Government And Popular Education -- By: E. C. Wines

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 008:32 (Oct 1851)
Article: Government And Popular Education
Author: E. C. Wines


Government And Popular Education

Rev. E. C. Wines

The subject of Popular Education, is exciting increased interest among the people of the United States. No subject can more worthily occupy the thoughts, or call into action the energies of our citizens, in their individual or social capacity. The cause of education is eminently the cause of the people. It is the cause of public order and virtue, of public liberty and prosperity.

We propose, in the present article, to inquire into the Relation of Government to Popular Education; and to show, that it is among the most solemn and imperative of obligations resting on a government, to provide by law for the thorough instruction of all the children in the community. In support of this position, we shall adduce three principal considerations. The line of argument and illustration which we intend to pursue, may be indicated by the following propositions: Popular education is necessary, and therefore it is the duty of the State to provide for it — first, because of its influence on national, family, and individual, character and happiness; secondly, because of its connection with the purity and perpetuity of our civil

institutions; and, thirdly, because of its bearing on the pecuniary interests of the community, it being by far the readiest and the surest road to public prosperity and wealth. It is on the last of these topics that we propose to dwell most in detail, in the present discussion.

First, we infer that it is the duty of government to make adequate provision for the sound Christian instruction of the people, because of the influence of education on character and happiness.

That education, founded on Christianity and impregnated with its principles, is adapted to elevate the character and promote the happiness of its possessors, is a truth attested by universal experience. It has ever been the great promoter of whatsoever things are true, honest, pure, lovely, and of good report. It is the parent of virtue, industry, and order, and essential to the full benefits of gospel preaching. The want of it is the principal cause of the extreme profligacy, improvidence and misery, which are so prevalent among the laboring classes in many countries.

A comparison between the Irish and Scottish peasantry would, of itself, be sufficient to establish this general fact. Among the former, we behold little else than sloth, destitution, crime, and misery; among the latter, even those who are in the worst comparative circumstances, a degree of comfort, the fruit of industry and order, is everywhere observable. To what is this difference to be ascribed? The Irish possess as vigorous constitutions, and are as capabl...

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