Imatges de pàgina
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Preached in Philadelphia, May 25, 1830, at the request of the American Sunday

School Union.


President of Brown University.


MATTHEW iv. 10.---Thy kingdom come.'

The cause of Sabbath Schools, at the present day, and before such an audience as this, needs no advocate. If there be a God, a heaven, and a hell; if man be immortal and capable of religion, and if his present existence be probationary; if he be a sinner, and if there be but one way of salvation; and if moral cultivation may be most successfully bestowed in childhood and youth: then, surely, the importance of inculcating upon the young the principles of the Gospel, may be taken for granted. Supposing, then, these truths to be admitted, we shall on this occasion invite your attention to an illustration of some of the encouragements, which the present state of society offers, to an effort for the universal diffusion of Christianity.

It is the general misfortune of man, to be wise a century too late. We look back with astonishment upon those means for guiding the destinies of our race which preceding generations have enjoyed; and we see how, in the possession of our present knowledge, we might then have lived gloriously. We forget that no man lives to purpose, who does not live for posterity. Should I then be so happy as to direct your

views only for a few years forward; should the Spirit of all wisdom teach each one of us the responsibility which rest: upon the men of the passing gene

VOL. V.-No. 3

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ration; we shall, through eternity, bless God, that he has permitted us to assemble, at this time, to deliberate upon the interests of the Redeemer's kingdom.

It will be convenient to my purpose, to commence this discussion by a brief allusion to the nature of the Reformation by Luther. You have all been accustomed to consider this as by far the most interesting portion of the history of man, since the time of the Apostles. In many respects it

Its results, although daily multiplying, are already incalculable. The fabric of ancient society began then to crumble, and a more beautious edifice to arise from amid its ruins. Beside this, there is much of the moral picturesque with which every view is crowded. An imaginative man kindles into enthusiasm at the recital of every transaction. The leaders, on both sides, were men of consummate ability and of revolutionary energy. The fiercest passion of the human heart, in an age almost ignorant of law, stimulated them to contention unto death. Hence the whole period presents an almost unbroken succession of battles and sieges; of foreign war and intestine commotion ; of brutal persecution, and of dignified endurance: and all this is rendered yet more impressive by the frequent vision of racks and dungeons, of torture and exile; of the assassin's dagger, and the martyr's stake. It need not then seem surprising, if this strong appeal to the imagination somewhat bewilder the reason, and if the impressive circunstances attendant upon the change, too much divert our attention from the nature of the change itself. These violent commotions, like friction in machinery, rather disclose the nature of the materials and the amount of the resistance, than the direction of the force, or the celerity of the movement.

But let us now, for a moment, draw aside these attending circumstances, and in what light does the Reformation present itself to our view ? Simply as a period in which the creation of new forces changed the relation which had previously existed between the elements of society. A new and most powerful order of men arose suddenly into being; and institutions, cemented by the lapse of ages, required no inconsiderable modification to meet the unexpected exigency. In the midst of all this, a new and moral impulse was communicaied to society, by which these changes were rendered beneficial to man, and the blessings which they conferred were perpetuated to the present generation,

To illustrate this very briefly—You may be aware that at about the period of the Reformation, great changes were wrought in the physical condition of man. The discovery of America, and of a passage to India by the Cape of Good Hope, and of the use of the mariner's compass, opened exhaustless fountains of wealth to commerce and manufactures. Labor became, of course, vastly more valuable, and artisans became possessed of the means of independence. Hence a new order of men, a middling class, was created. Power, and wealth, and education were placed within the reach of a vastly greater number. The moral centre of gravity setiled towards the base of the social cone. The rod of feudal vassalage was broken, and men were first acknowledged to possess rights which they did not derive from hereditary succession. Beside this, the invention of the printing

press furnished, at the same time, new means of intellectual culture. This astonishing instrument increases indefinitely the power of thought. It transfers the sceptre of empire from matter to mind. It enables genius to multiply, to any extent, the copies of its own conceptions. Hence the facilities for intellectual cultivation were abundantly bestowed upon this new order of men, to which commerce and manufactures had given birth.

But above all, it pleased God to raise up, in the persons of the reformers, men of a character equal to the crisis. They were men who counted not their lives dear unto them when a moral change was to be effected. In despite of every thing appalling in the form of opposition, they studied, they argued, ihey preached, they wrote, they translated, they printed, they employed for the promotion of true religion all those means which the progress of society had placed within their power. They thus gave the impress of Christianity to the changes which were going forward; and that their labors formed by far the most important link in the chain of events which is denominated the Reformation, may be evident from the fact, that nowhere, but in Protestant countries, have the blessings resulting from the social changes, to which we have alluded, been fully realized. Catholic countries have been comparatively unimproved, except where their condition has been changed by the influence of Protestantism in their vicinity.

These few remarks are, we presume, sufficient to show the importance of moral effort at the crisis of a social revolution. But, if we mistake not, physical and intellectual changes very similar to those which characterized the Reformation, are at this moment going forward in the midst of us.

First ; Important changes have of late taken place in the physical condition of man.

The natural wealth of man consists in his power to labor. This every man in a greater or less degree possesses. The less numerous class, in addition to the power to labor, possess also a portion of capital. Hence, as labor becomes more valuable, every man may become richer; that is, he is able to command a larger amount of such things as may gratify his desires. Almost every man among us may now, if he will, command the means of a very comfortable living. An industrious and virtuous artisan may provide for his family advantages, which, a few years since, were considered the attributes only of those above the level of mediocrity. The cause of this change may be easily stated. Labor is valuable to the employer in proportion to the amount of results that it will accomplish. Now, it is well known, that, within the last fifty years, increased skill has rendered human labor vastly more productive than it ever was before. A greater amount of the product of his labor may, therefore, be reserved to the operative, while the capitalist receives at the same time a larger interest upon his investment.

It is interesting, also, to observe the manner in which this increased value has been given to human labor. In some cases, division of labor has enabled one man to do as much as could otherwise be done by two hundred. In other and more numerous cases, a still more gratifying result has been produced, by the increased skill with which science has taught us to employ those qualities and relations with which the allmerciful God has seen fit to endow the universe around us. The most important of these are, the gravitating power of water, and the expansive force of steam. It is by a most beautiful adaptation of the former, that

you, in this city, employ a little waterfall, without cessation, and almost without cost, to carry the means of cleanliness and health to every family within your borders. In various other parts of our country, you may behold a single individual, by means of machinery connected with a similar waterfall, executing, with the utmost perfection, what could not otherwise, in the same time, be performed by many hundreds.

But specially am I astonished in contemplating the results of steam; that new power which the last half century has placed within the control of man. Whether we consider the massiveness of its strength, or the facility of its adaptation, we are equally overwhelmed at the results which it promises to confer upon society. Probably half a million of men could not propel a boat two hundred miles with the speed given to it by a dozen workmen with a powerful engine. On the Liverpool and Manchester railroad, two men, with a locomotive engine, could easily do the work of a thousand, with a speed five or six times as great as human strength could, at its greatest effort, accomplish. Beside this, there can be but very little doubt, that steam will, at least in Great Britain, to a very great extent, supersede the employment of brutes for draft labor, and thus enable the same extent of land to sustain more than double its present number of human beings. The same kind of result is in all cases produced, either by the introduction of valuable machinery, or by improvement in the means of internal or external communication. The instances which I have selected, are merely intended as specimens of a class of agents which Providence has, within a few years, taught us to employ for the improvement of our condition. It ought also to be distinctly borne in mind, that probably only a very small number of the most important of these, has yet been discovered; and that, of those which have been discovered, the application is but yet in its infancy. Sufficient, I trust, has been said, to illustrate the obvious tendency of improvements in the arts, and to show how utterly incalculable are the benefits which they have evidently in reserve for us.

The manner in which all these changes affect the laboring classes may be thus briefly stated. The comforts of living are procurable only by human labor. If, then, by means of improvement in the arts, the labor of the human race is able to produce this year, twice as large an amount of the comforts of living as was produced last year, then every man may have twice as much to enjoy: and may, therefore, be this year in circumstances as comfortable as those of a man of twice his wealth the year before. With the labor of last year he may earn twice the amount of comfort, or he may possess the former amount of comfort with half the amount of labor. A little reflection will, I think, teach any one, that these are precisely the results to which the movements of society are tending. It will, I think, also be evident, that the forces are similar to those exerted upon the condition of man at the time of the Reformation, except that they affect more permanently, and to a greater degree, a much larger portion of the community.

The immediate effect of these changes upon the condition of the larger classes of society must be evident. They place within the power of every man a larger share of enjoyment, and a greater portion of leisure. They thus give to every man, not only more time for intellectual cultivation, but also the means for improving that time with increased advantage. And if they do not render a man better educated himself, they render him sensible of his own deficiency, and awaken in him the desire, and furnish the means, of bestowing education upon his children. And hence, although the modes of education should undergo no improvement, there must result a more widely extended demand for mental improvement, and a more perfect and more powerful intellectual development.

But, secondly; The means of cultivating the human mind are also in a course of rapid improvement. Time will allow me only to allude to a very few considerations, connected with this branch of the subject.

First; The object of education is becoming better understood. It has, in many places, ceased to be considered enough to infuse into the pupil certain sentences, or even certain ideas, which some time before had been infused into the instructer. It begins to be admitted, that education consists in so cultivating the mind, as to render it a more powerful and more exact instrument for the acquisition, the discovery, and the propagation of truth, and a more certain guide for the regulation of conduct. Hence it is now frequently conceded that education may be a science by itself, regulated by laws which require special study, and in the practical application of which, something more than a common degree of intelligence may be at least convenient. A higher degree of talent will thus be called to this profession, in every one of its branches. Division of labor will also produce the same beneficial results as in every other department of industry. And hence, as the object is better understood, as higher talent is engaged to promote it, and as that talent is employed under greater advantages, we may expect, in the rising and the succeeding generations, a more perfect mental development than the world has yet seen.

Again; It has, within a few years, been discovered that education may be commenced much earlier in life than was before considered practicable. Who would have supposed, unless he had seen it, that any thing valuable could have been communicated to an infant only two or three years old ? Specially, who would have supposed that the memory, the judgment, the understanding, and the conscience of so young a child, were already so perfectly formed, and so susceptible of improvement ? But recent experience has demonstrated, that a very valuable education, an education which shall comprise instruction in the elements of many of the most important sciences, may be acquired before a child is old enough to be profitably employed in muscular labor, and even while the care of it would be expensive to the parent. It has thus been made the interest of every one in the neighborhood of an Infant School, to give his children at least so much education as may be communicated there. And if I am not much mistaken, the instruction now given to infants, in these invaluable nurseries, is more philosophical, and does more towards establishing correct intellectual and moral habits than that which was attainable, when I was a boy, by children 12 or 14 years old, in grammar schools of highly respectable standing.

Allow me also to suggest an improvement, which, though not yet in practice, must soon follow in the train of the others of which I have spoken. I allude to the application of the science of education to the teaching of the operative arts. At present, a boy spends frequently seven years in acquiring a trade. His instructer, though a good practical ar

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