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The Enquirer. No. VIII.
for public bufinefs, he delivered popular precepts of morality *; and that afterwards, at Crotona, in Magna Græcia, he collected citizens about him diftinct claffes, and by his moral lectures produced fuch an entire change in the manners of the citizens, that from extreme luxury they were converted to strict sobriety and frugality +. But the accounts of Pythagoras are involved in obfcurity; and of his lectures we have no other remains, than a few dark fayings, and a brief fummary of his popular doctrines, in the "Golden Verfes" commonly afcribed to him, but probably drawn up by one of his difciples. Concerning the mode of inftruction adopted by Socrates, we are better informed: in that valuable treasure of ancient morals, Xenophon's Memorabilia, are preferved many of thofe converfations, in which this great man inftructed the people of Athens in the duties of life. Socrates had unqueftionably the merit which Cicero afcribes to him, of bringing down philosophy from heaven to earth, and introducing her into the public walks and domeftic retirements of men; and his method of teaching by a feries of questions, leading imperceptibly to the conclufion he had in view, was admirably calculated to produce moral conviction; but this mode was lefs fuited to the purpose of general informa tion, and was, obviously, inapplicable to public inftruction.
If we fearch for precedents on the prefent fubject, among the ancient Jews, we shall find no appearance of popular inftruction, in the early period of their hiftory, but the daily reading of the law, and occafional admonitions and warnings from their prophets, delivered with a degree of obfcurity, which will not permit us to confider them as models for our imitation. At a later period, explanations both of the written and traditionary law were introduced; but they abounded with allegorical fancies and cabaliftic myfteries, much more likely to confound than illuminate the understanding. No one, in the prefent day, would think of looking into the Milina of Jehuda, or the Jezirah of Akibhah, to learn the beft method of enlightening the world.
The era of popular inftruction may, perhaps, be faid to have commenced with that of the Chriftian religion. John, the precurfor of Chrift, exhorted the
Jamblich. Vit. Pyth. c. v. + Juffin, lib. xx. C. 4.
Jewish populace to reformation of manners, and taught different claffes of men their respective duties. Jefus Chrift exhibited a new and excellent pattern of public teaching; and it was a peculiar proof of his benevolent fpirit, that he preached to the poor. His mode of conveying moral inftruction in the vehicle of fable, or parable, was fingularly impreffive; and it was adapted, with the higheft wifdom, to the circumftances of his auditories, which were almost univerfally compofed of perfons of confined education, more acceffible through the medium of the imagination, than by direct addreffes to the understanding.
It is much to be lamented that the method of moral inftruction, introduced by the great "preacher of righteoufnefs," was not more religioufly adhered to by his fucceffors. From the time, however, when the metaphyfical fubtleties of the Platonic fchools were incorporated with the fimple doctrines of Chriftianity-an event which feems to have taken place, in fome measure, even within the first century--it must be owned, that the Chriftian modes of public inftruction loft a great part of their practical utility. The abftrufe tenets and technical language of the Alexandrine fchools, were interwoven with the lef fons of Chriftian morals; the fanciful method of interpreting fcripture, which had been in ufe among the Jewith doctors, were adopted by the Christian fathers; and preaching took a polemic and fcholaftic turn, which impaired its ufefulnefs, as an inftrument of moral improvement. The evil continued and encreafed, through many centuries; and, till the reformation, fermons, instead of being intelligible and ufeful lectures on moral topics, were authoritative declarations of the doctrines and inftitutions of the church; rhapfodical harangues on the holy myfteries; and uninteresting, often ridiculous, panegyrics on the Virgin Mary and other faints.
Even the reformation, though it fhook the foundation of the ancient edifice of fuperftition, did not entirely abolish the myftical and fcholaftic method of preaching. The reformers themfelves were as deeply immerfed in theological fubtleties, as the church from which they feparated, With a very few exceptions, among which may be particularly mentioned that bold caftigator of the vices of his times, the good bifhop Latimer, and, afterwards, bishop Taylor and Dr. Barrow, preachers still continued to envel lope
4 K 2
lope their doctrine in thick clouds of myftery. That illuftrious ornament of the English church, Archbishop Tillotfon, did more than all his predeceffors to reftore the fimplicity of Chriftian inftruction and fince his time, many eminent preachers have appeared. whofe fermons explain with perfpicuity the general principles of religion, and enforce, with energy, the practice of good morals. Such practical preaching, fupported, as it is, by its obvious utility, and recommended, as it has been, by a long train of diftinguished names, will not be brought into difcredit, by the injudicious zea or petulant invective, of modern enthufiaits, or by the high-toned decifion which has, é cathedra, declared moral preaching "deftitute of the genuine fpirit and favour of Chriftianity," and denounced moral preachers as 66 apes of Epictetus."
It muft, however, be owned, that the prefent mode of popular inftruction by preaching, even in the moft able and judicious hands, is lefs productive of moral effect than might be expected. Of this it is unneceffary to allege any other proof, than the negligence and indifference with which thefe public lectures are commonly attended." In order to difcover the caufes of this fact, as far as it is to be imputed to any defect in the method of preaching, let us advert to the acknowledged end and purpofe of preaching, which is, to lead men to the practice of virtue. This end is only to be accomplished, either by communicating to the hearers fuch information as will enable them to form for themfelves good principles and rules of conduct; or by exhibiting truths and facts, already admitted, in fuch a strong light, as fhall tend to inspire juft fentiments, and invigorate virtuous refolution. Preaching, in order to be useful, must be inftructive and impreffive.
As far as concerns inftruction, it is evident that little effect is to be expected from loofe and fimfy declamations on general topics, in which much is affumed and nothing proved; from a confident affertion of doctrines and facts, unfupported by fatisfactory argument and evidence; or from a dull repetition of precepts, of which neither the meanng is diftinctly explained, nor the obligation clearly established. People, in the prefent inquifitive age, are lefs like ly, than formerly, to be charmed into belief by the periodical repetition of a fet of propofitions, or to mistake the au
thoritative decifion of preacher, for a proof of the doctrine which he profeffes to teach. To teach, is not to affert and declare, but to explain and prove. Men are inftructed at church, not when they are led, like parrots, to repeat a leffon by rote, but when they receive fome new information, or are enabled, by the legitimate exercife of their reafon, to gain a fatisfactory conviction of fome interefting truth. How much more useful would pulpit inftruction become, if, instead of the prefent defultory and unconnected method of preaching, were introduced regular courfes of lectures on religious and moral fubjects! Of this kind, are the following: A View of the Grounds of Religious Belief; in which the whole argument is fairly ftated to the hearers, not to bias or guide their judgment, but to give them an opportunity of judging for themfelves :-A Review of the Hiftory of Religion, Pagan, Jewish, Mahometan, and Chriftian; to inform the hearers of the mifchievous effects of fuperftition, intolerance, and fanaticifm, and to enable them to diftinguifh, in religious opinions and practifes, that which is important and ufeful, from that which is trivial or pernicious :-Lectures on Morals; in which the general foundation of moral obligation fhould be ascertained, and the feveral branches of morals should be diftinctly defined, their obligation established, and their importance illuftrated by facts collected from history and biography :-A Popular Survey of Nature, its more obvious Laws, and its mutual Relations and Dependencies; to illuftrate the univerfal adaptation of means to ends, and herein exhibit a proof, obvious to every capacity, and richly fraught with rational entertainment, of the exiftence of a firft intelligent and defigning caufe.
In order more effectually to answer the fecond purpofe of preaching, that of forcibly impreffing upon the minds of the hearers truths already known and admitted, feveral expedients might be adopted. The firft is, in addreffes of this kind, to ftudy and exercife all the energies of manly eloquence. From this point, that flimfy oratory, examples of which abound in the French fchool; and thofe frigid harangues, which are fo commonly read, with infipid monotony, by the Englith preacher, from his velvet cufhion, are equally diftant. This clafs of fermons can only become powerfully impreffive, and practically useful, when acknowledged
The Enquirer. No. VIII.
acknowledged truths are rendered perfonally interefting by being brought home to men's bufinefs and bofoms;" when accurate portraits of characters, as they exift in real life, are delineated; and when a ftrong reprefentation is given of the actual effects of different principles, and different modes of conduct, on the happiness of individuals and of fociety. Excellent fpecimens of this impreffive kind of pulpit eloquence will be found in the volumes of Sermons lately published by Mr. Fawcett. As farther methods of improving this branch of public inftruction, it may be fuggefted, that a more free ufe might be made of citations from the poets, in illuftration of moral fentiments; that maxims or aphorifms, from various writers, might be digefted into diftin&t leffons, and read in connection with the fubject of difcourfe; and that historical or biographical anecdotes, illuftrative of moral truths, might be more frequently and largely introduced. With the high example of the parables of the New Teftament before us, will it be thought too bold, to add, that confiderable advantage might be expected from the occafional introduction of an allegory, a fable, or a tale ?
If it thould be apprehended, that fuch innovations as thefe would in fome degree incroach upon the dignity of the pulpit, it may be remarked, that the inconvenience would be abundantly overbalanced by an increase of the impreffive effect, and confequent utility of preaching.
Several of the propofed improvements would require, that the practice of reading fermons be abandoned, and that public inftructors addrefs their audiences, either extempore or memoriter. Should this be thought an infuperable difficulty, by those who have been long habituated to rely upon their manufcripts, it may be found neceffary, henceforwards, to make the acquifition of the power of fpeaking in public from memory, or immediate conception, an effential part of academic difcipline. It may not be long, before our regular clergy, of every defcription, may find the neceffity of adopting this, and every other fair expedient, to fave themselves the mortification of "reading their weekly lectures to the walls of deferted churches."
Befides the improvements fuggefted above, with respect to popular inftruction in religion and morals, it will be cafily perceived, that, if the queftion was examined upon a more extended fcale,
plans might be propofed, for affording the common people information upon many other fubjects intimately connected with their perfonal and focial interefts.-And, independently of thofe circumftances which have hitherto fo injurioufly cut off the general mafs of mankind from intellectual purfuits and enjoyments, no good reafon can be affigned why the public inftruction of the lower claffes of the people fhould be confined to religion. It is perfectly confonant to reafon and found policy, that they should enjoy an opportunity of acquiring every kind of knowledge, which will enable them to fill up their ftation in fociety with greater publie utility, to profecute their feveral occupations with greater benefit to themselves, or to enjoy their moments of leifure with greater comfort. Provifion, for example, fhould be made for their inftruction in the rights and duties of citizens: in the municipal laws which they are bound to obey; in the proper management of themfelves and their families with refpect to health; in their relation to mankind at large, fo far as it may be learned from general views of the history and préfent state of the world; in the general laws of nature; in fhort, in whatever may qualify them to be fomething more and better than mere paffive machines in the focial fyftem. How far the state ought to interfere in providing public inftruction? is a difficult queftion. Perhaps, the fame arguments which lie against their interference in education fee Enquirer, No. II] mày render it expedient that this provifion fhould be made by private, rather than by public exertions. Concerning the wifdom of the provifions, there can, however, be no queftion. Were proper feafons and places (diftinct from thofe devoted to religion) every where allotted for popular inftruction; were fuitable perfons engaged to undertake the charge; and were the common people, by an equitable advance of their wages of labour, put into a condition to avail themfelves of fuch provifion; it is imponible to fay what important benefits might not accrue to fociety from the rapid progrefs of knowledge.
But this view of the fubje&t demands a fuller difcuffion than can be given it in this place. Those who are fmitten with the dread of innovation will think, that projects more than fufficient have been already started in this paper: others may, perhaps, agree with the Enquirer in regretting, that an apprehenfion, fo irre
concileable with the genuine fpirit of philanthropy, fhould place fuch powerful obstructions in the way of improve
To the Editor of the Monthly Magazine.
IN a note of p. 280, of the Life of Mr.
Robinfon, I have faid, "W. C. Unwin was a ftudent, and, if I mistake not, afterwards a fellow of Chrift College, Cambridge. He became tutor to the children of Cowper, the ingenious author of the Tafk."
Having fince been repeatedly informed that I was miftaken relative to Mr. Cowper, who is not married, and has no children; and having been called on by his friends at Olney, to make a public declaration of my mistake, I requeft the favour of you to permit me to rectify this error through the medium of your Magazine. I was led into it by Mr. Cowper's dedication of a Poem to Mr. Unwin, called Tirocinium, in which I am informed the education of bis children, means Mr. Unwin's children. I am, fir, your's, &c.
Clifford's Inn, Sept. 12, 1796.
To the Editor of the Monthly Magazine.
THE following remark may serve to
fhow to what mifchievous abfurdities a blind adherence to precedents will lead : There are fcarcely any who are not convinced, either by perfonal experience, or the general complaints of their neighbours, that tithes have long remained an inveterate grievance, without hope of redrefs; and there can be no doubt of their having been adopted as a mode of clerical maintenance, from the provifion by Mofes for the Levites. By the fundamental maxim of the English tithc-law, it appears, that the priesthood have a right to one-tenth of the annual produce of the kingdom. The other citizens, then, have, by natural equity, a reciprocal claim to an equal fhare of inftruction; a number of teachers proportioned to the divifion of maintenance; that is, one priest to nine laymen. This would be a prepofterous arrangement for the fupport of a doctrinal religion; but it is a fair deduction from the principle. The prac
* See 2 Black. Com. 24.
tice not being co-extenfive with the maxim, this abfurdity does not seem to be much, if at all, taken notice of. The tribe of Levi was one of twelve, therefore we may reckon one prieft to eleven laymen among the Jews. This too would appear abfurd, but for the confideration that their religion was a ceremonial one. At the establishment of tithes for the Levites, the government was a theocracy, and, confequently, much of the civil administration would fall within the province of the priesthood, and require fome remuneration, which, with the extraordinary expence of facrifices, will ferve to account for the difference between the Levite's one-tenth, and the layman's one-eleventh of nine-tenths. Durham, June 15, 1796. WM. DRUTHIN.
To the Editor of the Monthly Magazine.
TAKE the liberty to enclofe a query, which I am anxious fhould receive a brief anfwer from fome of the able correfpondents of the Monthly Magazine, by the infertion of which you will oblige, your's, &c. J. P. W.
Query. Can the term " New Manufactures" (which, for the fake of argument, I will allow comprehends all new mechanic inftruments) under thefe words include all new applications, poffible applications, practicable applications, of principles, before thought of, but not reduced to practice, and of the inftruments which are to be the fubjects of thefe principles, not actually organized, and certified in an organized form?
Carlifle, Sept. 2, 1796.
To the Editor of the Monthly Magazine.
NOTHING is more common, in times
of national danger and diftrefs, than for those who are in poffeffion of the adminiftration of public affairs, to call loudly for unanimity. "In lefs critical times (fay they) oppofition may have its ufe, and men are free to maintain what fyftem they choofe; but in emergencies like the prefent, that man cannot be a friend to his country who impedes the measures employed for the fecurity of the whole. All difference in opinion ought now to be funk in attention to the general welfare, and all the members of the com munity should unite heart and hand in
Proof of the Existence of a reasonable Woman.
the prefervation of every thing dear to
But there are cafes in which this language, plaufible as it may appear, is the height of impudence and abfurdity.Suppofe, for instance, that the perfons who ufe it are convicted of having betrayed their truft-of having systematically preferred private or partial interefts to thofe of the general body-of having conducted without capacity, plans which they entered into without principle-of, being the authors of all the calamities they deprecate-have they a right to expect that confidence in the wisdom and rectitude of their conduct, on which alone unanimity can reasonably be founded? Is it not obviously the first step towards a melioration of the ftate of affairs to remove fuch men from any fhare in the management of them? and if they will not retire voluntarily, muft not a determined oppofition to their measures be employed, to force them to a refignation? Again, it may have been the conftant policy of a fet of rulers to augment and perpetuate thofe differences between different orders of the community, which confift in diverfity of privilege and emolument-which place one part over the heads of another, though equally deferving in every point of civic merit. They may have refifted every application for the levelling of thefe offenfive inequalities, though founded on the cleareft principles of equity; and have encouraged that infolence of a triumphant party which adds contumely to oppreffion they may ftudiously have made ufe of the fupport they have given to ufurped prerogatives, for the purpofe of procuring reciprocal fupport to themfelves:-they may have avowed their refolution to oppofe all future tempts for the rectification of abufes, upon the mere ground of keeping things as they are; and thus have reduced to abfolute defpair all hopes of amendment by the quiet progrefs of reafon and juftice and after this, can it be expected, that a little cant of civility and moderation can conciliate the injured with the injurers, or give to thofe who have been taught to confider themfelves as aliens, all the feelings of citizens?
There may exist in a state a body of men whose privileges and emoluments are founded on pretenfions which will not bear examination. Confcious of this, they may make it the grand point of their policy to check all free enquiry, to at
tach perfons to their party by nourishing old prejudices, and to throw all poffible odium and fufpicion on those who have emancipated themfelves from their authority. They may (fuch is the weaknefs of human nature) fucceed in their attempts, and may ftrike off from the lift of brethren a large and refpectable number of their fellow-fubjects. But can they hope for the co-operation of thefe rejected relatives, when a great part of the object is to preferve them in the poffeflion of a power they have used fo unkindly?
In fine, national unanimity can have no other folid bafis than national wisdom, juftice, and benevolence. Circumstances of diftrefs alone never have produced, and never will produce it; and they who have occafioned that diftrefs are of all men the most unfit to be the medium of union. N. N.
To the Editor of the Monthly Magazine.
THE late earl of Chesterfield, though he
was fufficiently complimentary to the ladies in his converfations with them, yet, in his private letters to his fon, denied the exiftence of any reasonable woman: and, in one of his letters, is the following paffage : "Women are only children of a larger growth; they have an entertaining tattle, and fometimes wit; for folid, reafoning, good fenfe, I never in my life knew one that had it, or who reafoned or acted confequentially for four and twenty hours together.' Such is the ftatement of this celebrated nobleman; but you and I, Mr. Editor, I dare fay, among our female acquaintance and connections, have met with reasonable women; or, at leaft, women approaching very nearly to that character and as
I have now before me evidence of the exiftence of a reasonable woman, in the reign of king James I, I have thought it not improper to tranfmit it to you. The reafonable lady to whom I refer, was Lady COMPTON, who wrote the following letter to her husband, which is now preferved in the British Museum, as a curiofity:
"My fweet life,
"Now I have declared to you my mind for the fettling of your ftate, I fuppofed that it were beft for me to bethink and confider within myself, what allowance were meeteft for me: for confider