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sion of vice. The invention of the fluxional calculus by Newton and Leibnitz, has armed the human mind with such a powerful instrument of thought, as enables it to solve the most profound problems in the exact sciences. The modern invention of astronoinical and microscopic glasses, has brought under the inspection of the modern philosopher two worlds, both unknown to the ancients, the one on account of extreme minuteness, and the other, on account of extreme distance. The progress which has been lately made in chemistry and galvanism, has put into the hand of the chemist an instrument of analysis, which seems destined to develope the most hidden secrets of nature. The discovery of the power of steam has given to man a new agent, which, on account of the extent of its application, and the greatness of its power, is beginning to affect all the great interests of society. The facilities of communication, through the medium of public roads, canals, telegraphs, and steam vessels, have, in part, annihilated distances, and brought once remote communities into convenient neighborhoods; and increasing intercourse is fast wearing away local distinctions and strengthening the bonds of human sympathy.
But public opinion is probably destined to be the most efficient human instrument in correcting evil customs, and in elevating the tone of public morals. In hereditary governments the power of public opinion is great; in free states it is entirely supreme. But this opinion, omnipotent as it is, has, as yet, been formed by a few leading characters. In some instances, one individual is so much the idol of his nation, that, if he publish his sentiments and exhibit his manners, he is sure to be followed by the multitude. Swift might thus have ruled in the British kingdom, and Franklin in the American republic. With special ease may one commanding character lead the community, when he avails himself of the popular passion, which happens to agitate their minds, and opens before them a way, in which it may be gratified. When Peter the hermit, clothed in sackcloth, visited the cities of Christendom, and with a loud and pathetic cry, preached a general crusade, he appealed to a sentiment, which then pervaded the Christian world, and all Europe was electrified by his eloquence, and seemed to be loosened from its ancient bed. Princes and prelates, nobles and peas. ants, flocked to the cross, demanding to be led against the infidels to dislodge them from the holy land. Men can be controlled, not only by appeals to their passions, but by arguments addressed to their rational and moral powers. These principles of action are ever on the side of truth and duty. Whenever the benevolent teacher endeavors to enlighten and persuade men, he will be supported by these internal advocates, so that, if he fail, it will be because prejudice or passion has silenced their pleadings.
Another important mean of forming and controlling the human mind, is the power of sympathetic imitation. This power, though it exposes men to be led astray by designing demagogues and tyrants, yet was obviously intended to give to the man of wisdom and goodness an ascendant over a congregated multitude, and to enable him to excite and propagate among them the enthusiasm of
moral sentiment, that he may enlist them on the side of virtue and religion. In numerous assemblies, the power of sympathy is great, and, therefore, their passions are quickly excited, and their physical force is easily controlled. Whitefield could melt ten thousand hearers into tears of grief or joy, and the mighty Mirabeau could breathe all the purpose and fire of his own soul into the revolutionary mobs of France, and make them the terrible executioners of his bloody schemes of ambition. Philanthropic divines, and orators! what a field lies before you; what materials to work upon; what trophies may you here gain ; what an abundant harvest may you here reap. Over assembled thousands of rational beings, thus endowed and thus pliant under the power of eloquence, what wonders might be done by a Demosthenes, animated by the spirit of a Howard.
But, for our further encouragement, we have higher reasons to expect success in advancing the interests of learning and religion, than any which can be found in the properties of the human mind. The analogy of Providence, and the import of inspired predictions, authorize us to believe, that, as time advances, the feebler means of instruction will be less employed, while the more powerful will be rendered increasingly efficacious in effecting that change in man, which will secure his future felicity. After the earliest reve elation of himself, and with some occasional intimations, God left men for two thousand years, to learn his character and will, by the silent exhibition of his perfections, by those signatures of his existence and designs, which they could trace in his works and providences. He then, for the purposes of general benevolence, delivered, in an audible voice, a code of laws to a favored people, and instituted among them a showy and costly ritual. This symbolical mode of teaching was superseded by the direct and more efficient system of Christianity. The law is now written, not upon tables of stone, but upon the human heart. Now we, instead of learning our duty by mere shadows, are instructed by the soul-subduing charms of eloquence, by living example, and by the agency of the Almighty Spirit. Nor do even we enjoy the best advantages for improvement. Knowledge is yet to be greatly increased ; teachers are to become much more skilful, and means are to be rendered vastly more productive. “The light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold;" and the efforts, to change this sinful world into a moral paradise, are yet to be as prompt and efficacious, as are the rains and suns of heaven in fructifying the face of the earth. When the influence of the gospel shall reign upon the thrones of princes, in the halls of legislation, and in the courts of justice, when governors and magistrates shall exhibit in their lives the graces of Christianity, when the promised aid of the Spirit shall descend upon their labors like showers upon the mown grass, what a scene of moral beauty will this world then present !
The subject which we have discussed leads us to reflect upon
the interesting character and influence of our public seminaries of learning.
There are in this infant nation more than fifty colleges and universities, beside a very large number of academies and high schools. These institutions, especially those of the first class, are furnished with well-selected libraries, costly apparatus, competent boards of instructers, and are fostered by public and private patronage. The flower of our youth is within their walls, possessing minds in a soft and pliant state. Their opinions, generally speaking, are not formed, their habits are not settled, and their intellectual and moral powers are unfolding themselves, ready to take the form and direction which their teachers may give them. What must be the momentous issue of the steady action of this powerful combination of means upon this class of our youthful population! A moral engine so mighty, and so constantly playing off its strength upon this choicest portion of our citizens, must produce results to all the dearest interests of our country, which will far exceed human calculation. It is to the young men, who are now prosecuting their public studies, that we are to look for the next supply of divines, civilians, physicians, instructers, and of our principal military and naval commanders. The men who now sustain these characters, must soon be called from all the concerns of this life, and leave their places to be filled by a new generation. We cannot feel indifferent as to the character which those men are to sustain, who are soon to take charge of all our high interests of religion and government, and who are to be the arbiters of the final destinies of the children whom we may leave behind us. In what manner, and in reference to what end, shall our youth be educated ? Mere accident is not to decide their character and their future conduct. But the streams which are to flow from the fountains of knowledge, will refresh and fertilize our goodly heritage, or spread over it the waters of death, just as our systems of education, in our seats of science, are good or bad. We have melancboly proofs of the powerful influence which they exert upon the welfare of nations. Look at the institutions of learning in Europe, and you will find, that many of them are the haunts of dissipation, and that they embrace members, who are the advocates of those sentiments which go to sap the foundations of revealed religion and human accountability. Whence flowed that late tide of infidelity, which spread death and mourning in its progress, and which threatened to overwhelm at once both the throne and the altar ? Did it not proceed from their ancient institutions of science, and from their numerous Alumni ? And should we examine the state of colleges in our own country, we should find, at least in some of them, much to stain our pride, and to alarm our fears. How many once lovely youth, who, when they entered them, possessed a delicate sense of moral distinctions, have left them with sceptical notions and licentious habits. Why, in any instance, does this melancholy result attend the course of public education ? Is progress in science the necessary road to infidelity? Have we a religion, fit only to dupe and to keep in awe the ignorant herd, but which cannot endure the eye of philosophic criticism? No, surely.
Christianity dreads no scrutiny of investigation. She courts the day, and is willing even to be put to the torture, not fearing that she shall utter any thing derogatory to her heavenly origin. But the cause of these evils is chiefly to be found in the fact, that the great design of education has not been kept steadily in view. Attention has been more exclusively directed to physical and intellectual science in our colleges, than it ought to be, and even than it was in the schools of Greece and Rome.
For this difference between modern institutions and those of antiquity, some reasons may be assigned. Among the ancients, physical science was, comparatively speaking, but little known. Their philosophy was principally confined to the nature of man, and to his moral relations. Their wise men, such as Aristotle, Plato, Seneca, and many others, made the human mind their principal study. This was emphatically true of Socrates. "Man; and what relates to man, were the only subjects on which he chose to employ himself. To this purpose, all his inquiries and conversations turned. On what was pious, what impious; what honorable, what base ; what just, what unjust; what wisdom, what folly ; what courage, what cowardice; what a state or political community, what the character of a statesman or a politician; what the gove ernment of men, what the character of one equal to such a government. It was on these, and other matters of the same kind, that he used to discourse ; in which subjects those who were knowing, he used to esteem men of honor and goodness, and those who were ignorant, to be no better than the basest of slaves.” But among the moderns, the attention of students has been too much turned from these subjects, especially since the consideration of final causes has been so much exploded by the inductive philosophy. In consequence of this, ethical studies have retired to monasteries and schools of divinity; while in our literary institutions, such have been the advances in natural philosophy, in the higher branches of mathematics, in the liberal arts, and in polite learning, as to give to these subjects such an all absorbing character, that moral science has been permitted to languish in comparative neglect. It was this fact, and its unhappy consequences, which led me to select the subject, to which your attention has been invited. This fact is my apology, if any be needed, for giving to this address so serious a cast. Think not, however, that I wish to couvert our seats of science into halls of mere theology. Let the present branches of literature and science be retained, and prosecuted with untiring zeal. For at best, we can do but little more, during the short space allotted
us, than to initiate our scholars into the usual branches of knowledge, and lay a tolerable foundation for their future professional studies. This foundation I would not wish to narrow; for knowledge is the food of the mind, and one of the two grand pillars that support our free Constitution. Nor would I introduce into our colleges systems of divinity, trammelled by sectarian peculiarities, the work of man's device. But I would encourage that religion, which is as free as the common light of the sun, and as healthful and refreshing as the breezes of morning—a religion
resting on a broad basis—the being and perfections of God, the character and relations of man, and the peculiar doctrines and precepts of Revelation. Ought not a religion of this extended and elevated character to hold a prominent place in our public course of education ?
“Since this world is a system of benevolence, and consequently its Author the object of unbounded love and adoration, benevolence and piety are our only true guides, in our inquiries into it; the only keys which will unlock the mysteries of nature, and clues which lead through her labyrinths.” How delightful to the benevolent instructer, while teaching his students the laws of matter and of mind, to refer them often to the bright aspects of the benevolent purpose and will of their Creator, and to remind them that these intimations should be improved as monitors to duty, and as sources of the most pure and exalted delight. Does he unfold to them the treasures of the ancient classics, he can suggest to them, that the authors of these lasting monuments of mind, studied profoundly the nature of the human soul, and that, therefore, they still excel the moderns in painting the passions, and in touching all the springs of moral action. And from the fact that they are now studied by every scholar with the same delight with which they were read, more than two thousand years ago, he may take occasion to prove to them that the laws of the intellectual world are as fixed and lasting, as those which regulate the material system. What is there in Christianity to narrow the mind and depress the spirits ? Does it not contain our chief solace in the conflicts of life, and all our joyous hopes of the heavenly state? It calls forth within us a mighty energy for our own elevation, and makes discoveries of a vast, bold, illimitable character. Why then should it not hold a prominent place in our course of education ? “Gratitude and every motive of virtue demand of us a reverence for the gospel. Protestant Christianity has in former times given learning such support as learning can never repay. The history of Christendom bears witness to this. The names of Erasmus, of Grotius, of Bacon, and a host of luminaries of science, who rise up like a wall of fire around the cause of Christianity, will bear witness to this. Do you want examples of learned Christians ? I could not recount them all in an age. You need not be told that
Learning has borne such fruit in other days,
(To be concluded in our next.)