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EXTRACTS from the PROCEEDINGS of the LAST ANNUAL MEETING of the HIBERNIAN SUNDAY SCHOOL SOCIETY,
THE Rev., Archdeacon Digby in seconding the motion for the reception of the Report, said "We must all be aware of the importance of educating the poor, either in a religious or political point of view. If we would wish to see peace, order and industry in our land, let us attend to the education of the people. But when we remember that we are Christians we find new and more weighty considerations urging us to the perforinance of the duty. As Christians, we know that man has an immortal soul; that all men come into the world children of wrath; that unless they be changed by the spirit of God they must perish, and therefore it is of infinite importance to open to them the sacred Scriptures, by means of which the spirit of God may produce that saving change."
"A decree, he said, had gone forth among the people of this land to have their children educated. He was persuaded that it was from the Lord, although they had often no other object in view, than enabling their children to advance themselves in the world.
"He observed that the books used in the small schools scattered over the country were of the most despicable and mischievous description. One of the objects of this society is to lead the children of the poor to books of infinite value. It offers them the New Testament, the Bible, and Spelling Books containing extracts from them, and their being read regularly must produce the most beneficial effects.
The age of superstition is quickly passing away: education will deliver the people from the superstition in which their forefathers have been immured; the human mind in this country is undergoing an important change, but if we leave the people to themselves; if we neglect our part in guiding the change to a beneficent issue, we have reason to fear dreadful consequences — awful days. We must not be satisfied with giving money; we must be active in managing, or at least examining the state of schools, and then we may hope that God will bless our efforts, and that we shall see pure and undefiled religion flourish in our land."
Dr. Thorpe." He would not have appeared before the society, had it not been for the purpose of expressing his ardent wish, that a Sunday School were instituted for the most wretched, the most friendless, the most unprotected description of children in the country-those who were employed in sweeping our chimneys. They were usually infants that were employed in that unwholesome occupation, and it was the interest of their employers to keep them as diminutive as possible, because if they encreased much in size they became unfit for the work. He would state one case that had actually come before the public. It was an infant that had been employed to sweep a chimney in South Anne Street. The infant was forced up the chimney by his master, and having shewn some inclination to delay coming
down, was pulled down by means of a rope that had been attached to his leg. The gentleman, whose chimney was swept, examined the child, and found him one continued sore from head to foot, and sent him to an hospital. The master was apprehended, and when he was brought to trial, the poor infant was produced, wrapped in sheets, oiled, to prevent the linen from sticking in his ulcerated body. It appeared on evidence, that the child having shewn a strong dislike to climb the chimney, the master had been in the habit of kindling straw and burning gunpowder under him, and when, from the dreadful state of laceration in which he was, he felt unwilling to descend, his master had fallen upon the expedient of tying a rope round his leg, and of dragging bin down with it. And when by these means his flesh was wounded and torn, the monster had, for the purpose of further punishing him, roused him from his sleep in the wretched cellar where be lay, and had plunged him in cold water, that he might be reminded of his sores by the smarting of them."
"He, (Dr. Thorpe,) was certain that no one could avoid sympathizing in the sorrows of these helpless children, or being anxious to discover some method of alleviating them. He proposed that a Sunday School should be instituted for them; this would cultivate their understanding, by teaching them to read, it would provide for them the solace of kindness and sympathy, but especially it would be a check on their masters, by bringing the children under the inspection of the public (applause ;) he hailed that applause, because it was to him an assurance, that the plan which he had proposed, or some other, would be speedily put in execution."
Mr. Latouche. If the opinions of great and learned men, in favour of educating the poor, was necessary, abundance of them could be produced. lie would notice a few. The first that he would mention, was that of good King Edward VI. He euumerated among the remedies for the sores of the commonwealth, good education as the first in dignity and degree, and declared his purpose of shewing his devices therein. He said, This shall well ease and remedy the deceitful workings of thingsdisobedience of the lower sort, casting of seditious bills, and will clearly take away the idleness of the people."
The next authority which he would mention was that of archbishop Tillotson. There are several ways, says he, of reforming men by the laws of the civil magistrates, by the public preaching of ministers. But the most likely and hopeful reformation of the world must begin with children. "Wholesome laws and good sermons are but slow and late ways. The timely and most compendious way is a good education. This may be an effectual prevention of evil, whereas all after ways are at least but remedies, which do always suppose some neglect and omission of early care.
He had the suffrage of another Right Reverend Prelate to produce, the Lord Bishop of Chester. He expresses himself as fol
lows. "We are too apt to overlook or undervalue the importance of this instruction; because the full effects of it are not instantly and wholly perceived. But the awful truths of religion have seldom, if ever, been duly inculcated on the mind of youth, without producing the most beneficial result, if not immediately, yet at some future period of life. The precept may for a time be forgotten; the passions may break through all restraints; whilst reason and conscience slumber or sleep. The voice of religion, however, though overpowered, is not often truly silenced, but is heard at some favourable season, in the hour of stillness and repose, and before the day of reparation is finally passed. The seed, to all appearance dead, may yet produce a most abundant harvest.
"Of the blessed effects which even a casual perusal of the word of God may produce, we have a memorable instance upon record, in the life and conversion of the celebrated St. Augustine. He, who was afterwards one of the most illustrious fathers of the church, had been in his earlier years notoriously dissolute and abandoned. His attention, however, and feelings, were suddenly arrested by an awakening passage, which met his eye upon opening a page of the Sacred volume. The impression thus excited was durable, daily grew stronger, and at length wrought in him a deliverance from the captivity of sin. The same means may, in other cases, produce the same effects. The consequences to be expected from every poor man's possessing his bible are infinite,-of a value beyond all calculation."
He would produce one other authority, and that from a lay man, eminently qualified to judge on this subject-the celebrated Adam Smith, author of the Wealth of Nations. "An instructed and intelligent people," says he, "are always more decent and orderly than an ignorant one. They feel themselves, each individually more respectable, and more likely to gain the respect of their lawful superiors, and therefore they are more disposed to respect their superiors. They are more disposed to examine and more capable of seeing through the interested complaints of faction and sedition: and they are, on that account, less apt to be misled into any wanton or unnecessary opposition to the measures of government."
But, my Lord, setting authority aside, it is very obvious, that those who are trained up in the regularity and decency of a Sunday School, who enjoy the examples of piety and propriety of conduct which are set before them there, must have better morals than those who take their morals from the high way or the strect. We expend our money in various ways, for our own comfort, and that of others, but how can we lay it out better for these purposes, than by educating the poor around us?
But the happiness imparted by order, regularity and propriety of conduct, is not all the happiness produced by education, espe cially religious education. It has often been found to increase domestic happiness, that" only bliss of Paradise which has sur
vived the fall." We have had instances of children, educated in our schools, from being headstrong and disobedient, becoming peaceable, dutiful, and submissive.
Another respect in which the comfort of the poor may be increased by your society is, by thus learning from it, how to spend the Lord's day. It is unnecessary to describe the gross profanation of that sacred day which every where prevails. Even the most decent of the poor know not how to employ themselves on it. They are to be seen loitering about their cabins, listless, without any object to engage their attention. Instead of being an enjoyment, it is a weariness to them. But we provide for them an employment that will make it a happy day indeed. We are providing for families the happiness of assembling around the word of God, while every cheek glows, and every eye drops with delight, as the parent makes them acquainted with the Redeemer's name.
Here again take the words of the bishop of Chester. "One of the main advantages, (says he,) which arises from the education of the poor, is the ability which it confers on them to employ their leisure hours in a profitable and improving manner. Inter. missions of labour find them for the most part listless and unoccupied. To avoid this oppressive tedium and languor, they are tempted to the receptacles of sloth or sin, where property is wasted, where health is undermined, and where bad habits are acquired and confirmed. Now had the same persons been able to employ their vacant hours in useful reading, had early instruction opened to them the Bible, the temptations of idleness might not have been felt at all, or, if felt, might have been resisted and
But your Society provides for the poor in so far as outward means can provide for it, a happiness that extends beyond this transient scene. It puts within their reach that religion which soothes every sorrow, smooths the brow of care, which causes the desert to rejoice, and blossom as the rose.
(To be continued.)
FIRST ANNUAL REPORT of the BATH ADULT SCHOOL SOCIETY.
IN the second Report of the Bath Sunday School Union, published in May last, the committee had the pleasure to state the great progress which had been made in the good work of teaching grown up persons in this city and the neighbouring villages to read the Holy Scriptures. As however it appears necessary to publish a statement of accounts, and the list of benefactors and subscribers to the adult schools, the committee would feel wanting in that respect which is due to the friends and supporters of those schools if the account of receipts and expenditures, &c. had been printed without having some report prefixed
The committee with much satisfaction enter upon the pleasing duty of reporting the progress which has been made during the
first year's existence of this society for enabling the adult poor, who had not been favoured with an early education, to read the word of God for themselves; and it is with heartfelt delight they state that great progress has been made by the learners of both sexes, insomuch, that many who did not know the letters of the alphabet when they came to the schools, can now read with facility in the New Testament, not only with satisfaction to themselves, but to the great pleasure and approbation of the visitors who have heard them. Some of these learners being from 60 to 80 years of age, it was found necessary to supply them with spectacles to enable them to read their lessons.
It may not be altogether improper to remark that however desirous the committee might have been to instruct the adult poor, and that was an object never lost sight of since the formation of the Bath Sunday School Union, it would have been impossible to carry such benevolent designs into execution without the kind and gratuitous services of conductors and teachers. If therefore there be any praise given; if there be any thanks bestowed, the whole must justly and solely belong to those pious and zealous individuals who have so nobly volunteered their services, and taken so active a part in capacitating their unin formed fellow creatures to read those Holy Scriptures which are able to make them wise unto salvation. At the same time the committee would not omit this opportunity of expressing the high sense they entertain of the kindness of Dr. Pole and Stephen Prust, esq. of Bristol, who have attended, and taken an active part at some of their public meetings.
The committee beg permission also to acknowledge the kindness of the committee and secretaries of the Bath Auxiliary Bible Society in furnishing the secretaries of this institution with Testaments of a large type at reduced prices for the use of the adult scholars; the most grateful acknowledgements are also due to Charles Phillott, esq. the late worthy mayor of this city, and other benevolent individuals who have gratuitously supplied Testaments for the use of the schools.
Although there will appear in the audited accounts a balance of 221. 14s. 11d. to be provided for, the committee feel confident that the benevolence of those who are friendly to the instruction of the poor and destitute will furnish ample supplies for the discharge of all arrears; and by their liberal contributions enable the committee to carry on this noble institution for the time to come, till all the poor inhabitants of Bath and the neighbouring villages shall be enabled to read the Scriptures for themselves.
The committee beg leave to close this report, by remarking that although much good has been already done, much yet remains to be done. It is therefore to be hoped, that many others will be induced to imitate the laudable example set them by the teachers in the Bath Adult Schools; till all grown up persons in this city and its vicinity shall be enabled to read that holy Bible, which is so widely dispersed and so bountifully supplied, by