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each teacher to sit at the head of two forms, containing twenty-four the size of each class. By this plan, you occupy that part which is best lighted, and the inferior light for the aisle. This being admitted, the breadth within the walls will require to be eleven yards and the length fourteen and a half. The difference of the two above mentioned widths for the accommodation of children, supposing the aisles of equal breadth is eleven square yards more in that which is the broader. In the erection of schools, objections are sometimes advanced, stating that an extra width will be more costly, the timber in the roof requiring an additional strength, and more particularly in the framing or carriage of the floor, should the building be two stories high. But I conclude that the diminishing of walling in the girt, will be equal to the increased strength of timber in the roof, and that a column to each floor beam would diminish the strength otherwise required.
Should the interior be required to be divided into small departments or rooms on each side the aisle, similar to the plan adopted at Stockport, the outlines of the above would be found a convenient dimension, or as in schools which are divided by boarded ceiling, having upright pieces of timber at equal distances, the height of the school; which height being equally divided into three parts, the lower of which is a stationary ceiling, and the two other parts to slide up or down at pleasure; so that on the commencement of school the same may be open during singing and prayer, after which each division may be made a separate apartment. The height from the floor to the ceiling should' be not more than thirteen feet, that the echo usual in spacious places be not unpleasant; but, if the school be divided, it would admit of being higher. The window also should be placed within a few inches of the ceiling, that sufficient light may be obtained in the middle of the school. If the plans of some of the best constructed schools, within the sphere of your union, were occasionally placed frontispieces to some of your Magazines, (suppose in
I have not presented this system and the dimensions of the school suitab'e as a standard for general practice; but, with a view to shew that when the system of arrangement is formed, (which may admit of many deviations from what I have mentioned,) that the outlines for the erection are also formed by it; extending the length according to the number it may be requested to hold. +For an account of a similar plan, see page 264 vol. 1. in the Sunday School Teacher's Repository; where is also a detail of the system of discipline and government of the Friar's Mount Bethnal Green Sunday School,
the January numbers,) I have no doubt they would be very acceptable, and add greatly to the value of the work, having also the particulars annexed of arrangement, and the number of children the same was calculated to hold. Wishing you success in all your undertakings,
I remain your's, &c.
REMARKS on the OMISSION of PRAYER in SUNDAY SCHOOLS, by some of the TEACHERS.
THERE is one class of my fellow teachers, who, either partially or entirely neglect the duty of prayer in their schools. Many schools of this description have not fallen under my notice, some indeed I know, and there are many more, I have no doubt, of this sort to be found. The conduct is certainly in direct opposition to the nature and design of Sunday Schools, whatever excuses may be urged in the favour of the teacher. The instilment of religious principle, as well as of elementary knowledge, is the object of Sunday Schools; and I trust every teacher is employed in inculcating the necessity of prayer in the minds of the children he instructs; but, unless he adds to precept example on this point, is it not likely, in all human probability, that his conduct will almost invalidate his instructions, if the children have in their power to say, concerning their teacher, "He is always talking about prayer, and urging us to pray, yet he never prays with us; sometimes a stranger prays, or the minister comes and prays, but as for our teacher, he never prays at all." What fruit can be expected, we may as well not plant, as to withhold water; though neither planting or watering is the efficient cause of growth, they are the appointed means of vegetation; so we may as well cease to teach as refrain from prayer, though neither teaching or praying separately, or combined, will of themselves produce fruit, but rank only as means, by which the Lord designs to effect the end.
The reason of some teachers declining prayer, I may be told, is their uncertainty respecting their own conversion, and they dare not, on this account, pray for others. Now, this is no excuse at all. Put the case at the worst, and allow that they are unconverted, let them pray for themselves and the children too, the same petitions will suit both their cases,
Others say they are in want of words. Cowper has met this objection in the following beautiful lines.
Do you want words?-Ah! think again,
We all find a sufficiency of words to express our ideas on a subject in which we feel an interest, and if we are really interested in the everlasting welfare of the children, we cannot be in want of words to pray with them. Timidity is urged likewise. It is certainly true, that at the first essay to speak or pray, in any thing like a public manner, it is no small difficulty to divest ourselves of a causeless timidity, for which, however, accustoming ourselves to the task, will prove a certain remedy; and in these instances, timidity ought to be conquered; a known duty must not be omitted, because we feel disinclined to attend to it, on whatever account that disinclination may arise. If prayer is a duty,. it ought to be attended to, nor will such excuses as these justify its omission.
I desire this subject not to be considered as applying to our brethren alone, but equally to those of our sisters, who conduct female schools, without the assistance of male teachers. Perhaps they may smile at my rudeness, in attempting to enter within their bounds, but I hope they will condescend to hear what I have to say on the subject, since I have no design to urge them to an improper act, or to any thing less than an imperious duty. It is true, the Apostle denominates it shameful for a woman's voice to be heard in a church; but Sunday Schools are not churches, nor is there any Scripture to prohibit, either directly or by inference, a female surrounded only by females, from praying with them; they are, in this case, placed in the same situation as the other sex, and the same reasons which prompt the one, ought to be equally forcible as the other. Do our sisters urge custom. Truly, it is the custom for women to be silent. Not at the tea table, not at the ball room, no; but at a Sunday School, where prayer ought to be made, there, it is the custom for them to be silent. Will none of our sisters break the custom to serve God and benefit the souls of the children? I hope many have, but I fear many have not, and schools have been collected and dismissed without one syllable of prayer to God for a blessing. Let those to whom this relates think as they please on the subject, it certainly is a serious matter. If, however, timidity should be the excuse, the use of forms will certainly obviate that entirely. I freely confess, that I am not an advocate for the
use of forms, but I am sure that no candid person can object to their use, if evangelical; the only objection we can have arises from the probability of the use engendering formality of worship, which I have no doubt every pious person in the use of them endeavours to guard against. These forms, perhaps, may be best drawn up by the person who uses them, and may be left off by degrees, until an ability to pray without them is acquired. The best way to guard against formality, I think, will be to compose a great variety. To acquire a habit of public speaking, is a much easier task than may be supposed, at least when the walls of a Sunday School bound the publicity of the act. On all accounts, I think it must be allowed, that the omission of prayer in a Sunday School is inexcusable.
As to those few persons who desire singing, prayer, and preaching, (as they term our addresses,) to be prohibited in Sunday Schools, from a principle which they denominate candor, in order to obtain the assistance of a respectable society, I have only to say, that indifference is not candor. While I admire the conjunction of sects and parties in the Bible Society to spread a cause in which their individual and distinguishing principles are disseminated by the circulation of that book, from which each one derives his sentiments, I can never admit that an extension of the principle of Sunday Schools, so as to exclude the inculcation of the fundamental parts of revealed religion would be beneficial to the cause. Controverted points of minor importance ought to be avoided, but the yielding up of express precepts is quite another thing, and I trust no Sunday School teacher will consent to be excluded from singing, praying, or instilling religious instruction into the minds of the children, to gratify the wishes of any sect or sects of Christians, however large and respectable; for in so doing they undermine the bulwark of these institutions.
I mention this because I know that this has been in contemplation; a pamphlet has been published with this object in view, intended merely as a precursor of others, but unfortunately for the design, the writer has been too abusive and regardless of truth to obtain the public ear. That this was the intention of the writer I am certain, as I received the information from the confidential friend of the writer, who had a considerable hand in the publication in question. It is likewise true, that the design is not dropped, though it is probable that some time will elapse before a more avowed attempt will be made by the same party.
Suggestions to TEACHERS as to the Observance of the SABBATH and attendance on PUBLIC WORSHIP.
IT is now many years since I first became an advocate and friend of Sunday Schools. I believed I saw in them Institutions replete with blessings to the poor, and advantages to society at large, and have therefore, to the utmost of my power, promoted the establishment and success of them. It cannot therefore excite surprise, if I acknowledge that I have been tremblingly alive to every thing which has seemed to lessen their utility, or abate the ardour of their generous supporters; and I think I shall be forgiven if I express a fear, that, amid the elations of popularity and applause, there have been instances in which the occupations of the scholars, have not always been judiciously regulated, nor the instructions rendered sufficiently subservient to public worship, and a stated and regular attendance on the public ministry of the Gospel. The following remarks are therefore with diffidence offered to the notice of your readers.
1. That the occupations of the Scholars in the Sunday Schools ought to have a religious direction, will be allowed by every one who advocates the sanctity of the Sabbath, and is desirous of promoting the religion of Jesus Christ. But whether this principle has been constantly adverted to in Sabbath Schools; and whether some of the warm friends of the rising generation, in their zeal to serve their secular interests have not adopted measures unauthorized by Scriptural Precept, may perhaps admit of more than a doubt. Instruction in arithmetic and the sale of different articles in the school, seem barely, if at all consistent with "hallowing the Sabbath-day, and keeping it holy." Even writing, when taught on the Sabbath, would be best directed, if applied to the transcription of select portions of God's Holy Word. The instance of an ancient Christian is worthy of regard. Theodoret, an early Ecclesiastical Historian, is the relator of the fact. When VALENS, the Arian Emperor, banished PROTOGENES the scribe to Antinoe in Thebais, in the utmost parts of Egypt; Protogenes, finding the greatest part of the city to be heathens, set up a Charity School among them, and taught them the HOLY SCRIPTURES;-dictating to them in writing shorthand, David's Psalms, and making them learn such doc-, trines of the Apostolical Writings, as were suitable to their