Page images
PDF
EPUB

Thy hands have raised above the well-set mould,

Where melt thy loved ones to dissolving dust.

Here, softly sleeping till they all shall rise,

And stand together at the last Great Day,
Bursting their cerements to ascend the skies,

Thy gathered ancestors together lay.

'Twas thy hand grouped them here, my noble friend,

And builded up these ever-sacred shrines;
And thou wilt sleep, too, when life's struggles end,

With them all gently ’neath the clustering vines.

Here, too, thy fond and loving wife shall sleep,

That radiant sunbeam on thine onward way,
And the sweet pledges of thy loves shall keep

Their soft beds near thee, as close by they lay.

Ah! Todd, how long will memory preserve

This touching scene here, at this solemn hour!
Live on, my friend, as well thou dost deserve;

May no storms toss thee, aud no dark clouds lower,

Upon thy pathway through life's tangled vale,

Which thou and I and all of us must tread,
Till the Death-Angel whispers us the tale

That we are risen with the Ransomed Dead.

And then, redeemed, forgiven, thou and thine

Shall dwell no longer in the dull, cold sod,
And once more meeting thee with all of mine,

We'll stand together by the Throne of God.
Nov. 26th, 1857.

THE PRESBYTERIAN EXPOSITOR.

Dr. Rice's Magazine, called The Presbyterian Expositor," has made its appearance. We have already given an outline of its plan; and now take occasion to say, that it fulfils all the expectations of those who know Dr. Rice. “The Presbyterian Expositor" promises to do an excellent work in our Church. We hail its appearance with a hearty welcome. Dr. Rice is an editor by nature, and he has the wisdom to exercise the gifts which Providence confers. Wherever he goes, he carries a press with him. Whether he labours in Kentucky, Ohio, Missouri, or Illinois, he uses the power of the press as auxiliary to his other work. May the "Expositor" have a large circulation, and reap a rich reward.

C. V. R.

THE

PRESBYTERIAN MAGAZINE,

MARCH, 1858.

Miscellaneous Articles.

THE RESPONSIBLE PARTIES IN RELIGIOUS

EDUCATION.

WHO ARE TO BE HELD RESPONSIBLE for the religious education of our children and youth?

I. The responsibility of religious education devolves, in the first instance, on Christian parents. They are the natural guardians of their families, and are under the strongest obligations to provide for their necessities. “If any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.” (1 Tim. 5: 8.) This precept relates primarily to their bodily sustenance. But this is not all. In the interrogatory of our Lord, “Is not the life more than meat ?” he virtually teaches, that if parents are bound to provide for the temporal good of their children, much more for their spiritual. Moses enjoined upon parents, in explicit terms, the duty of teaching their children, both orally and by written documents, the great truths which he had been inspired to communicate to them. “These words which I command thee this day, shall be in thy heart; and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thy house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.” (Deut. 6:6-9.) To the same effect is the apostolic injunction to fathers, to “bring up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” (Eph. 5:4.) This contains a distinct precept to parents to impart to their children religious instruction ; to do it frequently and continuously until they grow up to mature age.

VOL. VIII. xo. 3.

7

II. Next to parents, Christian ministers, and especially pastors, are to be held responsible for the religious education of our children and youth. Preaching the Gospel is teaching religion. This is expressly named in the Gospel commission, “Go teach all nations." (Matt. 28: 19.) And Christ's words to Peter, “ Feed my lambs," indicates that the great Shepherd and Bishop of souls requires his ministers to pay particular attention to the young. In addition to the ministrations of the pulpit, teaching in a more restricted sense is an appropriate function of the clergy. Paul taught publicly and from house to house. Pastors can often accomplish more for the youth and children of their congregations by familiar catechetical instruction, than by their public

services. It is also incumbent on them to exercise a watchful care concerning the character of the schools for secular education in which the children and youth of their pastoral charges may be prosecuting their studies, and to do what is practicable to secure in such schools a salutary religious influence.

And further, ministers with or without pastoral charges are sometimes called upon to give their personal attention to teaching in its more restricted sense. The schools of the prophets were institutions in which were taught not only theology but science and literature,-a species of Normal schools for the education of teachers. Many of the ablest ministers of our country in former years, employed a portion of their time daily in giving instruction to candidates for the ministry, or to some of the youth and children of their congregations. The personal supervision of schools is regarded now as a work which is appropriate to the clerical profession; especially when ministers are obliged by ill health or other causes to suspend the public work of the sacred office. In such instances their school-rooms become their audience-chambers for unfolding to their juvenile charges the doctrines and duties of Christianity; and God will hold them responsible for the manner in which they fulfil this important trust.

III. Teaching is, however, a distinct profession; and hence it is important to remark, that upon literary instructors of every grade, from the teachers of primary schools up to the principals of academies and professors in colleges, rests in a large degree the responsibility of giving a religious education to the children and youth of our land. To them are they committed by their parents or guardians for the purpose of being educated. Their minds are pliable; their characters are in a forming state; and the moral and religious impressions which they receive are likely to be permanent. Their instructors have it in their power to a considerable extent to mould their characters and habits; or by neglecting this, to render them liable to become sceptical, vicious, and profane. Hence it is a reasonable expectation that they will educate their moral as well as their mental faculties; that they will endeavour to improve their hearts as well as their intellects; to make them wise and good as well as learned and great. Their parents and guardians expect this; their country expects it; the Church expects it; and God himself virtually requires it, by his having formerly appointed a class of men whose duty it was to connect religious instruction with secular learning.

The whole tribe of Levi were set apart either to assist in the services of the altar, or to impart a knowledge of letters in conjunction with religion. Some of these became eminent scholars; for which reason, as well as on account of their vocation, they were called scribes, and the more distinguished among them doctors, and doctors of the law. Such were not an ecclesiastical sect, but a learned profession. It was a part of their business to make copies of the law and to expound it, both to old and young, in public or private, as circumstances might require. The Divine sanction was thus given to teaching as a profession, and also to the communication of religious knowledge, as a part of professional duty. Next to the Gospel ministry, it is the most useful and important profession in the world, and none should be encouraged to engage in it, unless they possess the requisite qualifications,-moral and religious, as well as literary and scientific; and unless, being thus qualified, they are disposed to discharge to the full extent the responsibilities of their station. Sabbath-school and Bible-class instruction may also be mentioned in this connection, as furnishing a favourable opportunity for the religious education of the young. Those who desire the prosperity of our country, who love the Church and the souls of men, will find here an honourable field for the most encouraging Christian labours.

IV. Civil governments are responsible in part for the religious education of our children and youth. This obligation is based on the duty of civil governments to maintain public order, to which end nothing is so effectual as to make the people virtuous and happy, by the diffusion of religious knowledge. Jehoshaphat, King of Judah, took special care to have the people instructed in religion ; for which purpose, he sent priests and Levites through all the cities and villages of Judah. În like manner, Nehemiah, after the captivity, caused the people to assemble together, and Ezra the scribe, assisted by thirteen others, read to them the book of the law," from morning until mid-day;" and as they proceeded, they gave an exposition of its meaning, and “caused them to understand the sense.” Jewish writers testify that schools were established by law in every district throughout the nation; and Josephus informs us, that the Holy Scriptures were made so constant a study, that the people were as familiar with the word of God, as they were with their own names.

Several European governments have appropriated large sums of money for schools and universities. In some of the German states, popular education is not only provided for at the public expense, but all are required by law, either to educate their children privately, or to send them to the public schools. In one or more of the countries alluded to, the Bible is made a text-book. We have known a German labourer who had learned to read the Scriptures, both in German and Latin, in a free public school in his native land. In our own country, nearly all the States in the Union have made liberal pecuniary provision for the education of the people, both in common schools and in colleges; and the General Government has made large donations in public lands for the same purposes. Unhappily, however, several causes are operating to diminish considerably the moral and religious benefits of these government provisions, by the disuse of the Bible in these schools; under the feeble plea, that the religious opinions of our citizens are so variant from each other, that the rights of some might be infringed upon by the use of the Bible in our public schools. If a regard for the safety and happiness of society make it obligatory on the civil government to provide for popular education, and if, as is maintained by Washington, religion and morality are indispensable to political prosperity, it follows that the obligation to provide the means of education cannot be fully discharged while the Bible, the basis of all sound morals and the only charter of true religion, is excluded from the public schools. In our judgment, the attempt to teach pure morality without the Bible, is as great an absurdity as an attempt to teach the principles of our civil government, without the use of the American Constitution.

V. Finally. The Church is under solemn obligations to secure the religious education of the young, especially of those under her immediate care. Her general obligations of this kind arise from the fact, that the youth and children of our land are the materials by which the Church is to be perpetuated and enlarged; and, that their religious education, in connection with the maintenance of public worship, is the most important instrumentality which she can employ for their conversion to Christ. And she is particularly bound to do this for the children of the Church, because by their baptism they are sacredly committed to her guardianship and care, with an implied pledge, that the Church will provide whatever means may be necessary to promote their spiritual interest.

The examples already adduced under the Old Testament of religious education by the civil government, were examples also of ecclesiastical supervision; because the church and state were united. The primitive Christians established schools for their children and youth in all the principal cities of the Roman Empire. They were of course religious in their character. The parish schools of Scotland originated in a sentiment ascribed to the reformer, John Knox, that wherever there was a kirk there ought to be a schoolhouse, where the youth and children might be instructed in letters and religion. In the first settlement of our country, the colonists gave special attention to the literary and religious education of their children. In the bounds of every congregation, there

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »