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membership belongs to the age of responsible personality. Then membership should be recognised and registered in harmony with their age and religious condition, and over them appropriate pastoral care should be exercised by the Church. In the early years of Christianity infant disciples were called neophytes. We have all read with profound and pathetic interest of the Church in the catacombs. A few touching epitaphs on infant tombs show how baptized little ones were regarded by the Early Church : “Flavia Jovina, who lived three years and thirty days, a neophyte in peace.” This belongs, according to the best authority, to A.D. 367 : “ To Romanus, a neophyte, who died at eight years and fifteen days old.” The date of this is A.D. 371. “To Aristus, a guiltless boy, who lived eight months-a neophyte.” We, like the early Church, have a child membership, and, like it, we should have a name for it. “ Junior Society” is the Welsh name, and perhaps we could not find a better.
How many a Church put forth its activity in its Sunday-school in practical accordance with these momentous principles ? A great question, to which I am conscious my answer will be inadequate. First, there may be in the school the doctrine of the Church ; second, its fellowship ; third, its worship.
First, there should be in the school the doctrine of the Church. The head of each class is a teacher. His work is of the same kind as that of the Great Teacher, and of His allies in the pulpit. To fill the minds and hearts of His scholars with Christ and His doctrines is the chief work of the Sunday-school teacher. In the class, as in the pulpit, there should be no uncertain sound on the Fatherhood of God, in which are included authorship, affection, and authority ; on the love of God which is free, unchangeable, and everlasting; on Christ as God, the revelation of the Father, the Redeemer of men, their Lord, and the giver of eternal life; on the Holy Spirit as the personal agent who takes of the things of Christ to regenerate and to comfort and to sanctify; on man as the child of God, lost to God and by God; on faith, as the medium of justification and sanctification and of all spiritual bestowments; on salvation, as the forgiveness of sins, and yet more, as a personal and progressive state of righteousness, and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost; on the future life as a continuation and harvest of the present; on Christ, in His glorified manhood and sovereignty, as the type of the redeemed at the resurrection; on Church duties, Christian home duties, and duties to society, to the nation, and to the world ; on the nature, and dignity, and grandeur, and blessedness of a Christian life. These doctrines and duties might be taught by catechetical instruction. In spite of the adverse opinion which
now prevails in the Christian world, I think the average doctrinal teaching in our Sunday-schools is not of such a character as to supersede a catechism. Where one is not used, and where one is used too, New Testament doctrines and ethics might be put, by the aid of poem, parable, story, and tale, in a form which would come within the capacity and comprehension of the children of our schools. The soul of a child, like that of a man, is chiefly a grand capacity for God. God as Creator, God in Christ, God in every human life ; sin as a disregard of authority, ingratitude, irreverence, and unbelief; redemption by ransom, faith in Christ, love for Him, and obedience to Him; human forgiveness, gentleness, patience, pity, and good doing; and all the chief doctrines and ethics of the New Testament may be made as intelligible to a child as to a man. By suitable illustration, by the use of “likes," appropriate anecdote, and striking story, the great truths of the glorious Gospel of the blessed God may be lodged in the good and honest soul of a child's heart.
“ Tho' truths in manhood darkly join,
Deep seated in our mystic frame,
To teach the Bible is not dealing with the geography of Palestine, its manners and customs, its sects and politics. These, I know well, may sometimes be used to adorn and point a doctrine and a duty; but to teach the Bible is to communicate a knowledge of its life-giving and life-governing truths. “As in the breastplate of the Jewish high-priest each jewel flashed with its own peculiar hue, yet all united to produce one radiant stream of brightness, so each teacher in a Sunday-school should strive to be, not an isolated unit, but a member of a high and holy, though humble and unobtrusive, federation." He is one of a band of teachers of one organisation, which is a union of School and Church.
Sunday-school teachers may be aided by those of the Church in several ways. Ministers could recommend very good books to Sunday-school teachers. Our friends rich in this world's goods might give to teachers a few first-class books. Ministers could make some of their sermons into a means of aiding many teachers to see with sunlight clearness the leading doctrines and ethics of the New Testament. We build colleges for preachers, and spend millions of money on their education, but many Sunday-school
teachers receive slight aid of any kind. A sermon to children in place of the second lesson, is a growing kind of Church work in the :school. A week-night service for children might, in some cases, with advantage take the place of the ordinary week-night service. This is often a poor thing. The baptism of each child should be a service as distinct and solemn as the Communion of the Lord's Supper. From complaints I have heard, I fear it rarely takes the form of a complete and devout service. It is too often slurred. We sometimes scamp it. If viewed by ministers, and Churches, and parents as it ought to be viewed, that is, as the door into discipleship to Christ, and into His visible Church, the baptismal service would take a high place for solemnity and significance. What I want to point out and promote is solidarity of the doctrinal and ethical teaching of the School and of the Church.
Church fellowship should be in the school. On the importance of the Christian fellowship of our class-meetings to our Churches I cannot now dwell. The communion of saints, such as we have in our class-meetings, is the very heart of the New Testament idea of a Church. In them we have Apostolic communion. Into such like fellowship let us gather the children of our schools. In some Churches, flourishing classes for child communion are already formed, and they are gradually extending into the Churches of all denominations. There exists a gulf, which ought not to exist, between the baptismal font and the fellowship of the Church, or of the class-meeting; the meeting which is vitally connected with the membership and might of Methodist Churches. It may be bridged by the fellowship of children in classes or bands. Such fellowship would put the responsibility of breaking with the Church on the young, when they reach some crisis of their being. At present, the responsibility of their alienation from our Churches rests very largely on the Churches themselves. By these juvenile class-meetings we could shade and graduate the membership of children into fully accredited and personally accountable membership. Dr. Bushnell says: “Baptized children ought to be enrolled by name in the catalogue of each Church, as composing a distinct class of candidate or catechumen members. ... Children, as soon as they are well out of their infancy, ought to be taken also to the stated meetings of fellowship and prayer, drawn into all the moods of worship, praise, supplication, reproof, as being rightly concerned in them on the score of their membership."
Then there should be in the school the worship of the Church. By worship, I now mean praise and prayer. I may say, that in the school, as in the church, there should be a distinct recognition of the educational and devotional value of hymns. Hymns of un
wholesome sentiment, of which there are many, should be avoided in our schools as a wasting pestilence. We should not let a popular tune blind us to the lack of doctrinal and ethical teaching in the hymns we use. Too many hymns are sung for the sake of the tune. Their doctrinal teaching and devotional effect are entirely overlooked. With good music and healthy sentiment, hymns are a more effective means of spiritual instruction in the school than in the Church. Children's minds are like wax to receive impressions, like marble to retain them. A monthly prayer-meeting should be an institution in every school. It would be right, and do good, if our stewards and leaders and members attended it. Might we not have a monthly prayer-meeting on a Sunday night for the school? Special services for the young should be a leading part of our special evangelistic efforts. On a Sunday afternoon an address might be given, to secure at once the children for Christ. This is what I mean by the “ Church in the School.”
Christ, the Saviour and Sovereign of the world, of every man, woman, and child in it. This is the definite and sublime purpose of the Christian Church. But this end will never be reached until our Churches fill the mind, and heart, and conscience, and thoughts of our children with Christ as their Redeemer and King. The only natural and possible method of winning the world to Christ, is beginning with the children. Samuel Jackson said: “We must be at the children, or the millennium is a long way off.” Daniel Webster pat to Thomas Jefferson this question, “ What is to be the salvation of our nation ?" Listen to his reply, “This nation will be saved, if saved at all, by teaching the children to love the Saviour.”
JAMES E. WALSH.
THE WEEK-Day WORK OF THE SUNDAY
SCHOOL TEACHER . A GENTLEMAN once passed a florist who was so absorbed with his cuttings that he did not hear the friendly "good morning" till twice spoken. “I beg your pardon, sir,” said the diligent cultivator, “but, you see, one must put his whole mind on these young things if he would have them to do well; and I cannot bear that one of them should die on my hands, for I should almost feel as if I had murdered it by neglect. Youug plants need much more care than old ones that are used to storm and blight."
If, then, such absorbing care be necessary in the training of the young plants of the natural world, how much more is it necessary in the training of those of the spiritual world! For, ushered into life with hearts biassed towards evil, and passing through it amid influences so unfavourable to good, the children in our Sunday-schools require the constant attention
and nurture of their teachers. The special religious teaching and tending of two or three hours on one day of the week will not suffice for them, especially when we know that the greater part of the remaining time of many is spent among associations that nullify the instruction of the Sabbath. Hence, while punctuality in attendance, knowledge of Scripture, aptness of speech, and purity of heart must ever be deemed essential qualifications for a successful Sunday-school teacher; there must be, beside these, the conviction that the nursing of the young is a life-work, demanding the consecration of all spare time and energy, and the utilisation of every available resource. Instead of thinking that his duty begins and ends with the Sabbath, the teacher ought to realise that it is but the day which should gather up and concentrate in itself the efforts he has been putting forth during the six days that have passed, and which should determine the object of all the efforts of the six days to followwhich is the salvation of our scholars, to which everything else must be subservient. Yet, there are other and more immediate objects which are not only of great importance in themselves, but also means of promoting the grand object. These week-day efforts may be generally represented as preparing for and supplementing the work of the Lord's day.
A thorough and systematic preparation for the class-work of the Sabbath is now universally recognised as an imperative duty. We will, therefore, assume that every teacher, who is living in the spirit of his holy calling, feels that it is part of the burden laid upon him by the Lord to devote a portion of his week-day leisure to the right understanding and arrangement of his lesson for the succeeding Sunday, and to the attuning of his own soul, by communion with God, for the earnest enforcement of saving truth.
Having always something interesting to say, and knowing how to say it, will certainly do much towards fostering a favourable disposition in the minds of scholars; but, as evinced by the failure of many of the aptest teachers to gain and retain the attention of their scholars, knowledge and ability will not do all. To these there must be added affectionate interest in them. Ministers are frequently advised that if they wish to have attentive and sympathetic hearers they must, in addition to studying and preaching, mix up with their people, entering into their joys and sorrows, and winning their confidence and love. This counsel might be profitably followed, in their sphere, by those upon whom it specially devolves in these times to obey the Good Shepherd's command, “ Feed My lambs.” For the favour of children is more easily gained or lost than that of adults. A kindly word or greeting in the street will tend to make a wilful boy or a frolicsome girl more tractable on the following Sunday. Or to set apart an hour, occasionally, for the purpose of associating with them in their homes, walks, studies, or games, will enable the zealous teacher, without any sacrifice of true dignity or proper control, to carry his pupils' hearts by storm. To show them by direct contact that his piety is not a gloomy rule, but a bright life; not a temporary, but a habitual garment; that his sympathy is not a profession of the lips, but a principle of the heart ; and that his love is a warm and unselfish affection-will, if anything can, create and preserve a disposition in his favour.