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not be entitled to the honourable appellation of being Chris. tian teachers, in any true sense or meaning of the word.
I shall now conclude, Mr. Editor, reserving my further remarks for your next number. Your's, &c.
A FREETHINKING CHRISTIAN. Wannessonnor sursist
CURSORY REMARKS ON THE PRESENT SYSTEM OF
To the Editor of the Freethinking Christians' Magazine. A SUBJECT of more importance than education, cannot
be well conceived, as on the proper instruction of the youth of the present age, depends the 'piety, the virtue, and the happiness of the next. In it is included every wish of the Christian, the philanthropist, and the philosopher, for the spread of virtue, the diffusion of the light of true religion, and the amelioration of the condition of mankind.
As these seem to be the united aim of the conductors of your Magazine, these cursory observations are addressed to them. Many there are who, though unable to erect a building, or even to draw the plan of an elevation, are capable of discovering defects in the structure of an edifice, which if pointed out with a sufficient doubt of their own judgment, may be of service to the architect, and enable him to correct his design.
Thus it is with the present remarks—the writer, conscious of her own inability to present a new plan, would merely content herself with a few observations on the prevailing system of Education, in the middle ranks of life (if system that may may be called, which is conducted without a plan, and pursued without any definite end).
Numerous have been the writers, and especially female writers, who have exerted their talents to supersede those contracted notions of education, which, rendered dear to society in general by ancient usage, required length of time and experience to show their fallacy. The names of Edgeworth, Hamilton, and More, will long be gratefully remembered, by both parents and children.
16. Begin not any thing of which thou hast not well considered the end,” is a maxim which is too little attended to in education. Parents, impressed with a sense of duty, in the first instance, undertake the education of their children without system, and without plan ; this mode of instruction is preferred to day, its opposite to-morrow : perceiving that no good effect is produced, they resign their task ere they have hardly attempted it, and without examining if the fault be not their own, they rest satisfied for the future with the assurance that they have discovered from experience, that a private education has no advantages over a public one.
Whereas without system nothing can be effected, those who act without it, are like a traveller who journeys on, without any particular place of destination in view, or any particular road he is bent upon taking. Guided as it were by chance, be pursues his way; it may lead him to a place of rest for the night, and it may (for he is entirely ignorant of the surrounding country), involve him in the woody labyrinths of a dark forest, from which he may with difficulty extricate bimself.
Not so with those who never act but with a plan, which they have carefully examined, and which they uniformly pursue. Taking their system from either their own experience, or the experience of others, and knowing that the same cause must produce necessarily the same effect now as it has done before, if circumstances are similar, they feel a confidence in their own exertions, like one who, acquainted with the road, and the intention of his journey; pursues his way, and reaches the goal of his wishes.
If our theory is incorrect, how is it possible that our practice should be otherwise ? fortuitous circumstances may bring about the end we have in view; but as a general principle it is inadmissible. Before we undertake any affair of importance, we should weigh well every event, which may or can happen within the range of human probability, and prepare accordingly; we should have patience and perseverance in readiness to oppose to difficulties-application and industry to pursue our undertaking with vigour-and if it is not crowned with success, a disposition to take a retrospective view of our own conduct, to discover if the error has not been on our part, and not that predilection, which is too generally evinced, to impute the failure to any cause rather than our want of experience and judgment.
The doctrine of human corruption, which has gained such universal credence, particularly in the religious world, appears to present a most insuperable bar to all improvement in education. How can it be ascertained what wrong habits we have corrected, and what we have still to correct : as, according to this doctrine, no sooner is one head of the hydra vice cut off than another springs up to supply its place; and with what unremitting assiduity soever we endeavour to guard children from the contagion of bad example, or preserve them from the influence of wrong conversation, yet in spite of our efforts, vice is innate in their breasts, and with its poi
sonous weeds, will overrun and destroy every seed of virtue and moral rectitude, which may be sown in their young minds. How inconsistent is it with the benevolence of the Deity, in every other respect, towards his creatures, that for the crime of one man his posterity, as a punishment, should be doomed to struggle against passions which they cannot subdue, to be perpetually troubled with evil thoughts which they cannot repress, and with temptations to do evil which they have not the power to withstand; or, as the advocates for this opinion express themselves, that they are incapable of thinking a right thought, speaking a right word, or doing a right action.
Miss More, in her otherwise excellent work on female education, states that this appears to be such a foundation truth, that if asked what qualification was most important in an instructor of youth ? she would not hesitate to reply, such an impression of the corruption of our nature as should insure a disposition to counteract it. In another instance, she points it out as a fundamental error: to consider children, as innocent beings, whose little weaknesses may, perhaps, want some correction, rather than as beings who bring into the world a corrupt nature and dispositions, which it should be the end of education to rectify.
How much more safe and easy the task appears, when we believe the infant mind, according to the opinion of Mr. Locke, to be similar to a blank sheet of paper, upon which we make what impression we think fit; that all ideas are obtained through the medium of the senses; and that in proportion as these impressions are good or evil, so will their conduct be virtuous or vicious!
A most striking evil in the present system of education presents itself to our view, in that want of confidence which exists between children and parents, who one would imagine would be the dearest of friends. Too great severity, and unlimited indulgence, are equal enemies to this kind of amity; fear, in the former case, induces concealment; and in the latter, how can a child look up with respectful confidence to one who indulges him in all his foibles, and can refuse none of his requests, even though the grant should be to his detriment? But let me not call them indulgent parents; it is not for the good of their offspring they are thus tender; it is to save themselves the painful task of denying them ; it is to save themselves trouble in the first instance, merely to heap it tenfold on themselves and children, at a future period. “ Ni judging tenderness is, in fact, only concealed self love."
Brought up amidst populous cities, how much are he children, both of the poor and the rich, deserving our compassion; acquainted only with mankind, and them, perhaps, either degraded by folly or disgraced by vice, of nature they are entirely ignorant; her productions they have no opportunity of witnessing, till they have undergone a thousand metamorphoses. Parents, it is not in the crowded ball room that you can instruct your children in what is necessary for them to know-it is in the fields and the woods, that you can inspire them with a love of nature, and teach them to adore its Creator ; show them the lilies of the field, they toil not, veither do they spin ; yet Solomon, in all his glory, was not arrayed like one of these.
Teach them, that to be happy they have only to be good, and to seek wisdom as the means of being so; that however the storm of life may assail, while t'ey act virtuously, and put their trust in their Maker, they will feel a calm within them. selves, which nothing can disturb; that not a sparrow falleth to the ground without his knowledge; but with this dependance on their heavenly Father, instruct them, that he has given them powers and capabilities of exertion, which he will expect them to use : the scene around will give effect to your lessons, and impress every word upon their bearts. The falling leaves will teach them they must die ! and when the thought seems to give pain to their young minds, then will be the happy time to unfold in some measure the religion of Jesus : tell them that their heavenly Father sent on earth a man,
vir: tuous and pious above all that came before or after him; that he honoured him with the title of his son, and commissioned him to proclaim to mankind that those who believed in him should be pardoned their sins; that those who acted virtuously in the present, would be rewarded in a future life; that the wicked would be punished, in order to correct them, and that all must finally be made happy by being made virtuous; that this virtuous man was put to death; that he was raised from the dead by his heavenly Father, as a proof to mankind of his divine mission, and as an earnest to them of their future resurrection. The coming spring, will afford an emblem of a future life, not as a spring to which succeeds winter, but an eternal, an ever-blooming spring. But enough! I have been deviating from my intentions-not content with pointing out defects, I have ventured to give the arehitect another plan. A plan! which owes not its origin to me, but to one, from whom I have gained the little l have to impart, of whose experience these observations are the result, though differently combined, and cast, perhaps, in a different mould; to a parent whose instructions and lessons I am here merely repeating.
Should you, Mr. Editor, think these remarks worthy a place in your Magazine, they will be continued in an ensuing niumber. Your's, &c.
ON METHODIST SOCIETIES IN REPLY TO
To the Editor of the Freethinking Christians' Magazine. PERMIT me, through the medium of your Magazine, to
reply to Mr. GRIFFEE, whose letter is inserted in vol. 2. p. 270.-I am ready to admit, Sir, that, “ to declaim against any sect without shewing a cause, is both unchristian-like, and unjust ;" but before Mr. G. had accused me of “injustice" to the Methodists, by not fulfilling my promise, he should have had a more solid foundation to work upon than bare assertion. There are many intervening circumstances which often prevent a man from fulfilling a promise which he would not purposely have forfeited, and there are others that would render it absolutely impossible; but although this has not been strictly the case with me, I have met with one which in all probability would have prevented even Mr. G. himself for a season, from resuming a task like mine,
I could prove, with the greatest ease to myself, that I have not done the least injustice to the Methodists" by not fulfilling my promise," and as for giving them “ an opportunity of defending themselves," I think I have given a tolerably good one in the letter which Mr. G. probably thinks he has taken to pieces.
Mr. Griffee was once a Methodist; “ but (says he) had I even continued among them twenty years, I could not, with your correspondent, think their rules and practices such as are calculated to make me either knave or fool.” There are men in the world, Sir, who are naturally so stupid, that nothing can make greater - fools" of them than they are already, and there are others who have a sufficient proportion of common sense to distinguish right from wrong. In this latter number I include Mr. G. and myself. He may talk of “ knaves and fools;" but without any disparagement to his present good sense,
he was once more foolish than he now is. rusing (says he) your valuable Magazine, and other publicae tions against the trinity, I was induced to reject that doctrine as unscriptural and irrational, which of course obliged me to separate myself from them;" therefore, Mr. Editor, the language he would apply to me is equally applicable to himself; it was indeed most fortunate for him that his eyes were opened at the very moment to afford him so narrow an escape.
Mr. G. tries to undervalue the remarks I have called prelimie nary ;" he says “ ridiculous" would be a better explanation. He is welcome to give them a new reading if he pleases : I choose to let them remain as “ preliminary” remarks; and,