Page images
PDF
EPUB

666

Testament, and finishing with the Latin authors (which I presume is Mr. Gisborne's plan) at the age in which the strengthened reason is enabled to discern the good and reject the evil. But,' proceeded my father, the more I consider these subjects, the more I am perplexed. For if I have passed an erroneous judgment on the heathen authors, almost the whole reading world must be equally wrong: since I have never seen, nor even heard of any person, who seemed to consider classical studies as improper for very young people, or who undertook to represent our devotion to these studies as an offence against God.'

-6And does Mr. Gisborne assert so much as this?' I asked.

Certainly he does, if not by words, at least by actions,' replied my father; and I hope when a little time has increased our mutual confidence, that I shall induce him to declare his whole mind on this subject, which has for some time occupied my most serious thoughts.'

" Here my father broke off the discourse. But it was not many days afterwards, before he renewed the subject with Mr. Gisborne himself, in my presence, requesting him, in a very serious manner, to state to him the motives which had induced him, in the case of Alfred, to depart from the usual plan of education, in order to pursue a path that had hitherto been rarely tried; a circumstance which he could regard in no other light than that of a hazardous experiment.

"Sir,' returned Mr. Gisborne, 'as the parent of my pupil, you have the best right to put this question to me; and, if it is your pleasure, I shall state to you the motives of my conduct at large---premising, that it was not without deep reflection that I dared to quit the beaten path, fully aware that I should be subjected thereby to the disapprobation of the world in general. But the lady your daughter, now no more, strengthened my hands on this occasion, and upheld me when I should undoubtedly have fainted; and now she receives the reward of her well-doing, and rejoices in glory unspeakable, in that she was enabled to choose the better part for that dear child whom she was so soon to leave behind her, in a corrupt world.'

son.

My father seemed much affected by these last words of Mr. Gisborne; and, struggling to conceal his feelings, he assured him, that it would be with no inferior interest that he should listen to all he had to say on the important subject in question.

“Mr. Gisborne bowed; and speaking with his usual deliberation, 'I presume, Sir,' he said, “ that I am addressing one who admits the Bible to be the word of God, and its precepts the indisputable rules by which the fitness and unfitness of every action can alone be measured.'

“In reply to this, my father bowed, and acknowledged his entire acquiescence in these orthodox views.

Such being the case,' continued Mr. Gisborne, ‘I shall not despair, my dear Sir, of making you comprehend the motives of my conduct respecting your little

This holy book, my good Sir, has always been my guide and counsellor; at least, I have wished especially to make it so, in the arduous task which I have undertaken of conducting the education of an immortal creature.'

"You could not have done better, than to take the advice of such a counsellor, my good Sir,' replied my father, provided that the sacred writings are found to afford lights sufficient for the management of this business. But were I to give my opinion, I should say, that the word of God, affecting higher matters, does not descend to such particulars as would enable any one to shape his conduct, in regard to the education of a child, precisely according to any specified rules.'

Sir,' returned Mr. Gisborne, 'I can hardly agree with you in this particular: and I will venture to assert, that if the Scripture does not throw sufficient light on the subject of education, we have no other guide whatever on which we, can reasonably depend; for he that made man, and alone knows what is in man, must undoubtedly be the only adequate judge of the proper mode of regulating this creature, the work of his own hands.'

“Sir,' replied my father, 'I cannot dispute the truth of this assertion. Without all doubt, the heart of man is known to God only, and he alone is in possession of all those secret springs and counsels by which the will of

666

the creature may be best directed, his intellectual powers improved, and his passions subdued. I am not so impious as to entertain a doubt on this subject; but I candidly confess that I am not aware in what part of Scripture the Almighty has vouchsafed to give such lights as may assist a teacher in the intellectual improvement of a child, although, in the articles of filial obedience and morality, it affords a very decisive rule of conduct. - Nevertheless, my good Sir,' continued my father, “the subject is of such importance, that I am anxious to hear all you have to say upon it; and, if possible, to profit by your experience and learning.'

“Mr. Gisborne bowed, and proceeded.- Sir,' said he, when I first undertook the charge of youth, I was led to consult my Bible with a reference to this work, then entirely new to me.

I there was reminded of this awful truth, that man, in his natural state, is incapable of happiness, and that my pupil was in consequence not only in danger of eternal misery, but inevitably exposed to it, unless such a change should take place in the whole constitution of his mind, soul, and feelings, as no human efforts could possibly produce. Such, then, I found to be the real state of the case: the human being in whose interest I was becoming deeply engaged, was in a situation of such imminent danger, as rendered it utterly beyond my power to accomplish his rescue. The Bible, however, was at hand; and having further consulted this unerring guide, I discovered certain passages, wherein assurances of final success were held out, if I laboured in the strength of the Lord, and leaned not to my own understanding. Having proceeded so far in my discoveries, I was next led to enquire, in what does this strength consist ? and where is true wisdom to be found? To this enquiry I found an immediate reply in that exquisite passage in the first Psalm — Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful: but his delight is in the law of the Lord; und in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season ; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. (Psalm i. 1-3.)

By a serious consideration of this passage, I was brought to see that prosperity in my new undertaking was promised upon the condition of my making the law of God my delight. And being here again brought back to the word of God, I was further led to this result; that the blessings which I could not obtain for the little Alfred by any effort of my own, were to be sought in the word of God, which I was commanded to impress upon his mind in every possible way which I could devise, directly and indirectly, in season and out of season, according to a very explicit rule laid down in Deuteronomy: And these words which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart ; and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest ар.

And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write theni upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.' (Deut. vi. 6-9.)

“My father in this place interrupted Mr. Gisborne, by saying, that he perfectly agreed with him in his opinions respecting Scripture, and even allowed that a critical knowledge of Scripture ought to be the ultimate object of all human learning: and then, with a degree of self-deception which might appear almost incredible to one who is not an accurate observer of human nature, he very coolly and calmly asserted, that it had been his sole view, in all my instructions, to bring me into a condition thoroughly to appreciate and understand the Scriptures in their original languages.

"I trust that I shall not be deemed disrespectful to the memory of a beloved parent, by bringing to light those little inconsistencies, and that self-deception, to which he was unhappily liable in his unchanged state.

“I rejoice to say that this tender father was wholly changed before his death, and expressed himself particularly anxious that I should state in writing the several circumstances and anecdotes which I have collected together in these few sheets, wishing that others might be benefited by the errors into which he himself had fallen. But to pursue my narrative.

After making the above assertion, which Mr. Gis

borne did not dispute, my father proceeded to give the old gentleman an outline of my studies, to which Mr. Gisborne listened in perfect silence; but on my father's ceasing to speak, he made answer to the following effect

-'I do not question,' said he, ‘that your aim, my good Sir, in the arrangement of your daughter's studies, was what you assert it to have been; neither do I doubt but that many others of the learned and excellent of the earth, have had the same ultimate purpose in view, when they led their pupils, first, through the Latin, and, secondly, through the Greek classics, namely, to put them in a condition to read and understand the Scriptures in their original tongues. Nevertheless, I have three important objections to make to this plan.'

"•I should like to hear your statement of these objections,' said my father somewhat hastily.

Certainly, Sir,' returned Mr. Gisborne in his usually calm and unruffled manner. • In the first place, (allowing as I do that accurate biblical knowledge is the object to which the tutor wishes to bring his pupil,) I assert, that, according to the ordinary plan, the compass commonly fetched before the pupil can be conducted to the point intended is so wide, that the best part of man's life, and the whole period commonly allotted to education, is generally exhausted before the pupil can be brought through the avenues of human learning into the sacred and pure retreats of that which is divine.'

“Your second objection, my good Sir?' said my father, with an expression of countenance which I could not quite decipher.

. My second objection is this,' replied Mr. Gisborne, that, even supposing the tutor's intention to be of this pious kind, there is great danger that he may lose himself, and the integrity of his own purpose, amid the mazes in which he has chosen to walk, and in which he has no promise of the divine direction: so that, notwithstanding the supposed purity of his first design, he may at length be led to sit down contented with the agreeablenesses of human genius, and proceed no further towards the goal for which he first set out.'

"You have stated two objections to our old system, Sir,' said

my
father: : 'what is

your

third ?'

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]
« EelmineJätka »