« PreviousContinue »
and how can it be otherwise in the
badly done, the lad was dispirited, and
injured in mind and body. If we go to To the Officers and Teachers of Sunday Schools.
the spiritual teaching desired by these BRETHREN,-In my last I ventured to displays, we shall find little or no result. call your attention to the evil attending What lad has ever been converted by Excursion trips, believing that it far them, or who has been led to Christ by exceeds any good which may result the recital of some tale, or hymn, or therefrom. In this paper my object is anything usually introduced on these
occasions ? to speak of anniversary services, and, 1
From beginning to end; if possible, contribute something to- yes, from the time the preparation comwards the discontinuance of what ap- mences, to the end
the anniversary, pears to many to be very objectionable : the whole is one system of emulation forming another link in the chain of and contention, with a total disregard hindrance to the extension of good, by by the children of religion. Nothing clogging the wheels of the chariots of being thought of but the eventful day peace. An anniversary is always an
when, with gaudy dresses, and voices interesting occasion, and when properly tuned, they have to appear before the conducted beneficial; but when it par
congregation. takes of the exhibition, many think its
Surely it is high time to alter this usefulness is more than counteracted, state of things. I am bound to respect
the opinion of many excellent men who sent state of the human mind, seeing advocate those yearly demonstrations. love of show and dress makes up a At the same time, with my forty years' great part of our being in an unre-experience in Sunday schools, having generated state?
visited most of the principal schools The parts I object to are, placing the throughout England, and having been for children in front of the congregation, many years interested in Ragged schools, and recitations. In the former, you may and Refuge homes, I must differ from observe any fantastic dress and position. them, at the same time hoping that the Often white caps are ordered to be worn; difference of opinion may not alter friendso that what with white caps, short-sleeve ship. But, if there is a question on this dresses, necklaces, and crinoline, the matter, why do we not at once abandon Sunday school presents a sight worthy it? No doubt when such displays were of some ludicrous performance, more than introduced, there was great objection to a congregation of children training for these institutions, though nothing will heaven. In the large town of B- qualify an evil; but now opinion is very at one of the most respectable chapels, much reversed, for, from the noble to the I witnessed this only a few months peasant, all are with us in influence and since, and it is still a common prac- money; and that little despised school at tice throughout England. Then come Gloucester, has, by God's blessing, grown the recitations, which are at best so into one of the greatest and most gloridevoid of elocution, in most cases, as to ous institutions of our highly favoured become a burlesque. For my own part, land. I have never derived any benefit from Now, there is still an idea in the minds it, nor did any of my school-fellows. If of many, that to do away with these well said, pride was engendered ; and if manifestations, is to have smaller collections, but it is a fallacy. People begin to state positively; but there is no doubt, to allot money, and the subscriptions are that these two subjects, and these two proofs of the deep-seated benevolence in alone, constitute the work of the Sunthe hearts of each congregation, showing day school. We may talk of systems, us clearly that the preacher has only to of classes, of maps, of excursion trips, present a legitimate object, and the aid and I know not what else, but the great requested is forthcoming. One thing is end we seek is not answered, until the certain, Christ has promised to be with souls of the children are purified by the us, and all things needful shall be given blood of Christ, and they become accreout of his fulness. Sammy Hicks al- dited members of an evangelical church. ways said, that everything belonged to The result unfortunately falls very his Lord, and that he had only to go short of what ought to be effected and ask him in a proper manner, and by the mighty agency at work, having the answer came.
the blessed influence of God's Holy The Rev. R. Hall, in speaking of Spirit, which he has promised to similar meetings, said, “We want more give his followers. Why have we prayer and less show, my brother; that not early conversions by thousands, as is our success." We endorse it, and well as ones? Surely there is some evil would write it on our hearts, so that He in our midst. We let our scholars slip who said, “ Feed my lambs,” should see through our hands by some ill-timed our tears and hear our groanings, for means, and unfortunate circumstance, their eternal welfare. Brethren, let us at the age when the church is opening seriously consider this question with an her arms to receive them, and then, forunprejudiced mind. He who cannot sooth, we often think lightly of our reason is a fool, he who does not reason ministers, if they are not successful in is a coward; but he who can and will rescuing those whom we have by our reason,
is a man. Such I trust are all errors let slip through our hands. Sunday school teachers. Consider the
E. Y. consequence of one wrong step, and don't let us for one moment continue an CATECHISMS AND SCRIPTURE. error because our fathers did so. Who SIR.-In these days of controversy can tell how much good has been lost and unbelief, Sunday school teachers by those unnecessary appendages, or have no trilling duty to perform. If how much has been prevented, to say no- lour youth are to be champions in "conthing of direct evil, which probably does tending for the faith which was once arise from them?
delivered unto the saints,” their hearts It is high time for us to awake, seeing must be disciplined now; the armour that the children are in danger of being must be put on now, and “ the sword of carried away down the stream of infi- the Spirit which is the word of God," delity and immorality. Twelve millions must be grasped and unsheathed in the of infidel publications, issued every year, prime of youth. must do something towards contaminat- It is true, there are many of whom ing the youth ; and this is not all. The we have to complain in the language of present age is one in which the human the Apostle, “when for the time ye mind, in its most wretched form, mani- ought to be teachers, ye have need that fests itself. No doubt we are doing a one teach you again, which be the first great work, but how much more we principles of the oracles of God, and are should do, were we to adhere simply to become such as have need of milk, and informing the mind upon the lost condi- not of strong meat.” But this is not tion of man, and upon the glorious re- always the fault of the learner, somedemption by Christ, I should not like times the teacher may share the blame.
The law of adaptation should be observed | but cold in expression, the other simple in teaching Milk for babes, “but in form, but marvellous in power. One strong meat belongeth to them that are addresses the intellect, the other touches of full age.”
In the Sunday school this the heart. One is theoretical, the other rule is often broken, and the manner of is practical ! It is the scriptural and the teaching is not always adapted to practical that we must continually pre“ nourish up in the words of faith and sent and enforce; doctrine must be picof good doctrine" --somewhere there is tured in example, and truth must be sad defect, and hence many are not written in life. The affections must be acquainted from childhood with “the kindled, the heart must be drawn out in Holy Scriptures, which are able to make love; truth must be taken out of a dry, them wise unto salvation through faith technical, and scholastic form, and which is in Christ Jesus.''
coupled with fact and life, and daily The catechism is often used too early business. The scripture must be the or used in a manner injudicious and creed; the heart and the head must be unsuccessful. No person would teach linked together by that “ form of sound French or English history from a mere words” which speaks in power, and outline. History must be known before reveals itself in love. it can be digested—when all the changes This mode of teaching by catechisms and vicissitudes of the nation, when all alone, is dangerous, and calculated to the deeds and dates are familiar to the lead astray. This is a solemn charge mind, then a sketch is an admirable and to bring against any system of instrucconvenient form, for combining and tion. I am not insensible to the reponsilinking together in harmony the various bility I incur in uttering it, but " individual details and facts. But to teach speak that we do know, and testify that from a meagre outline, will give but we have seen.” It puts theory before narrow and prejudicial views of the practice, and presents the form before noblest record of man's doings and God's the power. Of course knowledge is providence. Catechisms are only out- essential, but the scripture mode of lines, compendiums “of those things teaching is experience first, and then which are most surely believed among knowledge after. Feeling before knowus." These outlines must be filled up ing, and knowing as the result of doing. from the Bible, lest training should be " If any man will do his will, he shall defective, and growth stunted and know of the doctrine, whether it be of dwarfish. Our youth must know from God.” The blessings of the gospel are the word of God, and not from the words therefore within the reach of all, old and of man “the certainty of those things young, learned and illiterate, and are wherein they have been instructed." only obtained by faith, and known by Against the present use, or rather abuse, experience. A vocabulary of words, of catechisms, we give one or two forms of expression, and question, and suggestions.
answers, may be committed to memory, Catechisms and forms mere and even retained through life, without abstractions in human language, and not affecting the heart, and changing the lessons in a practical form. They are character. This putting of the mere often beautiful and truthful, but too theory, before the practice, this teaching abstract and metaphysical, too logical from the “form of godliness," and leaving and cold. Take the definition of a out the powers, leaves the work undone, doctrine in any of our catechisms, and and permits the youth to grow up compare that with the scriptural ex- unacquainted with Christ, “ whom to pression of the same truth, how great know is life eternal.” Let me quote the the difference! One perfect in thought, authority of the great Dr. Arnold, speak
ing of the use of the 39 Articles in the must be our text-book. Catechisms are Universities, he said : “ I believe that the of use to define and preserve our faith, religious instruction of every individual but must never be regarded as the chief undergraduate, would be far purer and or the only instruments of religious more effectual than it is now, if the training; use them if you like, but thirty-nine Articles were never presented never put them before that blessed book to them as a subject of study; but the by which God has trained his church, scriptures were made the only text-book and blessed the world for ages. In the in what are called divinity lectures, Bible we find precept and promise, whilst the catechism furnished the outline doctrine and example, combined in for any more private and personal in- harmony, and reflected in life. Samuel struction that was given to individuals. and David, and Timothy and Jesus, There can be no more fatal error, certainly stand out in word and deed as examples, none more entirely at variance with the at home and in life, for youth and every Scripture model, than to acquaint the age. “To the law and to the testimony's mind with the truths of religion in a then, we must appeal, o teachers ! theoretical form, leaving the application of Systems of men will change and pass them to be made afterwards. On the away, but “the word of the Lord abideth contrary, the practical form is not only for ever.” Human philosophy is inthat in which they should be first com- competent to satisfy the heart and direct municated, but in many instances they to God, but the Bible is a record of should never be put into the abstract form necessary and saving truth, with God at all, and if they are so put, they become for its author, and salvation for its end. misleading.
Believe it yourself, and withhold it not “I am led to think that this distinction from others, lest the curse resounds from between the putting of the doctrines of the leaves of that holy book loud as the Christianity in the shape of abstract ocean's roar, " Wo unto you Scribes and truths, and conveying them as lessons, Pharisees, hypocrites ! for ye shut up is of no small importance, because I the kingdom of heaven against men : for observe that the scripture constantly ye neither go in yourselves, neither adopts the latter mode, while the great suffer ye them that are enteriug to go disputes amongst Christians have mani- in." festly arisen out of the prevalence of the former.
“ If the scripture itself be our textbook, we find all this given in its proper SIR, This is the custom of our Ragproportions; but on the present system ged schools. Why is it not so with it is perfectly possible for a man to study Sunday schools generally? If instead carefully what we call christian doc- of giving our “ British Arabs” short trines, and yet to have a most inade- addresses and then dismissing them, we quate notion of christian doctrine in the request them to go with us to our scriptural sense of the term, the doctrine Places of Worship, to sit for an hour of christian feelings, and christian and a half, or more, at each service, principles and practices."
the greater part of which is quite The weight of these words will apolo- beyond their comprehension, how many gise for the length of the quotation. of these lads will be likely to attend A good sound scriptural education is our schools? We might come at once most essentially necessary in the present to the conclusion, that Ragged schools day. Sunday school teachers must feel would soon be a total failure. Why their responsibility, and be alive to their should we then require so much more duty. The Bible, and the Bible only, from our Sunday school children? We
should not think for a moment of ex- might be made useful" by giving adpecting children to be able to render dresses to the children, not forgetting labour like the man-to toil at the oar that those addresses should be short, to follow the ploughếor render service pithy, and as full of anecdotes as pos. which requires the nerve and strength sible; might they not feel, that “whilst of the man, whom nature has fitted for watering others, their own souls are toil. If it would be wrong thus to seek watered ?" Does not the Master say, premature development in the labours of " Son, go work in my vineyard ?" Do life, is it not equally wrong and perni- not our church members too often forget cious to expect the same amount of the aggressive spirit of our holy relispiritual service from our children? Do gion, and seem to settle down in unthey not require “ line upon line, here a concern about those around them? We little, and there a little ?! Does it not are told "not to be hearers of the word become us to imitate our divine Lord, only, but doers. Speaking to a Superwho said, when his disciples could not intendent of a large Sunday school, be watch one hour, “The spirit is willing, made the objection that the difficulty but the flesh is weak p" Did not Christ, was to obtain competent men to address as man, feel for man in his weakness ? the school: but if we consider the And ought we not to feel likewise for matter in its great importance, and how our children, to sympathise with them, little the children now profit from the and not to lay on them any burdens public services of the church, I think we they are not able to bear ? To how many shall soon find, by God's blessing, that does the present system become the we possess in most of our churches, a sufimeans of positively setting them al- cient number of young men, who are captogether against the services of the able of talking to children for a short time sanctuary? The writer has a friend who on a Sabbath day; and by this small told him, that he traced his objection beginning, they might afterwards beto religion, to the prolonged services come village preachers. I trust our which he was compelled to attend when young men will rouse themselves to the a boy. Now the parents of this boy, no work: as a young man, I feel deeply doubt, thought they were doing God ser- anxious there should be a general adopvice, when in fact they were helping the tion of the special service. I find where prejudices of the human heart against di- it has been introduced that it works well; vine realities, by requiring from their chil- and may all remember the Saviour's comdren services which they felt unable to mand to Peter, " Feed my lambs." render. Nature seems to recoil from Whilst our pastors are leading the sheep such Sabbath services. Is there not beside the still waters and in the green to be found in almost every Sunday pastures, may the lambs of the flocks school, young men who would volunteer not be overlooked. in the Separate Service movement, who
A RAGOED SCHOOL TEACHER,
The only intelligence which has division of the CRAVEN HILL CHAPEL reached us this month, relating strictly SCHOOL, was given on January 1st, when to Sunday schools, has been the follow- between 70 and 80 infants took tea in ing:
company with a number of teachers and An annual treat to the infant friends of the school; after which, while