« PreviousContinue »
be done without interrupting the labour* of the teachers, and requires two persons. One asks the children their names, and the other writes them down. The spelling book classes must be divided by the teachers into higher and lower, aud any other neciiiary regulation made before the class papers are tilled up.
Remarks on teaching.
On the first day, the teachers should adopt that mode of leaching which is the most easy and familiar to themselves. Improvements, if necessary, will follow, and other modes of teaching may afterwards be introduced, either through necessity or choice. But an attempt of this kind, at first, would probably puzzle the minds, and hinder the energies of the teachers. And it is not the method, in particular, but per-* severing industry only which will be crowned with success. . A good general rule probably is—To keep the children as much engaged as possible—to hear short lessons—and as many as time and circumstances will permit..
The attention of the children, on the first day is so strongly fixed, that the teaching is both easy and pleasant. The children are delighted with their varied employments. The teachers are pleased with the efforts of the children, and all appears so smooth, so flowery, and so engaging, that tl>e time slides away unperceived; and while contemplating the pleasing prospects of the School, they are gently surprized by a summons from the superintendent to suspend their labours, and to the children to deliver the books to the teachers. The swiftness with which this is done, together with the neatness and order in which - the books are laid, has a useful effect on the young minds. It teaches to redeem the time, and greatly assists in promoting habits of order, regularity, and obedience. Hie singing and prayer impart life and vigour, and gently impress the mind with pious thoughts.
Opcuuig in the Afternoon, and general Observations.
At the stated time in the afternoon (all being ready at tlieir posts) the superintendent, or another person, at his request, opens the school with singing and prayer; the clrildren are immediately studying their lessons, and the superintendent calls over their names. It is pleasing to the children to find themfchts thus individually attended to, yet mixed with a fear, lest thev should be noted for late, or blanked for absent. This ton ha> a tendency to bring the mind to a recollection of him »it<> said, *' The hairs of your head are all numbered."
Indeed every part of a Village Sunday School possesses a kind of dignity, and is finely calculated for forming orderly habits, and imparting useful instruction. The swiftness with which they pass from active employment to singing and prayer, shews that active industry, and communion with the Lord, harmonize together. The opening and closing with singing and prayer, teaches, in all things, to begin and end with the Lord. By the example of the superintendent, the children learn wisdom, prudence and management. His active mind seems to pervade the whole, and he pays attention to small things as well as great. He inspects all the classes, and takes care of the books, and of the attendance of both children and teachers. He also takes care that the School is opened and closed at the stated times, and that every thing, as far as possible, is done in its proper time and order. His active zeal and persevering industry impart order and energy to the whole. The great order in which the books are continually kept has a surprizing effect on the young minds. They observe it to be a fixed rule, that no book is, at any time, to be laid down in a promiscuous manner, but in neatness and order. Here the Village Sunday School shews a dignity in small tilings. This is a continual silent lecture. It gives the children clear ideas of neatness and propriety, and inspires with a love of order, which may have a useful influence upon their whole lives. The punctuality and diligence of the teachers, their zeal for the welfare of the children, and their hearty co-operation with each other, and with the superintendent, to give energy and effect to the School, form a harmonious unity of action which shines as the light of the morning. When the fruits of their united labours begin to appear, and peace, industry and order take place, the teachers are greatly encouraged in the work; and this, together with the strong growing affection, enables them to bear little perversenesses when they arise.
Trials of this kind do not at first appear. All is activity and diligence. People coming in have seemed to be struck with surprize, probably upon viewing such an unexpected change. Inattention appears to be fled away; the children seem alive to every duty, and the whole moves in harmony, order, and dignity. Such a scene does the first day of a Country Village Sunday School present! They attempt to depart, but seem to be held in secret chains; they can scarcely leave a place of interest, and such pleasing prospect. They turn again. They look and contemplate, until (the final summons being given) the books are delivered to the teachers, and by them to the superintendent; and all are at liberty to wait upon the Lord in singing and prayer. The fatherly admonitions of the superintendent are tender and affecting. The earnestness of the children, and the affection of the teachers have a pleasing effect. It appears for the moment, as if they were formed to bless tach other. The blessing of the Lord seems to rest upon their united exertions, and being commended to God, they all depart in peace, and the labours of the day are ended.
A degree of gratitude begins to be felt among the inhabitant*. They ha\e enjoyed peace and quietness in the neighbourhood, aud in the families. The children, in geueral, begiu to aim at propriety of conduct. Hymns are sung instead of foolish song*, and their active minds are furnished, from time to time, with a rich supply of pious thoughts. These pious thoughts are diffused around, and a line reformation takes place. Upon the whole, a work is wrought which astonishes the neighbourhood, and surprizes the people; and when they view the instruments (a few obscure individuals) they are almost constrained to say, " Surely the hand of the Lord is in it."
On the Attention of Teachebs to the Private Duties of Religion.
THROUGH the medium of your valuable Repository, the most important instructions have been communicated to those, who are engaged in the laudable work of instructing the rising generation, in the principles of that holy religion, which brings fife and immortality to lig!:t.
But notwithstanding the excellence of the Sunday School cause, it is much to be feared there are still many impediments io the way to obstruct its progress; and while engaged in the prosecution of this work and labour of love, many difficulties continually hover about to damp our faith: and the pious teacher who looks around the school, or into his class, is often unable to discover the effect of his instructions, and secretly enquires, " Who will shew me any good?" And at times he has drawn the conclusion of the prophet, "I have laboured in win; 1 have spent my strength for nought, the work of the Lord is not prospering in my hands."
I doubt not these have often been the reflections of the pious mind, and every serious reasouer will conscientiously enquire into the cause, when he perceives effects so contrary to his expectations and prayers.
We often hear complaints of the slow progress of our children, and generally attribute this to their inattention to spiritual things; but I much fear whether the imputation is always just. Does it not often arise from our neglect of private duties, in consequence of which we feel cold and barren while engaged in the work of instruction? If I have made correct observations in this respect, and if experience will aid me, 1 think I may assert with some confidence, that in many instances, the teacher will have as much to answer for in a future day, as the poor child whom he instructs.
But there are those who know the blessings to be derived from a conscientious discharge of those private duties which qualify the teacher for his important work; and I was much pleased on reading the letter of Sergius in your last number, "on the tendency of Sunday Schools to promote the spiritual interests of the teachers: and the following extract afforded me much encouragement. "A concern for the children has often drawn them (the teachers) to a throne of grace, and he
nerally finds several things to plead for there. This has often given life and feeling to their prayers, when nothing else has done it, and they have felt more earnestness in pleading for others, than they have had in seeking blessings for themselves."
1 am well convinced that teachers who are most mighty iu prayer, on behalf, of the children, are the meaus of communicating the most good; and while they often feel and regret barrenness and deadness of heart in their work, "yet the duties of retirement often conclude with a bright hour."
It is a source of regret that there are many teachers who seldom know the privileges of retirement, and though we cannot doubt their piety, yet they do not sufficiently attend to this important duty ;* and as I conceive, after much consideration and reflection, that this neglect is one of the most formidable impediments in Sunday Schools; perhaps I may be permitted through the medium of your Repository, to make a few remarks on this interesting subject: a subject of vital importance to the prosperity of our souls, the schools, and the cause of God.
"It is to be lamented," says a celebrated preacher, "that the duties of retirement are almost totally neglected by multitudes of professing Christians in the present day." How exceedingly averse are many from the labour of exercising the powers of their mind, in order to obtain religious improvement. Most of mankind bury themselves in the noise and bustle of tbia world; strangers to retirement, and devout reflections j straa
who goes there on one errand
which he feels strongly, gegers lo t!ie sublime pleasures of the contemplative soul, in the neld, the garden, or the closet; they are like so many machines which are kept in motion by external influence. Happy is the Christian, who accustomed to retirement and holy contemplation, can adopt the language of the pious Watts. *
'* In secret silence of the mind,
My God and there my heaven I find.''
Men of the world have always considered retirement absolutely necessary to attain proficiency in their objects; and shall Ctuijtians, shall teachers, neglect a duty considered of the utmost importance, by earthly wisdom?
That there is an absolute necessity for the performance of this duty, if we wish to increase our knowledge of divine things, I think but few will deny: "for the great art of piety," says Dr. Johnson, " and the ends for which all the rites of rer hgion seem to be instituted, is the perpetual renovation of the motives to virtue, by a voluntary employment of the mind, in the contemplation of its excellence, its importance, and its necessity, which iii proportion as they are more frequently and p»re willingly revolved, gain a more forcible and permanent influence; till iu time, they become the standing principles of action; and the test by which every thing proposed to the judgment is rejected or approved."
But there may be some who will ask, Is there any divine command for the performance of this duty? There is; and not only a command, but a glorious example". There is a command, and it is from him who spake as never man spake. u Enter into thy closet; and, when thou hast shut thy door, fray to thy Father who is in secret, and thy Father, who seeth m secret shall reward thee ©penly." But most will admit, that example is better than precept; but when both are combined, surely there must be the strongest grounds for following-: let me then point my brethren to the sinners friend. He loved retirement; how often did he depart into desert places apart to pny. But let us follow hiin to Gethsameue, solemn scene! •t is sufficient! this speaks volumes, and does not oaly point out an example, but oh! it does say, " If ye love me keep my command mcnts.''
But there may be others, who will further ask, What good has resulted from the practice of retirement? The answer is plain.—Much.—How many thousand of poor pilgrims, who «>ace went monrmug here below, were encouraged by the Redelations, recorded by John in his solitude of Patmos? What multitudes of ransomed' sinners are now rejoicing in glory,
VOL. II. K