Page images

cultivate and develope this affectionateness; to win a place in their loring young hearts, in order that by means of the love they show to you, you may insensibly lead them to love the Saviour.

3. Teachableness is also a prominent trait in children, and one that is of the greatest advantage to those who seek to instruct them. They have little to unlearn, and are willing to receive implicitly and without hesitation, what you may teach them. Difficulties of belief do not trouble them. Everything you tell them receives their ready credence. They are not prejudiced against the truth you seek to communicate. You have not to pull down a strong edifice of falsehood before proceeding to erect one of truth. The ground is already clear for your work. And this of course materially facilitates the progress. It is a common remark that a child may be taught anything, and in this respect the teacher of babes has a great advantage over the teacher of men. Children are not crotchetty. You have no preconceived ideas to drive out of their heads before they can be indoctrinated with new ones. They are willing to go your way if you only know how to lead them. Moreover, they will learn from acts as well as from words. However neglected a child may be he is learning something every day. You teach him more in the class than perhaps you think for. You have spoken to him seriously upon some important lesson and he may go away impressed with that; but you have also by your conduct taught him something; and it may be that the acted lesson will be remembered far longer than the spoken one. In all your intercourse with your class it is of the highest importance that this thought should be constantly present to your mind. It will lead you to watchfulness, lest the acts should neutralize the words, and these young minds be taught some injurious lesson which it will be exceedingly difficult to forget.

In noticing some of the prominent characteristics of children, however, it is important to remember that in the class of children with whom you have to deal these characteristics exist, with probably very considerable modifications. The extreme susceptibility to impressions which may be exhibited by children under more favoring circumstances, will often be greatly diminished in the case of very many of those who ordinarily attend the Sunday school. Constant exposure to ungenial influences, and rough contact with the coarse realities of their daily life tend to harden their hearts against all impressions. And in different children, placed even in the same circumstances, differences in this respect will be very perceptible. These diversities of character you should make the subject of your careful study. All are more or less susceptible, but to awaken their susceptibilities different methods must necessarily be adopted suited to the particular disposition with which you have to do. Some men are apparently so stolid, and so intensely hardened, that it would seem a matter of impossibility to

vary, and it

excite them to feel the slightest emotion of any kind; but it is not so with a child. Rarely indeed will you find one whose emotions and feelings cannot be excited by a skilful teacher. And here is the secret of a teacher's power, and should be the secret of his success. Disadvantages no doubt there are in this susceptibility, because the influences acting upon it during the week necessarily affect it in proportion to its sensitiveness, and these ofren are directly opposed to the influence you exert upon it. Still, an earnest, faithful, and loving teacher will and must exercise a power over the young and impressible mind, which may, by the Divine blessing, produce a more permanent effect than all the adverse and injurious influences to which it is exposed.

In referring also to affectionateness as a characteristic of children, it will be necessary in some respects to modify this description as univer. sally applicable. Dispositions among all children of course greatly

may be that some of those whom you have to teach, have had their natural warmth of affection chilled by neglect and want of sympathy at home. In many instances it will not be so most assuredly; in some it is to be feared it will. And when this latter is the case, it is important to avoid looking upon the reserve and apparent coldness which such treatment is likely to produce, as a proof of a want of affectionateness. By doing so, you tend to make the naturally loving heart really destitute of affection, or surround it with a thick barrier of ice, which in after years it will indeed be difficult to melt. Rather let such a child sun itself in the light of your love, and the unsuspected buds will soon bourgeon out, and burst into a rich profusion of blossoms. But while guarding against one extreme, it will be equally necessary to avoid the other. Some children are peculiarly demonstrative in their affection, and if care be not exercised, are likely to absorb too great an amount of your attention. These are not always by any means the most affectionate, though their affectionateness seems 60 exuberent. Still, while controlling its excessive manifestation, you must be careful not to check its true and healthy growth.

The different manner in which different children can be taught the same truths, will also require your careful attention. In this respect there will be a great diversity. Some will learn without the slightest difficulty, while others can scarcely learn at all. It is important that you should notice these varieties, or you may be led to blame a child for neglect, when, on the contrary, he really deserves praise for his application, although the results may be extremely small. A whole chapter may be learned more easily by one child than two or three verses by another. One will apprehend your meaning almost intuitively, while another will require line upon line, and illustration upon illustration, before he can be led to comprehend it. Hence there is a difficulty in teaching a mixed class, so that all may be profited, and none overlooked. While endeavouring to make the subject clear to the dull scholar, there is the danger that the bright one may become wearied and uninterested. Of course judicious classification will in some degree obviate this difficulty, but yet in a measure it will almost necessarily be experienced.

These remarks will perhaps suffice to show the importance of studying the characters and dispositions of your class, and to indicate one or two salient points requiring your special notice. But not only the natural dispositions of the children, but the particular circumstances in which they are placed will demand your attention. Try and make youself familiar with the influences surrounding them during the week, with the characters of their parents, their education, companions, &c. This knowledge will be a vast assistance to you, and enable you acquire an influence over them which nothing else could give. This subject however will require further notice hereafter. Barnsbury.



WHAT IS A SUNDAY SCHOOL ? MR. EDITOR.–Some months ago, an article appeared in your magazine proposing and answering the question, “ Are Sunday schools of Divine authority ?" The answer was, very properly, in the affirmative; but it struck me at the time, and subsequent observation and information, have deepened and confirmed the impression, that the writer should have given his readers some explanation of what he meant by the indefinite term “Sunday school,” that there might have been no mistake as to the kind of institution he concluded was of Divine anthority. In order to shew the necessity for such explanation, I will give you two or three specimens of what are called, in some places, Sunday schools ; two of them will be purely dissenting specimens, the third a mixture.

First. School assembles at nine o'clock professedly, is opened by singing and prayer, after which commences teaching, which lasts ten minutes; then follows ten minutes of play for the scholars, which alternation is kept up during the whole time; during the play time, the teachers occupy themselves either with conversing with their neighbours, or by reading a newspaper or magazine, both of which might be seen protruding from their pockets or lying by their side.

Second. I give as near as I remember, in the words of the minister connected with the place, “a good school for the size of the placetolerable good supply of teachers-an influential, efficient superintendent, only he was such a drunken man !"

The Third is on a large scale, numbering some two thousand scholars more or less. The information is derived partly as the result of personal observation, and partly from persons on the spot. It assembles at the usual hours, meeting in the evenings as well; the time is divided between the three branches of learning, reading, writing and arithmetic, the two latter occupying the usual hours for divine service, from half-past ten to twelve ; they attend of course no place of worship; whether they have any kind of worship at any time of the day I cannot say. The teachers are supplied by the various denominations in the town, agreeing to sink their distinctive peculiarities for the sake of union; but they seem not only to sink these but piety as well; and if, as is confidently affirmed, the school turns out more infidels than anything else, who can wonder at it; or be surprised to find that in the town that supports such a place, churches and chapels are miserably attended.

Now, I should hardly imagine that any one will be bold enough to assert or maintain that any such places as those I have given specimens of, are entitled to be considered as of Divine authority, or in any way sanctioned by the word of God. Will some of your numerous correspondents favor your readers with an outline of such a Sunday school as may rightly be considered of Divine authority ? Stafford.



MARCH is a good month for changes. In business it is the beginning of the Spring Season, and frequently changes are made in filling up different posts with efficient men ; those that have not done well in one position are transferred to another more adapted to their talents ; where there are not sufficient in the establishment, fresh hands are taken in, and you can see if you watch the proprietor that he is evidently making preparation to go forward with additional impetus. Business (he says) must be done, and the question he puts to himself is, where can I best place my staff so as to have every man in his right place; for the real man of business knows full well that all have not talents alike, and that it is for him to study character ; to find out qualities; to measure capabilities; to have force enough to do the work, and not to have too much, which inevitably encourages idleness and neglect.

Now there is an important question which Christian men of business would do well sometimes to think of. Can I put forth too much energy in my daily business : my reply would be, no, not if you are putting forth greater energy in the cause of Christ; but when, as I occasionally see among Christians, men of thorough business habits

thinking and reasoning something as I have done with reference to their worldly occupation, planning for its increased prosperity, and then look at them in relation to the church with which they are associated, I cannot help feeling sometimes that all cannot be right within, for the world seems to be having all the best thoughts, all the most strenuous efforts, and the very life of the man seems to be not in his religion and his God, but in his business.

I fear you will be curiously enquiring what all this has to do with Sunday schools? Well, the suggestion to let God have your first thoughts, your highest love, your noblest powers of mind and heart, devoted, consecrated to him, will do you no harm. Are our Sunday schools as well arranged as they might be; as a rule, have we the right men in the right place? I am not sufficiently acquainted with the large field of Sunday school work to answer this question ; but in some of our schools I know changes might be made with advantage both to superintendent, teachers, and scholars; and the more I see of Sunday schools, the more am I convinced that the superintendent gives the key-note to the whole school. Where it necessary to define the requisites for the most important office in connection with every school, I would say, a warm heart, a clear head, a well-furnished mind, a lover of children ; and most essentially, fond of order, and an aptness in getting it, both from teachers and scholars. It is not always easy to get just such a one as you would wish ; but if you have one that is guiding your school well, uniting the teachers together, making them the great object of his solicitude, giving one or two evenings a week, at least, to meet with them in a preparation class, sparing no pains to qualify even the youngest for the class he fills; and if you find that the infant and senior classes are well looked after, increase in number, and if from the latter you have many recruits for the Lord's side, may we not hope, that at any rate, in your superintendent, you have the right man in the right place; and be assured that if your school has been long established, and there are not in it children enquiring of their teacher the way to heaven, with their faces directed thitherward, there is reason to fear that either teacher or superintendent are lacking either in faith, or prayer, or labor, or love, or perhaps consistentcy of life, or some other of those essentially requisite Christian virtues, without which we can never acceptably serve our heavenly father, or engage in his work of love here. That we may all of us, as teachers of the young, have a year of great prosperity in our several classes and schools has dictated the above, and shall be the prayer of your fellow-laborer. Croydon.

W. A.

« PreviousContinue »