Imágenes de páginas

of the pupils. Prayers are offered up; praises are sung; psalms and hymns and portions of the Scriptures are repeated; portions of the Scripture are also read, and made the subject of explanatory remarks or interrogatories. The leading doctrines of religion are propounded for inquiry, and, on these, sometimes the instructors examine the pupils, sometimes the more advanced pupils repeat appropriate texts which they have collected for illustration or proof, and sometimes both methods are combined. Some pupils in the highest classes repeat what they remember of discourses which they have heard in the public services of the day; and the teachers or visitors endeavour by exhortations to animate the young persons, and to give them a salutary impulse in the paths of religious inquiry and practice.

The Sabbath Evening Schools are distinguished into three orders: first, the Schools for children; secondly, those for young men; and thirdly, those for young women.

The Schools for children are attended by pupils' from the age of seven or eight years, to the age of about fourteen. During this period of life, boys and girls generally meet in the same Schools, and are associated in the same classes. After the age of fourteen or fifteen, or sooner as the reward of distinguished proficiency, they are transferred to the Schools destined for young men, or young women, exclusively. In one School, however, of which the economy is very complete, pupils of every description, children, young men, and young women, are instructed; and of each order of pupils there are distinct classes in regular gradation. Early advancement to a superior class or School being justly deemed honourable by all the pupils, the desire of accelerating this advancement stimulates the principle of laudable emulation. Many of the young men and young women are in respectable situations of life, and some are in full communion with the church. Not a few continue their attendance till, in respect of religious information, they are prepared to discharge every duty on Christian principles, and to become the teachers of others.

There is one School for young men, and another for young women, of which the exercises are conducted wholly in the Gaelic language.

In general, each School is under the inspection of one stated teacher. But in some instances there are two teachers, who officiate either jointly, or by alternate months.

But the committee of superintendence, not content with providing teachers, appoint also a sub-committee of respectable persous from the neighbourhood of each School, to inspect it,

to encourage both teachers and pupils by every proper attention, and to watch over its interests in the monthly meetings of the general committee. Further, from time to time, this committee appoints occasional visitors for particular districts, to go. in progress among the schools, to acquaint themselves with their circumstances, to suggest whatever may tend to their benefit, and to report at the monthly meetings.


The commencement of the Sabbath Schools in this place, which happened in the year 1798, was very auspicious. But the number of pupils was soon considerably reduced: and although the institution always continued respectable, yet for ten or eleven years, it rather declined than increased in vigour. For some years past, however, it has been in a state of great progressive prosperity, and is now far more flourishing than at any former period. The causes of this decline and revival are not difficult to be assigned. At first, the public here did not, in general, duly appreciate the system and the novelty of the seminaries, rather than a conviction of their utility, attracted many pupils, a great proportion of whom, as was to be expected, soon withdrew. At the same time, many prejudices on various grounds, and proceeding from different quarters, operated against the Schools. But their utility becoming more and more manifest by experience, and none of the anticipations of their hurtful results being realized, the prejudices against them gradually subsided, and the decision of the public in their favour became firm and almost unanimous. This approbation of the public accounts satisfactorily, to a great extent, for their present prosperity.

But while we are bold to assert that, from its commencement, the system was well conducted, and worthy of the support of all good men in the place; we need not conceal, but have every reason to publish that, in its arrangements and operations, it has been gradually ameliorated, and that it is now better adapted to its ends than at any former period, and, consequently, is more entitled to the public patronage. And indeed in the ordinary course of things, it was to be expected that the uninterrupted attention and experience of fifteen years should introduce considerable improvements into the general management of the system, and into the economy of particular schools. Those who have almost always occupied a station in the general superintendence could not but become more expert at applying remedies and encouragements in particular parts of the system, and at suggesting and carrying into effect all salutary arrangements of common interest: and the teachers, availing themselves of their own ingenuity, or that of others,

and profiting by practice, could not but become more skilful in conducting the exercises of the pupils. Hence, in the system at large, and in particular Schools, some things which were less useful have been discontinued, some which were good have been matured, and some which were wanting have been supplied.

The idea of erecting juvenile theological libraries, and of instituting private associations for religious converse and devotional exercises (both under the inspection of the teachers), has begun to be acted upon by some of the pupils.

The institution is now rapidly furnishing the means of perpetuating itself. Many who were taught in the Schools, are already teaching in them; and, while they are exercising a mild paternal authority among the pupils, cherish a veneration for the scenes where themselves were reared. Some of the present monitors also are qualified to assume the station of principal instructors.

From the preceding statements it may appear, that almost no methods or exertions for the benefit of the Sabbath Schools have been untried; that those endeavours have been attended with considerable success; that the system is now in a state of great animation and prosperity; and that there is good reason to hope that this prosperity shall be permanent and


It is not our intention, nor is it necessary to exhibit at large, the great and manifold utility of this extensive and flourishing system of religious discipline. Persons of almost every description have been, and may be, directly or indirectly, profited by it. It is calculated to rescue from the ruinous consequences of the worst ignorance, those children who receive no religious nurture at home; who, indeed, are its primary objects. Instances have occurred in which such children have not only been unspeakable gainers themselves, but have been instrumental in instructing and reforming their parents. Sometimes when children have lost a valuable and faithful parent, the survivor (the mother deprived of a religious and intelligent husband, or the father deprived of a prudent and virtuous wife), has sought and found in these seminaries a proper substitutionary means of instruction. In some instances, parents possessing more capacity than disposition for instructing their children, and who formerly satisfied themselves with the superficial and cold repetition of a form, have been struck with the animated spirit of enquiry which has emanated from the Schools into their families, and, by the example and applications of their children, have been roused into parental diligence. There

[merged small][ocr errors]

is no instance of a contrary effect. Thus, an old objection, urged even by some serious persons, that the schools might render parents inattentive to the religious instruction of their children, is by undeniable facts completely repelled. Among the pupils, many are the children of parents neither ignorant nor careless; yet even these children, for whom the Schools are not indispensably necessary, feel in them an animation which would be unfelt at home: and, enjoying many domestic advantages along with those of the seminaries, they generally excel the other pupils. Hence, their presence in the Schools is highly beneficial to the other children, to whom they are models and incitements, both by their superior attainments in knowledge, and by their superior propriety of conduct.

It is indeed impossible to know how widely, and in what varied forms, the beneficial effects of these seminaries may extend. They are calculated to improve the faculties by diversified exercise, to excite a spirit of inquiry, to promote the searching of the Scriptures, and to qualify the pupils for a profitable attendance on the public ordinances of religion. From them young persons have proceeded, and doubtless many will proceed, well prepared to fulfil the duties of life; and, in particular, to diffuse around them the benefits of religious knowledge, and of good example.

Their future families, and their descendants in distant generations, even to the end of time, and collateral multitudes in each generation, may feel the beneficial results of the instructions. now imparted in these seminaries. Young men destined to the ministry, may, by teaching in them, acquire the habit of communicating instruction in that simple, distinct, and impressive manner which, while it interests all, is indispensable for the edification of the weak, the ignorant, and the young.

The number of children in the Sabbath Evening Schools, amount to 1,874.


THE exalted station which Britain has attained in the scale of intellectual improvement, is assignable, in a very great degree, to its numerous institutions for the instruction of the young. Scotland has long been celebrated for the attention she has shewn, to the education of the lower classes of the community; the practical effects of which cannot be more strikingly illustrated than by the following important facts

stated by the Right Hon. C. Hope, in his address at the conclusion of the assizes in this city, in 1808. "A few days," says he," before I left home, there was transmitted to me by the secretary of state, a printed list of all the commitments, and prosecutions for criminal offences, in England and Wales, for the last three years; and, horrible to tell! the least number of commitments of any of the three years, was considerably above four thousand; a number nearly equal to the whole of the commitments in Scotland since the union. And where is the cause? In my opinion, it is chiefly to be found in our institutions for the education of youth." In Switzerland where similar advantages have been enjoyed, the moral character of the people is such, that "in one of the Protestant Cantons, the executioner was not called upon to perform his hateful office, but once in the long space of twenty years."

The beneficial tendency and practical effects of Sabbath Evening Schools, have been so long before the public as to require no illustration. To such as regard with pleasure, the religious instruction of the rising generation, it will afford no small degree of satisfaction to view the extension and growing stability of such institutions. It is with feelings of the most gratifying nature, that the committee lay before the subscribers. and friends of this institution, an account of its proceedings during last year..

The Schools supported by the society at the publication of their annual report for 1813, were twenty in number, at which about eleven hundred children received instruction. Since that period, two of their Schools in the suburbs, one in Calton and the other in Anderston, have been relinquished; the room occupied by the former being now used as a place of worship, and the latter as a dwelling house. Three Schools have been taken under the patronage of the society during last year, containing about one hundred and thirty children; and two new Schools have been established, attended by upwards of one hundred Scholars. From the eagerness and anxiety displayed by the young people to be admitted into the Schools, the greater proportion of them are crowded and overflowing, so that it has been found necessary that two of them should be divided. There are at present upon the establishment twentyfive Schools, and such has been the astonishing increase of Scholars during last year, that they are now attended by one thousand eight hundred children. One of the teachers, in the last quarterly report of his School, makes the following remark: "Sstreet School has always been well attended, but of late there has been such an unusual desire for admission, that

[blocks in formation]
« AnteriorContinuar »