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use of forms, but I am sure that no candid person can object to their use, if evangelical; the only objection we can hava arises from the probability of the use engendering formality of worship, which I have no doubt every pious person in the use of them endeavours to guard against. These forms, perhaps, may be best drawn up by the person who uses them, and may be left off by decrees, until an ability to pray without them is acquired. The best way to guard against formality, I think, will be to compose a great variety. To acquire a habit of public speaking, is a much, easier task than may be supposed, at least when the walls of a Sunday School bound the publicity of the act. On all accounts, I think it must be allowed, that the omission of prayer in a Sunday School is inexcusable.
As to those few persons who desire singing, prayer, and preaching, (as they term our addresses,) to be prohibited in Sunday Schools, from a principle which they denominate candor, in order to obtain the assistance of a respectable society, I have only to say, that indifference is not candor. While I admire the conjunction of sects and parties in the Bible Society to spread a cause in which their individual and distinguishing principles are disseminated by the circulation of that book, from which each one derives his sentiments, I can never admit that an extension of the principle of Sunday Schools, so as to exclude the inculcation of the fundamental parts of revealed religion would be beneficial to the cause. Controverted points of minor importance ought to be avoided, but the yielding up of express precepts is quite another thing, and I trust no Sunday School teacher will consent to be excluded from singing, praying, or instilling religious instruction into the minds of the children, to gratify the wishes of any sect or sects of Christians, however large and respectable; for in so doing they undermine the bulwark of these institutions.
I mention this because 1 know that this has been in contemplation; a pamphlet has been published with this object jn view, intended merely as a precursor of others, but unfortunately for the design, the writer has been too abusive and regardless of truth to obtain the public ear. That this was the intention of the writer I am certain, as I received the information from the confidential friend of the writer, who had a considerable hand in the publication in question. It is likewise true, that the design is not dropped, though it is probable that some time will elapse before a more avowed attempt will be made by the same party.
Sugofstions to Teachers as to the Observance of the SabBath and attendance on PubLic Worship.
IT is now many years since I first became an advocate and friend of Sunday Schools I believed I saw in them Institutions replete with blessings to the poor, and advantages to society at large, and have therefore, to the utmost of my power, promoted the establishment and success of them. It cannot therefore excite surprise, if I acknowledge that I have been tremblingly alive to every thing which has seemed to lessen their utility, or abate the ardour of their generous supporters; and I think I shall be forgiven if I express a fear, that, amid the elations of popularity and applause, there have been instances in which the occupations of the scholars, have not always been judiciously regulated, nor the instructions rendered sufficiently subservient to public worship, and a stated and regular attendance on the public ministry of the Gospel. The following remarks are therefore with diffidence offered to the notice of your readers.
1. That the occupations of the Scholars in the Sunday Schools ought to have a religious direction, will be allowed by every one who advocates the sanctity of the Sabbath, and is desirous of promoting the religion of Jesus Christ. But whether this principle has been constantly adverted to in JNibbath Schools; and whether some of the warm friends of the rising generation, in their zeal to serve their secular interests have not adopted measures unauthorized by Scriptural Precept, may perhaps admit of more than a doubt. Instruction in arithmetic and the sale of different articles n the school, seem barely, if at all consistent wiih " hallowing the Sabbath-day, and keeping it holy." Even "riling, when taught on the Sabbath, would be best directed, if applied to the transcription of select portions of God's Holy Word. The instance of an ancient Christian is worthy of regard. Theodoret, an early Ecclesiastical Historian, is the relator of the fact. When Valenb, the AriaR Emperor, banished Pkotooenes the scribe to Antmoe in Thebais, in the utmost parts of Egypt; Prologeaes, finding the greatest part of the city to be heathens, set up a Charity School among them, and taught them the Hoit Scripturks ;—dictating to them in writing shorthand, David'* Fsalms, and making them learn such doctrines of the Apostolical Writings as were suitable to their Vol. ii. Mm
understandings, by which means he brought many both of the children and parents over to the Christian faith. (Theod. Lib. 4. cap. 16.)
2. The major part, at least, of the friends of Sunday Schools will also allow, the Divine Institution of the Gospel Ministry and the necessity of public worship. To attempt the proof of these positions, would be quite beside the object of this letter. If, however, they be taken for granted, it follows, that every measure ought to be avoided which would degrade the ministry in the eyes of youth, or render them indifferent to a regular and stated attendance on the House of God; hut—(I tread on tender ground)—but, has it not a tendency to produce unpleasant consequences, when the children are occupied during service hours in reading and writing, and the other business of the school; and when some or other of the teachers are thereby so variously and busily engaged as seldom or never to attend public worship on the Sabbath. To me it seems a duty, to teach the youthful mind that the Sabbath is the Lord's day, and ought to be principally employed in religious duties; and that regular attendance on public worship is the indispensable duty of a Christian. We are, in a great degree, the creatures of habit, and the habits and modes of reasoning of early years, are not unfrequently influential through the succeeding periods of life; we, therefore, should cautiously guard against every thing, which might be baneful in its tendency. Now, might not a person, educated in a Sunday School, where the teaehers frequently neglected public worship, yield, in after life, to the natural indisposition of the human heart to religious duties, and plausibly reason; "The persons who instructed me when I was a child, were truly good men, yet, they thought the instruction of children a sufficient reason for absenting themselves from public worship; surely, then, there can be no harm in my staying at bone to teach my own children to read and write, for tht*y artmore my care, than I was that of the good men who taught me." But who would not dread the general neglect ot public worship and of the house of God, under the mask of attention to other duties! And every Christian will assuredly deprecate the adoption of any measure likely to induce indifference to the stated ministry of the Gospel.
I can easily believe that few or none of those who are actively engaged in Sunday Schools have the most distaut intention to produce indifference to the public ministry of the Word of God; but, whether the plans adopted in some schools do not lead to it, certainly deserves the calm enquiry of the judicious and liberal supporters of those valuable institutions. To their teachers, the children look np with affectionate respect and veneration; and from their instructions and example, many of them will receive the cast of their future sentiments and conduct. How infinitely important, therefore, is it, not only to the welfare of individuals, but to the interests of society in general, that those who will necessarily give the mental bias to so large a proportion of the population of the nation, should pause at every step and examine with serious candour, the present . and future, the cognizable and probable results of every plau they form, previous to its being carried into execution.
In submitting these hints to your numerous readers, I disclaim all intention to offend, and trust that the counsel of a friend will be entertained with kindness, and where rejected, be thrown aside without contempt.
That the Great Head of the Church may direct and prosper every benevolent undertaking; and that the best of blessings may descend on those generous men who are devoting their time, their talents, and their property to the instruction of the children of the poor and needy, is the eordial wish and prayer of
J-etter of a Chimney Sweeper to the SuperinTendent of a Sunday School.
PRESUMING that any information concerning the remit of Sunday School labours and their good effects would gratify the minds of all that feel themselves interested in so trond a work; I have taken the liberty of sending to you »«hort account of personal blessings derived by myself from the aforementioned institution; and while I am writing, I cannot help feeling grateful to Almighty God, that ever I tet my foot in your Sunday School, and grateful to you for the good advice you gave to me, and all in the school. The way in which it pleased God to bless me by the means of your Sunday School, I shall endeavour to relate.
In the latter part of the year 1811, I was informed by a hoy, that 1 was very intimate with, that there was a Sunday
School in Parsonage Lane, and living not far from the place, I was persuaded to go to this school, but, I thought I can both read and write, and what good would it do roe to go to Sunday School, and thought it was time to have done going to school; but, being told by my mother that it would keep my hand into writing, that I may not forget it; and by that idea I came to school, and in the space of a few weeks I improved in my reading and writing also; my improvement being observed, I was thought capable of teaching others in the school; but my mind being impressed with the exhortations you gave in the school from time to time about our souls, and of death, of hell and heaven, I began to think about these things and be serious, and by going to chapel with the children, I became attentive to what was said, and heard my sinful state so clearly explained, that my mind became convinced that my state was very dangerous, and when I was not at chapel, the exhortation at school had its desiied effect on my mind, so that 1 saw myself a sinful creature, and both at school and at chapel I sought the Lord by prayer to have mercy on me.
A great change in me being evident to my relations, no small concern was manifested to know what was the cause of so strange an alteration in me. I told my mother of what I heard in the school, and in the chapel likewise, which affected her also; but, after a little while, she told me there was no need of such ado about religion, a little religion was very well, but much religion would make me beside myself. But, taking to read the Bible at every opportunity, and to attend the means of grace, I reasoned with my mother, and convinced her that what I said was true, which induced her to hear preaching, and being more convinced of the truth, she wondered why so few people knew any thing about it, and she expressed her gratitude that ever I Went to school. I still sought the Lord for a clear sense of his forgiving love, and he gave me the desire of my heart, which then made me to rejoice and not to mourn, and my mother sought the same blessing from God, and at length she gained it; and I believe that my mother and I are both fitnesses of Jesus's power to save.
From the time of my first being teacher I have endeavoured to attend, as often as I well could, to be useful in teaching the ignorant: but if I, at any time, seemed indifferent about the school, my mother reminded me that all my happiness was by means of that school, and that it wai jhe best day we ever saw when I went to school fjrst.