Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

testimony for God. It worked, however, upon her mind, and the sermon that he preached that day became the turning point. She became a most excellent Christian woman, and for the last ten or fifteen years had been adorning the doctrines of the gospel. With reference to visitation, it was very difficult to go to their houses to see the scholars, and converse with them privately, because they were usually in company with many more ; but there was another plan, and that was--to get the scholars to go to the teacher's house individually, and talk to them there. He had known amazing fruits to be produced in that way. The scholars, first of all, were diffident, but by.and-by their hearts opened and they freely told their teachers all the thoughts and emotions which, perhaps, had been struggling in their minds for weeks and months, but to which they had never dared to give expression. One word with regard to success in teaching. He was afraid that they erred in two ways here ; first, in not expecting success ; and second, in not believing in it when it arrived. It was of immense importance that the children should be converted when young. With few exceptions, men who were brought to Christ, after a long course of sin, never did any good to the church. Such men were wonderful monuments of the skill of the Great Physician, but as regarded usefulness, they were almost always cripples for life, -mere hospital Christians,--and though saved themselves, hardly ever were any good to others. On the other hand, when a person young in years, and strong and fresh in energy, became converted, who could tell how much good might be effected ? After referring to the religious awakening in the north, Mr. Inglis concluded by an earnest appeal to the teachers present to persevere in their work, whatever discouragements might surround them, and never to despair of success, wbile faithfully labouring for God's glory.

Mr. CULVERWELL referred to the practice of holding meetings from year to year for the purposes of reunions between old scholars and teachers. It was not so generally adopted in many parts of the country as in the metropolis, but wherever it had been tried, it had been found of great service. IIe urged the extension of the plan as one most effective means of making the influence of the Sunday school continuous.

Rev. J. LORD, of Thrapston, while admitting that in many cases Sunday school teachers and superintendents were not so well qualified as could be desired, reminded the meeting that it was often necessary to make use of whaterer agency was offered, if the work was to be carried on at all. He endorsed the sentiment of the delegate from Birmingham, and believed that the preparation by the Committee of a superintendent's handbook would be very serviceable, especially in those parts of the country where meetings for conference on subjects of interest in the management of schools could not be held. He spoke of the value of teachers' prayer meetings, and of the stumbling-blocks thrown in the way of the Sunday school teacher's success in his work by the drinking customs of the day.

Mr. WRIGHT, of Birmingham, thought that one error which had been committed in the past was that Sunday schools had been made too cheap ; and he suggested, among other means of increasing their influence, the granting of a certificate of attendance and good conduct to scholars who might have belonged to a school for some years.

Mr. GROSER said the Sunday School Union had prepared a form of such certificate, which could be obtained in the Depository.

Mr. Swallow, of Manchester, made some observations upon the duties of superintendents, and laid special stress upon the exercise of discrimination by him in appointing scholars to suitable classes on their admission to the school.

Mr. BUTCHER, in reference to his suggestion of a children's communion service,

Z

said his object was to meet the observations sometimes made by pious children, that they were too young to join the church.

Rev. J. KEED, of Cambridge, encouraged the teachers, from facts which had come under his notice during the past year, to labour and pray for the conversion of their charge. He warned them against expecting old piety in young children-the development of a forty years' experience of the Christian life in a youth of tender age.

Mr. COOPER, of Brighton, believed that much of the want of the religious influence of teachers over their classes was, that they were so seldom with them ; while so large a portion of their time the children were exposed to influences of quite a contrary character. He suggested that one method of meeting this difficulty would be to establish a week-day gathering of the classes, in some service of a more or less religious character.

The conversation was then adjourned until the afternoon.
The Conference was resumed by-

Mr. CUTHBERTSON, who read some extracts from addresses delivered in the recent Sunday School Conference in Philadelphia, and pointed out the importance of Sunday school teachers labouring for the conversion of their children, as though the attain. ment of that result lay in their own hands. He said he had been struck with one fact, which he had ascertained in the course of his inquiries, viz.,—that very few children in Sunday schools were converted to God through the regular session of the sabbath day's teaching. None of those teachers who had been eminently successful in the conversion of their classes had confined their labours to the school, but bad adopted various means to awaken and keep up a spiritual interest amongst the children. He believed that very much depended upon the appeal to the child individually by the teacher ; and some of the most successful teachers had adopted the plan of meeting their scholars half an hour before preaching in the evening for that purpose. He referred also to the special Sabbath evening services, as valuable auxiliaries to the regular teaching in the schools. Another plan, which had been adopted with very great success, was for the minister to meet the inquirers in connection with tho school ; and in the north of England it had resulted in considerable accessions to the church. He was satisfied that, though it was all very well to have intelligent teachers who could conduct their classes with skill and interest during the morning and afternoon of the Sabbath day, unless they adopted some means for getting their children alone, and praying and talking with them earnestly and pointedly, the work of God would not progress to any great extent arnong them.

Mr. Day, of the East London Auxiliary, spoke of the successes which attended his labours as a teacher in early life, which he attributed (under God) to the earnestness and devotion he was able to bring to bear upon The great want of the schools in the present day was not only that they should get all the information in their power, and acquire all the necessary skill for imparting that information to others, but that they should have a preparation of heart for their work. He feared that, in too many instances, superintendents were ill qualified for their duties, and unable to assist teachers in the discharge of theirs.

Mr. BRAIN recommended the holding of parents' meetings, and said that he nover had known an instance of such gatherings without good having resulted. He urged upon teachers a careful study of the characters and dispositions of their children, and spoke of the advantages likely to flow from the epistolary correspondence already spoken to.

Mr. WHITE, of Woolwich, while concurring generally in the observations of the Chairman as to the future of our day schools, said he was not without hope

a

that the religious influence of those schools would be in part at least maintained, as many of the masters of British and other schools were mon of undoubted piety and of earnest zeal. He called attention to the fact, that some of our Sunday schools were too secular in character, and their great object too much subordinated to mere routine. The qualification of superintendents was a very important point; and he suggested to the Committee of the parent Society the holding of

conference upon the duties, responsibilities, and defects of Sunday school superintendents.

Mr. TERRY defended the superintendents as a class from the charge of incapacity, and the Sunday schools from the charge of secularity, which he thought must be the exception and not the rule. No reference had been made, he said, to the infant classes in the course of the conversation, and he thought that more attention might be advantageously paid to them. The most successful teachers for those classes were those who had themselves been children in our schools.

Mr. GOULD, of Bristol, thought it would be admitted generally, that hitherto the results achieved had not been commensurate with the exertions put forth, and that they had a right to look for something more. They wanted more faith in their work. He gave some interesting particulars respecting tho spiritual condition of the schools in his Union, and amongst his recommendations laid special stress upon the visitation of the children at their homes.

Mr. HARTLEY (one of the secretaries of the parent Society) spoke in favour of illustrative teaching, and related some telling instances of the success attending direct individual appeals by teachers to their scholars.

Mr. MEEN was then heard in reply, and in the course of his observations he said, that while admitting that, in many instances, good had been effected, he was afraid that, upon the whole, the Sunday schools of the metropolis had not contributed very much to the augmentation of the church. He was fearful, too, that there was a good deal of mistaken zeal in our schools—too much preaching instead of teaching ; and he felt convinced that, after all, they wanted classes in which to teach teachers how to teach. While, therefore, he sincerely hoped that they would be earnest in prayer for a blessing upon their labours, let them not neglect every means by which their young friends might be better qualified for their important trust.

Mr. GROSER, who had occupied the chair during the latter period of the day, mado a few observations in closing the discussion. He said there was one point which had not been referred to by any of the former speakers. A good deal had been said, and very properly said, about the influence of parental example, and no doubt the dissolute habits of parents had a serious effect upon our schools. He was inclined to think, however, that in London, at all events, the indifference--the contemptuous indifference of parents, and the semi-infidel principles which they avowed, had a more pernicious influence than the prevalence of intemperance amongst them. And beyond this, he feared that, in many cases, the teachers' example was not very beneficial. He thought the female teacher, who went into her class, Sunday after Sunday, with a very small bonnet just stuck on the back of her head, “because it is fashionable,” and her hair drawn back till her eyes seem ready to start from their sockets,“ because it is fashionable,” was exercising a mischievous influence amongst her children. The teachers, too, in the boys' schools, were not exempt from blame. That pernicious habit of smoking was exercising a most disastrous influence upon our scholars. If a Sunday school teacher was seen in tho street with a cigar or pipe in his mouth, how could be reprove his scholars if he saw them indulging in the practice? "I saw Teacher do it,” would be the reply. And smoking led to drinking ; and a great deal of the dishonesty which prevailed in the manufacturing

districts of the metropolis was more or less traceable to the dissolute habits thus engendered. Let them see to it, that while they were talking about the evil influence of parental conduct, they themselves set an example which the scholars could safely follow.

After singing a hymn, the meeting adjourned to Exeter Hall.

ANNUAL MEETING AT EXETER HALL. THE Annual Meeting was held the same evening in Exeter Hall. The chair was taken by the President of the Society, the Hon. ARTHUR KINNAIRD, M.P., at six o'clock. The proceodings were commenced by singing the following hymn :

HYMN I.
Tune-"OLIVET.” No. 406, Union Tune Book.
Go, feed my lambs,” the Saviour cried, Before we now we bow in prayer,
When he had proved his servant's love ;

And ask the influence of thy grace ; In the blest work he lived and died, O save the young from every snare,

Then soared to realms of bliss abovo. And make them carly seek thy face. May we the same blessed Master serve, To each attempt impart success, And the same office humbly fill ;

Each youthful mind to virtue train ; Thy precept, Lord, we would observe, If thou our humble efforts bless, And cheerfully obey thy will.

Our labour will not be in vain. After singing the hymn, the Rev. J. KEED, of Cambridge, offered prayer.

The CHAIRMAN then rose, and said, -My Christian friends, I rejoice that I am permitted once again to take part in your proceedings, and to preside over this mecting. I am thankful to say I have nothing new to tell you, excepting that I may congratulate you on the success which has attended the operations of our Society ; but as to that matter, I shall leave it to my friend on the right, who will shortly read to us an abstract of the Report, and avail myself of the presence of so many teachers among us this evening merely to say a few words to urge upon you the maintenance of those principles which have been the source of action hitherto. And I think the days in which we live may induce is to look back to old leading principles : I mean the importance of continuing an education solely founded on the Bible. No principles, in my opinion, will stand, if not founded on Holy Scripture ; and let me urge upon you the importance not of studying parts of Scripture merely, but the Scripture as a whole ; not confining your teaching to the New Testament, but going into all its parts, taking the Old Testament in its historical, prophetical, and typical portions alike. Depend upon it, that if you wish the children to grow up as we could desiro to see them, they must be trained by and become rooted and grounded in the principles of the ever blessed word of God. Then I would urge you to accustom the young minds of the children to put every doctrine you bring before them to the test of Scripture. It is in that way that you will equally avoid, and teach them to avoid, the errors of superstition on the one hand, and the errors of infidelity on the other; and these are evils which we see everywhere abounding around us. It is an encouragement to us to look abroad, and see that it is only where these thoroughly scriptural principles prevail, that civil and religious liberty abound ; and this feeling of encouragement will not be lessened when we behold two nations, both under the influence of gross superstition, avoiding all reason, and appealing to brute force to settle their differences. If the Bible be followed-which I trust it ever will be in our land--we must remember how much depends on the maintenance of our sabbath privileges ; for where would the working man, and where should you and I, called into active life, find time to study that word, if it was not for the preservation to us of the blessed sabbath? And then there is another argument that may be employed to encourage you in your work, and to show its importance. You are all aware, from what has recently passed in all parts of our land, that there is every reason to believe the basis of our constitution will be extended, and that the franchise will be vory shortly given to many of the working classes. It will remain for you, in your sereral spheres, to train the rising generntion, so as to fit them to be partakers in the franchise when they grow up, and to exercise the privilege in the best way ; for it will be exercised best by those who in their youth are instructed in tho principles of the Bible. I shall not detain you further, except just to say, that I have received several communications recommending me to make various suggestions to this meeting ; but I think it would only be trespassing upon your time. There was one communication I received, which, perhaps, is not unworthy of one word. I was advised to urge upon those who are teachers and superintendents of our schools the great importance of punctuality in attendance. I think I need hardly say a word upon it, for your applause teaches me that you see the importance of it. It is perfectly clear that unless the teacher is punctual, the children are not likely to be. The teacher ought even to be before the time, to receive the children, and take the opportunity which will thus often occur to speak a kind word to them before the beginning of the instruction. These inquiries about their welfare will endear the children to the teacher ; but this can only be done by punctuality in attendance at the commencement, and in all the duties connected with the school. We set you, I think, a very excellent example this evening. Practice is much better than preaching; and, therefore, I will only appeal to the example which the Committec has set you this evening, and will now call on my friend, Mr. Watson, to road the Report.

Mr. W. H. Watson accordingly read the Report.

The Rev. R. BUSHELL.—The resolution which has been put into my hands is certainly of a most encouraging character ; and, as preachers say, it must be divided into three parts, for each distinct paragraph is so good, that I think it would be a pity not to speak on them separately ; I will therefore read the first paragraph :That this meeting desires to acknowledge, with devout gratitude to Almighty

God, the success which bas crowned the labours of the Union during the past year, in the entire extinction of the debt remaining in respect of the erection

of the Jubilee Memorial Building." Now that is the fact, and there are three or four thoughts which arise out of it. The first is, sir, the Union spoken of; and I confess that when the resolution was put into my hands, I cou not help thinking, have we not in this Union the firstfruits of the fulfilment of the Saviour's desire, when He said, “I would, Father, that they were all one ; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thoe, that the world may believe that thou hast sent me ?" Now, sir; if we wish to erect a lofty edifice, we ought to lay a good basis; and this superstructure is to reach to heaven, consequently, we have laid the foundation as broad as the world. It would have been a grand thing if it had taken in merely the branches of the Methodistic or Baptist families, but it takes in all denominations of Evangelical Christians ; in fact, it professes the principle, that our hearts, being big enough for Christ, are big enough for the world ; and we would say to universal Christendom, no matter by what name known, or by what peculiarities distinguished, “If thy heart be as my heart, then give me thy hand." I think that is the character of our Union. But then, Sir, another characteristic of union is this practical feature. Said a deacon to a minister, on one occasion, "Sir, is your church united ?” “Yes,” he said, “ remarkably so, for we are all frozen together." Now, Sir, that is not the characteristic of the Sunday School Union. And I think if we got one of those icy unions into this

« FöregåendeFortsätt »