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I had publicly to prohibit (however reluctantly), any others from entering. The desire manifested by the rising generation for religious instruction, is so great, that almost any number might be collected for that purpose."
The irregular attendance of the children at many of the Schools, has long been a subject of regret, and has suggested to some of the members of the committee, the propriety of distributing small tickets, with a text of Scripture upon each, as rewards for good conduct and diligence, a certain number of which, at the termination of a quarter, should entitle the bearer to one of greater value, as an encitement to increasing perseverance. The unexpected success attending the introduction of these tickets, and the highly flattering testimonies from the teachers of their beneficial effects, fully justify any little additional expense incurred by them. The spirit of zeal, emulation, attention, and desire for improvement thus excited among the children, is highly gratifying to the committee. A reformation of conduct has gradually taken place in numbers of the young people; many who upon first entering the Schools, were remarkably careless and unruly, are now distinguished by unremitted application, and uniform consistency of conduct, and bid fair to be useful members of Society, and to adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour by a life and conversation becoming the Gospel.
It became the pleasing duty of the committee to remark, in their last annual report, the happy effects attending the labours of the teachers, in the visible change upon the temper and dispositions of many of the children, and the hopes they entertained respecting the spiritual improvement of others: the committee feel a degree of pleasure, in which they doubt not the friends of the institution will participate, in mentioning that these hopes have been fully realized; that fourteen young people during last year have given the most pleasing evidence of early piety, and have testified their love to the Saviour by uniting with his people of various religious connections, in church fellowship. The committee might multiply extracts of the most gratifying nature from the quarterly reports of the teachers, but content themselves with the following. "We have left," say they, 66 no method untried with which we are acquainted, to preserve order, and promote the improvement of the children. Censure, reproof, and admonition, tempered with prudence and affection, are the only weapons we have ventured to employ. The word of God is the book from which we deliver our instructions, and we have the fullest conviction that it has proved to many of them quick and powerful,
sharper than a two edged sword. The seed we trust has been sown in a good soil, and the blade has already made its appearance. Delicacy, however, as well as prudence, forbid our being more minute, being rather disposed to look to God for a blessing on our exertions, than rashly to prognosticate their effects."
While the committee, in conclusion, sincerely rejoice in the prosperity of this Institution, they would attribute all the suc cess attending their exertions, to the blessings of God alone. They have used every endeavour to extend the blessings of religious instruction to a still greater number of the rising generation; and if their efforts have been successful in reforming the morals, in enlightening the judgment, in impressing the heart, or in awakening the conscience, they would ascribe all "the praise, and honour, and glory, and power, to him that sitteth upon the throne, and to the Lamb for ever and ever." Relying upon the promise of God, that, "his word shall not return unto him void, but shall prosper in the thing whereto he hath sent it," the society will continue to pursue its operations; and uniting with unremitting exertions, fervent supplications to the mercy-seat of God, they look forward with joyful anticipation to the happy period, when, in consequence of the unparalleled exertions of the friends of divine truth, "the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the Lord," when "the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in his wings" "to give light to them that sit in darkness and in the region and shadow of death."
To the above Report we subjoin the Address of the Committee to the Teachers.
WE have not been unconcerned spectators of your benevolent exertions:-we have witnessed you surrounded by your little flocks, sowing the seeds of religious instruction in their hearts, and our silent but fervent supplications have ascended on your behalf. We have marked with feelings of the most delightful emotion, the blessed effects of your labours upon those under your charge; we have heard them, while the tear glistened in their eyes, inquiring of you the way to Zion;-and we have seen them following you in the path which conducts to heaven, nobly fighting in the same field and under the same banner. But we know that you have many discouragements which impede your progress, and paralize your exertions. Per mit us then, in the spirit of love to suggest to your recollection
those qualities which appear to form the character of a good teacher, and that plan of procedure which, under the Divine blessing, appears to be most calculated to insure suc
When the children are assembled, the exercises commence by singing a few verses of a psalm or hymn, followed by a short prayer from the teacher. The children then repeat the passages of Scripture appointed them on the preceding evening: the number of verses must be regulated according to their age and capacity. The teacher must beware however of hearing them always in the same rotation, and must vary both the order and quantity which each repeats, to prevent them from learning that part of the task only which they know will be required of them. After the teacher has asked such simple questions as may occur to him from the passage, endeavoured to explain its meaning, and impress the truths it contains upon their minds; the children read the chapter or portion of Scripture, given out on the preceding Sabbath evening, and bring forward such parallel passages as they may have selected to explain its meaning and enforce its precepts; the teacher then delivers a short address to the children, from the passage, and concludes the exercises by prayer and praise.
In all your addresses to the children, study simplicity and brevity. "Nothing is easier (says the excellent Mr. Cecil,) than to talk to children; but to talk to them as they ought to be talked to, is the very last effort of ability. A man must have a vigorous imagination-he must have extensive knowledge, to call in illustrations from the four corners of the earth; for he will make but little progress but by illustration. It requires great genius to throw the mind into the habit of children's minds. I aim at this, but I find it the utmost effort of ability. No sermon ever put my mind half so much on the stretch. I am surprised at nothing that Dr. Watts did, but his Hymns for Children. Other men could have written as well as he in his other works, but how he wrote these Hymns I know not." It is of the last importance, that they should both be able to understand what you say, and that their attention should not be wearied out by long addresses. The attention of children is very soon tired, and they become listless aud indifferent.
The great end of instruction is impression. Religion is a thing to be felt as well as known. Keeping this always in view, you will feel it your duty to reflect much upon what you are about to say to them; you will not come to the School with the erude, undigested thoughts of the moment, but prepared to speak to them by previous study and consideration. Feeling
your own weakness and insufficiency, you will be earnest in prayer for heavenly aid and direction.
You will endeavour to captivate their attention by a lively and interesting address, introducing such stories, memoirs, or anecdotes as may tend to illustrate the subject, avoiding as much as possible all abstract reasoning. "Stories," says the writer formerly alluded to, "fix children's attention. The moment I begin to talk in any thing like an abstract manner, the attention subsides. The simplest manner in the world, will not make way to children's minds for abstract truths. With stories I find I could rivet their attention for two or three hours.”
A teacher must be kind and affectionate in his conduct towards the children: he ought never to speak to them with the harsh look or haughty air of magisterial authority; yet with softness and gentleness of manners, strictness and firmness must to a certain degree be combined. With the most indefatigable zeal and attention, he must endeavour to preserve the utmost order and regularity among them. Where rules are laid down for the regulation of the School, let them be firmly and invariably adhered to; but at the same time he must beware of that repulsive coldness which places those under his charge at too great a distance to allow them to open their minds to him, as to a kind and affectionate parent. It is this kindness, manifested by looks and by words that insinuates itself into their little hearts, and forms the most indissoluble bond of union between the children and the School.
If you wish your instructions to be successful, you will be careful in your own conduct to avoid every thing that may counteract their effect: let your example be such, as to manifest the temper and disposition of the child of God.
We need scarcely observe that your heart must be in the work, otherwise you can never expect to succeed. You ought to remember the responsibility attached to your situation:-if you neglect to warn, advise, admonish, and instruct them in the word of God, "their blood must be required at your hand." If you feel as you ought, you will account it your duty to be earnest in prayer on their behalf, not merely whilst assembled with them on the sabbath evenings, but in your secret approaches to a throne of mercy. Your zeal also in the cause in which you are engaged, will manifest itself by a constant and regular attendance on the duties of your station: you will be punctual to the hour of meeting, and careful to have every thing prepared for their reception. No personal gratification no slight inconvenience ought ever to seduce you from the path of
duty:" he that regardeth the wind (saith the wise man) shall
You must beware of showing any thing like partiality in your behaviour towards them. Children are often much more sharp-sighted in this respect than we are aware of, and if they discover any appearances of this in your conduct, it will tend to weaken their affection, and destroy your usefulness.
In the discharge of your various duties, you will have need of much patience-much humility. Like the husbandman you may sow your seed, and the long dreary night of winter may succeed;" but be not weary in well doing, for in due season you shall reap if you faint not."-" Be patient, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord: behold the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and the latter rain."-Although your instructions may appear as seed scattered upon the barren rock," though the fig-tree should not blossom, nor fruit be in the vines,-though the labour of the olive should fail, and the fields should yield no meat;"-yet" in the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thy hand:"-" Cast thy bread upon the waters, and thou shalt find it after many days.'
"The prodigal left his father's house, but could not leave altogether his father's instructions: these though apparently lost to him, were still in the keeping of his conscience. The sun of prosperity shone out its day, and the night of affliction, dreary and tempestuous followed. This was the time for conscience to do its work:-now amidst the surrounding darkness, rise in rapid succession the long-forgotten counsels of parental solicitude; and the very instructions which he once shunned as his enemies, the prodigal now embraces as his guides, to lead him to his father and his God."
And now, brethren, we commend you to God, and to the word of his grace:-may your exertions be crowned with increasing success, and may there be many in the day of the Lord, who shall acknowledge you as their spiritual fathers and instructors in Christ.
On SABBATH EVENING SCHOOLS.
THE diffusion of useful knowledge, and the circulcation of the light of divine truth, are objects which endear themselves to the heart of every true philanthropist. The Sunday School system, now so extensively adopted, and so generally patronized both in England and Ireland, has always appeared to me to be