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ON THE WANT OF THE SPIRIT OF DEVOTION AMONG.
MR. EDITOR, --I have had the privilege and pleasure to teach in Sunday schools for some years past. During the time so employed scarcely a Sunday has passed without my having been shocked and grieved at the (at least) apparent entire want of reverence or devotion manifested by the majority of scholars as well as, alas, by many teachers during the time of public devotion.
I would not however seek to intrude my feeble sentences into your well and ably filled columns, had I not become painfully conscious, from relation of others experience, as well as from my own, that the direful evil is wide spread, and that (subject of course to happy exceptions) the large majority of Sunday scholars do not join in the public prayers.
I shall only be too glad to leave to abler and more experienced pens than mire an explanation of, and remedy for, this heart ossifying disease, for such it is.
Firstly. I have thought, that, bearing in mind the average age and attainments of our scholars, the public prayers are generally much too long, too diffused, too little personal, and often couched in stereotyped phrases, neither understood, nor coming home to them. Also I have sometimes thought that the vocal repetition occasionally by the children of the prayers would tend to shew them that they have an actual part in the service; and that it is a solemn act which all should join in, as well as to enforce on the spokesman greater conciseness and personalness in his efforts, always avoiding the use of frequent recurrent forms which children would soon learn by rote, and repeat, without attaching any meaning whatever to the act.
Secondly. I do not think it any part of a teacher's duties, nor wise on his side to interfere during prayer time with his scholars, unless the conduct of any one of them be such as to distract the attention, or disturb the quiet of those around.
A teacher should not only himself join in the petition, but also appear to do so to his scholars, and should set them a fit example of reverence and devotion. How can he do this if his eye is roving about from one to another on the watch for opportunities for remark or rebuke.
In class afterwards, or if needful, in private, is the time to rebuke for misbehaviour or inattention during previous prayer time, earnestly to point out the uses, privileges of the duty and commands to prayer, and affectionately and forcibly to point out the danger of neglecting or trifling with so great & blessing
In conclusion, I mention that the result of a trial of the above plan (which I by no means give as a panacea) in my own class has been sufficiently encouraging, both as to the outward behaviour, and I hope also the inward feeling of my scholars. Southampton.
THE BISHOP OF LONDON'S CHARGE TO TEACHERS
A LARGE gathering of the teachers and parents of the children frequenting the Sunday and Day Schools situate in Endell street, Westminster, attended during the past month by invitation to partake of tea, &c., as well as to hear an address delivered to them by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London. The large room of the spacious new and commodious building above mentioned had been tastefully fitted up for the occasion, and profusely decorated with evergreens and flowers. The company present numbered somewhere about six hundred.
The Bishop of LONDON, on rising, said it gave him great satisfaction at having been invited to be present that evening, and in beholding the manner in which they had received him. In speaking of the SUNDAY-SCHOOL TEACHER, the right reverend Prelate said he knew of no one who ought so much to bestir himself as that individual. In their way there were great and cruel evils to be found, but where those evils were contended with in a proper spirit they might in a great measure be overcome. It gave him great pleasure to think that hardly under any circumstances good works rendered any danger to those who took them up and used their best exertions to carry them through. Sunday-school teachers had the moulding of young souls, and to teach them the way through which they might receive God's blessing. To do good works like this ought to be their aim. It was interesting to mention that if they looked back to times past they might mark the contrast that now presented itself when they looked around. He wished God speed to the work of Sunday-schools, and to all works of religious instruction and civilisation tending to promote the education of the young, and which taught them to avoid and hate sin. Those engaged in the work of Sunday-school teaching must experience very great advantages to themselves whilst going on in their calling, for, as they were lending themselves to the work, they were doing good to their own souls. There was no occasion that led a man more to his Maker than speaking to and instructing the young children around him. He was led to think that no young man of any feeling could softly and kindly address those young children and infants about him without himself feeling the good effects of what he was saying to them. He might say, not only speaking softly, but respectfully, and in a becoming spirit, whilst telling of Jesus; and he that could in a low, mild, and persuasive strain tell a child to love God, must be an hypocrite, if he did not find an echo in his own soul. If that teacher did but address those little ones around him merely as if the work to be done was of a formal kind, it would be better that he left it undone, to be attended to by more fitting hands. A Sunday-school teacher could not constantly, Sunday after Sunday, meet his little pupils without deriving a benefit to himself. As the teacher came to the young, and gradually examined them, it was doubtless by God's means good to himself. His advice to all young men who might come to this vast metropolis—who came from distant parts of the country, and who wished to keep in strictly moral ways-was, by God's help, to associate themselves with some Sunday
school, so that they might place themselves in a position of respectability, and secure the welfare of their own souls.
He would not speak to Sunday-school teachers only, but would address those who were engaged as daily teachers. The last few years had made great changes in this department of our educational system, and there was now growing up a great demand for pupil teachers of both sexes. There is at times some danger in choosing parties for this position, as they might not always be proven for the work which is expected of them ; but it was hoped that this danger would be got over, as we had around us now normal schools, and other institutions for the purpose of training pupil teachers. The work of a pupil teacher ought not to be looked upon, as is often the case, merely in a secular light. It is not merely religious instruction that they are required to teach – they are required to give moral instruction as well; as it is not religion, or instruction in real religion, to teach children to repeat the catechism. It is not real religion to read from the Bible, or repeat passages by rote in the life of our Lord. For him to use such language might sound to those present as very sacrilegious. The pupil teachers, who are instructing the young entrusted to their care, ought to be taught to do so with a feeling of some deep impression attached to them. It is not teaching those under them to state the passages of scripture, or to point out on the map where Palestine is situated, and where is Jerusalem and other places in geography, and common facts in connection with our Lord, All these things are of no good-of no avail, if the pupil teacher have not the power of speaking so as to win the confidence and touch the feelings and sympathy of the child, and so impress upon the heart of the pupil all that it is being taught, so that, as it grows older, it may know how to fear and love the Lord. The pupil teachers ought to have impressed upon them the power they have in office as servants of Christ. An office to instruct to do well, to teach religious good to children. They were told by some people, that in spite of all the education going on, there was not less crime, not less drunkenness, and that murder was not prevented by it. He for one did not but believe that education had greatly sobered the mass and diminished a great number of evils. Education was not dear to all human nature, as human nature at times struck out its share for itself. Education was not, he thought, properly imparted, if an earnest and religious tone was not given to it. He could not help saying that this is the use to which pupil teachers should train their spirits, and he thought if such was the case they would find objections now standing in the way yearly disappear.
Besides our pupil and Sunday-school teachers, he would ask the parents to come and help them. He knew of no greater responsibility than a parent had—in fact it was a responsibility direct from his God. A mother and father who have a child given to them have a charge direct by God himself. No sophistry could shake his statement on this point. Each alike had their responsibility, whether of the upper, middle, or poorer class. The roughest man amongst them was possessed of an equal amount of love, and had as tender a heart for his children as could be found in the most refined classes, The duty of a parent was to see to the education of those children who had
been sent to their charge, to give them good advice, and see and watch them with every care. He was afraid that all parents did not stand true to their charge. He would impress upon them that, after all, good advice was not so beneficial as setting them a good example, and guarding themselves in their ways and habits whilst in the presence of their little ones. He considered that at times their example did not tend to lead their children in a way to live properly. Many thought that by merely sending their children to school they acted properly. Many have a difficulty in getting their living, and must be out earning it, and in so doing are forced to leave their children, and therefore they do not see much of them; but he thought they would agree with him that God had given them a time to be with their children for once in every week. A seventh portion of their time had been given to them to spend with their children and to give them advice. He should like to see a church in every household on that day. What a blessed thing it would be to them if their time was to be spent thus. They, he was well aware, had all their toils and troubles to contend with. Darkness follows the light, and so again in turn the light follows the dark, during which period we have been enabled to rest from our earthly toils. In like manner has God given you the seventh day on which to rest from earthly toil, and to refresh yourselves by religious exercises, to be able to go on for another week. The Right Rev. Prelate dwelt at some further length, exhorting parents to look after the eternal welfare of their children as well as their own.
THE WEAVER'S SHUTTLE.
AN ADDRESS TO THE YOUNG.
By the Rev, Adam Bryys, Ginvan. WEAVING is a very ancient employment. It is said to have been invented by one of the Empresses of China, some three or four thousand years ago. But be this as it may, we know it was an art with which Eastern lands were familiar at a very early period in the world's history. It was a well-known trade in the days of the patriarch Job, for we hear him saying, " My days are swifter than a weaver's shuttle.” (Job, vii. 6.)
There are many views of the life of man in hich the appropriateness and expressiveness of the figure here employed will appear abundantly cvident. Let us name one or two.
Is the shuttle very rapid in its movements? As quick, yea, quicker still, my young friends, is the progress of human life. Our hours and moments flee away with the swiftness of an eagle towards heaven. With an almost inconceivable rapidity do the wheels of time perform their accustomed revolutions. Not a rising sun, not a passing hour, but beholds us with increasing haste posting onwards to our final destiny. How solemn the thought, that it is indeed with something like lightning speed that we are all, young and old, being borne away to the darkness of the tomb !
“ Swiftly thus our fleeting days
Bear us down life's rapid stream;
Is the thread very brittle which the shuttle contains ? So is it with the life of man. Our life hangs upon a very slender thread, and at any moment that thread may be broken ; yea, when least expected, it may suddenly
There is no certainty for the continued existence, even for another hour, of any of earth's inhabitants. A thousand dangers continually surround us, any one of which may suddenly dissolve the connection that binds us to time, and usher us into the unseen and eternal world. Would that we all not only acknowledged, but felt this as we ought! Would that we lived under the constant remembrance that the messenger of death is ever standing at our door!
"Life a field of battle is,
Thousands fall within our view;
May be sent to me or you." Does every successive stroke of the shuttle bring nearer and nearer the execution of the web ? Even so with the life of man in this transient world. The work given us to do—as the period given us to live-is being surely though silently filled in and accomplished. The span of our earthly existence is every day contracting within narrower limits. The sand-glass of our life is gradually expending itself, and will ere long be fully run out. The little isthmus of time on which we now stand, is every moment being washed and wasted by the waves of eternity. If we are reminded of this solemn truth by every revolving season, how much more by every successive year! How loudly does the knell of the year, now gone for ever, pro. claim that we are all fulfilling as an hireling our days, and that we shall soon exchange our present homes for the shroud, the coffin, and the habitations of the dead !
“Life is short, and time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though strong and brave,
Funeral marches to the grave." Does the shuttle cease to ply, when the web has been fully woven ? In like manner, when the great web of human life has been wrought by us, we too, individually, will be "cut off” and removed. When every breath which makes up the sum of our earthly existence has been inhaled — when our appointed time on earth has run its course—then our web will be completed-our work here will have come to an end. Each one of us may then say in the words of Hezekiah, “ I have cut off like a weaver my life.” (Isaiah, xxxviii., 12.) We shall then bid a final adieu to all earth's relationships and employments, and take our departure for that world where all shall receive according to their deeds whether they have been good, or whether they have been evil.
" Youth and vigour soon will flee,
Blooming beauty lose its charms;
Enclosed in death's cold arms."