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TO THE EDITOR OF THE PRINCIPALITY,

_-------STATE EDUCATION.

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STATE EDUCATION. What offence can be shown to be involved in my act of accepting Government money, for the establishment of a school ? Answer-If the object of Government in its interference with education was exclusively the teaching of reading, writ- ing, arithmetic, grammar, and the like, there would be no offence, as the question of the propriety of its undertaking to teach those things could be only a matter of opinion. But its leading object being to teach religion and morals, with political sentiments, the case is different; and in sanctioning its meddling with these you are a great offender; you offend against your own principles, if you are a Christian and a Dissenter; and, whatever you are, you offend against truth, and against the dearest interests of your fellow-subjects. You sanction the interference of the State with religious education by your applause, and by seeking a portion of the funds it appropriates to the purpose and every act of the State arising from it becomes your act, in the full amount of its accountability. The State estblishes a system which propagates what you deem religious and political falsehood, and such a system you sanction aud applaud! You are yourself become a propa- gator of the falsehoods. You make yourself a willing propa- gator of the destructive heresies of the Established Church (baptismal regeneration, priestly conveyance of grace and pardon, &c.), of the Papists, of the Socinians (and of Jews, Turks, and Pagans, if the Committee of Council chooses) consequently, any efforts of yours to teach the truth become an inconsistency and a farce; you have sold the truth and your own power of serving it, and that where you pretend to have found the means of serving it more effectually. The friends of the Gospel arc generally poor, and you know it; and yet you tax them heavily to pay for the secular and for the destructively religious education of the children of the people and thus, after you have disqualified yourself as an advocate of truth, you cruelly cripple the means of those who are still exerting themselves on its behalf. You insult them by your treachery against themselves, and the object of their chief solicitude, while you rob them of their property, which is their strength. Besides, you exhibit ex- traordinary contempt for their understandings and con- sciences in coming to them after all to solicit voluntary con- s 11 tributions from them, in aid of the very object for the sake of which you have abandoned and betrayed truth and all who love it You defend your conduct by saying that yon teach no reli- gion in your school. Do you cheat the Government? Or has Government consented that no religion should be taught by means of its grants? If you teach no religion, what is that but leaving all the religious teaching to those who teach what is false in religion ? You teach no religion Then you refuse to attempt the miserable counteraction which you might carry on with your trifling portion of the national funds you have created, ■ amounting at best to one in a hun- dred! In receiving and applying it exclusively to secular learning, you do no good; you do nothing with a view of counterbalancing the evil you have created; you do nothing but unmitigated mischief, unless your arithmetic and gram- mar exceed the value of all the religious truth opposed, dis- couraged, and destroyed, by the application of the ninety- nine portions of the Government funds, which, running in religious channels, are used in the promotion of views you deem false and destructive. In making yourself a willing propagator of false religions you involve your unwilling neighbours by taxing them also for the purpose; as you are wont to do, when,as a Dissenting parishioner, you impose a Church-rate on your brethren by your vote, knowing that by paying it they must violate their conscience, or by refusing to pay fall into the hands of men licensed to rob them. You are, perhaps, a minister, or a prominent member of your denomination, and you do your utmost to create an un- necessary division In that denomination, as well as to cause it to be justly detested by other sects. You disqualify your- self and your sect to utter a syllable against State Churches, inasmuch as you connect yourself in your religious capacities with the State. You deprive your neighbours and brethren, who cannot go with you, of the power of accomplishing what they might wish to do for education. You boast that their voluntary efforts will be a failure, and you do your best to realise your prediction, knowing that they cannot conscientiously act with you; they therefore must do nothing. If it is the duty of private individuals to educate their neighbours' chiidren, as you say it is, you endeavour to pre- vent thorn from doing auy such thing successfully, unless l they begin by committing all the offences here laid to your charge. You use the old argument that, as "prevention is better than cure," it is better to take Government money to build schools; for schools prevent, while prisons, barracks, police- stations, &c., only cure. What wants to be either prevented or cured is irreligion and crime and you say schools prevent these. You say you are going to teach no religion, and yet you are going to pre- vent irreligion and crime! By what, by arithmetic? By correct spelling and writing ? or by geography ? Do men who have learned these then commit no crimes? Are they all religious ? Are all who cannot cast accounts, according to school rules, criminal? and are they incapable of religion ? We will not express an opinion upon your offence in thus arguing, lest our words should not be deemed courteous; we are satisfied with recording the fact that you do so argue. We have shown that by accepting Government money for your school you commit offences of a most aggravated cha- racter—religiously, morally, socially, and intellectually. Your offence politically considered shall be the subject of a separate paper. H.

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