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decent and useful men. What especial cloud hangs over this one part of our life's current, that the stream here will ever run dark and sullen, while on its earlier and its later course it is either all bright and lively, or the impurity of its waters is lost to the distant view in the breadth and majesty of their volume ? I must touch upon the causes, or how shall we be able to point out the remedies ?
Unquestionably, the time of life at which you are arrived, and more particularly the younger boys among you, is, in itself, exceedingly dangerous. It is just the time, beyond all others in life, when temptation is great, and the strength of character to resist it exceedingly small. Earlier, under your parents' roof, the taint of evil reached you with far less virulence,-you were surrounded with all influences of good. Later, you will be exposed, indeed, to enough of evil, but you will have gained at least more experience, and more strength of mind, to resist it. It is a great matter too, that your bodies, at your time of life, so far outgrow your minds ;—that your spirits and bodily strength are so vigorous and active, while your understandings are, in comparison, so feeble. This makes you unapt and unwilling to think; and he who does not think, must surely do one of two things,—he must submit himself entirely to be guided by the advice and direction of others, like young children, or else he must certainly go wrong. Another cause is, that at no place, or time of life, are people so much the slaves of custom, as boys at school. If a thing has been an old practice, be it ever so mischievous, ever so unworthy, it is continued without scruple ; if a thing is new, be it ever so useful and ever so excellent, it is apt to be regarded as a grievance. The question which boys seem to ask is not, What ought we to be, and what may the school become, if we do our duty ?but, What have we been used to, and is the school as good as it was formerly ? So, looking backwards instead of looking forwards,-comparing ourselves with ourselves, instead of with the Word of God,-we are sure never to grow better, because we lose the wish to become better : and growth in goodness will never come, without our vigorous efforts to attain to it. This cause extends a great way, and produces more evil than we are apt to think of. Old habits, old practices, are handed down from generation to generation, and, above all, old feelings. Now it is certain that education, like every thing else, was not brought to perfection when our great schools were first founded: the system had a great deal required to make it what it ought to be. I am afraid that Christian principles were not enough brought forward, that lower motives were encouraged, and a lower standard altogether suffered to prevail. The system also was too much one of fear and outward obedience; the obedience of the heart and the understanding were little thought of. And the consequence has been the same in every old school in England,—that boys have learnt to regard themselves and their masters as opposites to one another, as having two distinct interests ;-it being the master's object to lay on restrictions, and abridge their liberty, while it was their business, by all sorts of means,combination amongst themselves, concealment, trick, open falsehood, or open disobedience,--to baffle his watchfulness, and escape his severity. It cannot be too strong to say, that this is at least so far the case, as far as regards the general business of schools : the boys' interest and pleasure are supposed to consist in contriving to have as little work as they can, the master's in putting on as much as he can ;-a strange and sad state of feeling, which must have arisen, I fear, from the habit
of keeping out of sight the relation in which we both stand, masters and boys alike, to our common Master in heaven, and that it is his service which we all have, after our several stations, to labour in. A due sense of our common service to our heavenly Master is inculcated by St. Paul as softening even the hardships of slavery,—although it is the peculiar curse of that wretched system, that the power is there exercised, not for the good of the governed, but for that of the governor. It is not for his own good, but for the interest merely of his master, that any man is a slave. But our relation to one another, like that of children and parents, is a relation chiefly for your good : it is for your benefit that the restraints of education are intended, -that you may be good, and wise, and happy, in after years, and may bring forth fruit from the seed here sown, which may endure unto life eternal. And this you would all at once acknowledge, if it were not for the old school feeling handed down from one generation to another, and growing out of a system too neglectful of Christian principles, or too fearful of openly professing them. This veil over the heart and understanding, this fatal prejudice, this evil error, like every thing else
false, ignorant, and wicked, can only be done away in Christ. When
When you shall turn to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away; and you will be enabled to see clearly your true condition here, what we are endeavouring to make it, and how entirely our objects and interests are the same as your own.