« PreviousContinue »
And is it not a joy, I ask,
To hear them at the holy task,
Like bees assiduous in the hive,
Hoarding the sweets on which they thrive?
"Tis grand on some great holiday
Marshalled by zealous men, whose pride
And learn from God one lesson more.
They seek the woodland's slumbrous shade,
Such days supply them through the year
Oh, Sunday schools! oh, Christian land!
J. C. PRINCE.
It is necessary to recollect that all teachers have a great deal to do with the formation of the intellectual habits which will cling to their pupils for the rest of their lives. Of course, apart from the primary and immediate object of imparting instruction, we ought all to feel some interest in the sort of mental character which our little scholars are acquiring during their intercourse with us. We must look forward to the time when the children will be men and women, and consider what sort of men and women we would have them to be. We cannot help desiring that when hereafter they read a book, they shall read seriously; that, when they hear a sermon, they shall not bring pre-occupied or wandering minds to what they hear; that, as they move along in life, they shall not be unobservant triflers, gazing in helpless vacancy on the mere surface of things, but shall be able to fix their eyes and their hearts steadily on all the sources of instruction which may be open to them. If they are ever to do this, it is necessary that they should have acquired in youth the power of concentrating their attention. This power is the one qualification which so often constitutes the main difference between the wise and the foolish, the successful and the unsuccessful man. Attention is the one habit of the human mind which, perhaps more than any other, forms a safeguard for intellectual progress, and even, under the Divine blessing, for moral purity. Now, every time a child comes into your class, this habit is either strengthened or weakened. Something is sure to be done while the children are with you either to make them better or worse in this respect for the whole of their future lives. If you claim and secure perfect obedience; if, without being severe, you can be strict enough to enforce diligent attention to all you say, you are attaining another important end besides that which is usually contemplated by school work, for you are developing the intellectual vigour of your scholar, and familiarizing him with a sort of effort which will be of immense use to him hereafter. But every time you permit disorder, trifling, or wandering, you are helping to lower and vitiate the mental character of your pupils. You are encouraging them in a bad habit. You are, in fact, doing something to prevent them from ever becoming thoughtful readers, diligent observers, and earnest listeners, as long as they live.-British and Foreign School Society's Record.
THE WONDERFUL KEY.
(For Parents and Teachers.)
JANE was the most tiresome and wayward child in her Sunday school. She quarrelled with her companions, disobeyed her teachers, and behaved improperly in church. No one could manage her. The more she was scolded and punished, the worse she became. At length the superintendent decided that she must be expelled. She got no good herself, and her bad example injured the others; it would be better that she should be dismissed. He called Jane to him one afternoon, and gravely told her his intention of sending her away.
"I don't care," said Jane, angrily. "I hate the school, and I shall be glad to go!"
He endeavored to reason with her upon the ingratitude and sinfulness of her conduct. As he was speaking, one of the teachers, whom we will designate Miss Gray, came very near them to fetch a book which she wanted. Of course she did not pass without Jane's quick eyes seeing her. The girl's sullen demeanour instantly changed. A fresh thought seemed to strike her, and looking up at the superintendent, she said, hastily, "Well, I'll promise to be a better girl if you put me into Miss Gray's class." "How will that make you a better girl, Jane?"
"I don't know, sir. But I like her, and I'll do what she tells me."
"And why do you like Miss Gray, Jane ?"
"Because she's the first teacher that's ever spoke kind to me. She helped me to get my bonnet-strings out of a knot this morning, when I wanted to undo them because it was so hot; and she was so pleasant over it. She smiled and said, 'It only wants a little patience, Jane.' Oh, she is such a nice lady! If you would only let me go into her class!"
The result was that Jane went into Miss Gray's class, where she soon fulfilled the promise she had made of becoming a better girl. She grew so tractable, and industrious, and obliging, that everybody in the school, the grave superintendent not excepted, was perfectly astonished. "We must learn your secret," they said to Miss Gray.
"I have no secret but Love, was her reply. And that "Love" was the key which had opened Jane's heart. She loved her teacher, and from loving her teacher, she learned to love her Saviour. Years have rolled away since then; Miss Gray has finished her labours, and entered into her rest; and Jane the once troublesome, self-willed, unmanageable school-girl-is now the active and devoted wife of a faithful home missionary, winning the affections of children by the same irresistible charm which early attracted her own.
Take encouragement, dear reader, and resolve to make use of this magic key. Cultivate an affectionate attractiveness of manner. Strive to "be gentle unto all, apt to teach, patient; in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves ;" for in a world like ours, where sin has planted not only sadness but suspicion in the mind, and natural pride and independence guard with careful jealousy the portals of the heart, it needs a tender and considerate touch to elicit another's confidence and sympathy. "He that winneth souls is wise." Let your children feel that you really love them, and they will soon reciprocate your love; and when you have secured their warm affections, you have accomplished much. For there is little hope of our doing the young any permanent good, unless we have first found out the way to reach their hearts; and this is one reason, we are inclined to think, why our teaching so often fails-it emanates rather from a mind imbued with a sense of duty, than gushes forth from a heart overflowing with love. Our pupils recognise us as their teachers; but do they look upon us as their friends?
"Mother," said a Sunday scholar one day to his mother, "I don't like my new teacher half so well as my old one."
Why not, Robert? Isn't he as clever ?"
"O yes, mother; he talks much grander than Mr. B- used to do, and he seems to know all that is in the Bible; but somehow I don't get so interested in what he teaches us, and I don't feel so inclined to mind it." "How is that, Robert ?"
"Why, mother, he never looks a bit pleasant at us, and he never says a word to us except about our lessons. I'm sure I could never tell him if I was in any sort of trouble, for I don't think he understands just how boys like us feel; but I could have gone to Mr. B- if I had wanted to, as easy as I could go to you, mother. He was a real gentleman, Mr. B― was, mother; but for all that, he was the best friend I ever had. I wish he would come back again !"
It is very evident that Robert's old teacher had got hold of the right key.
CULTIVATE THE UNDERSTANDING.
EVERY word that falls on a child's ear, that he does not know the meaning of,-every phrase repeated to him, that finds not some relationship within him, every article of belief,-every principle of moral duty, that he cannot see the necessity for, will not only be thrown away upon him, but by wearying and disgusting him, will do him and religion infinite mischief, and be the cause of much profanity and infidelity.
When a child assents to that which he does not understand, you make him a hypocrite and a liar. He will answer yes, or no, as you wish, but in doing this he does it to please you; but would you have him deceive you?
Lectures to Children. By Rev. John Todd, D.D. 18mo., pp. 152. Second Series. Knight and Son, Clerkenwell Close
WHEN We saw the above advertised, we naturally anticipated a little book, composed with much grace of language, and abounding in forcible illustration. Dr. Todd has already gained a high reputation as an author; and if he had written nothing more than his first series of "Lectures to Children,” and "Truth made Simple," these books alone would stamp him as a man of genius. In these volumes he has combined the powers of a logician, united with a highly poetical imagination, and has also brought down the great subjects of which he has treated to the comprehension of a child. We have long entertained the opinion, that children can appreciate even an abstract truth, if set before them in simple language, and illustrated by natural objects; and, it appears to us, that our author has eminently succeeded in his two earlier books, not only in teaching the young to think, but more especially to feel. The bewitching style of these little treatises, and the great truths which they illustrate, have naturally led to a very large circula
tion, and, to our minds, they have never been equalled by any subsequent writers for children. We are not, therefore, surprised to learn, that "they have been translated into French, German, Greek, and many other languages." We notice that the author in his preface to this "second series," has his misgivings-" whether the harp has since become so worn by time, that its notes will be no longer recognized," will be determined by the issuing of this little volume.
It is evident that the publication has been rather sought by the friends of the author, as we learn in the preface, than a spontaneous act on his part. We share with Dr. Todd, in his implied doubt, whether this "second series" will be as acceptable as the first. A quarter of a century has elapsed between the publication of the two, and very few writers can expect to maintain the same power in relation to the youthful mind, as when hope is firm, and strength is high. If we may venture to hint at what we consider the defects of this book, we should say that they were the very reverse of what we should suppose would be found in it, taking into account the maturity of life to which the author has now attained. We think the style in many parts too complicated for children. This is natural in written compositions, but we take it, that these addresses have been spoken, and by many readers will be adopted as a model. We give one instance in proof of this from page 11. "If you use bad, low, wicked words; if you are rude, unkind, cruel, and headstrong; if you are proud, vain, and overbearing; if you are selfish, covetous, envious, or jealous, of others; if you are profane or vulgar, in manners or behaviour; if you are unkind to your brothers or sisters, or disobedient to your parents; then you have something to be ashamed of." This passage is sufficiently long for a pulpit purpose, and even then, we doubt whether more than half the congregation would follow the speaker to the end of the sentence. We are quite sure that to give utterance to it from the Sunday school desk would make no impression, if unillustrated, and quoted in its present form. The style of elaboration into which Dr. Todd is here betrayed we are quite sure would be admitted on reflection, even by himself, to be quite unsuited to the audience of a Sunday school, and yet there are many long passages of a similar nature scattered through the book. We find some of the more poetical parts of these addresses disfigured by the same. fault. We advocate the quotation of the great poets, even before children, when occasion calls for it, but we think our own descriptive pieces should be terse and clear. We believe our readers will agree with us, that the majority of a company of children would be quite lost as to our meaning before we came to the conclusion of the following paragraph, page 14: "As the large company wound along the footpath, among the hills, where the vineyards were hanging their ripe fruits; where the flowers were breathing out their sweetness, where the fields were waving with grain; where the beautiful oleander gleamed with its load of richest blossoms, and the roses of Sharon tempted the children to stop and pluck them; where the dove sat on the boughs of the trees that hung over the path, and poured out her low songoh, how glad were the hearts of these people!" It is at least not too much to say, that very many juvenile readers would have to refer to the beginning of the sentence, to come to an understanding as to the scope of its meaning: what effect, then, could it have upon the hearers?