add to it; but I will only ask you one question, if we were now in the days of the primitive Church and one of the Apostles themselves, or of their immediate successors filled that Chair, instead of your Lord. ship a remote successor, if under his guidance we were discussing the best system of education for our children, what would be the system which we could imagine him to recommend for our adoption? Would he inculcate the adoption of one which should be separate from religion altogether, or which should avoid all controversial points of doctrine ? Should we have him imploring us to avoid all that could offend the prejudices of the Gnostic, the Manichin, or the Pelagian, and for this purpose to exclude from a Christian education our conscientious views of religious truth. On such a question as this, my Lord, we can do no better than place ourselves in that position, endeavouring to follow out the principles which the Apostles themselves would have inculcated. On no other principles, indeed, on such a question, can a Christian community safely act.

In your opening address you, my Lord, expressed a hope that in promoting education we should not forget another important object to which you have had frequent occasion to call the attention of your Diocese, that of providing Church accommodation for the growing wants of our population. Now, my Lord, I believe we can take no one step which will more effectually tend to that object than the one which we are now taking. The children of the middle classes, especially in this seat of trade and manufacture, are the very staple of which the richest and the most influential future members of society are formed, they fill every channel of enterprize and influence, they rise into the highest classes of the land, and educated in attachment to religion and the National Church, they will become her firmest bulwarks and the most efficient instruments for her extension in future ages.

My Lord, the general features of our proposed organization have been already so far developed, and the minor details are perhaps so little fitted for so numerous an assembly, that it does not seem necessary to pursue them further at the present meeting. I believe the terms of union will be found to be only such as are necessary for secur. ing to the pupil such instruction as every good member of the Church would wish to see conveyed to his child, such as no good master who is a member of our Church may not willingly assent to.

I believe that the organised system of inspection which we propose will have the effect of imparting to the remotest parts of the country every improvement in education which may spring up in any quarter; and that it will provide a security that schools when once built and endowed will be carried on in the same spirit which established them. I hope also, that hereafter it may re-animate some of the slumbering endowments of the older towns, and that they may be enabled by an adaptation to the altered wants and circumstances of the country, and by other means to fill more efficiently than in many cases they now do, the high post in the promotion of a religious and useful education which they are calculated and were intended to discharge.

Such a result I have lately witnessed in the town of Birmingham.

I have

[ocr errors]

chant step in the plan we have met to forward, has been carried into execu

there witnessed in connexion with the National Church, a noble structure giving to four hundred boys and young men of various denomina. tions, not only a most excellent classical, but a sound religious, practical, and English education. I know that hundreds are flocking to its doors--that other schools connected with it are springing up in various quarters of the town; and I have hailed it as the omen of increased prosperity, and happiness, and improved character, to the people who dwell within its influence. Why should we not see the same picture in other places? And if we did, how different would not the anticipations be which we should be justified in entertaining respecting the future destinies of our congregated masses ? Why should they remain a source of terror and anxiety, rather than of hope and security to the empire? There is among them wealth enough, if well employed; there are faculties for organization, which are invaluable, if turned to good advantage, the understanding, is sharpened by the close contact of man with man; there is within them a dormant spirit of desire for good, I hope I may say no longer dormant, which, if taken advantage of, may lead to indefinite extents of happiness and prosperity to future generations,

My Lord, and Ladies and Gentlemen, I have made these few obser-
vations, less with a view of going fully into the subject than with that
of shewing my interest in this great object. It is indeed a high cause,
in my apinion the most important move that has been made in this
country since the era of the Reformation. At that epoch the Church
of England put herself at the head of the great intellectual march. -
Why should she not assume the same position now?

It will be powerful for good or for evil, according to the direction
which is given to it. The great moral steam which is rising all around
us out of the general agitation and ferment of the time, let it be well
directed and it is difficult to limit the amount of blessing which the
increase of force and power thus generated may create; but if
this knowledge to be merely power, and do not convert it, as I hope
under the proposed system of education it will be converted, into
wisdom it will be productive of the most fatal mischiefs, not only to
the community within which it springs into existence, but, as whatever
befalls England cannot be without its effect on any part of the inhabited
world, to the destinies of all mankind.

Without going into the specific details, which have been already
developed by preceding speakers, I now move the second Resolution.

The Rev. JONATHAN BROOKES, Rector of Liverpool, rose to second the resolution.

He said--My lord, in accordance with the wishes of the committee who have assigned to me the task of seconding the resolution proposed by the noble lord, I assure your lordship I have accepted it as a matter of duty and not of choice. I shall require the indulgence of the meeting whilst I make a few observations upon this resolution. From this resolution, my lord, it will be seen that the first

you leave

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]

The foundation has been laid : a diocesan board has been


established at Chester, and it is for us to consider in what way we can make the system general, and enable that board to act with efficiency. If it be true that the subject of national education is one which has for some time engrossed and still continues to engross a great share of public attention ; if it be true that it is a subject daily increasing in interest and importance ; if it be true that all those who are without the pale of the Established Church, however much they may differ from one another on many points, and on none more than those connected with religion, are endeavouring to form and introduce a system which shall take out of the hands of the parochial clergy that over which they have long maintained a superintendence, and" hitherto with success, the education of a great mass of the people of this country; I think it can hardly admit of a doubt that the co-operation of the friends of the church on the other side is absolutely necessary as a means of self-defence ; that they are no longer justified in continuing their labours within the limits of their own immediate neighbourhood; but are bound by their duty to make one great united effort to call into operation those energies which have been allowed to remain dormant, and to organise a system commensurate with the emergency that calls it forth. Now, my lord, how can this better be done than by the establishment of a plan where different branches shall be united under one head, and where the establishment of local boards in the different ecclesiastical districts of the diocese shall be the means of bringing distant unconnected individuals to one common point, and of forming a standard by which all may be regulated in the attainment of one common object. A society of this sort would much promote unity of action by the mutual connexion it would be the means of enforcing, it would afford constant opportunity of giving and receiving advice, a judicious plan of regular visitation of our schools might also be adopted, a selection of the pupils who are most fitted to be sent to the diocesan training schools for instruction as future teachers, might also be carried into effect; a local interest in the operations of the society would be excited, and while the whole plan would be conducted on well-defined general principles, the system in its details would be suited to the peculiar circumstances of the various districts. Now, in carrying into effect such an object as this, the Established Church possesses peculiar ad. vantages from the very nature of her own institutions, for my Lord, the National Church is in herself a system of national education : in every village throughout the country she furnishes weekly lessons of religious instruction to the people; she inculcates the doctrines and the precepts of that book which is emphatically the book of life, and she imparts that knowledge which is beyond all price. To the village church is generally attached the village school, although in many instances, that is wholly inadequate to the wants of the population which has so rapidly increased during late years; but still, we have here a machinery ready for work which may be carried to any extent, which may be adapted to any model, which may be carried and stretched out to the demands of any exigencies. The old schools may be improved and enlarged; where new ones are wanted new ones may be built, and by the aid of such a

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

society as this, assistance may be given to those districts which are peculiarly in want of it, and in general encouragement and information may be afforded to all.

I am confident, my Lord, that no system of education will be so acceptable to a large body of the people of this country as one which is connected with, and under the superintendence of the Established

Church. I speak from the experience of a very large and populous les parish, when I say that the people will not be content with any system

which is not based upon religion. (Cheers.) This, my Lord, is no speculative opinion; it is an ascertained fact. The clergy of Liverpool have

upon more than one occasion made appeals in which this very principle has been involved, to the inhabitants of the town: and the manner in which they have answered those appeals leaves no doubt as to the general feeling with regard to the principle. (Hear, hear.) In defiance, my Lord, of all that has been attempted and done to alienate the people from the Church of their fathers, my strong conviction is that they still love it :-(loud applause)—that it is deeply enshrined in their affections, that it is associated with all the best sympathies of their nature, and with all those endearing connexions and relations which exist in social and domestic life. My Lord, I think it is our duty to encourage such feelings as these ; I think we ought to act upon them, and endeavour by every means to give them life and being. I am not one of those who would by any means attempt to exercise an unfair control over the opinions of others; I am not one of those who would deny to the conscientious dissenter the privilege of exercising his own judgment in the education of his own children, and bringing them up in those tenets which he himself deems to be right. satisfied and believes that he has a safer and surer way than the one which our communion offers to him, it is natural that he should wish to bring up his children in that way: but still, my Lord, I am one of those—and I hope and trust that there are hundreds and thousands in the country who feel the same,--who would never abandon the youth of our own church to vague and indefinite generalities, one who would never allow that they should be brought up by other hands, or other teachers than they who are the most virtuous and worthy among the sons of our own church. With this conviction on my mind, and be. lieving that a system like the one proposed, of central and local boards, will be best adapted to gain the objects we have in view, I beg leave to second the resolution which has been proposed by the noble Lord.(Loud applause.)

Thomas GreenE, Esq., M. P. for Lancaster, rose to propose the next resolution. He said—In rising to propose the resolution, which in the printed list stands four, but which it has been thought proper should be moved at the present moment—" That the terms of connexion between all local schools and the diocesan boards be-l. The adoption of the authorised formularies of the Established Church. 2. Reception of the diocesan inspector. 3. Clerical superintendence. 4. An engagement to make regular statistic returns." I should feel that I were acting wi

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

If he is


the greatest possible degree of presumption, if I could trespass at any length on your attention, especially after having had the objects of this meeting so ably stated. Satisfied as we all are of the absolute necessity of an improvement in education-satisfied as we are that that system of education must be based on religious principles closely connected with the Established Church--feeling that we should proceed with unity of design and of purpose, it is perfectly obvious to every individual, that we should have some proof, that these schools have connection with the Established Church. And in order to arrive at that, even if these schools for an instant should reject the authorized formularies of the Estabished Church, and did not receive the authorized version of the Bible, how can we conceive a more efficient and satisfactory remedy than the inspection of the Clergy where these schools are placed. (Hear.) I think also we are fully entitled to call on these schools for the greatest extent of information as to the number of persons in the district who might be anxious to learn, and make use of the advantages offered. But while I would have the strongest guards in order to secure purity of religious instruction, and have them connected with the Established Church, am I actuated by a vile spirit of party feeling-by religious bigotry ? Am I thereby arraying myself hostilely against our other brethren of Protestant denominations? Is it to be supposed that I do not admit that high principles and deep feelings of piety are not to be found amongst them? By no means. But the question before us, is, are we to have education with or without religious instruction ? And if it is to be with religious instruction, we naturally turn to that Church to which we belong—that Church which we look on as the soundest, and purest, and the most apostolic in discipline, and which the laws have fixed as the Established Church of this country, that which is emphatically called the Church of England, and which we firmly believe to be the highest blessing which God has given us. If it be said, “Why stir at all ?” Can there be any one blind to the eager thirst for knowledge which is extended throughout the world at large; and is it not our duty to direct this feeling in that course which we conceive to be best calculated to promote the interests of the rising generation? Has it not been long the boast of this country that her sons could raise themselves from the lowest to the highest ranks in life, and ought we not to encourage that, and give our assistance to her ablest and most talented sons? What would be thought of a parent who, while giving to his sons education in all other branches of knowledge, was to neglect the education of his sons in the great truths of Christianity ? What would be the practical result which such a man invariably reaps from his conduct? If we adopted that system, we should be condemned indeed. And may I ask another thing ; have we not the greatest reason to apprehend that in this general feeling and thirst for knowledge, if we hold back and refuse to give to the rising generation this degree of assistance in its eager thirst for knowledge, it will go elsewhere? Will they not have recourse to schools where there is no religious instruction ? And is it not our duty to give them the benefits of that religious instruction ? Perhaps I may ask are we aclopting a new system ? That question has been put and answered

[ocr errors]
« VorigeDoorgaan »