The cases tried are very various, but none of the serious business of the school is intrusted to it. Its sessions are always held out of school hours, and, in fact, it is hardly considered by the scholars as a constituent part of the arrangements of the school; so much so, that I hesitated much about inserting an account of it in this description.
VI. RELIGIOUS INSTRUCTION.
In giving you this account, brief as it is, I ought not to omit to speak of one feature of our plan, which we have always intended should be one of the most prominent and distinctive characteristics of the school. The gentlemen who originally interested themselves in its establishment had mainly in view the exertion, by the principal, of a decided moral and religious influence over the hearts of the pupils. Knowing, as they did, how much more dutiful and affectionate at home you would be, how much more successful in your studies at school, how much happier in your intercourse with each other, and in your prospects for the future both here and hereafter, if your hearts could be brought under the influence of Christian principle, they were strongly desirous that the school should be so conducted that its religious influence, though gentle and alluring in its character, should be frank, and open, and decided. I need not say that I myself entered very cordially into these views. It has been my constant effort, and one of the greatest sources of my enjoyment, to try to win my pupils to piety, and to create such an atmosphere in school that conscience, and moral principle, and affection for the unseen Jehovah should reign here. You can easily see how much pleasanter it is for me to have the school controlled by such influence, than if it were necessary for me to hire you to diligence in duty by prizes or rewards, or to deter you from neglect or from transgression by reproaches, and threatenings, and punishments.
The influence which the school has thus exerted has always been cordially welcomed by my pupils, and approved, so far as I have known, by their parents, though four or five denominations, and fifteen or twenty different congregations, have been from time to time represented in the school. There are few parents who would not like to have their children Christians—sincerely and practically so; for everything which a parent can desire in a child is promoted just in proportion as she opens her heart to the influence of the spirit of piety. But that you may understand what course is taken, I shall describe, first, what I wish to effect in the hearts of my pupils, and then what means I take to accomplish the object.