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Orr, Rev. Alexander, Installation of
Poor Man, Letter by a
Porter, Rev. J. N. Ordination of
Priestly, Dr. Miss Martineau's Character of
Sunday-Schools in the United States,
Yorkshire, Unitarian Tract Society in
THE SUNDAY-SCHOOL-BY DR. CHANNING.
(Our limits will not permit us to present our readers with this excellent discourse at length; we must therefore be satisfied with making large extracts. The Preacher gives his views on the important subject of Sunday-schools under the following heads ;-first, the Principle on which such schools should be founded; next, their end, or great object; in the third place, What they should teach; and lastly, How they should teach.-BIBLE CHRISTIAN.]
1. I am, first, to consider the principle on which the Sunday school should be founded. It must be founded and carried on in Faith. You must not establish it from imitation, nor set it in motion because other sects have adopted a like machinery. The Sunday school must be founded on and sustained by a strong faith in its usefulness, its worth, its importance. Faith is the spring of all energetic action. Men throw their souls into objects, only because they believe them to be attainable and worth pursuit. You must have faith in your school; and for this end you must have faith in God; in the child whom you teach; and in the Scriptures which are to be taught.
You must have faith in God; and by this I do not mean a general belief of his existence and perfection, but a faith in him as the father and friend of the chil. dren whom you instruct, as desiring their progress more than all human friends, and as most ready to aid you in your
efforts for their good. You must not feel yourselves alone. You must not think when you enter the place of teaching, that only you and your pupils are present, and that you have nothing but your own pow. er and wisdom to rely on for success. You must feel a* high presence. You must feel that the Father of these children is near you, and that he loves them with a boundless love. Do not think of God as interested only in higher orders of beings, or only in great and distinguished men. The little child is as dear to him as the hero, as the philosopher, as the angel; for in that child are the germs of an angel's powers, and God has called him into being that he may become an angel. On this faith every Sunday school should be built, and on such a foundation it will stand firm and gather strength.
Again, yon must have faith in the child whom you instruct. Believe in the greatness of its nature and in its capacity of improvement. Do not measure its mind by its frail, slender form. In a very few years, in ten years, perhaps, that child is to come forward into life, to take on him the duties of an arduous vocation, to assume serious responsibilities, and soon after he may be the head of a family and have a voice in the government of bis country. All the powers which he is to put forth in life, all the powers which are to be unfolded in his endless being, are now wrapt up within him. That mind, not you, nor I, nor an angel, can comprehend. Feel that your scholar, young as he is, is worthy of your intensest interest. Have faith in his nature, especially as fitted for religion. Do not, as some do, look on the child as born under the curse of God, as naturally hostile to all goodness and truth. What! the child totally depraved! Can it be that such a thought ever entered the mind of a human being ? especially that of a parent! What! in that beauty of childhood and youth, in that open brow, that cheerful smile, do you see the brand of total corruption? Is it a little fiend who sleeps so sweetly on his mother's breast ? Was it an infant demon which Jesus took in his arms and said, “ Of such is the kingdom of heaven? Is the child, who, as you relate to him a story of suffering or generosity, listens with a tearful or kindling eye and a throbbing heart, is he a child of hell ? As soon could I look on the sun, and think it the source of darkness, as on the countenance of childhood or of youth, and see total depravity written there. My friends, we should believe any doctrine sooner than this, for it tempts us to curse the day of our birth; to loathe our existence ; and, by making our Creator our worst foe and our fellow creatures hate. ful, it tends to rupture all the ties wbich bind us to God and our race. My friends, have faith in the child ; not
that it is virtuous and holy at birth; for virtue or holiness is not, cannot be born with us, but is a free, vol. untary effort of a being who knows the distinction of right and wrong, and who, if tempted, adheres to the right; but have faith in the child as capable of knowing and loving the good and the true, as having a conscience to take the side of duty, as open to ingenuous motives for well-doing, as created for knowledge, wisdom, piety, and disinterested love.
Once more, you must have faith in Christianity as adapted to the mind of the child, as the very truth fitted to enlighten, interest, and improve the human being in the first years of life. It is the property of our religion, that whilst it stretches beyond the grasp of the mightiest intellect, it contracts itself, so to speak, within the limits of the narrowest ; that whilst it furnishes matter of inexhaustible speculation to such men as Locke and Newton, it condescends to the ignorant and becomes the teacher of babes. Christianity at once speaks with authority in the schools of the learned, and enters the nursery to instil with gentle voice celestial wisdom into the ears of infancy. And this wonderful property of our religion is to be explained by its being founded on, and answering to, the primitive and most universal principles of human nature. It reveals God as a parent, and the first sentiment which dawns on the child is love to its parents. It enjoins not arbitrary commands, but teaches the everlasting principles of duty; and the sense of duty begins to unfold itself in the earliest stages of our being. It speaks of a future world and its inhabitants, and childhood welcomes the idea of angels, of spirits, of the vast, the wonderful, the un
Above all, Christianity is set forth in the life, the history, the character of Jesus ; and his character, though so sublime, is still so real, so genuine, so remarkable for simplicity, and so naturally unfolded amidst the common scenes of life, that it is seized in its principal features by the child as no other greatness can be. One of the excellencies of Christianity is, that it is not an abstruse theory; not wrapt up in abstract phrases, but taught us in facts, in narratives. It lives, moves, speaks, and acts before our eyes. Christian love is not tauglit us in cold precepts. It speaks from the
So immortality is not a vague promise. It breaks forth like the morning from the tomb near Cal.
vary. It becomes a glorious roality in the person of the rising Saviour; and his ascencion opens to our view, the heaven into which he enters. It is this historical form of our religion which peculiarly adapts it to childhood, to the imagination and heart, which open first in childhood. In this sense the kingdom of heaven, the reli. gion of Christ, belongs to children. This you must feel. Believe in the fitness of our religion for those you teach. Feel that
have the very instrument for acting on the young mind, that you have the life-giving word.
I now proceed to consider what is to be taught in the Sunday schools to accomplish the great end of which I have spoken ; and this may seem soon settled. Should I ask you what is to be taught in the Sunday-school, the answer would be, “ The Christian religion.
The insti. tution is a Christian one, and has for its end the communication of Christian truth." I acquiesce in the answer ; but the question then comes, " In what forms shall the religion be taught, so as to wake up the life of the child ? Shall a catechism be taught ?" I say, No. A catechism is a skeleton, a dead letter, a petrifaction. Wanting life, it can give none. A cold abstraction, it cannot but make religion repulsive to pupils whose age demands that truth should be embodied, set before their eyes, bound up with real life. A catechisin, by being systematical, may give a certain order and method to teaching; but systems of theology are out of place in Sunday schools. They belong to the end, not the beginning of religious teaching. Besides, they are so generally the constructions of human ingenuity rather than the living forms of divine wisdom ; ihey give such undue prominence to doctrines which have been lifted into importance only by the accident of having been made matters of controversy; they so often sacrifice common sense, the plain dictates of reason and conscience, to the preservation of what is called consistency; they lay such fetters on teacher and learner, and prevent so much the free action of the mind and heart, that they seldom enter the Sunday-school but to darken and mislead it.
The teachers of the young should strive to be at home with Jesus, to know him familiarly, to form a