« PreviousContinue »
ECC. ANG. PASTOR.
ON THE SUPPOSED FAILURE OF
give a conscientious response to it. far neither believe nor think at all ; Leave the Church of England, if you get, that every enlightened Christian so please, and join any other society; will honour his instructor the more, or frame a distinct one-do any when he hears him place the one thing, except it be the abandonment just and specific value
the of the saving doctrine of Christ cru- written oracles of God. The blind cified. If you choose to abjure in- formalist will be satisfied with the fant baptism, and unite with the blind teacher, and we know how abjuring party, yet preach like Fuller they are both in peril of perishing. and Hall. If you join the Wesley. In the opposed example, each party ans, endeavour to catch the mantle will own an authority superior to the of Benson. But if you retire from purest human teaching; and to make the establishment, and retire also such a concession, indicates a mind from the simplicity of the Gospel, docile and dependent. If this be to wander after revived systems obliquely an act of self-commenof doubt and error, your last state dation, it is more than was intended. may peradventure be worse than the But, however this may be, the prinfirst.
ciple retains its identity, and its inAnother point demands the deep- herent value; and protects, at least, est consideration from the persons my own flock from their shepherd's involved in these remarks. We are unfaithfulness. wrestling, in a fresh and hard conflict, against Papal powers and principalities. But, oh! what unspeakable confusion is it for Protestants to waste their resources amidst intestine feuds. Up to this darkening moment it has been ever matter of devout exultation and gratitude, that the
To the Editor of the Christian Observer. spiritual members of the Reformed Assuming with your correspondent churches have been integral parts of R. in your Number for December, each other. There was no schism that Sunday schools have failed in in the body; but the halcyon days the good effects expected from them, of the church universal appear to be I venture to assign the following as clouding over with the shadows of a some of the true causes of such cold and black night. Nay, some
failure : of our speculators are actually pa
1. The absence of that just degree palizing, by placing, for example, of public countenance and support the church above the Scripture; and to which they are entitled. the minister, I know not where. 2. The inadequate agency too freBut this I know, that, being a mi- quently employed in them. nister myself, and painfully conscious 3. The want of more constant of my own ignorance and spiritual co-operation, supervision, and direcinsufficiency, I have frequently and tion on the part of the clergy and earnestly warned my own flock to ministers in general. compare what I tell them, with the Upon the first point, I would call infallible word of inspiration. My the attention of your readers to this office is no security against undesigned striking fact: there are in England error or wilful aberration; and I re- only two societies of a general or gard it, not as a degradation, but a comprehensive character for the privilege, to be able to guard the promotion of Sunday schools ;-the people against their pastor's possible Sunday-school Society established heresies. I am also confident, that in 1785, and the Sunday-school such a procedure, however it may Union in 1804 ; the first confining startle and irritate those who would itself to the supply of suitable elethink and believe by proxy, and so mentary books and the Holy Scriptures to needy schools within the But to descend to local and indiBritish dominions,—and the latter vidual schools; I am personally acseeking, by correspondence, publication of Sunday-school works, and boys, and 147,351 girls, as receiving Sunpecuniary grants, to promote Sun- day-school instruction in the Church of
England, independently of the daily Naday-school objects throughout the tional Schools. We do not believe it possiworld. Now, on looking over the ble that there can be a common basis upon Reports of these institutions for the which a Church-of-England and a Dislast seven years, I find that the ave
senting Sunday-school could be united;
the Churchman would not give up his rage annual amount contributed by catechism, and the Dissenter would not the public, in subscriptions and dona- receive it; and so of many other points, tions, has been to the first only 1551. especially tracts; but we think both par
ties to blame in their respective departto the latter, only 1561. The first
ments and societies. As regards our kept an existence during that period, own communion, there is a disgraceful with the exception of an occasional apathy. The whole amount of donations legacy, by expending the funds con- and subscriptions last year to the National tributed by its founders and early Society, for all its purposes, local and -supporters; and the latter simply Many clergymen and episcopal laymen by the profits on the works pub- find 'much difficulty in regard to prolished, which an almost entirely moting Sunday-school instruction. They gratuitous agency and management
do not patronize the institutions alluded
to by our correspondent, on account of have enabled its committee to effect.
their not being in connexion with the Nor is the case improved if we turn Church of England (they profess, we beto Scotland. I have not former Re. lieve, to be neutral); and having already ports before me ; but I find that the subscribed to the National-school Society
for its general purposes, it does not occur subscriptions and donations last year
to them to give a second donation for its to “ the Sabbath-school Union for Sunday-school objects ; besides which, Scotland,” was only 691.,-a poor they perhaps feel hesitation in adopting amount indeed, this, for extending used but those on the list of the Society for
the society's rule, that no books shall be Sunday-school operation in that promoting Christian Knowledge. Expekingdom. Now what should we say rience proves that many persons will give of the public feeling towards Bible two guineas to two societies for two obSocieties or Tract Societies, if such jects, who would only have given one to
one society, embracing them both. Would a picture could be drawn of the me- it not then be advisable for the National tropolitan institutions ?
Society to keep a separate fund for Sun
day-school objects, or even to form a Our correspondent should recollect separate society, to be called the National that there is a wide distinction between Sunday-school Society, both being so far the classes of institutions which he men. united as to work together as at present, tions. Every clergyman or dissenting but embodying the advantages of two minister cannot be his own tract maker specific institutions. The difficulty of or Bible printer, and he therefore sub- books and tracts would still remain, unscribes to a metropolitan society, that less some liberty of choice were allowed supplies his demand; but he does not to the local clergyman. Even if the perhaps feel the same necessity with society's list were perfection itself, it respect to his Sunday school, which he would not produce uniformity of opinion; supports from local funds, procuring his and while differences exist, persons do books from Bible, Tract, or Christian- not usually wish to tie their own hands. Knowledge Societies, without the spe- A Church-of-England Sunday-school cific intervention of a Sunday-school Society, either in connexion with the Society. Besides which, without enter- National Society, or otherwise, that ing into the question of the merits of the would promote the general object, withtwo Sunday-school Societies which our out binding the local authorities by any correspondent mentions, it should be re- stricter rules than were necessary,would be membered, that so far as the clergy and a most useful and acceptable institution. the members of the Church of England are Let the National Society form a distinct concerned, the National-school Society is institution from its daily school business, expressly, as to one half of its functions, recommending the Christian-knowledge a Sunday-school Society; and this most books, and offering to supply such of them important and valuable institution reports as were required, but not making the list in its last returns not fewer than 143,784 exclusive, and being content with the
quainted with several in the metro- counties last year, whose deplorable polis, but I do not know one which ignorance of even the rudiments of is not in debt to its treasurer. religious knowledge has been so I perceive the average number of painfully demonstrated. Witness schools gratuitously assisted with the report of the chaplain of Bedford books by the Sunday-school society" gaol, who, on a recent investigation, during the last seven years, is not could scarcely find one prisoner able less than four hundred each year, to read intelligibly. Witness the all claiming on the ground of not reports of Mr. Wontner, the
present being able to obtain sufficient local worthy governor of Newgate, which aid. Now considering, with this fact, have at various times been before that that society is almost unknown the public, as to the grossly ignoin many parts of the kingdom, I rant state of the great mass of think I may fairly maintain that offenders committed to his custody. the public, so far from render. If indeed our criminal calendars were ing that support to Sunday-school filled with those who had been institutions which their importance Sunday scholars, or if any thing apdemands, have, on the contrary, ex- proaching to half were such, then hibited towards them a lamentable might we well begin to doubt the apathy.
utility of the system altogether; but But, it may be asked, are there the fact happily is, that instances not schools enough already? I an- are extremely rare where any that swer, Not half enough, including have remained long scholars in a those maintained by all denomi- Sunday school have been found nations of Christians. This is no among that degraded class. hasty assertion, but is founded on I have mentioned, as the second the best attainable information. As cause of failure, the inadequate to the numbers instructed in exist- agency too frequently employed in ing schools, and the number of our Sunday schools. This respects the population (allowed on all hands) number and the qualifications of the to be proper objects of such institu- teachers. As to number, if much intions, the fact painfully presses on struction is to be conveyed, where one visitors of the poor, particularly in day only in seven is in part occupied, certain districts of the metropolis, there should be at least one teacher and in the large towns, and yet we to every ten scholars. But in few are told over and over again that schools is this proportion effectively Sunday schools have failed. No; maintained. Then as to qualificathey have not yet reached the most tion for the teacher's office, Dr. necessitous half of the population. Johnson has laid it down as a maxim, On these their influence cannot be that they cannot be well instructed said to have failed, for it has not whose teachers are not themselves been tried. Witness the state of well taught: now, I have conversed the prisoners brought to the bar of with clergymen and others from justice in the southern and western various parts of the country on this
subject, who unite in lamenting that guarantee that the children go to church, the more respectable classes of soand the patron is a clergyman, and the work would be done. It will not do in ciety too generally shrink from the such a matter to raise questions within teacher's office ; and in a vast numthe common pale. It ought to be a church ber of schools it is now the fact, that society, but to leave churchmen to their
nearly half (and in some the greater different schools. Suppose that a clergy, man fancies Watts's First Catechism, and portion) are those who were formerly does not fancy some other person's, why scholars in the school. Now I am might not a society be sufficiently large far from lamenting that these have to allow of this not damnable heresy, and stepped forward to do that which thus to comprehend all who, within the Anglican establishment, are really anxious others have neglected; but, on the to promote Sunday-school instruction ? contrary, would bear testimony to the honourable degree of zeal, per- I should certainly be ashamed of that severance, and self-denial, frequently Sunday school that did not soon give exhibited by this class of teachers : another appearance to its pupils, than what I lament is, that others with thatof“ poorneglected children, filthy better cultivated minds, greater and half clad.” Such I agree with means of information, and influence R. are, and ought to be, the primary in society, have not come forward objects of Sunday-school tuition; but to assist, and thus give a still more that they should, when brought into extended and useful direction to our school, remain filthy and half those labours. The influence of clad, as R.'s argument would seem example among teachers would do to imply, forbid it Christian charity: much in displaying the advantages it would disgrace, I think, both the of skill and method in dealing with conductors of the school and the the young, and cause the art of com- Christian body with whom it is conmunicating ideas to be made much nected. more an object of study by all em- The last cause of failure named ployed.
was the want of more constant coAnd here I would just reply to operation, supervision, and direction one inquiry of R. He says, “Observe on the part of ministers, the removal the teachers and children of our of which would be the most effectual schools as they parade the streets step to remedy the former two. I from school to their places of wor- am far from insinuating that minisship: are the latter the poor neg- ters, either in the Church or among lected children of our population ?” the Dissenters, haveopposed SundayI answer, that children, soon after school efforts; but I lament to say that, their entrance into Sunday schools, with some honourable exceptions, generally exhibit a marked improve- they have not taken such an active ment as compared with their pre- personal interest in the proceedings vious appearance.
The influence of Sunday-schools as to give the of precept as to cleanliness and de- character and tone to their proceedcorum of habits, I hope inculcated ings. How far it might be expedient in every Sunday school, together or profitable both to children and with that of example, operates adults to catechize or examine on powerfully ; add to which, that in the lessons during evening service, I most schools exertions are made to shall leave your clerical readers to provide decent articles of clothing decide; but, certainly, if the clergyin cases where the destitution as- man were frequently in the school, sumes an extreme character. A examining the classes respectively common cotton frock or pincloth and the whole school publicly; if he costs but little, but makes a wonder- would meet the teachers at stated ful improvement in the appearance periods, offering suggestions on the of the children. In some schools various arrangements of the schools, such articles are merely lent for the the division and appropriation of the Sunday use, and the weekly cleanly school hours, yea minutes; if he would appearance of one child has often a arrange the lessons (for in every well most beneficial effect on a whole regulated school, be it ever so large, family: and in this respect Sunday one lesson, andoneonly, should engage schools have not departed from their all the children who can engage in pristine character; for Mr. Raikes, it; and these pre-arranged for pein a letter written in 1787, recently riods, that scholars, teachers, minister, published, mentions particularly the and all who interest themselves in transforming character of his school the school, may always know what in the appearance of the scholars, Scripture, what hymn or part of caand his own practice of giving a techism, engages its attention),-if, pair of shoes or other decent arti- having thus arranged (for from him cle of apparel to the most necessitous. should such arrangements directly or indirectly emanate) the minister That too little ministerial notice would monthly, or oftener, meet the has been devoted to Sunday-schools teachers, illustrating, explaining, and I think our periodical literature proves, pointing out the proper mode of presuming as I do that in our relitreating the lessons, and the instruc- gious magazines clergymen are the tion which should be drawn from principal contributors. How seldom them; might we not confidently look are their claims brought under confor far greater general efficiency than sideration ! how seldom is their very has yet been witnessed ?
existence adverted to! and as to So far from "superceding parental plans and suggestions for improving and pastoral religious instruction," their internal economy, where and a well-regulated Sunday-school will when have they appeared ? ever facilitate both. If the minister I trust some of your many intellican enlist the services of the pious and gent correspondents will take up this intelligent of his flock in the work of important subject, for surely to give religious instruction, is he not enlarg- a just and beneficial direction to the ing his own usefulness? does he not efforts of Sunday-school teachersraise up a little host of agents which to rouse those at present slumbering he may employ to carry out plans of in their work-to call forth the enusefulness, which, as an individual, ergies of those Christians who are at it is physically impossible himself to present living too much to themselves, effect? *
while the youth are perishing for
lack of knowledge at their very doors Another correspondent (T), address- would not be considered an unworthy ing us on the same subject remarks :- application of your volumes by any
“ The other objection brought against class of your readers; while to those our Sunday-schools is, that they take the who are anxious to see both schools work of education out of the hands of respectable mothers and pastors, and remove
and teachers all they ought and are the children from their most beneficial expected to be, such communication superintendance to that of others. Your would be in the highest degree gracorrespondent gives a strong description tifying to none more than to your of former times, when mothers gave the Sabbath to instructing their children humble servant,
E. thoroughly, and ministers assembled their young flock in the vestry for the purpose of catechising. Whereas he complains that now even respectable mothers hand their children over to a stranger, without the means of knowing for certain that MR. SIMEON's SERMONS they are with him, and ministers have lost sight of their young people, and are well nigh alienated even from the children of To the Editor of the Christian Obserrer, the poor. There is a propensity in our nature to magnify former times to the I am desirous of calling the attention disparagement of the present, but, as of your readers to the valuable serSolomon intimates, with little truth or
mons lately reviewed in your pages, wisdom. When that time was when mothers were so competent and willing to
on the Offices of the Holy Spirit, by teach, and ministers so diligent in cate- one whose praise is justly in all the chising, is beyond modern recollection; churches, the Rev. C. Simeon, with but surely the pious mother will be amply a view to the consideration of one employed in watching the progress of of the statements in them, which I Sunday-school instruction in her children now, and will confirm it by precept and will begin by transcribing :-“ But example at home; and if the minister has whilst in his essential Godhead he lost sight of his young flock in the vestry; (the Holy Ghost) is equal with the he may follow them to the school and guide and teach them there at his will.
Father and the Son, in his office he Shame indeed on that minister who in is inferior to them both, and acts, if these days is not to be found in the Sunday-school! If our blessed Lord were he would also teach in our schools. Let now upon earth, he would not only preach them then have our help and encourage in our churches but I fully believe that ment for his name's sake. Christ. OBSERV. No, 364.
ON SOME STATEMENTS IN