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whom was the gleaning of the grapes, after the vintage was gathered? They were all for the unknown, the unrelated, the unfriended—the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow.
“Thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in the land of Egypti Therefore I command thee to do this thing.' 'Thou shalt 'pot glean thy vines yard, neither shalt thou gather every grape of thy vineyard. Thou shalt leave them for the poor and the stranger. I am the Lord, your God.' 'For ye know the heart of a stranger, seeing ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.' The appeals are constant, reiterated, urgent—they are more than appeals, they are commands directly addressed to the Jews by the highest authority, and in the dread name itself, to extend their gifts and their protection to the unknown stranger, the unfathered orphan, and the widow.
It is this command so clear, and sustained by such sanctions, to the Jews first, and afterward to the people of all nations, that makes charitable uses a matter of religious duty, so that to deny the performance or the enjoyment of them to any man, during his life, or at his death, or to withhold from them the sanction and protection of the law, is to deny him the exercise of one of the most sacred rights of conscience. Next to the worship of Almighty God, and as a part even of that worship itself, they are esteemed, and ever have been, as both a duty and a blessing. They were so promulgated to the Jews before the coming of Christ, and they were so taught and enjoined under the new covenant; and it is a miserable mistake, both of their origin and of their end, to question them for that uncertainty of particular object, which is of their very substance and essence.
It has been my intention in these remarks to pronounce a homily to the Court or to the counsel. It is with some repugnance that I have blended themes of this nature with questions of law, in a strife for the recovery or defense of property. But they bear directly upon questions of law, and especially upon the great question which I am now to discuss: for they disclose the foundation of charitable uses, and one of their inseparable attributes, in the manner 'most effectual to answer, not only the main argument of the complainants' counseh, but the judicial arguments which, in one or two cases in our own country, have unfortunately been used to defeat them.
The exclusion of all Ecclesiastics. Mr. Girard, in giving this direction (the exclusion of all ecclesiastics), has used plain, familiar, and intelligible words. There is no ambiguity whatever in them. They have a clear definite meaning, which any man, learned or unlearned, may apprehend; and it is one meaning, and neither more nor less. He enjoins and requires, and this is all that he has said, and all that he means, that no ecclesiastic, missionary, or minister, of any sect whatsoever, shall ever hold or exercise any station or duty whatever in the said College, and that no such person shall ever be admitted for any purpose, or as a visitor, within the premises appropriated for the purposes of the said College. This is a meaning as lawful as it is plain. We may think what we please of the injunction, as uncourteous, disrespectful, inexpedient. I will speak of these presently. But we can not think—10 one on the responsibility of his professional character will say—that what it thus plainly means to enjoin, is unlawful. In other words, no man will say that any ecclesiastic, missionary, or minister, of any sect whatever, has a lawful right to hold or exercise any station or duty in such a college, or to admission for any purpose, or as a visitor within the premises, against the will or injunction of the founder of it. If this exclusion be its meaning and end, and its whole meaning and end, there never was, and never can be, a more lawful injunction by the founder of a school or college, be the consequences what they may.
He declares, that in making this restriction, he does not mean to cast any reflection upon any sect or person whatever; but as there are such a multitude of sects, and such a diversity of opinion amongst them, he desires to keep the tender minds of the orphans, who are to derive advantage from the beguest, free from the excitement of elashing doctrines and sectarian controversy.
What his religious opinions were, we have no materials for ascertaining. Like the inhabitants of Mount Gerizim, he may have worshiped 'he knew not what;' but in many parts of his life, and in the last act of it, he was a good Samaritan; and from this we may ascertain, what his wishes were in regard to the feelings and happiness of others. That great example proves, that even a schismatic, who rejected the Temple worship, might do a deed of charity in the full Christian sense; and so do it, as to be a perpetual lesson to orthodoxy, if it be cold-hearted and narrow minded.
He says expressly, that his teachers in the College must take pains to instil into the minds of the scholars the purest principles of morality, so that on their entrance into active life, they may evince benevolence toward their fellowcreatures, and a love of truth, sobriety, and industry, adopting at the same time such religious tenets as their matured reason may enable them to prefer. In. terpreting these expressions with any, the least candor, can they be understood to prohibit the Bible, from which the purest morality is drawn, or the evidences of Christianity, or such systems of Christian morals, as place them upon the sure and only sure basis of Christianity? I answer do. I aver confidently, that a contrary interpretation, if made upon the Will alone, is as destitute of candor, as it is of conformity with legal rules of construction. Mr. Girard has enjoined instruction in the purest morality. He has given no statement of the basis on which he requires it to be taught. He has not said a word in opposition to the universal scheme of all Christian countries and seminaries, of uniting ethics with Christian theology, since nothing is to be made of morality without their union. He has left the basis of the science to the selection of his trustees.
The notion, however, that the Christian religion can not be taught by a lay. man, is pure extravagance. It is taught by laymen in the most efficient of our schools for Christian instruction, -our universal Sunday schools, the greatest and best of modern institutions. In the Liverpool Blue Coat School, even the doctrines of the Church of England, its creeds and articles, are taught by lay. men—no clergyman whatever, either officiating or superintending the schoolthe pupils themselves reading by turns and as a reward of merit, such parts of the service as the laity can repeat. It is equally extravagant to assert, that any Protestant denomination in this country prohibits such lay teaching of religion-lay teaching in schools. It is sufficient, however, that Mr. Girard has not prohibited it. He has not prohibited the institution of a Sunday school upon the premises. Nay, he has not prohibited his trustees from sending the pupils to their respective churches, if they or their friends have any, without the walls; and this they may do, without hearing of clashing doctrines or sectarian controversy—unless the ministers respectively shall think they are fit themes for the edification of their flocks.
Religious Instruction of the Young. The following passages are taken from Mr. Webster's Speech in the United States Supreme Court at Washington, Feb. 20, 1844, in the case of the Heirs at Law of the late Stephen Girard against the Executors of his Will in carrying out the provisions of the same, establishing an Institution in which 'poor white male orphans between the ages of six and ten years are to be introduced,' with the following restriction :
Secondly. I enjoin and require that no ecclesiastic, missionary, or minister, of any sect whatever, shall ever hold or exercise any station or duty whatever in the said college ; por shall any such person ever be admitted for any purpose, or as a visitor, within the premises appropriated to the purposes of the said college.
This scheme of instruction begins by attempting to attach reproach and odium to the whole clergy of the country. It places a brand, a stigma on every individual member of the profession, without an exception—a profession which, for devotedness to their sacred calling, for purity of life and character, for learning, intelligence, piety, and that wisdom which cometh from above is inferior to none other,
The devise before us proposes to establish, as its main object, a school of learning, a college. There are provisions, of course, for lodging, clothing, and feeding the pupils, but all this is subsidiary. The great object is the instruction of the young; although it proposes to give the children better food and clothes and lodging, and proposes that the system of education shall be somewhat better than that which is usually provided for the poor and destitute in our public institutions generally.
The main object, then, is to establish a school of learning for children, beginning with them at a very tender age, and retaining them (namely, from six years to eighteen) till they are on the verge of manhood, when they will have expended more than one-third part of the average duration of human life. For if the college takes them at six, and keeps them till they are eighteen, a period of twelve years will be passed within its walls; more than a third part of the average of human life. These children, then, are to be taken almost before they learn their alphabet, and be discharged about the time that men enter on the active business of life. At six, many do not know their alphabet. John Wesley did not know a letter till after he was six years old, and his mother then took him on her lap, and taught him his alphabet at a single lesson. There are many parents who think that any attempt to instil the rudiments of education into the mind of a child at an earlier age, is little better than labor thrown away. The great object which Mr. Girard seemed to have in view, was to take these orphans at this very tender age, and to keep them within his walls until they were entering manhood. And this object I pray your honors steadily to bear in mind.
I never, in the whole course of my life, listened to any thing with more sincere delight, than to the remarks of my learned friend, Horace Binney, who opened this cause, on the nature and character of true charity. I agree with every word he said on that subject. I almost envy him his power of expressing so happily what his mind conceives so clearly and correctly. He is right when he speaks of it as an emanation from the Christian religion. He is right when he says that it has its origin in the word of God. He is right when he says that it was unknown throughout all the world till the first dawn of Christianity. He is right, preëminently right, in all this, as he was preëminently happy in his power of clothing his thoughts and feelings in appropriate forms of speech. And I maintain, that, in any institution for the instruction of youth, where the author. ity of God is disowned, and the duties of Christianity derided and despised, and its ministers shut out from all participation in its proceedings, there can do more be charity, true charity, found to exist, than evil can spring out of the Bible, error out of truth, or hatred and animosity come forth from the bosom of perfect love. No, Sir! No, Sir! If charity denies its birth and parentage, if it turns infidel to the great doctrines of the Christian religion, if it turns unbeliever, it is no longer charity! There is no longer charity, either in a Christian sense or in the sense of jurisprudence; for it separates itself from the fountain of its own creation.
Now, let us look at the condition and prospects of these tender children, who are to be submitted to this experiment of instruction without Christianity. In the first place, they are orphans, have no parents to guide or instruct them in the way in which they should go, no father, no religious mother, to lead them to the pure fount of Christianity; they are orphans. If they were only poor, there might be somebody bound by ties of human affection to look after their spiritual welfare; to see that they imbibed no erroneous opinions on the subject of religion ; that they run into no excessive improprieties of belief as well as conduct. The child would have its father or mother to teach it to lisp the name of its Creator in prayer, or hymn His praise. But in this experimental school of instruction, if the orphans have any friends or connections able to look after their welfare, it shuts them out. It is made the duty of the governors of the institution, on taking the child, so to make out the indentures of apprenticeship as to keep him from any after interference in his welfare on the part of guardians or relatives; to keep them from withdrawing him from the school, or in. terfering with his instruction whilst he is in the school, in any manner whatever.
The earliest and most urgent intellectual want of human nature is the knowl. edge of its origin, its duty, and its destiny. "Whence am I, what am I, and what is before me?' This is the cry of the human soul, so soon as it raises its contemplation above visible, material things.
When an intellectual being finds himself on this earth, as soon as the facul. ties of reason operate, one of the first inquiries of his mind is, 'Shall I be here always?' 'Shall I live here for ever?' And reasoning from what he sees daily occurring to others, he learns to a certainty that his state of being must one day be changed. I do not mean to deny, that it may be true that he is created with this consciousness; but whether it be consciousness, or the result of his reasoning faculties, man soon learns that he must die. And of all sentient beings, be alone, so far as we can judge, attains to this knowledge. His Maker has made him capable of learning this. Before he knows his origin and destiny, he knows that he is to die. Then comes that most urgent and solemn demand for light that ever proceeded, or can proceed, from the profound and anxious broodings of the human soul. It is stated, with wonderful force and beauty, in that incomparable composition, the book of Job: 'For there is hope of a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that the tender branch thereof will not cease; that, through the scent of water, it will bud, and bring forth boughs like a plant. But if a man die; shall he live again ' And that question nothing but God, and the religion of God, can solve. Religion does solve it, and teaches every man that he is to live again, and that the duties of this life have reference to the life which is to come. And hence, since the introduction of Christianity, it has been the duty, as it has been the effort, the great and the good, to sanctify human knowledge, to bring it to the fount, and to baptize learning into Christianity; to gather up all its productions, its earliest and its latest, its blossoms and its fruits, and lay them all upon the altar of religion and virtue.
Another important point involved in this question is, What becomes of the Christian Sabbath, in a school thus established ? I do not mean to say that this stands exactly on the same authority as the Christian religion, but I mean to say that the observance of the Sabbath is a part of Christianity in all its forms. All Christians admit the observance of the Sabbath. All admit that there is a Lord's day, although there may be a difference in the belief as to which is the right day to be observed. Now, I say that in this institution, under Mr. Girard's scheme, the ordinary observance of the Sabbath could not take place, because the ordinary means of observing it are excluded.
Apply the reasoning advanced by Mr. Girard to human institutions, and you will tear them all up by the root; as you would inevitably tear all divine institutions up by the root, if such reasoning is to prevail. At the meeting of the first Congress, there was a doubt in the minds of many of the propriety of opening the session with prayer; and the reason assigned was, as here, the great diversity of opinion and religious belief. At length Mr. Samuel Adams, with his gray hairs hanging about his shoulders, and with an impressive venerableness now seldom to be met with, (I suppose owing to the difference of habits,) rose in that assembly, and, with the air of a perfect Puritan, said that it did not become men, professing to be Christian men, who had come together for solemn deliberation in the hour of their extremity, to say that there was so wide a difference in their religious belief, that they could not, as one man, bow the knee in prayer to the Almighty, whose advice and assistance they hoped to obtain. Independent as he was, and an enemy to all prelacy as he was known to be, he moved that the Rev. Mr. Duché, of the Episcopal Church, should address the Throne of Grace in prayer. And Jolin Adams, in a letter to his wife, says that he never saw a more moving spectacle. Mr. Duché read the Episcopal service of the Church of England, and then, as if moved by the occasion, he broke out into extemporaneous prayer. And those men, who were then about to resort to force to obtain their rights, were moved to tears; and floods of tears, Mr. Adams says, ran down the cheeks of the pacific Quakers who formed part of that most interesting assembly. Depend upon it, where there is a spirit of Christianity, there is a spirit which rises above forms, above ceremonies, independent of sect or creed, and the controversies of clashing doctrines.
The consolations of religion can never be administered to any of these sick and dying children in this college. It is said, indeed, that a poor, dying child can be carried out beyond the walls of the school. He can be carried out to a hostelry, or hovel, and there receive those rites of the Christian religion which can not be performed within those walls, even in his dying hour! Is not all this shocking? What a stricture is it upon this whole scheme! What an utter condemnation! A dying youth can not receive religious solace within this seminary of learning!