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

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oar errand upon earth. Think what opportunity
there is for the increase and operations of this noble
disposition. We are in a world which abounds
with evil. There are six hundred millions of im-
mortal souls, yet enslaved in their minds by the
chains of Pagan superstition or Mohammedan de-
lusions, aliens to the commonwealth of Israel, stran-
gers to the covenants of promise, without Gkni and
without hope in the world : there arc one hundred
end twenty millions following the Papal Beast^ and
bearing his image : there are nine millions of the
seed of Abraham, wandering as vagabonds over
the face of the whole earth, with the thick veil of
unbelief upon their hearts. In our own country,
many towns and villages are yet unblessed with the
faithful preaching of the gospel : multitudes of
adults are still without Bibles to read, and myriads
of children without a knowledge of letters : igno-
rance of the grossest Innd, vice of the most abomi-
nable forms, are to be found in every street. And
then, as to positive misery, what aboundings are to
be seen in every collection of human abodes : where
can we go and not hear the groans of creation as-
cending around us, and not see the tears of sorrow
flowing in our pathi Poverty meets us with its
heart-breaking tale of want and wo: disease in a
thousand shapes appeals to our compassion : widows,
orphans, destitute old men, and fatherless babes,
with numbers ready to perish, are almost every
where to be seen. Shall we live at the centre
of so much sin, ignorance, and wretchedness, and
not feel it our duty to do good ! What a wretch
most he be, who. in such a world, is destitute of
poBuc 8PIIUT7 For all that selfishness ever hoard-
ed, may you my children, never be cursed wtth an
unfeeling heart. Here is something for all to do,
and all ^onld do what they can.

Consider the felicity of doin^ good. Public spirit
is a perennial source of happmess in a man's own
bosom. The miser is rightly named : the word sig-
nifies misen^le, and miserable he is. Benevolence
is happiness. Its very tears are more to be desired
than the most exulting smiles which avarice ever
bestowed upon its accumulating treasures. Who
docs not covet that exquisite delight which Job must
have experienced in the days of nis prosperity, and
of which he thus speaks : " When the ear heard
me, then it blessed me ; and when the eye saw me.
then it gave witness unto me : because I delivered
the poor that cried, and the fatherless, and him that
had none to help him. The blessing of him that
was ready to perish came upon me : and I caused
the widow's heart to sing for joy. I was eyes to the
blind, and feet was I to the lame. I was a father to
the poor, and the cause that I knew not I searched
out.'* O tell me, what are all the pleasures of sense
or appetite, all the gay festivities of worldly amuse-



ments, when compared with thisi To do good, is
to be like Gk>d in operation and bliss ; for he is the
blessed God, because he is the merciful God.

Public spirit is mfst honorable. Even the heathen
accounted a benefactor a most honorable character.
Never does humanity appear adorned with so bright
a crown of glory, as wnen distinguished benevo-
lence, united with humble piety, enters into the cha-
racter. When a young lady, instead of frittering
away her time in frivolous pursuit^, parties of plea-
sure, personal decoration, or scenes of vanity, em-
ploys her hours in visiting the cottages of the poor,
alleviating the sorrows of the wreicned, reading to
the sick, how like an angel does she appear: and
one can almost fancy that she is watched with ex-
alted delight, on her visits of mercy, by the heaven-
ly messengers who minister to the heirs of salva-
tion, and who hail her as a coadjutor in their em-
bassies of lore. What is the most celebrated beau-
ty that ever became the centre of attraction, and
the object of voluptuous gaze, and the subject of
general envy to one sex, of admiration to the other
m the ball-room, where, amidst the blaze of dia^
monds and the perfumery of the East, she display-
ed her charms; compared with that modest and re-
tiring young woman, who, in her woollen cloak
and miry shoes, is seen on a cold wintry day at the
sick-bed of the poor expiring mother, first reviving
the sinking fhime of the sunerer with the cordial
she has prepared with her own hands, then dispens-
ing bread to her clamorous hungry babes, then
comforting her agitated mind with the consolations
of religion, and, last of all, soothing the troubled
breast of the distressed husband with the prospect
of a country, where there shall be no more death I

Of what is the man of polished manners, insinu-
ating address, sparkling wit, and endless anecdote,
whose society is courted, and who is the life of eve-
ry company into which he enters; who every where
receives the incense of praise, and the worship of
admiration ; I say, what is this man, in real gran-
deur, utility, and moral beauty of character, to the
unassuming youth, who, though well educated and
extensively read, and with a mind that could luxu-
riate in all the pleasures of literary pursuits, de-
votes a large portion of his time to the exercises of
benevolence : who on a Sabbath journeys to some
neighboring Village on foot, sustaining the storms
of winter, and the sultry heats of summer, to teach
a school of ignorant children, bound to him by no
tie but thatof ourt:ommon nature, to read the w6rd
of Gtod : who is often seen in the retired streets and
alleys of his own town, checking the torrents of
wickedness by the distribution of tracts, or the cir-
culation of the Bible: who, when fatigued with bu-
siness, would gladly seek the repose of home, or
eke, thirsting for knowledge, would fain converse
with books, but instead of this, devotes his evening
hours to assist in managing the business of public
institutions !

Need I ask which of these two is the most honor-
able character 1 They admit of no comparison.—
The wreath of literary fame, the laurel of the war-
rior, the tribute of praise ofi*ered to superior wit, are
empty and worthless compared with the pure bright
crown of the philanthropist. There is a time com-
ing when the former shall be of no value in the eyes
of their possessors, or the world ; but th^istinctioni
• of superior beneficence, belong to aa order which
shall oe acknowledged in heaven, and shall be worn
with unfading brilliancy through eternity.

I exhort, therefore, my children, that you do all
the good you can, both to the souls and bodies of
your fellow-creatures : for this end, as I have al-
ready said, you were bom into the world ; and so- .
ciety has claims upon your attention, which yoo
cannot neglect without disregarding the authority



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64



CHRISTIAN FATHER'S PRESENT.



of God. Gire yonr properiy for this purpose.—
Begin life with a conyiction that eyery one ought to
de7ote a fair portion of his worldly substance for
the benefit of others. No man ought to set apart a
less proportion of his income for the good of the
public, tnan a tenth. Whatever estate yours should
oe, whether great or small, consider tnat it comes
to yon with a reserved claim of one tenth for the
public. Consider yourself as having a right to only
nine tenths. Pay tithes of all you possess to the
cause of God and man. Be frugal in your general
expenditure, that you may have the more to do good
with. Waste not that upon unnecessary luxuries
of dre» or living, which thousands and millions
want for necessary comfort and religious instruc-
tion. The noblest trausformation of proper^ is not
into personal jewels, or splendid household furni-
ture, or costly equipages ; out into clothing for the
naked, food for the hungry, medicine for the sick,
knowledge for the ignorant, holiness for the vicious,
salvation for the lost.

Give your influence^ whatever it be, to the cause
of the public. We have all a circle of influence,
and it is more extensive than we imagine. We are
all, and always doing good or harm. Two persons
never meet, however short the duration, or what-
ever be the cause of the interview, without exerting
. some influence upon each other. An important
transaction, a casual hint, a studied address, each
and all may become the means of controlling the
mind of those with whom we have to do. Let your
influence be all thrown into the scale of the public
good. Do your own duty, and endeavor to rouse
others to do theirs.

Let your exertions in the public cause^ be the re-
sult of deliberate purpose^ not of mere accident. Set
yourselves to do good. Pursue a system, and act
not from caprice. Let not your zeal be a blaze at
one time, and a mere spark at another. Study your
situation^ circumstances^ talefUSf and let your benevo-
lence Jlow through that channel which Providence has
more especially opened before you. All are not fitted
for, nor are they called to the same work. In the
division of the labor of mercy, occupy that station,
and be content with that work, to whicJi you are
obviously destined. Avoid the disposition which
wU be first in the front rank, or no where. This is
selfishness, not benevolence: selfishness operating
in the way of activity, instead of indolence : of giv-
ing, instead of hoarding. Be anxious to do good,
thoueh, like the ministering angels, your agency
ahotud never be seen, but only felt. Do not be dis-
couraged by difilculty, nor disheartened by ingrati-
tnde : seek your reward in the approbation of con-
science, and the smile of God, not in the acknow-
ledgments of men. Persevere to the end of life ;
and be not weary in well doing. Be diligent, for
the world is dying around you, and you are dying
with it. You are young : but vou are mortal.—
Your time of working may be short, and therefore
strive to do much in a liule time ; for a man's life
is not to be measured so much by the years that he
lives, as by the work he does. You may die, but if
yon 00 good, your work lives ; lives and multiplies
its kind on earth, and then follows you to heaven,
ro live in your own remembrance, and in the hap-
piness of others through everlasting ages.

** As therefore we have opportunity, let us do good
imto all men ; especially unto them that are of the
household of faith : and let us not be weary in well
doing, for in due season we shall reap if we faint
not."* ^



* Every young person ought to read that incom-
parable work of Cotton Mather's, entitled, "Essays
b do good," edited by the Rev. G. Burder.



CHAPTER XIX.

ON FEMALE ACCOMPLISHMENTS, VIRTUES, AND PDSSUTT8.*

As THE perusal of thes'e volumes is intended for
those who may be supposed to have finished, or are
near the completion of scholastic pursuits, all that
can be designed in this chapter, is to follow up the
object of a good education, which probably it might
have been the felicity of many of my female readers
to receive ; or, in the opposite case, to correct the
faults, and point out in what way to supply the de-
fects of a bad one.

" A young lady may excel in speaking French
and Italian, may repeat a few passages from a vo-
lume of extracts ; play like a professor, and sin?
like a Syren ; have her dfessmg-roum decorated
with her own drawings, tables, stands, screens, and
cabinets ; nay, she may dance like Sempronia her-
self, and yet may have been very badly educated. —
I am far from meaning to set no value whatever on
any or all of these qualifications ; they are all of
them elegant, and many of them properly tend to
the perfecting of a polite education. Thei<e things
in their measure and degree may be done, but there
are others which should not be lefl undone. Manj
things are becoming, but * one thing is needfbL' —
Besides, as the world seems to be fully apprized of
the value of whatever tends to embellish life, there
is less occasion here to insist on its importance.

'' But though a well-bred young lady may lawful-
ly learn most of the fashionable arts, yet it does not
seem to be the end of education to make women of
ftishion dancers^ singers^ players^ painters^ actresses^
scuIptorSf gilders, vamishers, engravers, and cm-
brotderers. Most men are commonly destined to
some profession, and their minds are conseouently
turned each to its respective object. Would it not
be strange if they were called out to exercise their
profession, or to set up their trade, with only a little
general knowledge ot the trades of other men, and
without any previous definite application to their
own peculiar calling 1 The profession of ladies, to
whicn the bent of their instruction should be turned,
is that of daughters, wives, mothers, and mistresses
of families. They should be therefore trained with
a view to these several conditions, and be furnished
with a stock of ideas and principles, and qualifica-
tions and habits, ready to be applied and appropria-
ted, as occasion may demand, to each of these
respective situations; for though the arts, which
merely embellish life, must claim admiration, yet
when a man of sense comes to marry, it is a com-
panion whom he wants, and not an artist. It is not
merely a creature who can paint, and play, and
dress, and dance ; it is a being who can comfort and
counsel him ; one who can reason and reflect, and
feel, and judge, and act, and di<;coorse, and diwri-
minate ; one who can a.sslst him in his afiairs, light-
en his cares, soothe his sorrows, purify his jojrs,
stren^hen his principles, and educate his children."t

This is sound reasoning, and unquestionable dis-
cretion ; it proceeds on the obvious and indisputable
principle^ that the excellence of means is to be judged
of by tneir adaptation to the end to be produced ; and
the value of an instrument to be appreciated by its
fitness for the work contemplated. T%U is a per-
fect female education, which best prepares a wo-
man for the station in society which Providence
has destined her to occupy. And what is that sta-
tion! To be wives, mothers, and mistresses.—
Think not that this is degrading woman below her

* The Author has departed in this chapter fVom
the style of direct and particular address to his child-
ren, to a more general form of instrnctioo.

t Mrs. Hannah More.



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65



jost rank, or that sach a station requires nothing
more than an initiation into the mysteries of the
kitchen, or a memory well stored with the responses
of the " Cook's Oracle." If to be the suitable com-
panion of a sensible man ; the jndicioos mother of
a rising family ; the neat and orderly and frugal
mistress of an extensile household ; if to be quali-
fied to counsel her husband in the intricacies of life,
to soothe him in his troubles, to lighten his heart of
half its load of care, to enliven his solitude with.the
charm of her conversation, and render his home
'* the soft green," on which his weary spirit shall
love to repose ; if to be qualified to tram up her
children in the peUhs of religion, to form them to
habits of virtue, to preside over their education, and
the formation of their character, so as to multiply
in them her own image of female excellence, and
raise in each of them her second lovely self: if to
h^, qualified to render her house attractive, both to
it5 stated inhabitants, and the friends who may oc-
casionally resort to it : I say, if this be a low station,
and fimess for it be nothing more than mean quaJi-
fications, where, in all this world shall we find any
one that is high, or noble, or useful 1

For these sacred occupations has Providence des-
tined the female sex ; and say, what kind of educa-
tion fits for such a scene of endearing and important
dm ies 1 For such a circle of oblirations, she should
indeed be accomplished : " no term howeveij has been
more abused than this. Accon^ishment is a word
that signifies completeness, perfection. But I may
safely appeal to the observation of mankind, whether
they do not meet with swarms of youthful females,
issuing from our boarding schools, as well as emerg-
ing from the more private scenes of domestic edu-
cation, who are introduced into the world, under
the broad and universal title of accomplished ladies,
of whmn it cannot very truly be pronounced, that
the^ illustrate the definition, by a completeness
which leaves nothing to be added, and a perfection
Tvhich leaves nothioe to be desired."

" This phrenzy of accomplishments, unhappily.
is no longer restricted within the usual limits or
rank and of fortune j the middle orders have caught
the contagion, and it rages downward with increas-
ing violence, from the eleeantly dressed, but slen-
derl]^ portioned curate's daughter, to the equally
fashionable daughter of the little tradesman, and of
the more opulent, but not more judicious farmer. —
And is it not obvious, that as far as this epidemical
mania has spread, this very valuable part of society
w declining in usefulness, as it rises m its unlucl^
pretensions to elegance t And this revolution oi
the naanners of the middle class, has so far altered
the character of the age, as to be in danger of ren-
dering obsolete the heretofore common sajring, that
" most worth and virtue are to be found in the mid-
dle station." For I do not scruple to assert that in
general, as far as my observation has extended, this
class of females, in what relates both to religious
knowledge, and to practical industry, fails short,
both of the very high and the verv low. Their
new course of education, and the habits of life, and
elegance of dress, connected with it, peculiarly un-
fits them for the active duties of their own very im-
portant condition ; while, with frivolous eagerness
and second-hand opportunities, they run to snatch
a few of those showy acquirements which decorate
the great. This is done apparently with one or
other of these views : either to make their fortune
by marriage, or, if tnat fail, to qualify them to be-
come teachers of others : hence the abundant multi-
plication of superficial wives, and of incompetent
' and illiterate governesses."*

By accomplishments, I believe, are usually in-



tended dancing, music, drawing, the languages,

&C. &JC.

As for dancingf if it be allowable at all in a sys-
tem of Christian education, it cannot be permitted
to rise to a higher rank than that of mere vh/ysical
Waimngy which should be strictlv confinea to the
school, and laid aside for ever when the school is
quitted for home. Balls of every kind, public and
private, haby assemblies and adult ones, are, in my

nlgment,- reprehensible and injurious; and if our
itl's exposition of the seventh commandment be
correct, I am perfectly sure that an assembly-room
is no place for Christian morals: the hair-naked
costume, there exhibited, has the same effect as
Montesquieu ascribes to the dances of the Spartan
virgins, which taught them " to strip chastity itself
of modesty." Piety looks round in vain, in a ball-
room, for one single object congenial with its nature.

Music has not the same objections. The acquisi-
tion of this pleasing science requires a vigorous ex-
ercise of that faculty of the mind which is the foun-
dation of all knowledge— I mean aUoTUion; and
therefore, like the mathematics, is valuable, not
merely for its own sake, but as a part of mental edu-
cation.* Besides thb, the ear is tuned by its Maker
to harmony, and the concord of sweet sounds is a
pleasant and innocent recreation. Music becomes
sinful, only when too much time is occupied in ac-
quiring the science, or when it is appliea to demo-
ralizing compositions. I am decidedly of opinion
that, in general, far more time is occupied m this
accomplishment than ought to be thus employed.
Many pupils practise three, four, five, hours a day.
Now, suppose /<wf hours a day be thus spent, com-
mencing from six years of age, and continuing till
eighteen, then leaving out the Sundays, and allow-
ing thirteen days annually for travelung, there will
be 14,400 hours spent a^ the pianoforte, which, al-
lowing ten hours a day for the time usually devoted
to study, will make nearly four years out of twelve,
given to mmdc. Can this be justified, my female
friends, on any principle of reason or revelation 1
What ideas might have been acquired, what a stock
of knowledge amassed, what habits of mental appli-
cation formed, in this time! And what rendfen
this the more culpable is, that all this time is spent
in acquiring a science which, as soon as its possessor
is placed at the head of a family, is generally ne-
glected and forgotten. If it be really true, there-
fore, that music cannot be acquired without prac-
tising four hours a day, I do not hesitate to say that
the sacrifice is far too costly ; and females should
forego the accomplishment, rather than purchase it
at such a rate. It the great design, and chief excel-
lence of the female character, were to make a figure
for a few years in the drawing-room, to enliven the
gay scene of fashionable resort, and, by the fresh-
ness of her charms, and the fascination of her ac-
complishments, to charm ail hearts, and conquer
one, then let females give all their precious hours
till they can plav like Orpheus, or sing like a Syren ;
but if it be what I have already stated, then, indeed,
it will sound like a meagre qualification for a wife,
a mother, or a mistress, to say "she is an exquisite
performer on the harp or piano."

Drawing:, with all the fancy operations of the
brush, the pencil, the needle, and the scissors, are
innocent and agreeable, provided they are kept in



• Mrs. More.



• This, however, supposes that the pupil is really
made to comprehend the theory of music as she
goes on, and is made to play by the notes, instead of
the memonf. The ignorance of some teachers, and
the indolence of others, deprive music of all its salu-
tary power to strengthen tbe mind, and reduces it to
the mere business of teaching a child to play a few
tunes, which, bullfinch like, she has learnt by rote.



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66



CHRISTIAN FATHER'S PRESENT.



the place of recreations, and are not snfiered to rise
into occnpaiions. Of late years they have acquired
a kind of hallowed connection, and Fancy has been
seen carrying her painted and embroidered produc-
tions to lay on the altar of Mercy and of Zeal.
These things are sinful only when they consame
too much time, and draw the mind from the loveand
pursuit of more important and more necessary da-
ties. They are little elegant trifles, which will do
well enough to fill up the interstices of our time, but
must not displace the more momentous objects,
which require and occupy its larger portions.

The languages are accomplishments, for which
there is a great demand in the system of modern
education. I confess plainly, at once, that I rate the
importance of Frencn at a much lower rate than
many do. I believe not one in a hundred who pre-
tend to learn it, ever derive the least advantage from
it. The object of acquiring a foreign language, is
to converse with those who speak it, or to be as a
key to all the literature which it contains. To be
able to hammer out a few sentences, ill-pronounced
and worse constructed; to tell what a table, or a
house, or a door is, or pass the usual compliments
in French, is a miserable reward for years of dream-
ing or yawning over Levizac or Dn Fief. If, then,
yoa have begun French, or Italian, and still retain
any thing oiwhat you have learnt, give a moderate
portion of your time to recover what else will soon
be utterly lost ; for nothing is so soon lost from the
mind as a little of a foreign language. Pursue the
study till yon can, at least, read it with nearly a.s
much ease as your mother tongue. Perhaps the
diief advantage from this accomplishment is, that
it raises our reputation a little in elegant society,
and so far increases our weight of character, ana
thus enlarges the sphere of our usefulness.

On the subject of accomplishments, then, my views
are sufficiently explicit. The greater part of them
I by no means condemn. Custom has rendered them
necessary, religion allows them to be iimocent, and
ingenuity can render them useful. Piety is not in
a state of hostility with taste, and would not look
more lovely in Gothic barbarity than in Grecian
elegance. Provided she maintam all her sanctity,
dignity, spirituality and benevolence, she does not
appear less inviting, when attired by the Muses and
attended by the Graces. Females may play, and
draw, and paint, and write Latin, and speak Italian
and French, provided the time, the money, and the



Online LibraryArchibald ForbesThe Christian library: a weekly republication of popular religious ..., Volume 6 → online text (page 59 of 121)