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coming to feel, even if we do not yet consciously realise, that it is as absurd to punish a religious teacher for his convictions as it would be to punish him for the colour of his eyes or hair, or for his sense of music or his want of it.
. This connection of faith with temperament is not materialism. It does not degrade spirit, but it raises matter. Matter and spirit may indeed be inseparably related; but the view just expressed is no more materialism than a great picture is the pigments with which it has been painted. Materialism is merely the wrong side of the tapestry of which spiritualism is the right side. Obviously, from the material side, our own lives and actions could be perfectly well described as being merely mechanical, and we ourselves as the automata of habit and custom. But we are aware that we have an overruling intellectual end and aim ; and we know that without the motive power of our spiritual nature that gives the key to our smallest action, even the mechanical part of our lives would no longer hold together, but would presently fall into disruption and decay. In fact, in the material civilised world everything that exists is an incarnation of man's spiritual nature. Civilisation and all it means is nothing if not that. What are the ruins of antiquity and the towns of mediæval times, what are the pictures and poems and churches of the world, its Magna Chartas and its political con stitutions, considered without their spiritual meaning, merely on their material side ? Instead, then, of saying that we live in a material world, it would be far truer to say that we live in a spiritual world, since that is the cause of the other; and when we come to think of all the kingdoms of the earth and the glory of them we may well say that man's nature "doth then show likest God's?' when his creative power transcends his analytic faculty.
And now, to return to the point from which we first startedt: if material civilisation and art are the incarnations of man's intelligence, is not the natural world a like incarnation of the Divine Intelligence? Do we not value“ on earth the broken arc,” because "in Heaven's the perfect round”? And are not the very imperfections of earth dear to us because of the ideal perfection which they suggest, and for which they plead ?
Many people to these questions will answer with a contemptuous No. Precisely. It is the very thing I am arguing. "The perfect round,” and “ideal perfection”—such words, such thoughts, will mean nothing to them, because their temperaments can give no harbour to them. But whilst such men are blind and deaf, there are others who can hear and see; and there is hardly anything in life or nature which will not serve to illustrate this fact. In the fragility of beauty some men will see simple fragility and nothing more. Others will feel an appeal in it to their reverence and their tenderness; and by that very appeal it will make those qualities deeper. The weary lines in a worn, once lovely, face, which will seem to some eyes to mar its physical beauty, will hold with a charm him who can read the meaning right. The solitary pine-tree, blasted and bare, bowed to the winds, will make one soul thrill involuntarily with the memories of storms; whilst to another it will merely suggest the reflection, "Why cumbers it the ground ?”
So, too, with regard to Nature generally, some men see God in it, some do not ; just as some men see the vision of beauty in it, to which others, if their own sight is unaided, are blind. If anyone is shocked to hear the direct vision of God thus spoken of as a matter of temperament, let him visit the National Gallery, and see in the best works of art of every age what is the case with regard to the analogous vision of Beauty. That this is a matter of temperament is evident.
Art is a gift, an inspiration that comes only from the Giver of all things, and cannot be created “by reason or the despotic will of man.” If, then, it is only given to the few to have a direct vision of God's beauty in Nature, why should it be thought a hard saying that it is only given to the few to have a direct vision of God's existence in Nature ? Why it is given to the few only, who shall say? But so it is.“ The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh nor whither it goeth. So is everyone that is born of the Spirit.”
ELEMENTARY EDUCATION AND THE
FREE SCHOOL QUESTION.
HE supporters of Church schools must look deeper than
the percentage of passes secured by their scholars or the merit grant obtained by their schools to provide a standard by which their continued efforts in behalf of elementary education are to be judged, and to justify the great sacrifices they have made and are still making. They commenced their labours long before political popularity or Government grants could be gained by what they did, and their object was and is the moral and religious education of the people, as well as their instruction in secular learning. It is necessary, therefore, to say something of the past in order to show how consistently this principle has controlled their action throughout.
Whilst saying this, it must not be supposed that for one moment I admit the superiority of Board schools. They spend more, and they cram more, and by these means are enabled to secure a slightly larger percentage of passes, and by their costly buildings and expensive appliances are able to obtain somewhat higher merit grants. But for the solid instruction of the children, and for moulding their characters, for the tone of the schools, and for their influence upon the children's morals and behaviour, voluntary schools can fearlessly challenge comparison with those of the Board ; and there is nothing in the evidence given before the Education Commission, or in the Report of that Commission, to support any other conclusion.
Nearly two centuries ago Churchmen made great efforts to promote popular education; they raised considerable sumsof money, and built and supported elementary schools in London and many large towns and in some less thickly inhabited places. So little were their efforts appreciated by those whom they were anxious to benefit, that the schools had not only to be free, but clothing had to be given to the children attending them, in order to induce their parents to send them. But the effort was deemed worth the cost, as immorality and unbelief were making great advances, and it was recognised that only by educating the children aright could improvement be hoped for.
The wars in which the country was engaged during a large part of last century, the absence of commercial or manufacturing enterprise and the consequent distress of the people, prevented the extension of educational efforts, and, in fact, at the end of the century education was at a lower level than at the commencement.
With the discovery of steam power and its application to manufactures the demand for more educated labour began to be seriously felt, and partly owing to this, and partly to the promptings of religious motive, carly in the present century, there was a great revival of educational zeal. This was quickened by what must seem to us a very unnecessary anxiety to claim the invention of what has long been condemned as a most unsatisfactory mode of teaching children. At the same time, or nearly so, Dr. Bell had introduced into Church schools, and Dr. Lancaster into Nonconformist schools, the plan of teaching children in large classes. They read and repeated their lessons simultaneously, and it was thought that in this way the cost of teaching could be reduced to a minimum, whilst the education given would be valuable. The former object was achieved, not the latter. At that time it was proposed that Churchmen and Nonconformists should unite to promote one general scheme of education for the whole nation, but the religious difficulty was found to make this impossible. Churchmen held that schools ought to form the moral and religious character of the children, and they believed that this could only be effected by a true foundation being laid. That foundation they held to be the Christian religion: and as they believed their own Church to incalculate what the Divine Master had taught, they desired that the children, for whose education they responsible, should be brought up in Church principles, and that the Church Catechism should be taught in all their schools, and should describe the character of the religious instruction to be given. The underlying principle of this teaching was that the children had been brought into covenant relations with their Saviour ; that it was essential for them to understand those relations and their responsibility with respect to them, and the consequent weal or woe dependent upon their fulfilment of them. It was thought that in no other way could they be expected to grow up good Christian people.
On the other hand, the Nonconformists of the day had a different idea of the nature of the religious teaching that ought to be imparted. · With the exception of the different bodies of Methodists, most of the Nonconformists were strongly imbued with the principles of Calvinism, the fundamental doctrine of which is that some have been predestined for salvation, others for damnation. To teach all children that they were in a covenant of grace seemed to them untrue; they therefore held that the right system of religious instruction was the imparting of a general knowledge of what is taught in Holy Scripture, that so the elect might be prepared for the sensible conversion which they were certain to experience as years advanced, whilst those not so favoured were not taught to expect blessings which never could be theirs. Since then the Calvinistic bias has largely diminished, but the character of the religious instruction which it advocated has been persevered in, though from a different motive.
To further the Church's system of education, work that had previously been committed to the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge was entrusted to a new society, the National Society, called into existence for the purpose; about the same time the various sects of Nonconformists united in founding the British and Foreign School Society, to which were attracted not only those religious bodies which held the Calvinistic doctrine, but also others, like the Unitarians, to whom the absence of definite religious teaching approved itself ; but from this society the great body of Wesleyan Methodists held aloof.
Both societies were desirous of furthering popular education and were ready to accept improvements in their buildings and