Images de page
PDF
ePub

The capacity tong, that "Pain is thr Hallam, a strenes

able kinds of pain belong more or less to every life. Few, indeed, are the exceptions-into the many lives pain is a wide farreaching element, and it is this more moderate kind of pain that we think has in it a species of fascination.

“Then Satan first knew pain,” says Milton, and we all accept what he says as historical truth. It must have been a singular and fearful sensation to him, for pain is felt in proportion to the greatness and complexity of the organization, and Satan had, at that time, all his arch-angelic powers in full celestial vigour. We all know the saying of Arthur Hallam, a strange utterance for one so young, that “Pain is the deepest thing in our nature." The capacity for suffering is certainly that which gives to human beings the greatest measure for infinity, for it is that in them which is the most tested, and yet which still remains by them unmeasurable. It is a great gulf into which the coral stone is falling, and for ever falling, and yet the bottom is not reached, the depth not fathomed; so that watchers from other worlds cannot yet say, “Man's nature is probed, the utmost depth is found, now know we the utmost height to which he can be raised.” No; man's nature, in its depths and in its heights, is still to us the unknown, still therefore is to us as the infinite.

Taken thus as a measure by which we can form some idea of our capacity for enjoyment, an interest, almost a pleasure, attaches to pain; dark, ugly thing that it is, a bright phosphorescent light plays athwart it.

There are many things in pain worth noticing. One is the great variety, not only in degree but in kind. There is the continuous, homogeneous pain that belongs to the strong inflammation of any part; pain unbroken by any pauses of comparative ease—unvaried by any alteration in its character.

Then there is the intermittent-measured pulsation of nerve pain, as rhythmical in its ebb and flow, and as varied in its rhythm, as any piece of music.

If any one doubts this, let him try the experiment-it will be one way, at least, of making the best of circumstances, when compelled to endure a long session of suffering. Having resolved that the pain has to be borne, and of course as bravely as he can, let him take it up in his own hands, give himself up to the feeling and thinking about it; let him, watch in hand, measure the times of the rise, duration, and fall of the tides of pain, and he will make some curious discoveries. If he be gifted with the power of musical expression, he might make some use of his experience of the rhythm of pain. An Opera on pain would be a unique production, but would require such an amount of experimental knowledge as one might, perhaps, shrink from acquiring. Then after pain comes ease! We will not

say that the one balances the other, but there is such a positive pleasure in the latter; such, for a time, intense concentrated enjoyment that, as an occasional experience, it is quite worth

the pment that, as een such, for a but there is such

One remarkable thing about pain is, that the memory of it so soon dies. You may easily live over again, in imagination, the hour of weakness and exhaustion; and if you much wish, it is possible to reproduce, by an effort of will and attention, any number of small aches—but you cannot recall acute pain. Once gone, it is gone for ever; memory cannot give it a quasi-afterlife. Thus, even in this world, there is in this forgetfulness of pain an earnest of that state of being, and that order of things, in which it is declared that, “ There is no more pain.” A state of things strange and almost incomprehensible to many of usa cheering and delightful prospect to all of us.

“There are many worse things than illness," said one who had had large experience of this, and many other forms of trouble. Most people will agree to the truth of this, for illness admits of alleviations that other trials will not, and they who can look back upon a life, and pronounce personal illness to be the heaviest trials that have befallen them, must either have had an exceptionally happy lot, or have been possessed of an exceptionally organized temperament.

Still illness, like every other experience of trouble that comes to us, leaves us in a different state from that in which it found us. How can it be otherwise ? No one who has had the opportunity given to him of seeing life, himself, the world, from an entirely different point of sight from that at which they are viewed during the ordinary course of health, but must be either the better or the worse for the sight. It would be curious and instructive to trace out the various alterations in our course of life, that can be tracked back to some illness or other, as their starting-point. As when an unexpected land-slip suddenly brings the traveller and the precipice close together, he recoils with horror, and then slowly turns his steps in another direction. So when illness has crumbled away a man's life before him, and brought him to within a few feet of death, he may, after a pause, begin his journey again, but surely it will be with slackened speed and solemn thoughts as to the nature and direction of his way.

Can he soon forget the shock of that surprise ? He alone can tell how great it was, or whether the wind from the far distance blew chill-or whether the out-look was dreary.

A. C.

[ocr errors]

DAY-SCHOOL EDUCATION: HOW IT MAY BEST BE PROMOTED BY CONGREGATIONALISTS.

*** The following paper, read at a Congregational meeting in Lancashire, is inserted by the kind permission of the writer. As a contribution to the impending discussion on Educational questions, the value of the paper will be acknowledged even by those who dissent from its conclusions. All thinking people among us will soon have to make up their minds on the subject; and it is well that every side should be represented by men of large knowledge, definite views, and lucid speech. If some old convictions have to be renounced, and prevalent modes of action to be changed, no one who loves truth more than party, or is willing to learn the lessons of time and experience, will complain.-EDITORS.

The terms in which the subject assigned me is expressed seem to take for granted two things long and seriously discussed1st, the necessity for such a provision of day-school education as shall be coterminous with the wants of the people ; and, 2nd, the propriety of contributing to this provision by denominational means.

On the first of these points, it may be remarked that, if we take our own county as a fair illustration of the zeal of Congregationalists in this matter, we cannot boast. I believe it is a fact that, for our churches to have day-schools connected with them, is the exception, not the rule; while in two at least of our most important towns, Preston and Bolton, the Independents have not a single day-school. It is to be feared, therefore, that before much can be done to promote such institutions, a sense of their importance must exist amongst us far exceeding any feeling at present exhibited. Supposing this sense awakened, and earnestness as well as unanimity secured, the second point suggests another on which agreement cannot be anticipated. I mean, whether or not Congregationalists shall continue to rely on voluntary effort and support.

Whatever else we may consider, the question of the acceptance or rejection of Government money is to be settled before any person can feel at ease in recommending a course of action to our denomination. So long as many amongst us (perhaps a majority) refuse to fall in with the arrangements of the Government Committee of Council, one feels somewhat at a loss what to advise; and this uncertainty is greatly increased by the suspense in which we are held for a short period as to the suggestions to be issued by the Committee of Education of the London Congregational Board,--suggestions which may govern the proceedings of three-fourths of our churches. Having, however, long held decided opinions upon the subject, I could very easily and briefly state my wish that every Congregational church which has not a day-school, and every one that has a difficulty in sustaining a day-school already in existence, should apply for Government aid, receive a grant from the Exchequer of the country, and accept the supervision of an authorized inspector. Unpalateable as this advice may be to many, it is the pith of what I have to say, believing as I do that no sounder, no more profitable advice can be offered in the present stage of the education question; and after much reading, some experience, and a moderate acquaintance with what has been said in and out of Parliament on the subject, I think that this advice may be given and taken with perfect loyalty to the great principles of religious liberty we desire to maintain and extend. It is quite unnecessary—perhaps would be presumptuous in me-to discuss - de novo—the application of these principles. But I would suggest at the outset that the receipt of money from the State to assist the secular education of the poorer classes is not to be mixed up with the receipt of money for purely religious purposes. The first is not only permissible but desirable, as a rational means of helping the prevention of the crimes it has become so burdensome and expensive, as well as so difficult, to punish with propriety and strict equity.

Enlightened opinion is moving in the direction to which Christianity itself points, viz., the employment in the first place of moral preventives to evil rather than reliance upon primitive methods and arrangements, however skilfully contrived or ably administered.

As matters now stand between the executive and the various denominations, I confess that there is danger in acquiescing in a system which dispenses the national revenue for the impartation of mixed religious and secular education State money, or money obtained by local rates, should be employed in giving secular instruction, and if congregationalists take State money, they can righteously use it for that purpose only. Shall they accept it for the purpose of purely secular education ? My opinion is that they ought. Shall they refuse it because Episcopalians and others may take it also and pervert it to help them in peculiar denominational teaching? I see neither reason nor prudence in such a course. We can take the money with clean hands and use it for an honest purpose, and in so doing we shall neither compromise our principles, nor sacrifice any vantage ground we possess, in agitating for an improvement of the present government system, or in endeavouring to secure a new and more truly national one. With these general remarks, I ask your attention to some further considerations which have assisted me to the views on which the action I recommend is based.

1st. When our predecessors so determinately refused to touch State money for any purpose, or to permit State interference, they had not a Government such as we have now, whether Whig or Tory or Coalition, which so largely reflects public opinion. Since the Reform Bill of 1832, successive ministries have displayed increasing liberality, have been more truly national, have been less the representatives of a single or dominant party in religion or politics.

The result of the large extension of the franchise recently adopted will be still further to popularize succeeding governments, and thus will be removed a very legitimate and serious objection to the use of State money or the permission of State supervision in secular schools. It will be admitted that only a liberal feeling—and by liberal, I mean impartial, as regards the sects—could have sanctioned the scheme, limited, imperfect, as it is, now known in its amended form, by the name of the Revised Code.That it is a liberal and practically an unsectarian scheme may be speedily proved. Under its provisions, a sum of money is annually granted by Parliament for public education in Great Britain, to be administered by an establishment called the Education Department, in aid of schools for the children of classes who support themselves by manual labour. The means consist in giving assistance to voluntary local exertion (a point to be carefully remembered, for nothing is given where there is no voluntary initiatory action) and only to schools in connection with some recognized religious denomination, or such schools as read the Scriptures daily, besides affording secular instruction.

It is provided by article 14 of the Code that “the inspectors do not interfere with the religious instruction, discipline, or management of schools, but are employed to verify the fulfilment of the conditions on which grants are made; to collect information, and to report the results to the Committee of Council.”

So far the intention and the arrangements of the legislature infringe no right, trespass on no sacred ground, while doing what has proved to be a most valuable and necessary work Nor does any evil arise until we come to consider the condition of districts, particularly small country places, and towns, where

« PrécédentContinuer »