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Whatever uncertainty there may be as to the correspondence of means and ends in other matters of human arrangement, of this we are assured, -" Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”
Not, then, for any mere ends of “private life,” not for any purpose of individual display or personal accomplishment, not for the mere object of gratifying parental pride or family ambition, but as a matter of public, political, patriotic duty, should education be pursued in the United States. Children should be educated as those by whom the destinies of the nation are one day to be wielded, and free schools cherished as places in which those destinies are even now to be woven. It has been recorded as a saying of Mahomet that “the ink of the scholar and the blood of the martyr are equal." It would be difficult to bring an American of this generation, especially if he happened to be standing, as we now are, at the foot of Bunker Hill, to acknowledge that there could be any thing equal — equal in its claim upon his regard and reverence, or equal in its influence upon our national welfare and freedom - to the blood of our Revolutionary martyrs. But in this we must all agree, that nothing but the ink of the scholar can preserve, what the blood of the martyr has purchased. The experiment of free government is not one which can be tried once for all. Every generation must try it for itself. Our fathers tried it, and were gloriously successful. We are now engaged in the trial, and, thank God, we have not yet failed. But neither our success, nor that of our fathers, can afford any thing but example and encouragement to those who are to try it next. As each new generation starts up to the responsibilities of manhood, there is, as it were, a new launch of Liberty, and its voyage of experiment begins afresh. But the oracles have declared that its safety and success depend not so much upon the conduct of those engaged in it during the passage, as upon their preparations before they embark. The winds and waves must be propitiated before the shore is left, or wreck and ruin will await them. But this propitiation consists, not in some cruel proceeding like that prescribed by the heathen oracle to the Grecian fleet, in binding son or daughter upon the pile of sacrifice, aud offering up their tortured bodies and ago
nized souls to appease an angry deity, but in a process which is not more certain to call down the best blessing of Heaven upon the enterprise, and to secure a peaceful and prosperous voyage, than it is to promote the truest happiness and welfare of those upon whom it is performed. Sons and daughters devoted to Education are the only sacrifice which God has prescribed to render the progress of Free Government safe and certain.
AN ADDRESS DELIVERED AT THE ANNUAL MEETING OF THE MASSACHU
SETTS BIBLE SOCIETY IN BOSTON, MAY 28, 1849.
In rising to move the adoption of the Report which has just been read, I feel deeply, Mr. President, how apt I shall be to disappoint any part of the expectations of this meeting, which may, by any chance, have been directed towards myself. I have not come here this afternoon in the hope of saying any thing which might not be better said by others more accustomed to deal with occasions of this sort; or any thing, indeed, which has not been, a hundred times already, better said by those who have heretofore taken part in these Anniversary celebrations.
But I was unwilling to refuse any service which your committee of arrangements might even imagine me capable of rendering to the cause in which you are assembled. I could not find it in my conscience, or in my heart, to decline bearing my humble testimony, whenever and wherever it might be called for, to the transcendent interest and importance of the object for which this Association has now lived and labored for the considerable period of forty years.
That object is the publication and general distribution of the Holy Scriptures; and no man, I am sure, who has had the privj. lege of listening to the Report of my Reverend friend, (Dr. Parkman,) and who has a soul capable of appreciating the grandeur of those aggregate results which he has so well set forth, can fail to pronounce it one of the greatest, most important, most comprehensive and catholic objects, to which human means and human efforts have ever been devoted.
The week on which we have just entered, has been signalized, I had almost said hallowed, among us, for many years past, by the meetings of many noble associations; and a record of philanthropy and charity has been annually presented to us in their reports and addresses, which must have filled every benevolent bosom with joy. But it has been a most appropriate and significant arrangement, that this Society should take the lead in these Anniversary festivals. Undoubtedly, Sir, the first of all charities, the noblest of all philanthropies, is that which brings the Bible home to every fireside, which places its Divine truths within the range of every eye, and its blessed promises and consolations within the reach of every heart.
All other charities should follow, and, indeed, they naturally do follow, in the train of this. Let the great work of this Association be thoroughly prosecuted and successfully accomplished, and the soil will be prepared, and the seed sown, for a golden and glorious harvest.
Diffuse the knowledge of the Bible, and the hungry will be fed, and the naked clothed. Diffuse the knowledge of the Bible, and the stranger will be sheltered, the prisoner visited, and the sick ministered unto. Diffuse the knowledge of the Bible, and Temperance will rest upon a surer basis than any mere private pledge or public statute. Diffuse the knowledge of the Bible, and the peace of the world will be secured by more substantial safeguards than either the mutual fear, or the reciprocal interests, of princes or of people. Diffuse the knowledge of the Bible, and the day will be hastened, as it can be hastened in no other way, when every yoke shall be loosened, and every bond broken, and when there shall be no more leading into captivity.
It is the influence of the Bible, in a word, by which the very fountains of philanthropy must be unsealed, and all the great currents of human charity set in motion. It is here alone that we can find the principles, the precepts, the examples, the motives, the rewards, by which men can be effectually moved to supply the wants and relieve the sufferings of their fellow-men, and to recognize the whole human race as members of a common family, and children of a common Parent.
Is it not the Bible, Sir, which teaches us that “to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction," is as vital a part of pure
and undefiled religion, as “to keep ourselves unspotted from the world?” Is it not the Bible which instructs us, that while s to love God with all our heart is the first and great commandment,” " to love our neighbor as ourself is the second and like unto it?" Is it not the Bible which charges “ those who are rich in this world, that they be ready to give and glad to distribute, laying up for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may attain eternal life?”
Is it not plain, then, Mr. President, that the original moving spring, and the still sustaining power, of that whole system of moral and religious machinery, whose grand results are so proudly exhibited to us during this Anniversary week, must be found in the promulgation and diffusion of the Holy Scriptures ? May we not fairly say, without arrogance on our own part or disparagement towards others, that all other benevolent associations are but distributors and service-pipes (if I may so speak) to that great Reservoir of living waters, over which this Association has assumed the special guardianship, and which it is its chosen and precious province to keep fresh, and full, and free to all the world?
Even this, however, I am aware, Sir, is but a single and a somewhat subordinate aspect of the great work in which you are engaged. Indeed, as we hold up this subject in the sunlight before our eyes, we find a thousand other views of its interest and importance multiplying and brightening around us, as in a prism.
Regarded only as a mere human and utterly uninspired composition, (if, indeed, it be possible for any one so to regard it,) who can over-estimate, who can adequately appreciate, the value of the Bible as a book for general circulation, reading, and study? I remember to have seen it somewhere mentioned, that in an old English Statute of about the year 1516,- I doubt not that you, Mr. President,* could tell us the precise date of its passage, – the sacred volume, instead of being denominated Biblion, the book, was called Bibliotheca, — the library. And what a library it must have been in that early day of English litera
* Hon. Simon Greenleaf occupied the Chair.