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THE SUNDAY SCHOOL TEACHER'S HOPE. What is the character of the hope which upholds the faithful teacher : It is rooted in faith, faith in the power of God's word, faith in the assurance that that Word shall not return unto Him void, faith in God's purpose to gather in his own ; faith in his will to use us as his instruments. On this, as a foundation, hope may build, not an airy castle, but a superstructure which shall ever and anon receive the additions of a living stone, and which shall one day stand complete without a flaw, and without one polished stone misplaced or wanting.
We know not the counsel of God, but we do know his will: “It is not the will of your father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.” Let us, dear friends, believe this word, and “go forth, bearing precious seed,” let us“ be sober," but at the same time “hope to the end," and we shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing our sheaves with us. The hope of meeting at last those for whom we have toiled, and wept, and prayed, though yet it seems without effect; the hope that “after many days" the buried seed shall spring and grow, we know not how; the hope that though another reap what we have sowed, in the day of Christ's appearing, “He that soweth and he that reapeth shall rejoice together ;" oh, is not this enough to sustain our hearts when most disposed to utter the mournful lament, “I have labored in vain, and spent my strength for nought?”
Let us cultivate this upholding grace, not an unreasonable anticipation of unpromised success, but a sober expectation, grounded on the true and faithful word of Him who cannot lie, “ that our labor shall not be in vain in the Lord.” And whatever would depress our hearts, be it personal affliction, relative trial, or work for God apparently unprospered, while it leads us to watchfulness, confession, and prayer, let it not induce the despondency which unfits for successful effort; rather let us encourage our hearts in the Lord our God, and chide our unbelief in the words of the psalmist,“ Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? Hope thou in God; for I shall yet praise Him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God."
THE UNCONVERTED TEACHER. What an anomaly does this title seem when used in reference to Sunday-school teachers, the voluntary assistants in a scheme which has for its professed object the training of the young for God ! And yet this office is bestowed upon, and is taken and held by hundreds of persons who know not the path they pretend to point out to others, and who, therefore, can be but “blind leaders of the blind." Yes,
though the words may startle us for the moment they excite no great surprise, for, alas, we all know and feel them to be only too true.
Unconverted teachers ! How came they to be ranged under the banner of the cross ? Can they be sufficiently interested in the conflict to wrestle vigorously enough to reclaim any portion of the enemy's territory? If it be not their own Captain they are fighting for, but one with whose cause they have no sympathy, where is the prospect of victory? If it be not their own Master they are serving, but a stranger, where is the prospect of success? They are none of His, so they cannot battle manfully in His service-they are strangers to Him, so they cannot devote themselves with the zeal and love of disciples to His work. But why have they been invested with the garb of the soldier-with the badge of the servant-with the name and office of teacher ? Perhaps in many cases the circumstances were something like the following:
They may have been brought up in the Sunday-school, have advanced to the highest class, and been appointed from thence to the charge of a group of little ones. They may be those who have a general idea that teaching is a pleasant, and at the same time a profitable way of spending the surplus time before and between the services on Sunday. Or they may be individuals who have been introduced into the Sunday-school by their friends—may have a love for children, an aptitude for teaching, a desire to do good in the world, and to appropriate to themselves the command “ Feed my lambs ;" but, after all, are but “unconverted teachers.”
They forget that before the injunction, “ Feed my lambs” was given, the question “ LOVEST THOU ME?" was asked and answered. Could unconverted teachers give the answer Peter did ? If not, how do they know that Peter's Lord intended his subsequent behest for them. Let this be the test—"LOVEST THOU ME?"
So far as knowledge and ability are concerned, these teachers may be among the most gifted—they may give excellent lessons and sound moral advice-may even know the Bible from beginning to end understand and be able to explain the most abstract truths, and yet from lack of experimental and heartfelt acquaintance with the simplest truths of Christ's religion, fail in the application.
They may be all that is good, kind, and gentle, in their intercourse with the scholars-very amicable and amiable with their fellow labourers, and with all beside; they may be respected, esteemed, loved, and yet with all this lack the “one thing needful.”
Again, there may be some among this class, who, in darkness, are straining and struggling for light, who from the valley below are casting earnest glances to the mountain top above, longing to commence the ascent and scale the heights, if, perchance, they may gain a sure footing for the sliding feet, or a place of repose for the restless weary spirit. They have distinguished at intervals, perhaps, or have fancied they discerned a few faint streaks of light, but these have vanished, leaving the darkness yet more unbearable. Oh! what would they not give for the full, clear light of day. Yet be not discouraged struggling one. The Highest, surely, will not disdain these yearnings for goodness, these cravings after holiness. Faint not, He will yet bless thee, and make thee a blessing.
" Thro' waves thro' clouds and storms,
He'll gently clear thy way;
Soon end in perfect day." Then joyfully wilt thou seek to lead these young ones also to rejoice in the light of Ilis countenance.
Unconverted Teachers! When you and your charge shall stand side by side in judgment, what account can you render, if, by your deficiency, you have prerented them from entering the Kingdom ?
PRAY FOR THE“ UNCONVERTED TEACHERS."--Christian IVorld.
ON REWARD-GIVING IN SUNDAY SCHOOLS. Mr. Editor.—I was very much surprised to observe a letter in your last month's Magazine, from "a Union Secretary,” (p. 42) objecting in toto to the old fashioned plan of bestowing rewards to the children frequenting Sunday schools. Ile there says that we should "teach a child that the best reward it can have, is the good resulting in his own mind and heart and life, under God's blessing, from rightly valuing and duly improving the instructions received," and that “to hire children to attend Sunday schools, &c., is unsound and harmful," To which objection I would humbly urge the reply, that there are many children attending Sunday schools who are too young to imbibe this, and who would seldom, if ever, be in time for the opening services of school if no rewards were given.
How many are there who endeavour to lead the young children astray, and make them late at school, and probably succeed, to a far greater degree, in a school where po rewards or tickets are offered.
To illustrate this more fully, we will suppose a case. A mother sends her child to the Sunday school, ten minutes before the time of opening. On the way to school the child meets with another child older than himself. He tries to persuade him to go another way, until within ten minutes or a quarter of an hour of the school being closed. Now, if no rewards are held out as an inducement to attend the school, it would no doubt be said by the elder boy, " There are no tickets given if you go early, and we will therefore go to school about ten minutes before closing, so that you can tell your mother you have been to school without telling a lie." This would all seem right enough to the younger child's mind, and he would be induced to play truant, and, perhaps, tell an indirect falsehood to his parent;
whereas, if rewards are given, the child would be able to answer in this way, “If I am not in time for the opening of the school I shall not get ticket, and mother will be sure to know I have stayed away; no, I shall go to school, you can stay away if you choose." This would, perhaps, strike the mind of the other boy with great force, and he might be persuaded to attend more regularly than heretofore.
It is very difficult, indeed, almost impossible, to teach children to come to the Sunday school because it is right, if you do not bestow rewards for so doing. We all know (those who are teachers especially) how prone the children are to wander from the paths of truth and uprightness, and to prefer the broad way that leadeth to perdition. Whereas, if some little acknowledgment is made to them for regular attendance, good hehaviour, &c., it is an inducement for them to come to the Sunday school until they arrive at an age sufficient to think for themselves, and then, perhaps, they may love to attend, because it is the place where they first heard of Jesus as the meek and lowly Saviour, who, when on earth, was not ashamed to take little children up in his arms and bless them.
Another reason in favor of rewards is, that where such is the case, children who have the opportunity of deserving them, will use it to the best of their power; and another, who may not possess such opportunities, will endeavour to obtain them by some means or other, and try to persuade his mother to make haste and get him ready for school, or he will not obtain a ticket. The mother seeing the child is very anxious to proceed to school in time for a ticket, and hearing how hard he pleads, (even if no higher or holier motive induce her) will bustle about and start the child off. And he may, some time or other, be so struck by the prayer that is offered up to the throne of grace by the superintendent or teacher opening school, as to cry out, like the Phillipian gaoler of old, “What must I do to be saved."
Several other reasons might be adduced why rewards should be given in the Sunday school, but I will not trespass on your valuable space any longer. I think sufficient cause has been shown for those schools which already give rewards to continue to do so; and in those where no such practice exists, I hope they may see ample reason to adopt them at once.
Yours truly, Cambridgeshire.
A SUNDAY SCHOOL SECRETARY.
P.S. I think the writer of the letter referred to would do well to publish some comprehensive and judicious plan for the self support of Sunday schools. Does he mean that we are to have no collections or donations for the schools, and that they should be maintained by the teachers themselves without any other pecuniary aid? If so, he must have forgotten that by far the greater part of the Sunday school teachers are working people, who have to earn their bread by the labor of their hands and the sweat of their brow, and are therefore unable to give both time and money for the benefit of youthful instruction.
CLASSIFICATION AND PROMOTION OF SCHOLARS.
The following is an outline of the opinions expressed at a recent Superintendents' Meeting, connected with the Church of England Sunday School Institute.
THE CLASSIFICATION OF SCHOLARS on their first admittance into the school requires much care and discrimination on the part of the superintendent; he must take into consideration their age, knowledge, intelligence, and disposition, so that he may allot them to the class and to the teacher most suitable to them. This can be ascertained in a great measure by a personal interview with and examination of each scholar, after which they could be placed conditionally in the class apparently the most suitable, and at the expiration of three or four Sundays the superintendent, from his own observation, and the report of the teacher will decide either to confirm the appointment, or to enter them permanently into another class. It is necessary that the superintendent should be well acquainted with the relative standard and attainments of each class, and the ability and disposition of the respective teachers, to enable him to classify his scholars properly.
In some schools it is the practice to retain all the new scholars in a separate class for a few Sundays, to test them, and then appoint them to a regular class; but the previous plan is better, as the new scholars differ so much in knowledge and ability,
It is not desirable to give new scholars lesson books on their first entrance into school, because in many instances theyattend for two or three Sundays only, and then leave : it is better to wait a few Sundays, to see if they are likely to continue.
In the case of elder scholars, who cannot read, it is the practice in some schools, in which they have many such, to keep them in a distinct class, taught by an able and suitable teacher, until they are sufficiently advanced to be drafted into the regular classes : but generally it is the custom to place them at once with children of about the same age and mental powers, taking care first to secure the consent of the teacher, and the good-will of the class in favor of the new comer. It is highly detrimental to place such elder children, although ignorant, amongst the little or junior classes, as calculated to disgust them and drive them from the school. Week-evening instruction should be provided for such scholars, whenever practicable.
With regard to precocious children, it is not advisable to put young children, though forward, into the elder classes, as it is likely to incense the elder ones against them, or to disgust them, rather than to incite them to greater efforts; moreover, the mental powers of the young are generally inferior to those of the elder scholars.
Some schools have also separate classes and teachers for those scholars who attend only in the afternoon; but it is more advantageous to place them amongst the other classes, from their being of various attainments and capacities.
THE PROMOTION OF CHILDREN from one class to another above it, is surrounded with many difficulties : for example,– Teachers are often un