« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
as widely as is practicable among the community at large. But if we desire to add any thing to the common stock of knowledge; if we desire to have a literature of our own; if we aim at making ourselves felt and appreciated abroad, in any department of science or letters; we should encourage that division and subdivision of mental labor, which will enable individuals to learn, on any given subject, every thing thing in regard to it that is elsewhere known, and thus put themselves in a condition to carry forward their researches into fields before untrodden. If we would have the fruitful and generous parts of Classical learning, for example, we must have some amongst us, who will submit to the drudgery of manual-making; to the minute labors of verbal criticism; to 'the small pedantry of longs and shorts.' If we would have enough of learning, we must have a superfluity. If we would have a ripe and good scholarship, we must have some scholars, mere scholars, commentators, philologists, exclusive men, in the right sense of the word; men, who shall think the settling of a Greek accent of more value than the problems of Kepler, and the restoration of true readings in the classics of as much importance as the reformation in religion; men, who, like the librarian Mai, will weep tears of joy, on the discovery of a blotted manuscript of Fronto, or be ready, like Busby, to die of bad Latin.' Not that these are the most profitable members of a literary community, or that they occupy the high places in the field' of learning; but that we want some of all the different kinds of literary laborers. The country can now support, and should therefore possess, masters in every branch of study. We should encourage our young men, as soon as their minds are sufficiently developed to give decisive indications of their peculiar aptitudes, to choose that province in which they are willing to pass their days, and to which they will devote all that they are, and all that they can do. It is by the influence of such thorough men, in every department of literature, that our summary and superficial modes of education are to be corrected, that the standard of acquisition is to be raised, and the swelling sufficiency of half-learning is to be repressed. It is such men, especially, who are the only fitting and worthy instructers of those of our youth, who in the noble language of Milton, shall be inflamed with the study of learning and with admiration of virtue, stirred up with high hopes of living
to be brave men, and worthy patriots, dear to God, and famous to all ages.'
Let not these remarks be misunderstood. The popular modes of instruction at this period so generally in vogue in this country may be, and no doubt are, to a certain extent, beneficial. But to be so, it must be previously settled, what they really are, and what they can do. They must be, necessarily, very popular in their character. They must consist, mainly, of results, and of results, moreover, adapted to interest a promiscuous assembly. And is there not great danger, therefore, that they will assume a striking and imposing character, rather than one which is really and solidly useful?—that they will partake more of the efflorescence than of the fruits of the tree of knowledge? Still, undoubtedly, they may be valuable both in an intellectual and moral point of view. They may serve to excite the dormant mind to a consciousness of its own powers; suggest new topics of thought; give new and higher themes to conversation; improve the public taste; afford an opportunity for early talent to exert itself; and spread abroad profitable truths, which before were known only to a few. Their moral influence, too, may be valuable. They may afford an innocent and rational means of relaxation, and thus call off attention from those which are frivolous, or worse than frivolous; they may improve social feeling, by bringing all classes of the community together for a common object; and, what is greatly desirable in the divided and distracted state of public sentiment in regard to some great interests which now, so unhappily, prevails, they may serve to neutralize those feelings of estrangement, which are liable to separate good and worthy men of all parties, lead them to think and act in unison in reference to those points on which they can agree, and to forget, for a time at least, those upon which they feel obliged to differ. All this is well. All this is excellent. And all this, our popular modes of instruction, provided they are seconded by the coöperation and mental labor of those who are the subjects of them, may effect. But is this all to which a people, situated as we are, at this period of the world, ought to aim? Should we not aspire to a higher culture, to a profounder research, and to a more original effort? And it is respectfully suggested, whether, in thus attempting to render popular all the subjects of hu
man inquiry, the strength and energy of the mind will not be impaired ; whether it will not be led to content itself with the more obvious and striking views of subjects;whether it will not be liable to overlook, in an exclusive devotion to what, in the vulgar sense of the term, is useful and practical, that which is thorough and profound, but which is ultimately, in all cases, and, in point of fact, will be found to be, the most really and practically useful of all ; — whether they will not have a tendency to cripple that self-thought and native energy, which can alone enable our men of letters to take their places on equal ground, side by side, with the best proficients of the old world; - whether that dissipation of intellect, that almost exclusive attention to near and immediately productive pursuits, that devotion of the intellect of the country to merely popular objects, which so generally prevail, do not inevitably tend to make us tributaries to the old world, for almost all we think or know of the best culture and products of the mind, make us dependent on them for their literature, and incapable of producing one of our own; - and, in fine, whether, when we can linger, creditably, on the pleasant declivities of the mountain, we shall be in earnest in toiling up its rugged sides, in encountering the chill and thin atmosphere of its higher steeps, where alone those original fountains are to be opened, which will send forth streams of refreshment and fertility to the dwellers below?
We conclude these remarks with one further suggestion. Is intellectual and moral improvement, under God, mainly the mind's own work? Then let none despair under the pressure of adverse circumstances. Nothing can keep down the spirit that is truly alive to its own high interests. As each human soul is of more value in the sight of God than the whole external universe, so has He endowed it with capacities of improvement, that nothing external, if it be just to itself, can destroy. It possesses, in itself, the means of its own advancement; and nothing but its own self-desertion can stop its onward course. Embarrassments, difficulties, distresses, though they may seem, for the time, appalling, are yet but the means and aids of its progress towards perfection. They nerve its powers as nothing else can. They throw it upon its own resources. They develope its hitherto unknown and unsuspected energies. They bring its metal and temper to the proof. They strengthen and improve all
its faculties. It is not the hard conflict of opposing circumstances that we have most reason to fear; but the seductive and debasing influences of prosperity and ease. The history of the world is one continued illustration of this. In the achievements of intellect we shall find the worthiest trophies have been won by the sons of poverty, obscurity, and restricted opportunities. We see them, as it were, by an instinctive principle of their natures, selecting from circumstances, apparently the most unfriendly, the elements of their future greatness. And the same is familiarly true of moral and religious excellence. It is often born in adversity; it is often nurtured upon tears, and learns to win its crown in heaven, by bearing its cross here below. And if there be any exhibition of the human character vouchsafed to the view of mortals, more sublime than all others; any trait, which, in a peculiar manner, authenticates its divine original; it is the example of a man placed by Providence amidst adverse and depressing circumstances, yet faithful to the wants and calls of the heaven-born and heavendirected spirit within him ;- beset with disheartening evils in his outward lot, and almost sinking under the more dreadful heart-sickness of despondency, yet contending still; -borne down and kept down by poverty, alone and unfriended, yet struggling on;-meeting, it may be, with cold unconcern, or the half-derisive pity of the favorites and fools of fortune, yet undismayed; — called to encounter real obstacles in his path, and the more fearful ones of his own imagination, yet pressing onward ;-watching and waiting on through the utter darkness of the night, yet sustained by a meek self-trust, by a prophetic hope, and, above all, by an unshaken confidence in the Father of his spirit ; —until, at length, he catches glimpses of an auspicious dawn, unseen by the common eye, that dawn which is to brighten and brighten into the perfect day ';- now encouraged more and more by favoring tokens;-now redoubling his exertions with his strengthening hopes ;- now mounting upwards from step to step in the path-ways of usefulness and honor; -until, at last, he reaps the full rewards of his noble efforts in triumphant success; this, to our mind, is a spectacle of moral greatness, compared with which the splendor of all other earthly distinctions grows pale.
We here close these remarks. Is it true, that the intellect
ual and moral education of man is mainly committed to himself? Then it remains for every man, under God alone, to say, what he will know, and what he will be. Nothing external, as we have seen, can ultimately stop his progress; so nothing external, beyond a certain point, can help him onwards. His trust must be in himself; and if he be faithful to this trust, he will aim high, he will aspire nobly. Let him be deeply smitten with the love of excellence. Let habitual self-improvement be the grand object of his life. Let self-discipline be never intermitted even for a moment. Progress, continual progress, progress on earth, and progress in heaven, is the law of his being. His destiny ever beckons him forward, and still further forward, and let this be the only signal that he obeys.
ART. IV. — The Atoning Sacrifice, a Display of Love, not of Wrath. By NOAH WORCESTER. Second edition. Cambridge, Hilliard & Brown. 1830. 12mo. pp. 247.
THIS book, we presume, is already known to most of our readers. To those who have not read it, or do not own it, and who wish to gain clear and consistent views on the subject of the effects of the death of Christ, or in other words, the doctrine of the Atonement, we recommend it as being precisely the work which they need, and should possess. A single perusal of such a treatise is not enough. It embraces so many topics, and discusses them with such a variety of learning, that it should be kept at hand for occasional reference.
No one, we think, can justly be offended by this book. Dr. Worcester has displayed in it, throughout, that modesty, humility, equableness of temper, and love of peace, which mark his other writings. If any reader should be made angry in his progress through the volume, it will be because his opinions are opposed, and not because they are opposed in an improper manner. With all this gentleness and kindness, however, there is no want of openness. Honesty and plainness of speech are not in any degree sac