Archibald Forbes.

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

. (page 112 of 121)
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they are frequently distinguished for heroism, hu-
manity, and a noble generosity ; and. were th^ i^e-
nerally instructed in useful knowledge and Chns-
tian morals, they might be rendered useful agents
in promoting the good of mankind both at home and
abroad. The " British and Foreign Sailors* Soci-
ety" was formed sometime ago, "for promoting
the moral and religious improvement of seamen."^
Of this society Lord Mountsand ford is president;
Alderman Pirie, and Q. F. Anns, Esi, treasu-
rers ; the Rev. Dr. Cox, and the Rev. T. Timpson,
secretaries— gentlemen distinguished for their ac-
tivity in every department of philanthropic labor.r.-
The principal scene of their labor is the port of
London, where the gospel is preached, and prayer
meetings held on board ships, every evening, bjr
agents of the society, who distribute Bibles, reli-
gious books and tracts, and enter into conversation
with the seamen on moral and religious suWects,—
They have already spent upwards of £2000 in fit-
ting up a chapel and other buildings, and have pro-
vided 140 " Loan Ship Libraries," comprising 4000
volumes, now abroad m many vessels ; and 50 small
libraries for the fishing smacks sailing from the
Thames j besides the " Vestry Library," which con-
tains upwards of 3000 volumes, daily open to sailors
in the depot of the chi^pel ;— but the want of ade-
quate funds prevents them fVom enlarging the
sphere of their operations. To complete such be-
nevolent arrangements, it would be requisite, could
funds be procured, to establish schools on a moral
and intellectual principle, some of them adapted to
the ckUdnn of sailors, and others for the rational
instruction of adults. Lectures on popular science,
accompanied with experiments, might likewise be
occasionally delivered ; and the religious books con-
tained in the libraries blended with popular and in-
teresting publications on geography, astronomy, ex-
perimental philosophy, history, voyages, travels,
and other departmenU of knowledge. Were sailors
well instructed and moralized, they might improve
their own minds by reading and conversation, dur-
ing long voyages, and feel a superior degree of en-
joyment to what they now experience; they might
be the means of promoting both knowledge and re^
ligion in foreign lands— thev mi^ht soon he accus-
tomed to contemplate with mtelUgence the various
scenes of nature which pass under their observa-
tion, and record them for the information of others
— and thus become contributors to science, and be-
nefactors to their spedes, instead of " increasing "
as ther often do, ** the transgressors amon^ men."

Xin. In order to carry into effect the hints aufw
gested in the preceding pages, sodMiia might h
f0rmaforthefrmaii^9f •dmeoHaw, amdVagm^
ral i m p r0V€miiU 0f the iocuU sUUi,

From the operations of Bible and Missionary
Associations, it is evident how much may be achiev-
ed by the formation of societies for the accomplish-
meat of a speeifie objeot. The societies to which I
•Unde, indnding the Church Mistionaiy, Scottish^



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MORAL IMPROVEMENT OF MAKRlffD.



London, Weslrran, and sererml others, now raise
nearlr £300,000 annually. The general object I
troald propose to accomplish b^ a new association,
is as important as any otner which has yet enp^agecf
the public attention ; for it lies at the foundation of
all other philanthropic plans, and they can never
be brought into extermve operation till it be accom-
plished. If all ranks were thoroughly instructed
in knowledge and religioD, and, consequently, led
to appreciate the importance of Chrisiianity, and
the necessity of its universal propagation, the funds
of our missionary institutions, and the energies
with which they would be conducted, would be in-
creased tenfold more than they now are. and few
individuals would be found altogether indifferent to
such noble enterprises. Such an association might
be instrumeutal m calling the attention of the pub-
lic to the subject^in diffusing information respecting
it^n detailing plans for accomplishing the erand
object intended— in illustrating the noble and oeoe-
ilcial effects which would flow from its accomplbh-
ment - 4md in exciting the more wealthy members
of the community to contribute a portion of their
substance for carrying forward the requisite ar-
ran|:ement8. By such a society, with all the auxi-
liaries that might be formed throughout a nation, it
would scarcely be too much to expect that a million
of ponnds might annually be procured, which wonld
render society nearly independent or the caprices
and partialities of civil rulers, or of the grants of
money which governments might either withhold
or bestow.

XIV. Before any plan for the improvement of
mankind can be brought extensively into effTect^ the
principle of avarice^ as it now operates in society,
wiusi b€ ammteracted and mbdutd.

The great object of the majority of mankind ap-
pears to be, to acquire as much wealth as possible,
not for the purpose of applying it to the service of
God and the good of society, but to ^tify a selfish
principle ana an avaricious propensity — to make a
splendid figure in life, to lay op portions for chil-
uren, or merely to glory in the idea of having hun-
dreds or thousands of guineas or bank notes depo-
sited in a chest, in the stocks, or other place of se-
curity. Every one seems to think that ne may use
his money jnst as he pleases, without being respon-
sible to a higher Power ; and even many of tno«e
who call themselves ChrUHanSf are glaringly guilt v
oi that " covetoosness which is idolatry " although
they are pointedly admonished that " the love of
money is the root of all evil," and, consequently,
the prevention of much good ; and that '* it leads
into many snares and temptations, and foolish and
hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and

Serdition.** Nothmg can be more irrational and
egrading than for an immortal being to hoard up
treasures which he never applies to any useful pur-
pose, and who only feasts his imagination with the
idea that he has them, to a certam amount, in his
possession. Yet thousands of such characters exist
even in the Christian world. What should we
think of the man who took it into his head to lav up,
in a large shed or garret, which was carefblly lock-
ad up from public view, 5000 pair of boots, 10,000
tea-cups, 90,000 cofiR*e-pots, or 90,000 cork-screws,
with no other view than to please his fancy, and to
tell the world that he bad such a number of articles
in his possession 1 We should, doubtless, consider
him as an arrant fool, or even as a downright mad-
man. And what is the difiTerence between hoarding
thousands of guineas, dollars, or hank notes, which
are n^ver bronrht forth for the benefit of mankind,
•nd^ accumulating fifty or a hundred thousand pair
of boots, spurs, or knee-buckles 1 How ridiculous
would it appear if all that could be said of a man
whan ha died was, that the great object of his life



was to lay up in store 25,000 tea-kettles, which were
never intended for cooking, and 30,000 great-coats,
which were never intended to be worn 1 Equally
foolish and contemptible is it, to lay up thousands
of pounds or dollars that are never consecrated to
the glorv of God or the good of man. I know in-
dividuals who are worth £1000 ly-year, and ubose
annual expenditure does not amount to above £150;
and I know others who are worth ten times that
sum, who do not spend above two or three hundred:*
a-year ;~3ret it is sometimes difficult to obtain frona
them a guinea, or even a few shillings, for a reii-
eious or philanthropic object ; and, were you to call
in question their Cbristianiiy, it would be consider-
ed as little short of an insult.*

It becomes Christian churches and ministers 8e>-
riously to consider this subject, if they wish to see
the principles of pure Christianity reduced to prac-
tice, and worldly maxims undermined, and if they
would be instrumental in preparing the way for tte
universal propagation of the gospel, and the arnral
of the predicted Millennium. Were it not for the
prevalence of the debasing principle of avaricej we
should, ere long, have seminaries of all descripaons
established among us, for training both the young
and old in knowledge and virtne, and " to glory
and immortality"— we should have our towns and
cities cleared of every nuisance— our roads and
foot-paths improved— our deserts turned into fruit-
M fields— new towns and villa^ erected on spa*
cious plans— intelligence speedily and cheaply con-
veyed— the physical aspect of the country beautified
and adomea— and the whole frame of society trans-
formed and re-modelled, in conformity with the
principles of reason and religion. Were I to enter
into minute calculations on this subject, it might
easily be shown, that the wealth presently possessed
by civilized nations, were it properl3r distributed
and applied^ would be more than sufficient to intro-
duce every improvement in society, physical, moral,
and intellectual, of which the terrestrial state of
man is susceptible— to raise the degraded mass of
this world's population to intelligence and vinne—
to bring into a state of cultivation almost erery
waste on the face of the globe— to intersect every
country with canals and railroads— and to trans-
form the whole earth into a paradise, scarcely in-
ferior in beauty to that which appeared at the first
creation. And those who expended their superflu-
ous wealth in such noble achievements, so fiir
from having any of their sensitive enjoyments di-
minished, would enjoy a happiness, botn physical
and mental, far surpaissing any thing which they
formerly experienced.

RBCAPrrULATiaif AMD CONCLUflON.

In the preceding pages I have endeavored to
illustrate a variety of topics in reference to the edu-
cation and general improvement of all classes oi
society— particularly tne physical, moral, and in-
tellectual instruction of infants - -the advantages
which would result fh)m the universal establish-
ment of infknt schools— the seminaries which re-
quire to be erected for the instruction of youth from
tne age of six to the age of fifteen years— the plan
and arrangement of school-rooms, and the objects
and apparatus with which they should be fbmished
-^the principles on which school-books should be
constructed— the modes of teaching, by which sub-



• Tne lata distinguished philanthropist, J. B. WiU
soD, Esq. of Clapham Common, was once heard to
say of one who nad been looked up to as a good
man and Christian, **He died wickedly rich,"—
evidently implying, Uiat he thought such a man's
Christiabity was extremely doobtftil.



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MORAL IMPROVEMEKT OF MANStND.



168



vtiadal knowledge and moral principle may be
commMicated— M« branchet of knewledfe which
9h&uUh€UughtU4Ul€latm of the amtmiMiav— the
rationai and inUUeeiiuU processes by which a Know-
ledge of them is to be coovejed-Hlie moral and re-
ligious iaetraction of the yoang— the manner in
which Sabbath schools shoald be condacted, and
the <)aaliflcations requisite for every teacher in such
institutions— the seminaries which require to be
established for yonn&r persons of both sexes from
Che age of fifteen to ihe age of twenty yean or up-
wards—the qualifications re<)uisite for teachers of
all deseriptions, and the seminaries which ought to
be established for their instruction — thtpraclkahiliki
of establishing all such institutions— the uUliif of
such improyements in education, in counteracting
crime, raising the moral and intellectual character
of man, and preparing the way for the approach of
ihe millennial era— the princwUs on which national
aystems of education should be established— me-
chanics' in8titation8,aiid the improyements of which
they are susceptible— with a yariety ofmiscOkMeous
hiiUs in reference U the difiuion of knowledge and
the imfrovemeni of generaf society.

Were such institutions once established throngli-
oot eyery part of our country and of the workfat
laife, thoroughly imbued with the spirit of Chris-
tianity, and conducted with actiyity and zeal— there
can be little doubt that they would, ere long, be ac-
companied with the most interesting and t«neficial
results. We should soon behold ignorance, foolish
prejudices, superstition, enthusiasm, bigotry, and
mtolerance, with all their accompanying evils, gra-
dually eyanishing fVom the world, as the shades of
night before the rising sim. We should behold the
human mind aroused fVom the slumber of ajares, ex-
erting its energies on objects worthy of its high dig-
nity and destination, ana condnciye to the improve-
ment and the happmess of the social state. We
should behold science enlarging its botradaries, the
useful and ornamental arts carried to perfection,
and the universe more fully explored throughout
all its departments. For we should then have a
thottsana experimenters, and a thousand intelligent
observers or the phenomena of nature, for one that
exists in the present state of intellectual debasement.
New and interesting experiments would be institut-
ed, new flicts explored, new regions of the universe
laid open to view, and a nobleness, a ligor, and a
lofty spirit of independence, on every subject of
thought, displayed l^ the human mind. We should
behold avarice, pride, ambition, revenge, and other
malignant passions, in a great measure extirpated ;
and a spirit of love, aifection, liberality, and har-
mony, pervading every department or the moral
worul. We should behold the Christian world ap-
proaching to a harmonious union— the spirit of
jealousy and dissension laid to rest- the demon of
persecution chased out of the worid— the truths of
religion and its holy prfaiciples recognised in every
dtepirunent and arrangement in socie^— the great
realities of the eiemajf world contemplated in thdr
true light and men of all ranks walking hand in
hand, as brethren of the same family to the same
glorious and incorruptible inheritance.

In the progress of such institutions— wben they
shall have been brought into full operation— I be>
hold, in the promect dt Aiture ages, the most impor-
tant transformations, and the most glorious results,
in the improvement both of the intSUckial and of
the vhyncal world. I behold the surihce ci the
earth, at no distant period, adorned with yeg^able
and architectural beauties and embellishments— our
deserts transformed into ftnirAd ilelda— our marshes
drained— our moors and heath-clad mountains
adoraet! with fruitful t rees our gardens producing
dw frnltt df every clime— our bff bways broad and



spacious, accompanied with cleanly footpaths, and
at the distance of every half-mile faminbed with
seats and bowers for the shelter and refreshment of
the passing iravcller, and every bower /umisbed
with Penny Magazines and other works for the in-
struction and amusement of every one who has
leisure to peros»e them-^-our abominable lanes and
closes, the seats of physical and moral pollntion.
completely demolished and laid open to the light or
heaven-'-our narrow streets expanding into spacious
squares, cheered with the solar beams, and with
rural prospects, and ventilated with the refreshing
breeze— our densely crowded cities almost com-
pletely demolished, and new cities arising from their
ruins, on noble and expansive plans, corresponding
to the expansive state of the human mind.

I behold the dvnaUs of the earth meliorated by
the hand of genius and industry^^y the cutting
down of forests, the dmining of marshes, the im-
provement of sandy and rocky wastes, ana the uni-
versal cultivation of the soil— the thiraderbolts of
heaven, wielded by the philoeiophic sage, and the
forked lightnings, directed by the hand of art, to
play in harmless coruscations in the regions of the
dotids.— I behold locomotive en^rtncs, steam-carria-
ges, and air-balloons, brought to perfection, trans-
porting multitudes of human beings from one city to
another, from one nation to another, and from one
continent to another, with a degree or velocity which
has never yet been atteoopted.— I behold the savage
restored to the dignity ofhis moral and intellectcnd
nature, no longer roaming the desert wild and un-
cultivated like the beasts of prey, throwing aside his
warlike bows and his battle-axes, directing his fh-
culties to the improvement of his species, and to the
most sublime investigations.— I behold men of all
nations and kindreds cultivating a harmonious and
friendly intercourse ;— the tribes of New Holland,
Borneo, Sumatra, and Bfadagascar. visiting the Brip
tish Isles with the productions or their respective
climates, and holding literary and religious corres-
pondence with the directors of our phik>sophical and
missionary associations, on all the subjects of Chris-
tian and scientific investigation.

I behold the scenery of the heavens more frilhr ex-
plored, and new prospects opened into the distant
regions of the universe— the geography of the moon
brought to perfection, its mountains and vales tho-
roughly explored, and traces of the existence and
operations of its inhabitants exhibited to view- the
nature of comets ascertained— the causes of the va-
rious phenomena which appear on the jiianete ex-
plained—the construction or the jimi, and the nature
of his spots determined— the sublime scenes con-
nected with the ntw and variabUe stars. doMe and
trMe stars, and the many thousands of neMm dis-
persed through the regions of boundless qMce, more
frilly displayed— and the Divine character and per*
fections appearing with still greater lustre and mag^
nificence tnroughout the amplitudes of creation.

I behold the ministers of religion expatiating;
amidst thousands of Infelligent worshippers, on
higher themes and more diversified topics than those
to which they are now necessarily restricted— not
confining their attention merely to first principles,
and to a few fragments of the Christian system, but
taking the whole of Divine Revelation as their text-
book, and d*.riving their illustrations of it from the
records of Providence, and from all the diversified
scenes of the tmiverse.- In fine, I behold the human
soul, thus elevated and refined^ and endowed with
muMfkrious knowledge, droppmg its earthly taber-
nacle in the dust, and, m another and a higher ra-
ffon of existence, contemplating the economyof
other worlds, exploring the wonders of Divine Wls-
dcm and Omnipotence throughout the immensity of
creation, prying into the mysteries of human re*



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MOfiAL IMPROVEMENT OP MANKIND.



demptioD, rising nearer and Dearer to the Divinity,
expatiatinff amidst objects of beautj and bcDeficence,
and beholding new scenes of grandeur and felicity
rising to view, in boundless perspective, while ages,
numerous as toe drops of the ocean, are rolling on.
Let none imagine that sucii views are either ro-
mantic or Utopian^they are the necessary resuUs of
what will undoubtedly take pla&e, when knowledge
and Christian principles arc universally diffused.—
It is owing chiefly to ignoramce and the prevalence
of malignant principles, that science has been so slow
in its progress, that contention and warfare have
wasted and demoralized the nations, that the earth
has been left barren and uncultivated, that savages
have been permitted for ages to roam without arts
and instruction, that religion has been neglected,
and that so manjr evils, physical and moral, have
been introduced into the social state. Remove the
cause of existing evils, and opposite effects will be pro-
duced—effects surpassing, m benignitjr and grand-
eur, every thing wnich has occurred since time be-
gan. In the present age, distinguished from all the
periods of time which have hitherto elapsed, these
effects are'



now gom^

and religions ,

approach of a more auspicious and enlightened era.
The rapid progress of scientific discoveries, and of
improvements in the art»— the numerous and cheap
publications, on all subjects of useful knowledge,
now issuing from the press, in hundreds of thou-
sands at a time, and read by all classes of the com-
munity — the erection of public seminaries on new
and improved plans, throughout different countries
both of JSurope and America— the establishment of
philosophical institntions, missionary associations,
and reading societies, in ever]f town^ and almost in
every pari&^the extensive circulation of newspa-
pers, magazines, and literary and religious journals,
of all descriptions— the steam-boats and carriages
which have been constructed, and the numerous
canals and rail-roads which have been formed, for
the speedy conveyance of passengers from one place
to another, in order to facilitate the intercourse of
human beings— the application of machiner3r to the
di^rent arts and manufactures, for increasing the
productions of human labor— the def4re excited
among all ranks, even the lowest, for rational infor-
mation, and for in vestigating e vciy subject connected
with the happinew of the social state— the abolition
otHaverfff with all its degrading accompaniments—
the ^formations going forward both in Church and
State— the spirit of liberty bursting forth among the
nations in both hemispheres of the elobe— the con-
version of savage tribes to Christianity, and their
advamsement in knowledge and civilization,— these,
and many similar movements, viewed in connection
with the Divine declarations, that " Wars shall
oeaae to the ends of the worid," and that '^ the earik
skaU UJUUi via HU bnotOedge <>/ JUUtMU**- [daialy
point to « period which is on the wing, whan the
fight ef tnitli shall irradiate the inhabatanta of every



region, and when impdnovf ments of every descri p tion
shall be introduced into every department or the
physical and moral world. It only remains, that, as
agents under the Moral Governor of the workL we
arouse ourselves from our present lethargy, and de-
vote all our power^ and wealth, and energies, to the
accomplishment of such prions designs, reiAiog
assured, that "our labor," if conducted with wisdom
and perseverance, "shall not be in vain in the
Lord.^'

in fine, if the worid is ever to be enlightened and
regenerated — if the predictions of ancient prophets
are to be fulfilled — if the benevolent purpoaes of the
Almighty, in relation to our world, are to be aoeom-
plished— if war is to cea^e its desolating ravages,
and its instrumepts to be transformed into ploujEch-
shares and pruning-hooks— if selfishness, avarice,
injustice, oppression, slavery, and revenge, are to
be extirpated from tne earth— if the tribes of man-
kind are to be united in the bonds of affection, and
righteousness, and praise spring forth before all
nationa— if the various ranlra of society are to be
brought into harmonious association, and united in
the bond of universal love — ^if the heathen world is
to be enlightened, and the Christian world cemented
in one grand and harnxAious union— if the land-
scape of the earth is to be adorned with new beau-
ties, and the wilderness made to bud and bknaom as
the rose — ^if " the kingdonu^ of this world are to be-
come the kingdoms of our Lord and his Messiah,''
" the whole earth filled with his glorv," and his
sceptre swayed over the nations throughout all suc-
ceeding a ges t hese long-expected events will, im-
doubtedly, be introduced by the universal instroe-
tion of aJl ranks, in every thing that has a bearing
on their present nappiness, and their immortal des-
tiny. If we, therefore, refose to lend our helping
hand to the acoomplishmcBt of this great obiect, wc
virtually attempt to frustiate the purposes of the
Eternal, and to prevent the present and future ha|>-
piness of mankind. And while we pray to the
*' Great Lord of all," that be would " appear in his
glorvtomen," and hasten the time when *' his name
shall be great frcMn the rising to the setting son," we
only offer an insult to the Aujesty of Heaven, while
we refuse to consecrate our wealth and influence to
his service, and to engage in holy activitjr as " work-
ers together with God." We may legislate as we
have hitherto done, for ages tooome— we nay make,
unmake, and modify our civil laws, enibrce him-
dreds of regnlaticms and enactments for eke pnnisb-
ment and prevention of erini^-^we may build thao-
sands of churches and colleges, and acaideBies with-



Online LibraryArchibald ForbesThe Christian library: a weekly republication of popular religious ..., Volume 6 → online text (page 112 of 121)