Archibald Forbes.

The Christian library: a weekly republication of popular religious ..., Volume 6 online

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predations on properly. The jpolice establishiment
in London costs above £200,000 a-year ; and if we
take into account the expenses connected with all
the other police establishments of the nation, which
may be reckoned at seven times that sum, we shall
have an amount of £1,400^000 on this head:
whereas, less than one-fiAb of that sum would be
sufficient for the preservation of order among a re-
novated population. Many other items might have
been stated, but the above sums, amounting to nearly
twent/if nUUionSf would be more than sufficient for
carrying forward a system of national education on
the most ample and jsplendid scale. It is therefore
madness in the extreme to attempt any longer to
repress crime ^fc^ such a machinery as has hitherto
been employed, while we neglect the only efficient
means by which its operations may be controlled,
and its principle extirpated. The very principle
of economy, if no higher motive impel, should in-
duce as to alter our arrangements, and to build on
a new foundation. It was latelj said to the public
of Edinburgh, with great propriety, when solicited
to contribute to the erection of a school, — *' Give
your pence to infant schools," (I may add. to well
conducted seminaries of all descriptions,) " and
save your pounds on police establishments, jails,
bridewells, transportations, and executions." In
this way we should be enabled, at the same time,
both to improve society, and to increase our nation-
al resources.

II. Such an education as now proposed, uni rer-
sally extended, would improve the mental faculties,
tjxd raise the character of man far beyond the level to
which it has hitherto ailained. During almost the
whole of the past periods of this world's history, the
human faculties have been seldom exerted witn vi-
gor, except for the purpose of promoting mischief,
procuring the means of animal subsistence, or in-
dulging in childbh and degrading amusements.
Even in the present enlightened a^e. as it has been
termed, what are the pursuits whicn fascinate and
absorb almost the whole attention of the higher
classes of society 1 Horse-racing, fox-hunting,
prize-fighting, gambling duelling, coach-driving,
^* steeple chases,^ slaughtering moor-fowl " o'er hill
and dale," masquerades, theatrical amusements, and
dissipations of all kinds. And what are the employ-
ments of a great proportion of the lower ranks, be-
sides their stated occupations 1 Cock-fighting^ gam-
bling, sauntering about the streets, indulging in
drunkenness, licentiousness, and cruel sports and
diversions— while they remain in ignorance of all
that is grand and beautiful in the Creator's works,
and feci no relish for intellectual enjoyments. Even
the acquirements and pursuits of professed Chris-
tians are far inferior to the standard of intelligence
and morality which religion prescribes; for we be-
hold, even among this chss, ignorance of most sub-
jects with which every rational and religious being
ought to be acquainted, combined with hatred of all
religious sects but their own, with wealth-engrossing
dipositions, and '^covetousness, which is idolatry.^'

What a pitiful picture of ignorance and degrada-
tion would the innabitants of this world present to
the view of intelligences of a higher order I Were
an inhabitant of the planet Saturn to wing his flight
to this glo^ of ours, and were he capable of com-
mimicating his sentiments in language intelligible
to man, we should expect to learn from him a mi-
nute detail of the history and geography of the globe
to which he belonged, of the peculiar phenomena
of nature in that region, of the various aspects of
the moons, the diversified appearances of the mag-
nificent rings which encircle that world, and descrip-
tions of the different tccnct of nature, the optr»-



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MORAL IMPROVEMENT OF MANKIND.



tions of art, the sciences caHiyated by its inhabi-
tants, and the plan of GKkI's moral goTemment
among them ; and, donbtless, oar cariosity to be-
come acquainted with the physical and moral ar-
rangements of another world, woold be abondantly
gratified. Bat were an inhabitant of oor globe,
from among the lower or even from among man^ of
the kigJUr classes, to be transported to one ot the
planeut, what account could he gire of the arts and
sciences, of the history, statistics, and natural scenery
of our world 1 What conld he say of its continents,
rivers, islands, oceans, and volcanoes ; its mountain
scenery, and the properties of its atmosphere, of the
Tarieffated sur&ce of the moon, and tne peculiari-
ties of its motions, of the history of its inhabitants,
or the progress they had made in knowledge 1
What description could he give of the arts and
Inventions or modem times, of the construction
of the instruments by which we view distant
objects and by which we penetrate into the scenes
invisible to the unassisted eye, of the princi-
ple of air-balloons, steam-engines, air-pampB, me-
chanical powers, electrical machines, or galvanic
batteries 1 Above all, what could he tell them of
the moral dispensations of the Creator towards our
world, and or what is contained in the revelations
of his word 1 He could perhaps tell them that there
were hills, and rivers, and four-footed beasts, and
men that were employed in killing each other ; but
could convey no precise idea of an^^ thing in which
this world differed from that to which he had been
transported. He would be looked down upon with
pity as a kind of lums natitra, unworthy of the
name of a roHtmal being. Of 800 millions of men
that people our globe, there are at least 750 millions
of this description, who could give little more in-
formation respecting the peculiarities of oar world
to the inhabitants of another planet, than they could
receive from an elephant or a beaver, if such crea-
tures had the (acuity of commtmicating their ideas.
Such is the present character of the great ma-
jority of this world's population—and how is it to be
elevated to a standard befitting a rational and im-
mortal intelligence 1 Only by the universal exten-
sion of such an educattoii as that, the outlines of
which we have faintlv sketched. The communica-
tion of knowledge is the first part of that process by
which the human character is to be raised and
adorned, as Ught was the first agent employed in the
arrancement of the material creation ; and this
know&dge must, in every instance, be conjoined
with reli^ous principle and moral conduct, other-
wise it will only prove the intelligence of demons. —
Man, although, in one point of view, he is allied to
the beasts of the field, in another, he is allied to su-
perior natures, and even to the Deity himself; and
therefore ought to be rendered fit for associating
with such intelligences— for receiving from them
communications of knowledge and felicity, and for
imparting to them similar benefits in retu m. If man
is destined to a future world, as we profess to be-
lieve, he will, doubtless, mingle with oeings of va-
rious orders during that interminable existence
which lies before him ; and his preparalion for such
intercourses wiU, in a great measure, depend on the
training he receives, and the principles ne imbibes,
during his sojourn in this sublunary sphere. There
is no esseuHal difference between men on earth, and
the highest created beinj^s in any region of the uni-
verse, but what consists m the degree of knowledge^
and the degree of holiness^ or moral perfection,
which they respectively possess. When man is en-
dowed with a competent measure of these qualifica-
tions, he is fitted for the highest degree of social
enjoyment, both in this life and in the world to come :
and therefore, in so far as we refuse to lend our aia
to tha cause of oniversal instruction, or set our-



selves in opposition to it, we do every thing in oor
power to debase the character of our fellow-men, to
prevent them from rising in the scale of intelligence,
and to interpose a barrier to their present and futore
happineis.

I might likewise have shown the utility of uni-
versal education, from the tendency it would have
to induce the masis of mankind to lend their aid ia
promoting every Mrheme which tends to advance the
improvement of the social state of man ; the culti-
vation of the soil, the forming of spacious roads and
foot-paths, canals, rail-roads, and bridges ; the tml-
versal illumination of towns, villages, and the coon-
tiy at large, by gas-lights and other contrivances ;
the establishment of expeditious conveyances in
every direction by sea and land ; and the carrying
forward to perfection the various arts and sciences.
But as I have elsewhere advened a little to some of
these objects, I shall only add, in the meantime, that
the vahte and seewiif ofproperif in anf cown^^ do-
pendSf in a gre^ measwre^ i^nm the inieUigenee and
moraiiUf of its poptUaHon. If the whole mass of
society were thoroughly enlightened and moralized,
we should no longer hear oF*' strikes" taking place
among workmep, of servants embezzling the pro-
perty of their maimers, or of combinations being en-
tered into in opposition to the interests of their em-
ployers. Every man's house would be his castle ;
and we should lie down to rest in the evening in
perfect security from the incendiary, the insidioos
pilferer, and the midnight depredator. This secu-
rity has already been partially felt in tho^e coun-
tries where an enlightened education is general. —
Mr. Stuart, when describing the New England
States, remarks, that ** robberies very seldom hap-
pen in that country, and that the doors of houses are
frequently left unlocked during night"— the inhabi-
tants having little fear of either depredations or an-
noyance from their neighbors.

III. Intellectual and religious education, univer-
salljr extended, in combination with every other
Christian exertion, woold be more efficient than
any other arrangement hitherto made for hastening
the appFoach of the JIfiUenmwm, That a period is
about to arrive, when knowledge, holiness, and ioj,
shall distinguish the inhabitants of the world m a
degree far surpassing what we have yet experienced,
is cleariy predicted in the oracles of in^iration.—
By these oracles we are informed, that ** All the end*
of the world shall remember and turn to the Lord,
and all the kindreds of the nations worship before
him"— that '* the earth shall be full of the know-
ledge of Jehovah, as the waters cover the seat,"^
and that " all shall know him, from the least to ths
greatest."— that " the glory of the Lord shall be
revealed, and all flesh see it together,"— that ^ the
heathen shall be given to Messiah for his inheri-
tance, and the uttermost ends of the earth for his
possession,"— that " all kings shall fall down before
him, all nations serve him, and the whole earth be
filled with his glory,"— that during the continuance
of this happy era, ^' wars shall cease to the ends of
the earth, and the nations shall delight themselves
in the abundance of peace,"— that "the earth shall
yield her increase, and be fat and plenteous,"— that
the inhabitants "shall build houses and inhabit
them, and plant vineyards and eat the fruit of them,
and shall long enjoy the work of their hands,"— that
" they shall go out with joy and be led forth in peace,"
—that " there shall be nothing to hurt or d^troy,"
—and that " righteousness and praise shall ^nng
forth before all nations." In what manner, then,
may we conceive that such predictions will be ae-
complished t Are we to suppose that, by one ap-
palling act of Omnipotent power, the widred wOl
at once be swept from the face of the earth, and
that the physical aspect of our globe will be intently



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127



chaoged and renovated by the same Almighty ener-
gy, as at the first creation 1 Or, are we to conclude,
that this aospicioas era will be introduced in con-
sistency with the established laws of nature, and by
the a^ncy of human bein«i, under the influence
and direction of the Divine Spirit 1 For the former
supposition we have no evidence whatever in any
of the intimations given of this event in the Scrip-
tares, and it would be inconsistent with all that we
know of the by-past operations of the Divine (jK>-
vemment ; as might be clearly shown, bv an- induc-
tion of facts and arguments or various Kinds, were
this the proper place to enter into such a discussion.
If, then, we admit the latter conclusion, it will fol-
low, that the Millennium will be introduced by a
concentration of the moral and intellectual energies
of mankind directed to this great oWect— by follow-
ing out those plans which are calculated to promote
the renovation of the world— by the consecration of
a far greater proportion of our treasures for this pur-
pose tbnn has ever yet been thought of—and by di-
recting our eyes to the Supreme Disposer of event*
for that wisd(om which is " profitable to direct us"
in all our arrangements, acknowledging Him as the
original source of all our activities, and who alone
can render them successful.

What, then, are those means by which the moral
world may be renewed " in knowled^ and holiness,
after the ima^ of Him who created it 1" Undoubt-
edly the efficiefU training of the young from the
earliest period of infancy to the age of manhood, is
one of the first and most important steps to the
tboroueh renovation of the world— a subject which
has hitherto been egregiously trifled with, and al-
moet overlooked, in our Christian arrangements. —
We have all alone: laid too much stress upon the
mere preaching of the gospel, or, in other words, the
delivery of a piece of human composition to a mixed
multitude, the one-half of whom are unprepared by
previous instruction either to understand 04 to ap-
preciate its troths; and hence the comparatively
feeble effects which have been produced on the mor«d
characters of men ; hence the confused conceptions
entertained of Divine truth ; and hence it happens,
in certain cases, that the truth delivered rebiounds
from the heart like a ball of cork from a wall of
adamant, because it has not been previously prepar-
ed for its reception ; and, to palliate our remissness
and inactivirv, we have sometimes had the presump-
tion to ascribe this efTect to the withholding of Di-
vine influence. Let it not, however, be imagined
that I mean to discoun^ the preaching of tht; gos-
pel. No : nothing is farther l^om my intention. —
Let the gospel be proclaimed still more extensively,
and with far more energy and pathos than have ever
yet been displayed ; and let missionary exertions,
and every other Christian activity now in operation,
be carried forward with still greater vigor. But let
our chief attention be directed to the preparation
of the minds of the young for the reception of the
truths of reli^on^to invigorate their rational powers
and their principles of action, and to counteract, on
the first appearance, every evil propensity, — and
then we may expect that the " Word of Gkid*' will
soon run like a mighty river through the world, and
" have firee course and be glorified," enlightening
the understanding, purifying the affections, and
" bringing into captivity every thought to the obe-
dience of Christ." An intellectual, moral, and re-
ligious* education, universally extended, constitutes



• In this and various other parts of this work, I
have used the words moral and religious^ in compli-
ance with oommon usage, as if they conveyed dis-
tinct ideas. But I conceive that the idfas they ex-
Kress are so intimately connected that they can neVer
s separated. There can be no true morality but



the essence of the Millennium ; it is one of its chief
characteristics, and will form the foundation of all
the happiness which will then be enjoyed ; for it is
one of the distingnishiniir circumstances connected
with that period, that *'all shall know Jehovah,
from the least to the greatest." But how can we
expect that the superstructure can be reared, if the
foundations be not laid, or that " the desert will re-
joice and blossom as the rose," while the hand of
mdustry is never applied to root up the briers and
thorns, and to cultivate the soil 1

Is it inquired, when we may expect the Millenium
to commence 1 I reply, just when we please. Are
we willing that it should commence in the present
agel We have the means in our power, if we
choose to apply them. In the course of forty years
f\rom this date the Millennium might not only be
commenced, but in a rapid progress toward.s the
summit of its glory,— ^en^d^a we are willing at this
momeTtl to concejUrate all our moral and iniellectudl
energies, and to devote aU our superfluous wealth, or
at least a tenth part of it, to the furtherance of this
object. Nay, in the course of half that period, wa
should have a generation rising up in knowledge
and holiness, far superior to any race which has
appeared in the world during the ages that are past.
For, were we just now to commence a universal
system of infhnt instruction, and continue the course
through all the higher departments formerly speci-
fied — m the course of twenty years all the children
who are now about two years of age (if continued
in life) would have arrived at the age of twenty-two.
in an enlightened and moralized state, and would
form the most numerous and influential portion of
the population, and ^ive a tone to all ranks of socie-
ty. Even the physical aspect of the globe, within
the course of another century, might be renovated.
and adorned with every thing that is beautiful and
sublime. The wealth that has been expended in
the madness of warfare, even by ewilized nations,
during a century past, had it been appropriated to
philanthropic improvements, would have been sufll-
cient to hnve cultivated all the desolate wastes of
our globe, to have made its wilderness like Eden,
and Its deserts "like the garden of the Lord,"— in
short, to have transformed it into something ap-
proaching to a terrestrial paradise. We have it
m our power to accomplish all this in the century
to come, if we are wiuif^ to devote our energies
and our treasures to the purpose of philanthropy
and general benevolence.

But, is it of any avail to address the majoritv of
our fellow-men on this subject f No : we might as
soon speak to the tides and currents of the ocean,
and expect them to stop at our command, as to ex-
pect that the current of licentiousness, folly, ambi-
tion, and avarice, in which three-fourths of man-
kind are carried headlong, will stop its course, and
diverge into the channel of religion, philanthropy
and Mneficence. But I trust there is still a select
band of Christian philanthropists who only re-
quire to be convincijd of the necessity of extrap
ordinary exertion, and to receive an additional
stimulus, in order to excite them to a godlike libe-
rality, what sacrifice would it be to a man who
has £500 a-year to devote annually £100 to the pur-
poses of religious and intellectual improvement 1
to another who has £1000 a-vear to devote £300,
and to another who has £10,000 to allot £4000 an-
nually for the same object 1 It would not deprive



what is founded on religion, or the principles of
Christianity ; and religion can have no real ex-
istence but as connected with the morality of the
Bible— the promotion of which, in principle and
conduct, is the great obiect of all the revelations of
Heaven.



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MORAL IMPROVEMENT OF MANKIND.



any ooe of them either of the necessaries or of the
laxuries of life, or of an^ thio^ that ccmtribotes to
comfort, honor, or sensitive enjoyment It is now
high time that the sincerity of a profession of Chris-
tianitv shouJd be tried by the test of pounds, shillings,
and dollars. We have beheld numerous instances
of ministers and others aspiring aAer the highest
stations and the largest salaries, m order to increase
their incomes. Let us now see what sacrifices they
will make of the wealth which God has given them
for the purpose of promoting his glory in the world.
Let us see whether Qod or Mammon, whether the

I promotion of the best interests of mankind or " the
nst of the flesh and the pride of life," rule supreme
in their hearts. That man who refuses to come
forward with his wealth, when it is proved to be
requisite for the purposes alluded to, ought not to
assume the name of a Christian, He has never
felt the influence of that divine maxim of our
Saviour, " It is more blessed io give than to receive."
He virtually declares, that ** laying up treasures on
earth," providing fortunes for his family, keepinp^
up a certain rank in society, and living in luzun-
ous abundance, are matters of far greater impor-
tance than the approach of the Millennium and the
rei^eneration of tne world. If a man is in doubt
with respect to the existence of religious principle
in his .soul, I know not a better test than this, by
which to try the sincerity of his Christian profes-
sion : Is he willing, at the call of God, to give
up a portion of his possessions to His service, and
even " to forsake all " to prove himself " a follower
of Christ 1" There is a certain class of religionists
who are continually whining about the low state of
religion, and the wickedness that prevails among
all ranks ; and there is another class who are fre-
quently talking about the calculations that have
been made respecting the predicted period of the
" latter-day glory;" but when you ask any of these
classes to put their hands in their pockets, in order
to supply ineans for improving society and hasten-
ing the approach of that glory, they will rebound
from you as the north poles of two mi^ets rebound
from each other, and will tell you, with an air of
apathy and spintual pride, ' that the spirit is not
yet poured out, that man can do nothing of himself,
and that God's time is not yet come.' If Christians
were universally to act upon such views, the pre-
dicted glonr of future ages would never be realized.
'* It is not for us to know the times and the seasons
which the Father hath reserved in his own power;"
but we know that it is our present duty to consecrate
to the service of God and the good of mankind all
the powers and faculties with which we are invest-
ed, all the energies we are capable of exerting, and
nil the treasures not essential to our comfort, to ear-
ly forward the building of the Spiritual Temple,
and to " prepare the way of the Lord."

In short, it is now more than time that true Chris-
tians were rising above the false maxims of the
world, the calculating spirit of commerce, the de-
grading views of the sons of avarice, and the pur-
suit of earthly honors and distinctions, and acting
in conformity to the noble character by which they
wish to be distinguished. Let them come forward
in the face of the world, and declare by their con-
duct, and their noble generosity, that while they
enjoy and relish the bounties of'^the Creator, they
d^i«e the vain pageantry of fashionable life, with
all Its baubles, and are determined to consecrate to
rational and religious objects all the superfluities of
wealth which have been nitherto devoted to luxury
and pride. Every Christian hero should be distin-
guished in society (whether he be sneered at or
applauded by the men of the world) by his deter-
mined opposition to worldly principles and maxims
— by his abhorrence of avarice — ^by his active ex-



ertions in the cause of philanthropy— and by the
liberal portion of his sul»uance which he devotes to
the cause of education and religion; and the
Church ought to exclude from her pale all who re>
fuse, in this way. to approve themselves the disci-
ples of Jesus. Better nave a Church composed of
a select band of a hundred *' right-hearted men,"
ardent, generous, and persevering, than a thousand
lukewarm professors, who are scarcely distinguish-
able from tne world, and who attempt to serve boili
God and Mammon. Such a select band of Chris-
tian heroes, in different parts of the Universal
Church, "shining as lights in the world, in the
midst of a perverse generation," and exertin|r all
their influence and power in counteracting igno-
rance and depravity, and promoting the diflbsion
of every branch of useful knowledge, would do
more to prepare the way for the approach of the
Millennium, than ten times the number of a mixed
multitude of professing Christians who are sunk
into a state of apathy, and have little more of reli-



Online LibraryArchibald ForbesThe Christian library: a weekly republication of popular religious ..., Volume 6 → online text (page 104 of 121)