Front Cover
 Title Page
 Table of Contents
 The indifferent pastor
 The incompetent superintendent
 The careless teacher
 A disbanded Sunday-school...
 Back Cover

Group Title: Sunday-school phenomena : viz The indifferent pastor. The incompetent superintendent. The careless teacher. The disbanded sunday-school class
Title: Sunday-school phenomena
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00020324/00001
 Material Information
Title: Sunday-school phenomena viz The indifferent pastor. The incompetent superintendent. The careless teacher. The disbanded sunday-school class
Alternate Title: S. S. phenomena
Physical Description: 106 p. : ill. ; 15 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Davis, Emerson, 1798-1866
American Sunday-School Union ( Publisher )
Publisher: American Sunday-School Union
Place of Publication: Philadelphia ;
New York
Publication Date: c1852
Subject: Christian education of children   ( lcsh )
Sunday schools   ( lcsh )
Bldn -- 1852
Genre: non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage: United States -- Pennsylvania -- Philadelphia
United States -- New York -- New York
Statement of Responsibility: by the author of "The teacher taught, "The sunday-school teacher's dream," etc. etc.
Funding: Brittle Books Program
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00020324
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: aleph - 002238195
oclc - 30855251
notis - ALH8692

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Page 1
        Page 2
    Title Page
        Page 3
        Page 4
    Table of Contents
        Page 5
        Page 6
    The indifferent pastor
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 31
        Page 32
        Page 33
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36
    The incompetent superintendent
        Page 37
        Page 38
        Page 39
        Page 40
        Page 41
        Page 42
        Page 43
        Page 44
        Page 45
        Page 46
    The careless teacher
        Page 47
        Page 48
        Page 49
        Page 50
        Page 51
        Page 52
        Page 53
        Page 54
        Page 55
        Page 56
        Page 57
        Page 58
        Page 59
        Page 60
        Page 61
        Page 62
        Page 63
    A disbanded Sunday-school class
        Page 64
        Page 65
        Page 66
        Page 67
        Page 68
        Page 69
        Page 70
        Page 71
        Page 72
        Page 73
        Page 74
        Page 75
        Page 76
        Page 77
        Page 78
        Page 79
        Page 80
        Page 81
        Page 82
        Page 83
        Page 84
        Page 85
        Page 86
        Page 87
        Page 88
        Page 89
        Page 90
        Page 91
        Page 92
        Page 93
        Page 94
        Page 95
        Page 96
        Page 97
        Page 98
        Page 99
        Page 100
        Page 101
        Page 102
        Page 103
        Page 104
        Page 105
        Page 106
    Back Cover
        Page 107
Full Text

A untiaptscjooI 1benum etii.

Our Father which art in heaven -Matt. vi. 9.


Q1t nbiffrtnt pastor.
15t jIromptthut s riintratitt.

igt Curlss starter.
t lishsnhtb c$nattn 8ra-tl lass.

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IBW rOJR : Io. 17 NABBSAU BT ...... OTON: No.* 900BNIL.

kual acewding to Act qf Cogre nf m e gi or 1812, by U
min i Cleri Qlw f the Dlerid Cuwt of O@ ZSoerm Disfricqf

4* No booki are publUhd by ge AuXBICua BSmnaD-caooM Urour
eithoui tMe sanum a anof te ammtms Ao ahh otn, consising ffour-
es mesmbera, fron M ftUoo dknomsatioaw of ChrMan, ti. Bap
ist4, etowdist, og>rea onanost Bpieepal, Presbyteria, LZteran, aon
afobrm DuDtch. KNd more aHm wa of the uimbenlar es f aes mnM
dmominaton, and no book mn be puidhd to whicd asy flWmibr of Wte
abonminStd shole o .


THE INDIFIrnNT PASTOR............................... 7

TaH INCOMPzT"T SUPERINTNDENT.................. 37

THa CAnLss TzACHE................................. 47


1* 5



IT is the practice of some nurses to
disguise bitter pills in a plum or some
kind of sweetmeat. If a sick child had
two nurses--one to administer the pills
and the other the plums-it is not diffi-
cult to predict which would be the favour-
ite, though it is clear that the favourite
might not be the truest friend nor the
most judicious nurse.
It has sometimes seemed to us that
teachers are possibly too much under the
plum-nursing. It is so common for


those who address them to dilate upon the
glory of the Sunday-school enterprise,
upon the glory and dignity of the office,
and upon the wonderful success with
which their labours are not. unfrequently
crowned, that it would not be strange if
there should be those who are puffed up
with vain imaginations, and who think
of themselves more highly than they
ought to think, and not soberly.
The author of these remarks yields to
no one in his estimate of the value of a
faithful Sunday-school teacher's influence
and services. He may better say they are
entirely inestimable. But it is to be feared
that some-that not a few-appropriate
to themselves, without warrant, these
high encomiums, and while they devour
the sweetmeats uniformly reject the pills.


It is no enviable offce to attempt to
dispel such illusions, and to show to those
who entertain them their true position,
but some one must do it, or all must
suffer for the neglect. It is moreover
to be regretted that the class of persons
to whom we refer are generally least
likely to see or hear what is meant for
their good-nor are they prepared to
read with any complacency the condemna-
tion of their errors and neglects. The
advantage therefore of such an exhibition
as we propose to make must be con-
veyed to them at second hand. Let
them not escape the faithful wounds of
a friend, which are so much safer and
better for them than the deceitful kisses
of an enemy.
It is our purpose to state and explain,


briefly, some strange appearances or phe-
nomena in the progress of the Sunday-
school work; and it is done with the
hope not only of correcting faults, but
also of exciting a habit of closer observa-
tion and a feeling of deeper interest on
the part of those who are carrying it
forward. The author is aware that the
word phenomenon, in its strict acceptation,
means merely the visible quality of a
thing, but he uses it in the sense of such
an extraordinary appearance or quality
as strikes every beholder with surprise,
and seems to the cursory observer quite
And we will first introduce our readers
to a Sunday-school connected with and
sustained by a church of Christ, and
attended statedly by a large proportion


of the children of the congregation, in
which the pastor or clergyman, to whom
is committed the spiritual oversight of
the flock, takes no special interest. He
may have stated seasons for addressing
the school, and readily give his counsel
and assistance, (when requested,) in deter-
mining what general arrangements shall
be adopted-but the teachers know, and
the children know, that their minister
and their Sunday-school are, at best, very
cold acquaintances.
Now this is not suggested as a subject
of complaint or censure. It would cer-
tainly be unbecoming in us, if it were our
inclination, to treat it as such. When we
remember what peculiar cares and re-
sponsibilities are cast upon ministers-
that their time and thoughts are en-


grossed by a multitude of avocations to
which most of us are strangers-that
their professional duties are severe and
constant, and that the Sabbath is to them
(much more than to most of us) a day of
onerous and exhausting labour; we can
easily conceive how they find enough to
do, without giving much time or thought
to their Sunday-schools. But the wonder
is that the Sunday-school is placed by
them just where it is on the scale which
determines the relative importance of
the objects to which they will give
Let us explain this:-The father of a
large family may find it necessary to neg-
lect some things or consign the care of
them to the hands of others. He must at-
tend to his proper business, for upon this


they all depend for their daily bread. He
must attend at home to the education of
his children, for the opportunity to do this
is passing away. He must provide against
the ordinary contingencies of life. He has
his own mind to improve, and his own
religious interests and those of his house-
hold to care for. He has also duties to
society, numerous and indispensable-
politics, public improvements, projects of
science and humanity, all have their
claims upon him. And as his time and
sphere of influence are limited, he must
determine what he will do and what he
will not attempt to do.
Now we should not wonder if such a
man should say that he could not do all
which his family and his neighbours and
the community ask of him; but we should


be surprised to see him neglect his family,
or his business, or his soul, to engage in
political controversies and rail-road pro-
jects; not because such occupations are
not honourable and of consequence in
their place, but because he gives them the
precedence of what seems so much more
So of ministers of the gospel. They very
truly say, "We cannot attend to every
thing. Our public duties stand first, and
absorb most of our energies, and then our
ecclesiastical engagements and miscel-
laneous duties must not be neglected."
Admitting the force of this statement, it
only removes the difficulty one step
farther back. Why is not the Sunday-
school regarded as the theatre of most
important public duty? Why does it


not come in for a much larger share of
the most vigorous energies of the pastor?
Why does he not regard his Sunday-
school teachers as a select band of co-
adjutors and helps-meet in the most
important and critical branch of pastoral
duty-the care of the lamb? In a word,
why does he not give less attention to
something else for the express purpose
of giving more attention to this? This
is the surprising thing.
Does some one ask, What do our
pastors really think of Sunday-schools?
Why, just what we think of them, to be
sure. Shall we cite an authority or two
to this point?
"If ever the gospel is universally to
prevail," says Rev. Dr. Wayland, "it is
by some such means as this, (the Sunday-


school,) under God, that its triumph will
be achieved. The Sabbath-school is im-
buing what will, twenty years hence, be
the active population of this country,
with the principles of the gospel of Jesus
Christ. It is teaching that class of the
community, into whose hands, so soon,
the destinies of this country will fall, the
precepts of inviolable justice and eternal
truth. But more than all, it is planting
in the bosoms of millions of immortal
souls that knowledge which is able to
make them wise unto salvation through
faith that is in Christ Jesus. How trans-
cendently glorious are the privileges
before us! Who will not embark in this
holy enterprise ?"*

Annual Sermon before the American Sunday-
school Union, May 25th, 1880, p. 84.


"I am free to avow the opinion," says
the late Bishop Henshaw, "that the Sun-
day-school system will be found of more
extensive application and more efficient
power to the correction of these public
evils," (pauperism and crime,) "than all
the plausible schemes that philosophers
and political economists can devise."*
Ministers of Christ !" says the Rev.
Dr. Humphrey. Heard ye that voice in
the hour of your consecration, 'Feed my
lambs?' How much the prosperity of
this glorious cause of Sunday-schools de-
pends upon your faithfulness-upon your
influence. To say that it cannot 'go on
unto perfection' without you, is almost to
say that if it fails or languishes you must

Annual Sermon before the American Sunday-
school Union, May, 1833, p. 18.


answer for it. On you it devolves to teach
the teachers as well as the children of
your respective charges-to counsel and
encourage them in their arduous duties--
to visit your congregations, and persuade
them, if possible, to send every child to
the Sabbath-school as soon as it is capa-
ble of receiving religious instruction-and
to exercise a general supervision over this
blessed system of benevolence."*
"What other system," says the Rev.
Dr. Ferris, "presents such delightful
opportunities and prospects to a minis-
ter of Christ desiring to discharge his
duty to the children and youth of his
charge? We think all will answer,-not
any. What, my brethren! Have we (the

Annual Sermon before the American Sunday-
school Union, May, 1831, p. 2.


ministers of the gospel) the principal
means of aiding this institution (which
has already brought so much glory to
our Master) in pouring a richer and wider
'stream of blessings upon the church and
the world ? Is it presented to our hand
as an auxiliary in our own work ? Does
it promise to secure, with God's blessing,
the dearest of all objects,-the conversion
of the world ? Is not here enough to
call out our warmest gratitude, and in-
duce us at once to rise and build ?"*
t Such is my established confidence in
this effort," says the Rev. Dr. Tyng, and
my judgment is not formed hastily or
without opportunity of observation, that
I am fully convinced no single instrument

Annual Sermon before the American Sunday-
school Union, May, 1834, p. 35.


in the hands of the Spirit for doing good
to men and for building up the kingdom of
Christ in our day, will be found in the
end to have accomplished an equal amount
of gainful result for the degree of labour
and expenditure which it has cost, as the
"Although this" (Sunday-school) "me-
thod of teaching the young is so simple,"
says the late venerable Dr. Alexander,
"yet it deserves to be ranked second to
no discovery of our age. Why is it that
some of you, my brethren," (addressing
himself to ministers of the gospel,) "have
so little discerned the signs of the times as
not to perceive that a mightier moral en-
gine has not been set in operation for ages:

Annual Sermon before the American Sunday-
school Union, May, 1837, p. 24.


that it affords to the faithful pastor greater
facilities for the instruction of his people
than any thing before discovered?"*
And (not to extend these authorities)
we will only add, that one of the Rev.
gentlemen engaged a few years since in
the delivery of a course of lectures to
Sunday-school Teachers in St. Andrew's
Church in Philadelphia, described the
Sunday-school as "the grand catecetical
institution of the church,"-a phrase that
happily expresses its vast capacities, its
wide and comprehensive relations, and the
stupendous responsibilities of those who
engage in administering it.
We cannot doubt that these gentlemen
mean the thing they say, and certainly

Suggestions in Vindication of Sunday-schools,
published by the American S. S. Union, p. 14.


no language of ours could assign to Sun-
day-schools a higher place than they give
them. Is it not surprising, then, that
there is but here and there a school that
enjoys the hearty and zealous counsel, co-
operation, or even special oversight of
the gospel ministry? And how shall it
be explained?
Perhaps a partial explanation may be
found in the idea which many entertain,
that the benefits of the Sunday-school
are prospective and distant, while the
labours of the pulpit are supposed to be
more immediately productive. A well-
digested sermon, eloquently preached to a
congregation of several hundred intelli-
gent men and women of mature mind,
it is justly thought, will be appreciated.
It will be a subject of conversation and re-


election. Such a sermon strengthens the
hold which a pastor has on his people
and upon public esteem. It enlarges his
influence and gives him weight and stand-
ing among his brethren. And no one will
deny that these are important ends to
secure. But who expects the most im-
pressive address that could be made in a
Sunday-school would have any such ef-
fects? The teachers might be grateful
for the instruction afforded them, and the
children, if interested and pleased, might
possibly say something about it at home;
but we apprehend that most ministers
would regard the effort in the great adult
congregation as by far the most important,
and their people expect them to give days
of labour to preparation for it. And yet
may we not doubt whether saving truth


would not ordinarily find at least as genial
a soil in the school-room as in the church?
Or whether a few words of simple, doctrinal
instruction from one who is regarded with
so much reverence as a minister of God,
might not find a lodgement in the hearts
of children, and, through grace, become the
germ of Christian character, while the
same words would be spoken in vain in
the face of the prejudice and self-con-
ceit and cherished unbelief which abound
in almost every adult assembly?
We have alluded to this as a partial
explanation. It is very partial. For con-
sider a moment, that, through the Sunday.
school, the pastor has under his direct in-
fluence an organized band of ten, twenty,
thirty, or it may be fifty of the young
people of his charge,-most of them mem-


bers of his church,-ardent, earnest, vigor-
ous in the prosecution of their purposes;
that, as a body, they are at least as in-
telligent and capable as any like number
of his congregation; that they are seeking
to co-operate with him in leading a most
interesting portion of his flock to the fold
of the Great Shepherd; that they are like
so many channels or conduits by which he
may send out the influence of his example
and instructions into all the families and
circles whom he most desires to influence.
Consider, moreover, the vast advantages
which a minister derives from having
such a nursery under his official control,
-what an opportunity it opens for se-
curing personal confidence and esteem,
-what facilities it offers for training a
congregation in the elements of truth


and duty, and thus preparing them to
become intelligent and ductile hearers
of the word from his lips!
"No one can have been long intrusted
with the care of a parish," says the
Bishop of Winchester, "without observ-
ing that it is through the agency of his
school, directly or indirectly, that he will
best win his way to the hearts of his
people, as their spiritual minister and
friend, for their souls' good. His own
personal experience will have carried
conviction to his mind that it is by a
manifestation of interest in the children
of his care, affection for their minister,
and through that feeling, under God's
blessing, a love for Christ has been
awakened in many a stony heart, cold
and dead in trespasses and sins. It


would be something worse than folly to
forego this advantage."*
We say, when these and other like
considerations are properly weighed, it
remains a most extraordinary circum-
stance that ministers make so little ac-
count of their Sunday-school.
If some one should ask, "How litle?" we
would reply briefly and for example, that
it is surprising they should not always
know who are employed as teachers, and
what their qualifications are. That they
should not inquire, from time to time,
whether the school enjoys the best helps
which the church and congregation can
afford. Whether the weekly reading of
the teachers and children and the general

American Sunday-school Magazine, April, 1830.


course of instruction are under safe super.
vision. Whether such order and dis-
cipline are maintained as are calculated
to give dignity and influence to the
school, and to accomplish its great de-
sign. Whether, in a single word, the
teachers are faithfully and intelligently
carrying out what he considers the great
end of all religious teaching, viz. to guide
perishing souls to Christ for salvation.
These are some of the interests of a
Sunday-school of which we conceive
ministers should have a care, and which
it is surprising to find so many of them
We know, indeed, that some are well
aware of the worth of a Sunday-school,
and use it wisely and to good pur-
pose. Others, it may be, are incapable


of exerting much influence over any
thing or any body. But is it not to be
feared that a large proportion of the
evangelical ministry of our country,
between these extremes, are yet to put
a just estimate upon the Sunday-school,
or have failed to make it, as it might and
ought to be made, efficiently tributary
to the high and sacred ends of their own
office and service, and the advancement
of the best interests of the congregations
committed to their charge?
If we are asked for a further explana-
tion of the surprising fact which has
been stated, we might say, that those
ministers to whom the foregoing remarks
apply, were, perhaps;, themselves un-
trained in a Sunday-school, and they
may look upon it as a clumsy appendage


to parish and church arrangements,
thrust upon them, rather than as a
beautiful and powerful machine lying
comparatively useless at their side, wait-
ing for their skilful and determined
agency to work it-but capable, with
such agency, of contributing most essen-
tially to the growth and spiritual im-
provement of their flocks. Such persons
have, probably, never investigated the
structure and capabilities of a Sunday-
school, nor studied the history of one
under circumstances most favourable to
its success.
Another solution of the problem may
be, that such ministers have discovered,
as they suppose, some possible evils or
dangers connected with the system.
They may think, perhaps, that parents


are tempted to throw off their just re-
sponsibilities, and commit to others
solemn duties which God requires of
them-or that young persons are apt to
become perverse and conceited who are
set to teach others-or that petty jeal-
ousies and causes of difficulty are often
engendered in Sunday-schools, which
become sources of serious and wide-
spread mischief. These sentiments may
not prompt them actually to oppose the
school, or show an offensive indifference
to it, but it will, of course, prevent any
very active co-operation with its friends
and supporters.
Now, so far from considering these as
reasons why a minister should regard his
Sunday-school with less interest, it would
seem to furnish an unanswerable argu-


ment in favor of his more direct and
unremitting attention to it. His discern-
ment and influence, seasonably and pru-
dently exerted, would detect such evils
in the germ, and easily extirpate them.
If the minister is faithful, for instance,
in warning, rebuking and exhorting
parents, publicly and privately, showing
them their duty and how to discharge it,
and setting before them the real advan-
tages of the Sunday-school, as an aid to
them in bringing up their children in the
nurture and admonition of the Lord, and
how they may avail themselves of those
advantages without a dereliction of their
own duty, one of the supposed evils will
be nearly or quite obviated.
And as to conceited and perverse teach-
ers, they will be very rare where the mi-


nister himself happily combines learning
with humility, and discretion with deci-
sion, and gives his fellow-helpers in the
Sunday-school frequent opportunities to
compare themselves with a high standard
of Christian attainments in their pastor.
Before we dismiss this topic we will
venture to offer for the consideration of
the reader one remark to which we attach
much importance. Most of our Sunday-
school teachers (we hope all) are regular
and docile attendants on the stated preach-
ing of the gospel. The instruction they
receive from the pastor of the flock,
(being in accordance with the oracles of
divine truth,) they will, almost as a
matter of course, transmit to the lambs.
Hence every church is, as to this point, a
sort of Normal school, in which parents


who are family-teachers, or teachers of
the home school, as well as those who
serve in the Sunday-school, are trained
in the knowledge of the truths which
they are expected to inculcate upon their
own or others' children. And hence too
it is that the thoroughness, and intelli-
gibleness, and doctrinal purity which are
discoverable in the teaching of the family
and Sunday-school in a given place, form
no uncertain criterion of the fidelity and
competency of the head-teacher, who oc-
cupies the pulpit, and who is regarded as
God's ambassador.
That the views we have thus far pre-
sented are not inappropriate to the de-
sign of the present volume, is manifest:
for first, it is more than probable that, as
teachers, we might have done much more


to commend our plans and labours to the
sympathy and approval of those whose
spiritual oversight we recognize. And,
secondly, there may be some, now occupied
as teachers, into whose hands this volume
will fall, and who will hereafter exercise
the office of the ministry. On such, we
trust, these familiar suggestions will not
be entirely lost.
It becomes us to bear in mind, too,
that our Sunday-schools can be permanent
in their usefulness and even in their ex-
istence, chiefly by their connection with
the divinely appointed institutions of the
gospel. And it for this very reason, viz.
that so much depends on the judicious
and faithful oversight which pastors take
of the schools connected with their
churches, that we have given to a failure


in this duty the first place among Sun-
day-school anomalies. There would be no
extravagance in saying that the strength
and efficiency of our Sunday-schools would
be QUADRUPLED AT ONCE by the earnest
and hearty countenance and co-operation
of the ministry and those other influences
that would be sure to follow.



THE second surprising spectacle which
our Sunday-school survey presents is an
incompetent uperintendent. Perhaps, how-
ever, as such a sight is not very rare, it
may be needful to remark that the surpris-
ing feature of the phenomenon is, that the
superintendent of a Sunday-school should
be incompetent and not know it, or that,
knowing his incompetency, he should
retain so responsible a post.
We are not about to propose, in this
connection, any ideal person or thing.
So far from it, our conceptions of the
office of a superintendent are such as all


will admit to be just and reasonable.
We would seek for the same class of
qualifications in this officer which are
needful in a trusty foreman, who over-
looks a shoemaker's or blacksmith's shop,
where several journeymen and appren-
tices are employed; or in the overseer of
a factory-loft, or even of a brick-yard.
We should want him (and so would all)
to have a quick eye and ear to discern
readily the motions and sounds that
betoken disorder and confusion, even in
the remote corners of the school-room.
We should expect (and so would all)
that he would have a settled and well-
defined purpose in his regulations and
requirements. We should hold him
responsible (and so would all) for a
prompt and efficient administration of


the affairs of the school, such as an inde-
pendent, upright, conscientious governor
or general would exhibit in a little com-
monwealth or army.
Coupled with these high executive en-
dowments, we should want the kind and
persuasive influence of the true friend
both of teachers and pupils; and over all
should be spread, like a robe of light, the
graces of the Holy Spirit, and the con-
trolling and absorbing power of love to
Christ and his kingdom.
We may not expect to find all these
characteristics united in one person in
their highest degree; but he cannot be a
good Sunday-school superintendent who
lacks either of them entirely-or, per-
haps we may better say, who does not
possess them all in some good degree.


Now it is submitted to the great body
of intelligent teachers in the United
States, whether we have taken too high
ground in this matter? Would any of
us think a man qualified to oversee a
cotton-mill or a shoe-manufactory, who
could not keep idlers busy, noisy hands
quiet, and all in strict subordination to
the rules of the establishment? Would
he not be dismissed, as incompetent, if
he could be imposed upon by the artful,
or if he suffered himself to be trifled with
by vain persons, and, as a consequence,
to be held in contempt by all?
The anomaly before us is a Sunday-
school superintendent or overseer who
is decidedly incompetent, and does not
know it. One would think his incompe-
tency would be reflected back upon him,


in a blaze of light, from every disorderly
form, from every habitually late-coming
teacher and pupil, from every unvisited
absentee, from every deserted prayer-
meeting room. Need he be told that he
is to his teachers what a general is to
his staff: that he forms their character,
and not they Mh? Does he think it
possible that he should be animated,
zealous and untiring in the discharge of
his appropriate official duties, without
infusing the same spirit into every de-
partment of the school? Strange indeed
that he should never be led to ask himself
whether the cause of much that is wrong
in the order and progress of the school
does not lie at his door!
But how shall he explain this by no
means unusual phenomenon? Clearly


upon the principle of self-esteem. The
incompetent superintendent, having been
placed in that high position by the par-
tiality of friends, or for qualities quite un-
essential to that office, (such as his being
an officer of the church, or a person of
wealth and standing, or perhaps a lover of
pre-eminence,) is, of course, not forward
to leave it. There is very little labour or
anxiety connected with an indolent occu-
pation of the office, except the labour of
doing nothing, and the anxiety that he
may be turned out. He does not trouble
himself so much, perhaps, as to take care
even of the register and receiving-book, (if,
indeed, he has any,) or to supervise and
close up the roll and class-books. The
same degree of neglect in keeping a
muster-roll, or the pay-roll of a manufac-


tory, or of a gang of rail-road labourers,
would inevitably cost the delinquent his
place; but where only characters are to
be manufactured, freeborn citizens to be
trained for high public responsibilities,
and souls to be enlightened and led to
the fountain of eternal salvation, an over-
seer may be careless and indolent and
uninterested, and yet hold his place un-
disturbed, year in and year out. It is a
surprising thing, in truth!
No teacher is disposed to put himself
forward in any measures to remove such
a superintendent. His motives may be
misunderstood-his own influence may
be abridged-the body of teachers may,
and probably have fallen into the same
lethargic state with their head, and would
not thank anybody who should disturb


them by a proposition of change. And
here (if we mistake not) is found the
grand solution of the mystery. An in-
competent superintendent, almost as a
matter of course, infuses such a spirit of
heartlessness and languor into his corps
of teachers, that they sink with him.
They become blind to each other's errors
and deficiencies and pass on, mutually
satisfied, while a hundred or two of pre-
cious children are hastening to the judg-
ment of the great day impenitent and
Is the Sunday-school what we claim it
to be,-the NURSERY of the church? And
can any thing be more preposterous, speak-
ing analogically, than to set over a nursery
a man who has little or no knowledge of
the nature, varieties and properties of


vegetable products-who has not even
judgment to select or instruct his la-
bourers-much less, skill and experience
to oversee their work and correct their
errors? Yet of such folly is every school
guilty that retains at its head an incom-
petent superintendent.
Should it be asked how a Sunday-
school can be relieved of an incompetent
superintendent, I would say the most cer-
tain and suitable method of relief will be
for the teachers to combine in such a
zealous and earnest discharge of their
duties as to make the light of their exam-
ple the revealer of hie defects. Such an
ordeal few can comfortably endure. It
is our deliberate opinion that more than
half the Sunday-schools in the United
States are crippled and burdened, to a


disastrous extent, by the incompetency of
s perintendentf: an incompetency which
is not the result of natural deficiency,
but of the neglect of the means of im-
provement that are within their reach.
Their views of the functions and respon-
sibilities of the office are not high enough
to prompt them to exertion. Were they
as heartless and unskilful in the com-
mon business of life, they would be
strangers to success there. And if ever
they should arrive at a just appreciation
of the powers and capacities of a Sunday-
school, they will either abandon a post
which they only discredit, or apply them-
selves with exemplary diligence to the
duty of self-improvement.



THE third phenomenon which our sur-
vey of the Sunday-school field presents,
is a careless teacher.
We use this word careless because it
embraces more of the elements of the pre-
sent phenomenon than any other that
occurs to us. An unlettered, unskilful,
incompetent, or feeble teacher would not
present the case we have in view. A
mother may be a slattern, or a drone, or
a gadder-abroad, or a scold, and we should
think all these deplorable defects, espe-
cially in a mother; but if she is cruel to
her children, it is against nature, and we
call her a monster.


So a teacher may but very imperfectly
understand the art of teaching, and may
be very rude and unskilful in the prac-
tice of it; but how any one, of sane mind,
can sit down in the midst of a group of
children-active, inquiring, impressible
human beings-at the most interesting
period of their lives-when every thought
and word and association is taken into
the soul, as the thirsty furrows drink in
the falling rain-drops, and withal be care-
less-that is, without care for himself or
them-is, beyond all contradiction, a mar-
vellous thing.
Soon after the Rev. Dr. Chalmers com-
menced his laborious professorship at St.
Andrews, he marked out for himself a
district of the town adjacent to his resi-
dence, visited its families and invited


the children to attend a class at his own
house on Sabbath evenings; and for that
little group, composed of the poorest children
he could gather round him, that great
man tells us, he prepared as thoroughly as
for his class in the University And yet
what multitudes of teachers are there
whose intellectual powers and acquisi-
tions are of a very humble grade, who
will go to their classes without the slight-
est preparation, and yet with as much
confidence and self-possession as if

"They were inspired to preach and tell
All that is done in heaven and hell."

Let us describe more particularly how
the careless teacher exhibits himself:-
There is no Sunday-school care upon his
mind during the week. He reads his


Bible daily, (we may hope,) but he does
not read-much less study-the portion
on which he expects to instruct his class
the next Sabbath. Indeed he is too care-
less to note what the lesson was. Perhaps
he reads the newspapers, and many a lit-
tle anecdote or incident occurs which
would illustrate truth, or interest and
impress the minds of children, or form
the basis of some affectionate and season-
able admonition. But he does not see
them in that light, nor lay them up for
that purpose. As we just said, the care
of his class is not upon his mind. He
prays, it may be; but though next to his
own family, (if he has one,) his class is
nearest to him in interest, his care for
them does not stimulate his importunity
in their behalf. He has no such deep con-


cern for them as leads him to present
each, individually and specially, before
the throne of grace, and to ask for each
of them, separately, such blessings as the
peculiar character and present circum-
stances of each may require. Indeed
he cannot do this, if he would, for his
carelessness shuts him out from a know-
ledge of their characters and circum-
stances. If his heart were burdened with
care for that little boy who is cursed
with an intemperate father and a wretch-
ed home, he would plead for him with
an earnestness and compassion which the
sight of a child in such a strait must
excite in any human bosom; but as he
is too careless to go to the little fellow's
home and ascertain his domestic rela-
tions, he has not even the impulse of


sympathy to excite him to earnest sup-
He meets one of his boys in the street,
but he does not observe him. If his heart
was full of care for his class, his eyes
would eagerly survey every group of
boys, and his ear would be wide open to
every mirthful shout they send up into
the air, to know if one of his little flock
may not be among them.
He sees boys, and hears them, and meets
them; but his thoughts and cares are not
toward them; and his own class will pass
and repass before him without a smile
from him or even a nod of recognition!
Sunday comes! If he were expecting
to leave at sunrise, in the cars or the
boat, would he close his eyes for his
night's rest without anxiety lest he


should oversleep himself? Would not
the very excitement of his anticipated
journey so weigh upon his mind as to
awaken him betimes, and, peradventure,
to hold him waking till the proper hour
to rise and prepare for his departure?
And is it thus with the Sunday morn-
ings of the careless Sunday-school teacher ?
Does the thought that he is to go forth
as God's ambassador to some eight or ten
immortal souls, lie with oppressive weight
upon his mind when he closes the secular
business of the week, and commits him-
self to rest on Saturday night? And
does this same' exciting thought rouse
him at early dawn, that his mind and
heart and person may be seasonably pre-
pared for the sacred and critical service?
Alas! that the very inquiry should


seem to be ironical-or that it should be
needful to present so humbling a contrast.
The teacher we have in mind is a stranger
to all the exercises and emotions we have
been describing.
"As the door on its hinges, so he on his bed,
Turns his sides and his shoulders and his heavy
Who would believe that six or eight
intelligent boys are, at this very moment,
preparing themselves to be at the Sun-
day-school in good time, with the expect,
nation of receiving from the lips of this
very man the words of truth that make
one wise unto salvation?. What does he
say when the bright sunshine insists on
being welcomed?
"'Tis the voice of the sluggard! I hear him complain,
You have waked me too soon, I must slumber


Of course, he rises late-omits or
slights his highest duties to God and his
own soul-is late at breakfast-feels dis-
satisfied with himself-is late at school-
while with his conscience ill at ease, and
with as self-satisfied a look as he can put
on, he winds his way through the busy
classes to his own form.
The prayer and singing are over, and the
session quite advanced. Two of his class,
A and B, have been there from the opening
hour, to the great annoyance of neighbour-
ing teachers and their boys. C and D came
in just after their teacher, for whom they
had been watching; E and F are now
standing out at the door, and G and H are
-he knows not, nor much cares where.
He inquires for the lesson-not of his
boys, for he has taken no care to inform


them, and their eyes and ears were other-
wise occupied when it was assigned. He
leans over to an adjoining class, and ascer-
tains the chapter and verse. He takes his
Bible-perchance his Question-book-and
at this stage the phenomenon attains its
highest point of inexplicableness. How
can a man in such a state of mind take
that sacred volume into his hands and
play the part of a religious teacher? One
would think that every text which is
read or repeated would awaken some
thought of the momentous interests of
the soul-of sin, of condemnation, of
immortality, of heaven, of hell, of sal-
vation. But no! The careless teacher
forgets his duty, forgets his class, forgets
God, almost forgets himself! He goes
through the dull routine of the hour-


casts a vacant look over the room while
the dismission hymn is sung, and returns
home or goes to the place of public wor-
ship, as conscience or convenience dis-
poses. Does he know that E and F, who
stood at the door, were decoyed off by
some strolling Sabbath-breakers to bathe
in the river, and that one of them but
just escaped a watery grave, while his
anxious and widowed mother supposed
him to be safe under the watchful eye
of his Sunday-school teacher? Not he!
Does he visit the homes of G and H, who
were not at school, nor at the door, nor
at church? Does he even inquire con-
cerning them of boys or neighbours who
might be likely to know? Is he aware
that a righteous God has laid the hand
of mortal sickness on one of them, and


that the next form of intelligence respect-
ing him will be an invitation to his fu-
neral? Not he! His mind has cares,
but they are not for his Sunday-school
boys. Not even the stroke of death
falling upon one of them and removing
him, as in a moment, to a state of eternal
retribution, awakens the careless teacher!
Is it not passing strange? Must it not
be regarded as a most extraordinary mo-
ral phenomenon?
And how can all this be explained? for
we have not time to describe the various
other forms in which the anomaly pre-
sents itself. It may be that the unhappy
man assumed the office of a Sunday-school
teacher with very little, if any just con-
ception of what he undertook to do.
There was a lack of teachers, perhaps.


Parents and partial friends urged him to
enlist. The idea of being a teacher is
agreeable, especially to one who feels
ashamed to be always learning; and it
often brings one into desirable associations.
True, he does not feel very much either
way, but on the whole it is easier to
accept than decline. The class-book is
given to him, and he takes his seat as a
Sunday-school teacher. Somebody must
answer for a flagrant sin in such a case.
We do not charge it on any one-we only
say sin is there!
Or, he may possibly have become a
teacher with some just notions of the
duties of the post, and with a sincere
purpose to discharge them faithfully;
but he finds the standard of qualifications
low, and the order and discipline of the


school quite defective. The rules are
feebly, or not at all enforced. He at-
tended two or three prayer-meetings at
first, but the superintendent was not
there. Some one tried once or twice to
begin a tune, but failed. The prayers
were long, general and heartless. He
felt disappointed and mortified. A young
teacher does not like to turn reformer,
and so he insensibly sinks down into the
languid, lifeless state which prevails
around him, and in due time becomes the
original of the picture which we have
just sketched.
It is most probable, however, that his
own religious views are very vague and
unsettled-that his religion itself is a
matter of form-or, at best, of impulse,
rather than of principle-that his faith


in unseen things is very feeble, and that
he discusses topics of transcendent and
eternal interest-as some school-boys
chatter-in phrases and words of which
they know neither the propriety nor force.
What shall we do to arouse the thousands
of careless teachers in our Sunday-schools
-to awaken them to some sense of their
own danger, and of the imminent hazard
to which they expose the souls of a con-
fiding class and the good name of the
If all the careless and thoughtless
persons who are to-day enrolled as Sun-
day-school teachers were to resign or re-
form, there are few schools which would
not be sensibly improved in character;
and what a fearful responsibility do such
teachers assume "who mock their Maker,


prostitute and shame their noble office,"
and play a part before their pupils, or
feed them with husks when they are
hungry for the bread of life!
Careless teacher! whosoever you are-
hasten this very hour to repair the griev-
ous wrong you have done, to your own
soul not only, but to the souls of your
pupils and of your associates in labour.
God must have a controversy with one
who so trifles with his holy word, with
his sacred day, with the rich blessings
of his grace, and with the souls which he
has made-as you have done. Rise up,
then, and address yourself to your duty.
Confess and forsake your sin. Seek grace
to uphold and strengthen you, and for
once honestly give your heart to the
great work of the Sunday-school.


It will only aggravate your guilt to
separate yourself from a work in which
you have been so slothful and unprofit-
able. No better opportunity can be ex-
pected to show the sincerity of your pe-
nitence and your desire to repair the
mischief you have done than the Sunday-
school affords. You may there manifest
the new principle in your own heart, and
so encourage and stimulate those who
have been offended and disheartened by
your former example. Having thus hum-
bled yourself before God and obtained
pardon for your sins and negligence,
you will not feel the sting of self-re-
proach when you attempt to teach trans-
gressors the evil of their ways, and your
teaching may be owned and blessed of




THE fourth extraordinary phenomenon
in our survey is a disbanded Sunday-
echol class,-by which term we would
denote the dispersion of a circle of chil-
dren in consequence of the neglect, ab-
sence, indifference, or incompetency of
the teacher.
From the nature of the relation be-
tween a Sunday-school teacher and his
class, we should suppose (in the absence
of observation and experience) that it
would grow stronger and closer continu-
ally, until uncontrollable circumstances
should dissolve it; and this presumption


is strengthened by many actual cases
in which the connection has subsisted
through a series of years, and was in-
terrupted only by stern necessity.
There is no relation (except that
which God has ordained for the preser-
vation of our race) which has more of
the elements of endurance and self-sus-
taining power than that of the teacher-
especially the religious teacher-and his
pupil. This sentiment will not be called
in question by any reflecting person.
We read of one, who, to the latest day
of his life, could not speak of his teacher
without tears. Of another, who never
entered the room where he was taught
without being solemnly impressed by the
remembrance of the earnest and faithful
instruction which he there received:


and of another, who spoke of the death
of his teacher as an irreparable loss. Nor
would it surprise us to know that there
are within the circle of the readers of
this volume some whose tears often flow,
unbidden, at the sudden recollection of
some child to whom they once sustained
the relation of a teacher.
Hence the strangeness of the phenome-
non which we now have in view--a dis
banded clase-the teacher living-the
pupils all living-the school still in being,
and no apparent necessity for so lament-
able an occurrence! Is it not a remark-
able phenomenon? For consider-
That the human mind craves know-
ledge as naturally as the body craves
food. Divine wisdom instructs us that
for the soul to be without knowledge is


not good; and as the body without food
or the dwelling that has no inhabitant
runs swiftly to decay and dissolution-
so does the mind, unsupplied with such
knowledge as is fitted to its capacities,
become enfeebled and useless. We say
"fitted to its capacities;" for in like man-
ner as milk is for babes and strong meat
for men, so the knowledge that children
crave is that very simple elementary
knowledge which their powers can com-
prehend, and to supply which the Sun-
day-school is specially provided.
Consider, too, that children love to be
instructed. We are apt to think, that be-
cause their hearts are corrupt, they cannot
desire, but must be constitutionally averse
to the knowledge of religious truth. We
do not suppose that children naturally


love, or that. they readily receive the spi-
ritual truths of revealed religion. Indeed,
it is plainly taught in Holy Scripture that
they cannot know them till they have spi-
ritual discernment. But there is a bound-
less field of religious knowledge opened to
the minds even of infants and young chil-
dren, before they are inclined, by the Di-
vine Spirit, to receive the truth in its
saving power.
Gothe, the famous German poet, before
he had attained the age of eight years,
devised a form of worship to the "God
of nature," and actually offered sacrifices
upon a rude altar of his own construction.
And a distinguished living divine assures
us that his intellectual conceptions of the
most sublime doctrines of our religion-
such as the incarnation and atoning sa-


crifice of Christ-were as clear at eight
years of age as they have been at any
time since.
Children love to hear of God's attri-
butes of power, wisdom and goodness-
of the heavenly world-of angels-of
good spirits-of the glorious Redeemer,
and the wonders of his birth, life and
death. They are not in bondage-as we
of riper years are-through fear of death.
The mortal pang is not their dread, as
it comes to be afterward. The hackneyed
phrases of exhortation, which fall so heed-
lessly on the ears of adults, are compara-
tively fresh and impressive when address-
ed to children. They are not ashamed
to acknowledge their sinfulness, nor do
they hasten to conceal a falling tear when
the love of Christ comes up to view in


some simple text or hymn. And there
is this grand advantage in our hands as
teachers-we seize the brief but golden
age, when the mind is most eager for just
such knowledge as the Bible furnishes,
and the way is all open and clear for us
to approach their believing and curious
minds, and make the deepest impressions
of which their young being is susceptible.
Consider, too, that children love their
benefactors and friends; and those who
open to them treasures of knowledge and
lead them into the paths of understand-
ing, they regard with a sort of reverence.
Who doubts this that has witnessed the
kindling eye and the animated counte-
nance of deaf-mutes when a new and
exciting thought is suddenly appre-
hended? The consciousness of the


acquisition is read in every feature.
There is eloquence even in the awkward
effort they make to throw upon the
muscles of the face an office which
belongs exclusively to the lacking organs
of speech.
Or who has not seen a child, suddenly
brought to the perfect apprehension of a
truth in science or morals, manifesting
the most unequivocal tokens of joy and
delight? Will they not love those who
have been instruments of conferring such
pleasures and benefits?
"Who is there," says Cicero, "that is
not delighted with the sight, and even
the remembrance of his preceptors, and
the very place where he was educated?"
And, we may add, that children low
Su4day-,wols. We have known no


stronger attachments among children to
any place or employment than they have
shown to their Sunday-school. There is,
in the machinery of a Sunday-school, just
enough variety and excitement to keep
their faculties active. The arrangements
and exercises are so entirely different from
those of most secular schools as to carry
no unpleasant association to their minds.
They feel glad of something to break the
monotony of the sacred day which so
few parents know how to make their
children keep, and yet not hate. Mem-
bers of the same class become attached
to each other, and the warm sympathies
of their childish natures are readily de-
veloped. They love to sing, and to hear
singing. They love hymns, too, and they
cannot love them too well or know too


many of them. The teaching, and the
various modes of illustrating and enforc-
ing it in books, pictures, &c., are fitted to
interest them: and all this connects the
Sunday-school with associations of home
and friends and social enjoyment. Hence
we see that the tie which binds a child
to a wise and faithful teacher sometimes
proves stronger than even those of nature
and kindred.* We have seen such a

A Sunday-school scholar was sick. When the
news was brought to her teacher, sorrow filled her
heart. Often had she tried to persuade that little
one to give her heart to Jesus; but she had put it
off, as too many others do, until she was laid upon
a death-bed. But she found that the hour of sick-
ness and death was not the best time to seek the
Lord. Her friends were unwilling that any one
should speak to her about religion.
Her teacher thought they would permit her pastor


child in the extreme conflict with death,
and surrounded by dearly beloved pa.
rents and kind friends, calling for her
teacher, and greeting her with a warmth

to talk with her, and she begged him to go. He
went, but was told that he could not see her. The
teacher knew that it was her duty to go, but she
was afraid to meet the frowns of those who felt no
interest for the soul of the dying girl. There was
an aged member of the church, who had laboured
long in the Sunday-school. She requested him to
go and see her scholar. He went, but met with the
same cold repulse as did the pastor. The teacher
now resolved that she would go in the strength
of God. Before retiring to rest, she prayed that God
would prepare the way for her, and give her grace and
wisdom to teach that little one of the love of Jesu.
When she awoke in the morning a passage of
Scripture was in her mind, and, relying on the faith-
ful promise, she went forth. She felt for the eternal
welfare of that scholar as only a faithful teacher can
feel. She thought how often she had seen her on


of affection which was shown to no other
earthly being. She loves her parents,
and is grateful to them for their patient
care and sleepless watch around her

the Sabbath-how often she had knelt in the closet
and prayed that she might become a child of God;
she thought of her pleasant smile as they met by
the wayside; but now her seat in the class was
vacant, her voice was hushed, her smile was gone,
and she would soon be called to meet her God I She
inquired in a trembling, yet earnest voice, if she
could see the sick girl. Those who read in her face
the deep feeling of her heart could not turn her
away. A sudden joy lighted the languid eye of the
little sufferer as she saw her beloved teacher, and
she listened with interest to hear her tell of Jesus.
The visits were repeated until the little girl bade
farewell to earth. She died happy. There is a
hope that she sleeps in Jesus-that she waits in
heaven to welcome her teacher. Here was a work
for the Sabbath-school teacher, which no one else
was permitted to do.


pillow. She loves her kindred, and ap-
preciates their sympathy. But to her
teacher she once opened her heart, and
was directed to the fountain of pardoning
mercy. From her teacher she heard
words of encouragement and Christian
love. With her teacher she has spent
hours of prayer and praise and heavenly
converse; and is it any wonder that now,
when heaven is about to open its pearly
gates to her redeemed spirit, and she is
to become the companion of saints and
angels-is it any wonder that she should
think first and last of one who was God's
instrument in turning her feet into that
narrow but shining way?
We see then how strong and tender
are the ties which bind a Sunday-school
together-children to each other and to


their teachers; and the phenomenon of
a disbanded class is proportionably extra-
ordinary. How shall it be explained?
Why, the most obvious explanation is,
that those ties are not carefully cherished
on either side. We see children, espe-
cially in cities and populous towns, easily
passing from one school to another, as
caprice or convenience may incline them.
Shall we call them unday-school va-
grants? They have, perhaps, been under
the care of half a dozen teachers--in all
schools by turns, and in none of them
long. Suppose children shifted their
family relations in the same way, how
long would domestic peace and happiness
and love be known among us?
If a Sunday-school teacher always
regarded each child that comes under his


care as sent to him, in the providence of
God, to be taught and trained in His
ways, and that the sacred relation could
not be dissolved till the providence of
God, with equal plainness, directs that it
should be-we should find a very differ-
ent idea would be entertained of the
permanency of it. Not only do teachers
fail to cherish the ties that bind them
and their classes together, but they posi-
tively trifle with them, and seem to re-
gard them as of little or no worth.
See that teacher with his slovenly
class-book-lateness and absences not
marked for four successive Sabbaths-
absentees not visited-library-books not
returned, and marks of carelessness and
indifference strewed all around him. Is
he cherishing the ties which bind him to


a good school, and which promise to in-
crease in strength as they advance in
And those teachers who seldom or
never are seen at the prayer-meeting,
and who come up reluctantly to the
bearing of any cross or the endurance
of any self-denial for the well-being of
the school-do they strive to cherish or
strengthen the ties that bind them to the
school and to each other and to the cause
of Christ?
And those boys and girls, too, whose
teachers are now and then absent or late
(without cause)-or stupid and ill-na-
tured (with or without cause)-or who
speak sternly and resort often to harsh
means of reproof and correction, are they
likely to prolong their relation to the


school, and to wish that the period of
their separation from it could be delayed?
We are aware that the class of teachers
to whom these questions apply are not
likely to be among our readers; but
others there may be whose Sunday-school
habits are not yet formed, and to them
we must respectfully offer a word of
counsel in connection with the phenome-
non now before us-a disbanded class!
We fancy a teacher just setting out
upon his career, with six or eight promis-
ing children under his care. He is, to
some extent, aware of the perverse and
headstrong nature of childhood, and of the
importance of seasonable and judicious
restraint. Now, if he is wise, he will
carefully intertwine all the various and
almost irresistible influences of respect


for his authority, a consistent example,
sympathy, faithful and appropriate in-
struction, with kind oversight and prayer.
He may not need them now in all their
strength, but he must begin the process
now on which he expects to depend some
time hence. With this fivefold cord,
which is not easily broken, he fondly
hopes to restrain their wayward tempers,
and, with God's help, bind them as with
bands of brass to the posts of wisdom's
gates; and he has good ground for such
For a few months the child obeys this
restraining power. But by-and-by he
finds he can trifle with his teacher's au-
thority without rebuke, or he is surprised
to see that in an unguarded moment his
teacher indulges in levity, or loses his


temper, or forgets the proprieties of his
place and office. The child's personal
respect for him and proper deference to
his authority are extinguished, and thus
one strand of the rope is broken.
A teacher's example, in constancy of
attendance, in uniform and cheerful sub.
mission to the rules of the school, and in
unremitted attention to the great business
in hand, has wonderful power over the
minds of children. And when, in the
course of time, this power is neutralized
by frequent absence, late attendance, and
a thousand trifling neglects and deficien-
cies, he loses another strand of the re-
straining cord-a consistent example is
Children being themselves creatures of
sympathy, they are quick to discern who,


of all their care-takers, have most sym-
pathy with them. The nurse or aunt
or elder brother or sister that enters
most readily into their views and feelings,
their joys and troubles, will have the
master-power over them for good or evil.
Let the Sunday-school teacher then un-
derstand that this principle of sympathy
is of inestimable importance in the train-
ing process; and if, through impatience
or selfishness or indolence, he repels or
does not welcome the out-flowing sympa-
thies of the children of his class--if he
does not boldly overstep the wide space
which separates him in years and pur-
suits from his pupils, and enter heartily
into what they think most of let him
know that his hold upon his class is es-
sentially weakened-that another strand


has fallen from the cord on which all his
power to retain them will soon depend.
Does the teacher come to his class
ignorant of the lesson, and even of the
subject of it, and evincing by his whole
manner that his mind and heart are
alike unfurnished for the errand which
brings him thither? Does he listlessly
hear the dull succession of answers, and
fill up, with threadbare homilies, intervals
of time which should be husbanded as fine
gold, and improved in warm, personal,
appropriate, spiritual teaching? Does
he, in a word, attempt to impose on a
circle of trustful children the crude ex-
pressions and empty forms of religion,
with the hope that it will pass for a
Sunday-school lesson? Let him not de-
ceive himself. He does not deceive his


class. They feel, if le does not, that
another tie binding them to him and to
the school and to a multitude of blessed
influences, is gone!
It is possible, though hardly probable,
that with a kind heart and under the
influence of faithful associates in the
school, such a teacher may still preserve
some interest in his class. There may
remain one solitary strand. Perhaps he
thinks of his class with some kind emotion
-perhaps he feels so much concern for
them as to wish they were better boys,
and better loved the Sunday-school and
its hallowed pursuits. Perhaps he even
remembers them in his prayers. But it
is too feeble a tie to hold them long.
They have become tired of the school.
They easily persuade themselves that


they are too old, or too large, or too wise
to attend any more. Their associates
without, urge them to withdraw. An
absence now and then for a half-day ses-
sion, and then for a whole Sabbath or
two, paves the way for the final step, and
the giddy youth at length separates from
his teacher, with scarcely the conscious.
ness, on either side, when the last strand
parted; and at the next teachers' con-
ference, our deserted friend will probably
propose, as a question for discussion, how
the older pupils can be retained in our
When that disbanded class was first
made up, the little boys were delighted
with all they heard and saw in the Sun-
day-school, and a very feeble tie sufficed
to hold them. Then was the time to


weave together, as we said, every influ-
ence that could aid in retaining them
when the novelty should wear off, the
routine of duty become irksome, and
outward allurements press hard to with-
draw them. But to neglect this process
-to suffer the links which nature herself
forms into a magic chain, to be dissolved,
silently, one by one,-and then affect to
wonder that at last the chain itself is
gone, is like knocking the heads and
hoops from a cask, and then wondering
that it falls to staves.
What a multitude of youth are this
moment pursuing a career of thoughtless-
ness and impiety, if not open iniquity,
who were once enrolled in our Sunday-
schools, and most of whom might have
been retained there, had proper in-


fluences been seasonably and efficiently

WE might easily enlarge this exhibition
by bringing to view such phenomena as
children in a Christian community not
brought under the influence of Sunday-
schools, nor provided with any other
religious influence-a Christian congrega-
tion, able to provide convenient and ample
accommodations for their Sunday-schools,
and neglecting to do so-a spiritual hus-
bandman expecting a harvest where no
seed had been sown-and a Sunday-
school engineer looking for water to rise
higher than the fountain from which it
issues. But our design is answered by


presenting to view a few of the most pro-
minent and striking points in our survey.
It would certainly be a much easier
and pleasanter office to illustrate the
many beautiful and invaluable features
of the system, and to show how wide
and rich and constant has been the flow
of blessings to the church and to the
community from the Sunday-school. In-
deed, we will fearlessly challenge the
friends or the foes of Sunday-schools to.
point out a solitary case in the wide
world, where a well-organized class with
a well-furnished teacher, in a Sunday-
school under judicious and efficient super-
intendence, has failed to be a real and
rich blessing both to teacher and taught,
both to the church and to society. Such
an anomaly may be looked for when the


sun and moon exchange their orbits and
influences, or when causes and effects
forget their relation to each other.
We beg the reader to review for a
moment the four points we have speci-
fied as involving some of the chief ob-
stacles to the eminent success of our
Sunday-schools, and say whether they
are not all removable? Is there any
reason why churches and ministers should
not make the Sunday-school an object of
primary regard, and foster its interests
with untiring care? Is there any rea-
son why an incompetent superintendent
should continue to hold office, to the irre-
parable prejudice of the school? What
need is there to retain a careless teacher
as the responsible guide and pattern of a
group of children? And why should such


a melancholy spectacle ever occur as a
pupil wandering from a Sunday-school,
because, forsooth, no proper effort is
made to keep him there?
Whoever has carefully measured the
revealed capacity of Sunday-schools will
be slow to charge us with exaggerating
the importance of these hindrances to
their success. The position of the Sun-
day-school is, beyond all question, mis-
understood by a large portion of the
Christian community. Hence we often
notice, in the distribution of charity, that
while other institutions for the diffusion
of scriptural knowledge receive thirty or
fifty per cent., the Sunday-school Union
is favoured with five or ten, and perhaps
not remembered at all. Far be it from
us to depreciate kindred efforts for the


happiness and salvation of our race; but
we put it to those who have an abun-
dance of this world's goods, whether the
SUNDAY-SCHOOL ought to hold a secondary
place among the agencies for that divine
purpose? Missionaries go forth hither
and yon to preach the gospel to-the igno-
rant. Bibles are scattered like the leaves
of autumn, and tracts fly abroad like
cinders from a burning dwelling. These
are all heaven-approved methods of
spreading the blessings of the gospel.
And is the Sunday-school any less ap-
proved? Has not the whole length of
its path been strewed with tokens of
Divine approbation? Has not much of
the direct and effective influence which
has given spirit and success to all other
efforts flowed from the Sunday-school?


We need not answer these inquiries.
We present the Sunday-school to Christian
philanthropists-stewards of the mercies
of God-as a perennial fountain of bless-
ings to our whole land. It is a perma-
nent thing-a fixture, not only as to
place and time, but as to influence. Other
agencies are itinerant and shifting and
fugitive. A good Sunday-school is like
an old business-stand on one of our city
thoroughfares-its associations are a valu-
able part of its capital-its good-will and
high repute are prolonged from genera-
tion to generation. The pupils of such a
Sunday-school rise up to be teachers, and
they carry with them a light to enlighten
other dark places and a coal to warm
other hearts. Such a school is a broad
polished mirror to reflect and multiply


the influences of the pulpit. It is a liv.
ing fountain, sending rills of knowledge to
the abodes of ignorance, of comfort to the
depressed and disconsolate, and of peace
to the troubled spirit. Make the Sunday-
school what it may be and should be, and
there is no form of benevolent influence
to which it cannot adapt itself-no service
to poor, sinful, dying men, of which it
may not be made the minister. These
grand results are not to be brought about
by indolent, half-hearted, unskilful labour.
The worth of a Sunday-school bears a
fair proportion to its cost. As, on the
one hand, it will repay a thousand-fold
all the pains-taking that is bestowed on
it-so, on the other hand, it will show
in its dwarfed and scanty fruits the want
of skill and diligence in its care-takers.


In many parts of this country, the time
devoted to Sunday-school instruction has
dwindled down, from an hour and a half
and two hours, to less than three-fourths
of an hour. The writer remembers a
country Sunday-school, in which he was
engaged as a teacher thirty years ago, in
which at least twice as much time was
given to instruction as is given in the
same place now. And (what is specially
to be lamented) instead of compensating
for such an abridgment of time by more
careful preparation of the lessons and
more skill in teaching it, there is, for the
most part, a falling off in both particulars.
There are probably hundreds of Sunday-
schools in parts of the country most
highly favoured with intelligent and
pious teachers, in which the time given


to class-instruction does not exceed thirty
minutes a Sabbath. How far such a
meagre opportunity of influencing the
volatile minds of children can be relied
upon for deep or permanent impressions
is well worth consideration. Who doubts
that the public instruction of adult assem-
blies would suffer by such a reduction of
time, especially if there was no more, but
even less labour and skill expended upon
it? We confidently submit to every en-
lightened, judicious teacher in the land,
that where only one session a day is held,
one full hour, exclusive of opening and
closing exercises and addresses, is the
least that will suffice for direct teaching.
It seems utter trifling to require less.
We think we hear the parties upon
whose seeming inconsistencies we have


ventured to comment, complain that the
claims we make on their time and thought
are unreasonable. Some minister of the
gospel, for example, says, What would you
have me do? My days are completely
engrossed-I am never without more on
my hands than I can possibly do-and I
know of no engagement which I can
safely put aside for the sake of giving
more time to my Sunday-school.
We are not so forgetful of the pro-
prieties of our place as to reply to all
this. It is to be presumed that, in com-
ing to this conclusion, proper consideration
is given to the various avocations which
are incident to the pastoral office. We
can only say that many instances are
within our personal knowledge in which
ministers of the gospel, having the spiri-


tual oversight of very large and important
congregations, and occupying positions
that impose upon them severe extra-of-
ficial burdens, do manage to keep their
Sunday-school machinery in the very
best working order, and do cause their
influence to be seen and felt through the
whole rank and file of a little army in
the Sunday-school room. No busier
man lives than was Dr. Chalmers, when
he drew around him a band of intelligent,
zealous, exemplary Sunday-school teach-
ers, and made them co-workers with
himself in a marvellous social and moral
revolution. And if the wise and revered
men of the clergy whose authority we
have cited in a previous section, have not
been betrayed into a false judgment of
the matter, it is clear that the great mass


of their brethren must turn over a new
leaf or fail in very important duties. It
is safe to say that the time and thought
given by the pastor to the Sunday-school
has never yet proved to be misapplied-
and the first case is to occur, we appre-
hend, in which an error on this score has
been the occasion of discontent in a
Christian congregation. At all events,
no pastor can justify himself in consent-
ing to have the children of his charge
committed to incompetent instructors.
He should either have a good Sunday-
school or none at all. No measure of
attention to the sheep will be accepted
by the Chief Shepherd as an apology for
neglecting the lambs.
Again, some worthy superintendent
may inquire, in the same spirit of remon-


strance, whether the author would think
it better to close a Sunday-school just
because every thing could not be as
perfect as he could wish; or to keep it
open and make the best of imperfections?
Keep it open, by all means, and patiently
endure all irremediable defects. But ex-
cuse the inquiry whether there may not
be some improvement, even though a
faultless condition is unattainable? You
say that it is difficult enough to get
teachers of any grade, and that all schools
have some who are indolent or unquali-
fied. Admitting this, does it in any
degree excuse you for not making the
best you can of such as you have? Have
you one of this undesirable character in
your school? And have you with all
wisdom and fidelity expostulated with

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