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your own weakness and insufficiency, you will be earnest in prayer for heavenly aid and direction.
You will endeavour to captivate their attention by a lively and interesting address, introducing such stories, memoirs, or anecdotes as may tend to illustrate the subject, avoiding as much as possible all abstract reasoning. " Stories,” says the writer formerly alluded to, “ fix children's attention. The moment I begin to talk in any thing like an abstract manner, the attention subsides. The simplest manner in the world, will not make way to children's minds for abstract truths. With stories I 'lind I could rivet their attention for two or three hours."
A teacher must be kind and affectionate in his conduct towards the children: he ought never to speak to them with the harsh look or haughty air of magisterial authority; yet with softness and gentleness of manners, strictness and firmness must to a certain degree be combined. With the most indefatigable zeal and
attention, he must endeavour to preserve the utmost order and regularity among them.
Where rules are laid down for the regulation of the School, let them be firmly and invariably adhered to; but at the same tine he must beware of that repulsive coldness which places those under his charge at too great a distance to allow them to open their minds to bim, as to a kind and affectionate parent. It is this kindness, manifested by looks and by words that insinuates itself into their little hearts
, and forms the most indissoluble bond of union between the children and the School.
If you wish your instructions to be successful, you will be careful in your own conduct to avoid every thing that may counteract their effect: let your example be such, as to manifest the temper and disposition of the child of God.
We need scarcely observe that your heart must be in the work, otherwise you can never expect to succeed. You ought to remember the responsibility attached to your situation :-if you neglect to warn, advise, admonish, and instruct them in the
“ their blood must be required at your hand.” If you feel as you ought, you will account it your duty to be earnest in prayer on their behalf, not merely whilst assembled with them on the sabbath evenings, but in your secret approaches
Your zeal also in the cause in which you are engaged, will manifest itself by a constant and regular attendance on the duties of your station : you will be punctual to the hour of meeting, and careful to have every thing prepared for their reception. No personal gratification--no slight inconvenience ought ever to seduce you from the path of
word of God,
to a throne of mercy,
duty:" he that regardeth the wind (saith the wise man) shall not sow."
You must beware of showing any thing like partiality in your behaviour towards them. Children are often much more sharp-sighted in this respect than we are aware of, and if they discover any appearances of this in your conduct, it will tend to weaken their affection, and destroy your usefulness.
In the discharge of your various duties, you will have need of much patience-much humility. Like the husbandman you may sow your seed, and the long dreary night of winter may succeed; “ but be not weary in well doing, for in due season you shall reap if you faint not.”—“ Be patient, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord: behold the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and the latter rain." -Although your instructions may appear as seed scattered upon the barren rock," though the fig-tree should not blossom, nor fruit be in the vines,--though the labour of the olive should fail, and the fields should yield no meat;"-yet“ in the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thy hand.”—“Cast thy bread upon the waters, and thou shalt find it after many days."
“ The prodigal left his father's house, but could not leave altogether his father's instructions: these though apparently lost to him, were still in the keeping of his conscience. The sun of prosperity shone out its day, and the night of affliction, dreary and tempestuous followed. This was the time for conscience to do its work:-now amidst the surrounding darkness, rise in rapid succession the long-forgotten counsels of parental solicitude; and the very instructions which he once shunned as bis enemies, the prodigal now embraces as his guides, to lead him to his father and his God.”
And now, brethren, we commend you to God, and to the word of his grace:--may your exertions be crowned with increasing success, and may there be many in the day of the Lord, who shall acknowledge you as their spiritual fathers and instructors in Christ.
On SABBATH EVENING SCHOOLS. THE diffusion of useful knowledge, and the circulcation of the light of divine truth, are objects which endear themselves to the heart of every true philanthropist. The Sunday School system, now so extensively adopted, and so generally patronized both in England and Ireland, has always appeared to me to be fraught with incalculablė blessings to the poor and illiterate orders of society. Viewing it in this light, it affords me a pleasure more readily felt than expressed, to contemplate the rapid increase and growing stability of such institutions. The slumbering zeal of the friends to religion and morality has been awakened, and the feeble spark kindled by the efforts of a benevolent individual, has now burst forth into a flame; which I trust, neither the ravages of time, nor the insidious arts of its enemies shall ever be able to quench or extinguish, but which will continue to emanate with increasing splendour, and with accelerated rapidity to diffuse its benign influence upon the morals and sentiments of the community at large.
The time, however, consumed in imparting the rudiments of education is so great, as to allow comparatively but a small proportion of the short period allotted for their attendance at School, to be applied to the acquisition of the principles of Christian morality. The institution of Parochial Schools has done much to ameliorate the condition, and to elevate the tone of public morals in Scotland. By affording the facilities of instruction in reading, writing, and accounts, to the lower classes of the community, they have rendered unnecessary, the introduction of the Sunday School system in this part of the
To oppose, however, the profanation of the Sabbath, by the multitudes of young people, allowed by the cruel negligence and indifference of their parents to run about the streets, or range uncontrolled through the fields and villages, Sabbathi Evening Schools were instituted, but at what precise period I am unacquainted. The sole object and design of such institutions, is religious instruction, altogether apart from the necessary education in the elementary branches of knowledge. To enter upon a detail of the peculiar advantages resulting from such a course of instruction, would exceed my limits; the object of these hints, submitted with diffidence for insertion in your highly useful publication, is to excite enquiry into the nature and practical effects of Sabbath Evening Schools, and by their introduction into England, to impart to its youth, the same blessings which the rising generation in Scotland so extensively enjoy.
A FRIEND to YOUTH.
We are of opinion with our correspondent, that if some active individuals who are not employed as Sunday School teachers, were to volunteer their services in the establishment of Sabbath Evening Schools in England, the effects would be very beves
ficial. There are many children and young persons who are engaged the greater part of the Sabbath, who would be able to spare the evening to receive instruction, though they could not give up the whole of the day. Query, Would not the children of respectable persons derive considerable benefits from some such plan of religious instruction as that adopted by our northern friends?
Letter on the Review of the Sunday School Hymn Books.
SIR, IN consequence of your invitation to Correspondents for their sentiments relative to Sunday School Hymn Books, I beg leave to offer a few remarks on the subject. I cordially join in the opinion of your correspondent “ A Compiler," that hymns containing language proper only in the mouths of Christians, should not be excluded from childrens collections; because the many pleasing accounts we hear, warrant the supposition that Sunday Schools, as well as congregations, are not destitute of real Christians: and from the agreed principle that these selections, as much as possible, should be adapted to all, it is a necessary inference that the wants of the pious should not be neglected. Although I am no advocate for experiinental hymns being given out for general worship in Schools, yet I must also join your correspondent, in questioning the accuracy of the Reviewers opinion, that “they only tend to create a generation of hypocrites. I have known, and could relate affecting instances of their usefulness, but never reinarked their having so mischievous a tendency; indeed I never heard it observed, that children who are brought up to repeat the responses of the Church of England service, and join in its truly experimental prayers, were more inclined to hypocrisy than others. This is a very parallel case, and I think such a reinark must be frequently inade, were it their natural and general tendency in unconverted characters. I would, with deference to the Reviewers' judgment, venture to appeal to each reader's observation, whether his opinion of their effects is supported by experience. As you wish to promote discussion on the subject, I may be allowed at the same time to question, if hytuns containing expressions above the capacity of children in general should be entirely excluded ? I have often remarked the inattention and carelessness with which Scholars, even the elder ones, engage in the services of worship conducted in the School, particularly that of singing; and I have thought, one cause thereof might be the hymns partaking too little of ideas sufficiently exalted to impress a reverence on divine things. The characters under which God is represented, are generally those of a parent, a friend, or a bencfactor; these are undoubtedly both scriptural and proper, but I do not think they comprise the whole character under which the Divine Being has condescended to make himself known, and believe that children in approaching the Lord God, should conceive of Him more than as a Being whom they must pray to for pardon, thank for past mercies, and supplicate for future bounty. Perhaps were the thoughts of the Deity, his nature, operations, and perfections more lofty, were they taught to consider Him as claiming the adoration of his intelligent creatures, a Being who is far beyond the power of their understandings fully to comprehend, were some of the subliine Scriptural representations introdaced in language suited to their capacities, the ideas they would form might make our singing appear more like worship than it sometimes does. The best way to correct an impropriety is first to know its real cause, and when we see divine things so much lowered to meet the apprehensions of chile dren
, it becomes a question of some importance, whether the levity with which they treat religious services may not be owing (morally speaking), to the want of dignity in the ideas they re
The hymns learned in youth generally remain on the mind in more advanced age, and many ideas which the child could not perfectly enter into, may be very useful to the man. Such, indeed, are frequently better remembered, and dwell more on the mind than others of a more familiar nature, which on that account as soon as repeated, are generally dismissed from the thoughts, and I have often observed, that children of an inquisitive turn, (for such there are among the poor as well as the rich) will reflect and dwell upon an expression they cannot understand, till it becomes fixed on the memory, and when explained has led to thought and enquiry which it is of the utmost importance to excite.
Childrens books are not confined to themselves : parents and teachers who seldom see many others are in the frequent habit of perusing them, for which reason, were there no other, I cannot help pleading for such beautiful, and even sublime hymns as that beginning “ Mighty God while angels praise thee,” noticed as objectionable in the Review, page 329. “ But thy rich,” &c. It may, however, be said, that exalted ideas of God and divine things would be useless to some who would not understand them, but the many desirable opportunities they would give the teacher of question, conversation, and explanaVOL. I.
ceive of them.