country itself employs a vigour of attention, and a disinterestedness of benevolence, which the popular interests never engaged before.
The common allegation is refuted, that foreign objects blind us to those at home. We proudly show that our coasts do not dissever us from the interests of a universal humanity. But the influence of this philanthropy is reflex. The state of our population is, after all, the cause which fixes the closest study, and is the question to which every other is postponed. He can possess little claim to truth and honesty, who represents that the momentous problem of the people's happiness and welfare is now overlooked. Would that it had been earlier pursued ! Over what a region, and what a race, must the sun have then risen and the heavens bent !
We would not boast. It is presumption. We would not despair. It is ingratitude. We see victory in struggle, and behold the sign of hope reflect itself from the storm. We remember our guilt, and know what we have deserved. We sing of mercy, because God in wrath has remembered mercy. He has wrought out our deliverance for us. We cannot think, from His own indications, that He is mindful to destroy us The salt which is sown in our land, is not of ruin but of life. The ploughshare, driven through it, is not of destruction but of cultivation.
Christian Education is our want, and will be our strength. Let it be no longer delayed. Let it be no more stinted. Give it the scale which it deserves. Grudge not the due proportions. Lift it on high. Let it overtower the noblest monuments of the land. Let “Wisdom build her house,” let her “hew out her seven pillars,” let her “cry upon the highest places of the city!” This will be solid fame. It will be true glory. It will bring all other blessings with it. It will be the security of all. If, like Solomon, we, as a nation, seek “an understanding heart,”—not only a secular education, but a religious discipline, — that we may “discern between good and bad,”—“God will give unto us, that which we have not asked, Both Riches and Honour !"