Obrazy na stronie


'Those w. 10 have made the human mind the one ject of their peculíar study, unanimously allow, that nothing contributes so materially to the happiness of society as a christian and well-directed system of education for youth. This has ever been looked upon as a public concern, a subject of universal interest; because, generally speaking, the early impressions made on the minds of children, are those which they longest retain; and the habits to which they are formed in youth, are those in which they persevere. The greatest and most enlightened Doctors of the Church, sensible that faults are corrected, and virtue inculcated, with more than ordinary facility and success in youth, have considered the cultivation of young minds as closely connected with the glory of God, and calculated to promote the temporal and eternal happiness of mankind. On that account, the greatest men were remarkable for their zeal in catechizing and instructing children. Many devoted their time and talents, not only to the religious instruction of youth, but like. wise to their education, that the system pursued therein may not interfere with their more important interests; others successfully exerted themselves in providing establishments, wherein young persons may acquire profane science, useful knowledge, and accomplishments suitable to their future prospects, without any risk of losing their innocence and piety; a danger always attendant on any system of public education which is not founded on religion, conducted by religion, and airected to religion. Opport inities for attaining education, similar to those provided by the pious and the learned for the youth of past generations, are, by the providence of Goi, within the reach of the youth of the present day. There are now, as there were formerly, multitudes instructed and educated in religious seminaries, whose piety in their progress through life, appears to be solid and en. lightened; whose minds are cultivated and formed; whose hearts are filled with the meekness and charity of Jesus Christ; and who exhibit striking evidences of the fruits which may naturally be expected from a religious education.

Unfortunately, however, there exists a strong antipathy to a religious education, founded on a misconception of its object, and tending materially to limit its advantages to much the smallest portion of society. This prejudice originates in the erroneous idea entertained by many, that this species of education is confined to such subjects as regard religion alone; that it excludes the sciences, and most branches of liberal education; and that, being incompatible with ornamental accomplishments and elegant manners, it is consequently better calculated to disqualify than to prepare any young lady for society. Such opinions are unfounded; they are entertained only by those who have no knowledge of the system pursued in conferring a christian education.

In that system, religion, it is true, is always, as it should be, the first object kept in view : a thorough knowledge of the duties and obligations of a christian is imparted to youth; a deep sense of the necessity of acting on that knowledge, by the constant discharge of those cbligations, is iinpressed on their minds; and those are held up to them uniformly as the most necessary, the most valuable and useful of all acquirements; as the si urce of true enjoyinents here, and the onły foundatior, for hoping eternal enjoyments hereafter. But that don's not prevent due attention being paid to every branch and education, and to every accomplishment which should enter into the system of a young lady's education. It is not a little to be lamented that this truth is not more generally understood or believed, by those who naturally desire to facilitate the studies of their children; for experience has proved the necessity and the utility of accompanying the education of youth with religious instruction. It has proved, beyond a doubt, that to instruct children thoroughly in the principles of the christian doctrine, and the truths and maxims of the gospel; to teach them to apply those truths to themselves, and to make them the rule of their conduct, is an excellent method of facilitating their progress in other pursuits, and in a great measure of insuring their success. For, to say nothing of the blessing which the Almighty always gives to such studies

as children are taught by religion to consecrate to his service, and to sanctify by the innocence of their lives, how could it be expected that young persons would persevere in restraining the levity, and conquering the sloth and inapplication of early years, so far as is necessary for succeeding in their studies, if not stimulated by a strong sense of duty ? Beside, this precaution becomes particularly requisite with regard to iemale youth, for every one who has any experience concerning them knows, that unless religious instruction teach them early the comparative insignificance of human acquirements, and fill their hearts with the fear and love of God, it will be very unsafe to fill their heads with mere worldly knowledge.

In fact, the little attention paid to young ladies in this respect, is the primary cause of the vanity, levity, extravagance, neglect of duty, and unchristian lives of many young persons, who certainly received a liberal, and otherwise judicious education. In the course of that education, great care, constant attention, instruc. tion of all kinds were perhaps lavished on them, and the utmost pains were taken to render them amiablo and accomplished members of society. but in vain


Why 80 ? Because religious insti action, and a contin aal application of its principles to tneir conduct in early life, did not enter into the system of their education. So insensible are the generality of young perse ni under such circumstances to their own real interests, that they seldom co-operate with the exertions of their teachers, and consequently those exertions seldom succeed. Little acquainted with a truth, which religious instruction renders familiar to its pupils, that disappointments and afflictions are the ordinary portion of mortals in their progress through life, they long for the expiration of their school days, and will not be persuaded that they are, in reality, the most peaceful, the happiest, and even the most precious of their lives. If they do not actually lose their time, their attention is.chiefly directed to such branches of education as they consider most ornamental ; and they neglect the less shining, but more valuable acquirements, which are indispensable in a woman. The time allotted to their studies expires, without their having well commenced them ;-they return home little acquainted with their duties to God, to society, and to themselves, and still less disposed to fulfil them ; accomplished, perhaps, but not educated, and particularly ill-qualified to discharge the useful and responsible duties of society, which are the birthright of women. Those evils, which are nothing when compared to subsequent misfortunes, may evidently be traced to the want of a religious education :-for, as the Scripture says, Those things which thou hast not gathered in thy youth, how shalt thou find them in thy old age ?

But how different is the conduct of those who are blessed by Providence with a religious education ! Being early instructed concerning the obligations contracted by their baptism, the great end of their creation, and the principles of their religion in genera! and moreover deeply impressed with the necessity of living according to the maxims of the gospel, in order to insure their salvation, they are generally disposed to set a high value on every opportunity of acquiring religious instruction. Beside, diligence in stady holds such a distinguished rank among their important duties, that it renders the otherwise thorny path of earning a sweet and pleasing one to them. It seldom happens, that a few years, thus devoted to the pursuit of virtue and useful knowledge, fail in forming the minds of young persons to the love of both; their whole time being divided between religious duties and necessary relaxation, they contract an early habit of being always profitably occupied. They imbibe the spirit of sincere piety, which not only teaches them what their duties are, but how to place their greatest satisfaction in discharging those duties faithfully. They gradually correct their faults, and even practise virtue in such a manner as would do credit to more matured age. They almost forget that there are any other amusements or pleasures than those innocent enjoyments within their reach; and are so perfectly sensible of the utility of school restraint, that they generally anticipate their emancipation from it with the deepest regret.

Thus the good seed frequently produces such speedy fruits in young persons, as give the most encouraging hopes of their becoming models of virtue to society, the consolation and ornament of their families; and perhaps instrumental to the salvation of many by their good example.

Another of the many groundless objections made to religious education is, that its pleasing fruits are often nipped in the bud, and that some young persons, who received a very christian education, are observed to be as anxiously devoted to the world and its vanities, as those who know nothing of religion.

Unhappily there have been individuals whose conduct justified such remarks; but, considering the fatal influence of bad example, bad company, ridicule, and all the other te nptations that assail young persous in suciety it is a wonderful proof of the effect of relja

« PoprzedniaDalej »