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Each must needs confine their exertions to one walk, otherwise neither could work to a profit. Nor ought we to forget, in this question, the important provision which the law of the land has made for the promotion of religious instruction, by a body of men set apart for that special purpose, and the almost equally numerous body of sectarian teachers, whose lives are alike devoted to inculcating the same matters. These, like the associations formed in aid of their labours, teach religion, and nothing else.
It never was objected to them, that they kept the community ignorant of other branches of knowledge. As little can it be objected to those who supply instruction in these other branches, that they keep the people ignorant of religion. The existence of a class of religious teachers, and of so many societies, who confine their exertions to religion exclusively, renders it wholly unnecessary for those whose exertions are pointed to the diffusion of other kinds of learning, to bestow any part of their attention upon religious education. It never can be objected to the latter class of persons, that they adopt the plan best fitted to unite the members of all religious communities in the important work of furthering sound learning of a secular description; and it is equally absurd to dread, that the spread of such learning may prove inimical to the interests of religion. Such fears cannot be seriously entertained by any, who really feel convinced that their belief is well-grounded in reason.
We have said, that, generally speaking, Dr Shuttleworth's sermon is conceived in a spirit of praiseworthy liberality and fair. ness; and with a very few exceptions, the lovers of freedom and tolerance have no reason to complain of his remarks. There is one passage, however, of wbich we cannot approve. We have no objection to the preacher holding up, in strong colours, the danger of • forgetting God; especially when his accumulated blessings make such forgetfulness and ingratitude the most
portentous; when our minds are elated with seeming prosperi• ty, and puffed out with the self-confidence of imagined wisdom.' It is his duty to remind his hearers of the inferiority of all other subjects to the concerns of religion; and in such passages as the following, he performs that duty eloquently, and, at the same time, liberally and wisely, except that he confines science to one branch.
'If, then, such be the prevailing danger of the present day, and such I conceive it to be, let the Ministers of the everlasting Gospel be proportionably energetic on their part in the performance of their solemn and indispensable duty; not, from an unworthy timidity, discouraging or depreciating the progress of intellectual research, (for next to the purifying influence of religious truth, we cannot but rank the high and tranquillizing enjoyments of physical science among the foremost gifts of Providence,) but pointing out with sober and benevolent caution, the seductions and deceitfulness which beset even this most attractive path in life's journey. Let them go forth, like Paul amid the schools of Athenian philosophy, and silence for a moment the din of worldly speculation, by the single, awakening, and humiliating doctrine of Christ crucified, of the necessity of divine sanctification, of repentance, of righteousness, and of judgment to come. Let them remind those who imagine that the investigation of the material creation is the most appropriate occupation of their intellect, that, after all, such studies, however attractive, partake of the perishable character of that world whose phenomena they investigate, and like it shall pass away: that they are innocent or praiseworthy only in proportion as they are made compatible with, and secondary in our estimation to, the paramount interests of our spiritual nature; and that, accordingly, there is a point beyond which they can scarcely be pursued with perfect safety : that point, I mean, when from a too continued and exclusive attention to corporeal objects, there is always a danger, even to the best disposed minds, lest their moral susceptibilities should become imperceptibly weakened, and their hearts gradually closed against the solemn impressions of religious conviction.”
Nor do we object to his inference, from the state of the times, in favour of the having ' an established order of men, de• tached from the turmoil of worldly concerns, and consecrated
by the most sacred obligations to the preaching of that spirit*ual holiness, which the eagerness of temporal speculations and • interests has so strong a tendency to induce us to neglect.' We have already stated, that if there be any risk of science diverting the minds of the people from religion, the safeguard is to be found in the redoubled exertions of its ministers, not in attacks upon knowledge, and opposition to its diffusion. But we cannot think that our author takes a sound view of the peculiar benefits of religion in the following passage, where he seems to value it chiefly for the assistance he deems it peculiarly, and indeed exclusively, calculated to render the law and the government of the state.
It has been said, and often repeated, that he, who can cause two blades of corn to grow where only one existed formerly, may be considered as the greatest benefactor to his species. There is, undoubtedly, much truth, but there is also some degree of fallacy, conveyed in this assertion. Were the whole mass of human sustenance produced by the soil pov under cultivation to be increased two-fold by the efforts of human ingenuity and industry, we may assert it, as an undoubted truth, that the only effect, after the lapse of a few years, would be found to have been the multiplication, in a like proportion, of the number of its occupants, with probably, at the same time, a far increased proportion of misery and crime, beyond that with which society is afflicted at the present moment. Whether the simple and contented habits, which in many parts of this coun. try have not yet, we trust, giren way to more artificial feelings, would be under such circumstances well exchanged for the feverish excitement, the ungratified wants, and the selfish passions fostered by an overcrowded population, may be matter of serious doubt. Even as a question of political strength, the danger resulting to a nation thus situated, from the prevalence of jealous and unsocial feelings, would probably far more than counterbalance any accession of physical power which might otherwise be calculated upon from the mere increase of the numbers of its ci. tizens. The real fact is, that the true benefactor to his species, the true practical friend to the best interests of his countrymen, is he who, by making them more religious, makes them at the same time more content ed, more social, and more obedient to the laws. Without that patience, that brotherly love, and that deference to those in authority for conscience sake, which a deep-rooted feeling of piety alone can systematically incul. cate, and maintain unshaken through every species of trial, the bands of human society must ever be loosely knit together. We may, it is true, imagine an irreligious people elevating itself for a time into wealth and greatness: we may conceive it pre-eminent meanwhile in physical science, and making the mighty elements of nature the ministers to its conveniences and minutest luxuries : but selfishness, inveterate selfishness, the very source of all disunion, whether domestic or political, will be the moving principle of the whole. The coarse attractions of wealth, the vulgar impatience of worldly ambition, the jealousies of incompatible interests, and the irritation of hopeless poverty, will be turning each man's hand against his neighbour, and the whole mass of the community, however apparently strong, and wise, and prosperous, will be intrinsically weak, like a vast mountain of sand ready to be dispersed into its indivi. dual particles by the first tempest which passes over it.'
This passage opens with a mis-quotation of the saying to which it refers. Dean Swift never said, that the man who caused (two blades of corn to grow where only one existed before,' was the greatest benefactor of his species; but only, that he deserved
better of mankind, and did more essential service to his country than the whole race of politicians put together,' which be well might, and yet be very far from the greatest benefactor of his species.* But this is a trilling matter; what we are jealous of, is the holding of religion as of use, as ' alone systematically (inculcating deference to those in authority, for conscience sake, and as alone 'maintaining that deference unshaken through every
* Dr Shuttleworth’s • blades of corn,' &c. cannot be said to retain much more of the Dean's accuracy than of his point. The sentence is as follows :· And he (King of Brobdingnag) gave it for his opinion, that whoever could make two ears of corn, or two blades of grass, to grow upon a spot of ground, where only one grew before, would deserve better of mankind, and do more essential service to his country than the whole race of politicians put together.'
species of trial.' One who understood Christianity far better, as he practised its precepts more conscientiously, than Dean Swift, we mean Archdeacon Paley, has long ago shown, that it has given no directions whatever upon the extent to which obedience is required. The duty of obedience, where fit and lawful, it undoubtedly inculcates ; but it leaves to considerations of a secular description the determination of the point to which the powers' should be obeyed; and as to any alliance between church and state, (if that was in our author's contemplation, which we hardly think his words warrant us in supposing,) Dr Paley, it is well known, holds the sound doctrine, sound in a religious as well as a political view, that religion can only be debased, corrupted, and abused, (we cite his own language almost to the word,) by such an association.
Upon the whole, and with the few exceptions we have noted, we have derived great satisfaction from the perusal of this discourse, considering, that it is professedly intended as a correction to the supposed excesses of those who are bent on the better education of the community. For it shows no disposition to deny the value of merely human learning; and it, for the most part, seeks to apply the right remedy, if there should be found any mischief. Above all, it seeks not to counteract the efforts which the friends of knowledge are making in every quarter. Nothing is said which can tend to alienate a single religious person from his union with them, or to damp his zeal in the cause. The man who heard and profited by the sermon, and the reverend person who preached it, might, with perfect consistency, enroll themselves on the morrow among the benefactors to a mechanics' institution, as the late Bishop of Durham did; or join with other ornaments of the hierarchy in distributing cheap tracts, which bring the most important branches of human knowledge within the reach of the people. Of course, neither the distinguished prelate, nor his coadjutors, ever begrudged the objects of their bountiful and judicious care, the means of religious instruction through other channels, and at the fitting seasons.
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