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Jan. 6, 1825. conduct, but with pleasurable ideas. DR
R. PYE SMITH, in his reply to A devotional spirit, when joined to a himself: “Yet I solemnly remonstrate ing, is the source of such pure enjoywith Mr. B. for representing my state- ment, that it may well be regarded as ments as if they had referred io per- one of the first and best of blessings. sonal holiness, and the unchangeable Yet all religious fathers and mothers obligations of universal virtue, when will allow that, in this department, they are in the plainest manner re- of education, the difficulties and the stricted to the single point of the chances of failure are peculiarly great. JUSTIFICATION of a sinner in the sight What with enthusiasın on the one of God. If he is so unacquainted with hand, and indifference on the other ; the doctrines of religion as not to be and what between the opposite danaware of this broad distinction, if none gers of false refinement and revolting of the books of his excellent ancestors familiarity, and too much or too little have descended to him, which might regard to the respective offices of reahave given him the information, and son and of the feelings in matters of if he choose not to take the trouble faith, a serious parent may well be of a little research, he must excuse anxious respecting the event of a relimy reminding him that the paragraphs gious education. Meantime, it is a from which he has garbled his ex. blessing to be assured that an influs tracts, sufficiently declared it.” [Mon, ence of this kind, if exerted with but Repos. XIX. 738.]
a tolerable degree of rational earnestThis broad distinction in the doc- ness, can hardly fail of having some trines of Dr. Smith's religion is not good effect upon the character. If it so palpable to me as the learned gen- does not make a religious, it may a tleman's expressions indicate it ought moral, being ; and reverence for the to be; and I would request the favour consistent example of a Christian paof him to reply to the following four rent may produce some portion of questions. These I have so worded that effect on the heart and life which as to give him the least possible trou. we could wish owed its origin to a ble; indeed a simple affirmative or yet higher motive. Few sincere Chrisnegative may suffice. The correspon- tians, however, will like the idea of dence of Dr. Smith having been public, resting here. The grace and beauty I hope this request from one who is of early character, which genuine perpersonally unknown to him is not a sonal religion alone can give, is too breach of established decorum :- valuable a thing to be readily con
1. Is the justification of a sinner in ceded ; nor can the most unsullied the sight of God determined by the renown make up for the want of that unchangeable obligations of universal inheritance within, which will support virtue?
the spirit of a man when the voice of 2. Will those persons who most applause is no more to him than the habitually attend to the obligations least murmur of the passing wind. of universal virtue, and who acquire How earnestly then is it to be wished most personal holiness, be the justified that parents had oftener the pleasure before God?
of seeing their children's minds not 3. Will any such persons be ex- only strengthened by just views and cluded from the justification before principles, but beautified by the preGod?
sence of devotion! Surely, if there 4. Will those persons who have be parents who think lightly of the less habitually attended to the obliga- latter, provided the former be secured, tions of universal virtue, and who have it should be enough to ask whether less personal holiness, be preferred they are content with a kind of obeand equally justified before God? dience from their own children which THOMAS GIBSON. is purely the offspring of a sense of
duty, and has in it nothing grateful, Thoughts on Religious Education.
nothing affectionate, nothing cheerful?
Do they not love to see the ardent wish that religion should furnish action by the eager heart? If they his children not merely with a rule of do, then with what consistency can
they be indifferent about the coldness uninstructed. Even that ancient piece or warmth of their children's affec- of divinity, the Church Catechism, tions towards the great object of our has been rendered attractive by Mrs. hopes and fears?
Sherwood's series of stories, elucidaThough few can feel more sensible tive and explanatory of its different than myself that the subject of reli- positions : and we might easily enugious education is something infinitely merate hundreds of tales, abounding in more important than a knowledge of similar doctrine and sentiment, which the differences between one sect and diversify the sabbath hours of young another, it is in possible to think on people among our Calvinistic breihren. that subject at all, without comparing Doubtless these tales contain much in our minds the general sentiinents that a Unitarian will disapprore; yet and conduct of those whose ideas differ that person must bear about, not only in very important points.
a prejudicell, but a most unteachable Every one who is anxious for the mind, who does not perceive that it is increase of the spirit of religion in his a great matter thus to give religion an own heart and the hearts of others, advantage in early years, by the inmust be desirous of borrowing light strumentality of pleasant associations. wherever it is to be found, and of It cannot be subject of surprise, that banishing all those baneful feelings soine Unitarian parents, alive to the which would prevent the acknowledg- danger of inaking the Sabbath a weament of having learned an important les- riness, and trusting to the readiness son from individuals in other respects with which a child's mind passes from opposed perhaps to the principles of what is obscure and tedious to what is which he acknowledges the truth and va- interesting, do avail theinselves occalue. Thus I shall not make any apology sionally of the existence of some of for freely owning, that whatever may these publications. They think, and be the inberent recommendations of rightly, that it is a prime point to our faith, I do not think our method make a favourable impression at first; of communicating religious instruction to give religion a fair and reasonable to the young is generally so calculated chance in the affections, instead of atto interest the feelings, or give a fa- tempting, (what we attempt in no other vourable association with the subject study or pursuit,) to place the mind of of religion, as that pursued by Cal- a child on a level with that of a man, vinists. Unitarians are too apt to by communicating only abstract and conclude, that because the system of philosophically correct ideas. And of Calvin is dark, intricate and revolting, what value, after all, are these ideas, young people must necessarily be dis- if they be merely the furniture of the gusted by it. They think too much head, and the heart has “ neither part of the shadows; they forget the lights. nor lot in this matter”? Where is They dwell on the austerity of the the evidence, amidst a copious supply opposite system, and, representing to of accurate information such as a catethemselves the mild and merciful cha- chism, like that of Geneva, for instance, racter of their own, seem to expect is calculated to convey, that that prothat, if young people are not fright- cess is going on which can alone concned away from it, they will avlopt it stitute a truly religious character? as a inatter of course. Though it is slander to allow, even in a passing * Our American friends seem to hail sentenes, that the theme of merey is with great pleasure the publication of a an unwelcome theme to the lips of translation of the Geneva Catechism.Calvinists, I will not enter upon this It is to be hoped that, however advisable point, but confine myself to the ques- it may be thought to impress upon the tion of religious instruction. The at- minds of little children a few plain and tractions to children under orthodox easy first truths, we shall not again reteaching are very many; to those un
sort to the oppressive and uninteresting der Unitarians bit too few. However system of catechetical instruction with uninviting may have been the appear. whole chapters expository of our moral
our young people. To learn by rote Suite ot auerit Puritanis, modern and religious duties, may easily disgust Caluinim has completely recognized the mind, but can hardly advance it one 114 ļ; siisy of king religion üs cap- step in any thing valuable. Such substiülvatag povib ts th: young and tutes for meutal exertion, such readyIs the thought exercised? We do not heartless reading of one quarter of an ask how correctly—a child must think hour a day, will do the business far as a child ; but has it evidently thought more effectually than an hour or two at all on the subject? Is its consci- of judicious religious instruction. — ence touched by little neglects of duty? The excellent writer I have before Has it learned to make its own trials, quoted has given it as her decided its own blessings, the subject of prayer opinion, that not only the narratives and praise ? Has it learned to feel of the Bible may be read with great any thing like gratitude to God, the pleasure and advantage by children, giver of good, and Jesus, the friend of under a clever and able instructor, at man? And why should these thoughts a very early period; but that an acand feelings be despised or neglected, quaintance with the greater part of the because they are juvenile? A child's Bible, before the inind bas learned to little fault is as serious a matter in its associate any impure or unpleasant own eyes, and certainly it ought in a ideas with its objectionable passages, parent's, as crime in the eyes of a man. will contribute essentially to the pleaİts joys and sorrows are of magnitude sure of its perusal in after years.enough to fill up the measure of its Whether our present translation of mind and heart, and why should not the Scriptures might not be superseded we labour to distribute religious sup- by one far better, is quite another port in equal measure? “Let me not question. I believe there are few cribe laughed at,” says Mrs. Hamilton, tics who will not allow that some in that beautiful part of her Letters things at least are capable of amendon Education which treats of religion, ment; but the point is this—while “let me not be laughed at for thé our Bibles remain what they are, is confession, and I shall freely acknow- it politic, or is it not, to keep children ledge that I at this moment look back from reading them at home, and at an with infinite pleasure to the delightful early age? In deciding this, it should period, when with the simplicity of be remembered that children are liable infant innocence I poured out my little to hear the Scriptures read by sersoul in grateful thanks to the Almighty vants and at different places of worfor the happiness enjoyed at a dan- ship, and will, surely, be far more cing-school ball! Nor am I certain struck by an objectionable phrase that all the catechisms and all the when they hear it for the first time in hymns with which my poor memory a well-known story, and perceive that was loaded, produced half such bene- it has been purposely omitted by a fit to my mind as that which flowed parent and teacher, than if it came in from this powerful association of feli- the common course of reading: Is it city with the Divine source.”
not also greatly to be feared, that the Let it not be thought that little surprise and disgust which a young importance is attached to correct no- person might experience on finding tions of divine truth, by the writer of the grounds on which parts of the this article. Truth, in a pleasant, en- Bible had been kept from him, would gaging dress-truth, applied to the much impair the pleasurable and reveheart and life-is all that is contended rential associations with that book ? for. The error of talking too much Is it not to be dreaded that such a 10 children on these subjects has often discovery, coming at a time when imbeen condemned; yet surely the error pressions are most strong, would have is in the manner of talking, full as a powerful tendency to spoil the relish much as in the time bestowed upon for the Scriptures, which better mait. If a young person is to be dis- nagement might have preserved ?-gusted with the theme, a short, dry, Deplorably, most deplorably, must
the work of education have been car
ried on, and most deficient in every made applications of scripture precepts; requisite for her office must be the church which, though mild in its disci religious instructor, if the reading of pline, is far from friendly to liberty of the Bible can ever be perverted in her thought, but it ill accords with the spirit hands to any bad purpose. Less would of that land which is now claiming, in so have been said on this point, but that noble a manner, a place for religion in the it is feared Unitarian teachers are beunderstanding and in the heart,
coming so over-scrupulous with re.
gard to the use of the Scriptures, that feel satisfied when they have taught young people among them will gradu- their children one general form, with ally be less and less acqnainted with its daily, invariable repetition, too their contents ;--an evil deeply to be frequently, also, it is feared, without deprecated.
a moment allowed for preparation. But the grand thing, after all, in Here, as cannot be too often repeated, religious instruction is, early and deep- we do not consult our own experience. ly, not with severity, but with much Can we at once turn our own minds earnestness, to impress upon the mind from a worldly object to the proper the idea that religion is a personal frame for prayer? If not, why should concern; not so much a matte. to be we require it from a child ? It is not learned as practised. Here, if some to make prayer a grievous task; it is teachers err from familiarity, others because it can be rendered interesting dwell too much in generals to bring and efficacious in no other way, that the thing home to the hearts of chile some little preparation is necessary. dren. Surely if PRAYER, for instance, We succeed or fail exactly in proporbe a blessing to the advanced Chris- tion as we can attain a lively convictian, it ought, in some degree, to wear tion of the reality of things invisible, that appearance to a child. Month and their connexion with our present after month, and year after year, to state. If this be necessary for us, exact nightly and daily the repetition surely it is equally so for a child. of the same short, general form,-re- Coinciding in many of the excellent gardless of all the circumstances which observations on religious education in in that time may affect a child's heart, a late Number of the Monthly Reand dispose it, if rightly managed, to pository, the writer of this yet thinks real prayer,-can this be right? Can the subject of Unitarian religious init be calculated to give a just concep- struction deserving of more discussion tion of the character of that Being- than has hitherto been bestowed upon
it, and would be sincerely rejoiced if Whose ears are open to the softest cry, Whose grace descends to meet the lifted
more able pens would continue what
bas here been imperfectly begun. eye?
E. It behoves us to speak seriously on this subject, for it is indeed one of
Dec. 8, 1824. vast importance. Better, far better
, InChanning's recent
, inharden the heart by accustoming it to serted Vol. XIX. pp. 678—681, I find what, it is but too plain, is a mere towards the conclusion the following lip-labour. Before it is thought pro- assertion. Speaking of Anti-superper or decorous to permit a child to naturalism, “I never," says the worword its own petitions to the throne thy and learned divine, “knew more of grace, surely a parent might vary than two persons who professed it.” thern frequently, according to circum- I am happy in thinking that during stances ; for in no other way can a Mr. Belsham's very extensive expeproper idea be acquired of the nature rience, he has found so little cause of prayer. Let not the idea of early for Dr. Southey's observation; but piety be too eagerly reprobated, be- as my own experience has led me to cause, most unfortunately, much that draw a different conclusion, and as I is highly objectionable has been writ- firmly believe the interests of religion ten and said on the subject. Is it too can never suffer any real injury by the much to say, that if ever hypocrisy candid arowal of our sentiments, I appears in children, it must be from must assert my conviction of the exvery bad management indeed? But istence of Anti-supernaturalism in let neither the dread of this, nor any some of our Unitarian meetings.mistakes, however absurd and even That Unitarians are
generally," ludicrous, which may be made by chil- much less " universally," Anti-superdren in the beginning of a religious naturalists, is indeed totally false; as, career, discourage a parent. Yet we in fact, to speak strictly, Unitarians would not object to the use of all cannot entertain such sentiments at forms of prayer, but only to that all; yet, as the odium of infidelity is abuse of them which leads parents to considerable, we find that unbelief lurks in almost every sect. It is not formed a 'poble design for the im. confined to our own denomination. provement of the human race, and The power of custom, the influence his historians have misrepresented his of society and friends, and perhaps, words and actions then the charge in some cases, devotional feeling not of enthusiasm falls upon the evangefounded on Christian principles, all lists and apostles. We assert that a unite to retain mankind, nominally, number of men (not one, not two or within the pale of some religious com- tbree, but all) were led away by their munity, except unbelief has taken a enthusiasm to imagine they beheld very decided character. I would be deeds that Christ' never pretended to far from asserting, with Mr. Belsham, perform, and to hear words that were that Anti-supernaturalists, when they never uttered. Supposing this possiassume the name of Christians, are ble, can we place confidence in the guilty of “base hypocrisy” or “ down writings of such men, or believe thein right falsehood." In many instances, worthy to regulate our lives? this is far from being the case; for, If we consider Jesus as an impostor, however inconsistent and absurd their (and I feel it almost an irreverence theory may be, we know too well that to him who was all truth, to imagine a large portion of the world likewise this even for the sake of argument,) profess, conscientiously, a system of how can we call ourselves by the name theology we also consider absurd and of an impostor, or listen to his ininconsistent, to permit us to condemn, structions and adopt his precepts ? in a moral point of view, the méré The most enlightened and sublime profession of any opinions whatever. morality that ever flowed from the But if we believe our fellow-creatures lips of inan, is cancelled by a course are in error-an error likely to prove of falsehood and deceit entirely inconinjurious to the progress of religious sistent with that morality, with every truth - let us meet the evil in the word that Jesus spoke, with every spirit of meekness and the power of deed that he performed. Shall we, truth.
then, conclude that our Saviour's folAnti-supernaturalists profess not to lowers designedly imposed upon the give up the authority of the New Tes- world? On this supposition, Jesus tament as a rule of life, at the same chose for his disciples men who were time that they deny the divine inspi- all devoid of integrity, and who formed ration of the Scriptures and the truth collectively a conspiracy against truth, of prophecy and miracle. Those who and obtained a success in the promulprofess Anti-supernaturalism must en- gation of their falsehoods, unexampled tertain one of the two following opi- in the records of history. They evinced nions—either they must consider Jesus the most heroic virtue, and devoted and his disciples as enthusiasts, as their lives to a cause, which, if it were men who imagined themselves divine- an imaginary one, renders them, in ly inspired, and found means to per- fact, the authors of their own suffersuade the world of the reality of their ings and death. If we can believe that imaginations; or they must believe such men ever existed, yet can we Christ and his apostles to have been take their writings as our guide – intentional deceivers. No one can men whose love of falsehood was so suppose for an instant that Christian- great, beyond all precedent, that it ity is altogether a fable; and if Jesus overcame the common laws of our and his apostles really existed, then nature, and was pursued amidst perwe must give our assent to one of the secutions, chains and death? above statements, or become believers : If I am told that the Anti-superin a Divine Revelation.
naturalist reads the Bible as he reads If we consider Jesus as an enthu- Seneca or any other work on morals, siast, I know not how we can continue no one can object to his doing so; to look upon him as an enlightened but on these grounds only he surely teacher, as our guide to virtue and cannot call himself a Christian, any happiness. His character for wisdom, more than reading the Koran would or even for sanity, must at once hé make hin a Maboinetan.. No; Chrisconceded. If we say that Jesus did not pretend to divine gifts-he was . “We must not after this pretend (as benerolent - a philanthropist, who is now too much the prevailing mode) to