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the milk of the word, we should hardly now be complaining of danger from the lower orders: and had those whose intellectual culture made them long to fix their religious hopes on the basis of sound argument, been encouraged “ to prove all things, and hold fast that which is good," many a corruption of the pure doctrine of Christ, many a superstition, and many a prejudice, which now are stumbling blocks in the way of the man of science, would have been long

ago removed.

The teachers of the Ragged Schools have found true philosophy without looking for it :let us not despise it now that it is found ; but having learned the secret of their success, use it “ for the glory of God and the improvement of man's estate” – and make England an example as to how the “ Dangerous Classes” may be dealt with, so as to make them the strength, not the weakness of the country.

The inefficiency of ceremonial and dogmatic religion is still more felt where Romanism is the established form of Christianity; and has been fully recognised by those French writers who have treated on the means of reforming those unfortunate classes whose perversion was

a source of so much danger to the community. “One of the causes," says M. Frégier,* “ which has the most weakened the effect of Catholicism on the masses, and yet more on men of cultivated understandings, is the multiplicity of required practices, and the length of the offices. The almoners, or rather the prelates who direct them, will not deviate from the received traditions : this is orthodox, no doubt, but it is not charitable, -it is not Christian. The sentiment of religion is a sympathetic affection, like all other affections which give a great impulse to the mind ; and like all moral instincts, it is needful in order to awaken it at first, as well as to afford it full development, that we should accommodate our teaching to the wants of those who are to receive it, modified as these will be by the age,

the

sex, the condition of the person. Hence these woment have always received with gratitude the religious consolations brought them by charitable ladies ; women themselves, who could comprehend their first weakness, and the circumstances by which they have been led away; while they

* Des Classes Dangereuses de la Population, tom. 2,

p. 254.

+ The prostitutes in the prison of St. Lazare.

have always shown a dislike to the nuns, who, taking their stand on another world than this which we inhabit, wish to subject them to observances which fatigue without amending them, or even offering them any alleviation of their misfortunes. Hence it is that they are cold and unmoved while attending mass, and receiving the instructions of the almoner, while they experience great pleasure in singing hymns written in their own language, and which they can understand. All those who have observed our prisons are struck by the wrong method pursued by the chaplains, and are grieved at the irremediable mischief which they are involuntarily doing to the cause of religion.”

This must always be the case where a ceremonial religion takes the place of that of the heart and understanding, and if it be thus hurtful in excess, it becomes a matter of concern to all conscientious Christians to take care that religion shall never become a system of wearisome observances in their hands. It is the tendency of all establishments; and since of late the public mind has taken a bend towards ceremony, and the building and ornamenting of churches has sometimes been more considered than the cultivating the minds of those who are to fill them, it is well to see what the result is in regard to the spiritual welfare of those who are subjected to its yoke. The attending public worship may be an act of homage to the Giver of all good, which the soul delights to pay to the Father whom in its inmost recesses it loves and honours; but it may be also an act of cold conformity, utterly without influence on the life of the man, and valueless in the sight of God; and if prolonged to the point of creating weariness it invariably becomes so. He who forbade long prayers and observances calculated to catch the eyes of man, knew human nature well; and in proportion as we disregard his merciful directions, and insist on abundance of outward forms, and“ vain repetitions," we weaken the feeling of religion, and throw obstacles in the

way

of our own salvation.

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CHAPTER IV.

AMUSEMENTS.

I

HAVE left this subject for separate consi

deration because it has hitherto been very little noticed, and because it is in itself highly important. Every physiologist knows that the human frame is incapable of continued exertion : sleep and rest must recruit the exhausted muscles ere the strain can be resumed. The brain, too, is a bodily organ, and that also must have its hours of rest, or permanent disorder will be produced, and the faculties and the health will suffer serious injury: but among the heathen at the period when the apostles preached, the recreations were of a nature so degrading, for the most part, to the moral sense, that we find the whole system most unsparingly denounced, and the singing of hymns appears to have been the only amusement which the first Christians permitted themselves. Indeed, whilst the mind is enthusiastically excited in the pursuit of any great object, recreation is not wanted-sufficient

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