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Discourse on Education, and on the Plans pursued in Charity
Schools. By S. Parr, LL.D., 480, 25. 6d.: Cadell. DR:
R. Parr's defign in this Difcourse will be best understood
from that part of his Preface, in which he explains it. * This Discourse was preached before a very respectable au. dience ; and it is now submitted to the candour of the public, at the requeft of some persons, the fincerity of whole approbation I cannot distrust, and with the authority of whose judge ment l'ought not to trifle. I intend it, in some meafure, as a fequel to a sermon which I published in 1780; at the desire of the late "Mr. Thurlow. In that sermon; I entered into a full and elaborate vindication of the general principles on which charity, schools are supported. But upon the prefent occafion, I have ftudiously preserved, a plainer Ityle : I have chiefly attended to the practical part of the subject: I have enlarged more copiously upon the beft methods of religious education for all young perfons; and, with a very few exceptions, I profèfs only to deliver such common and usefai obfervations, as are adapted to the apprehenfion of common and well-difposed readers.'
Although the attention of the writer be chiefly directed to the practical part of his fubjet, yet he never thrinks from the discussion of speculative points, when particulariaffertions are to be supported by the inveftigation of general principles ; or where the utility of practical rules) is to be evinced' by the theory on which they ret...."
The discourse opens with fome preliminary obfervations on proverbiat writings, confidered as the vehicles of religious and moral:inftru&tion. Of this fpecies of exordiam the writer confeffes, that it is not necessarily connected with his subject.
It will, perhaps, be' faid, that observations of this kind may be affixed to any passage in any part of the book. I allow the fa&; buc am able to blant the edge of every objection which may be drawn from it; fory in the first place, it is certainly right, in some form of other, to explain, in the ears of a Christian congregation, the general character of proverbial writings : secondly, no form can be more proper than to make such explanation an appendage to some particular precepts; and, finally, no precept can be more interesting to us than that which is delivered in the 'text, whether we consider ourselves as the profeffors of a pure religion, or the members of a civilized community.
But surely no defence is neceffary. Phlegmatic, indeed, must that critic be, who, however averse to digression, does not think the use of it, in the present instance, sufficiently warranted by our author's observations. Vol. LXI. Jan. 1786.
Dr. Parr now examines the opinions of Mandeville and Rousseau, two writers who, though arguing from principles diametrically opposite, have advanced to conclufions nearly similar, and equally dangerous and paradoxical. To the churlih misanthropy of the former, and the fallacious refinements of sentimental enthufiasm, which enliven the writings of the latter, Dr. Parr opposes the venerable authority of antiquity; and what he juftly esteems fuperior to every other test, the plain and irresistible evidence of reason. He condemns the fashionable arrogance of those who boast of new and important discoveries peculiar to the present times; and he particalarly afferts, that the general principles of ethics have been established on sure foundations. And hence the general principles of education, he contends, are the fame, or nearly the same in all ages, and all times. C!
• They are fixed unalterably in the natural and moral constitution of man. They are of the same kind in the fierce African, in the Nuggish Greenlander, and in the more enlightened and polished inhabitants of the temperate zone. They are to be found in our affections and passions, some of which must be controuled, and some cherished, in every state of manners, and ‘under every form of society. From the right apprehension of them, we discover << the way in which a child ought to go," and by the right use of them when he is young," we Thall qualify him, " when old,” for not departing from it.'... - In the subsequent part of the discourse, Dr. Párr undertakes to prove the truth of the assertion, that children will gene. rally not depart from the way in which they have been brought up;' he theni mentions fome of the instances in which the greatest care' is necessary to educate them .virtuously;' and laftly, delivers his opinion on the general principle of charity. schools, and on the particular plan which is pursued in that of Norwich.
In treating of the first head, the learned writer wishes not to make an exact balance of the good and evil dispositions which are said to be implanted in the human heart. He thinks it sufficient to assume the existence of both, and to thew the increafing force which each receives from habitual indulgence. On this topic he pursues a train of argument equally just and Satisfactory. From analogy, and from fact, he reasons with the same vigour of sentiment, and splendour of language. But we must confine ourselves to the following specimen,
• Now. the juftness of Solomon's remark on the use of inAruction may be thus elucidated. The moral powers peculiar as the province is where they act, and the effects which they produce, are governed by laws analogous to those which pervade the intellectual and bodily conftitution of our fpecies.
By the industrious hand, tasks in appearance the most laborious are'executed with surprising facility. By uuderstandings which patient and intense study has invigorated, the most complex relations of ideas are, in a moment, unravelled, and the most extensive train of argumentation is connected with accuracy. Thus, too, where persons have been trained up in a constant and fincere regard to their religious and social duties, fenfibility, in time, anticipates the fuggestions of reason, and passion faintly resists the dictates of conscience : the general course of life is almost mechanically exact, and the embarrafsments arising from particular fituations are quickly furmounted : our best volitions are formed without anxious deliberation, and our best deeds are performed without painful effort. At first, perhaps, we were led to detached and separate actions from the conviction that they were either proper, meritorious, or useful : but these ideas become afterwards blended in one bright assemblage, which we do not attempt to distinguish, and with their united: force, of which we are instantaneously sensible, they impel us to perform what practice has made easy, and what reflection, when we stood in need of its guidance, had shewn to be right.
• Whatever speculative tenets we may have adopted upon the abstract subjects of necessity and free-will, we mult perceive both in the moral defects and excellences of men a degree of uniformity, of which, be the adventitious and concurrent causes what they may, the force of habit alone will afford a clear and complete solution. Upon what occafions, we may ask, does virtue appear advanced to the most exalted point of perfection, or vice funk into the most hopeless and abject ftate of degradation? Where the principle of conduct is determined not by deliberate reflection, but by sudden and almost irresistible impulse : where opportunity, whether for good or bad, is followed up by such actions as are correspondent to the prevailing bias of our opinions and inclinations : where the dread of punish. ment is insufficient to deter, and the hope of reward is not necessary to encourage: where the lightest temptation instigates to the most atrocious crimes, and the smallest incentive incites to the most meritorious deeds. Even the exceptions to the general character of individuals are not inconsistent with the general rules relating to the power of cuitom. For the unexpected frailties we lament in the virtuous, and the partial excellencies we may find even in the vicious, may sometimes be traced up to some early and habitual principles. These confiderations evince the urgent necessity of teaching men to enter, as foon as poflible, on a right course of acion, of planting the firmeit barrier against vices which it is so difficult to abandon, and of giving timely aslistance to those virtues, in which it is fo delightful to persevere, and from which it is so easy not to depart.'
Surely nothing is better calculated to promote the cause of virtue, than such a representation of the facility which attends D 2
the habitual cultivation of it; a representation which depends not on the fanciful and unsupported affertions of an arbitrary dogmatist, but rests on the conftitution of human nature.
Under the second head, the subject is considered more in detail. The instances in which the greatest care is necessary to educate children virtuously, confift, according to our author, ' in the government of the passions, in a sense of shame, in a ftrict regard to truth, in habits of diligence, and in the love of God, intermixed with a rational and feeling reverence.' On each of these he enlarges with that precision which evinces an intimate knowledge of the heart of man, and with the honeit confidence of one who has succeeded in reducing that knowledge to practice.
In the second part of this Discourse the author enters into a defence of the principles of charity-schools, combating every objection which has been urged againft them, and stating every advantage which can accrue from them, in the undaunted language of truth, and with the additional recommendations of natural, though nervous eloquence. Of this we have a more particular instance in the mode in which the author speaks of the Norwich charity-school. In other hands these topics might have appeared in some respects inconsistent with the dignity of the pulpit : under the direction of Dr. Parr they will not be deemed liable to such an objection, Nor are we at a loss to account for this fingularity : TN REĚet, says the great father of Grecian criticism *, de dianovelv EY TOIS apyous peperi ; a rule which, though it related originally to the Ityle of epic poetry, Dr. Parr has happily adhered to in the present infance.
Thus much may be observed in general ; we must, however, mention one part of this Discourse, in which the pathetic style is carried to a high degree of perfection. After enlarging on the temper and genius of women, and enforcing the necessity of extending to them the benefits of education, he confiders the melancholy prevalence of female prostitution as the natural and destructive produce of ignorance and idleness. The plan of the Norwich school, being admirably calculated to remedy this evil, leads our author to reflections, which he who can read without emotion, is fit for treason, fratagems, and spoils. We are sorry we have not room to insert them.
The notes, which are subjoined, are such as the author deemed necessary to explain his opinions, or to justify his reasoning. ' They are taken, says he, from writers whom I know to be familiar to every man of letters ; and they are placed at the end of the Discourse rather than at the bottom of the
* Ariftot. Poctic. cap. 16.
+ page, lest I should give offence by an appearance of unmanly
To those who are already acquainted with our author's classical reputation, is were needless to remark, that the quotations are apt and elegant; while to those who are not, it were impertinent to expatiate farther on a topic, which their studies have not qua. lified them to relish.
An Attempt to prove the Existence and absolute Perfe&tion of the
what the author might mean by proving the existence, &c. in a demonstrative manner. After undertaking, or attempting to prove any point, is there not some redundancy in the idea of doing it in a demonstrative manner ? For could it be proved in any other manner? Are not a proof and a demonstration, in philosophic language, understood to mean the same thing?
Having perused the performance, we find ourselves unable to explain this part of the title : it fill appears superAuous, and not properly applicable to the preceding part. The author's use of arguments à priori, in his demonstration, in preference to those à pofteriori, will not remove our ob. jection, because he allows, that demonstration may be obtained by either method of reasoning, though he hath chosen the former, and that apparently on fufficient ground. Had we not found this little work worthy of more than common attention, we should not have noticed a small impropriety in the title-page. Trivial faults are, however, more striking than censurable, when overballanced by merit.
The Attempt, &c. as the dean modestly styles it, is preceded by an Introdu&ion of confiderable length, containing a View of the Arguments that have been used for proving the Existence and Attributes of God, and the Reasons for proposing a new one.
• Though the following argument may be easily enough un derstood without any preface.or introduction, yet there will be some advantages in having first read what is here delivered : it will, I hope, contribute to remove a prejudice that has long prevailed against our endeavouring to prove the being and pertections of God, otherwise than from the confideration of his works ; and the reader, being previously made acquainted with the nature of the following argument, and the reasons for now
t See Preface.