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the January numbers,) I have no doubt they would be very acceptable, and add greatly to the value of the work, having also the particulars annexed of arrangement, and the number of children the same was calculated to hold. Wishing you success in all your undertakings,
I remain your's, &c.
REMARKS on the OMISSION of PRAYER in SUNDAY
THERE is one class of my fellow teachers, who, either partially or entirely neglect the duty of prayer in their schools. Many schools of this description have not fallen under my notice, some indeed I know, and there are many more, I have no doubt, of this sort to be found. The conduct is certainly in direct opposition to the nature and design of Sunday Schools, whatever excuses may be urged in the favour of the teacher. The instilment of religious principle, as well as of elementary knowledge, is the object of Sunday Schools; and I trust every teacher is employed in inculcating the necessity of prayer in the minds of the children he instructs; but, unless he adds to precept example on this point, is it not likely, in all human probability, that his conduct will almost invalidate his instructions, if the children have in their power to say, concerning their teacher, "He is always talking about prayer, and urging us to pray, yet he never prays with us; sometimes a stranger prays, or the minister comes and prays, but as for our teacher, he never prays at all." What fruit can be expected, we may as well not plant, as to withhold water; though neither. planting or watering is the efficient cause of growth, they are the appointed means of vegetation; so we may as well cease to teach as refrain from prayer, though neither teaching or praying separately, or combined, will of themselves. produce fruit, but rank only as means, by which the Lord designs to effect the end.
The reason of some teachers declining prayer, I may be told, is their uncertainty respecting their own conversion, and they dare not, on this account, pray for others. Now, this is no excuse at all. Put the case at the worst, and allow that they are unconverted, let them pray for themselves and the children too, the same petitions will suit both their cases,
Others say they are in want of words. Cowper has met this objection in the following beautiful lines.
Do you want words?-Ah! think again,
We all find a sufficiency of words to express our ideas on a subject in which we feel an interest, and if we are really interested in the everlasting welfare of the children, we cannot be in want of words to pray with them. Timidity is urged likewise. It is certainly true, that at the first essay to speak or pray, in any thing like a public manner, it is no small difficulty to divest ourselves of a causeless timidity, for which, however, accustoming ourselves to the task, will prove a certain remedy; and in these instances, timidity ought to be conquered; a known duty must not be omitted, because we feel disinclined to attend to it, on whatever account that disinclination may arise. If prayer is a duty, it ought to be attended to, nor will such excuses as these justify its omission.
I desire this subject not to be considered as applying to our brethren alone, but equally to those of our sisters, who conduct female schools, without the assistance of male teachers. Perhaps they may smile at my rudeness, in attempting to enter within their bounds, but I hope they will condescend to hear what I have to say on the subject, since I have no design to urge them to an improper act, or to any thing less than an imperious duty. It is true, the Apostle denominates it shameful for a woman's voice to be heard in a church; but Sunday Schools are not churches, nor is there any Scripture to prohibit, either directly or by inference, a female surrounded only by females, from praying with them; they are, in this case, placed in the same situation as the other sex, and the same reasons which prompt the one, ought to be equally forcible as the other. Do our sisters urge custom. Truly, it is the custom for women to be silent. Not at the tea table, not at the ball room, no; but at a Sunday School, where prayer ought to be made, there it is the custom for them to be silent. Will none of our sisters break the custom to serve God and benefit the souls of the children? I hope many have, but I fear many have not, and schools have been collected and dismissed without one syllable of prayer to God for a blessing. Let those to whom this relates think as they please on the subject, it certainly is a serious matter. If, however, timidity should be the excuse, the use of forms will certainly obviate that entirely. I freely confess, that I am not an advocate for the
use of forms, but I am sure that no candid person can object to their use, if evangelical; the only objection we can have arises from the probability of the use engendering formality of worship, which I have no doubt every pious person in the use of them endeavours to guard against. These forms, perhaps, may be best drawn up by the person who uses them, and may be left off by degrees, until an ability to pray without them is acquired. The best way to guard against formality, I think, will be to compose a great variety. To acquire a habit of public speaking, is a much easier task than may be supposed, at least when the walls of a Sunday School bound the publicity of the act. On all accounts, I think it must be allowed, that the omission of prayer in a Sunday School is inexcusable.
As to those few persons who desire singing, prayer, and preaching, (as they term our addresses,) to be prohibited in Sunday Schools, from a principle which they denominate candor, in order to obtain the assistance of a respectable society, I have only to say, that indifference is not candor. While I admire the conjunction of sects and parties in the Bible Society to spread a cause in which their individual and distinguishing principles are disseminated by the circulation of that book, from which each one derives his sentiments, I can never admit that an extension of the principle of Sunday Schools, so as to exclude the inculcation of the fundamental parts of revealed religion would be beneficial to the cause. Controverted points of minor importance ought to be avoided, but the yielding up of express precepts is quite another thing, and I trust no Sunday School teacher will consent to be excluded from singing, praying, or instilling religious instruction into the minds of the children, to gratify the wishes of any sect or sects of Christians, however large and respectable; for in so doing they undermine the bulwark of these institutions.
I mention this because I know that this has been in contemplation; a pamphlet has been published with this object in view, intended merely as a precursor of others, but unfortunately for the design, the writer has been too abusive and regardless of truth to obtain the public ear. That this was the intention of the writer I am certain, as I received the information from the confidential friend of the writer, who had a considerable hand in the publication in question. It is likewise true, that the design is not dropped, though it is probable that some time will elapse before a more avowed attempt will be made by the same party.
Suggestions to TEACHERS as to the Observance of the SABBATH and attendance on PUBLIC WORSHIP.
IT is now many years since I first became an advocate and friend of Sunday Schools. I believed I saw in them Institutions replete with blessings to the poor, and advantages to society at large, and have therefore, to the utmost of my power, promoted the establishment and success of them. It cannot therefore excite surprise, if I acknowledge that I have been tremblingly alive to every thing which has seemed to lessen their utility, or abate the ardour of their generous supporters; and I think I shall be forgiven if I express a fear, that, amid the elations of popularity and applause, there have been instances in which the occupations of the scholars, have not always been judiciously regulated, nor the instructions rendered sufficiently subservient to public worship, and a stated and regular attendance on the public ministry of the Gospel. The following remarks are therefore with diffidence offered to the notice of your readers.
1. That the occupations of the Scholars in the Sunday Schools ought to have a religious direction, will be allowed by every one who advocates the sanctity of the Sabbath, and is desirous of promoting the religion of Jesus Christ. But whether this principle has been constantly adverted to in Sabbath Schools; and whether some of the warm friends of the rising generation, in their zeal to serve their secular interests have not adopted measures unauthorized by Scriptural Precept, may perhaps admit of more than a doubt. Instruction in arithmetic and the sale of different articles in the school, seem barely, if at all consistent with " hallowing the Sabbath-day, and keeping it holy." Even writing, when taught on the Sabbath, would be best directed, if applied to the transcription of select portions of God's Holy Word. The instance of an ancient Christian is worthy of regard. Theodoret, an early Ecclesiastical Historian, is the relator of the fact. When VALENS, the Arian Emperor, banished PROTOGENES the scribe to Antinoe in Thebais, in the utmost parts of Egypt; Protogenes, finding the greatest part of the city to be heathens, set up a Charity School among them, and taught them the HOLY SCRIPTURES;-dictating to them in writing shorthand, David's Psalms, and making them learn such doctrines of the Apostolical Writings, as were suitable to their
understandings, by which means he brought many both of the children and parents over to the Christian faith. (Theod. Lib. 4. cap. 16.)
2. The major part, at least, of the friends of Sunday Schools will also allow, the Divine Institution of the Gospel Ministry and the necessity of public worship. To attempt the proof of these positions, would be quite beside the object of this letter. If, however, they be taken for granted, it follows, that every measure ought to be avoided which would degrade the ministry in the eyes of youth, or render them indifferent to a regular and stated attendance on the House of God; but-(I tread on tender ground)-but, has it not a tendency to produce unpleasant consequences, when the children are occupied during service hours in reading and writing, and the other business of the school; and when some or other of the teachers are thereby so variously and busily engaged as seldom or never to attend public worship on the Sabbath. To me it seems a duty, to teach the youthful mind that the Sabbath is the LORD's day, and ought to be principally employed in religious duties; and that regular attendance on public worship is the indispensable duty of a Christian. We are, in a great degree, the creatures of habit, and the habits and modes of reasoning of early years, are not unfrequently influential through the succeeding periods of life; we, therefore, should cautiously guard against every thing, which might be baneful in its tendency. Now, might not a person, educated in a Sunday School, where the teachers frequently neglected public worship, yield, in after life, to the natural indisposition of the human heart to religious duties, and plausibly reason; "The persons who instructed me when I was a child, were truly good men, yet, they thought the instruction of children a sufficient reason for absenting themselves from public worship; surely, then, there can be no harm in my staying at home to teach my own children to read and write, for they are more my care, than I was that of the good men who taught me." But who would not dread the general neglect of public worship and of the house of God, under the mask of attention to other duties! And every Christian will assuredly deprecate the adoption of any measure likely to induce indifference to the stated ministry of the Gospel.
I can easily believe that few or none of those who are actively engaged in Sunday Schools have the most distant intention to produce indifference to the public ministry