PARIS, April 5, 1845.
As it appeared to the Bishop, by whose desire this Sermon was preached, that it might lead to farther enquiry into a subject deeply interesting to those who know the value of religious education, I have ventured to print it. I am fully sensible of its defects, and to make up for them, I have added an Extract from a very sensible Letter lately written to the Bishop by Mr. Tucker, the Catechist.
THE vast discoveries in natural science accomplished during the last two centuries, have made known to us a scale of existence in the whole animal creation, in which the progress from the lowest to the highest condition of mere life, sensation and physical force, is so gradual, that the difference between the several links in the mighty chain is scarcely perceptible.
In the minutest object possessed of life, the mechanism is as complicated and as wonderful as in the greatest. Nay, in proportion to the magnitude, we often find among those countlefs myriads of living creatures which in air or water escape the human eye, unless assisted by the. microscope, a much greater power and activity than in the lion, the eagle, or the whale; but the instincts with which each of these innumerable races is provided, both for defence and for support of life, are not less wonderfu than gradually different. In all, however, this gift is subjected to certain laws, winch cannot be overstepped, and [5/6] which apparently exclude the possibility of advancing to anything approaching a moral sense, a power of self-improvement, or a faculty of attaining to a condition in which it would be wise or just to imagine that there is any kind of moral responsibility.
On man alone the Almighty was pleased to bestow a reasoning as well as a living soul, a conscience intuitively distinguishing right from wrong, a mind capable of improvement, all but infinite, and a desire of knowledge, greater or less, according to the divine pleasure, which naturally disposes him to use the mighty instrument which has been committed to his trust.
For the use of this power man is accountable to his Maker. It has enabled him to rule the whole animal creation around him, to defend himself successfully against the mightiest beast of the forest, to fill his granaries with abundant harvest, to build himself cities to dwell in, to traverse the ocean in search of science or of fain, to number and classify the innumerable systems which fill the infinity of space, and to count their periodical appearance with unerring certainty.
That much should be required of him to whom so much as been given, is only consistent with the justice of the All-wise and the Almighty; and it is but natural, that in all ages, this should be the grand enquiry: How the mind should be employed and improved--or, in the words of the Partiarch, "Where wisdom should be found, and where was the place of understanding?"
To a comparatively small portion of mankind has been given so much of worldly wealth as to make it unnecessary for them to devote every hour to labour for the mere support of life. To them it has been granted to accumulate knowledge for the profit of succeeding generations, to make those studies easy which at first were attained to by long and patient labour, and thus to give time for researches more extensive and more valuable. Populous towns have risen where the tiger or the wolf once raged uncontrolled; the communication between the most distant nations has been rendered every succeeding year more rapid and more convenient. The desire of gain has increased with its gratification, [6/7] and the whole resources of the human intellect have been put into requisites to furnish additional means of satiating our physical and intellectual appetites. That is a mere worldly sense this great power of men has been fully called into action and successfully applied, it would be in vain to deny; and yet still, among the abundance of material luxury, nay more, even of purer and more intellectual enjoyment, the great question still remains unanswered,--or, if answered, the answer is forgotten: Where is true wisdom to be found, and where the place of profitable understanding?
I am not addressing myself to the poor, to those who rise up early and late take rest, and eat the bread of carefulnnes; but to those who, if they were poor, would not be here. To you, therefore, my brethren, if in this life only you have hope, I might say; it is wisdom to enjoy the present, to save what you can for your own profit, to satiate yourselves with the infinite means of enjoyment which this luxurious city displays to you wherever you turn your eyes or your thoughts. I might tell you that the place of understanding is to be found in the eloquence of the Senate, in the lecture-room of the philosopher, in the study of the artist, or in the various stores of scientific or of elegant literature; I might bid the young and thoughtless seek it in those brilliant meetings where every thing is united at once to dazzle the eye and charm the ear, and forget in the intoxication of pleasure the sorrows of the poor and the gloomy power of that inevitable enemy who spares not the wealthy or the powerful; who in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye,when the song and the dance are hardly forgotten, descends with incurable disease on the youngest and the fairest; turning in one day the house of feasting into the house of mourning.
But this convenient philosophy is not the doctrine of the Gospel. "Man knoweth not the price of wisdom neither is it found in the land of the living. It cannot be valued with the gold of Ophir, with the precious onyx, or the sardonyx. The fear of the Lord, tat is wisdom; and to depart from evil, that is understanding."
 The wisest of the sons of men, he, to whom his Maker had granted an intellect capable of attaining all human knowledge, and riches sufficient to command all the enjoyments which knowledge combined with riches can procure, came but to this. sad conclusion--that. all was but vanity and vexation of spirit; that all his days.'were sorrows, and his travail grief; and that there was no profit from all his power and all his acquirements which could give him peace at the last.
For as the benefit of this gift is great, if it be guided and controlled by Him that gave it, so is the evil proportionably great if that guidance and. that control are neglected. It is a deadly weapon in the hand of a madman; as useless for defence as it is powerful for destruction.
To the establishment of an educational system among our own countrymen, of which religious knowledge is the acknowledged basis, we owe, more than to any other cause, the comparative tranquillity we enjoy at home, and the respect which we have acquired among other nations. Wherever the principles of virtue have been instilled and fortified by the early cultivation of pure religion, it has never been difficult to raise on that foundation the loftiest structure of human knowledge; and we may look back with justifiable delight on the names of all those among our countrymen who have been most distinguished in the varied paths of philosophy, of civil administration, and even of art, and general literature; because we find that this guiding light had a sanctifying influence over their work, and that while they gave to God the glory of all they had acquired and all they had accomplished, He prospered that work and made it profitable.
But knowledge is power, and therefore it is not extraordinary that those who live without God in the world, or who fear that free enquiry can injure the truth, should be unwilling to place this power in the hands of the poorer and more numerous class of their fellow-creatures. Still the natural disposition for knowledge of some kind or other will not be controlled. The land which we neglect to till and sow with good seed, does not [8/9] therefore lose its productive power; the useless or the poisonous weed will grow in spite of our jealousy or our neglect, and it will be in vain to cultivate the minds of the rich, if the poor, with all the temptations of misery and want, increased by ignorance of every thing useful, are left to acquire for themselves the means of injuring the society which seems contemptuously to forget their existence. A spirit of wisdom on this important subject has increased among us at home. The number of National Schools conducted on the principles of our Apostolic Church has been yearly augmented, and the effect has been visible not only in the spiritual improvement, but in the prudent and orderly lives of our poorer countrymen.
During the inquiries which were instituted a few years since into the causes of those alarming tumults which prevailed in the manufacturing districts of England, it was most satisfactorily proved, that wherever national schools and the means of attending Divine Worship had, been duly provided, poverty had been patiently endured, and its temporary pressure by that very patience diminished; but that where these helps--the just claim of the poor on the rich--had been scantily supplied or altogether wanting, there the enemy had not been inactive; he had sown tares, not among the wheat, but instead of it. There, where poverty was less, the least distress was borne with anger; all minds were ready to receive the suggestions of the seditious and the ill-disposed, and a people not wholly without knowledge, but altogether without principles, were prepored for the wildest projects of private injury and political destruction.
And these recollections lead me naturally to the subject upon which it is particularly incumbent upon me this day to draw your attention.
We have been now enjoying for thirty years the blessings of peace; many who are here present know of war only as a matter of history. The flourishing state of commerce in our own country, as well as in that in which we are now sojourning, and the confident hopes which are entertained of the continuance of these blessings, have increased the desire of nearer and more rapid [9/10] communication. The formation of roads for this purpose in our own country has excited the emulation of our neighbours. The plans for executing works of great magnitude in their results than Rome ever accomplished or even contemplated in the plenitude of her imperial power, are already in operation. But the practical knowledge of our own workmen makes their aid eagerly sought for in this country, and their temporary emigration for this purpose relieves our own incomes at home from the burden which an unemployed population might possibly impose.
We must recollect, that in proportion to the multiplication of these roads, the disadvantages of war will be more striking to our neighbours, the motives for peaceful councils immeasurably increased. Some of us will derive commercial profit from these results, others will find their personal convenience greatly promoted; all, without exception, in both countries, will be happier for the removal of those angry and jealous feelings which are founed only in ignorance of mutual interests and a misconception of the real characters of our neighbours.
We are not, therefore, merely charitable contributors in adding the physical or moral necessities of those engaged in suck works; we owe them a great deal, and we should be eager to pay it in that manner which may be most profitable to them.
Your aid, therefore, is earnestly requests in behalf of the Schools established for the Children of English Labourers on the Railroads between Havre and this city. These schools at present afford constant instruction to upwards of two hundred and fifty children, who are educated on the system of the English national schools, where all that can be useful to them in the condition to which God has called them, is based upon the doctrines of the Bible carerfully interpreted, but freely communicated.
The number of workmen now employed on the roads between Paris and Havre exceeds three thousand. This number, when the roads leading to Belgium and to the south are commenced, will probably be greatly augmented. I am not exaggerating this probability by supposing it will amount to twenty thousand.
 There are now four schools, at Malauny, at Maronne, at Rouen, and at Barentin. At each of these places the Church Service is read and instruction given every Sunday. At three of them there is also a day school, and there has been lately added a day school at Mirville, and a service on weekdays at Yvetot. During the last year, upwards of five hundred and eighty children have received at these schools the benefit of Christian instruction, and not of christian instruction only, though this is the basis of all their teaching; for besides reading and writing, the children in general are taught arithmetic and singing, the boys geography and linear perspective, the girls needlework and knitting.
As yet, however, though there are some liberal annual subscriptions, there have not been funds sufficient to appoint a clergyman of the Church of England to superintend the spiritual government of these schools. The Catechist, whose zeal and activity have been highly honoutable to him, is the only person who has yet been able to join some of the duties of an ecclesiastic to his daily instruction.
The labourers here employed, though very able workmen, are of the very lowest class; men, who have been all their lives travelling from place to place in search of similar labour, themselves nearly as much in want of knowledge as their children.
Let it not be urged that the large wages of these workmen are sufficient to enable them to provide, without our assistance, instruction for their children. Where are they to find it? are we so indifferent to the habits, the wants, and the pure religion of our people, as to wish to denationalise them? to leave them to be taught by others, more zealous, but, as we conscientiously believe, not according to knowledge, or to such instructions as labourers, themselves perhaps wholly uninformed, may give, in the intervals from hard work, in their own wretched cabins? We do not find that such difficulties are compatible with the sufficient education of our own families; and how can we expect that those, whose hours are so occupied, can have either leisure to instruct, or minds sufficiently enlarged to feel, the deep importance [11/12] of instruction to their children? The Lord of the feast not only invited his guests, but he sent out his servants to the lanes and hedges, and compelled them to come in, that his house might be full.
But do not suppose it is only the well-paid labourer who needs your assistance. Such there are; doubtless; but the accidents which are daily occurring give another and a touching claim on your compassion. In several parts of the road where deep excavations have been required, the earth has fallen and buried many workmen together. Often have the English catechist and the Irish Roman Catholic priest--for our brethren of the Roman Catholic Church have provided spiritual aid to their poor--stood by in painful anxiety, watching while the earth was removing, in order to find to whose care.the first recovered victim was to be committed, on whom was to fall the melancholy duty of assisting at the agony of the dying, or of consoling the, widow whose whole support was at once removed in a foreign land. No! it is not the well-fed and careless workman; it is the widow and her desolate orphans who are now lifting up their hands to you for succour and inviting you to imitate your Redeemer.
And how few of us who are here have the excuse of want! who can say he has not the means of contributing some aid, however small, to this holy purpose, who finds enough to furnish all that is required for a journey of pleasure, and the daily enjoyment of much that is superfluous, if it be innocent; of much, at all events, that is neither necessary nor conducive to happiness? How small a portion of the hundreds, which are thus willingly and thoughtlessly expended might be amply sufficient for supplying to the helpless children of your countrymen the bread of life, the means of becoming useful and virtuous citizens, whether they remain on a foreign shore or return to their native land, instead of increasing the amount of misery where there is already poverty enough to move the hardest heart, and where the infinite subdivision of property among those who are raised above personal want makes it difficult to spare, for the support of others, all that natural benevolence would willingly bestow.
 This, too, is an opportunity for the exercise of that unostentatious charity which is pleasing to Him who gives freely to all. The wealthiest may be generous according to his power, the poorest may shew his good will; the grateful remembrances of the little ones whom they may be the means of saving will not be personally directed to their unknown benefactors, but to the general benevolence of Englishmen, who do not forget in their own abundance and in the season of enjoyment the cry of the poor and the distress of him that is ready to perish for the want of living waters.
Nor will the reward be confined to the blessings of grateful hearts. Every contribution to the general stock of human knowledge, founded on sound principles, is so much added to the prosperity and happiness of the giver as well as the receiver. It is the seed sown in a good soil, which produces an abundant harvest,--the bread cast on the waters, which returns to him who could forego the indulgence of his own desires that the stranger on the troubled waves of life might not be left destitute. It is the offering made to Him who has promised to account all deeds of real charity, as done not to man, but to God. It is to try our love of Him who died for us, of Him whose sacrifice we have so lately celebrated, that these blessed opportunities are thrown in our way, that in the midst of temptations to our avarice, our vanity, and the thousand evil passions with which the prince of this world besets our path, we are led from time to time to behold the sorrows and the wants of others. Angels visited the patriarch in the form of weary and houseless travellers; Lazarus lay starving and helpless at the door of him who feasted in purple and fine linen. Our faith is tried by its fruits; our practice alone can prove to the Searcher of Hearts that the professions which we make are sincere; that while our voices are raised to Heaven, our thoughts are not wholly engrossed by the follies, if not the vices, of the world.
Let us give, then, what we give, for the love of our Saviour; as our love is, so will be our charity; net grudgingly or of necessity, but such as He claims of whom cometh every good gift; [13/14] such as He commands, who in all that He requires, consults only our eternal happiness; charity, such as hopeth for no return from men, vaunteth not herself, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked by man's ingratitude, but looketh to Him alone who judgeth rightly, for a final recompense; knowing that be is faithful; not unrighteous, so as to forget our good works, and labour that proceedeth from love; that with all such distributions He is well pleased; that those who have pity on the poor, lend to the Lord; and that to them who provide for the needy, whatever be their wants, the Lord will give deliverance in the time of trouble.
May these motives and these promises influence your. hearts; they are found in those blessed revelations of His will on which all your hopes are founded, and they lead to those habits of thought and action which alone can give you peace at the last.
And now to God, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, be ascribed all honour, dominion, and worship, from this time forth for evermore. Amen.
EXTRACT FROM A LETTER ADDRESSED TO THE RIGHT REVEREND BISHOP LUSCOMBE, BY MR. TUCKER, THE CATECHIST.
"I enclose you a copy of the 'Time Table,' to show the order of instruction, and a printed paper announcing the time and places; to which may be added the day-school at Mirville, and a weekday service at Yvetot. The Report will state that we have admitted, during the past year, about five hundred and eighty children, and that we have now about two hundred under instruction. In addition to my visiting the schools and giving public instruction to the workmen, there is another very important particular which I ought to mention in connection with my duty. The serious accidents that have occurred on the works from time to time, and the miserable hovels in which the men and their families are compelled to live, producing various diseases, have called, and are constantly calling me, to the bed-side of the sick and dying. The number of women induced by my exhortations to return thanks for their safe delivery, is upwards of forty; and the number of funerals I have attended, between sixty and seventy. Although the Railway-men are the most debased class of English labourers, yet I am happy to say that, in many instances, they regard me as their friend; they bring me their letters to read and answer for them; they consult me on family matters, and the more prudent among them entrust me with their money to keep or forward to England for them.
"The works on this part of the line are proceeding very rapidly, and the more dangerous portion is completed, whilst they are only now commencing lower down.
"At New England, the name adopted by our colonists for the viaduct at Mirville, the population is rapidly increasing. There being not more than a dozen houses in the place, an immense number of wooden huts is now being built for the men, and in a few weeks from this time, there will not be less than fifteen hundred men, with their families, congregated in the valley.
 "I have already mentigned the frequency of accidents, at the commencement of the works, in the excavations ; and the satisfactory results I have witnessed from my presence on these occasions; I have been called up in the middle of the night to attend these poor fellows, when, upon several occasions, three, and four, and seven have been buried by a fall of earth, and have found myself side by side with the Irish Roman Catholic priest, neither of us knowing, until the poor fellows were dug out, to which communion they might belong. As it is not at all improbable that similar scenes of woe may present themselves at Mirville, I would take the liberty of suggesting the propriety of my changing quarters forthwith; there seems to be a providential indication of the necessity of such a step, as I have just heard that the manufacturer of whom we hire this place is about to leave, and that the proprietor, intending to work the mill himself, is desirous of compromising with us to resign the lease and quit the premises. This point is left with me to determine, and I, of course, would not think of leaving so convenient a locale and so comfortable a home but in obedience to what I feel to be a call of duty to another sphere, but on this point I must bow to your decision.
"Perhaps you will allow me to add a sketch of my future plans.
"I would propose to give up the Sunday duties at the present localities, and have, Instead, weekly evening services. These are, in some places, as well attended as the Sunday morning meetings. I would, in that case, devote my Sundays principally to Mirville, Yvetot, and one or two other places where I have not yet had service; and, although at a great sacrifice of personal comfort, take possession of one of the wooden houses and reside to New England. I would retain the existing schools until some more important work called for their removal.
"At Malaunay, I should stipulate with the proprietor, that if I give up the apartments, he would allow me to keep the school-room, or provide me with another. This school I should visit twice a-week, and have one evening service.
"At Barentin, the school would remain as heretofore, and I should visit that also twice a week and have one weekly service, and occasionally on Sunday evenings.
"At Rouen, I would suggest that the Sunday service be also given up, and that either the Sunday-school should be open morning and afternoon, or that the master should conduct the children to Mr. Stokes's church in the morning (this, although it might be my act in sending them, must be subject to your special direction), and have Sunday school in the afternoon. I would hold a week-day evening service for the men, and prayers and catechetical instruction on Saint's-Days, according to my usual custom, and should still hold in my hand the entire control of the school. I feel somewhat delicate in proposing this plan, but as I hope we shall be able to maintain this school after the completion of the works, in my humble judgment it seems to me to be the means of strengthening our hold upon it rather than otherwise."