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Moralizing from Common Occurrences.
many as think it not right to be angry, may raise your hands. Between the present moment and toinorrow at this time, I wish you would find and write down on your slates, all the passages you can find, and the books, chapters and verses where they are to be found, which relate to anger. Please to write those which you think allow it, on one side of your slates, and those of a contrary kind on the other.
Some persons are fond of using words, which though they may not be regarded as swearing, in the fullest sense of the term, are yet foolish to say the least; and not a few of them probably lead us, by degrees, to the habit of profaneness. Such are the words and phrases, · By George,'. Good heavens,' Gracious heavens,' &c. &c. Now if the Saviour were on earth, and a multitude were following him round, and some were in the habit of using these words, do you think he would approve it? Would any of the twelve apostles be likely to do so ? To which twelve do you think it would be most painful to hear such language? To which the least so? Why do you thus judge ? I wish you would bring together, for tomorrow's lesson, all the passages, or at least mention the book, chapter and verse where they may be found, which speak against profane swearing, and the use of other words which lead to it. You inay place all which relate to swearing, directly, on one side of the slate, and those which relate to the use of other words, not so obviously wicked, but only foolish, and leading to wickedness, on the other.
We would thus classify, or make distinctions in the nature or degree of the sin of swearing, both because there is a proper foundation for the distinction, and also for the sake of variety in the exercise ; and to bring into activity the various powers and capacities and talents of the pupils. We have alluded to var:ety, and spoken of indulging in it, because we believe that the natural fondness of the young for it, should be laid hold of wherever it can be, as a means of advancing them in the path of improvement, and because we believe it is almost universally overlooked, and by many undervalued ; nay, by some regarded in the light of a fault, which it requires not only age and experience, but discipline to correct.
Perhaps it is well to let these lessons grow, often, out of circumstances. For example, a boy has injured another, and the latter feels the spirit of revenge. The teacher may now put the question-not perhaps to the class to which he belongs alone but to the whole school, whether they think revenge is ever proper. When the question does thus grow out of an existing case, it may not be proper to require the upraising of hands before
Lesson on ‘Be ye merciful!'
spoken of, lest it should have injurious or at least unnecessary painful effects on the mind of the person whose conduct has led to the notice of the fault. The best way, probably, is to proceed, at once, to the Bible doctrine in regard to revenge in general. The pupils may be required, within a certain specitied time, not too short, to select all the passages in the New Testament which speak of it. For the reasons already given, they may be required to place those which seem to ju-tify its occasional use on the one side of the slate as before, and those which condemn it, on the other.
We have spoken of merely naming the book, chapter and verse, where the required passages are to be found; and we would certainly, in some cases, require no more. But it is in many respects, a highly valuable exercise, (and by no means, as some might at first view suppose, a waste of time,) to write out in full, all the passages bearing upon the subject, adding to them the place where they are to be found, as before, as well as any familiar remarks which the pupil may feel an inclination to make.
Precisely in the spirit of this course, might a teacher proceed to the inculcation of every principle in the Bible, in its bearing on all our words and actions, and even on our thoughts and modes of thinking. We say of every principle; but we refer now to what may be called the general principles and doctrines it contains, such as are applicable to all sorts and conditions of mankind, and to all times and places; those, for example,which are found in the sermon on the mount, and in the ten commandments.
There are hardly any limits to this mode of instruction. Take for example, the single requisition of our Saviour. 'Be ye merciful. Now it would afford a class of pupils full employment for at least one hour of twentyfour, in finding out and writing down the other texts which speak of mercy, and commend it. It would be another interesting exercise to require them to select the instances mentioned in the Bible, in which this principle is acted out. Another, to bring together instances of the contrary kind-instances in which there was a want of mercy and its exercise. Another, to require the pupils to write down the names of one hundred good men and women mentioned in the Bible, who would be likely to be, in all their conduct, merciful and compassionate ; and those of twenty or fifty, who might be disposed to act otherwise. Another exercise still, might be the bringing together proofs that the merciful man ought to be mercilul to his domestic animals ; and lastly, they might be led to enumera e some of the instances in which men are, in common life, unmer
Proper Spirit of a Teacher.
ciful, both to each other and to brutes. Thus half a dozen exercises, each of sufficient length for one day's lesson, might be derived from or connected with the single short sentence ; Be ye merciful.
The same remarks and the same general course of proceeding are applicable to all the varied doctrines and duties of the Bible. The same course might be pursued in regard to all our relative duties, as growing out of the fifth command ; for example, our duties to parents, to grandparents, to children and grandchildren, to masters and to teachers, to magistrates, and to subjects, to neighbors and to strangers. Pupils might be required to bring together all the texts which have a bearing upon the education of children, upon our duties to the aged, upon our being kind to strangers, tender to servants, respectful to magistrates, &c. So of the various vices condemned, and virtues encouraged by the spirit of each of the commands, as the sixth, the eighth, the fourth, the ninth, &c.
A teacher who has the highly important art of story-telling, may not only introduce and sustain religious exercises like those we have recommended, but may render them exceedingly interesting by his anecdotes and illustrations. Such a man observed, he will perhaps say at one time, that if he had it in his power, he would kill every Indian in the world. Now how many of you think him wrong? And why was it wrong? And what coinmand was it a breach of, &c.? Some of these questions might be decided, that is, an expression of opinion might be given, by uplifted hands; others by writing down texts, on the slate or on paper, as has been repeatedly mentioned.
It cannot be denied that though these and similar. exercises may and should be so conducted as not to approach even the confines of sect or party; still they may possibly, by injudicious teachers, be made both partisan and sectarian. It is impossible to present or suggest any course or plan of instruction, which in the hands of those who are themselves thoroughly inbued with the spirit of party and sect, might not degenerate into the very thing which it is the object of this whole essay to prevent and preclude. It is of the first importance therefore, in order to the complete success of the best and most approved and most conciliating religious lesson, that the teacher possess the right spirit; the spirit of Christ. Whether he belong to this or that theological school, or to this or that denomination of Christians even, is of little comparative consequence, if he has the right spirit and the right temper; and is with the general spirit and temper of Christ, he possess, in particular, a good measure of that wisdom which cometh down from above, and which is pure
Mr Conant's Inaugural Address. and which renders us, in our various avocations, full of good fruits. This preliminary qualification in a teacher, is believed to be indispensable, whatever other qualifications may be possessed, and whatever may be taught, whether by example, lesson, or precept. He who is like Christ, will scarcely fail to let his light shine on those around him, whether children or adults ; and to let it so shine, that good will be done, and God will be glorified. Nor are children less likely to be influenced by example, and to be transformed into the image of those whom they love and esteem, than adults. Let the teacher of modern times therefore, in one word, possess the same mind and spirit which was manifested by the greatest of teachers 1800 years ago, and then it is impossible, in the nature of things, that he should labor wholly in vain-even though the formalities of religious instruction, were for the most part excluded, by a fastidious, erring, or infidel public sentiment.
PROPER EDUCATION OF MINISTERS.
At the beginning of an inaugural address, delivered in the Chapel of the Hamilton Literary and Theological Seminary, August 19, 1835, by Thomas J. Conant, Professor of Hebrew and Biblical Criticism, we find the following language.
• What is the proper education for a minister of Christ? The general principle is doubtless correct, that it should be such as will, at the same time, give him the most perfect command of his mental powers, and furnish him with the largest amount of useful knowledge.'
Now, though we like the general tone and spirit of Mr Conant's address, yet we do not feel at all satisfied with his standard of ministerial education. Is not a minister a man? And does not his whole nature, as a man, need developing and training? Has he not bodily powers and functions to be invigorated? Has he not moral powers to be attended to ? Has he not, at least, a conscience to be educated ?
We have some doubts what Mr C. means, in this place, by education. At first, we were disposed to believe that in his haste he had used the term in the old fashioned narrow sense, as synonymous with mere instruction--mere mental derelopment and cultivation-forgetting physical and moral education entirely. But when we come to read on, we find him insisting on it as the duty of the church to establish institutions subject to her conAn incorrect Physiological Doctrine.
trol, where she may herself dictate what advantages for intellectual, moral and religious culture shall be enjoyed.' This shows, beyond dispute, that Mr C. does not forget moral and religious education. On the subject of physical culture, as a part of the education of the minister, we still find him silent.
True it is—and we ought to make every possible allowance for the fact-that-Mr C.'s main object, in this address, is to show the importance to ministers, as much as to men of other professions, of a high toned and largely cultivated intellect, in opposition to that ost prevailing notion, that if the minister is called of God to his work, worldly knowledge is of little or no value. But this, we have already intimated, does not furnish a sufficient apology for presenting such a narrow view of ministerial education. It were easy to have said more, had he fully and heartily and practically believed more.
The truth is, so it seems to us, the whole subject of physical education is by many men, even of enlarged minds, overlooked and contemned. At best, there is a general, not to say almost universal, skepticism about it. There still lingers, if we mistake not, in the minds of most men who are liberally educated, the notion that there is a sort of incompatibility between a vigorous, body and a mighty intellect; and that what is added to the one is almost of necessity, so much taken off from the other.
We cannot deny that some physiological writers-Richerand for example-have countenanced this idea. It would be difficult to find, in history,' says Richerand, the example of a man who has combined with the physical powers which this temperament (the muscular temperament) implies, distinguished strength of the intellectual faculties. For excelling in the fine arts and in the sciences, there is need of exquisite sensibility, a condition absolutely at variance with much development of the muscular masses.'
We are absolutely at variance with such a sentiment. That certain men who have hitherto most excelled in the department of 'the fine arts,' and in certain branches of what may be called intellectual education, such especially, as bring greatly into requisition, the faculty of imagination-music, poetry, &c.-have had their muscles feebly developed, may possibly be true. Nay, it must even be admitted, as a very frequent occurrence, that men distinguished for strength of the intellectual faculties,' are men of feeble bodies. But why are they thus distinguished ? Are they so highly intellectual because they are emaciated and feeble? Or are they emaciated and feeble because in their fondness for intellectual pursuits, they have sacrificed their health? We believe the latter. We do not believe men have giant in