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The Commissioners of “Education Inquiry,” appointed by the House of Commons, have presented their Ninth and final Report, dated London, June 2, 1827. This was ordered to be printed on the 18th of the same month. It will be recollected by our readers, that, in their First Report, they had recommended that schools should be established in Ireland, in which the children of Roman Catholics, and of the different sects of Protestants, should be taught together, each school having masters of the same denomination with those of the parents of the children. The Commissioners now say:— “During the progress of our inquiries into these Institutions, we were requested by his Excellency the Lord Lieutenant to submit to the test of actual experiment the plan of education recommended in our First Report; and, in order to enable us as well to effect this, as to complete the inquiries in which we were already engaged, your Majesty was graciously pleased to extend for a year the period originally allotted for the duration of our commission. “It has therefore become our duty to represent to your Majesty, that, in our attempt to effect that object, we have experienced difficulties, which have not only prevented us from establishing schools in which the experiment might be fully tried, but have induced us to desist altogether from any further proceedings in that undertaking." p. 3. The insurmountable difficulty referred to, was the arrangement of the books, the use of which formed so essential a part of the plan so recommended. They say, “until this preliminary step should be secured, it would have been obviously premature to appoint masters, or provide school-houses.” . 5. p The Commissioners say—“We beg leave to recal to your Excellency's recollection the particulars of a Minute of Conference held between our Board and the four Roman Catholic Archbishops on this subject, bearing date the 8th January, 1825, and which, so far as relates to the works in question, was as follows:— “In these suggestions, for uniting Protestant and Roman Catholic children in literary, and separating them only for religious instruction, Dr. Murray expressed his concurrence. “The Commissioners then observed, that
separate religious instruction should not commence until the difference of religious belief should make it impossible for instruction any longer to be received in common; and they inquired whether it would be ob. jected to, on the part of the Roman Catholic clergy, that the more advanced of the Protestant and Roman Catholic children should, at certain times, during school hours, read portions of the Holy Scriptures together, . and in the same classes, but out of their respective versions, subject to proper regulations, and in the presence of their respective Protestant and Roman Catholic teachers, suggesting, at the same time, that opportunities might be assorded to the teachers of each persuasion to explain to the children separately the portions so read “Dr. Murray answered, that serious difficulties would exist in the way of such an arrangement, and, in lieu of it, he proposed that the Holy Scriptures should be used only when the Roman Catholic children should be taken apart for the purpose of receiving religious instruction; and he said that there could be no possible objection to the Roman Catholic children then reading out of the sacred volume itself the gospels and epistles of the week; he added, that no objection would be made to a harmony of the gospels being used in the general education which the children should receive in common, nor to a volume containing extracts from the Psalms, Proverbs, and Book of Ecclesiasticus, nor to a volume containing the history of the Creation, of the Deluge, of the Patriarchs, of Joseph, and of the deliverance of the Israelites, extracted from the Old Testament; and that he was satisfied no difficulties in arranging the details of such works would arise on the part of the Roman Catholic clergy. “The Commissioners then stated, that they considered it of the utmost moment that no books or catechisms should be admitted, either in the course of the literary or religious instruction, containing matter calculated to excite contempt, hatred, or any uncharitable feeling, in any class, towards persons of a different religious persuasion. “To this Dr. Murray cordially assented.” p. 5. and First Report, p. 96. Several plans were submitted, first to the Protestant Archbishops and Bishops, and then to the Roman Catholic Prelates, to obtain such a compilation of the Scriptures as would be unexceptionable to both parties.
Two selections were submitted, one by the Protestant Bishops, entitled “Scripture Lessons;” another by the Roman Catholics, called “Christian Lessons.” On the former being submitted to Dr. Murray, the titular Archbishop of Dublin, he replied, in a letter to the President of the Commissioners— “As the work which you have had the goodness to send me is a compilation taken exclusively and verbatin from the Protestant version of the New Testament, I think it would be open to the objections already stated by the Catholic Archbishops to the Commissioners with reference to a similar work. Allow me, however, to observe, that those objections might, in my opinion, be removed, if the matter of the work were abstracted both from the Catholic and Protestant versions, where they substantially agree, without the words being taken throughout literatin from either, according to the principles explained by us to the Commissioners, when last we had the honour of an interview with them.” p. 12. A work prepared by one of the Commissioners, entitled “Christian Lessons,” it was understood would be approved by the Roman Catholic clergy. On this being submitted to them, they made some alterations in it and proposed it as the school-book. This work was submitted by the Cominissioners with the following description, to the Archbishop of Dublin — “Your Grace will see that it contains, printed in italics, some few sentences of introductory and explanatory matter, which are added to the extracts from the Scriptures. “It will also occur to your notice, that throughout the work the authorized version has not been invariably followed, the text being in part taken from that of the Douay. “In some instances, too, the sense is expressed in words which, though intended to be a faithful translation of the original, are not in the precise language of either version. Your Grace will observe also, that a few of the lessons have been put together with a view to inculcate particular Christian duties, the texts composing which have been selected from various parts of the New Testa. ment, according to the discretion of the compiler. The remainder of the work appears not to differ very materially from the selection submitted to our notice by the direction of the Archbishop of Dublin ; and it has been submitted to us under the idea that it might (if at all admissible) be much improved and enlarged, by the introduction of some extracts, as well from the Old Testament, as from the Acts of the Apostles and the Epistles.” p. 13. The following extract from the reply of the Lord Primate to Thomas Frankland
Lewis, Esq. President of the Commission
ers, will shew some of the objections to the
“Christian Lessons.” .
what objections can be made, on the part of
the Established Church, to the volume which they have substituted. To me it appears, that the point at issue between the two volumes is no less than that great question between the Churches of Rome and England, what is the rule of faith ?’ The Church of Rome gives authority, the Church of England gives evidence, as the basis of Christianity : the latter appears as a faithful witness of the sacred records, and of the interpretation which has been put upon them by the first believers; the former, as an infallible teacher, drawing her doctrines and institutions from herself, or from a secret store of tradition, which is independent of the written word, and the key of which has been committed to her custody by the great Founder of our religion. In our system, the Church is nothing without the Scriptures; in that of Rome, its powers and doctrines might have been as they are, had the New Testament never been written. This irreconcileable difference between the two Churches appears upon the first inspection of the volume now before me. The work which we prepared is provided with references to the sacred writers, so that every reader may satisfy himself of the fidelity of the quotation; and, if he be competent to such inquiries, of the correctness of the original reading, and accuracy of the version. There are no references in the printed work. The Church delivers her ‘Christian Lessons,’ as they are styled, but without any intimation that they are derived from a higher authority. There is nothing wherein a child or a peasant could conjecture that there was such a book as the New Testament in existence. This omission you will perceive to be of vital importance. Should Government or the Legislature determine on insisting upon the circulation of the work, it will be our duty to submit; but we could not express our consent, and still less give our active support to the measure, without withdrawing our protest against the assumptions of the Church of Rome.” p. 15. This letter also contains the copy of some resolutions which the Roman Catholic Bishops had adopted, in reference to general education, on the 25th of January, as follow :“1. Having considered attentively a plan of national education which has been submitted to us, Resolved, that the admission of Protestants and Roman Catholics into the same school, for the purpose of literary instruction, may, under existing circumstances, be allowed; provided sufficient care be taken to proteet the religion of the Ro
man Catholic children, and to furnish them with adequate means of religious instruction. “2. That in order to secure sufficient protection to the religion of the Roman Catholic children, under such a system of education, we deem it necessary that the master of each school in which the majority of the pupils profess the Roman Catholic faith, be a Roman Catholic ; and that in schools in which the Roman Catholic children form only a minority, a permanent Roman Catholic assistant be employed, and that such master and assistant be appointed upon the recommendation, or with the express approval of the Roman Catholic Bishop of the diocese in which they are to be employed ; and further, that they, or either of them, be removed upon the representation of such Bishop. “4. That in conformity with the principle of protecting the religion of the Roman Catholic children, the books intended for their particular instruction in religion shall be selected or approved by the Roman Catholic Prelates; no book or tract for common instruction in literature shall be introduced into any school in which Roman Catholic children are educated, which book or tract may be objected to, on religious grounds, by the Roman Catholic Bishop of the diocese in which such school is established. “6. That appointed, as we have been, by Divine Providence, to watch over and preserve the deposit of Catholic faith in Ireland, and responsible as we are to God for the souls of our flocks, we will, in our respective dioceses, withhold our concurrence and support from any system of education which will not fully accord with the principles expressed in the foregoing resolutions.” p. 16. The Archbishop of Armagh remarks upon these— “Various misgivings are awakened in my mind by these resolutions; the sum of them is, that the source of the present difficulty lies out of the power of the Commissioners. Give me leave to suggest a very easy mode of submitting the justness of this opinion to experiment. One of the objects of the Commissioners, and I presume the chief one, in recommending schools of general instruction, was, that the kindly sympathies of our nature, being aided by habits of youthful companionship, as well as the benign precepts of the Gospel, might be matured, as life advanced, into the charities of Christian neighbourhood. It is obvious, however, that the success of this endeavour will entirely depend on the care with which sinister influences are excluded from the minds of the children, during the seasons set apart for their separate instruction in the tenets of their respective religions.
“The Roman Catholic catechism, which will of course be used on these occasions for the children of that communion, contains the following questions and answers: “Q. Is there but one true church 2–A. Although there be many sects, there is but one true religion, aud one true church. “Q. Why is there but one true church 2 A. As there is but one true God, there can be but one true church. “Q. How do you call the true church 2– A. The Roman Catholic Church. “Q. Are all obliged to be of that true church 2—A. Yes." “Q. Why are all obliged to be of that true church 2 — A. Because no one can be saved out of it. “Q. How many ways are there of sinning against faith ?— A. Chiefly three. “Q. What are these three ways 2–A. First, by not seeking to know what God has taught; secondly, by not believing what God has taught, &c. “Q. Who are they who do not believe what God has taught – A. Heretics and infidels. “The Commissioners will surely agree with me, in thinking that it would be desirable to have these passages expunged; that as long as they shall continue to be privately inculcated upon the Roman Catholic children by their religious instructors, any other lessons they may receive will teach them dissinulation rather than cordial good feeling. The same wise and benevolent motives which make the Commissioners desirous to discover a religious book which might be common to all parties, must inspire the anxiety that what is peculiar in religion should be conveyed to the youthful mind without poisoning or drying up the fountain of those sentiments which, next to the love of God, it is the great business of the Gospel to feed and purify—‘peace on earth, goodwill towards man.” Let them, then, endeavonr to remove these questions and answers. Should they succeed, the appointment of their Board will indeed be an auspicious era in the history of this country. But if they fail, or if it should be their feeling that they ought not to try—that these matters are beyond their sphere, that they relate so exclusively to religion as not to be approached without invading the rights of conscience, I can no longer elude the desponding conviction, that their wishes will be disappointed, and their labours ineffectual.” pp. 16, 17. The following letter from the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Dublin, will shew the termination at which this business arrived :“Dear Sir — I have been honoured with your letter of the 14th instant, intimating a wish to receive an answer to the suggestion contained in the following communication,
addressed to your Board by the Prelates of
the Established Church : — "We suggest to your Board the propriety of obtaining from the Roman Catholic Prelates, previous to the reception of any new proposal, an explicit answer as to their willingness or unwillingness to recommend the use of our compilation in the national schools, with such modifications as may be agreed upon.’ “On the subject of this communication, I did hope that you would be saved the trouble of making further inquiry, as all reasonable ground of doubt appeared to me to be removed by my letter of the 17th July and 26th December of last year. I can, however, have no difficulty in stating anew, in terms, if possible, more explicit than I did before, that the Roman Catholic Prelates objected to the compilation in question, on the ground that it is composed of passages taken exclusively and verbatim from the Protestant translation of the New Testament; and that so long as it shall continue to retain that character, they will not recommend the use of it in the national schools, under any modification which it can assuine. “I will avail myself of this opportunity to express an opinion, which you will not, I am sure, consider at variance with that respect which I sincerely entertain for the Board of Education Inquiry; it is, that the Board has created for itself a very needless difficulty, by requiring, as a matter of necessity, any scriptural compilation to be used in schools, for the purpose of general instruction. Were the religious instruction of the children confided wholly to the care of their respective pastors, what appears to be the only remaining ground of disagreement would be removed; and the rest of the plan suggested by the Commissioners might, without any difficulty, be carried into immediate and extensive operation.” p. 26. As the Commissioners could not agree upon a united Report, three of them, T. Frankland Lewis, W. Grant, and A. R. Blake, Esqrs. state as follows:– “We are still of opinion, that for the children of the lower orders in Ireland, a system of separate education would be found to be pregnant with evils; that it would tend to increase, rather than to diminish, that distinctness of feeling between persons of different religious persuasions, which is already too prevalent; and we think it therefore most desirable, that a system should be adopted, under which the children might imbibe similar ideas, and form congenial habits, and from which suspicion should, if possible, be banished, and the causes of distrust and jealousy be effectually removed.
“We are of opinion, also, that no system of education can be considered as deserving of that name, which shall not seek to lay the foundations of all moral obligation in religious instruction; but as the difference of their respective tenets renders it difficult for children to receive religious instruction together, we still think that no better course can be adopted than that of uniting children of the different persuasions, for the purpose of instructing them in the general objects of literary knowledge, and of providing facilities for their instruction separately, when the difference of religious belief renders it impossible for them any longer to learn together. “Although we have failed in the attempt to combine religious with literary instruction, to the extent originally contemplated by us, we still think that object may, to a limited extent, be effected.” p. 28. Two other Commissioners, J. Leslie Foster and James Glassford, Esqrs. in a letter to the Secretary of State, which they requested might be appended to the Report, strongly advocate persevering endeavours in the great object in view. We give a short extract :“In the variety of plans and systems actually pursued, we see disferent means and prospects of success. We conceive this to be no longer a matter of speculation, but demonstrated by every day's experience. Any plan for compelling all the varieties of schools to give way to one inflexible form, would in our opinion be a great mistake. We should say so, even if that particular form had approved itself to be practically good; but we think it would be a still greater and more dangerous error, to act exclusively on any new principle, while its merits should rest only on a theory. * * * “While, therefore, we are ready to promote the trial of any experiment that may suggest new means of usefulness, or which may perhaps be more fitted for some districts hitherto less accessible than others, we cannot too strongly express our opinion, that any such experiment onght to be considered only as an accompaniment to those means which experience has approved to be useful, and not as leading to the suppression of any tried instrument of good.”Correspondence, p. 4.
Subscriptions received by W. Burls, Esq. 56, Lothbury; Rev. J. Ivimey, 7, HeathcoteStreet, Mecklenburgh-Square; and Rev. G. Pritchard, 16, Thornhaugh-Street.
Subscriptions and Donations in aid of this Society will be thankfully received at the Baptist Missionary House, No. 6, Fen Court, Fenchurch Street, London: or by any of the Ministers and Friends whose names are inserted in the Cover of the Annual Report.
A letter has lately been received by the Secretary, from Mr. Carapeit Aratoon, who has for some time been employed, by our junior brethren in Calcutta, in Missionary work among the natives. The following extract will probably not be unacceptable to our readers, though they must make kind allowance for the defective English of the writer.
Calcutta, Nor. 30, 1826.
Since our ever-regretted pastor, brother Lawson, was taken away from among us, our dear brother Yates has succeeded to his pastoral office, and has the entire charge of the English church. On this account, I am obliged to be one of his assistants in the native church. I am with them three times a week, and besides this, I am almost the whole week among the natives of Calcutta, in our Hut or Bungalow chapels, preaching the blessed Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ to hundreds of natives. Formerly, we had but three Bungalow chapels, but not long since we built a new one, on the side of a very public road, so that now we have four Bungalow chapels in Calcutta, besides one at brother Yates's, where I go regularly every day, Saturdays excepted, and preach in Bengalee, and sometimes in Hindostanee: a brief account of which I send every month to our dear brother Pearce, which I hope he sends, or will send, to you.
I am sorry to inform you, that I have not yet seen a Hindoo or Mnssulman holiday stopped, or any entire town or village of
British India that has embraced the blessed Gospel of our Saviour Jesus Christ; nor do I yet see any public and general regard paid, in any part of British India, to the sabbath. On the contrary, I see some of the learned children of Great Britain endeavouring to establish schools and colleges, upon which they not only spend a good deal of time, but their money also, in teaching the erroneous shasters and other branches of learning, which are diametrically opposite to that matchless book, to which alone your countrymen owe, and with much propriety boast of, a true and just liberty, which we cannot see enjoyed any where else; and permit me to say, that if we look into ancient history, we find that great philosophers never dreamed of that liberty which is known and practised in your native land. This heavenly book, or any sort of writing agreeing with . it, is not used in those schools and colleges already mentioned, while some of the head teachers themselves are atheists or deists. Besides what I have already said, when the natives see that some of your countrymen are establishing schools, and endeavouring with nuch eagerness to teach Hindoos their own shasters, and Mussulmen their koran, they boldly come forward and make repeated attacks upon us poor Missionaries; and what is worse, they sometimes point out, by their names, the sinful life of some Europeans, and at times men of rank too, telling us, “you want to make us like them.” Oh, iny dear brother, how lamentable is the thought, that while Christians of different denominations are spending their money, time, and strength, to spread the truths of the Bible, that the conduct of persons born and educated in a Christian land should harden the heathen in wickedness' Besides these, we are surrounded with some other kinds of difficulties; but amidst all, we are going on, I hope, zealously, and in the fear of the Lord, “ looking up to the hills from whence cometh our help,” relying entirely upon his blessed promises, in which he has said that he “will keep us from all evil,