Imágenes de páginas

In addition to this manifestation of sympathy and interest, there must be adaptation to the condition and requirements of his scholars. He who passes through the world forgetful of the experiences of his own early days, and unmindful of the presence and pursuits of children, may fancy there is but little difference in their dispositions; but he who remembers the spring of his own life, and carefully observes the manners, gambols, and ambitions of children, knows that there are not two with the same temperament. Hence, to teach a class in a set, unvarying style, as though all its members had been cast in the same mould, is a certain prelude of failure. But how can this be avoided without adaptation ? And how can there be adaptation without practical knowledge ?

The practical knowledge which is thus necessary must be general and particular; that is, it must embrace children in general, and one's own scholars in particular. To acquire this knowledge must be an important branch of the teacher's week-day work. Without prying into matters that do not concern him, he should observe the habits, failings, and tempers of the children he meets in his walks to and from business, in his social visits, and in his hours of recreation. He should observe how they conduct themselves at home and abroad, at study and play, as he will thereby learn what are the dangers to which children are specially exposed, and the weaknesses to which they are specially prone. This acquisition will enable him to indicate and illustrate the perils of the young.

But he must more particularly watch and inquire into the dispositions and doings of his own charge; visiting them systematically at their homes; inviting the confidence of themselves and their parents ; and noting the character of their pleasures, employments, and companions. By these means he will acquaint himself with the individual tendencies and requirements of his scholars, and be guided in what and how to teach them. Thus will the week-day work of the teacher render that of the Sunday more easy and pleasant.

But having, during the class hours of Sabbath, used the forces he has been gathering from so many quarters throughout the preceding week, is the teacher's work, in regard to the lessons for which he has made such preparation, finished ? is there nothing further for him to do but to begin and complete his preparations for the next Sunday ? Does the fisherman who has cast his net into the sea immediately return home for another net, without securing what he may have caught ? On the contrary, as the whole world knows, the fisherman, before he obtains another net, draws in the one already in use. Even so the teacher-who on the Lord's day has thrown out to them the Gospel net-ought to follow up his work during the succeeding week, seeking out the souls that may have been caught.

If the teacher, while unfolding the truth to his class, discerns the marks of conviction in any one of his scholars, he ought to endeavour to make an opportunity during the week to deepen the impression. To do this effectually it would be advisable for him to seek a personal interview with the anxious one, to ascertain the character and extent of the Spirit's work, and to urge and help to a prompt and full decision.


We have heard of teachers who have made an invitation to their home, or to a country walk, the occasion for such an interview.

Or, even if no visible impression for good be produced on the Sabbath, the teacher who has the time and the convenience might have an evening, every week or fortnight, set apart for a meeting of his scholars. In the winter they might come to his home, while in the summer they might ramble with him in the green fields. These gatherings would, among other advantages, afford him an opportunity for illustrating and applying in a familiar way, aspects of the truth that were overlooked, or only imperfectly enforced in the Sunday's lessons. It is only by these or by similar methods we can reasonably hope to reap, in any quantity, the fruit of the seed sown in the class.

Besides, the teacher who does not desire the labours of the Sabbath to be spent apparently for nought, should devote certain hours of the week to prayer, for the fructifying influences of the Holy Spirit to be shed forth on his charge, bringing the truths enunciated to remembrance, and causing them to sprout in the heart and blossom in the life. The Apostle Paul said: “I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase" (1 Cor. iii. 6); and our Lord said: "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you" (Matt. vii. 7). So that the increase of our spiritual husbandry is the gift of God; but it is a gift conditioned upon our direct, earnest, and importunate prayer. Few of us, who are labouring for God, omit to pray for the work to come ; but how many of us have any fixed time to pray for the work that is past ? Too oft we forget that, in the kingdom of grace as in the kingdom of nature, sunshine and shower will avail nothing, if they do not follow as well as precede our sowing. Let not then the teacher, by his unmindful if not unbelieving neglect of prayer, as to his past Sabbath's sowing, induce God to withhold the beams and rain of His Spirit, without which the seed of saving truth can strike no root in the heart.

So far, we have confined ourselves to the week-day work of the teacher in its preparatory and applicatory bearings upon the class-work of the Sunday, but it must have a wider field than this. In these critical times, the teacher must consider himself the pastor of his scholars ; taking an oversight of them, in all that is allowable, without trespassing ou parental rights and responsibilities. In perhaps the majority of cases, the children who attend our Sunday-schools enjoy no spiritual or moral supervision apart from that of their teachers; their parents allowing them to be a law unto themselves. And those parents who do watch over the week-day life of their offspring will doubtless hail with gratitude the supplementary vigilance of teachers who are constrained by the love of Christ.

Recreation naturally monopolises a large share of the week-day leisure of the young; if it were otherwise, it would be a gloomy outlook for the health of the next generation of Englishmen and Englishwomen. Unhappily, it is in this sphere that our youth are exposed to the most numerous and subtle temptations. Our sports and games in general are more or less exposed to the baneful influence of drinking, gambling, or other sinful customs. Seldom does a season pass in which we do not witness

some of our scholars unwittingly led away by evil associates in amusement, until the atmosphere of the school becomes distasteful to them, and their absence is more frequent than their presence. Shall those who now grace our classes, and are the hope of our Churches, be allowed to drift away without a hand being stretched out to deter them, into pastimes, with associations and companions, that will soon cast a shadow over their future life? May not the teacher, so far as other duties will permit, unite with them during the long light evenings of summer in some of the innocent outdoor recreations of which English children are so fond; or assist them during the long, dark evenings of winter, in arranging an attractive programme for an occasional indoor entertainment ? Would not his presence, not to speak of his example, have a salutary effect in restraining the evil and encouraging the good, besides affording him a healthy change from other occupations ?

Another force that is moulding the youth of our time is reading. Nearly every boy and girl has a favourite periodical, the appearance of which is as eagerly awaited as the news of a critical battle by a king. This taste, like every other, is capable of cultivation; and certainly the Sunday. school teacher cannot afford to neglect its culture in his scholars; or if he does neglect it, the mass of corruption which issues weekly from the press will speedily neutralise his work. He can do little, in this respect, during class hours, because it is then his duty to explain, illustrate, and enforce the Book. Hence, it is advisable for him to have a literary evening now and again, when he can inquire as to the books read by his scholars, recommend something that is suitable and healthy, and give them a taste of a pure and palatable dish by the way of sharpening their appetite. But, to do this effectually, he must acquaint himself with the youthful literature of the age.

Moreover, removals are very frequent in some districts of our country. Scholars, who are with us to-day, are away to-morrow, to a school or a situation in a distant locality. And, alas! many of these changes are disastrous. Away from the old ties, influences, and associations, that have, at least, restrained the evil, if they have not stimulated the good, in them, they glide into bad company and habits, until they become detached from virtue and shame. What can the teacher do, in these cases of removal, to preserve the bond between himself and the absent ones, which may be the only human bond that can hold them for God and beaven ? Is he restricted to praying for them? Can he not, in the days of a cheap postage and quick delivery, keep up a constant communication with them by letter? Such an arrangement, if regularly carried out, could not fail to do good? The teacher's letters would tend to perpetuate the old influences, and to maintain the old ties; serving, like the last strands of a breaking rope, to save from a fate worse than a thousand deaths. One of the busiest men we know, a large manufacturer, in an important industrial centre, a practical sympathiser with every public movement, whether political or religious, local or national, has kept up a correspondence for years with old scholars in distant places, with much benefit to them and no little profit to himself. But there is nothing, which we have hitherto advanced, that has a more VOL. LXXXVI.


direct bearing on the welfare of the young of our day than their relation to temperance. It is needless to quote the familiar and well-attested statistics which so appallingly show that alcoholic drinks are the curse of our country. And no experienced or observant Sunday-school teacher requires to be told, how heavily this curse has fallen on the ranks of our scholars, blasting many an early promise of piety and usefulness, and many a cherished hope of teacher and parent. Never were the youthalluring arts of this destroyer so strong and numerous as at presentgilded rooms, brilliant lights, pretty faces, ravishing music, and exciting games, are a few of the most conspicuous means used to tempt the unwary youth to drink the insidious poison. To guard against the ravages of this pitiless foe, Bands of Hope have been formed in connection with most of our schools. Let, then, the teacher, if on no other ground than that of Christian expediency, as expounded and exemplified by Paul, give his active support to these preventive institutions; attending their weeknight meetings, as far as practicable, and so influencing his scholars to attend and take the pledge. This step may involve some personal sacrifice, and even discomfort; but the increase of his sphere of usefulness, and the character of the results gained, will be more than a compensation.

We are conscious that the suggestions we have thus offered, as to the week-day work of the Sunday-school teacher, may be pronounced an impossible ideal. Yea, we can easily imagine that the most earnest of our Sabbath-school workers will be ready to exclaim, “ Who, that has not unlimited leisure, can hope to reach such a standard !" But we would ask, Have not more labourers for the Lord failed, through being satisfied with too low, than by striving after too high, an ideal? In fact, unless their ideals are unworthily low, men seldom or never realise them. In all noble work, we seem to be ever aspiring, yet never attaining; ever pursuing, yet never perfect. Our representation, in its entirety, may be justly deemed impracticable, for those who have other claims on their time and thought; but let each teacher choose, what he believes, accord. ing to his circumstances and capacity, to be possible for himself, and honestly try to conform to the standard fixed, and he will see his scholars, through his nurture, grow “like trees, planted by rivers of water, that bring forth their fruit in season, and whose leaf shall not wither," trees which, when the winter of life is come, shall be transplanted to bloom in the paradise of God.


No one ever did a designed injury to another, but at the same time he did a much greater to himself.

WHEN I met in class, I understood the preacher better; and getting an acquaintance with my own heart, and hearing the experience of God's people, I soon got acquainted with God Himself.-Adam Clarke.

BLESSED are the ears that gladly receive the pulses of the divine whisper. Blessed indeed are those ears that listen, not after the voice that is sounding without, but for the truth teaching inwardly.-Thomas à Kempis.

By the Author of " Thornleigh Grange," đc.

II. How sweetly the feathered tribe carol their early songs! Even while yet the first streaks of light are softly creeping over the dark ridges of the East, they may be heard warbling some of their sweetest strains. They are glad that the night is passed away. Songs of redemption are always sweet and loud. Even so were the songs sung by the singers of the Church, as the night of spiritual despotism, ignorance, and superstition passed away, to give place to the dawn of a glorious Reformation, and the day of liberty and peace. “ Then was their mouth filled with laughter, and their tongue with singing,” for “the Lord” had “ turned again the captivity of Zion." Up to this period Germany had been dumb. Now it had cause to sing. Hallam says, “ The Germans sang themselves into the new faith ;” and D’Aubigné wrote, “ Poetry cauglit the living flame kindled by the Reformation."

First among the hymnists of that never-to-be-forgotten era was Martin Luther—the lion-hearted Luther.” There is no need to sketch his career-it is well known. Still it is fitting here to point to the fact of his singing in the streets for bread, his father being too poor to support him, while he attended the Franciscan school at Magdeburg. Perhaps in no history do we see the hand of Providence more distinctly. There is a wonderful connection between the singing of “Foxes to their holes have gone," by young Martin, in the streets of Eisenach, and the singing of thousands of happy hearts throughout Germany, yea, throughout the world, and also of millions now before the Tlırone. He who sent Moses to the court of Pharaoh, to be trained for his life-work, found young Luther friends, who sent him to school to be educated to lead on the Protestant Reformation. The sympathetic heart of Ursula Cotta, as she heard the lad singing in the street, yearned towards him, and hier warm hand drew him to her own fireside. There, no doubt, the hero of the ages laid the foundation of his extensive knowledge, and developed to some considerable extent his love of music and song. To please the heart of the good woman, who was fond of music, he learnt to play the flute and the lute. Little thought Ursula, as she stood listening-sole anditor-to his songs, that those times were rehearsals for the period when he would thrill the souls of the masses with his hymns of evangelical truth. His enemies truly said he did more harm (to their cause) by his songs than by his sermons. Thousands who never heard his expositions of the truth, sang them in the hymns he wrote. Coleridge gives it as his opinion that he did as much for the Reformation by his pious lays as by his translation of the Bible.

The printing-press, newly-invented, was an invaluable help to the spreading of the truth. By its aid hymns and tunes were simultaneously and widely circulated. Hence we find “the children learned Luther's hymns in the cottage, and the martyrs sang them on the scaffold.” The Society at Wittemberg, in 1523, sent out no fewer than 498 different publications.

« AnteriorContinuar »