« PreviousContinue »
· In consequence of this, clergymen are now sunk in their rank in society, and fallen almost to that which schoolmasters held formerly ; so that many of them are obliged to betake themselves to other shifts, such as farming and grazing, in order to support their families. By this, their dignity, utility, and influence, are lessened; and the cause of religion and virtue, and, of course, the true interest of the nation, suffers : For, let our vain and new philosophers allege what they will, there can be no national prosperity, of any duration, without religion ; and there can be no religion without a respectable clergy, nor a respectable clergy without a decent maintenance being annexed to the office.
The experiments, whether a state can exist without any established support for religion, and, what is bolder still, whether a state can exist without any religion at all, are both new in the history of civilized society. But it is not difficult to foresee what the end of these things skall be. The state that has no establishment for religion, will soon have no religion at all.; and the state which has no religion at all, can have no comfort or security whatever. Let us then hold fast by the system under which we have prospered, till such time, at least, as the experience of those who have adopted new systems shall sufficiently warrant us in the prudence of making any change.
« Wait the great teacher Time, and God adore."
Religion, taken in its lowest view, is certainly what its
average proportion of the tithe to the rent is nearly as 7 to 4 1-5th. But to the farmer this grievance is not so great as may be supposed. If he paid less tithe, he would pay so much the more rent; so that it makes only the diffe- '. rence to him of settling with two landlords inftead of one; and he may cere tainly derive more benefit from the religious establishments of his country, than this trouble can amount to. The same observation will hold in regard tp poor's rates.
enemies used to allow, till now, absolutely neceffary for the order and well-being of society. Its ministers should there, forę be considered as fervants of the public, and paid by go. vernment, like those in the administration of justice. The church would thus be more dependent on the State, and the interests of both would be more intimately united. Preach ers of that righteousness which exalteth a nation, deserve nar tional encouragement; and promoters of that order, without which fociety cannot exist, deserve the support of fociety. The established clergy of Scotland, from their influence over the people, and 'firm attachment to the state, form one of the firmest pillars upon which the fabric rests; and the state, and all who have a ftake in it; ought to regard them as such, and by their support and example, do all that may be necessary to preserve religion and its ministers from falling into contempt, in order to preserve the state from falling into ruin *. ." .
An order of men, whose learning, talents, industry, and virtue, are all devoted to the public, should be maintained by the public in that rank which it is the interest of society they should always hold ; that is, that they fhould not be rich, but that they should be comfortable and easy, in order that they may be respected and useful. If this be not done, the men who should fill the office will naturally betake themselves to other employments, and their place will be supplied by such as ought to have neither lot nor part in this matter. .
'* « Of all the dispositions and habits (says President Washington) which “ lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable lúpports, " în vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labour " to subyert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmeft props of the “ duties of men. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to “ respect and cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connection « with private and public felicity. Let it be simply asked, Where is the fee “curity for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obliga“tion desert the oaths, which are the instruments of investigation in courts * of justice ? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality " can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the inu fluence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and ere “perience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in ex, ^ clusion of religious principle.” Washington's Refignation,
Parochial schoolmatters are in the fame predicament with ministers, and their situation' merits and demands the attention of the public. Parish schools are an institution peculiar to Scotland, and the wifest that was ever devised by any nation; for nothing can be of more importance to any nation than to have the minds of the rising generation stored with useful knowledge, and with the principles of religion ; which is the object of this inftitution. It is to be much regretted that the encouragement given to the teachers is 'so inade quate to the importance and labour of their office, that men properly qualified are now seldom disposed to follow the occupation. A schoolmaster should be a man of parts, learning, and virtue, in a very eminent degree, in order to qualify him for forming the minds of youth to public and private usefulness, to respect of character in this life, and to everlasting happiness beyond it; and the man who is qualified and appointed for so important a business should be highly valued, and ought certainly to be easy and independent. But, instead of this, he is depreffed and despised, and often obliged to fublilt on an income inferior to that of the ploughman *. In proportion as this evil grows, ignorance and vice must grow along with it; and the effect which the growth of these must have upon the public happiness or national prosperity may be easily conceived, Nothing could be more ungenerous, or even more impolitic, than the opposition lately given by the landed interest of Scotland to the application
**A lover of his country must be grieved to read in one of the statistical accounts of the three offices of beadle, grave-digger, and schoolmaster, being united in one perfon, and bringing in all an income of only 8), a-year!
made by this useful class of men for an addition to their falaries.
There are, however, in this county several schoolmasters whose salaries are above the maximum* which the law or, dains for them. The charity schools too, of which we have many t, are generally well encouraged by the heritors. A few years ago the writer had occasion to point out to the secretary of the Society for Propagating Christian Knowledge, two stations in the part of the country where he resides which stood much in need of schools, and was told that the society would give salaries, if the heritors would give the necessary accommodations. This was no sooner signified to the Duke of Argyle, than immediately he ordered 100 l. to be given for building two slated houses, and 101. a-year in addition to the salaries allowed by the society. It is by deeds like these, and not by his coat of arms or titles, that a great man is ennobled.
In speaking of schools, it may be proper to observe, that of late years less pains than formerly are bestowed, both by parents and schoolmasters, in giving children a religious education. The great object now is only to fit them for business, as if the principles which lead to peace of mind and respect of character, and to every duty which is due to God and man, were matters of lesser moment. Even the short system of faith and practice contained in our church catechism, though it may be repeated in 20 minutes, is now thought too great a burden for the memory of children. The General Assembly of our church has, with great propriety, recommended of late to all ministers to attend to this important business; and it is hoped they will do so. Abstracting from
* The maximum is 200, and the minimum 100 merks Scotch.
+ On the continent are 21 charity schools on the first patent, their salaries 2221. 1os.; and 17 on the second patent, salaries 841. In the isles, 13 on the first patent, salaries 169l.; on the second patent 3, salaries 141.
the considerations of eternity, a religious education, and a -mind well stored in youth with the maxims of piety, with prayers, psalms, hymns, and portions of scripture, must be absolutely necessary to make any one pass through life with comfort to himself, and with satisfaction and utility to others.
Sect. IV.-Poor Rates. In this county there are as.yet no poor rates or affefsments. The poor are supported by begging, by the collections made at the church doors, a few mortifications or bequeathments, and other casualties. Such as are able to beg make a tolerable shift to live, as the people in general are disposed to be. charitable. But all the relief that can be given to those who are unable to go about, is scanty and inadequate. The poor, it may be said, are for the most part supported by the poor. Some of our heritors have no residence in the county; and many of our gentlemen, who think themselves wiser than their fathers, are not always where they ought to be on Sun day, to give to the poor their offering.
This growing neglect of public worship and of the Sabbath, considered only in a political view, is surely alarming. The Sabbath is the great fence of religion; religion the great fence of property, security, peace, and order. Such as have much to lose, even in the present world, should therefore be the foremost to observe the Sabbath and all the ordinances of religion : for if the multitude; ever prone to follow the example of those in any station above them, shall, as may be well apprehended, follow their example in this, there will foon be an end to all order, and government must give place, to anarchy*
• France was in profound peace (in the year 1787) when Neckar, in his book on the Importance of Religious Sentiment: , founded the alarm of in.