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For this purpose a Prospectus was drawn up, and communicated to the archbishops and bishops of both provinces, who expressed their approbation of it, and promised their co-operation. At the same time the Archbishop of Canterbury consulted the Prince Regent, who likewise expressed his approbation of the intended institution, and afterwards became its supporter and patron. In this Prospectus it was stated, that
'Beside the advantages resulting from the mechanism of the new.system, another benefit, of the highest importance to the nation at large, is derived from the circumstance, that this mechanism is conducted by Dr. Bell, in perfect unison with the doctrine and discipline of the established church. It is indeed essential to the preservation of the constitution, both in church and in state, that the national religion should be made the foundation of national education; and it is evident, that if the children of the poor, who constitute so large a portion of the population of the country, should be generally educated in other principles than those of the established church, the established church, in the course of another generation, would have a majority against it. That this event, with the consequent downfall of the church itself, is really to be apprehended, unless speedy measures be taken to prevent it, is manifest from the rapid progress which is now making toward the diffusion of the mechanical part of this system detached from the religious part of it, as practised by Dr. Bell."
But as the proposed institution was designed only as a measure of self-defence, as a measure necessary for retaining in the establishment the children of the poor, who might otherwise be withdrawn from it, and was not at all designed to interfere with the just privileges of the dissenters, the following declaration was immediately added.
* It must indeed be admitted in this country of civil and religious liberty, that every man has a right to pursue the plan of education that is best adapted to the religion which he himself professes. Whatever religious tenets, therefore, men of other persuasions may think proper to combine with the mechanism of the new system, whether tenets peculiar to themselves, or tenets of a more general nature, they are free to use the new system so combined, without reproach or interruption from the members of the establishment. On the other hand, the members of the establishment are not only warranted, but in duty bound to preserve that system, as originally practised, in the form of a church of England education.'
The Prospectus then concluded with the following exhortation.
The friends, therefore, of the establishment throughout the kingdom, are earnestly requested to associate and co-operate, for the purpose of promoting the education of the poor in the doctrine and discipline of the established church. It is hoped that such co-operation will not be wanting, when the object in view is nothing less than the preservation of the national religion, by ensuring to the great body of
the people an education adapted to its principles. And since that object can be attained by no other means, it may be fairly presumed, that every man will be ready to co-operate, who is attached to our invaluable constitution, of which the parts are so interwoven, that the destruction of the one must lead to the dissolution of the other.'
The necessary steps having been thus taken to bring the proposed institution into existence, a meeting was held at Bartlett's Buildings on the 16th of October, 1811, (the Archbishop of Canterbury in the chair,) at which it was resolved, that the proposed institution should be established, that the Archbishop of Canterbury should be the president, and that a committee, of which the Bishop of London was appointed chairman, should draw up rules for the government of the society, which assumed the title of the National Society for the Education of the Poor, throughout England and Wales, in the Principles of the Established Church. On the 21st of October the Archbishop again took the chair at a general meeting held in the vestry-room at Bow Church, when the rules for the government of the society were unanimously approved. The whole of the proceedings were then submitted to the Prince Regent, who expressed his entire approbation of them, and became the patron of the National Society.
We have thought it the more necessary to give a short account of the origin and formation of this important institution, as they are not generally known, and indeed have been elsewhere incorrectly related. Its subsequent history is furnished by the documents which are now published. The institution, as soon as known, was very liberally supported: not only the Prince Regent, but the Dukes of York, Cumberland, Cambridge, and Gloucester, were among the foremost of the subscribers; the bench of bishops, with a very large proportion of temporal peers and privy councillors, in short the clergy and laity of every description shewed equal zeal in their support of an institution which involved the interest of church and state. The two universities subscribed five hundred pounds each, independently of individual subscriptions to a considerable amount. Aided by these contributions, which, in the course of a few weeks, extended to as many thousands of pounds, the committee proceeded to carry into execution the designs for which the society was founded; a correspondence was opened in various parts of the kingdom with the view of gradually promoting a general co-operation among the friends of the establishment: and to effect the two-fold purpose of educating the poor in the metropolis, and providing a constant supply of masters for the provincial schools, which should enter into union with the parent institution, they determined to erect a central school in such a situation, as from the number and the indigence of the inhabitants,
appeared best suited to the purpose. Six months have scarcely elapsed from the commencement of these measures, yet a school has been built and already opened in Baldwin's Gardens, in which a thousand children are now instructed, and where masters and mistresses are now in training, according to the system of Dr. Bell. Dr. Bell himself has for this purpose passed the winter in London, employing his time and talents without other remuneration than what arises from the consciousness of doing good. We have, with pleasure, surveyed the progress already made in this charitable seminary; and if a doubt should still be entertained whether writing and arithmetic, as well as reading, are patronized by the National Society, and taught in the schools of Dr. Bell, that doubt may be removed at the seminary itself, which is open to the cu riosity and to the instruction of every visitor.
Having assigned the motives for the formation of the National Society, given some account of the steps which were taken for that purpose, and briefly stated the nature of its operations, which greatly exceed what the novelty of the institution might have led us to expect, and for which we are highly indebted to the conductors of it, let us now take a review of the principles on which the society is founded, with reference to the various objections which have been made to them. These principles were stated in the prospectus originally communicated to the archbishops and bishops, and of which we have already quoted the material parts. When the society was formed, the same principles were adopted as the charter of the institution; and the public address, in which the terms were explained on which contributions were solicited, bore the title of Education in the Principles of the Established Church. The professed object, therefore, of the institution, the avowed purpose for which the friends of the establishment were requested to contribute and co-operate, was not merely to espouse or to oppose the cause of an individual; it was not merely to enter into party views or party spirit; it was not merely to elevate one name or to depress another; it was not merely to proclaim that the mechanism of the new system was more skilfully conducted in one school than in another. Much higher ground was taken by the National Society, which was founded on the unalterable basis 'Education in the Principles of the Established Church.' It was the religious combination of the new mechanism, as practised by Dr. Bell, which determined the National Society to adopt his system in preference to the other. This indeed is expressly declared in the public address prefixed to the primary resolutions. The members of the establishment (it says) are not only warranted, but in duty bound, to preserve that system, as originally practised at Madras, in the form of a Church-of-England education," And
that nothing might be wanting to explain what was meant by a Church-of-England education, the liturgy was expressly mentioned in the same address as affording the distinguishing mark of that education, which the society was established to maintain. We all want the Bible to make us Christians, but we want also the liturgy to make us churchmen,
That, in the present state of religious opinions, when not only dissentients from the established religion must view with an eye of jealousy every attempt to support it, but churchmen themselves promote what is termed the liberal basis, a society, so constituted, should be exposed to numerous objections, is nothing more than might be naturally expected. But as the support of this society is materially connected with the support of the establishment both in church and state, we feel it our duty to refute those objections. The very first position in the public address, (reprinted at the head of the present Report,) that the national religion should be made the foundation of national education,' has been subjected to various animadversions. Even the existence of a national religion in this country has been questioned; and if there is no such thing as a national religion in England, an institution which is formed for the support of it must have merely an imaginary object. But it will probably be allowed that there is still such a thing in England as a religion by law established, and that this is the religion which it is the object of the society to support. Whether this religion shall be called also the national religion is a mere dispute about words; but we apprehend that common usage will warrant the application of the term 'national religion' as synonymous with established religion.' In the United States of North America there is no established religion, and consequently no national religion. But where there is an established religion, whether Catholic or Protestant, Lutheran or Calvinian, Episcopalian or Presbyterian, whether in France or Denmark, in Sweden or Holland, in England or Scotland, the religion by law established in that nation is the national religion. In all countries there are dissenters from the established religion; and though with us they are protected in the free exercise of their own worship it is still only protection and not establishment. Another objection has been made to the term National Society,' because its influence does not equally extend to persons of all descriptions throughout the nation. It has been compared with the term 'National Treasury,' and other terms of the same extensive import. But here again the objection is merely a verbal one. Had the society in question been called simply a Society for the education of the Poor in the Principles of the Established Church,' it would have borne uo mark of distinction from provincial societies which might be formed for the same purpose. Some epithet, there
fore, was absolutely necessary. Now, as the society was not limited to a single county or a diocese, but was designed as a rallying point, as a centre of union for similar institutious which might be formed throughout the nation, no epithet could be more appropriate than that of national. In another sense, likewise, it is entitled to the epithet, as its avowed object is the education of the poor in the principles of the established or national church. But as Scotland has its own national church, the operations of the society were expressly limited to England and Wales, where the religion is established, which the society was founded to support. Where then is the absurdity of applying to a society an epithet co-extensive with its operations? That its object is not to promote indiscriminate education throughout England and Wales, but solely education in the principles of the established church, is surely no reason for the rejection of the epithet which has been assumed. Its absurdity, however, has been argued on the ground that Christianity is the national religion of this country. So indeed it is; and so it is in every country where Christianity is established. But is not Christianity established in different countries under different forms? Is it not established under one form in Spain, under another form in Denmark, under another form in England, under another again in Scotland? And do not these peculiar forms of Christianity constitute what is meant by the national church in those respective countries? Christianity is, without doubt, the religion established in England: but then it is Christianity as expressed neither at the Council of Trent, nor at the Synod of Dort, nor in the Confession of Augsburg, but in our Liturgy and Articles. To say, therefore, in general terms, that Christianity is our national religion, is to speak without any precise meaning; and we must either deny that there is a religion by law established in England, or we must admit that the religion so established is that particular kind of Christianity which our liturgy and articles distinguish from other kinds. On the other hand, if Christianity be used as a generic term, on the ground that the word national' applies only to a religion which embraces every individual in the nation, it is in this respect not general nough. If the expression must include both established and tolerated religions, we must say that revealed religion is the national religion, or we shall exclude a numerous class of the community, the Jews. Nay, we must generalize still more, and use religion without any epithet whatever, if the term national can be taken only in such a sense as to include every individual in the nation.
But since an appeal has been made to Dr. Paley on the subject of national religion, it is necessary to lay before our readers the sentiments of that eminent writer in respect to the name as well as the establishment of a national religion. In his Moral and Politi