« PreviousContinue »
learnt to read remarkably well. His teacher questioned him one Sunday relative to the rapid progress he had made, and asked him how he had managed to learn so quickly. The boy replied, “ After I came to this Sunday School I resolved to spare no pains in learning to read, and being the best player at marbies among all the bovs, it was my custom to play with a boy at “ring taw” and win his marbles ; we then went to the church yard, and I gave him a marble to teach me to read what was written on a grave stone, which, when I had learnt, we went to the next, and from that to another. As I kept on learning he received the marbles, and was very well satisfied with his pay. When I had parted with nearly all, we went to play again ; and being such a good hand at it, I was sure to win them back. In this way I went on with different boys, till I had learnt to read all that was written on the grave stones; and having, besides this, the advantage of coming to school every Sunday, I have learnt 10 read in this short time.”
“ONE instance of the advantage of sowing beside all waters' I ought to communicate. A child about seven or eight years of age, by repeated importunity, prevailed on her mother to hear me in the evening. The Lord made her a visit as he did Lydia, and we now consider her a humble, close-walking disciple of Jesus Christ. Thanks to his blessed name for this little Hebrew maid he sent us."
“MY school here is numerously attended by Papists, who commit the Scriptures to memory, and seek for a Bible as eagerly as the Protestants. One girl, aged 19, who got and learned to read a Testament here, saw the absurdities of the Roman church, and lately went to the establishment: hundreds of others are now led to see their system has no place in the word of God, and I doubt not will openly avow their change of mind. These things are cause of great thankfulness to the Lord, who alone can render our feeble efforts effectual."
A lad belonging to a Sunday School some time since, being in company with some boys, one of them struck him on the face; when he, with the greatest degree of composure, turned the other side also. On returning home he related the circumstance to his master, who enquired why he acted thus: “ Because," replied the lad, " you read we should do so in the Bible this morning.”
An ADDRESS delivered to the TEACHERS of the BIRMINGHAM
SUNDAY SCHOOL Union, by the Rev. J. A. James. WE feel peculiar pleasure in directing the attention of our readers to this animated, eloquent, and judicious address. It exhibits the glowing feelings with which a zealous Christian Minister beholds the labours, and exults in the success of Sunday School teachers. The writer does not generalize his remarks, as many ministers have done in their addresses on similar occasions, but enters into the spirit of the subject, and displays an ardent zeal for the Sunday School cause, a lively interest in its success, and deep acquaintance with its particular objects and great designs. The following extract from the introductory part of the address displays the necessity of Sunday Schools:
" Exposed during the week to the moral contamination with which, through the indiscriminate mixture of the sexes, the atmosphere of our manufactories is sa heavily laden; with very little, at least in the case of multitudes, to Counteract at home, the evil they are so ready to learn abroad ; nothing seems wanting as the climax of their spiritual wretchedness, but to be let loose on the sabbath, to roam through the fields and the streets, there to ripen for guilt and infamy on earth, for torment and despair in bell. Merciful and beneficial indeed are those asylams, whose doors are every Sunday thrown wide open, to allare the multitude of early wanderers which crowd the road that leadeth to destruction. Myriads who would otherwise have gone down to the grave almost ignorant of the existence of their God, and of their souls, have received, whatever they have done with it, that knowledge, which if properly improved, is sufficient to guide their feet to the celestial city.
The following are Mr. James's divisions. 1st. The ultimate object to which all your exertions should be directed. Ind. The necessary qualification for this work. 3rd. The manner in which four duly should be performed.
Under the first head Mr. James remarks, It is for you to penetrate the forbidding exterior, by which the nobler part of man in these children is concealed, and behind the vail of ignorance, poverty, and childhood, to recognize, as the ultimate object of your labours, that im. mortal spirit for which the Son of God expired on the cross, and for which heaven and hell are engaged in ceaseless conflict. With every child that providence directs to our schools, he sends this message, take this child and bring it up for me.
Religious instruction, by a method adapted to the capacities of children, is particularly and justly enforced. Teach them the radical corruption of their nature, and the necessity of divine influence to renovate their hearts. Endeavour to open to their minds the exceeding sinfulness of sin, that they may be prepared to perceive the necessity of the atoning sacrifice of him who is Emmanuel, God with us. Lead them to Mount Sinai, there to awaken their consciences by the thunders of the law; from thence conduct them to Mount Calvary, and collecting them round the cross of him who said, suffer little children io come uito me, and forbid
them not, teach them to rely for pardon and eternal life upon the sufficiency of his merits. Inculcate ipon them the necessity of that “ holiness without which no man shall see the Lord.”
To religious instruction Mr. J. states that religious impression should be added.
By every thing solemn and every thing pathetic; by every thing awful and erery thing attractive, and how much is there of each in the New Testament, labour to impress them in favour of religion. Their hearts are more susceptible than you are apt to inagine, for although they are st:ongly under the influence of original and inherent corruption, they are not yet rendered so callous as others, by the hardening process of actual sin.
There is not a child before me but has a soul, which millions of ages hence will be towering from heighth to heighth in glory, or sinking from depth to depth of despair in hell; shall I make no effort, drop ne hint to-day to sare them from the latter and elevate them to the former, especially when I consider that, with respect to many of them, all the religious instruction they ever receive is imparted to them here?. I will watch for their souls as one that must give account.
Under the second head “ the possession of real personal religion” is considered as a pre-eminently important and indispensably necessary qualification.
The lamp of Christian zeal should in every case be fed with the oil of genuine piety, without which it will soon be exhausted in fitful flashes, or languish to extinction in a glimmering and useless spark.
Provided other qualifications are possessed in tolerable competency, those will be the best teachers whose hearts are most deeply under the influence of personal religion. The fatal cause of that indifference towards the spiritual concerns of the scholars, which is so lamentably prevalent, is the languid state of the teachers' own piety. Luke-warmness has unnerved the arm of zeal and smitten its tongue with the destructive paralysis. Cultivate religion more in your own breast. It is from the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. Seek to have the love of God shed abroad in your hearts, and you will then evince more of its constraining influence in your lives, Meditate more seriously the worth of your own soul, and you will then be more afiected by the value which attaches to those of your children. Love God more, and you will be more anxious that they should love him too. Grow in grace, and you will then incrcase in zeal.”
In describing the manner in which the duty should be performed, the following exhortations are illustrated." You should engage in this work with the deepest interest and solicitade. Let your efforts be accompanied with earnest prayer. Let your exertions manifestly appear to be the labour of love. Pursue your labour with unremitting constancy. Commence your duties with the greatest punctuality. Observe the strictest regard to order and peace.”
The following extract on the accompaniment of our exertions with prayer, is peculiarly beautiful and appropriate.
Did you come to the school every Sabbath, direct from the fountain of celestial mercy, where, with all the importunity of prayer, you had been wrest ling for the welfare of your children, what a character would be imparted to all your deportment. What an impressive seriousness, mingled with the most
engaging tenderness, would imbue your spirit, and pervade your conduct. The children would mark something of the solemnity of eternity, the sweetness of heaven, and the mercy of the gospel in your very countenance.
Mr. J. then proceeds to encourage Sunday School teachers with the liope of success. How often does the mind of a pious,. active teacher transcend the bounds of mortality, and enter by faith into the celestial world; there he conceives himself surrounded with some of the poor children, who have been the objects of his care on earth, to resume the employments of praise which they began on earth. Heaven would scarcely be heaven in the anticipation of such a teacher, if he could not hope there to beheld some of his pupils, whom he lias been made iustru mental in conducting into that path which has such a blessed termination. The following exquisite sketch on this subject needs no comment of ours, it appeals directly to the heart.
I have sometimes drawn in my fancy the following picture of a pious, faithful teacher's ertrance upon her celestial rest. The closing hour of mortal life is at length arrived. The dying scene of agony and triumph is finished, and the conquering spirit hastens to her crown. Upon the confines of the heavenly world she meets a form divinely fair, awaiting her approach. Wrapt in astonishinent at the dazzling glory of the messenger of the throne, she exclaims, 'tis Gabriel, chief of all the heavenly hosts, sent to conduct me into the presence of my God. With a smile of ineffable delight, such as gives fresh beauty to an angel's face, the unknown form replies, “ Dost thou remember little Elizabeth, who, when in thy youthful days thou wert employed as a Sunday school teacher in yonder world, wept as thou talkedst to her of sin, and directed her to the cross of a merciful Saviour. God smiled with approbation on thine effort, and sealed it with his grace upon the poor child's heart. Providence early removed her from beneath thy care. 'Twas another's business to water what thou didst plant. She grew in grace. Religion first guided her in all the snares of youth, and cheered her in all the trials of her riper years; and after supporting her under the afflictions of a checquered life, sustained her amidst the agonies of her last conflict; and now behold before thee the glorified spirit of that poor child, lately arrived in heaven before thee, who under God owes her eternal life to thy faithful lahours, and who is now sent by our Redeemer to introduce thee to the world of glory, as the first and least reward for thy guiding the once ignorant, thoughtless, wicked Elizabeth to the world of grace, Hail! happy spirit! Hail! my earthly deliverer! now my heavenly companion ! lail! to the world of happiness and holiness !"
I can follow the scene no farther, My fancy drops her pencil. It cannot trace the glorified Elizabeth and her glorified, her beloved, her honored teacher to their mansion in the skies. It cannot describe to you the joys of such a meeting. It cannot set forth to you the gratitude of the former, nor the ecstasy of the latter. It cannot unfold to you what it will be to enjoy your own heave. and witness others in the full possession of their's, with the sweet consciousness in your own breast that you were the honoured instrument of their obtaining it.
The extracts which we have made, almost render it unnecessary for us. to recommend this address to every Sunday School teacher: and we wish that its exhortations may dwell in all our hearts, and be exhibited in our conduct in the employment to which God has called us.
The two following notes are too important to be omitted.
I take this occasion to bewail what has long appeared to me considerably to Jessen the beneft which otherwise would result from the Sunday School system. I mean the inattention with which it is treated by the leading persons of most congregations. One would be ready to imagine from their neglect, that the business of these institutions was either below their notice or beyond their duty; and to be left exclusively to the hands of youth and inexperience. This arises from the opinion that they are intended merely for the purpose of teaching reading and writing; than which a more mistaken notion was never imbibed, nor one more injurious to the best interests of myriads of immortal beings. 1 heave what I fear will be an imavailing sigh, while I consider what would be the blessing that these dear children would derive, could they but enjoy the benefit of that matured experience, that cnlarged knowledge, that exemplary piety, which most of our congregations possess in many of their leading members. I am aware that many of them have families of their own that prefer large and sacred claims upon their time. This, however, is not the case with others, whose children are perhaps at boarding schools, or are either too young @r too old to be the subjects of parental instruction; while in some cases there are no children at all. Did such persons consider how much they could benefit an institution, the spiritual advantages of which have never yet been a thousandth part known; did they but know what a negative injury they are doing to innumerable immortal souls, by withholding the benefits of their knowledge and experience; did they but know how much their assistance, either statedly or even occasionally, would encourage their younger friends, and especially did they but recollect how speedily the day of their usefulness is running on to a close, they would no longer deny that which would not impoverish their owo souls, but which would be likely to make others rich indeed.
Oar schools have been very often deprived much sooner than was necessary of the valuable assistance of inany excellent teachers, by the foolish practice of young persons giving up their attendance immediately after marriage. I acknowledge that the secession of females in such circumstances becomes very frequently a matter of propriety ; domestic arrangements requiring their presence in their own habitations. But for a young man to withdraw his assistance merely because he is a husband, is an absurdity too manifest to be justified. Till such time as a rising family of his own demand his attention, there is certainly no reason why it should be taken away from the children of the poor. There is no divine law that I am acquainted with which makes it a crime, nor any human ordinance which makes it a disgrace for a married person to be a deacher in a Sunday School.
NOTE - We rejoice to inform our readers that Mr. J. is preparing for the press, in the forn of a small pocket volutae, price about 2s, or 2s. Gu. The Sunday School Teacher's finide, containing
Introduction, -A hrief survey of the origin, progress, and improvement of the Sunday School systein.
Chap. 1-The ultimate object which every teacher should keep in view as the end of his exertious.
Chap. 2-The necessary qualifications for properly discharging the duties of a teacher.
Chap. 3–The manner in which the duties of a teacher should be performed. Chap. 4—The duties of Sunday School teachers to each other. Chap. 5—The discouragements of teachers. Chap. 6- The best means of keeping up the spirit of the work in a teacher's mind.
Chap. 7 - Sume inotives which should excite to diligence in the work