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nation, I admit that I “rejoice with trembling.” It will bring with it a responsibility to God and to man for which we should be anxious to be well prepared. Many of our sainted fathers, as Edwards, Davies, and others, “after they had served their generation, by the will of God fell on sleep” cheered to their dying hour with the conviction that from the churches in America the Gospel will be first exhibited, with that light and power which will subdue “every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people,” to the obedience of faith. Events which they could little foresee seem to be preparing the way for the fulfilment of their expectations. Are Christians amongst us animated by a zeal which corresponds with these brightening indications of God’s holy providence 7
FOURTH LECTUR. E.
In our last lecture, having alluded to the condition of the Hebrew nation while suffering their bondage in Egypt, we observed that to have given them the institutions of civil freedom, without first preparing them for it, would not have been either kindness or wisdom. The minds of the people needed to be trained to new associations, new conceptions and new standards of right, before they could be entrusted with the privileges of self-government; and we showed how this great object was promoted by their migration to another country, by their removal from Egypt to the Land of Canaan.
We have now to contemplate another step in the work of preparation, and which indeed forms a prominent feature in the constitution by which they were to be governed. I refer to the provision made for the diffusion of knowledge throughout all classes of the people.
It has been remarked, that “a well graduated commonwealth is like a pyramid; the common people are its base; and in communities, as in architecture, the destruction is greatest when it begins at the foundation;” and it might have been added, that the edifice can never be strong and enduring if the foundation is not sound and well adapted to its place. Hence the indispensable importance of rendering a free people an intelligent people—of securing to them a competent education for the discharge of their relative duties to God and to man. Irrational animals may choose that which is best for their own welfare if left to themselves. They can follow their instinct, and thus best answer the purpose of their creation. To eat and to drink, to live and to die, is their beginning and their end, the sum of their destiny. “Their spirit goeth downward,” says the Preacher. But, on the contrary, “the spirit of man goeth upward.” He is formed for higher things. He was made to rule the world around him, and to make it the theatre of preparation for a better. He has duties to perform to his Maker and to his fellow-men, which demand inquiry, thought, and reflection; which call for divine light from above, to guide, and a right heart within, to follow where his duty and happiness require him to go. And yet see what he is when he comes into the
world, where he is to act so important a part both to others and for himself. He is born, both in body and mind, a feeble creature. As his physical frame needs a mother's judicious care for its growth and development, his moral and mental faculties would remain feeble and become distorted if left to themselves; and if ever his powers are so drawn out as to render him what he is capable of becoming, he must be led to his duty, not driven to it. He is not a mere machine, nor can he be governed as such. You may, by mere force, prevent him from doing what is wrong, but you cannot, by the same means, constrain him to do what is right. You must help him to understand his duty. You must use the means which his Maker has appointed to free him from the thraldom and degradation of ignorance, and thus awaken him to a sense of the destiny before him; and then, and only then, can you expect him both to comprehend and fulfil his duties to his Maker, to himself, and also to his neighbor. | Such being the case, it is very obvious that, over and above the essential importance of instruction to men viewed as immortal beings, if they are ever to become the subjects of self-government as a nation, they must be educated for it—educated to understand and appreciate their privileges and responsibilities, and the respective duties arising out of them.
point for the nation of the Hebrews when he organized them as a commonwealth. Strange as it may perhaps seem to some of us, there has scarcely ever been a nation in which the people were so universally taught to read. That such was very generally the case in the time of our Saviour, we would infer from the manner in which he often appeals to the people, asking, “Have ye not read what Moses saith,” “Have ye not read in the Scriptures,” thus implying that his hearers could and did read the writings of Moses and the prophets. The same thing is plainly to be inferred when we are told respecting the inscription which Pilate placed over the head of the Redeemer at his crucifixion, “This title then read many of the Jews.” But we have proof that may be viewed as still more conclusive. We may quote to you the law which impliedly enjoins it on parents, as a solemn duty, that the young should be taught to read and to study the statutes and the ordinances which God had revealed. “The words which I command thee this day,” he ordains, “shall be in thy heart, and thou shalt teach them diligently to thy children.” But how was this diligent instruction to be given 7 The command proceeds to say, “Thou shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when
thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and