Project Canterbury






The Right Reverend William Meade, D.D.,













Some years having elapsed since the delivery of a Pastoral Letter, we present you with the following. Such addresses are very properly expected to be "words in season."

We have chosen for our present subject that of Education, chiefly in its bearing on the moral and religious character of the children and youth of our State and Diocese. In some of its aspects, education is the theme most prominent before the minds of our statesmen, and of all who take an interest in the literary improvement of Virginia. That it is so, should be matter of rejoicing to all, since the influence of a sound literature is so great over every community. As the advancement of true science has ever been connected with that of true piety, all Christians should watch with deep anxiety the manner in which our institutions of learning are conducted. Not only is this a subject of deep importance, from its nature, but from the numerous and most influential agencies which are at work, in relation to it, beginning with our most private family schools, and extending, through all others, to our Colleges and great University itself. If all [3/4] of these be taken into the account, it may perhaps be found true, as some think, that the State of Virginia does, according to her free population, expend more money on education than any other in the Union, and has a larger portion of that population under some kind of instruction, though much of it may be very defective. Her colleges number not less than eight; her larger schools, either under trustees or of individual enterprise, are too numerous to admit of accurate computation. I venture, however, to affirm, that those devoted to the education of the youth of both sexes may be reckoned by hundreds. Her free State schools, and other primary ones, whether well or ill conducted, may be found in every county of the State, and in every neighborhood of some counties. To these must be added the numerous schools in private families, conducted by male and female teachers, throughout the length and breadth of the Commonwealth. Is it too much to say, that the teachers in all the above mentioned institutions must be numbered by thousands? Let any one be at the pains to ascertain the number of schools in one or more of our largest cities and most populous counties, and he will soon be satisfied that I am practising no exaggeration. Nor will any reflecting person hesitate to admit that these thousands form one of the most important and responsible bodies in the State, second only to that of the ministers of the Gospel, whom they far exceed in numbers. If they be in all respects duly qualified for the duties of their office, and exercise aright the influence they possess, great must be the good effected. On the contrary, if they be unfit or unfaithful, who can calculate the amount of evil [4/5] resulting? A large portion of these instructors being of our own communion, I feel moved to consider the subject, and present my thoughts to them and their employers in the present Pastoral--not excluding from my mind any others who, in like manner, may be related to the theme.

Before engaging in the consideration of the subject proposed, I must refer to a great and most gratifying change, which is now fast taking place in the public mind, as to the estimate in which the office of teacher is held amongst us, and the effect of the same upon our practice. Before the Revolutionary war, nearly all of our teachers came from abroad, and were of a very mixed character. Since that time, until within a few years, far the larger part of them, both male and female, have come from the more northern and eastern sections of our country. We take pleasure in testifying to the fact, that among them were numbers of worthy and pious young men and women, who proved blessings to the families and neighborhoods in which they taught. Their residence among us served to remove much prejudice on both sides, and has tended, we believe, not a little to strengthen our bond of union. During all this time, our young men of Virginia, with but few exceptions, were preparing themselves, at their fathers' sole expense, in schools and colleges, for some learned profession, or else for enjoying in ease their paternal inheritances--being under no necessity of following the example of our northern youths, in working out their own education; while it entered not into the minds of either fathers or mothers that it was becoming in their daughters, no matter how well prepared for it, to engage in the instruction of the young, whether in [5/6] private families or public schools. But within the last few years a most happy and praiseworthy change has been rapidly taking place. Virginia has now come to that most desirable mediocrity, as to estates, which incapacitates the parents, with some exceptions, for doing much more than give to their sons a good education. Indeed, as to far the larger number, the sons must resort, to the same method so successfully used by the youth of New England: they must either borrow, in whole or part, the means of their education, to be repaid when the collegiate life is over, or else alternately teach and be taught.

I rejoice to know, and to be able to say, that what was once considered disreputable and only to be endured from dire necessity, is now considered honorable, and very conducive to advancement in after life. Already the families and schools of Virginia are being filled up with teachers, from the University and other Colleges, while some of our best scholars are either establishing large schools in their own houses, or are to be found in the Academies, High Schools, and Colleges of our own or other States. The same may be said with equal truth and pleasure as to the other sex. Fathers and mothers who, in the pride and folly of their hearts, once thought it a degradation to their daughters to engage in this occupation, now rejoice in the opportunity of placing them in some respectable family, there to earn an honest support, instead of leading idle and dependent lives. They are beginning to see that some years of labor and useful ness thus spent is a most suitable preparation for all the duties of after life, and is a recommendation instead of a reproach. We hesitate not to express the belief that, [6/7] even now, there are hundreds of the sons and daughters of Virginia thus engaged, who not many years since would have shrunk from the same; and that there are other hundreds, who, ere many years have passed away, will be found supplying, not only their native State, but in part the farthest South and most distant West, with well educated teachers. Virginia having ceased to be the place of large estates, as the South still is, and not being a theatre for speculation, as is the West, but abounding in schools and colleges, and with those who hold refinement and literature in high esteem, will, if we mistake not the signs of the times, be the nursery of numerous teachers for the South and West, and perhaps may yet see some of them finding their way in other directions.

I need not say that our subject assumes an importance which can scarcely be overrated, and that a Pastoral, if addressed only to teachers, has a large and noble theme on which to discourse. Let us only suppose that the thousands of teachers already in Virginia were not only scholars themselves, and qualified to teach all the branches belonging to their classes, but in all other respects what they should be; that they were most earnestly desirous to promote the best welfare of their pupils, regarding them as their adopted children for the time being; that they endeavored faithfully to store their minds with all holy principles, as well as useful knowledge; that, like the Sunday School teachers, they feel it to be a privilege and duty to be co-workers, not only with God's ministers but with God himself, in training the immortal souls committed to their care, for the honors of heaven, as well as earth;--who can tell the amount of good which might [7/8] be effected by them? And has it not in every age and country, and under all forms of religion, been regarded as an important part of the duty of teachers to give instruction in morals and religion, as well as in languages and sciences; to train up the youth in self-government, and in the practice of piety and virtue, so that they might be useful in this life and happy in the next? Have not the best parents been always most anxious to secure the best instructors for their children, not regarding the cost? Such was certainly the case in the best days of Greece and Rome, when their wisest philosophers and best moralists were the friends and instructors of youth. Whatever knowledge of divine things was then possessed was freely imparted to them, as the most important of all sciences. The Jewish doctors and scribes, and the parents of Judea, who had a revelation from the Great Teacher, made that revelation their constant school-book. Out of it, as commanded, they taught the young, line upon line, precept upon precept, inscribing them on their foreheads, and hands, and garments, and doors, and gates, ever regarding "wisdom as the principal thing." When God's revelation was complete under our Lord and the Apostles, the sacred volume became the great text-book in the schools and colleges of the early Church. In these the most learned and pious fathers trained up the youth, guarding them against the vain philosophy of the Pagan schools, and the corrupting theology of the priests and poets.

To have omitted the study of the Christian religion, as set forth in the sacred volume, would have been a shameful neglect of their highest duty. The heathen classics and philosophers were indeed studied, but chiefly [8/9] that they might be confronted with the religion of Christ, and condemned by it. The catechists of the primitive Church formed the great body of the teachers of youth, and the expositions of Scripture, in lengthened creeds and lectures for their use, have come down to our times. The same was done at the reformation by those who wished to guard the youth against the errors of Rome, and imbue their minds with the true knowledge of Christ's religion, as seen in the Gospel. From the days of the pious young Edward, of England, the schoolmasters and parents were required to instruct their scholars and children in certain explanatory catechisms, set forth by royal authority, or the recommendation of convocation. King Edward's primer, or first lesson for schoolboys, has come down to us, as a monument of the sound divinity and religious training of the young in those days. In our own country, also, religion ever formed a leading feature in the discipline and instruction of the colleges and schools of our forefathers. The ministers of religion were always assigned a prominent place in them, on the ground that, by their office, education, and ordination vows, they were especially bound to attend to this department. In the charter of our own William and Mary, it was required by its royal founder that the President should always be a minister of the Church; and it is well known, as may be seen in its character and whole history, that the declared object of the College was, that it be so religiously conducted, as to be a fit place for the conversion of the natives and the raising up of pious ministers for the colony. [Necessity, or some strong consideration, has led to the violation of this rule in some few instances.]

[10] Such is the history of moral and religious education in all ages and countries, however perverted it may sometimes have been to error and falsehood. The common consent of mankind points to this truth, that religion, the greatest, most sublime and important of all sciences, is to be taught to the young. If the moral and religious system of the Bible be from God, it must be for the young. To exclude it from our schools is most insulting to its Great Author. Let the Classics of Greece and Rome be well studied, but only in connection with it as their corrector and antidote. Let arithmetic, mathematics, natural philosophy, and astronomy, be studied thoroughly, but not as more true than God's Word, which should be ever received as truth from Heaven. Let profane history also be read, but not without the sacred, as its guide and interpreter, for that is the oldest and the truest, the spirit of truth being the inspirer of it. This book should open our schools each day. Every teacher should read a well selected portion of its sacred contents each morning, and sometimes add a few plain words of explanation and affectionate exhortation. A brief view of the evidences of its Divine original should be studied in every high school and college in the land. How delightful would be the thought that, throughout our State, our thousands of teachers were daily reading to our tens of thousands of scholars some choice portions of God's Word, and still more if to this were added a few well chosen words of prayer. Who would venture to raise any sectarian objection to so Godly a practice, through fear that a word might sometimes be used not in strict accordance with his church or system? Could we only succeed in persuading every private teacher, especially where family prayer is not [10/11] used, to regard himself or herself as an instructor in God's Word, what blessings might not ensue. How many of their pupils might regard them as their best friends through life. See the happy effects of prayer and religious instruction in Sunday schools, where only an hour or two each week can be devoted to the effort in behalf of the young. See also in how many instances most genuine revivals have been granted to the efforts of pious teachers in high schools, and colleges, and female institutes. And, indeed, unless earnest efforts are made to render all our institutions conducive to the religious benefit of the young, how surely must they produce the contrary effect. Every sinful child of Adam brings to the place of assemblage some addition to the common stock of evil. Where numbers are thrown together, without due effort at government and discipline, and an humble application to God for help, who can estimate the corruption of morals which may ensue? The evil communication of one corrupt boy or girl, even where there is a sincere desire to prevent it, has often done much harm. What then, the effect of numbers, where no faithful efforts to the contrary are used? How careful should all parents be in the selection of schools for their children.


In connection with what has been said concerning the aid to be obtained from religion, it becomes us to speak of another appointment of God for the right government of our children. Discipline there must be in every well-ordered society on earth. God himself cannot, or will not, govern his moral world without it. In various ways and degrees he inflicts punishments on the souls and bodies [11/12] of men in this life, and threatens yet more and worse in another. After the example, and in obedience to the command of God, the most suitable and effective ought to be adopted. Formerly, both in our own and mother country, the rod was much more resorted to than at present; and we hesitate not to say that, both as to the promotion of morals and learning, undue reliance was placed upon it. It was doubtless adopted as an easier and shorter method of obtaining the object sought for. But God has made the hearts of our children susceptible of moral impressions, as well as their bodies of painful ones, and we ought to prefer gaining our point by addresses to the noble rather than the ignoble part. At any rate, the first ought certainly and most carefully to be done, though the other be not left undone. We venture to say, from some observation, experience, and reading, that, whether in families or schools, where the rod is much used there must be some great defect. It may be a labor-saving machine, but the work will be badly done, and soon wear out. Where this is much used, other means will be neglected, or most unhappily managed. Instances there are where more severity and frequency of this mode of punishment are indispensable, as there are cases, even of whole families, where scarcely any is required. On the other hand, where the rod is avowedly and practically discarded, and insolence, disobedience, and rebellion allowed to go unpunished, it need not be told what evil and misery must ensue. Until it is established that human nature is not the same in every age--in this as in that of Solomon--and that the proverbs of the wisest of men (made wise by God himself) have become unsuitable to our day, we had better adhere to the old and divinely appointed [12/13] way of dealing with stubborn and rebellious children. But we repeat it, that the latter, whether in the hands of parents or teachers, is only for the establishing authority and punishment of flagrant offences, and ought soon to have effected its work, so as to be seldom needed. And when it is needed, and well deserved, still it should never be administered in anger, and seldom in haste, but always with admonition; for moral principle cannot be forced into the soul through the pores of the body. In. the very place where St. Paul exhorts parents to bring up their children in the nurture (discipline) and admonition of the Lord, he previously warns them not to provoke them to anger, as some do by unkind and passionate words, by doing it "after their own pleasure," and because of something which is irritating or troublesome to themselves. Punishment should always be administered after reflection and prayer, with tenderness and love, and with heart-felt pain to ourselves, so that it shall be seen and acknowledged by the child. But because it is painful, it must not be dispensed with, for it is the ordinance of God, and no divine appointment can be despised or neglected without provoking his displeasure. As to other neglects in the way of discipline and good government, the fond and foolish indulgence of parents, the weak, cowardly, and mistaken policy of teachers who connive at the vices of pupils, and allow them injurious liberties, nothing but mischief can ensue. Neither learning nor good morals can be promoted by such a system. It is too contrary to the whole tenor of God's Word and providence to promote anything but evil. The history of parental indulgence, as exhibited in the lives and deaths of Eli and David, and their spoilt children, is an awful [13/14] warning to all other parents to beware of the sad mistake committed by two of God's most favored servants. Failing to rebuke, restrain, and correct their sons in the days of their youth, their own grey hairs were brought down in sorrow to the grave by the evil lives and miserable deaths of their ruined children. God, in every age, has thought proper to punish in this world some of his most beloved ones for disobeying him in this important respect.


This is the proper place in which to introduce a few words on a point upon which much of the efficacy of teachers and schools depends, viz: the co-operation of parents. Parents should esteem teachers and sustain their authority, in proportion as they are faithful in all things. Except they co-operate with them, decidedly and heartily, and take part with them, even though it be against their own children, except when it is most clear that authority is abused and cruelty practised, the teachers must fail and the pupils be injured. We ought to be strict in examining our children, and always fear the worst of them, just as we ought to be jealous over and strict in judging ourselves before God, ever fearing lest we deceive ourselves. So fond, so blind, so partial are most parents, that they are too ready to take part with their children against teachers and all others. Although deceit and falsehood are bound up in the hearts of all, even from their childhood, we are too apt to exempt our own children from these vices, and think that their statements must be true. I find it to be the general complaint of [15/16] teachers, that it is hard to find a parent who will question the words of their children. The word of a slave or of a party concerned will not be received, except under peculiar circumstances and to a limited extent, but how many will receive the testimony of an evil child against that of the most faithful teacher.


Having set forth the duty of bringing the great subject of religion to bear upon the minds and hearts of the young, we come now to consider the best mode of effecting their mental improvement. Let us consider the motives which should be presented to the youthful mind, urging to diligence.

1st. As we are bound to do all things heartily to the Lord, and not to men; as by universal consent the chief duty of man is to glorify God; therefore, the great motive which should be placed before the mind is this: that, since God has given us capacity, time, and opportunity, we should improve them all to the utmost, in order to be instrumental in promoting his honor and glory upon earth.

2d. That, as our earthly parents and friends have taken pains with us and expended money on our education, and are deeply interested in our improvement, we should endeavor to repay them by the diligent use of all our advantages and the faithful culture of such talents as God has bestowed upon us.

3d. We should diligently seek our own improvement, in order to earn an honest livelihood for ourselves and families, and to promote our greater respectability and usefulness in society.

[16] These are the high motives which should ever be urged as stimulants to industry and good behavior.

But it may be asked, is there not a principle far more powerful than any or all of these, and which has ever been used with mighty effect in promoting the literary improvement of youth--that which is called emulation, or the desire of excelling others? It certainly has been and is much used, and with great effect, on those upon whom it can be brought to act. But whether it deserves the name of virtuous emulation, which is sometimes given to it, ought to be well considered. Its worth must be tested by an appeal to the religion of our Lord and Saviour. The word, both in sacred Scripture and other writings, is used in two senses--the one good, the other bad. St. Paul enjoins it in the one, when endeavoring to promote and stimulate the unbelieving Jews to imitate the example of the believing Gentiles, (Romans, 11th ch., 14th verse;) but condemns it in the other, ranking "emulations" with the works of the flesh, and associating them closely with "envyings and strifes." Galatians, 5th ch., 20th verse. So much use being made of this principle or motive, in all departments of education, it is worthy of special inquiry how far, as thus used, it is in accordance with what is approved in Scripture. In order to this, we will first consider what it is, as practised in our system of education, and then what it is as set forth approvingly in the word of God.

1st. As used in some of our schools and colleges, it stimulates to exertion by the promise of certain prizes, honors, and distinctions, bestowed with more or less publicity, on those who excel or outstrip their class-mates in [16/17] their recitations, compositions, etc. The reward is not bestowed upon them for their real attainments, according to the ability given them of God, or some positive standard, but according to their comparative excellence. Of course, it must sometimes happen, that the less diligent, because having more talent, will be honored above the more diligent with less talent, and although the unsuccessful one may be more worthy in other respects. It is evident also that, in seeking the honors, each party must be under a strong temptation to desire the failure of the other, since his success depends, in a measure, on the deficiency of the other. The boy who is to-day next to the highest, be it in spelling or anything else, where the plan of turning down is adopted, can only reach what he aims at by the failure of him who is above him. This runs through the whole system. No one can be exalted, except another be cast down. No one is gladdened except another be mortified, and his friends, perhaps, with him. Heart-burnings, envyings, dislikes, of necessity belong to the system. Beginning in youth, they often continue through life. Emulation in youth becomes daring ambition in manhood, and often turns to deadly hate. Those who once loved as bosom-friends, under this unhappy principle become inveterate foes. It is true that it operates upon only a few, as there are but few high prizes worth the contest. The greater number being of inferior talents, soon give up the strife, or, fearing to be distanced, do not enter the lists. Of course, the good of the principle, if there be any, so far fails. [I think it is mentioned of Dr. Johnson, that, on a certain occasion, when the subject of stimulating schoolboys to diligence in study by means of emulation was under discussion, he declared his opinion by saying, "If your son will not learn his lessons, then give him the rod, but for God's sake do not teach him to hate his fellows." It is now more than forty years since this question was fully discussed in the Christian Observer, when it set forth the sentiments of Wilberforce, Hannah More, the Thorntons, Babington, and some of the most prominent ministers of that day. Mr. Thomas Babington, member of Parliament, contributed a series of numbers on education, and in a masterly and most Christian manner disposed of this point, afterwards republishing it in his volume on Education. My own mind was fully satisfied at that time with the view presented by this great and good man, nor have any subsequent reflections, or reading or discussion, or influence or observation, in the slightest degree shaken my convictions. I have superintended the education of my own sons, and the sons of others, under various teachers, and never had occasion to resort to this, as I think, most unhappy expedient. I doubt not that my experience is the experience of many other parents and of many excellent teachers. I am happy to find that Bishop Hopkins, of Vermont, whose experience in teaching the young is great, has, in his late excellent work entitled "The American Citizen," most fully and ably advocated the view which Mr. Babington defended, and which has been commended in this Pastoral.]

[18] Let us now see how it is with emulation, as commended in Scripture--our only rule and authoritative guide in morals. Some think that the doctrine of rewards and punishments, as taught and used by God himself; justifies the method sometimes adopted in schools. They say that God encourages to the diligent performance of duty, by the promise and bestowal of certain blessings and honors, both here and hereafter. To this it is sufficient to answer, that though God does exhort us to "covet earnestly the best gifts;" yet does he never hold out, as an inducement or motive to the ardent pursuit of them, that we may rise above others, and so be tempted to wish some failure in our competitors, in order that we may excel.

[19] See how he rebukes two of his disciples--the ambitious sons of Zebedee--for desiring to be above all the rest of his kingdom. Moreover, God has proposed motives of quite a different character from this, and utterly inconsistent with it.

He raises a high and holy standard or measure of duty, at which we are exhorted to aim--even obedience to his perfect law, which every one should endeavor to attain to, and wish and pray that all others should reach, on the divine principle of loving our neighbor as ourselves. This law he keeps himself, and caused to be kept in perfection by our Lord, when in the human form.

We are commanded to seek to be "holy, because God is holy," and "as God is holy." "Be ye perfect, even as your Father in Heaven is perfect," is the great rule and motive laid down for us by our Lord. And the same is only repeated, when we are enjoined to be "followers of our Lord," to have "the mind which was in him." The angels in Heaven also are proposed for our imitation, when we pray that we on earth may "do the will of God as it is done in Heaven." But we are never exhorted to do it better, in order that we may rise above them and have higher seats, and shine brighter than they. To suppose this principle admitted into Heaven among the saints and angels, would be to suppose that there might be another fall of spirits from above; for, "where envying and strife are, there is confusion and every evil work."

We are also encouraged to imitate the examples of the good and pious on earth, considering the end of their conversation; but nowhere are we exhorted to seek to excel any of our fellow-beings, with the promise of a reward [19/20] for outstripping them. It is utterly incompatible with Christian love and humility to desire and endeavor to excel another, even in holiness, for the sake, either in part or whole, of being preferred to him.

Very different, indeed, are the motives held out to us by the Gospel. The royal law is, that we "love our neighbor as ourselves;" nay, we are exhorted to love our very enemies, even as Christ loved us; "not to attend to our own things only, but every man also to the things of others;" "in honor to prefer one another," "to bear each other's burdens;" "to rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those that weep." According to these precepts we are all bound to desire, and, as far as in us lies, seek to promote it, that all our companions be completely successful in every good work, do every thing in the most perfect manner, and never bring ourselves under the temptation of desiring their failure, and being glad at the least calamity which may befall them, in order that we may excel. The envious and ambitious feeling against which we are contending strikes at the very root of our holy religion. "How can ye believe," says the Apostle, "which seek honor one of another, and not the honor which cometh from God only?"

God is not only worthy to be loved with all the heart and mind, and soul, aid strength, but is a jealous God, and will not give any of his glory to another--will not dwell in a divided heart. He must reign supreme. Motive is every thing with the heart-searching God. "Did ye it at all unto me, even unto me" must be put to all that we do and seek upon earth. What, if his sacred ministers should endeavor to excel each other in their public [20/21] performances, for the sake of the greater applause of their fellow-beings, and should openly avow the motive? Who would not despise them? Which of God's ministers would not be ashamed to let the inglorious thought be seen through a window in his breast? Nay, though bound to seek most earnestly the salvation of many souls--even all committed to his care--yet would he be confounded at the consciousness of desiring to save more souls than his brethren, in order that he might rise higher and shine brighter in the firmament then they, instead of loving his brethren as himself', and truly desiring and praying that they also may be perfect, and be the instruments of saving all the souls intrusted to their care. How does this principle of envy, which has by Solomon been well called "rottenness of the bones," and of which he as truly said, "who can stand before it?" lower and degrade our high and holy religion, when we seek to allow it a place among the motives of human action! Ours is a religion of love. God is love, and "he that is born of God loveth also." The Gospel is the Gospel of good will from God to man, and from man to his fellowman. Above all other gifts and graces, love stands preeminent. All others will one day end their functions, but charity never. While Heaven endures, it will be the happiness thereof. But we must needs patronize something else on earth which the God of love looks down upon with displeasure, and yet think that we cannot spare its mighty agency. What! Can we not spare all the discord and rivalry, and envying and jealousy, which pervade all ranks of society and all departments of life? Can we not spare all the miseries which are produced by [21/22] them? But I confine myself to the one department which I have made the subject of this address.

If there be any who still fear that we shall suffer loss in the arts and sciences, and all the works of man, by the substitution of these higher principles of love to God and man, for the selfish and ignoble desire of surpassing our fellow-beings, and it will be any comfort to them to hear it, we may say, too truly, that after all our efforts to the contrary, that "spirit which is in us, and which lusteth to envy," will still be strong and active in every child of Adam. The best of men, who pray and strive most against it, still mourn over its evil influence, and are ashamed and confounded before God, that the desire of praise for excelling others still finds place in their hearts. It needs not to be stimulated. Far better for us to be ever resisting it, and saying, "Get thee behind me, Satan." Let parents and teachers be continually presenting the nobler motives of religion, of patriotism, of philanthropy, to the minds of the young, and those be regarded the best friends of youth who remove most temptation out of the way of the selfish, the envious and ambitious principle in men, and bring most of the nobler ones to bear upon their minds. We might even learn a lesson from heathen schools, in which, if the love of the unknown God was not presented to the minds of the youth, still the love of country and mankind was held up as a noble motive, and the young were taught that it was a virtue to rejoice in the superior gifts of others. St. Paul, in a certain place, speaks of a "good man for whom some would even dare to die." And who was that good man, but the generous, unselfish man, to whom all [22/23] hearts were drawn, and not the "wretch who centres all in self," and for whom no man cares.

Let us endeavor to raise up amongst us a race of Christian patriots and philanthropists, far superior to those of Greece and Rome, having their hearts burning with love to God and man, and ready to spend and be spent in every good cause. What Christian father and mother would not prefer, if needs be, to have something less of the praise for scholarship awarded to their sons, and more for generous disinterested love? How much better for our country and mankind, if there were less of ambition, and even of learning, in some of our patriots and statesmen, and more of the divine principle of love.

'Tis humble love, not proud science, opes the gates of Heaven:
Love finds admission, where proud science fails.

We conclude on this topic by expressing the fear that even some of our professedly religious institutions are not exempt from what we consider the serious error against which we have been arguing. The temples of religion, and the holy Sabbaths, sometimes witness celebrations which we think are marred by the introduction of this too worldly feature. We sincerely wish that the whole subject were strictly examined and tested by the principle of Christian love, as set forth in the religion of Christ. We cannot but think that much less of this incentive to diligence might be employed in the conduct of all parts of the religious and literary training of the young, although, after all efforts to the contrary, emulation and ambition will find entrance. Those who shall adopt the best methods of reducing the temptation to them, will approve themselves the best friends of youth.


Let us consider the subject of love and its opposite in another aspect.

There are not many Christian parents who would hesitate to adopt, with their very little children, the words of Dr. Watts:

"Let dogs delight to bark and bite,
For God hath made them so;
But, children, you should never let
Such angry passion rise;
Your little hands were never made
To tear each other thus."

Most parents, we say, begin well in this, as in some other respects; but how soon does their beginning end. Some do not even begin well, but in the very nursery encourage revenge and blows. The nursery of course prepares for the school; the school prepares for the college; and the college for the whole future life. I know of no subject on which more defective views are entertained, and more inconsistent practice observed, among those who profess the religion of the Prince of Peace. I know of no point in which the spirit, example, and precepts of our Lord are more departed from, in the education of the young, by parents, guardians, and teachers. The authority of Christ's example and commands is not honored as it should be in this respect. Obedience to it is not considered essential to the Christian character. So far from the violation of it being regarded as a reproach and condemnation, it is by some esteemed an honor. Men for [24/25] themselves, and parents for their sons, glory in their shame, and are ashamed of their glory, caring not to offend God, so they may gratify themselves, and extort from some on earth the praise of bravery. Ministers of religion are sometimes mortified to hear false sentiments on this subject from the lips of those who are in communion with the Church, but who seem to covet the reputation of the soldier, rather than of the humble and peaceable Christian. Our sons are sometimes taught that they may not only vindicate their characters when falsely charged, by disproving the guilt imputed, and even their persons when assailed and endangered, by a suitable defence, though at the risk of injury to the assailant, but that it is dishonor not to revenge the insult of a word with a blow, and be ready at a challenge to engage in a regular combat, either for the sport of others, or the establishment of their own reputation for what is called courage. This subject ought to be faithfully studied by the light of the Gospel and the example of Christ. However men may undertake to establish a code of honor, and erect the standard of true courage, God has determined to retain these things in his own hands. He has laid them down in his law, and will judge men thereby. God holds true courage in the highest estimation, and will reward it with the most signal honors.

Although there be no seats in Paradise, like those in the pagan elysium, for kings, and generals, and warriors, yet there are palms in the hands and crowns on the heads of the victors in Christ's army, which God himself will bestow.

[26] It is of the utmost importance that our youth be well instructed in the nature of that courage which God approves and will honor. St. Peter, after instructing the scattered converts in the true faith of Christ, then says: "Add to your faith virtue;" and then mentions many other graces. The first of these is virtue, whose well-known meaning is courage in defence of the truth, and in the practice of it; it was the word which, throughout the whole world, was used as expressive of what was regarded as the greatest bravery and fearlessness. This, as understood among Christians, was the grace next to faith, and essential to its preservation.

"Fear not him," said our Lord, "who is only able to kill the body; but fear Him who is able to destroy both body and soul in Hell." Our sons should be taught this, and then they can despise the ridicule of man--that false test of truth and of duty. They can dare to speak the truth, whatever it may cost them; to do their duty, though all men may rail at them; to defend the right and help the weak, though at the risk of life itself. Let them be trained to courage like this, and then will they be the best defenders of their country in time of need, and ready, on any proper call, to expose themselves to danger in aid of others. Let them be taught that no insulting language, from the lips of insolence and falsehood, can do harm, except to those from whom it issues; and therefore, after the Saviour's example, they will let it pass unheeded--not through the fear of a few blows or bruises, or the loss of a little blood, but from principle. There is no need of that perversion of our Lord's words which would have us submit unresistingly to any violence which [26/27] may be offered, and even tarn from cheek to cheek when ruffian force may assail and threaten to destroy. The letter of the command would thus kill; whereas the spirit of it would preserve life. Defensive war, either on the part of nations or individuals, is the law of humanity. Man in a rage or in the cold blood of hate may be resisted, even unto his death, as a madman or a wild beast, unless we had the power to convey ourselves away from him, as our Lord did when his life was in danger. Let parents and teachers, then, discourage every thing like revenge, and hate, and war. Let the peaceable, and especially the peace-makers, be commended. Let the promoters of strife be rebuked and punished. Let the example of our Washington, while yet a schoolboy, be set before them. He not only avoided wrangling himself, but made peace between others; and if his own efforts could not prevail, would inform the teacher of any purposed contest. He is the informer who ought to be encouraged, and is a tell-tale worthy of all honor. In order to discourage this evil principle, let parents and teachers condemn and forbid all cruel contests between the inferior animals. Those who can take delight in the low battles of fowls and dogs and other animals, are the very boys who will soon encourage the angry contests between' their young companions, and then the deadly duels between the older ones, and then revel in the sight or in the report of bloody battles between contending armies. For the same reason let parents and teachers forbid to their eons and pupils the use of all deadly weapons, as pistols, bowie-knives, and such like. The use of them in sportive practice and in trials of skill, only prepare, for other use of them when revenge and passion may stimulate to murder.

[28] We must go beyond this, and call upon the friends and guardians of youth to watch over them while studying or perusing even history, poetry, and fiction, and guard them against the effect of all these in nourishing and strengthening those "lusts which war in our members," and "from whence come wars and fightings." No reader of them can be insensible to the stimulus they give to the spirit of war in man. How often is the death of the warrior, though he be utterly destitute of one Christian grace, held up to view as the crowning honor of humanity; and "Let me die the death of the righteous, and my last end be like his," is a less desirable death than that of the mere hero on the field of battle. "Enough! he died the death of fame!" are the words which one of our greatest poets has put into the mouth of a father sorrowing over the grave of a son who has fallen on the field of battle--as though that alone were all that was wanted to give assurance of a blissful immortality! [Another popular writer represents a father, who is a minister of religion, as saying to his son, when entering the army, and without any evidences of religious character--but the contrary, being a duelist--"Go, my boy! and if you fall, though distant, exposed, and unwept for by those who love you, the most precious tears are those with which Heaven bedews the unburied head of a soldier!"] We must learn from our Bibles wherein true glory consists far better than this, or we may undo our sons forever.

Let none say, if every thing like war is discouraged in the young, where will be the defenders of our country? Let them not fear that the military spirit, after all our warning, will be too weak for this. No sooner shall the drum beat and the trumpet sound, than this spirit will be roused to all-sufficient action. All history bears witness to this.


What has been said concerning this juvenile tendency to war will naturally lead to some reflections on an evil of our age and country, which ought to be frowned upon and forbidden by all the friends of the young, and especially by those in office and authority. I allude to the subject of duelling; a practice of so evil a character, and attended with such fearful consequences, that our legislators, in this and some other States, have forbidden even the sending a challenge, under the heavy penalty of being denied a place among themselves, besides classing the fatal issue of a duel with wilful murder. Such legislation plainly showed that the enactors of such laws did not, as some say, regard public opinion as being in favor of the practice; otherwise they never would have endangered their seats by first passing the law and then resolutely persisting in adherence to it. Repeated attempts, under the most promising circumstances, have been made to repeal it, but have always signally failed. I remember to have heard Chief Justice Marshall express himself most emphatically in favor of the law, and of its efficacy, saying that much good and no ill had resulted from it, though the evil still existed to a lamentable extent. This he sold at the time of a contest between two distinguished members of the American Congress, which excited much interest in the land, and when the proposition to interdict the practice to the members of our highest legislative body, by a similar law, was agitated. In that conversation Judge Marshall declared himself in favor of such prohibition, if it could be constitutionally done, and was inclined to the opinion that it might be so done, though [29/30] he forbore to speak positively, as he had never investigated the question, so as to be justified in forming and declaring such opinion.

I do not mean to enter upon an argument against duelling. That has been too often and too ably done to require repetition. Common sense, humanity, reason, religion, wit, and satire, have all lent their aids to the exposure of the folly and wickedness of the practice. No man, whose opinion is worthy of any regard, now thinks of advocating it, except for the sake of argument and as a trial of skill. The celebrated Doctor Johnson is, indeed, said to have defended it, but on a ground too slight and unworthy to induce any to suppose that he did so, except as he sometimes espoused other absurd propositions, viz: as an exhibition of talent.

One of his biographers, who has retailed all his table talk and mere private conversation, much of which ought never to have been seen by the public eye, and which Dr. Johnson forbade to be thus exhibited when he should be no more, has told us that on a certain occasion, when the subject of duelling was under discussion, the Doctor undertook its defence, saying that reputation was dearer than life; and as all admitted that we might defend our lives, sometimes even at the risk of the lives of others, so we might defend that which was dearer, by the same means. We are not informed, however, by what arguments Dr. Johnson attempted to prove that we could defend our characters by the pistol or the sword; at which weapons our slanderers might be more expert and successful than ourselves. The absurdity of the thing is transparent. We may effectually defend our bodies by [30/31] physical force and by the use of weapons, and are at liberty to do so when in danger, the defence being in proportion to the assault. False charges affecting our character must be disproved, or an appeal made to our lives, for the sustaining of our reputation. Dr. Johnson never meant to leave such a defence to posterity. In vain you look for it in his voluminous writings. [If Dr. Johnson was serious in his advocacy of duelling, why did he not support his argument by corresponding practice? During his long mid diversified and eventful life, being ever before the public in some form or other, he must have often been the subject of severe criticism and slander, and yet we do not find that he ever spoke of calling his enemies to this kind of account, although he often let them feel the severity of his tongue and his pen. It would, indeed, be among the most ludicrous of all things even to imagine Dr. Johnson illustrating his argument by the pistol or the sword. That he was given to paradox in conversation might be shown by reference to what his biographer (Boswell) has stated concerning his argument in favor of the Romish over the Protestant church. Although a Protestant, from birth, education, and conviction, yet he is said to have maintained that it was safer to be in the Romish church; reasoning thus. Both Romanists and Protestants agree that there is salvation in the Romish church, whereas Romanists deny that there can be in the Protestant church. Here, then, are two testimonies in favor of the Romish, and only one in favor of the Protestant, and that an interested one. Therefore, it is safer to be in that which has not only the two in its favor, but one of them the testimony of an enemy. Why did he not, if in earnest, unite with the safer church? No man was more likely to do it than Dr. Johnson, if he had entertained a doubt of Protestantism, for there was a tinge of superstition about him, and he had not an assurance which made him rejoice in the prospect of death, so that he has sometimes been called the "death-dreading Johnson." He was the very person, had he believed in his own argument, to send for a Romish priest and seek absolution from him in the hour of death; but this he did not.]

This mode of defending reputation is only a change of that appeal to God, which in the darker ages was made by those against whom false charges were brought, which could not readily, if at all, be disproved by man.

[32] There was something far more honorable in that than in our present appeal--although it was altogether superstitious, being a prayer which God never promised to answer.

It was only tempting God, to suppose that he would always decide in favor of the injured man, when both were in the act of violating his law, which said, "Thou shalt not kill." But still a too effective argument in favor of duelling is drawn from the very positive assertion of some, that public opinion calls for it in certain cases. Let it be subjected to a brief examination.

It is admitted by all that the practice is condemned by the laws of God and man, and so far not to be justified. It is admitted that common sense and reason condemn it, as not attaining the object which it professes to seek, but as producing the very contrary results. It is admitted that it is forbidden by humanity; is cruel in its operation, bringing misery on all concerned, probably in both worlds, as to the parties engaged, and making many helpless widows and orphans in this. Above all, it is acknowledged to be no proof of real courage, but the contrary, since it proceeds from the fear of being suspected of cowardice. Rather than be subject to the charge of cowardice, the duellist will violate common sense, humanity and religion, and rush unbidden into the presence of his Maker, and endeavor to hurry a fellow-being with him. Such are the considerations actuating the duellist. Sometimes a deadly hate and blood-thirsty desire of revenge may also urge him forward. Now, to affirm that public opinion requires duelling in the view of all these things, is to bring a heavy charge against those who form [32/33] public opinion-that is, against the majority of those whose sentiments have such weight as to form public opinion. It is to say, that public opinion requires us, in order to be esteemed, to violate reason, common sense, humanity, religion, the laws of God and man, and to be wanting in true courage, to be guilty of the worst kind of cowardice.

Let us see against whom this heavy charge is made, and who they are that goad on the unhappy duellist to his wicked deed, lest he be cast out as unworthy:

1st. The ministers of the Gospel form a large and respectable body of men, whose opinions on morals and religion have weight in every Christian land. Do any of these hold and declare that duelling, under any circumstances, is right? Certainly not, except at the jeopardy of their sacred office. Are they not continually, from the pulpit and the press, uttering the most solemn warnings against it, reiterating the awful words of Jehovah from Mount Sinai: "Thou shalt do no murder."

2d. Does the Church of God connive at this crime, when it forbids her ministers even to perform the last funeral rites over the suicide, who falls while exposing his own and seeking the life of a fellow-being?

3d. Do the communicants of the Christian Church, in all its branches, and who compose so large and respectable a body of the moral, the pious, and the influential, advocate duelling and despise the man who refuses to engage in this work of murder and suicide? Where is the minister of God who would dare to do his duty so unfaithfully as to admit to the feast of love and peace one who should maintain its lawfulness, and even declare [33/34] that, under certain circumstances, he might do it in obedience to public opinion?

4th. Does that better half of our race, who are so dependent on the other half for protection and support--the gentler, more loving and peace-making portion--the Christian mothers, wives, sisters, daughters, help to make up this public opinion, which is so irresistible in its influence? Do they urge to the violation of common sense, humanity, law human and divine, and even the only true courage which will stand the test of either human or divine judgment? Where and who are they? I grant that there may be, here and there, some poetical, novel-reading, sentimental, and very weak-minded ones, a disgrace to humanity and their sex, who venture to breathe, as it were, a thought so abhorrent to the character of their sex, and of that holy religion which is the glory of their sex. But what if a test paper were circulated through the length and breadth of our land, through all our churches, court-houses and legislative halls, and required to be signed yea or nay by every one, male and female, having come to years of discretion, affirming or denying the principle that duelling was right and demanded by public opinion. Who can doubt the result? Where would public opinion then be, if numbers and respectability formed it? And what would be the character of those who favor this daring insult to Heaven, and this unmanly fear of some of their fellow-beings on earth? Why, only a few sceptics, who try to doubt whether there be an hereafter--a few blood-thirsty ones, who love to read and hear of such things, better than fight themselves in a good cause--a few silly, sentimental girls, who draw their notions from novels, plays, poems, and [34/35] the theatre, and not from God's Word. Opposed to these stand a mighty host of the peaceable, the sober-minded; the pious; the patriotic, the truly generous and the truly brave. And what if the great majority here below were in favor of it, and only a few found faithful, but these few having God and his angels, and all Heaven and eternity, yea, and the wretched ones of hell, too, on their side; where would the majority still be found, and who could hesitate which to prefer?

But while the argument is so clear, and the facts so indubitable and overpowering, it becomes all the parents, guardians, and friends of youth to present the argument and facts in the most impressive manner before their minds, since they are so easily led astray by the evil propensities of our nature, and especially by the fear of ridicule, that most false yet potent principle. Let us point them to the conduct of those who, through fear of the opinion of some, whose opinion, however, is unworthy of a moment's thought, have abandoned their religious profession, or merely hesitated about is, and adopted the language and position of the duellist, and show how they have fallen in the estimation of the wise and pious. Let them be told, in opposition to the false assertion that he who refuses a challenge suffers in public estimation, that thousands have done it, and poured ridicule and contempt upon the challenge and the challenger, and been the more esteemed through life for their truer bravery. But for the effect of their example, the number of such combats might have been increased a hundred, perhaps a thousand fold. If, indeed, as is affirmed by some, public opinion is in favor of it, how numerous must be the contests of this kind to enable us to [35/36] maintain our standing, among men. Let us point our children, then, to the example of the Father of his Country, who, at the most critical and eventful period of his life, when at the head of a newly formed regiment, and a youthful candidate for military fame, not only dared to decline to summon an antagonist to the field, according to general expectation, but, conscious of being the aggressor, made a reparation uncalled for and unexpected, and thus proved himself the true hero. But did Washington ever for an hour suffer in the esteem of those whose esteem alone he cared to have? Did Marquis La Fayette, whom Washington fairly laughed out of the purpose to revenge a supposed insult, suffer ever after, or for a moment, in the estimation of America or France, or the world?

It is true that there are some contemptible persons, who have no kind of courage whatever, who shrink from any and every danger, no matter what be the call to face it; whose whole physical system trembles, as the aspen leaf before the slightest breeze; who, having no moral principle opposed to duelling, and only afraid of the personal exposure, may, under some false plea, refuse to fight the man whom they have injured. Such an one deserves to be despised; not, however, because he will not violate the law of God and man, and common sense and humanity, and permit himself to be almost dragged to the field of single combat; but because, apart from all this, there is nothing worthy of respect about him. If he is only afraid of personal injury, let him be despised; let public opinion condemn him for his meanness, cowardice and hypocrisy. If such could be removed from our world in some lawful way, it were well--nothing [36/37] would be lost by it. But nobler victims have sometimes fallen. It saddens our hearts, therefore, to hear, as we have sometimes heard from those of whom we had hoped better things, that, although to receive a challenge is utterly unjustifiable for all the reasons stated above, yet they might be compelled by public opinion to accept a challenge and do the deed. It must ever be regarded as an acknowledgment of one of the greatest weaknesses of which man is capable. The recollection of even the avowal should always be accompanied with a deep consciousness of shame, and with a sense of guilt, at thought of the injury it might do to others. It must ever be a blot on the character of him who thus speaks and thus acts.

Yet such was the language and such the conduct of Virginia's greatest orator and highest genius. With an accusing spirit, under the heavy condemnation of his own conscience, which God had instructed better, he followed to the field the man whom he had insulted, and whom one word, such as a Washington would have uttered, had amply satisfied. Though refusing to speak that word, he could not point the deadly weapon at the breast of his injured foe, but, firing it in the air, as if for atonement, he exposed himself to the imminent peril of being hurried, an unhappy suicide, into the presence of that God who has given life only to be resigned when he shall call for it.

Such was the language and conduct of his foe, who was not only the first orator of Kentucky, but the greatest statesman of all America; who seemed to fear nothing upon earth but the idle phantom of public opinion, which one brief, one brave, one honest word would have [37/38] dissipated forever. He was led by this phantom to aim the deadly weapon at the life of a fellow-being, whom to have slain would have been his torment through life--perhaps through eternity; but God in mercy turned aside, and scarce turned aside the deadly ball. Nevertheless, he stood before the Almighty Judge as the wilful violator of that law which in the voice of thunder said, "Thou shalt not kill." But there was a city of refuge--the Saviour's arms--whose blood alone could wash away the guilt.

To that Saviour we trust he went, with a penitent and believing heart, not only humbling himself as a little child and renouncing all hope from his talents, his patriotism, his daring, or any earthly qualities, but rejoicing in the hope of being remembered by his crucified Lord, even as was the dying thief.


It has been our wish, in all that has been said, to impress that large and respectable body, the teachers in Virginia, with a deep sense of their capacity for usefulness, and, of course, their responsibility. They have much to do with forming the character and shaping the destinies of the youth of Virginia. If they perform their duties well, they will be objects of affection and respect to their pupils through life, but not otherwise. Merely to please them, by indulgence or flattery, as demagogues do the people, whose favor they desire, is to betray a sacred trust.

It may avail for a time, but must sooner or later fail. Neither their pupils, nor parents, nor any others, will [38/39] esteem them as benefactors. None will honor them but for the real good which is done to those who are placed under their care. To parents let me say, the good work must begin with you--at home. Every family must be, first, the infant school, then the primary school, and always the school of Christ, where the little ones are trained up for him, according to the rules, discipline, and doctrines of his word. The Old and New Testaments must be the first school-books, as well as the last, and the perpetual school-books, being full of milk for babes, and meat for men. Especially must good government begin at home. If authority be not established there, it can scarcely be expected elsewhere. It was spoken in praise of Abraham, the first father in the Church of Israel, that he would "command his household after him."

Nor think your work is over when you have placed them at a certain age under other governors and tutors. You must not only choose their schools and colleges for them, but keep them there, and sustain the authority of the same, and be ever inquiring into their progress in all literature, and morals, and religion, and still retain your influence and authority over them for good to the latest possible period, ever seeking and praying for the time when they shall choose the Lord for their "master," and his "law of liberty" for their rule.

One word only to my brethren in the ministry. You cannot but feel that in a subject of such importance to the Church of God you should take a lively interest, and as active a part as your circumstances will permit. From the infant school in the nursery, the Sunday school in the Church, through all the grades of literary and religious [39/40] instruction, up to the largest colleges, you should be ever ready to perform your full share of duty. It is in the power of ministers of religion to render great service in this cause, and deep is the interest they have in it. The youth under their care, and who ought to form the hope of the Church, must be greatly affected by the nurture and admonition--that is, the discipline and instruction, which are administered in the schools. Their own children, also, on whom so much of the honor of religion depends, must be more or less influenced by the conduct of schools, whether they be pupils of the same or not, since they must have some communication with those who are.

For these and other considerations the ministers of religion ought most anxiously to study the subject of education, and the best mode of conducting it. If there be any errors in principle or practice, they should be the first to detect, and the most anxious to correct them, for the sake of their own children and all others, and the general welfare of the Church of God.

Praying that the Great Teacher may, by his Word and Spirit, guide us all into the right way, I present to you, and all others whom it may concern, this humble attempt to aid one of the most important instruments in behalf of the young.

WILLIAM MEADE, Bishop of the P. E. C. of Virginia.

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