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understandings, by which means he brought many both of the children and parents over to the Christian faith. (Theod. Lib. 4. cap. 16.)
2. The major part, at least, of the friends of Sunday Schools will also allow, the Divine Institution of the Gospel Ministry and the necessity of public worship. To attempt the proof of these positions, would be quite beside the object of this letter. If, however, they be taken for granted, it follows, that every measure ought to be avoided which would degrade the ministry in the eyes of youth, or render them indifferent to a regular and stated attendance on the House of God; but-(I tread on tender ground)-but, has it not a tendency to produce unpleasant consequences, when the children are occupied during service hours in reading and writing, and the other business of the school; and when some or other of the teachers are thereby so variously and busily engaged as seldom or never to attend public worship on the Sabbath. To me it seems a duty, to teach the youthful mind that the Sabbath is the LORD's day, and ought to be principally employed in religious duties; and that regular attendance on public worship is the indispensable duty of a Christian. We are, in a great degree, the creatures of habit, and the habits and modes of reasoning of early years, are not unfrequently influential through the succeeding periods of life; we, therefore, should cautiously guard against every thing, which might be baneful in its tendency. Now, might not a person, educated in a Sunday School, where the teachers frequently neglected public worship, yield, in after life, to the natural indisposition of the human heart to religious duties, and plausibly reason; "The persons who instructed me when I was a child, were truly good men, yet, they thought the instruction of children a sufficient reason for absenting themselves from public worship; surely, then, there can be no harm in my staying at home to teach my own children to read and write, for they are more my care, than I was that of the good men who taught me." But who would not dread the general neglect of public worship and of the house of God, under the mask of attention to other duties! And every Christian will assuredly deprecate the adoption of any measure likely to induce indifference to the stated ministry of the Gospel.
I can easily believe that few or none of those who are actively engaged in Sunday Schools have the most distant intention to produce indifference to the public ministry
of the Word of God; but, whether the plans adopted in some schools do not lead to it, certainly deserves the calm enquiry of the judicious and liberal supporters of those valuable institutions. To their teachers, the children look up with affectionate respect and veneration; and from their instructions and example, many of them will receive the cast of their future sentiments and conduct. How infinitely important, therefore, is it, not only to the welfare of individuals, but to the interests of society in general, that those who will necessarily give the mental bias to so large a proportion of the population of the nation, should pause at every step and examine with serious candour, the present and future, the cognizable and probable results of every plan they form, previous to its being carried into execution. In submitting these hints to your numerous readers, I disclaim all intention to offend, and trust that the counsel of a friend will be entertained with kindness, and where rejected, be thrown aside without contempt.
That the Great Head of the Church may direct and prosper every benevolent undertaking; and that the best of blessings may descend on those generous men who are devoting their time, their talents, and their property to the instruction of the children of the poor and needy, is the cordial wish and prayer of
LETTER of a CHIMNEY SWEEPER to the SUPERINTENDENT of a SUNDAY SCHOOL.
PRESUMING that any information concerning the result of Sunday School labours and their good effects would gratify the minds of all that feel themselves interested in so good a work; I have taken the liberty of sending to you a short account of personal blessings derived by myself from the aforementioned institution; and while I am writing, I cannot help feeling grateful to Almighty God, that ever I set my foot in your Sunday School, and grateful to you for the good advice you gave to me, and all in the school. The way in which it pleased God to bless me by the means of your Sunday School, I shall endeavour to relate.
In the latter part of the year 1811, I was informed by a boy, that I was very intimate with, that there was a Sunday
School in Parsonage Lane, and living not far from the place, I was persuaded to go to this school, but, I thought I can both read and write, and what good would it do me to go to Sunday School, and thought it was time to have done going to school; but, being told by my mother that it would keep my hand into writing, that I may not forget it; and by that idea I came to school, and in the space of a few weeks I improved in my reading and writing also; my improvement being observed, I was thought capable of teaching others in the school; but my mind being impressed with the exhortations you gave in the school from time to time about our souls, and of death, of hell and heaven, I began to think about these things and be serious, and by going to chapel with the children, I became attentive to what was said, and heard my sinful state so clearly explained, that my mind became convinced that my state was very dangerous, and when I was not at chapel, the exhortation at school had its desired effect on my mind, so that I saw myself a sinful creature, and both at school and at chapel I sought the Lord by prayer to have mercy
A great change in me being evident to my relations, no small concern was manifested to know what was the cause of so strange an alteration in me. I told my mother of what I heard in the school, and in the chapel likewise, which af fected her also; but, after a little while, she told me there was no need of such ado about religion, a little religion was very well, but much religion would make me beside myself. But, taking to read the Bible at every opportunity, and to attend the means of grace, I reasoned with my mother, and convinced her that what I said was true, which induced her to hear preaching, and being more convinced of the truth, she wondered why so few people knew any thing about it, and she expressed her gratitude that ever I went to school. I still sought the Lord for a clear sense of his forgiving love, and he gave me the desire of my heart, which then made me to rejoice and not to mourn, and my mother sought the same blessing from God, and at length she gained it; and I believe that my mother and I are both witnesses of Jesus's power to save.
From the time of my first being teacher I have endea voured to attend, as often as I well could, to be useful in teaching the ignorant: but if I, at any time, seemed indifferent about the school, my mother reminded me that all my happiness was by means of that school, and that it was the best day we ever saw when I went to school first.
I still find that the way of religion is pleasantness, and all its paths are peace. And as the Lord has promised that in due season we shall reap, if we faint not; I hope, in the strength of the Lord, I shall not grow weary in well doing; for what is sown in weakness, the Lord can raise in power. And that the Lord may be pleased to bless more abundantly your labours, and the labours of all the like institutions, is the wish of your very grateful and humble
EXTRACTS from an ADDRESS in behalf of SUNDAY SCHOOLS, published 1790.
IF zeal for the glory of God, if love to the souls of men, in a general view, does not plead powerfully enough with you, to engage in this work, I will endeavour to move your own bowels to plead the infants cause.
Are you parents? Have you those that are part of yourselves? If you are, and are Christians, let me remind you that you are mortal. No foresight of yours can prevent those dear branches from being bereft of your instruction and care: your two, or four, or six infants may be left unprovided for, without father or mother; or they may have some poor relative, who can barely spare them a wretched subsistence, without being capable of giving them the first rudiments of education, or bestowing the least attention to their immortal spirits. Yes, your offspring may be wretched wanderers, craving a morsel of bread at the door or windows of those who are now far below you in life; they may be exposed to all the sad consequences of uninstructed poverty, surrounded with examples of, and temptations to all the shocking crimes, so frequently connected with such a state of indigence and distress. No parents to instil the great principles of justice, mercy, and truth, but every thing around, combining with every inward disposition, to lead them to act in constant opposition to those principles.
See then your own children, your dearest and most darling children! from whose opening understandings you derive a pleasure, only exceeded by the amiableness of their dispositions, or the displays of their early piety! See those very children reduced by your absence, death, or change of circumstances, to the state described, and then say what
would be your sentiments of the generous minded persons, who would not only impart an insignificant part of their substance to clothe or feed them, but in a sense adopt them into their families, and dedicate a part of their leisure hours, in attempting to supply the loss their minds felt by being deprived of you. Yes, consider one or many of your own, rescued from all this wretchedness and ignorance, by the kindness of a neighbour or a friend, and then say in what light the question appears? See if this view does not, with the strongest emphasis, bid you go and do likewise. But, pursue the thought still further; imagine your child growing to maturity, in sin, ignorance, and poverty, follow him through a life of impiety, to a death of ignominy and shame; or, if he fall not a sacrifice to the hand of public justice yet, if you can bear the supposition, see him falling under the infinitely heavier stroke of a sin avenging God; follow him to the regions of darkness, cursing the hour of his existence, and those who were the instruments of it! lamenting, vainly lamenting, that he knew not in the day of his visitation, the things which were for his peace. On the other hand, consider him passing through this life with humility, discretion, integrity, and usefulness; view him a blessing to all connected with him, whether they are neighbours, friends, servants, or children; follow him through the most afflictive scenes of life, till he enters the valley of the shadow of death, and there see the blessed consequences of a mind acquainted with the Gospel of peace! Behold your child a victor over the last enemy! Trace him rising in the morning of the resurrection, see him there enjoying the beautiful vision, and whilst he is adoring God, as the source, and the Lamb, as the purchaser of all this blessedness, his happy spirit overflows with gratitude to the instru ments of his blessedness; and suppose the difference between these states of bliss and woe has been effected by the instructions of an unlooked for friend; suppose you were permitted from the heavenly world, to view scenes of this nature, say, what more than propriety, what kindness would you see in the labours of those who were instruments of good to your children. Are these thoughts just? Is there any thing fallacious in considering the subject in this light? Is it improper to say "Religious instruction is the great end serious people ought to propose in Sunday Schools? Will it be affirmed that they are not calculated to answer this end? If this be not affirmed, are the consequences of religious instruction less important, (when attended with