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Shrewsbury, and to send an annual report to the Union. This plan has not yet been fully arranged; but the following statement will shew how many schools there are in each district, the number of scholars in each school, and the number of teachers.
EXTRACT of a LETTER from the SECRETARIES of the
Sheffield, May 6, 1815.
WE have been asked, "What advantages have resulted from our Sunday School Union ?" and, "What objects our Union embraces?" and perhaps the answer we have returned to these inquiries, will include the information you wish to receive from us respecting our Union. Since our Union we have gained much information respecting the best manner of conducting sunday schools; for, as there is no reserve among us, each communicates the knowledge he possesses on the subject, and the knowledge thus imparted becomes a common stock for the benefit of all.
Our Union has been the occasion of six new schools being esta blished in the neighbourhood, and neighbouring villages, containing several hundred children, and others are about being established. It has also assisted other schools with donations of from one guinca to five pounds.
Our Union has, occasioned the establishment of Adult Schools in Sheffield, which already contain 200 persons, some of whom have become decidedly religious characters, who made no profession of religion previous to their being introduced into our Adult Schools, and others appear to be under serious impressions. An instance will be given in our Report of this year, of an elderly person who, eight months ago, did not know his alphabet, nor attend any place of worship, but who now can peruse his Testament with profit, and feels great pleasure in constantly attending the means of grace.
Our Union has been the means of stirring up the zeal of Sunday School Superintendents and Teachers. They have been induced to forget the things which are behind, to reach forth to those which are before, and to press towards greater success, when they have seen themselves so much outstripped by their brethren. Hence, Our Union has made Sunday Schools more popular in Sheffield, for they are much better attended both by teachers and children than they were before; and as one of our rules is attended to invariably, "not to receive a scholar from any other school without a written permission from the school left, addressed to the
school applied to, unless the child has been absent from the former school upward of six months," that desire for change so frequently witnessed in both parents and children is counteracted; and thus, unless an adequate reason be assigned, the latter are prevented from circulating through the different schools to the perplexity of teachers, and the serious injury of the children.
Our Union operates as a battery which levels with the dust those objections which have been raised by narrow policy, and shored up by contracted selfishness. Many there are who are afraid of calling into exercise their utmost energies for the private good, lest their individual interest should be neglected, not recollecting that public good is precisely the aggregate of private benefit, and that as surely as we are instrumental in watering others, so surely, and in that very instance too, we are watered ourselves. Among the members of our Union, there is a generous anxiety for each others' prosperity, and the consequence is an increase in all our schools. One school in 12 months has increased from 10 teachers and 80 scholars, to 35 teachers and 300 scholars.
Our Union has not only excited greater attention among the teachers, but also a spirit of inquiry as to the result of their labours. It has been said, that "those who watch Providence, will never want a Providence to watch;" and so surely as the conscientious teacher sows his seed and waters it with his prayers, so surely will he see it spring up, sometimes the blade, sometimes the ear, and at other times the full corn in the ear, Knowing that an annual report of our Union will be printed, the teachers are anxious to contribute some important facts that may render it interesting; and hence they are watching for these throughout the
Previous to the union of sunday schools little comparatively was known of the good in them; but by the annual reports that are issuing from the different unions, the scattered rays of light which irradiated a little spot here and there, are collected and burst forth in a flood of light upon the world; the candle is no longer hid under a bushel, but it is placed in a candlestick and gives light to the whole house.
We have been asked why we unite? and we have answered, and still say, the greatness of the work in which we are engaged, and the numerous enemies we have to overcome, demand it. If the name of our enemies be Legion, and their ensign Destruction, ours must be Union and Salvation. As it respects the work in which we are engaged, we conceive it to be nothing less than the glorifying of God in the evangelizing of the world; and can this grand object be effected by Calvinists only? by Methodists, by Baptists, by Churchmen singly? no, we must forget minor distinctions, and unite under the banner of the captain of salva tion, and, as one vast army of the Living God, go forth from victory to victory, till a subject world owns the authority of our great Immanuel.
We have received a most interesting letter from the secretaries of the Birmingham Union, informing us that their Union took place on the 13th of February last, and we have no doubt but the affection, ability, and zeal of the secretaries, are a pleasing presage of the permanence and future utility of their Union.
EXTRACT from the REPORT of the SUNDERLAND SUNDAY-SCHOOL UNION, for the Year ending 31st December, 1814.
Your Committee have to report that the resolutions, passed at the last general meeting, have, by several of the schools, been carried into effect; libraries and Bible Associations have been formed, and a flourishing Adult School for Females is now esta blished in Sunderland.
It must afford sincere pleasure, not merely to Sunday-School teachers, but to every true friend of Religion,-to find that the grand end, which each school in this Union has in view, is religious instruction; and your Committee doubt not but, through the Divine blessing, the united efforts of the teachers, in this respect, will be crowned with success.
Deputations have been sent to several of the schools, in order to enquire into their modes of teaching, and to explain, in a practical manner, the printed rules. The success that has attended the endeavours of your Committee in this respect, will best be seen from the annexed extracts of reports received from the several districts.
The following schools have been added to the Union during the past year, viz. Oxclose, High Felling, Enon Chapel School, Zion Chapel School, Durham School, and the Sunderland Female Adult School. The whole of these schools, excepting Durham, are new schools established within the last twelve months; the Durham School has existed for some time, and at present, with the immediate vicinity, constitutes a new district.
The school at Sheriffe Hill has been unavoidably given up, from having lost the place where they taught; but they have recently built a new school, which it is trusted, when opened,
will be well filled.
The schools at Mount and Gateshead's Fell Chapel have also been given up; the former, it is hoped, may be recommenced again; the latter school was given up for the winter from the dampness of the place; and, owing to a declension among the teachers, the want of funds, and a debt owing to the depositary, the few remaining teachers are so much discouraged that they appear unwilling again to commence the school. Your Committee having taken the state of this school into consideration, agreed to make them a grant of the books for which they stood indebted, on condition of their recommencing the school; and, in case they should determine not to do so, to take back the books in their present state, without any expence to them for the injury they may have received.
. As it regards the declension of children in the different schools, your Committee beg leave to suggest the necessity of vigorous measures being used, to recover, if possible, those children who have quitted them; and, perhaps, there is no method more likely to effect this, than by appointing visitors to go through the different families, to enquire into the cause of their absence, and to solicit the parents, in an affectionate manner, to send their children again.
The Committee would also recommend to those schools, whose funds are small, and yet are desirous of establishing libraries, to follow the example of some other schools, and commence at first with single tracts, a large assortment of which are published by the Religious Tract Society, and others. A library on this scale may be begun at a very trifling expence; and though the quantity of matter in each tract is small, yet it is weighty, and may be better digested in many of the families who are unaccustomed to reading, than a larger book.
Your Committee having thus endeavoured to lay before you their proceedings during the past year conclude, by expressing their earnest desire that the spirit of love, which hath hitherto been so manifested in this institution, may continue to increase; and that similar societies may be formed till every poor child in this country shall be able to read for himself the Sacred volume." The total number of children connected with the Union, is 5099; and of teachers 841.
Extracts from the District Reports.
At the commencement of the year, visitors were appointed to visit the families of our children; and the Committee feel pleasure ia reporting, that these visits have not been altogether in vain, as by their means a door has been opened to disseminate religious tracts among the poorest of our towns-people; nor is this the only good that these visits have effected; for, while endeavouring to spread these little silent monitors, with sorrow the visitors beheld the wretched ignorance which prevailed among the adults they had an opportunity of seeing; and the Committee of these schools, anxious, if possible, to save some of the poor females who appeared ready to be carried down by the torrent of sin and infamy, which we have melancholy proof, prevails to a very high degree in populous sea-ports, determined to begin a Sunday School for their instruction.
The Female Adult School commenced, in April 1814, with only three scholars; it has continued gradually to increase, and at present there are ninety female adults under instruction. We also feel pleasure in reporting the good this school has already produced; some of the adults, who, prior to the commencement of the school, were ignorant of their letters, and were unacquainted with their duty, either to their Creator or their
neighbour, have not only learnt to read, but the instruction given them has produced a desire to attend divine worship regularly; and we have some cause to hope their understandings have been considerably enlightened.
In the beginning of last year persons were appointed as religious instructors to our schools, the reports received from them are gratifying; they say, "As far as we can judge, we believe many of the children are not only willing but desirous of being instructed; we have been glad to observe that many of them seem to feel themselves interested in the truths they are learning."
We have received the following account from two of our members, who have been visiting the town, house by house, on behalf of the Bible Association, and as it tends to illustrate the good effects of Sunday Schools, hope it will prove an encouragement to all engaged in them; they say, "We went into one house where there was a middle aged woman, she said her daughter had a bible; after a little conversation she spoke nearly as fol lows: I have great reason to bless God for the good my child and husband have got by the Sunday Schools; my husband frequently came home on the Lord's day intoxicated; it was usual for him to spend part of the money he received on a Saturday at the public house on a Sunday: about two years ago, my little girl, who was then not nine years old, said to him,-Oh, Father! it is very wrong to spend the money you work for the rest of the week at the ale-house on Sundays! At first he wanted to jest with her about it; but she prevailed with him to read her catechism; it produced such an effect upon him that I have never had occasion to blame him for it since;--to our shame we may say our child has taught us both; we lived without prayer, but nothing could hinder her from prayer night and morning as regularly as she arose and retired to rest.'"
Though we know nothing of the persons the following account relates to, yet, from the means by which we obtained our information, we cannot doubt its authenticity. "A lad, about nine years of age, said to his mother, I wish you would not let my brother bring any thing home that is smuggled, when he goes to sea! Why do you wish that child?' said the mother. He answered, Because my catechism says it is wrong.' The mother replied, But that is only the word of a man.' He said, Mother, is it the word of a man, which said,—Render unto Cæsar the things that are Cæsars? This reply entirely silenced his mother; but his father, who appears to have been by, attempted to say something in defence of smuggling, when the boy asked, Father, whether is it worse to rob one or to rob many? By these questions and answers, the boy silenced both his parents on the subject of smuggling."
We believe the following accounts will prove acceptable to you, as they tend strongly to confirm the benefit likely to be