« PreviousContinue »
instance of Quaker theology thrown into the form of a crede. 'I am,' he says 'a firm believer in the divinity of Jesus Christ. I believe that the Holy Scriptures were given by inspiration, and contain in writing the revealed will of God. I believe the doctrine of the fall of man, and the alienation from God consequent on that fall. I believe that there are three that bear record in Heaven; the FATHER, the WORD, and the SPIRIT, and that these three are one. I believe in the doctrine of justification by faith in Jesus Christ. I know that salvation can only be obtained by the name of Christ, and by the oblation of himself which he made on the cross. I believe THE APOSTLES' CREED to be a just inference from the scriptures, at once excellent, simple, and expressive; but it was not given in its present collective form by inspiration, as the writings of the apostles were; and who can blame me for preferring, as an individual, the inspired writings of the apostle, which contain the substance of the creed in almost every page, and often in a few lines, to any inference therefrom by men, however excellent in their kind? Can such inferences rival the beautiful language of St. John, or the majestic yet simple eloquence of St. Paul ?' SOCINIAN, Deist, INFIDEL! May thy sound faith, and loving heart, inspire us with a large charity. for thy many faults and grievous wanderings !
The recent movement of the Wesleyan body, and the formation of the Congregational Board of Education,' render it more than ever necessary that the principles of the British and Foreign School Society should be clearly stated and thoroughly understood. On the advantages to be derived from congregational schools, when conducted on comprehensive principles, and on the obligations resting upon churches to do their part in removing the dense mass of ignorance by which they are surrounded, we have long since expressed our opinion. Fifteen years ago we urged their establishment, and we have seen po reason materially to alter the opinions we then expressed. But then, we have always held that congregational schools of this description are, after all, only British schools under another name; and we are now happy to find our judgment in this matter sustained by an official paper of the society, which runs thus :
• In order to establish a British School, it is by no means necessary that different denominations should unite either in its support or management. Such a school may be sustained and governed as legitimately by an individual as by a local committee. It may be carried on in a building attached to, or distinct from, a particular place of worship. It may be exclusively supported by a single congregation, or it may be dependent upon the subscriptions of a neighbourhood. The committee governing it may all be of one denomination, or they may be of several denominations. The teacher may hold religious opinions in accordance with those of his committee, or he may differ from them. All these varieties of administration are mere accidents. They leave the essential principle of a British school untouched, -that principle being scriptural instruction without reference to the DENOMINATIONAL INTERESTS of any one particular section of the church.
So long, therefore, as a congregational school is conducted on what may be termed the principle of religious equality,—so long as it imposes no condition adverse to freedom of conscience, or unfavourable to the undisturbed exercise of parental rights, it is, notwithstanding its organization and management, a British school.
· Whenever it forsakes this ground, by introducing in school hours, and as a part of school business, some catechism or other human formulary peculiar to a denomination,-whenever it so identifies the sunday school and the day school, as to make attendance on the one essential to continuance in the other,—whenever it in any way perverts benevolent effort for the education of the poor into an engine of sectarian proselytism, it departs (and just in the proportion that it so acts), from the comprehensive principle of the Society, and ceases to be numbered among its schools. It is then a congregational school, on exclusive principles.
To the latter class of congregational schools we decidedly object. Still more emphatically would we protest against the doctrine, now becoming fashionable in quarters where it was once indignantly rejected, that the education of the people is to be committed to the church. We care not whether by 'the church' is meant the national establishment, the voluntary churches of dissenters, or both united; we repudiate the principle: it is as hollow as that which maintains that the instruction of the people is the proper care of the government. We are prepared to stand or fall by the sounder doctrine put forth by the British and Foreign School Society.
• The direction of popular education is the proper duty and inalienable right of the people themselves. It cannot be resigned to the government. It cannot be yielded to the national establishment. It cannot be laid at the feet of the ministers of religion, either of one, or of all denominations. It is not exclusively a religious thing. Ifin one aspect it involves spiritual privilege, in another it as distinctly includes civil right. To possess it is a secular advantage. To be deprived of it is to be brought under a civil disability.
So complex a work will best be promoted by religious men, act. ing as christian citizens, and representing in their movements principles rather than sects. To abandon education to the rivalry of conflicting denominations, would be to place universally a particular class of civil benefits at the disposal of religious bodies, to be given or withheld at their option.'
Nor is this all :
* By the union of christians of different denominations, on the principles of the Society, the establishment of schools becomes practicable in districts where it would be otherwise impossible to act efficiently; a wise and equal distribution of the means of education is secured in thickly populated towns and cities ; that unnatural and mischievous competition which so frequently dissipates strength, which reduces the remuneration of the teacher to the lowest point, and which renders any united system of school inspection all but impossible, is always checked and often prevented ; and the temptation to appoint unsuitable teachers, merely for the sake of securing persons of peculiar religious opinions, is to a great extent removed out of the way.
• By confining religious instruction to the sacred scriptures, and by inculcating points which unite rather than those which divide real christians, it presents truth to the minds of children in its just proportions; it avoids the danger of forming sectarian partizans instead of enlightened christians; and it prevents the growth of mere prejudices, by withholding from the young sentiments and opinions which can have no practical hold either on their intellects or affections. It thus binds together, by common effort, in a common cause, those who are always too prone to separate ; it enables the stronger to assist the weaker, by generously bearing a portion of their burdens; and by manifesting to the world the identity of christian character, it tends to promote the fulfilment of the Redeemer's prayer, 'that they all may be one.'—p. 22.
While, therefore, we rejoice in the establishment and multiplication of congregational schools, and hail all such efforts as promoting the great and common cause of light against darkness, truth against error, and holiness against sin, we feel still bound to regard the education of the people as a national object, and therefore to be treated, whenever it is practicable, NATIONALLY; that is to say, 'with reference to the country rather than to parties, to towns rather than to churches, to districts rather than to congregations.'
In reading the Life and Correspondence of Dr. Arnold, we have been much struck with the accordance of that emi person's sentiments on education with those which we have thought it right to advocate. His whole life, indeed, might be converted into one great argument for the British and Foreign School Society. He is perpetually insisting that 'with the exception of Unitarians, all christians have a common ground in all that is essential in christianity;' and beyond that he never
Yet he is no persecutor. His letter to a parent holding Unitarian opinions is a model of christian integrity and candour.
Far from imagining that children cannot be trained in the fear and love of God without being separated into sects, he disclaims all wish to bias their opinions on unimportant points, and
wishes to go.
labours 'to lead them to Christ in true and devoted faith, holding all the scholarship that ever man had, to be infinitely worthless in comparison with even a very humble degree of spiritual advancement.'
But then he had no exaggerated expectations. "He had faith in what he believed to be a general law of Providence; and he based his whole management on his early formed and yearly-increasing conviction, that what he had to look for both intellectually and morally, was not performance, but promise ;' and he did not hesitate to apply to his scholars the principle which seemed to him to have been adopted in the training of the childhood of the human race itself. He shrunk from pressing on the consciences of boys rules of action which he felt they were not yet able to bear; and from enforcing actions which, though right in themselves, would in boys be performed from wrong motives. His aim, indeed, was rather to make christian men than to produce christian boys. He felt that with children school time is seed time, and he was content to see the blade' only, in the full belief that the ear, and the 'full corn in the ear,' would follow in due time.
Right views on this subject would do much to check the unreasonable expectations which are so frequently formed by those who establish schools for the poor; the language of mature and experienced piety, instead of being encouraged, would be felt to be inappropriate in the mouth of a child ; excited hopes would not be followed by collapse and disappointment; and abundant scope would be found for the sound christian instruction of ycung persons, without the introduction of topics ill suited to their years, or the factitious development of religious affections.
But we have already far exceeded all bounds in the length to which this article has insensibly extended. We must now part company alike with Bell and Lancaster, and with the societies which respectively embody their principles and form their monuments.
Mr. Southey's book is, on the whole, heavy. It is much too large and loaded with correspondence. Here and there a letter from the Edgeworths, Wordsworth, Coleridge, or the lamented editor of the first volume, relieves a tedium which would otherwise be insupportable. Yet even these, though few in number, are sometimes uninteresting, and only add to the dreary and desolate feeling with which the eye wanders over the three thick octavo volumes which embalm the remains of Dr. Bell.
Mr. Corston's sketch, as a literary production, is not open to criticism. It is the last fond memorial of an old man trembling on the brink of the grave, and recalling scenes still fresh with the recollection of by-gone joys.
Art. II.: 1 Isagoge in epistolam a Paulo apost. ad Colossenses datam,
theologica, historica, critica. Confecit G. Böhmer. 8vo. Berol. 1829. 2. Theologische Auslegung des Paulinischen Sendschreibens an die
Colosser. Von W. Böbmer. 8vo. Breslau, 1835. 3. Der Brief Pauli an die Colosser : Uebersetzung, Erklärung, einleitende, und epikritische Abhandlungen." Von W. Steiger. 8vo. Erlangen, 1835. 4. Commentar über den Brief Pauli an die Colosser. Von K. C.
W. F. Bähr. 8vo. Basel, 1833. The Epistle to the Colossians greatly needs an English commentary. There is no good exposition of it in our language. It is a part of the New Testament, confessedly difficult, and in various aspects most important. In the meantime, some one of the three commentaries at the head of this article should be translated into English. Bähr's would probably be the most popular, although we should prefer Steiger's or Boehmer's. Olshausen's, however, is superior to any other of the same compass. The light of history, especially the history of philosophy, must be brought to bear upon the letter before us. The allusions of Paul lie so much within the apostolic period, that it is impossible to understand the scope and bearings of his statements, or to attach definite ideas to many expressions, without a tolerable acquaintance with the influences which leavened the cultivated Jewish no less than the cultivated heathen mind of that age. To explore this is a task to which the indolent propensity of the English theologian is averse. It must be left to the laborious Germans who love such pursuits; while we are content with learning the results of their investigations. They accuse us of doing nothing to advance the interpretation of the Bible, and there is ground for the accusation; although themselves are not free from blame while boldly prosecuting their inquiries.
In examining such questions as are suggested by the epistle, we shall pursue the following order, and inquire :
I. Who were the persons at Colosse whom the apostle condemns as corrupters of the church?
II. Did Paul himself plant the church in that place?
IV. The connexion between the epistles to the Colossians and Ephesians.
V. The time and place at which the Colossian letter was written.
VI. Its contents.