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Curate of Sheffield, and late Diocesan Inspector of Schools.
60, PATERNOSTER ROW.
TO THE FIRST EDITION.
It is to be feared that many persons engage in the work of Sunday-school teaching, without anything like an adequate idea of its nature and importance. In many cases, the duty of a systematic preparation of the lessons appointed for the Sabbath is entirely neglected; and, even, where the importance of the duty is recognized, it frequently happens that a hasty glance at a commentary, or a quarter of an hour's thought during the intervals of business, is substituted for that patient and prayerful investigation of the word of God, which every teacher is bound to exercise. A conviction of the necessity of this diligent preparation has, long since, led me to arrange and prepare the lessons for my class with anxious care; and the following are a few of the lessons which I so prepared.
The degree of success which I have experienced, while handling my subject, has varied with circumstances. Whether the lesson has succeeded in arresting attention and sustaining interest, has depended, partly on my own frame of mind, partly on the state of the children's minds, and partly on the readiness with which I have been able to apply what I had prepared, at the moment when it was wanted. Upon some occasions, attention has been alive, the interchange of question and answer
rapid and spirited, and I have felt the Sabbath pleasantly wear away; while, upon other occasions, the class has been restless and turbulent; the lesson for the day a burden ; and the hour of closing has been hailed by both teacher and scholars, as a pleasant relief from an irksome duty. Experience, however, most forcibly declares the fact, that the want of attention in the scholars is generally attributable to the teacher; and, I must say, that I find myself to blame when the hour of teaching drags along heavily: success in enlisting attention being proportioned-exactly proportioned-to the degree of care and time bestowed on the lesson during the previous week. If a teacher will make a real business of preparing ; if he will imbue his mind with the spirit of the Sabbath-lesson; if he will ransack concordances, and hunt out illustrations; and this, not on a Saturday evening when the midnight hour is drawing to a close, and the time for teaching rapidly approaching ; but on the dawn of Monday morning, when the faculties are quick, and the necessity for hurry altogether unnecessary. If he will do all this, with a pervading conviction of the worthlessness of all exertions, unless crowned with the Divine blessing, he will assuredly find the Sabbath “ a delight," and welcome the hour for attending the Sunday-school with feelings of pleasure and thankfulness.
Now, it is not the intention of this little work to supplant that diligent and careful preparation which has just been noticed. I give it to Sunday-school teachers as an exhibition of the plan of instruction which I have pursued, thinking it may prove a kind of model for some of them to follow in their Sabbath instructions ; and, if used merely as such, it need not repress the work of preparation in any of its details. But the assistance
of junior teachers is the object which I have principally in view. I have often felt that something more is needed than directing young teachers to proceed about their work. You may tell them to explain, to catechise, to illustrate, and to apply ; but they want to hear you explain and catechise, to see what kind of illustrations you adopt, and the nature of the applications which you address to a class of children. They want, in short, to see the directions given them brought out into action. Now, perhaps, the best plan is to direct them to sit by the side of an experienced teacher, to watch how he manages his youthful auditory, and to observe the mode in which he treats the subjects of the lesson. But this is sometimes impracticable, and sometimes, when practicable, for various reasons, objectionable. It may, therefore, be well to furnish the lesson on paper-to give the questions, answers, anecdotes, and applications of actual exercises, as far as they can be remembered ; and although these will want the animated look, the speaking eye, and the exciting and varied tones which issue from all sides of the class, on occasions of interest; yet the recital may afford, to the teacher, an idea of the mode in which attention may be aroused, and truth enforced,
In the present work, I have endeavoured to present my class as actually engaged in receiving instruction. My subject-matter has been chiefly borrowed from others, and in all the selections of scripture which I have made to set before my scholars, I feel that I have far greater need to be a learner than a teacher. There are many excellent manuals which give directions how to teach, and go into the minutest particulars, but still there is no work of the exact kind with the present in print, of which I am aware. There are works which