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The present state of the Derby Sunday School Union.
Denomination. Boys Girls Male Female
Independents, Derby $l 143 18 15
Ditto, Findern .36 52 4 0
Ditto, Ahaston 18 11 2 0
General Baptists, Derby 43 41 8 4
Particul.tr Baptists, Ditto 36 43 12 O
Imlepeudents, Ashburn 50* 54 15 0
Total 280 344 5y 28
Total number of Children • ••. 624
Teachers « 87
Report of the Committee of the Society for the Support and Encouragement of Sunday Schools throughout the British Dominions.
THE circumstances under which the Society assembles, at this its thirtieth anniversary, demands some explanation: it having proceeded hitherto, without lhat general observation which more modern societies have thought proper to excite by regular anniversary sermons and public meetings,—the general meetings of the society having heretofore been confined to its own members.
Among the objects, therefore, which have particularly engaged the attention of your Committee, there were none which appeared to them of greater moment, than to make the institution of this society more extensively known; in the confidence that the simplicity, purity, and importance of its designs would entitle it to general approbation and support; and that its means of becoming still more beneficial, would then be proportionably increased.
Without asserting its claims to preference above any existing institution, the Sunday School Society may yet be allowed to challenge the praise of having not a little contributed to the prosperity and usefulness of many :—It was the pioneer which cleared the way when it was obstructed by ignorance and prejudice; and many societies have profited by that effect of its exertions, which prepared the public mind for giving them a welcome reception.
Your committee, therefore, before they report their proceedings during the last year, beg leave to give, to this numerous and respectable assembly, a short outline of the constitution of this society.
It was instituted in 1785, by a very respectable body of benevolent men, who considered it the most likely means to effect a reformation of manners among the lower orders of the people, by instilling into the youthful mind the first rudiments of useful knowledge, and the important principles of religion and morality.
In forming the plan of the society, the most liberal and catholic principles were adopted in hopes that christians of all denomiuations would be induced to unite in carrying it into execution with greater energy. Schools connected with the church of England, and with the different denominations of dissenters, are equally objects of the society's notice and relief, provided such schools be under the superintendence of some responsible person.
In order that Urn fundamental principle may not be infringed, the committee is composed of an equal proportion of members of the established church and dissenters; and no books are issued by them for tbe schools under their patronage, but spelling books and testaments; and those gratuitously.
These regulations secure the society against any possible imputation of forming a particular interest, and enable it to advance the common cause of Christianity, by furnishing to the children of each denomination the means of acquiring religious knowledge.
After this brief exposition of this invaluable institution, your Committee enter with pleasure upon the duty of reporting to its Friends tbe proceedings which have taken place since the last general meeting.
By a faithful attention to the numerous applications for as* distance, in the formation and establishment of Sunday School* within the last year, your committee have added 279 to the society's list.
Besides which, 42 other schools formerly established by this society, have received repeated assistance within the same time, for which, and the 279 new schools before stated, the committee have distributed 23,821 spelling books, and 3,558 testaments.— The total number of books given at the society's expence since the commencement of the institution, is 436,297 spelling books, 87,092 testaments, and 8177 bibles, to 4,791 schools, containing upwards of 400,000 scholars.—And from the commencement tilt about tbe 24th year of the institution, your committee were wider the necessity of paying small sums for the hire of teachers in many of the schools under their patronage to the amount of ,£4179 : 8 :5, as, during that period, they could not be otherwise obtained; but, through the blessing of God, in the towns and villages where these schools have been planted, the happy effects produced by them in the conduct both of children and parents, are so manifest, that individuals now generally volunteer their services as teachers without fee or reward, and with much more effect than by those who were hired, so that for the last six or seven years, your comsnittee have not had a single application for pecuniary aid; yet, notwithstanding this favourable circumstance, such has been the rapid increase of Sunday Schools, and consequently the demand for books, that the expenccs of the society have continued to advance from year to year.
Your committee however, cannot suffer their zeal in promoting its operations to be restrained by any apprehension of the paucity of its contributors or the insufficiency of its funds; they have acted on a presumption which they continue to cherish, that the same Providence which points to the extension of the society's employment, will furnish the means for carrying it into effect; and that the institution will be supported with a liberality proportioned to the degree in which its services are employed for disseminating christian instruction, and thereby promoting the best interests of mankind.
Previous to the establishment of Sunday Schools, the children of the poor were, it is well known, generally brought up in the grossest ignorance, and paid little or no attention to the christian sabbath.—The change produced by this institution in the habitsof the children, and the general improvement in their appearance is now so obvious, fliat the most superficial observer cannot fail to remark it, and is abundantly confirmed by numerous testimonies received from time to time by your committee.
If there be one object with which hardly auy other can be placed in competition, it is Education; not that which is ornamental, but that which serves to supply principle, to induce active industry, to promote the love of God and of our neighbour, and -to prepare us for our duty in our allotted station of life.
This society provides so effectually for educating those whose time is taken up in the-days of labour by the calls of their necessary occupations, and also for recovering them from vagrancy, disorder, and irreligion on the sabbath day, and training them up to a due observance of that holy appointment, that it must ever be regarded as an institution connected most nearly and vitally with the vigour, the improvement, and the stability of the country.
At present, the demands for its aid exceed any thing which ha* yet been experienced. Its operations are going forward to a great part of the British dominions; and there is reason to believe that, if suitably supported, it will penetrate into those partswhich remain unenlightened, and supply the poor generally with the means of understanding and appreciating those Scriptures, -which, through the blessing of God, may make them wise unto 'salvation.
Letter from a Gentleman at New-york, to the Secretary o/* the Sunday School Union.
New York, 25th June, 1816.
YOUR acceptable letter, by 'Mr. D. gave me great pleasure. I am happy to find you so-zealously engaged in so good a work •as Sunday schools.
The institutions formed for their promotion and support, will, I trust, be of eminent service to the moral and religious iuterests of mankind. The same gTacious God who raised them up by his providence, will crown them by his blessing. Missionary,Bible, Tract and Sunday School Societies, will render mutual services to each other, and united service to the cause of the Redeemer, and the good of soul*.
Oh to live more in his spirit, and to walk more in his Steps. How immense are the blessings, how abounding the privileges he 'has procured for our sinful race I
I send yon, through Mr. D. care of Mr. S. a small packet containing a set of the Christian Herald, which will give you the reports for the first quarter.of the Female Union Society, and the Gentlemen's Society for the promotion of Sunday Schools. These are multiplying through this country. I had yesterday two applications, one from New Jersey, and the other from the interior of this State, for the necessary materials to commence teaching a school.
I hope that in a few months I may be able to send you more enlarged accounts of Sunday schools in the United States.
It will give me pleasure to hear from you, as opportunity offers, of whatever may arise interesting to the friends of Sunday schools. I am, dear Sir,
Yours, with regard, D. B.
NEW YORK FEMALE SABBATH SCHOOLS.
(For an Account of the formation of this Society see page 276.)
THE rapid progress which Sunday Schools have recently been making among us appear at present to claim particular notice. It is a subject of astonishment and regret, that this superior method of improving the moral condition of the lower orders of society, should have been so long in active operation in the land of our forefathers, whose language we speak, whose physical and moral habits are so similar to our own, and with whom we have such an incessant and extensive intercourse, without the appearance of one solitary public effort on our part, to emulate their laudable example, and partake of the important advantages to he derived from the adoption of their practice. The omission must, no doubt, be in a great measure ascribed to the general ignorance which prevailed in this country of the benefits produced by those institutions in the old world. For the first attempt to pursue that excrjlent system here, on an extended scale, we are indebted to the benevolent enterprize of our female citizens. From the pious zeal and exertions of that better half of mankind, the majority of our most important charitable Institutions have originated, been well supported, and attended with the happiest consequences to the cause of humanity and religion.
Wednesday, January 31st, a very numerous assembly of ladies met in the lecture-room of the Wall-street Church. The Rev. Mr. Mathews opened the meeting with prayer. The room being full, and numbers pressing for admittance, it was found necessary to adjourn to the Church. The form of a constitution and rules for the Society and Schools, as prepared by the Committee, were read and approved of, and the following ladies chosen to preside over the Institution: —
Mrs. Betliuue, first Directress; Mrs. Mumford, second Directress ;Mrs. Bowering, Treasurer; Miss Mumford, Secretary.
April 17th, The Female Union Society for the promotion of Sabbath Schools held their first quarterly meeting in the lectureroom of the second Presbyterian Church, Present. Mrs. Bethune, first Directress; Mrs. Mumford, second Directress; Miss Mumford, Secretary, and sixteen superintendents, and upwards of two hundred teachers. Mr. M'Carty opened the meeting with prayer. The first Directress addressed the Society, and congratulated them on the abundant success which had attended their labours since their last meeting. The Secretary read sixteen animated Reports of the superintendents of the Schools belonging to the following denominations, viz.
2 Episcopalian, 1 .Methodist, (215 scholars) 3 Baptist, 3 Reformed Dutch, 5 General Assembly Presbyterian, 2 Associate Reformed do.
All these Reports were expressive of the satisfaction experienced by the teachers in their new employment, and mentioned numerous instances of the £reat improvement of their pupils. Total number of scholars of all ages and complexions, from six to sixty-seven years of age, in the different Schools is two thousand; one hundred and niuety-four.
Extracts from some of the Reports will here be given.
The teachers, with humble gratitude to God, would mention their belief, that one among their scholars will ever gratefully remember her first attendance at a Sabbath School. She is twentyIwo years of age. On the first day of her admission, February 8th, she was observed to be much affected during prayer; and on conversing with her teacher found that for the first time in her lift-, as she said, she felt convinced she was a poor lost sinner; but being utterly ignorant of the way of salvation through the merits of a Saviour, she knew not where to look, nor to whom to apply for help, She could not read without spelling every word, yet so great was her desire for religious knowledge, that, though it must have cost her much labour, she has every week committed to memory a lesson in the Catechism, a portion of Scripture, and a hvran. The distress of her mind was plainly depicted in her countenance. At her request, our pastor came twice to the school, and conversed with her. Soon afterwards it pleased the Lord to loose her bands, to enlarge her heart, and to fill it with his love, so that, as she expressed it, she could not love her sweet Jesus, her Saviour enough. After frequent conversations with the
Rev. Mr. M , and being approved by the Consistory of
the Church, it was the unspeakable privilege of her teachers, to sit down with her at the table of her Lord and their Lord, and to welcome her as a sister in Christ. If this were the only instance in which it should please the Lord to follow with his blessing the feeble instructions of his handmaidens, surely our reward is great—we are more than compensated, and should be willing to labour early and late.
The proficiency made by the scholars has been such as to equal, and in many instances to surpass, our most sanguine expectations. One of these only will be mentioned. A scholar, aged 14, who, TOL. It. 3 •