Page images

number of similar works which appeared on every hand; and in the year 1852 Mr. Gurney requested the Committee to take charge of it, saying, "I feel a great interest in the publication from hearing of very many instances in which it has been blessed, not only to the promotion of a tastefor reading, and the enlivening family circles and schools, but in the conversion of its youthful readers. One minister told me of seven instances within his knowledge, and many more came to our knowledge in a course of years." The Committee, however, felt that the periodicals they were then conducting required all the attention and funds at their disposal, and were, therefore, compelled to decline the proposal. The Magazine was continued, but under different management. During the last year, however, the Committee received information which led them to fear that it might be altogether discontinued. Respect for their late President, its originator, and still more, the conviction that such a publication was desirable, induced them again to consider whether they could now undertake it. The circulation of their other periodicals having so increased, as to render them no longer a burden on the funds of the Union, and a prospect that they could obtain the services of a gratuitous editor, determined them to incur the responsibility, and on January 1 appeared the first number of a New Series. The Committee have not reduced the price, but have enlarged the size of the pages, and have added pictorial illustrations, which not only improve the Magazine in its monthly appearance, but will make the half-yearly volume a very attractive work for Lending Libraries. The editorship has been kindly undertaken by a member of the Committee-able contributors have been secured-and the Magazine will, it is believed, be found a suitable and interesting periodical for the family circle.

The last report stated that the Committee had purchased the stock and copyright of "The Library of Biblical Literature," a work extensively circulated, and well adapted to aid teachers in their work. It then consisted of forty-five parts. In order to render it more complete, the Committee have added three parts, and have also arranged the work chrono logically into six volumes, by which they believe its usefulness will be much increased...

Mr. Fitch has favoured the Committee by allowing them to publish a second lecture delivered by him to some of the training classes, entitled, "The Art of Securing Attention in a Sunday School Class." This, with his former lecture on "The Art of Questioning," will be published in one volume, with some prefatory observations by Mr. Fitch. These thoroughly practical works should be studied by every teacher.

The Committee have sought, by their deputations and correspondence, to keep up an intimate connection with the various local Unions throughout the country. Thirty-six places have been personally visited, and the communications received evince not only a kind appreciation of the labours of the Committee for the benefit of the schools, but also considerable activity in carrying on the work within the limits of those respective Unions.

The Committee have thus briefly narrated their proceedings, which, although unmarked by any extraordinary features, have yet, as they trust, been useful to their fellow-labourers in this work of the Lord, to whose as

sistance and improvement their services are consecrated, and to whom, in conclusion, they would desire to offer one or two practical suggestions. In the Report of last year the importance of diligent preparation on the part of teachers, to fit them to discharge with greater efficiency the duties they have undertaken, was urged, and the Committee would not retract a single expression to which utterance was then given. On the contrary, they have sought with diligence to provide means for rendering that preparation more easy, and that efficiency more complete; and it has given them great pleasure to perceive by many tokens that their efforts to this end are duly ́appreciated. But how can the talents thus improved be most profitably employed? In what way may the teacher hope to be most useful to the scholars? An important question, and one which requires some attention to the distinguishing characteristics of Sunday school teaching, in order that it may be answered correctly. The distinction between the pastor and the teacher does not consist in the truth to be taught, which is alike for each, nor in the character of the individuals to be instructed, for the general congregation will comprise many quite as young as any of the scholars, but in the fact that while the pastor has to address a large and indiscriminate assembly, whom he must leave to apply to their own cases the truths declared, the teacher comes into more immediate contact with the minds and hearts of the scholars, is able to apply the truth to their individual cases, and thus to exert a personal influence of the most important and beneficial kind. Is this advantage rightly understood and adequately improved? If so, the teacher will soon become acquainted with the inner life of the scholar; the peculiar difficulties of the scholar will guide the thoughts, and influence the instructions of the teacher; opportunities will be sought for individual and frequent intercourse; and even when separated so as to prevent this, the teacher's letter will follow the scholar, and invite reply, which may, under the Divine blessing, keep alive the hallowed feeling of mutual love, even under the most unfavourable circumstances. So far as can be traced, the means which have been so signally blessed in the schools of America have been earnest prayer for and with the scholars, and personal appeals from teachers to their scholars that their hearts might be given to the Saviour. So blessed bave been the results attending this union of specific prayer and personal intercourse wherever employed, that the Committee cannot forbear urging its adoption on all their fellow-teachers as a course most likely, under the Divine blessing, to accomplish the great object of their instructions, the bringing each one of their scholars to exclaim, from their inmost soul, "My Father, be thou the guide of my youth!"


THE Omniscient One alone can trace the final results, direct and indirect, flowing from human actions; but we are often permitted to know that Christian labor is not in vain. The faithful servant of the Master often receives an abundant reward in this life, as well as life eternal in the world to come. Dr. Waterbury once related the following facts in Boston, (U.S.) as an illustration of the methods of divine Providence :

[ocr errors]

Many years ago, a Mr. Scudder came to my father's house in New York, wishing to reside in the family while prosecuting his medical studies. Not a member of the family then knew any thing of practical religion. But · Mr. Scudder added to the attractiveness of a Christian life the persuasions of earnest zeal, that we would seek after peace with God. The result of his patient efforts was the entire change of the character of our household. Harriett, my sister, became a Christian, and afterwards was married to Mr. Scudder, and has most faithfully rewarded his fidelity to her by the devotion of her life to him and to his work as a missionary.

"After a long residence in India, Dr. Scudder sent his sons to America to be educated. Henry was a wild boy, and gave his friends great disquietude. But his father and mother never lost their confidence in God. Their fervent prayers for him were incessant. Now mark how God answers -how he rewards, after long years and heavy trials, the faithful labors of his servants. I had been brought to know and love the Saviour through the influence of Mr. Scudder, when living in my father's family. In the spring of 1826, I went to New York to spend a college vacation. While there I addressed an audience of young men. At the close of the meeting one of them followed me up Greenwich Street, and at length accosted me. His question was direct, 'What must I do to be saved?' I gave him Paul's answer to the same question, and it was not long before he fulfilled it happily in his own experience, and in a few years after entered the ministry.

In 1840 this young man, now grown to be that eloquent champion of the truth, the Rev. E. N. Kirk, was preaching in Dr. Skinner's Church in New York, and a son of Dr. Skinner became a Christian through his influence. He was an intimate friend of young Scudder, and urged him to come and hear the preacher who had so wrought upon his own heart. Scudder went, and by the sermon he then heard was brought to receive the truth as it is in Jesus, and is now laboring with his father, as a missionary in India."


MR. EDITOR, The excellent paper you have taken from the "Scottish Sabbath School Teachers' Magazine," enters so fully into the subject of the want of a devotional spirit among Sunday scholars, and the best methods of inducing the same, as to leave but little more to be said on the subject, unless by way of confirmation.

The entire accuracy of the description of the behaviour of scholars during prayer-time, cannot alas be called in question.-(By the way, 20 scholars is one half too many for one class, unless in a separate room.) Shall I be accused of exaggeration, if I say that one prayerful scholar among twenty irreverent, would be more than the usual average?

And if we consider that every prayer neglected makes it harder still to pray, and that irreverent and inattentive behaviour has not only a growing deadening effect on those who indulge in it, but a vast influence for evil on any seriously minded scholar in the school, we may well shudder, and prayerfully bestir ourselves to the consideration of cause and cure of so acknowledged a wide-spread evil.

There is no doubt that the great secondary cause of this inattention has been that the prayers to which scholars have listened have not been suitable to their understanding, their feelings, or their wants. Teachers have stood up to pray for children-to be their mouthpiece as it were to God-and have forgotten them entirely; have uttered it may be, beautiful prayers, full of the divine spirit and holy eloquence, it may be, homely and threadbare prayers; but in either case, containing scarce one want or desire of children, and scarce one idea or sentiment which they would respond to, or could join in.

Can we wonder then, that with such small inducements to join in public prayer, our scholars have grown up into an unprayerful spirit? I have known, and could point out instances of children, earnest and attentive in class, and of whom their teachers have had bright hopes, have yet neglected prayer entirely in the public services of the school; and I doubt not that every teacher can call many such instances to mind.

No one can be more sensible than myself of the extreme difficulty of uttering prayers, which, without becoming unmeaning or childish, shall express a child's wants, hopes, aspirations, and longings-making confession of his (not our) peculiar sins—his (not our) peculiar temptations and trials; but with God's help it may be done; and when we can get teachers to admit that it is no easy task to pray for children-nothing to be done offhand and without such contemplation and private prayer as they would bestow if called upon to pray publicly for adults-aye, and more too-we have half won the battle.

The various practical recommendations contained in the extract before referred to, may, I think, be summed up in the one word that to teach, pray for, or preach to children, we need to have sympathy with them. We must put ourselves in their places, and learn what they require, and how, ere we can supply their wants. You ask how this sympathy, or practical love, is to be had-I answer, of Christ. Was not he the God-man, the most active and entire sympathizer of man with men that ever existed? Is not his religion one of sympathy entirely, (speaking of Christians' relations to their fellows) as opposed to false religions which set man against man, and each man's hand against his brother man? Let us, then, in our closets seek Christ's love, and be assured that if we have a true spirit of self-sacrificing love within us, we shall have little difficulty in putting that love into an active shape, as sympathy for feeling with-our Sunday scholars.

One practical word and I have done. Be above all things very cautious in using common biblical and religious phrases and words. There is great danger that by familiar, almost, I may say, cant phrases, (using cant not in an offensive sense) which come easy and glib to the tongue, we may convey no adequate meaning to the hearts of our hearers; when the same meaning couched in every-day household words, might make a deep and lasting impression.

The whole tendency of modern popular (effective) preaching, is to the discountenance of terms, symbols, and phrases, which, through long use or misuse have lost their original effect and power, and to the substitution instead, of plain, homely, Saxon every-day words and symbols-culled from the market-place, the shop, or the fireside.

I believe this to be wise and philosophic, but this is no place, nor have I time now to prove it so. Success alone fully justifies the practice, and persons inclined to be fastidious and hypercritical must remember that Christ's own words, symbols, and parables-classic now by eighteen century memories and tears, were taken from the then daily life around him, and doubtless were thought very vulgar and commonplace by the refined Pharisees.

If this practice answers well with adults, how very much better it will with children, numerous bright examples among teachers and preachers for children will shew.

[ocr errors]


Lastly, let me caution any one who tries to make his prayers for children more suitable for them, not to expect immediate fruit. The tree growing up many a year long, cannot be thrown by one hatchet blow; let it suffice us to do according to our consciences, and leave the rest to God. Next month I propose to examine the subject of a Sunday school Liturgy.

[ocr errors][merged small]
[ocr errors]


[ocr errors][merged small]

We must learn to wait

No prayer sent up to God can e'er miscarry;
Nor will the answer come too late,

E'en tho' beyond our life time it may tarry!

"He shall not make haste"

(So saith the scripture)" who on Christ believeth;"

Nor shall a moment run to waste,

Ere "he that asketh" be "he that receiveth!

Not one prayer in vain!

[ocr errors]

Who would not pray, with such assurance given?
Who would not make of prayers a chain

Reaching from lowest earth to highest heaven!

We may never know

On earth, the glad result of our petition

Yet thence a stream of life may flow

O'er barren souls, and help them to fruition.

[blocks in formation]
« PreviousContinue »