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Religious Education indispensable to individual Happiness,
and to national Prosperity.-GREENWOOD. RELIGION is the only sure foundation of virtue ; and what is any human being, young or old, rich or poor, without virtue ? He cannot be trusted, he cannot be respected, confided in, or loved. Religion is the only sure index of duty; and how can any one pursue an even, or a reputable course, with out rules and without principles ? Religion is the only guide to true happiness; and who is there so hardy as to assume the tremendous responsibility of withholding those instructions and consolations, which dispel doubt, soothe affliction, make the bed of sickness, spread the dying pillow, and open the gates of an effulgent futurity ?
Let, then, religion be the primary object in the education of the young: Let it mingle, naturally, easily, and gracefully, in all their pursuits and acquirements. Let it be rendered intelligible, attractive, and practical. Let it win their affections, command their reverence, and ensure their obedience. Children, of any class whatever, may be taught in a great compass and liberality of knowledge, not only without apprehension, but with assiduity and encouragement; but let them, above all things, be taught of the Lord.”
And what follows ? When all thy children shall be taught of the Lord, what is the promise, the reward, and the consummation ? “Great shall be the peace of thy children.' All the blessings, signified by that word peace, shall be the lot of those who are thus wisely instructed, and shall descend on the community, in proportion as it has exerted itself to diffuse light and religion throughout its whole mass.
Knowledge of itself is power; and when the knowledge of the Lord is united with it, it is happiness and real prosperity. Order reigns—the best order—that which is produced, not so much by the coercive operations of authority and law, as by the independent righteousness of each individual, who bears about with him his own law: freedom finds its congenial habitation and home; for general intelligence inspires mutual respect, and self-respect; and," where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty."
Benevolence is ever active and zealous; for knowledge is the enemy of selfishness. Religion warms and expands the heart, and the disciple of Christ is assured, that the best service of God is the service of mankind. In short, there cannot be other than a sense of security, and a composed countenance of peace, felt and experienced throughout society, when those principles of religious knowledge are generally and practically received, which hold up plainly before the face of every man, his duty to his Maker, to his neighbour, and to his own self.
Then there is that separate, individual peace, which takes up its dwelling in the hearts of all those who have been taught of the Lord; a peace, holy, heavenly, profound, which the world cannot give, because it is above the world, and independent of it; the peace of a quiet conscience, of a regulated mind, of innocent hopes, of calm desires, of the love which embraces humanity, and the trust which reposes on Heaven ; a gentle river, running through the life, imparting, beauty, pouring out refreshment, and lending its grateful moisture to the most hidden and attenuate roots and threads of sentiment and feeling, clothing the sands with verdure, and sprinkling the lonely places with sweet flowers. Add this peace of each single bosom to that general peace which pervades the community, and how truly may it be called great!
I deny not that a nation may become powerful, victorious, renowned, wealthy, and full of great men, even though it should neglect the education of the humbler classes of its population ; but I do deny, that it can ever become a happy or a truly prosperous nation, till all its children are taught of the Lord.
To say nothing of the despotisms of the east, look at the kingdoms of Europe, with their battles, and their alliances, and their pompous and gaudy ceremonies, and their imposing clusters of high titles and celebrated names; and, after this showy phantasmagoria has passed away, mark the con. dition of the majority, observe their superstition, their sla. vishness, their sensual enjoyments, their limited range of thought, their almost brutalized existence; mark this, and say whether a heavenly peace is among them. Alas! they know not the things which belong to their peace, nor are their rulers desirous that they should know, but rather prefer that they should live on in submissive ignorance, that they may be at all times ready to swell the trains of their masters' pride, and be sacrificed by hecatombs to their mas. ters' ambition.
Far different were the views of those gifted patriarchs who founded a new empire here. They were determined that all their children should be taught of the Lord ;* and, side by side with the humble dwellings, which sheltered their heads from the storms of a strange world, arose the school-house and the house of God. And, ever after, the result has been peace, great, unexampled peace; peace to the few, who gradually encroached on the primeval forests of the land, and peace to the millions, who have now spread themselves abroad in it from border to border. In the strength and calm resolution of that peace they stood up once, and shook themselves free from the rusted fetters of the old world; and in the beauty and dignity of that peace they stand up now, self-governed, orderly, and independent,
a wonder to the nations.
If a stranger should inquire of me the principal cause and source of this greatness of my country, would I bid him look on the ocean widely loaded with our merchandise, and proudly ranged by our navy? or on the land where it is girdled by roads, and scored by canals, and burthened with the produce of our industry and ingenuity ?-would I bid him look on these things as the springs of our prosperity ?
Indeed, I would not. Nor would I show him our colleges and literary institutions; for he can see nobler ones elsewhere. I would pass all these by, and would lead him out by some winding highway among the hills and woods, and, when the cultivated spots grew small and infrequent, and the houses became few and scattered, and a state of primi. tive nature seemed to be immediately before us, I would stop in some sequestered spot, and, directed by a steady hum, like that of bees, I would point out to him a lowly building, hardly better than a shed, but full of blooming happy children, collected together from the remote and unseen farm-houses, conning over their various tasks, or reading with a voice of reverential monotony, a portion of the Word of God; and I would bid him note, that, even here, in the midst of poverty and sterility, was a specimen of the thousand nurseries, in which all our children are taught of the Lord, and formed, some to legislate for the land, and all to understand its constitution and laws, to maintain their unspotted birthright, and contribute to the great aggregate of the intelligence, the morality, the power and peace of this inighty commonwealth.
Importance of Science to a Practical Mechanu.
G. B. EMERSON.
LET us imagine for a moment the condition of an indi. vidual, who has not advanced beyond the merest elements of knowledge, who understands nothing of the principles even of his own art, and inquire what change will be wrought in his feelings, his hopes, and happiness, in all that makes up the character, by the gradual inpouring of knowledge.
He has now the capacity of thought, but it is a barren faculty, never nourished by the food of the mind, and never rising above the poor objects of sense. Labour and rest, the hope of mere animal enjoyment, or the fear of want, the care of providing covering and food, make up the whole sum of his existence. Such a man may be industrious, but he cannot love labour, for it is not relieved by the excitement of improving or changing the processes of his art, nor cheered by the hope of a better condition.
When released from labour he does not rejoice; for mere idleness is not enjoyment, and he has no book, no lesson of science, no play of the mind, no interesting pursuit, to give a zest to the hour of lēisure. Home has few charms for him ; he has little taste for the quiet, the social converse, and exchange of feeling and thought, the innocent enjoyments, that ought to dwell there. Society has little to in. terest him ; for he has no sympathy for the pleasures or pursuits, the cares or troubles of others, to whom he cannot feel nor perceive his bonds of relationship.
All of life is but a poor boon for such a man; and happy for himself and for mankind, if the few ties that hold him to this negative existence be not broken. Happy for him if that best and surest friend of man, that messenger of good news from heaven to the poorest wretch on earth, Religion, bringing the fear of God, appear to save him. Without her to support, should temptation assail him, what an easy victim would he fall to vice or crime! How little would be necessary to overturn his ill-balanced principles, and leave him grovelling in intemperance, or send him abroad on the ocean or the highway, an enemy to himself and his kind !
But, let the light of science fall upon that man; open to
him the fountain of knowledge. A few principles of philosophy enter his mind, and awaken the dormant power of thought. He begins to look upon his art with an altered eye. It ceases to be a dark mechanical process, which he cannot understand; he regards it as an object of inquiry, and begins to penetrate the reasons, and acquire a new mastery over his own instruments.
He finds other and better modes of doing what he had done before, blindly and without interest, a thousand times. He learns to profit by the experience of others, and ventures upon untried paths. Difficulties, which before would have stopped him at the outset, receive a ready solution from some luminous principle of science.
He gains new knowledge and new skill, and can improve the quality of his manufacture, while he shortens the process and diminishes his own labour. Then labour becomes sweet to him; it is accompanied by the consciousness of increasing power; it is leading him forward to a higher place among his fellow men. Relaxation, too, is sweet to him, as it enables him to add to his intellectual stores, and to mature, by undisturbed meditation, the plans and conceptions of the hour of labour.
His home has acquired a new charm; for he is become a man of thought, and feels and enjoys the peace and seclusion of that sacred retreat; and he carries thither the honest complacency, which is the companion of well-earned success. There, too, bright visions of the future sphere open upon him, and excite a kindly feeling towards those who are to share in his prosperity.
Thus his mind and heart expand together. He has become an intelligent being, and, while he has learned to esteem himself, he has also learned to live no longer for himself alone. Society opens like a new world to him; he looks upon
his fellow creatures with interest and sympathy, and feels that he has a place in their affections and respect. Temptations assail him in vain. He is armed by high and pure thoughts. He takes a wider view of his relations with the beings about and above him.
He welcomes every gene. rous virtue that adorns and dignifies the human character. He delights in the exercise of reason. He glories in the consciousness and the hope of immortality.