Leading Articles: Notes

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NOTES.

1.

Some of the reasonings of both the Established and Free Church courts on this matter would he amusing were they not so sad.  'Feed my lambs,' said our Saviour, after His resurrection, to Peter; and again twice over, 'Feed my sheep.'  Now, let us suppose some zealous clergyman setting himself, on the strength of the latter injunction here, to institute a new order of preachers.  As barbers frequently amuse their employers with gossip, when divesting them of their beards or trimming their heads, and have opportunities of addressing their fellowmen which are not possessed by the other mechanical professions, the zealous clergyman determines on converting them into preachers, and sets up a Normal School, in order that they may be taught the art of composing short sermons, which they are to deliver when shaving their customers, and longer ones, which they are to address to them when cutting their hair.  And in course of tune the expounding barbers are sent abroad to operate on the minds and chins of the community.  'There is no mention made of any such order of prelectors,'  says a stubborn layman, 'in my New Testament;' 'Nor yet in mine,' says another.  'Sheer Atheism,—Deism at the very least!' exclaims the zealous clergyman.  'Until Christianity was fairly established in the world, there was  no such thing as shaving at all; the Jews don't shave yet: besides, does not every decent Church member shave before going to church?  And as for the authority, how read you the text, "Feed my sheep?'"  'Weighty argument that about the shaving,' say the laymen; 'but really the text seems to be stretched just a little too far.  The commission is given to Peter; but it confers on Peter no authority whatever to commission the barbers.  Nay, our grand objection to the pseudo-successors of Peter is, that they corrupted the Church after this very manner, by commissioning the non-commissioned, until they filled the groaning land with cardinals, bishops, and abbots, monks and nuns,—


                                   "Eremites and friars,
 White, black, and grey, with all their trumpery."'


    Now, be it remembered that we are far from placing the Church-employed schoolmaster on the level of the parson-employed barber of our illustration.  Rationally considered, they are very different orders indeed; but so far as direct Scripture is concerned, they stand, we contend, on exactly the same ground.  The laity would do well in this controversy to arm themselves with the New Testament, and, if their opponents be very intolerant, to hand them the volume, and request them to turn up their authority.  And, of course, if the intolerance be very great, the authority must be very direct.  Mere arguings on the subject would but serve to show that it has no actual existence.  When the commission of a captain or lieutenant is legitimately demanded, it is at once produced; but were one to demand the commission of a sergeant or boatswain's mate, the man could at best only reason about it.

2.

This passage has been referred to in several Free Church presbyteries, as if the writer had affirmed that the schoolmaster stands on no higher level than the shoemaker or tailor.  We need scarce say, however, that the passage conveys no such meaning.  By affirming that in matters of chimney-sweeping men choose for themselves the best chimney-sweeps, and in matters of indisposition or disease the best physicians, we do not at all level the physician with the chimney-sweep.  We merely intimate that there is a best in both professions, and that men select that best, as preferable to what is inferior or worse, on every occasion they can.

3.

We have learned that what was actually intended at this time was, not to ordain, but only to induct our schoolmasters.  And their induction would have made, we doubt not, what Foigard in the play calls a 'very pretty sheremony.'  But no mere ceremony, however imposing, can communicate to a secular profession a spiritual status or character.

4.

A fac-simile of this letter was reproduced in the columns of the Witness—ED.

5.

See Introduction.

6.

What ought the General Assembly to do at the present Crisis? (1833.)

7.

'The sixth resolution [of the Educational Manifesto], in which the opinion of Dr. Chalmers is quoted, that Government [should] abstain from introducing the element of religion at all into their part of the scheme, must, as here introduced, be presumed to mean, that in the Act of the Legislature which shall carry the views of the resolutionists into practical effect, nothing shall be said about religious instruction; but that power shall be given to the heads of families to manage the schools, and prescribe the subjects to be taught, according to their own convictions of what is sound in religious and useful in secular instruction.  But this would leave the religious rights of the minority completely unprotected.  Government must do something more than omit the religious element: it must limit the power of the majority to introduce this element into their schools to the injury of the minority.'  Letter of Mr. George Combe on the Educational Movement.

8.

The following portion of a motion on the educational question, announced in the Edinburgh Presbytery of the Free Church on the 6th of February last, is specially referred to in this paragraph:—


'That the successful working of the present Government plan would be greatly promoted by the following amendments:—

'1st, The entire omission in all cases (except, perhaps, the case of the Established Church) of the certificate regarding religious instruction, and the recognition of all bodies, whether Churches or private parties and associations, as equally entitled to receive aid.
'2d, The adoption of a rule in proportioning Government grants to local efforts more flexible, and admitting of far more liberal aid in destitute localities, as compared with those which are in a better condition.
'3d, The institution, on the part of Government, of an inquiry into the destitution confessedly existing in large towns, populous neighbourhoods, and remote districts, with a view of marking out places where elementary schools are particularly needed; and the holding out of special encouragement to whatever parties may come forward as willing to plant such schools.

'That the preceding suggestions, if adopted, would go far to render the present Government plan unobjectionable in principle, and also to fit it in practice for ascertaining the educational wants of the country; but that a much more liberal expenditure of the public money would seem to be indispensable, as well as a less stringent application, upon adequate cause shown, of the rules by which the expenditure is regulated.'


In bringing the motion forward in the following meeting of Presbytery, the clause recommending the 'entire omission in all cases of the certificate regarding religious instruction' was suffered to drop.

9.

Such are the proportions laid down in the official document for Scotland of the Committee of Her Majesty's Privy Council on Education.  We understand, however, that the Government inspectors possess certain modifying powers, through which the Government grant is occasionally extended to deserving teachers whose salary and fees united fall considerably short of the specified sum of forty-five pounds.

10.

To demand of that Parliament which carried the Reform Bill the repeal of the Patronage Act, instead of enacting, on her own authority, the Veto Law.

11.

 'I see,' said Knox, when the Privy Council, in dividing the ecclesiastical revenues of the kingdom into three parts, determined on giving two of these to the nobility, and on dividing the remaining part between the Protestant ministry and the Court,—'I see two-thirds freely given to the devil, and the other third divided between God and the devil: if the end of this order be happy, my judgment fails me!'  Our church courts, if they declare for the system of denominational grants, in opposition to the territorial endowments of a scheme truly national, will be securing virtually a similar division of the people, with but this difference, that God's share of the reserved moiety may be a very small share indeed.  And can it possibly be held that the shame and guilt of such an arrangement can be obviated by the votes of Synods or Assemblies? or that, with an intelligent laity to judge in the matter, the 'end of this order' can be other than unhappy?  The schools of the Free Church have already, it is said, done much good.  We would, we reply, be without excuse, in taking up our present position—a position in which we have painfully to differ from so many of the friends in whose behalf for the last ten years we deemed it at once a privilege and an honour to contend—did we believe that more than six hundred Protestant schools could exist in Scotland without doing much good.  Of nothing, however, are we more convinced, than that the good which they have done has been accomplished by them in their character as schools, not in their character as denominational.  We know a little regarding this matter; for in our journeyings of many thousand miles over Scotland, especially in the Highlands and the northern counties, we have made some use of both our eyes and ears.  We have seen, and sickened to see, hordes of schoolboys of ten and twelve years bandying as nicknames, with boys whose parents belonged to the Establishment, the terms of polemic controversy.  'Moderate' has become in juvenile mouths as much a term of hatred and reproach in extensive districts of our country, as we remember 'Frenchman' used to be during the great revolutionary war.  Our children bid fair to get, in their state of denominational separatism, at least religion enough heartily to hate their neighbours; and, we are afraid, not much more.  Now, it may be thought that the Editor of the Witness, himself long engaged in semi-theological warfare, ought to be silent in a matter of this kind.  Be it remembered, we reply, that it was men, not children, whom the Editor of the Witness made it his business to address; and that when, in what he deemed a good cause, he appealed to the understandings of his adult country-folk, he besought them in every instance to test and examine ere they judged and decided.  He did not contemplate a phase of the controversy in which unthinking children should come from their schools to contend with other children, in the spirit of those little ones of Bethel who 'came forth out of their city' to mock and to jeer; or that immature, unreasoning minds should be torn by the she-bears of uncharitable feeling, at an age when the points really at issue in the case can be received only as prejudices, and expressed only by the mere calling of names.  And seeing and knowing what he has seen and knows, he has become sincerely desirous that controversy should be left to at least the adult Population of the country, and that its children of all the communions should be sent to mingle together in their games and their tasks, and to form their unselfish attachments, under a wise system of national tuition, as thoroughly Christian as may be, but at the same time as little as possible Polemical or sectarian.

12.

To the effect that there are a hundred thousand children in attendance at the parish schools of Scotland.

13.

'We are aware,' says a respected antagonist, 'that Mr. Miller is no Deist; his argument, nevertheless, rests on a deistical position,—a charge to which Dr. Chalmers' letter is not liable to be exposed, in consequence of its first sentence, and of what it recommends in a Government preamble.'  If there be such virtue in a preamble, say we, let us by all means have a preamble—ten preambles if necessary—rather than a deistic principle.  We would fain imitate in this matter the tolerance of Luther.  'A complaint comes that such and such a reformed preacher will not preach without a cassock.  "Well," answers Luther, "what harm will a cassock do the man?  Let him have a cassock to preach in; let him have three cassocks, if he find benefit in them."'

14.

It is not uninstructive to remark how invariably in this matter an important point has been taken for granted which has not yet been proven; and how the most serious charges have been preferred against men's principles, on the assumption that there exists in the question a certain divine truth, which may be neither divine nor yet a truth at all.  Wisdom and goodness may be exhibited in both the negative and positive form—both by avoiding what is wicked and foolish, and by doing what is good and wise.  And while no Christian doubts that the adorable Head of the Church manifested His character, when on earth, in both ways, at least no Presbyterian doubts that He manifested it not only by instituting certain orders in His Church, but also by omitting to institute in it certain other orders.  He instituted, for instance, an order of preachers of the gospel; He did not institute an order of popes and cardinals.  Neither, however, did He institute all order of 'religion-teaching' schoolmasters; and the question not yet settled, and of which, without compromising a single article in our standards, either side may be espoused, is, whether our Saviour manifested His wisdom in not making use of the schoolmaster, or whether, without indicating His mind on the subject, He left the schoolmaster to be legitimately employed in an after-development of the Church.

Indeed, so entirely in this matter is the Free Church at sea, without chart or compass, that it has still to be determined whether the religious teaching of her schools be of a tendency to add to or to diminish the religious feeling of the country.  'I sometimes regretted to observe,' says Dr. Reid, in his Report on the Schools in connection with the Free Presbytery of Edinburgh, 'that [their lessons in the Bible and Shorter Catechism] were taught rather too much in the style of the ordinary lessons.  I do not object to places being taken, or any other means employed, which a teacher may consider necessary to secure attention during a Scripture lesson; but divine truth should always be communicated with solemnity.'  Now, such is the general defect of the teaching of the schoolroom.  Nor is it to be obviated, we fear, by any expression of extra solemnity thrown into the pedagogical face, or even by the taking of places or the laws.  And there seems reason to dread that lessons of this character can have but the effect of commonplacing the great truths of religion in the mind, and hardening  the heart against their after application from the pulpit.  But some ten or twelve ears will serve to unveil to the Free Church the real nature of the experiment in which she is now engaged.  For our own part, we can have little doubt, be the matter decided as it may, that experience will serve ultimately to show how vast the inferiority really is of man's ;teachers of religion' to Christ's preachers of the gospel.

We shall never forget at least the more prominent particulars of a conversation on this subject which we were privileged to hold with one of the most original-minded clergymen (now, alas, no more) our Church ever produced.  He referred, first, to the false association which those words of world-wide meaning, 'religious education,' are almost sure to induce, when restricted, in a narrow, inadequate sense, to the teaching of the schoolmaster; and next, to the divine commission of the minister of the gospel.  'Perverted as human nature is,' he remarked, 'there are cases in which, by appealing to its sentiments and affections, we may derive a very nice evidence respecting the divine origin of certain institutions and injunctions.  For instance, the Chinese hold, as one of their religious beliefs, that parents have a paramount claim to the affections of their sons and daughters, long after they have been married and settled in the world; whereas our Saviour teaches that a man should leave father and mother and cleave to his wife, and the wife leave father and mother and cleave to her husband.  And as, in the case of the dead and living child, Solomon sought his evidence in the feelings of the women that came before him, and determined her to be the true mother in whom he found the true mother's love and regard, I would seek my evidence, in this other case, in the affections of human nature; and ask them whether they declared for the law of the Chinese Baal, or for that of Him who implanted them in the heart.  And how prompt and satisfactory the reply!  The love which of twain makes one flesh approves itself, in all experience, to be greatly stronger and more engrossing than that which attaches the child to the parent; and while we see the unnatural Chinese law making the weaker traverse and overrule the stronger affection, and thus demonstrating its own falsity, we find the law of Christ exquisitely concerting with the nature which Christ gave, and thus establishing its own truth.  Now, regarding the commission of the minister of the gospel,' he continued, 'I put a similar question to the affections, and receive from them a not less satisfactory reply.  The God who gave the commission does inspire a love for him who truly bears it; ay, a love but even too engrossing at times, and that, by running to excess, defeats its proper end, by making the servant eclipse in the congregational mind the Master whose message he bears.  But I do believe that the sentiment, like the order to which it attaches, is, in its own proper place, of divine appointment.  It is a preparation for the reception in love of the gospel message.  God does not will that His message should be injured by any prejudice against the bearer of it; and that His will in this matter might be adequately carried out, was one of the grand objects of our contendings in the Church controversy.  But we are not to calculate on the existence of any such strong feeling of love between the children of a school and their teacher.  If, founding on the experience of our own early years, we think of the schoolmaster, not in his present relation to ourselves as a fellow-citizen, or as a servant of the Church, but simply in his connection with the immature class on which he operates, we will find him circled round in their estimation (save in perhaps a very few exceptional cases) with greatly more of terror than affection.  There are no two classes of feelings in human nature more diverse than the class with which the schoolmaster and the class with which the minister of the gospel is regarded by their respective charges; and right well was St. Paul aware of the fact, when he sought in the terrors of the schoolmaster an illustration of the terrors of the law.  And in this fence of terror we may perhaps find a reason why Christ never committed to the schoolmaster the gospel message.'  We are afraid we do but little justice, in this passage, to the thinking of our deceased friend; for we cannot recall his flowing and singularly happy language, but we have, we trust, preserved his leading ideas; and they are, we think, worthy of being carefully pondered.  We may add, that he was a man who had done much in his parish for education; but that he had at length seen, though without relaxing his efforts, that the religious teaching of his schools had failed to make the rising generation under his charge religious, and had been led seriously to inquire regarding the cause of its failure.

15.

Mr. Combe, however, may be regarded as an extreme man; and so the following letter, valuable as illustrating the views of a not very extreme opponent, though a decided assertor of the non-religious system of tuition, may be well deemed instructive.  The writer, Mr. Samuel Lucas, was for many years Chairman of that Lancashire Public School Association which Mr. Fox proposes as the model of his scheme:—


TO THE EDITOR OF THE SCOTSMAN.


S
IR,—In your paper of the 26th ultimo, I observe among the advertisements a set of resolutions which have been agreed to and signed by a number of parties, with the view of a national movement in favour of an unsectarian system of national education.  It is perhaps too early to say, that though the names of some of the parties are well known and highly esteemed in this country, yet that the names of many who might be expected to be foremost in promoting such an object are wanting.

    I cannot, however, help thinking, that some of these may have been prevented from signing the document in question by some considerations which have occurred to myself on the perusal of it; and as a few lines of editorial comment indicate that the project has your sanction, you will perhaps allow me briefly to say why I think the people of Scotland should give to it the most deliberate consideration before committing themselves to it.

    Agreeing, as I do most fully, with a large proportion of the contents of the resolutions, I regret that its authors have made an attempt, which it is impossible can be successful, to unite in the national schoolhouses, and in the school hours, a sound religious with an unsectarian education.

    What is a sound religious education?  Will not the professors of every variety or religious faith answer the question differently?

    I think it was Bishop Berkeley who said, Orthodoxy is my doxy; heterodoxy is another man's doxy.  So it is with a sound religious education.  What is sound to me is hollow and superficial, or perhaps full of error, to another.

    If it be said that the majority of heads of families must decide as to what is sound and what is unsound, I must protest against such an injustice.  The minority will contribute to the support of the public schools, and neither directly nor indirectly can they with justice be deprived of the use of them.

    It appears to me that the authors of the resolutions are flying in the face of their own great authority, in proposing to introduce religious instruction into the public schools.  It is true that Dr. Chalmers proposes that Government should 'leave this matter entire to the parties who had to do with the erection and management of the schools which they had been called upon to assist;' but he was not then contemplating the erection of national schools by the public money, but schools erected by voluntary subscription, which the Government might he called on to assist.

    His opinion on the right action of Government in the present state of things is clear.  He says: 'That in any public measure for helping on the education of the people, Government [should] abstain from introducing the element of religion at all into their part of the scheme.'

    What, then, should be the course taken by the promoters of public schools, in accordance with the principles enunciated by Dr Chalmers?  It appears to me to be clearly this: to make no provision whatever for or rather directly to exclude, all religious teaching within the walls of the school, and to leave, in the words of the fifth resolution, 'the duty and responsibility of communicating religious instruction' in the hands of those 'to whom they have been committed by God, viz. to their parents, and, through them, to such teachers as they may choose to entrust with that duty.'

    This was the course pursued by the Government of Holland in the early part of the present century; and I suppose no one will venture to call in question the morality or religion of the people of that country, or to throw a doubt upon the success of the system.

    It is as an ardent friend of National Education, both in Scotland and England, that I have ventured to make these few observations.  I desire to throw no obstruction in the way of any movement calculated to attain so desirable an object.  It may be that I am mistaken in supposing that it is intended to convey religious instruction, in the public schools, of a kind that will be obnoxious to a minority; and if so, the design of the authors of the resolutions will have no more sincere well-wisher than, Sir, your obedient servant,

SAMUEL LUCAS.

LONDON, February 4, 1850.

16.

There are about one thousand one hundred parish schoolmasters in Scotland; of these, not more than eighty (strictly, we believe, seventy-seven) adhered to the Free Church at the Disruption.

17.

The Church as such ought to employ the schoolmaster, it has been argued, in virtue of the divine injunction, 'Search the Scriptures:' what God commands men to do, it is her duty to enable men to do.  The argument is excellent, we say, so far as it goes; but of perilous application in the case in hand.  It is the Church's duty to teach those to read the Scriptures, who, without her assistance, would not be taught to read them.  But if by teaching Latin, arithmetic, algebra, and the mathematics to ten, she is incapacitating herself from teaching twenty to read the Bible; or if, by teaching twenty to read the Bible who would have learned to read it whether she taught them or no, she is incapacitating herself from teaching twenty others to read it, who, unless she teach them, will never learn to read it at all; then, instead of doing her recognised duty in the matter, she is doing exactly the reverse of her duty—doing what prevents her from doing her duty.  Let the Free Church but take her stand on this argument, and straightway her rectors, her masters in academies, and her schoolmasters planted in towns and populous localities, to teach the higher branches, become so many bars raised by herself virtually to impede and arrest her, through the expense incurred in their maintenance, in her proper work of enabling the previously untaught and ignorant to read the word of God, in obedience to the divine injunction.

18.

This statement has been quoted by an antagonist as utterly inconsistent with our general line of argument; but we think we may safely leave the reader to determine whether it be really so.  Did we ever argue that any scheme of national education, however perfect, could possibly supersede the proper missionary labours of the Churches, whether educational or otherwise?  Assuredly not.  What we really assert is, that if the Churches waste their energies on work not missionary, the work which, if they do it not, cannot be done must of necessity be neglected; seeing that, according to Bacon, 'charity will hardly water the ground where it must first fill a pool.'

19.

The Rosses of Glencalvie, by John Robertson, Esq. (article in the Glasgow National, August 1844).—ED.

20.

20th October 1841.

21.

See First Impressions of England and its People, ch, II—ED,

22.

See Frontispiece.

23.

Ismeer, or Smyrna and its British Hospital in 1855. By a Lady, London: James Madder, 8, Leadenhall Street.

24.

    'I will go and inquire upon the spot whether the natives of the county of SUTHERLAND were driven from the land of their birth by the Countess of that name, and by her husband the Marquis of Stafford. . . . I wish to possess authentic information relative to that "CLEARING" affair; for though it took place twenty years ago, it may be just as necessary to inquire into it now.  It may be quite proper to inquire into the means that were used to effect the CLEARING.'—COBBETT.
    'It is painful to dwell on this subject' [the present state of Sutherland]; 'but as information communicated by men of honour, judgment, and perfect veracity, descriptive of what they daily witness, affords the best means of forming a correct judgment, and as these gentlemen, from their situations in life, have no immediate interest in the determination of the question, beyond what is dictated by humanity and a love of truth, their authority may be considered as undoubted.'—G
ENERAL STEWART of Garth.
    'It is by a cruel abuse of legal forms—it is by an unjust usurpation—that the tacksman and the tenant of Sutherland are considered as having no right to the land which they have occupied for so many ages. . . A count or earl has no more right to expel from their homes the inhabitants of his county, than a king to expel from his country the inhabitants of his kingdom.'—S
ISMONDI.

 


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