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[264]

In looking back through two hundred years, I can safely say, that Medford has not had more than its share of religious trials; and that, under them, it has borne itself with intelligence, dignity, and moderation. If the troubles of two centuries be gathered into the mind in one cluster, they seem to be many and great; but, when historically distributed over so long a period, they are few and far between. The questions in Medford which excited the deepest interest, and sometimes called out the warmest words, were those relating to the location of a new meeting-house; the terms of the minister's settlement, and the amount of his salary; the assessment of taxes; the changing value of money, and the modes of raising it; the alteration of a creed; and the freedom of the pulpit. Of all these I felt myself called upon to be recorder, and not judge; and therefore have given the facts, without obtruding my private opinion.

A few words concerning Sunday schools, and this particular history closes. Since 1820, Sunday schools have multiplied greatly in New England, and books and manuals for them have abounded. The first parish early followed the auspicious good examples, and established a school, which had its superintendent; also a teacher to each six children; and a juvenile library, accessible to all the pupils. This school has had the best instructors; and so deep has grown the interest in Sunday schools and in the other schools of New England, that ours is called the “children's age.” It was believed they were needed, because parents did not sufficiently inculcate Christian doctrine and morals in their families, nor did the ministers communicate much juvenile instruction, nor could the public schools. There are no scales that can weigh moral effects; but there can be no doubt that the salutary influences of Sunday schools have been immense. The whole force of the common-school system being directed to unfold and sharpen the intellect mainly, moral culture in them is only incidental. A consequence is, a most disproportionate development of mere intellect; as if the aim of life was to empower a child to gain money and secure office. The consequence of this is, that the community becomes filled with men whose extensive knowledge, acute reason, boundless ambition, and unscrupulous selfishness, make them leaders in public plunder and commercial infidelity. The more enlightened the intellect becomes, unguided by conscience, the more adroit it makes the villain. Mere secular

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