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On the Education of the Poor,

On the Education of the Poor,

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Wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of thy times. — Isaiah xxxiii. VERSE 6.

Wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of thy times. — Isaiah xxxiii. VERSE 6.

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Jul 16, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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O THE EDUCATIO OF THE POOR,BY REV. SYDEY SMITH, A.M.Wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of thy times. — Isaiahxxxiii. VERSE 6.We seem to have here something like a prophetic sanctionfor the propagation of knowledge : Isaiah, in speaking of thefuture prosperity of the Jewish empire, rests the stability of its fortunes, not upon wealth, nor extensive dominion, butdirectly upon knowledge. Wisdom, and knowledge, shall bethe stability of the times ; — as if he had said, you must bebrave to be free ; — you must be active to be rich ; you mustbe rich to be powerful ; but to be stable, to endure, you mustbe taught. Gain all other good which you can, but do notexpect to retain them without knowledge : — build upon thatrock, or though you build splendidly, you build in vain.As it has fallen to my lot to address you upon the presentoccasion, I know not what better, or more appropriate to thepresent occasion* I can do, than to discuss this sentiment of the prophet ; and to examine into the eifects which knowledgeproduces upon the welfare of mankind ; I do not mean know-ledge in general, but that species, and degree of it, Avhich isproduced by the education of the poor ; — by such investiga-tion, the young people, who are assembled here to-day, willbetter perceive the nature and scope of those advantagesthey have received ; their charitable guardians will be moreconfirmed in the utility and importance of their good works;and those who object altogether to the education of the poor,may, perhaps, in the progress of such investigation, be in-duced to re-consider the validity of those objections upon* The anniversary at the Foundling Hospital. -^ C^^-W'^--!
-r9^ O THE EDUCATIO OF THE POOR.which their opposition is founded. I rather prefer thiscourse, than to make general observations on human misery ;because, by satisfying the understanding that the thing isright, it becomes more probable that we shall excite some-thing much better than temporary feeling ; — ^benevolence,founded upon reasonable conviction, and leading to judiciousexertion.The most common objection to the education of the lowerorders of the community is, — That the poor proud of thedistinction of learning, will not submit to the performance of those lower offices of life which are necessary to the well-being of a state : this objection, indeed, I only mention, thatI may not be thought to have passed over any objection, fornothing can be more mistaken than to suppose that the labo-rious classes of the community are laborious from choice, orfrom any other principle than that of imperious necessity ;— a necessity with which education has no more to do than withthe motion of the planets, and the flow of the tides ; — everyperson secures to himself as good a situation in society as hecan ; and it is essentially necessary to the happiness of theworld that he should do so. — Those whose lot and heritage fallamong the lowest fulfil the duties entailed upon them, and evermust fulfil those duties, from the dread of want for themselves,and for others dearer to them than themselves. Our poorerbrethren do not toil because they are ignorant ; neither wouldthey cease to toil because they were instructed ; the fabricof human happiness God has placed upon much strongerfoundations ; they labour, because they cannot live withoutlabour ; — this has ever been sufficient to stimulate, and tocontinue the energy of man, and will, and must ever stimu-
late it, and secure its continuance, while heaven and earthremain.The next objection, urged against the education of the poor,is, that the most ignorant poor, in country villages, are thebest ; and that the poor, of large towns, as they gain in in-telligence, lose in character, and become corrupt, as theybecome knowing ; but the country poor, it should be remem-bered, are the fewest in number ; they are not exposed to allthose innumerable temptations which corrupt the populaceof large towns ; this, and not their ignorance, is the cause of their superior decency in morals and religion ; it is uncandidto oppose the poor of a confined village to the poor of awealthy and a boundless metropolis ; but taking subjects of O THE EDUCATIO OF THE POOR. S^comparison from the same spot, and under the same circum-stances, do we find that the ignorant of that place are betterthan the instructed of that place ? — Does any man's experi-ence enable him to assert, practically, that there is a connec-tion between uncultivated minds and righteous actions ? If we want to make a human being do that which is just, is itnecessary to make him think that which is sordid ? If wewish him to lift up his soul, in pious adoration, to his Saviourand his God, is it necessary to brutahze that soul which hisGod has given, and his Saviour redeemed ? Is there, canthere be any human being who wishes that these children,who come here to return their thanks for the Providence thathas watched over them, had been forsaken, passed over ;left to the influence of such principles as those by which theminds of the deserted poor are impressed ? — o reasonabledoubt can be raised; it cannot, with any colour of justice,be contended : every effect of their education which we wit-ness, is a solid gain to society; if temperance can be socalled ; if truth ; if honesty ; if a solemn, and deep adora-tion of the name, and of the laws of our Saviour Jesus Christ,are worthy of that appellation.

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