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    RELIGION.   Table of Contents     BENEVOLENCE.

Plato, Ann
Essays

- EDUCATION.

EDUCATION.


This appears to be the great source from which nations have become civilized, industrious, respectable and happy. A society or people are always considered as advancing, when they are found paying proper respect to education. The observer will find them erecting buildings for the establishment of schools, in various sections of their country, on different systems, where their children may at an early age commence learning, and having their habits fixed for higher attainments. Too much attention, then, can not be given to it by

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people, nation, society or individual. History tells us that the first settlers of our country soon made themselves conspicuous by establishing a character for the improvement, and diffusing of knowledge among them.

We hear of their inquiry, how shall our children be educated? and upon what terms or basis shall it be placed? We find their questions soon answered to that important part; and by attending to this in every stage of their advancement, with proper respect, we find them one of the most enlightened and happy nations on the globe.

It is, therefore, an unspeakable blessing to be born in those parts where wisdom and knowledge flourish; though it must be confessed there are even in these parts several poor, uninstructed persons who are but little above the late inhabitants of this country, who knew no modes of the civilized life, but wandered to and fro, over the parts of the then unknown world.

We are, some of us, very fond of knowledge, and apt to value ourselves upon any proficiency in the sciences; one science, however, there is, worth more than all the rest, and that is the science of living well--which shall remain "when tongues shall cease," and "knowledge shall vanish away."

It is owing to the preservation of books, that we are led to embrace their contents. Oral instructions can benefit but one age and one set of hearers; but these silent teachers address all ages and all nations. They may sleep for a while and be neglected; but whenever the desire of information springs up in the human breast, there they are with mild wisdom ready to instruct and please us.

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No person can be considered as possessing a good education without religion. A good education is that which prepares us for our future sphere of action and makes us contented with that situation in life in which God, in his infinite mercy, has seen fit to place us, to be perfectly resigned to our lot in life, whatever it may be. Religion has been decreed as the passion of weak persons; but the Bible tells us "to seek first the kingdom of heaven, and His righteousness, and all other things shall be added unto us." This world is only a place to prepare for another and a better.

If it were not for education, how would our heathen be taught therefrom? While science and the arts boast so many illustrious names; there is another and more extended sphere of action where illustrious names and individual effort has been exerted with the happiest results, and their authors, by their deeds of charity, have won bright and imperishable crowns in the realms of bliss. Was it the united effort of nations, or of priestly synods that first sent the oracles of eternal truth to the inhospitable shores of Greenland--or placed the lamp of life in the hut of the Esquemaux--or carried a message of love to the burning climes of Africa--or that directed the deluded votaries of idolatry in that benighted land where the Ganges rolls its consecrated waters, to Calvary's Sacrifice, a sacrifice that sprinkled with blood the throne of justice, rendering it accessible to ruined, degraded man.

In proportion to the education of a nation, it is rich and powerful. To behold the wealth and power of Great Britain, and compare it with China;

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America with Mexico; how confused are the ideas of the latter, how narrow their conceptions, and are, as it were in an unknown world.

Education is a system which the bravest men have followed. What said Alexander about this? Said he: "I am more indebted to my tutor, Aristotle, than to my father Philip; for Philip gives me my living, but Aristotle teaches me how to live." It was Newton that threw aside the dimness of uncertainty which shrouded for so many centuries the science of astronomy; penetrated the arena of nature, and soared in his eagle-flight far, far beyond the wildest dreams of all former ages, defining with certainty the motions of those flaming worlds, and assigning laws to the fartherest star that lies on the confines of creation--that glimmers on the verge of immensity.

Knowledge is the very foundation of wealth, and of nations. Aristotle held unlimited control over the opinions of men for fifteen centuries, and governed the empire of mind where ever he was known. For knowledge, men brave every danger, they explore the sandy regions of Africa, and diminish the arena of contention and bloodshed. Where ever ignorance holds unlimited sway, the light of science, and the splendor of the gospel of truth is obscure and nearly obliterated by the gloom of monkish superstition, merged in the sable hues of idolatry and popish cruelty; no ray of glory shines on those degraded minds; "darkness covers the earth, and gross darkness the people."

Man is the noblest work in the universe of God. His excellence does not consist in the beautiful

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symmetry of his form, or in the exquisite structure of his complicated physical machinery; capable of intellectual and moral powers. What have been the conquests of men in the field of general science? What scholastic intrenchment is there which man would not have wished to carry--what height is there which he would not have wished to survey--what depth that he would not like to explore?--even the mountains and the earth--hidden minerals--and all that rest on the borders of creation he would like to overpower.

But shall these splendid conquests be subverted? Egypt, that once shot over the world brilliant rays of genius, is sunk in darkness. The dust of ages sleeps on the besom of Roman warriors, poets, and orators. The glory of Greece has departed, and leaves no Demosthenes to thunder with his eloquence, or Homer to soar and sing.

It is certainly true that many dull and unpromising scholars have become the most distinguished men; as Milton, Newton, Walter Scott, Adam Clarke. Newton stated of himself, that his superiority to common minds was not natural, but acquired by mental discipline. Hence, we perceive that the mind is capable of wonderful improvement. The mother of Sir William Jones said to to him when a child: "If you wish to understand, read;" how true, that "education forms the mind."

How altogether important, then, is education; it is our guide in youth, and it will walk with us in the vale of our declining years. This knowledge we ought ever to pursue with all dillgence. Our whole life is but one great school; from the

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cradle to the grave we are all learners; nor will our education be finished until we die.

A good education is another name for happiness. Shall we not devote time and toil to learn how to be happy? It is a science which the youngest child may begin, and the wisest man is never weary of. No one should be satisfied with present attainments; we should aim high, and bend all our energies to reach the point aimed at.

We ought not to fail to combine with our clear convictions of what is right, a firmness and moral courage sufficient to enable us to "forsake every false way," and our course will be like that of the just--"brighter and brighter unto the perfect day."


    RELIGION.   Table of Contents     BENEVOLENCE.