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compiled from the miracles of Paganism. Two excellent letters on this subject are to be found among the late Mr. Jones's “ Letters from a Tutor to his Pupils.”
The reader will not, I trust, think that I step out of my way, whilst on this subject, in taking some short notice of a heavy charge, which has been lately brought against the public seminaries of this kingdom. It has been said, on the authority of Dr. Rennel, since supported by that of the Bishop of Meath, that “in some of our best endowed seminaries, all consideration of the revealed will of God is passed over, with a resolute, systematic, and contemptuous neglect; which is not exceeded in that, which the French call their National Institute; and that there is scarcely an internal danger which we fear, but what is to be ascribed to a Pagun education, under Christian establishments, in a Chrisrian country.” (Vide note a, to Dr. Rennel's sermon preached before the Society, 1799.)—Should the above charge be true, the evil included under it, is of that national importance, that it ought not to remain a day without a remedy; and those to whom the direction of public seminaries has been committed, if they have pretensions to a Christian character, ought to be most solicitous for its application :-should it be false, as we trust it is, for the honour of the parties who have brought it, as well as for that of those against whom it has been inconsiderately brought, the charge ought to be retracted as publickly as it has been made,
To this charge however, unqualified as it is, the Society for promoting Christian Knowledge has inadvertently given its respectable passport; thereby making itself the instrument of proclaiming to the world, that the present Directors of the public seminaries of this king
dom, have apostatized from the sacred trust committed to them by their pious Founders. Standing on thàt broad ground of public estimation, which the Society for promoting Christian Knowledge most deservedly does; it may be worthy its consideration, whether any composition ought to be published under its name, which has not previously, undergone its appointed revision. For, although the preachers themselves may by some be considered, as alone responsible for what they advance; still, it is presumed, that every one possessing a becoming 'respect for that honourable society, whose object it is to do the most essential good; will be hurt at the idea of its appearing to countenance, by the sanction of its Imprimatur, what will, by very many, be considered to be something worse than illiberal censure.
Due allowance will be made for the language of a popular discourse: and had Dr. Rennel confined his observations to the general depravity of the times; to the evils, neglects, and imperfections, which, in consequence of that depravity, must in a degree be found in all public seminaries, in proportion as they partake of the general corruption; for it is not in the nature of things, that "the wisest and best conducted institution should, under such circumstances, produce all its intended effects; I say, had Dr. Rennel confined his eloquence to this popular topic, we should have thanked him for his exertion, as a zealous divine, interested, as he ought to be, for the honour of God and the welfare of his country. But the language made use of by Dr. Rennel on this subject, contains a charge of such gross mental pravity, against the parties apparently concerned in it; of such a wilful, systeinatic, and disgraceful prostitution of talents to the worst of purposes, as every Con
ductor of a public seminary, not lost to all ser. se of duty, must highly resent.
Dr. Vincent has resented it. He has moreover proved, what therefore remains unnecessary to be further insisted upon, that Dr. Rennel's attempt, by a gross, though doubtless, unintentional perversion of terms, to bring public seminaries into disrepute, by representing them as the nurseries of Paganism, was unworthy the discrimination of Dr. Rennel; whom no paroxysm of zeal, it is presumed, could so hurry on, as to leave him incapable of marking the broad line of distinction, between a Pagan education, and a classical one. On this head, however, Dr. Vincent has left no room for remark.
But Dr. Rennel appears desirous of withdrawing his charge, so far as the seminary over which Dr. Vincent presides, is concerned in it.- Dr. Rennel's long residence in Winchester, might have qualified him to have made a similar exception, in favour of the celebrated seminary in that place. And it is to be wished, that a name, which Dr. Rennel has introduced into his Sermon, whose well known manual of prayers is the vade mecum of Winchester scholars, had induced the Doctor to have made himself particularly acquainted, with the system of education adopted in a seminary, of which pious Bishop Kenn was once a distinguished ornament. Had this been the case, we fiatter ourselves, it would have been found ; that, making due allowance for the inconsideration of youth, and the tedium which, through the infirmity of human nature, will always more or less accompany a round of the same repeated exercises; there is no public seminary, in which an attention to religion, is more uniformly blended with the education of the
school, than in that of Winchester college. Dr. Rennel would have found, moreover, that the present Directors of that illustrious seminary, are not only to be classed among first rate scholars; but may also challenge a place on the same line with himself, as sound and zealous divines. Possessed of such a character, it is not in charity to be supposed, that they can be so shamefully regardless of a most important part of their duty; as, in any degree to justify the severity of Dr. Rennel's charge, they unquestionably ought to be.
The opinion of persons, respectable for their character and station, should at all times, be delivered with caution and reserve: particularly so, when it relates to characters of equal respectability with their own. This consideration does not appear to have had its full weight on the present occasion. For, had the nature of the charge in question, in all its bearings, been sufficiently attended to; it is to be presumed, that the framers ot it might have concluded for themselves, that such a charge, unqualified as it is, would bear a much stronger mark of inconsideration, than either of judgement, of jus tice, or of charity. To tell the world at large, that those to whom the public education of youth is committed, and to whom this country chiefly looks, for the supply of that sound well-grounded knowledge, which, under God, is to counteract those loose theories and unsettled principles, which threaten the subversion of our Constitution, are, in the discharge of their important office, worse than Infidels; carries with it surely no mark of judgement. Whilst it is not less consistent with justice, to pronounce decidedly a sentence against parties unheard; than it is with charity, to circulate hastily an evil report.
No one can be more sensible than myself, of the ex
treme importance of the attention, most necessary at this time to be paid, to the religious instruction of the rising generation. And Dr. Rennel ought to be given full credit, for his intention in marking this subject out for serious consideration. At the same time, when I consider the treatment which men of education should receive from each other; it is with regret I remark, that the charge brought forward on this occasion, appears to have proceeded from zeal, unaccompanied with that information necessary to entitle it to implicit credit. It will be concluded perhaps by many readers, that Dr. Rennel and the Bishop of Meath are prepared to substantiate and particularize the charge, on which they have committed theinselves. If this be the case, let them, in God's name, proceed in their censorial office; the community at large will be bound to thank them for the honest discharge of it: and every religious Director of a public seminary, lamenting in common with Dr. Rennel and the Bishop, the present declining state of religion and morals in this country, will, we trust, be among the foremost to acknowledge his obligation for the introduction of any system, which, on mature consideration, shall be admitted to be a real improvement on that, in which he is at present engaged.
Did a general charge challenge any particular defence to be made against it, the Society, to which I have the honor to belong, would not want much abler advocates than myself for the undertaking. And when Dr. Rennell shall think fit to exchange an hasty and unqualified decision, for the more deliberate verdict of sober argument and candid enquiry, they will find little difficulty in proving, that the lamentable want of religious principle, which so strongly marks the character of the pre