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no room in the breast over which case so opposed to universal expethey have once tyrannized, for the rience, as a mind thus framed and gentler maxims of even a heathen thus tutored, resisting the laboured morality, still less for the humbling impression and remaining unsullied? and self-denying ones of the Gospel; But the infant mind is not a blank: it which are rendered odious, and to springs into life with the characters the last degree unbecoming the of the Fall deeply engraven on it; spirit and the dignity of a gen- which require all the aids of scriptural tleman. May we not ascribe to the instruction, and all the power of refalse principles inculcated by this ligion to obliterate. But here comes system of education, much of the
a system, which in place of the prevailing hostility to Christianity former, inculcates the morals, such among the higher orders, much of as they have been described, of heathe obtunded moral feeling which thenism ; and for religion (often to palliates the greatest enormities, the exclusion of all other) presents which sanctifies licentiousness, and the fables of polytheism ; which, if makes it honourable; and revenge, they have nothing else to recommend and makes it also honourable even them, gain a ready acceptance by to the shedding of blood ? We can- their adaptation to the natural denot shut our eyes to the fact that pravity of the heart, and by their such things are, and that they exist giving no reproof to the conscience. where ignorance may not be pleaded There is yet a third case to be in mitigation. Nay, we must go stated: A boy has, up to eight or further, and admit the painful truth, ten years of age, been carefully inthat they are found amongst those structed, under the eye of a parent, in who have enjoyed what is called a moral and religious principles. Now liberal education; and I do not see comes his entry into a public school, how we are to escape the inference, and his initiation into the mysteries that there is something radically of the classical system ; which, if wrong in a system of education there be any value in experience, which can thus blunt the moral will first shake, and then prostrate faculties and lay conscience asleep. all the good qualities he has imConscience in such cases may indeed bibed. He is now introduced to a be said to be seared with a hot iron, new set of characters, actuated by and it may be impossible to estimate other principles, and exhibiting a in how many instances this has been widely different conduct; with which forged by the Christian preceptor, he is to be made familiar, and which, and heated in the impure fires of unhappily, are too much in accordPaganism.
ance with the evil propensities of Take the infant mind, if you fallen man. For forgiveness of inplease, as a blank, awaiting the first juries he has revenge, for meekness impressions which the hand of the pride, for benevolence malignity, for master may give it. We should not restraint licentiousness; and can we hesitate to say, that such impressions, again imagine a case so contrary to whether good or evil, would be easy the disposition of human nature, as and durable; at least, that they that the better principles should not would hold till weakened by the be supplanted by the worse ? Supforce of example. Suppose, then, pose, however, that by natural such a mind (a case too common) strength of mind, instead of a surinscribed yet only with the fictions render of the moral to the scholastic of the nursery, submitted to the training, the two advance, side by higher fictions of a heathen mytho. side, to years of maturity, and that logy, forced on its reception year in this state the grace of God first after year by the honours paid them, meets with the man, how then stands and by the authority of a grave and the account? The admission of truth learned teacher, can we imagine a into the mind, will, in all cases, be
facilitated or not, in proportion as it education and of public opinion, we has been pre-occupied by error; and shall cease to wonder at the reluctant where the latter has been engrafted confession, that the cherished passion on the earliest shoots of reason, and for fiction has proved a sad disquahas entered deeply into all the feel- lification for the love of truth. This ings and motives; where, further, remark admits indeed of a lower, it is in unison with the innate pro- and, generally speaking, a more inpensities of our nature, and makes telligible application. An undue inits appeals to some supposed stand- dulgence in the pleasures of imagiard of refinement or superiority, it nation, forms, at all times, the very amounts to an almost total exclusion worst preparative for the discharge of the former. The first Christian of the every-day duties of life. It is converts were not made from the
no easy thing for a mind which has Jewish Rabbis, proud of their know. long luxuriated in the airy regions ledge and of their sanctity ; nor of romance, ancient or modern, to from the Athenians, vain of their make good its descent to the terra science and their gods. So now firma of homely realities. If this be it is found, humanly speaking, an true with respect to the common easier task to convert the unlettered concerns of life, it must be still African, whose simple form of idola- more so as regards religion; just in try has little to engage the heart, and proportion as the demands and the still less the head, than the Hindoo, sacrifices of the one exceed those of whose multifarious scheme entwines the other. itself with every principle of the It will already have appeared that
So also in the last supposed the fear of moral debasement is not case (and still more in the preceding the only evil attending the study of one), the partial, or total pre-occu- a vicious theology. Associated with pation of the mind by educational this fabric, is the history of mighty predilections, and by attachments nations and glorious deeds of to objects at variance with those heroes, philosophers, scholars, pawhich now seek admission, opposes triots,- of all the world affords of a formidable barrier to their recep- great and noble. To these are tion. Of what a mass of delusion joined the origin of literature and and corruption has such a mind to the arts of poetry, painting, sculpdisencumber itself before it can yield ture, architecture, every thing that in unreserved submission to the ef- can please the eye and delight the fectual striving of the Holy Spirit. imagination—characters and objects Every fresh truth, and every renewed which may claim the chastened adaffection, meets with its opponent miration of even the Christian philofirmly entrenched in the deepest re- sopher. But the evil to be deprecesses of the heart: the ground is cated is, that out of all this there disputed inch by inch; and though too often grows up an artificial and victory be certain, how protracted engrossing taste, which can discern and how painful the warfare! The nothing of beauty or interest beyond sufferer in this struggle may be all its own sphere, and which is scarcely the while unconscious of the space less fatal in its consequences than which early prepossessions have in the moral effect above described. augmenting its intensity. There The proofs of the hostility of what are, perhaps, few minds so well ex- may be called classical enthusiasm to ercised in self-examination as to be pure and undefiled religion, lie every able to analyse correctly the princi- where around us. I shall select one ples and associations which make up or two of the most obvious, from the sum of their moral existence, those
where the remains and give them their predominant of Pagan and Christian antiquity, complexion and hias. And if to this and the reflections arising out of deficiency we add the prejudices of them, are brought into actual colli
sion. The first that presents itself however, a greater resemblance beto my mind, is that of the well- tween the religions of ancient and of known classical traveller Eustace. modern Rome, than the professors of “ The general face of the country,” the latter are willing to contemplate. says this writer, “so conspicuously The splendid ritual, the gorgeous beautiful all over Italy, merits, from pageantry, the canonized mortals, the this circumstance alone, peculiar at- local shrines, the sacrificial offering, tention; and when to its picturesque the adoration of images, the merging features we add those charms, less the spirituality of devotion in its adreal but more enchanting, which dresses to the senses, have each and fancy sheds over its scenery, we give all their counterpart in the ancient it an irresistible interest that awakens superstitions of the spot. None but all the feelings of the classic youth. a mind thus disciplined, could ever Our early studies, as Gibbon justly think of blending feelings so utterly observes, allow us to sympathise in discordant. Nor can those whose the feelings of a Roman ; and one faculty of distinguishing things that might almost indeed say of every differ, has not been weakened by school-boy not insensible to the some similar process, view them in sweets of his first studies, that he any other light than that of mere becomes in feeling and sentiment, sentiment. perhaps even in language, a Roman, As a second instance, Dr. John and is more familiar with the heroes Moore, travelling in the same coun.
of antiquity than with the try, between Sermonetta and Casa worthies of his own country.”-1 Nuova, says, “ A little to the left of could scarcely have found, perhaps, the highway, are some vaults and in the range of modern writers, a ruins, not greatly worthy the notice confession more completely to the of the mere antiquarian. Yet paspresent purpose than this. It is sengers of a singular cast of mind, indeed thus that the school-boy, in who feel themselves as much interbecoming a Roman, forgets that he ested in the transactions recorded in is a Christian ; and, in his familiarity the New Testament, as men of taste with the heroes and sages (and gods) are in paintings or heathen antiquiof antiquity, acquires a distaste for ties, stop a little here to contemplate the real worthies of his own and of the Tres Taberna, which are said to every other country. It is true that be the Three Taverns mentioned in Mr.Eustace speaks with almost equal the Acts of the Apostles, where the enthusiasm of the recollections which Christian brethren from Rome came the monuments of Christianity are to meet St. Paul, when he was on calculated to awaken. But what his journey to that city *"- The sort of enthusiasm is that which can conflicting sentiments above pourassociate Jerusalem with Rome, and trayed are here presented in striking is equally fired with the classical re- contrast. No sooner does an othercollections of the one, and the de- wise sensible man, but whose mind votional ones of the other; which was engrossed by the profane hiscan place in juxta-position the em- tory, and the heathen remains of the perors, consuls, heroes, saints, popes, country he was traversing, fall upon and cardinals of Rome, with the a spot which commemorates an event cross of Calvary and the songs of in sacred history, than his ardour Zion? It may be impossible to as- droops : he sees no charms in the certain how much of this incongruous poor remains of a humble inn which medley of emotion is to be placed to witnessed one of the most affecting the account of the author's creed as incidents recorded in the annals of a Roman Catholic, and how much the early Christians, and looks with to a vitiated taste accustomed to re- contempt on those who have any duce every thing to one exclusive standard of excellence. There is, * Manners of Italy, Vol. ii. Let. lii.
emotions to spare on such a subject. the young mind is more frequently
further suggested, that a pure and It may be replied to the preceding holy mind, to which all things are remarks, that the gods and heroes pure, may be slow to discern the of antiquity are not held forth as insidious workings of a false theology patterns. It is impossible to say in and a debasing system of morals, what sort of estimation they were just as the ingenuous and the honest held by the poets who have given are usually the last to suspect the them to us ; but, whether patterns deceptions of hypocrisy and fraud; or not, it cannot be denied that these and that the favoured individual who same poets have so contrived to dress has, by the grace of God, been enout the personages who fill up their abled to consecrate every acquiremythological drama, as to leave no ment to his service, may look with doubt about the effect of the re- partiality on a system, which, as a presentation. Well, but then these human means, he considers to have are acknowledged fictions. Granted; improved his eloquence and extended and need it be replied, that fiction his sphere of usefulness. But neither has often the force of truth, and that the embellishmentof composition, nor
a compliance with the requisitions of devout Christian who has lamented a fastidious taste, nor the examples the hindrances which beset his onof a favoured few, can recommend it ward path, and who knows someto general acceptance.
thing of the “ fightings and fears Would you, then, exclude the of his militant condition on earth — ancient classics from our schools? I ask such a man, if he could have Certainly not. I am ready to admit his time allotted to him again, would that in a restricted use they are ca- he voluntarily devote so large a porpable of producing the advantages tion of it to pursuits, which, while claimed for them. But I would they draw off the affections from withhold the poets as I would poison, God, chain them down in fatal till riper years and more settled bondage, and render emancipation principles give security for their safer the more hopeless by extinguishing perusal. Selections, however, might the desire ? be made from Homer and from Virgil, I am aware, that in daring to imfrom Lucretius, Juvenal, and Horace, pugn a system which has for centuries (I say nothing of Ovid, with some been held sacred by those who have others of the same stamp, which had considered themselves as the exclusive better be committed to the flames,) depositaries of taste and intellect, sufficient in number and in variety I must incur some obloquy; that to give the required acquaintance those whose devotions have been with the style of the ancient masters paid only at heathen shrines, will of language, and to cultivate a taste resent as sacrilegious all attempts to for poetic beauty, without tainting degrade the god of their idolatry; the imagination. It is further to be and that to prefer the poetry of remarked, that the case is different Job, or Isaiah, for instance, to that of now from what it was in the middle Homer, will be taken as proof either ages, when the writings of the an- of a weak mind or a bad taste. Be cients were the only ones to which the it so. We live in times when systems student could resort; when our own and things are fast losing the spurious language not only afforded nothing value which custom or antiquity alone of the kind, but was absolutely in- have set upon them. There is a çapable of it. But this same language searching spirit abroad, which dehas since acquired a copiousness and mands a better reason for approving richness which may satisfy the most things as they are than because they fastidious, and affords ample scope are: they are brought without scruple for classical purity of composition, to the touchstone of utility and fitand the highest flights of poetic ness, and the time is not far distant genius.
when they will be submitted to a If we would so divest ourselves of higher test—that of Christian exexternal and adventitious impressions, cellence; when the short span of as to estimate things according to life will be prized too much to waste their intrinsic merit; if we were it on works of fiction, however rewilling in all cases to bring them to fined or ornamental, which do not the only infallible rule of judging- subserve the great end for which the word of God; if we could view life was given; when whatever clouds them in steady connexion with our the moral perceptions, whatever short and probationary span of ex- panders to a prurient imagination istence; above all, if we could view and a corrupt taste, whatever gives them as dying and accountable men, occasion of stumbling to a feeble in exclusive reference to their fitness Christian, whatever is in any way for eternity, where then would be opposed to the meekness, the purity, the system I have endeavoured to and the spirituality of the Gospel of depict in its true aspect and tenden- Jesus Christ, will fall before the. cies? I ask not the worldling or brightness of his coming. the self-righteous, but I ask the
J. G. M.