Page images
PDF
EPUB

The Bible, however, says that the doors of heaven will be opened to no one, unless he has fulfilled the conditions imposed by Jesus Christ. If, then, when the uneducated deaf and dumb appear before the supreme tribunal, they are found not to have fulfilled these conditions, they may plead: “Lord, we wished to learn to know you and to do what you had ordered, but it did not depend upon us. Our mind was buried in the deepest darkness, and no man raised or contributed to raise the veil which covered it, although it was in his power!” But let us hope, Ladies and Gentlemen, that this will not be the case. You are at peace with all the powers of Europe, and nothing abroad requires any sacrifice of your finances. May this happy state of things, therefore, while it permits you to improve the agriculture and manufactures of your country, allow you, at the same time, to improve the welfare of some hundreds of individualsamong your fellow-citizens! Doubtless you ought to use a wise economy in the distribution of the succour, for which the unfortunate sue from the national equity ; doubtless you ought to refuse your charity to any establishment which, soliciting benevolence, would be a servant rather to pride than to humanity; doubtless you would have deserved well of your country by stopping with firmness, the first impulses of the sensibility of those among you who are ready to yield to pageantry and magnificence that which ought to be granted only to the most urgent needs. But are these truths applicable to an establishment of a nature like ours ? I believe I can deny it. About one hundred deaf and dumb in the state of Connecticut, ineluded in the two thousand spread over all parts of the United States, the greatest portion of whom are born in the bosom of indigence, and reduced to the most miserable condition, all deprived of the charms of society, all unacquainted with the benefit of religion, all more to be pitied than those are bound by pure instinct, and holding nothing from man but the faculty of mere lively feeling; ought they then to be still longer neglected, eternally forgotten! They suspect, doubtless, all the extent of the deprivation they experience; every day they lament their unhappiness; but this is invisible, and the comfortable voice of reason neither comes to soften the rigour of their fate, nor alleviate the weight of their misfortune. Yet do not they form, like yourselves, a part of human kind? Are not the unhappy authors of their existence Americans like yourselves ? On account of not having penetrated our benevolent views, some persons, instead of casting a kind look upon those poor beings, rose against our project; but we are persuaded that their hearts belied their attempt, and that even at the moment in which they thought of opening their lips to remove, from the great human family, beings whom every thing commands you to introduce therein, their arms were involuntarily opened to carry them back to it.

An uneducated deaf and dumb is a natural man, who attributes the whole good which he sees others do to the personal interest which governs them; who supposes in others all the vices which

he finds in his own soul. Often prone to suspicion, he exaggerates the evil which he sees, and fears always to be the victim of those who are stronger than himself.

While casting your eyes on so afflicting a picture, do you not, ladies and gentlemen, feel a strong wish, that the art of instructing beings as unhappy as the deaf and dumb, may receive all possible encouragement ? Ah! what among the branches of your knowledge deserves more to interest government and literary bodies of men, devoted by their profession, to patronise all that can render men better and happier.

One institution for them in New-England would produce the most satisfactory result, and answer all your future expectations. In coming thus, to lay our pretensions before so enlightened an assembly as this, we have not suffered ourselves to disguise the fact, that we should have for judges persons to be regarded for their various and extensive information; but the desire of enriching our method of instruction with your observations has surmounted the fears which we had at first conceived.

And we presume to reckon the more on your indulgence, as the progress of our pupils, which you are about to witness, is the fruit of only one year's labour, and the most constant and assiduous application.

LAURENT CLERC. A class of the younger pupils was then called from their seats by their instructor, Mr. Woodbridge, and wrote with promptitude and accuracy terms and expressions which he dictated by signs. From single terms they proceeded to words and sentences which evinced à combination of thought and a clear possession of complex ideas.

The second class exhibited under the instruction of Mr. Clerc. By his direction they wrote the several organs of sense, described the operation of those organs, and the effects produced. He inquired of them, How many senses are there? They wrote Five. He next inquired, How many senses have you? They answered Four.-An answer with which the audience could not be unaffected. Various questions were proposed respecting natural objects, ordinary duties, and common events, to which their answers were correct and highly gratifying. The most of the inquiries were of a serious cast, which evinced in the pupils a knowledge of God, and the first principles of moral truth. Mr. Clerc manifested a strong apprehension lest his audience should be weary, and dismissed his class with a more limited performance than he would have gladly presented. The first class, consisting of five females and three males, were then introduced by Mr. Gallaudet; and a more interesting set of performers never appeared on any stage. A Roman Consul could ascend a stage and exhibit to wondering multitudes the plunder of desolated countries.--Here was a proof to every feeling heart, that the deaf and dumb of our race can be released from the moral and intellectual thraldom of ages, and be brought to the love of truth and the enjoyment of social blessedness.

Z

A Pastoral Letter of the General Assembly of the Passing over such performances as were exhibited by the other classes, this class was directed to those which evinced, in the fullest manner, the powers of reasoning, reflection, and the expression of their thoughts. They would describe actions which they saw without any communication of expression. The instructor took a basket of fruit and bore it across the stage. They wrote he carries the fruit. The audience were informed that they could express an action in the different tenses of the verb. The instructor made signs on a lemon and peach, and directed them to the pluperfect tense. They wrote accordingly-He had squeezed the lemon before he pared the peach. And after

other signs

He had written the book before he brushed the hat. There were small verbal differences in their answers, which showed that they did not write mechanically, nor by concert. They did not look at the writings of each other. At the desire of Mr. Gallaudet, several questions were proposed by the audience. One by the Rev. Mr. Flint, Where do we go when we die? One answered, We go to heaven. Another, We go to heaven if we are good.' Two others, We go to heaven or hell. The others were similar: A question, proposed by the Hon. Mr. Lanman, was, Do you thank God for the Bible? Some wrote, We thank God for the Bible. Others, We do thank God for the Bible. Another, We thank God for the Bible of Jesus Christ.

A PASTORAL LETTER From the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the United

States, to the Churches under their care. DEAR BRETHREN,

The time in which we address you is very important and interesting. The free conversation on the state of religion has exhibited abundant evidence, that the Churches under our care have never been in a more prosperous condition than during the last year. In the year immediately preceding, perhaps special revivals were more remarkable and more numerous, but as it relates to the general extension of religious influence, the organization of new congregations, and the wide-spreading success of Missionary labours, the aspect of the Church has probably never been so promising as at the present time—and when in addition to this we reflect on the various institutions, not only in our own connection, but in the Christian world at large, calculated to extend the kingdom of our Redeemer; the zeal and liberality with which those institutions are supported; and the extensively beneficial effects which they are every day producing; we are obliged to consider the present moment as forming an important era in the annals of religion. A general movement of Protestant Christendom has taken place; an unusual blessing has descended on the Church of Christ; and we are probably approaching some day of the Son of Man of no usual or ordinary character. The present therefore is no doubt a favourable time, not only for extending the influence, but for advancing the purity of the church; for the extirpation of any errors, and the abolition of any antichristian practices which may have found entrance among us during the long period of comparative darkness and desertion through which we have passed. And although we do not believe that any thing immoral or vicious is more prevalent now than at some former periods, or even as much so, yet the existence of such things at the present time strikes the minds of serious christians with an appearance of greater deformity, and fills them with more pungent regret, as it is exhibited in such dark contrast with that promising and wonderful aspect of things so extensively displayed by the christian world. The free, conversation on the state of religion has brought some such things to our view, against which we feel constrained to bear our decided testimony; and we would enter upon this duty with the tenderness and meekness, but at the same time with the firmness and authority which becomes a Judicatory of the Church of Christ.

The first thing we shall notice is the crime of Drunkenness. This crime has at all times been a curse to our country, and has often made lamentable inrodes upon our Church. We are convinced that it may be opposed more successfully by prevention than in any other way. When the character of drunkenness is fully formed, the unhappy victim is lost to those motives which ordinarily influence all other classes of men. In this state of things nothing but a miracle of divine grace can effect his reformation. The certain and acknowledged prospect of the wreck of his family, his fortune, and his character; and even of the ruin of his immortal soul, is not sufficient to arrest his course: and yet, perhaps, the same man may formerly have been in such a state of equilibrium or indecision upon this subject, that the smallest motives might have prevented the formation of a habit, which in its maturity has become so irresistible. This consideration is certainly sufficient to justify an effort for saving our fellow-men from the domination of so destructive a vice. For this purpose we earnestly recommend to the officers and members of our church to abstain even from the common use of ardent spirits. Such a voluntary privation as this, with its motives publickly avowed, will not be without its effect in cautioning our fellow-christians and fellow-citizens, against the encroachment of intoxication; and we have the more confidence in recommending this course, as it has already been tried with success in several sections of our Church.

The vice of Gambling has also been forced upon our attention. We indeed hope that few, or perbaps none, of our actual profes sors, have indulged themselves in the practice of what they consider as coining under the denomination of Gambling. But perhaps there are some addicted to this practice who have evinced a predeliction for our Church, and forms of worship, and who are not unwilling to receive the word of admonition from us. Such we

[ocr errors]

would earnestly exhort to consider, in the most serious manner, the consequences of the course they are pursuing, and the awful lessons which the experience of the world is every day exhibiting on this subject. But it is further our duty to testify, that all encouragement of lotteries, and purchasing of lottery tickets; all attendance on horse-racing, and betting on such, or on any other occasions; and all attempts of whatever kind to acquire gain without giving an equivalent, involve the gambling principle, and participate in the guilt which attaches to that vice.

On the fashionable, though we believe dangerous amusement, of Theatrical Exhibitions and Dancing, we deem it necessary to make a few observations. The Theatre we have always considered as a school of immorality. If any person wishes for honest conviction on this subject, let him attend to the character of that mass of matter which is generally exhibited on the stage. We believe all will agree, that comedies at least, with a few exceptions, are of such a description, that a virtuous and modest person cannot attend the representation of them without the most painful and embarrassing sensations. If, indeed, custom has familiarized the scene, and these painful sensations are no longer felt, it only proves that the person in question has lost some of the best sensibilities of our nature; that the strongest safeguard of virtue, has been taken down, and that the moral character has undergone a serious depreciation.

With respect to dancing, we think it necessary to observe, that however plausible it may appear to some, it is perhaps not the less dangerous on account of that plausibility. It is not from those things which the world acknowledges to be most wrong, that the greatest danger is to be apprehended to religion, especially as it relates to the young. When the practice is carried to its highest extremes, all admit the consequences to be fatal; and why not then apprehend danger, even from its incipient stages. It is certainly, in all its stages, a fascinating practice. Let it once be introduced, and it is difficult to give it limits. It steals away our precious time, dissipates religious impressions, and hardens the heart. To guard you, beloved brethren, against its wiles and its fascinations, we earnestly recommend that you will consult that sobriety which the sacred pages require. We also trust that you will attend, with the meekness and docility becoming the christian character, to the admonitions, on this subject, of those whom you have chosen to watch for your souls. And now, beloved brethren, that you may be guarded from the dangers we have pointed out, and from all other dangers which beset the path of life and obstruct our common salvation, and the Head of the Church

may have you in his holy keeping, is our sincere and affectionate

1

prayer. Amen.

J. J. JANEWAY, Moderator.

June, 1818.

« PreviousContinue »