« PreviousContinue »
fact." Why, the line of argument taken, coupled with its feeble illustration and inapt manner of application, cannot but make one feel, that in some quarters " the school master can hardly be said to be “abroad." To hear persons so earnestly advocate the “ hiring ” of children thus mercenarily to attend school, demurely “ sit still," "do pieces," &c., forcibly reminds one of old dames long ago being hired at so much per day for teaching children to read and spell in Sunday schools ; but happily these days of darkness and coldness are past, and now higher ground is taken, sounder principles adopted, and a greater amount of enlightened christian influence exerted. Let us cheerfully gather the children together, avail ourselves of all the happy facilities which the skill, intelligence and piety of the age supply, and above all, let us tenderly talk to them of the love of God in Christ Jesus. His love, which was directed even to children, and moved Him to take them in his arms and bless them. Let us, as the great end and aim of Sunday schools, set forth all this attractively, illustrate this great love" wherewith He hath loved mankind;" and by our words, and looks, and lives, give force thereto, and associate all with earnest prayer, simple faith, and the grace
of patience, and verily the end will be gained—the child blessed, the teacher encouraged, God glorified, and all the little paltry puerile machinery of “ reward tickets” and “prize books " will be utterly and happily superceded. Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
A UNION SECRETARY.
AN EASTERN SUMMARY OF ALL KNOWLEDGE. DABSCHELIM, King of the Indies, possessed a library so large, that it required a hundred Bramins to revise, and to keep it in order; and a thousand dromedaries, to carry the books. As he had no intention to read all it contained, he commanded his Braming, to make extracts from it, for his use, of whatever they judged most valuable, in every branch of literature. These doctors, immediately undertook to form such an abridgement; and after twenty years labor, composed from their several collections, a small Encyclopædia, consisting of twelve thousand volumes, which thirty camels could scarcely carry; they had the honor to present this to the King, but were astonished, to hear him say, " That he would not read a work, that was a load for thirty camels." They then reduced their extracts, so that they might be carried by fifteen ; afterwards, by ton; and then by four; and then, by two dromedaries-At last, no more books were left than were sufficient, to load a mule of ordinary strength. Unfortunately, Dabschelim, had grown old, while his library was abridging, and did not expect to live long enough to read to the end, this master piece of learning. The sage Pilpai, his vizier, therefore thus addressed him :
Though I have had an imperfect knowledge of the library of your sublime Majesty ; yet I can make a kind of analysis, of what it containsvery short, but extremely careful; you may read it in a minute; yet, it will afford you sufficient matter for meditation during your whole life.”
At the same time, the vizier took the leaf of a palm-tree, and wrote on it, with a pencil of gold, the four following maxims;
1st. In the greater part of science, there is only this single word, perhaps, in all history, but these phrases:
They were born; they were wretched; and they died.
2nd. Take pleasure in nothing, which is not commendable; and do every thing, which you take a pleasure in. Think nothing, but what is true; and do not utter all you think.
3d. Oh! ye Kings ! subdue your passions; reign over yourselves; and you will consider the government of the world, only as recreation.
4th. Oh, ye Kings! Oh, ye Nations! listen to a truth, ye can never hear too often, and which sophists pretend to doubt.
There is no happiness without virtue; and no virtue, without the fear of God.
THE TEACHER'S BURDEN.
A MERCHANT may be employed nearly all the day at his counting house, and so may a mechanic. A physician may spend all his waking hours in visiting patients, and feel little more than healthy fatigue. The reason is, that in all these employments, and in fact in most of the employments of life, there is so much to diversify, so many little incidents constantly occurring to animate and relieve, and so much bodily exercise, which alternates with and suspends the fatigue of the mind, that the labors may be much longer continued, and with less cessation, and yet the health not suffer. But the teacher, while engaged in his work, has his mind continually on the stretch. There is little to relieve, little respite, and he is almost entirely deprived of bodily exercise. He must consequently limit his hours of attending to his business, or his health will soon sink under labors which Providence never intended the human mind to bear.
DRAWING PICTURES TO INSTRUCT.
Not only is the whole language of Scripture full of emblems and metaphors-every line of some passages bringing images before our eyes--but we see Jesus drawing pictures to instruct, rather than giving direct answers to his audience. When watched, for instance, (Luke iv.,) by those, who wished to condemn him for healing on the Sabbath day, he drew a picture of themselves. Their ox or ass has fallen into a ditch. It is the Sabbath, nevertheless they go at once, and pull him out. They could not resist the conclusion. Again, (Luke x.,) when a lawyer, willing to justify himself, asked, “who is my neighbour ?" the Saviour did not answer him, but drew that inimitable picture of the “Good Samaritan," and then said, “Go thou and do likewise." It is our endeavour humbly to follow him,
ON CULTIVATING A DEVOTIONAL SPIRIT AMONG
"TEACH US TO PRAY."
[With reference to the important article headed, “On the want of the spirit of devotion among Sunday scholars," (page 128, we have lighted upon a valuable communication contained in the last number of the "Scottish Sabbath-school Teachers' Magazine," which is subjoined as a practical guide to mitigate this serious evil.]
" How can children be taught to pray!" has often been the distressing question which has passed through the mind of a devout Christian teacher, on a Sabbath evening, when he thought on the scene the school-room presented during the time of the opening prayer.
What that scene was, does not require to be described : every teacher knows how irreverent, how careless the behaviour, of most children are, at such a time. Yonder is a large class of twenty boys; the teacher has said, “Let us join in prayer," and the larger number of the scholars has risen ; the exercise has commenced. Now, how are these twenty boys engaged ? Three or four are whispering; one is reading a book, another having produced å toy from his pocket, is exlıibiting it to his companions ; the boy next him is scratching the desk with a pin; about seven or eight of them are gazing listless about them; one has actually resumed his seat again; and only one seems, by his attitude, to remember where he is, or what he is professedly doing! This is not an exaggerated picture. Where the discipline is more strict, the children only hide from the teachers eye their various modes of passing the time more carefully ; and the knowledge of this result prevents the experienced teacher from enforcing severe formal rules regarding the posture and stillness during devotional exercises.
The great aim of such a teacher is to make the scene less displeasing, and more pleasing to the eye of God, -not merely to model and improve it, so as to please the eye of man. In aiming at this, the question arises
WHAT OUGHT THE PRAYERS OF A SUNDAY-SCHOOL TO BE?
A number of boys grew up, from twelve years of age to fifteen or sixteen, under the same teacher. They were much attached to him, and, at his suggestion, they resolved to hold a prayer-meeting occasionally by them selves. He was to be present; but some of them were persuaded to conduct the exercises. It occurred to the teacher that such an opportunity might be useful, by affording the means of answering the important question, "What ought the prayers for a Sunday-school to be ?"
He remembered a teacher, who acquired much of his skill in addressing children from being permitted to be present at a rehearsal of the lessons by a good and clever little boy in his class, to a number of younger children, and it appeared likely to throw some light both on the thoughts and the language of children, to watch how a hoy expressed himself on such occasions. Though it was inpossible to get the prayers written as they were uttered, still the memory could carry away much that would be practical. The following may give some idea of what form these devotions assumed :-
“O Lord, we thank Thee for another Sabbath-day-for meeting here to read the Bible, and to pray. O Lord we thank Thee for sending Jesus Christ to die for sinners. O Lord God teach us to pray, for we do not know to do it. Forgive us our sins, for Jesus's sake. Our hearts are wicked, wash them, and make them clean, O Lord. Keep us from breaking the Sabbath-day, and doing wrong. Bless our teacher. Bless all who go to Sunday-schools: for Jesus Christ's sake. Amen."
Thinking over the subject, the following hints suggested themselves as likely to be useful :-
First. The thoughts of the prayer ought to be the thoughts of a child - such thoughts as would or at least might, occur to children. Give thanks for things a child ought to give thanks for—things a child would feel to be blessings.
Confess sins that a child's conscience would respond to—the sins of children. Pray for things a child would desire, or might desire, if it was a good child; every unchildlike thought ought to be excluded.
Second. The language of the prayers. Need it be said, that it ought to be intelligible to the children—easily intelligible, without any explanation ?
It is no easy task for any one deliberately to examine each word ere lie uses it,—to see, not whether it expresses his thought accurately to such as himself, but whether it will convey, without any difficulty, the thought to the children who are listening to him. Yet, in leading the devotion of children, if you would do your duty, such a task must be performed.
Is it not better, as a general rule, not to use Scripture language in such prayers? The Scripture language does not readily start the thought in the mind of the listener, whatever be his age; and the reason seems to be, out extreme familiarity with it. It is a most humbling; yet we fear, an indisputable fact, that, from having heard the sound of the words, without either exercising our minds to recognise the idea, or our hearts to feel their power, these articulate sounds now vibrate on the ear, without ever penetrating deeper into our being, or awakening the corresponding thoughts and emotions within us. This applies, in some degree, even to the young. Besides, the words of our English Bible are in some respects very dissimilar from the “ household words” of our country; and these are the most open channels by which access can be obtained to the minds of our children.
THỊRD. The style of the prayers. By “the style," we mean all the other externals of the prayer except those already noticed. The prayers ought to be short; no prayer can be suitable that is not so. Yet it is not easy to be brief. Most who violate this rule know and approve its excellency.
A stranger, on a visit to a large school, kindly gave an address, at the conclusion of the class-teaching, when requested to do so by the superintendent. It was not long, but it was interesting to the scholars. They listened it was over ; he raised his hands solemnly, and said, " Let us seek God's blessing." He looked up, and said, distinctly and slowly, “Lord, this night forgive and bless each boy and girl in this school, all for the sake of Jesus Christ, Amen." A boy standing near the desk, as he sat down again on his seat, gazing on the stranger, exclaimed loud enough for those near hina to hear, " That's the best prayer
ever heard !" It ought to be distinct and slow. Sometimes the voice may be load, sometimes it ought to sink almost to a whisper ; but it must always be distinctly and easily heard by every one who is expected to join in the devotion. Each word ought to be distinctly and fully pronounced; and this can only be done when the prayer is offered up slowly and solemnly. Few people can think quickly, and, certainly, children cannot. If, therefore, their minds are to follow you in prayer, and not be left behind, it must be pronounced slowly.
Another material aid is, to have the sentences very short and complete. Let a full pause intervene between each. Did not our Lord so teach his disciples? The Lord's prayer is eomposed of such short sentences. Never let any sentence be long; such sentences are always more difficult to understand.
Earnestness and reverence ought to pervade the whole service; so that if some one, totally ignorant of the language of the speaker, should enter the room, he could at once perceive that these feelings had full expression. Here is work for the teacher's heart! Language may be studied, thoughts may be prepared, the voice may be accurately modulated ; but we question if any art can so impart the appearance of earnestness and veneration as to impose on a school full of children. Men and women might be deceived; but the instincts of the young are unblunted and keen; they are not easily eheated, and therefore the teacher, who would awaken reverence and earnestness in their hearts must fill his own with these divine graces from heaven's fountain."
Such seems to be the ideal of the devotional exercises of a Sunday-school. The difficulty is, to reduce them to practice. It is difficult. We knew one teacher who tried, frequently and earnestly, to lead the prayers of his sehool in what he thought a suitable manner, and the result of his experience was this :
First. The prayers--both the thoughts and the words--must be prepared previously by the teacher, just as he prepares his lesson.
Secondly. The best preparation he found was, just to write them carefully out--without reading them, however, when at the superintendent's desk.
Some teachere may be able to find the right thoughts and the right words at the time they are required, without previous preparation : if so, it is well; but, surely, it is better to prepare carefully than introduce unsuitable thoughts and words into the service in which you invite children to join. The speaker in the prayer, is merely the mouth of the supplicants: it is not his wishes, his sins, his condition, which furnish the materials for prayer ; it is their wishes, their sins, and their condition, that ought to mould the prayer; and it is thus speaking for others—those so generally unlike himself which makes preparation so necessary to most teachers. It may be useful to subjoin a brief illustration of the written prayers aboře referred to:
PRAYEP. FOR A SUNDAY-SCHOOL. 1. Our Father which art in heaven,' we, poor children, are come to pray