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fraught with incalculable 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 country.
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, Sabbath Evening Schools were instituted, but at what precise period I am unacquainted. The sole object and design of such institu tions, 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 bene
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
Letter on the Review of the Sunday School Hymn Books.
IN consequence of your invitation to Correspondents for their sentiments relative to Sunday School Hymn Books, L 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 remarked 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 hymns 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 benefactor; 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 sublime 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 children, 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 receive of them.
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 explana
tion, appear to me a more sufficient apology than the Reviewer allows. I feel diffident in opposing opinions where I see the candour and judgment he evinces, and therefore sincerely wish the attention of some more able correspondent to the sugges tion; whether exalted ideas expressed in easy language among hymns for children, are not likely to produce a more general reverence than familiar ones in worship now, and more proper conceptions of the subjects hereafter.
An ADDRESS to SUNDAY SCHOOL TEACHERS
"The husbandman that laboureth must be first partaker of the fruits."
WHEN I last addressed you our subject led us to consider our duties as spiritual husbandmen, employed in cultivating the hearts and minds of the young; we will now attempt to shew some of the benefits which we ourselves derive from this employment. When the sun arises from his misty couch, and commences his benignant course, behold the labouring man, whose sleep has been sweet, goeth forth unto his work and to his labour until the evening. As he proceeds from his thatched cottage, vigour beams in his eye, and his countenance displays the marks of ruddy healthiness and rural industry. His heart is filled with contentment and gratitude; he gains his livelihood by the sweat of his brow; and finds that labour, which was at first imposed as a curse, is now transformed to a blessing. Thus the husbandman proceeds in the morning to sow his seed, and in the evening he does not withhold his hand: while he depends on the blessing of God, his hopes are lively, and his labours are invigorated. But not only is he thus strengthened and blessed in cultivating his land, and sowing his seed; but when the harvest is arrived, "the husbandman that laboureth must be first partaker of the fruits." All his exertions have a reference to this time, he looks forward with lively hope, and amidst all his anxieties and labours the anticipated season of harvest preserves him from despondency, and animates him to continued and increasing activity. Thus it is with the instructor of the young; while he is labouring for others he benefits himself, and he looks forward to the harvest, not only to impart fruit to others, but to partake of it himself.
It is necessary that we should now leave the interesting ima
* Sce page 81.
gery of our motto, and proceed to enquire what are the benefits which Sunday School Teachers derive from their employments; we mean active, zealous, persevering instructors of the young, for it is said "the husbandman that laboureth (not the slothful and irregular) must be first partaker of the fruits."
1st, Our employment is calculated to increase our knowledge of the Sacred Scriptures. The word of God is connected with all the instructions we impart, and can it be supposed, that while we are teaching the young to read, to search, and to understand the records of divine inspiration, that we should not improve our acquaintance with that book, which is able to make us wise unto salvation?" The word of God is a field in which the fruits of the spirit grow in rich abundance; "love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance." Whilst we invite the young to receive these "peaceable fruits of righteousness," surely we may gather ourselves; for in order to communicate we must be first partakers. While we are employed in explaining, simplifying, and enforcing the cepts of Divine authority, surely we may hope that they will become more impressed on our minds, and more influential in our lives. The fruits of joy, life, and immortality abound here; they are better than fine gold or choice silver, they do not decrease by plucking them, and whilst we communicate them abundantly to others, we obtain them increasingly ourselves.
2. Our employment is calculated to produce a more intimate acquaintance with human nature. In children we may behold and study the human heart, before it has acquired those disguises and deceits, which conceal the character in future life. We may here trace those passions which have often agitated kingdoms and empires, up to their secret sources, and watch their more still and restricted operations. In the opposite characters and varied dispositions of our different pupils-in the stages of their moral and intellectual progress-in the influence of education and the effects of religious instructionwe may find many objects, not only calculated to excite curiosity, but to promote improvement. When we behold the Young, not long entered on the scenes of life, ungovernable in their passions, inattentive to the dictates of wisdom and experience, regardless of their God, ungrateful to their instructors, and fully determined to walk in the ways of transgressors, how awful, and yet how instructive the scene! This is human nature, and fully evinces the truth of the scriptural representation, "the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked." While beholding the hearts of others, let us examine our own; that our minds may become more fully impressed