Imágenes de página
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

would part

such noble hymns of praise and thanksgiving? No; in sorrow, in sickness, and in danger, I will still say — In thee, O Lord, have I put my trust,' &c. &c. Psalm lxxi. 1, 2. When the sense of my past sins oppresses me, I will cry out — Have mercy upon me, O God, after thy great goodness,' &c. &c. Psalm li. And when my heart overflows with gratitude to God, for all his great and undeserved mercies, I will exclaim, Praise the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me praise his holy name,' &c. &c. Psalm ciïi.

“ Now, I declare, that these passages occurred to me without almost any consideration or selection. Read, then, these three psalms, and then say,


you with them for any consideration. As for our Liturgy, next to the word of God itself, (from which, indeed, most of it is taken) it has long been my admiration, and will, I hope, ' be my companion and my support to the last of my days. There is much good sense, and many just remarks in this book; particularly in what is said of enthusiasm ; but there


some of them very dangerous ones, besides the great radical defect, the making moral conduct the whole of religion, to the exclusion of a right faith. For instance, what can be less true or more dangerous, than insinuating that to spend much time in attending public worship, in private prayer, and the other exercises of religion, is mis-spending those hours which might be better employed in the service of our fellow creatures, and that those who do so, are apt to neglect their duty to their family and their neighbours, and a proper attention to their worldly concerns? Is this so ? Are there any people who are more attentive to their worldly affairs and their families, more charitable to the poor, or who take a more active part in the various duties

many errors,

are also

of life, than the sober, serious Christians, who are constant and regular in their attendance on public worship and the sacrament, who never fail to call their children and servants to family prayers, morning and evening; who never omit their private devotions, and who allot some portion of each day to reading the word of God? Who are more loyal subjects, more faithful to their marriage vows, more dutiful as children, or servants, or more correct in their whole conduct ?

Upon the whole, therefore, I cannot but consider this as an erroneous work, and capable of doing much mischief, if it should fall into the hands of the young or the ignorant.

“ That you and I may never undervalue faith, or rely on the worth of our own good deeds, but firmly believing in the atonement made by our Redeemer, trusting in his merits, and constantly endeavouring to do his will, may, through the mercy of God, be admitted into his kingdom in heaven, is the earnest wish and prayer of, &c.


In labours of this kind, Mr. Bowdler sometimes employed his vacant hours, chiefly with the view of guarding the minds of his younger friends. In controversies he meddled but little, excepting so far as his anxiety to watch over the principles of his children, or of others nearly connected with him, might render necessary. When any thing, however, arose, in which important practical consequences were involved, his attention was soon excited. Of this nature was a discussion respecting the religious education provided at our public schools, occasioned by a sermon preached by the present dean of Winchester, which contained some


severe remarks on the mode pursued at Eton, and at the other great schools. This was followed by the bishop of Meath, in preaching before the Society for promoting Christian Knowledge, who then took occasion to repeat the charge made by the former writer, and urged strongly the criminal neglect of religious instruction, where a due attention to it is so highly important. The occasion on which this sermon was delivered, ensuring it a very extensive circulation, Dr. Vincent, with a laudable zeal for the honor of a school to which his laborious life had been devoted, and indignant at an accusation to which he was not disposed to plead guilty, replied with some severity, defending the course pursued at Westminster, and elsewhere, as fully sufficient to rescue these schools from the smallest censure. This defence appearing to Mr. Bowdler haughty in its tone, rather than satisfactory in argument, and the subject being one of the very first importance, he put forth some “ Remarks” on it, “ with an attempt to state fairly the question, Whether the religious instruction and moral conduct of the rising generation are sufficiently provided for, and effectually secured, in our schools and universities ?” -“ Marima debetur puero reverentiais (as it were) Mr. Bowdler's text; he argues thạt much more is required than has been brought forward by Dr. Vincent, to vindicate public education at our schools and universities from the charge of defectiveness in these important points. It is not necessary, in this place, to enter into the subject, several of the occasions of censure, mentioned in the pamphlet, having been since removed. The writer's opinions may be deduced from the following passage.

“ In contemplating the characters of both boys and men in the higher classes of society, the most general and radical defects appear to be,—the want of devotion, and the not making Religion the rule of life. Too many, I fear, have not that habit, which ought to be taught in infancy, and continued till death; the habit of falling on their knees every night and morning, to ask pardon for past offences, and grace and protection for the time to come. Others again, though neither infidels nor profligates, seldom think of God or Religion, unless, perhaps, on Sunday mornings; trusting the whole conduct of their lives to their feelings, or to the imperfect, and too often false morality, which they have picked up from ancient, or (what is worse) modern philosophy; instead of subjecting every intended act, to be tried by the example and precepts of Christ. These evils, if I mistake not, have their origin in the neglect of private Prayer, and of reading the Scriptures. Every boy should be obliged to learn by heart a short form of morning and evening prayer, suited to his age and situation; and no pains should be spared to inculcate the duty, and enforce the practice, of repeating these as regularly as night and day return, meekly kneeling on their knees. In the lower forms, if one hour on Sundays, and festivals, and on one or two other days in each week, were devoted to the reading of the Bible, accompanied with a short explanation by the



master, and ending with just so much examination as might secure attention to the lecture, the best and most lasting effects might be produced. The boys would not only become acquainted with the historical facts, and moral maxims, but being freed for the time from the difficulties attending a foreign tongue, would readily receive the instruction, and relish the beauties, pointed out to their observation by the comment of the master. The same hour might in the higher forms be devoted to the study of the Greek Bible. And thus would they be furnished with the only sound and solid principles whereon to found their future conduct. But, alas ! what can preserve them from the dangerous poison of impure ideas, adorned with all the charms of elegance and harmony, and presented to them mixed with the noblest sentiments of honour and virtue? No human power or wisdom-for "he that toucheth pitch shall be defiled therewith.' And defiled they are, and defiled they must be, so long as such books are put into their hands.

66 What then is to be done? Are we to banish from our schools most of the Latin, and several of the Greek poets ? If the question be, whether the morals are to be corrupted for the sake of polishing the understanding, it admits of one answer only, on Christian principles. But is this case remediless ? Why cannot these authors be cleared of their impurities, and rendered safe as they are delightful? In some instances this might easily be done, with little diminution of the bulk, and less of the beauties of their works. Of others, though more must be omitted, still the finest parts might be retained.

And, surely, something may readily be sacrificed to so essential an object. One book, indeed, there is, which no art of man can render fit for perusal; but which, by a strange fatality, all boys are com

« AnteriorContinuar »