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the consideration of the subject to which the chairman had alluded, viz., the importance, in a national point of view, of maintaining the Sunday school as an institution for the religious education of the young ; and within the last few days he and his colleague had had an interview with the parliamentary representative of their borough upon the subject. He would add, that he left that meeting with the deep conviction that, for the future religious instruction of the young, they must look mainly, if not entirely, to the Sunday schools of the land. The day schools were doing little, comparatively, in that direction, and he felt convinced they would have to do less. Mr. Meen had referred to the importance of early piety, and of their looking for manifestations of it. He (Mr. Cooper) was afraid there was a great deal of scepticism amongst teachers on this point. There were many, he believed, who had little faith in the realization of it, and who really did not seem to expect it. As to the value of scholars' prayer meetings, he was able to bear testimony from experience. He thought it was always desirable to have their teachers with them. In Birmingham, the teachers' prayer meetings were woll attended ; not unfrequently from 150 to 200 met together at their monthly prayer meetings, and a deep interest was felt in them. He was glad that the subject of epistolary correspondence had been touched upon, as it was a matter to which, some years back, he had given some attention. He had always found that the teachers' letters were received in a kind spirit, and he was convinced it was one very powerful means of maintaining a religious influence over the elder children of their charge. Another means was that of the teacher meeting his class at home, where they could kneel together in prayer. He recently called upon a friend so engaged, and he left with the deep conviction of the value of such an opportunity. The great hindrance in the way of a systematic visitation of scholars was, that the teachers had great difficulty in finding the necessary time for the purpose; but, after all, there was no visitation so good as that of the teacher himself, who was sure to get a kind reception, and an attentive hearing. He strongly recommended the holding of parents' meetings. They had been held regularly, during the last seven or eight years, in Birmingham, and with the happiest effects. He recognized the importance of the superintendents of Sunday schools being duly qualified for their responsible undertaking, believing, as he did, that the character of the school very much depended upon the qualifications of its officers. And while on this point, he would suggest that the Committee of the Parent Society could render them great service by the publication of some works specially designed for superintendents of schools,
,--a Superintendent's Manual,-pointing out what they ought to do, and how they ought to do it.
Mr. BUTCHER, of Bury, as the representative of a school which for some years past had yielded about twelve members to the church annually, said he had come to the conclusion that, in proportion to the religious influence which the church exerted, so would be the character and influence of Sunday schools. He thought the friends present must not go away with the idea of "getting up” prayer meetings and revivals, for it was only where there was a spontaneous outburst of religious feeling that prayer meetings could be expocted to excite a wholesome and lasting influence. The duty of teachers was not only to seek the conversion of their scholars, but the training of all their powers for the work of God. Separate religious services for the children had been tried with good effect, and it had struck him whether they might not have children's commnnion services also, from which the youth who had thus publicly acknowledged themselves on the Lord's side, might be drafted off to the ordinary communion service of the adult church. Teachers' prayer meetings and parents' meetings had been held, and with the best results, in his locality.
Mr. C. REED had always been an advocate for separate services for the young, but he should deprecate most strongly the attempt to commence the holding of
children's communion services, either by the churches or the Sunday schools. He believed that there was a very large amount of youthful piety at the present day. In one town the church record had been taken during the past year, and it was found that the per-centage of youthful members had very much increased, as compared with five or ten years ago. He believed that this would be found to be the case in many other places, some pleasing instances of which had come to his own knowledge, and therefore they ought not to be discouraged with the present aspect of their work. The importance of the question before them to-day lay in this,--that they had nover as yet considered the subject of the duty of the Sunday school teacher out of the school, but only of what he ought to do in the school, and with his class. But the first-named duty was 'as important, if not more so, as the last. Thcir connection with their children hitherto had been more of the character of an acquaintance, or at best a friendship ; whereas it ought to assume the features of a relationship, if their influence was to be of the highest kind. With regard to the visitation of scholars, there could be no doubt that it was the teacher's duty to visit the parents and children at home. But he was fearful that some teachers were not competent to the work. Everything which interested the child,--his home, his companions, his parents, his reading books, his workshop,-everything with which he came in contact during the week, should be familiar to the mind of his teacher, because an acquaintance with these things brought the teacher into contact with the influences which most affected the child for good or evil, and enabled him to adapt his instructions accordingly. Where systematic, regular home visitation had been conducted, he knew that lasting good had followed ; that the teachers themselves had been received with kindness, and treated with respect ; and the parents had begun to regard religion with very different feelings to what they had done before. The same thing might be said in reference to correspondence, which he believed was carried on extensively in some schools. Sunday school teachers ought to feel that they had a pastorate in their classes, and that their concern for, and responsibility in, the child, did not close when he was removed from the class. He wanted the influence of the Sunday school to be as stated, in the topic of conversation, tinuous."
Mr. MORGAN, of Buckingham, spoke of conversion as the great aim of the Sunday school teacher's labours. The means at the disposal of the teacher were precept and example, and he pointed out the importance of adapting the instruction given in the school to the sphere of action in which the children were called to move.
Mr. COOPER, of Cambridge, said some people professed to believe that the work of the Sunday school was limited, and that its utility or existence would last only for a certain time. He believed, on the other hand, that it was a "continuous” work, --that it was an agency well adapted to lay hold of the youthful mind, and to imbue it with religious truth ; and he conceived that they had altogether mistaken its mission, or had failed to accommodate themselves to the circumstances of the times, or the wants of the age, if that agency came to be generally regarded as obsolete. They were not called upon in any way to interfere with, or supersede, parental discipline and teaching, but where these were totally neglected, to offer auxiliary aid in such case, and to supply the only means which could be obtained of religious training. He did not sympathize with the suggestion offered in reference to juvenile communion services, and he would deplore any step which appeared to draw a distinction between the school and the church. In his neighbourhood, efforts had been made to carry on the instruction of the children out of the school, and to keep. up epistolary correspondence, and both classes of cffort had been attended with
Rev. James IngLIS, of Glasgow, said a great deal had been urged in Sunday schools
about tho art of teaching,-the simple art of prosenting truth, in a certain way, to the scholars’ minds,—which was all very valuable, but he had very frequently noticed among teachers that, after acquiring the art, they imagined that no more was to be done ; and instead of giving the cultivation of their minds a prominent place in their occupations, forbore to read carefully, or to think closely, even upon the subject lessons for their classes. The consequence was, that though a stranger going into their classes would think such teachers were models of adroitness, from the facility with which they used the art they had acquired, he would, if he attended those classes for a few times, find a great meagreness in the quality of the teaching. Therefore, as a practical question, how to increase the efficiency of the Sunday school ? he would say, there was nothing more important than that teachers should set seriously to work to think ; that they should not read superficial works, but the very best books published, not simply on religion, but on every other subject, so that they might acquire a mental stamina, which would fit them for the more efficient discharge of their important duties. But there was another matter of far more importance than intellectual qualifications, and that was the temperature—the spiritual temperature-of the teacher's own mind. He believed it sometimes happened that the intellectual power and the moral strength of the teacher existed in inverse ratio ; and that a teacher with feeble intellectual power possessed so extraordinary a development of spiritual life, that in all that he undertook for God, he seemed to do good ; while men of much higher intelligence, though they might produce skilful scholars, had but few fruits. It had been his privilege lately to have intercourse with a gentleman in Scotland who had been a principal agent in the revivals there,
,-a man of considerable mind, and who was converted to God at forty-eight years of age. Though possessing, as he said, considerable powers of mind, they were undisciplined, and his sermons, though sound and good, were not superior to what were heard in most pulpits ; but the secret of his success was his intense-it might almost be said, his red-hot earnestness. He scarcely ever addressed an audience, either in town or country, whether educated or unlearned, whether among the higher classes of society, or amongst its drogs, without seeing souls converted. In private, his intercourse with friends or strangers was of precisely the same quality. He had one ruling idea and passion in his heart—that of saving souls,—and it was the intense earnestness of that man's life that made him so successful in the work. He (Mr. Inglis) therefore pressed this point upon the attention of teachers, as the principal thing of all in connection with their works. They could not all be clever ; they had not all got great intellectual powers, or the means of cultivating their intellectual powers, such as they were, but they had all the means of going to a throne of grace,-of living heavenly, devoted, earnest lives, for Christ Jesus. A great deal had been said with regard to correspondence. Many years ago he had a class of girls, one of whom was very serious and attentive. She left the school for service, and he had no means of communicating with her. It so happened, that he accidentally learned that she had given up all religious ideas and feelings. He corresponded with her, and in her reply she made use of a most extraordinary expression, "When I attended your class,” she said, "I loved the sabbath, the Bible, the Sunday school, and prayer; but I have given them all up, and now I am going to hell, and I don't care !” This expression made him feel that she did caro, and he sat down and wrote her as earnest a letter as he could pen. He heard no more of her for some time. The first serinon that he preached, he saw her before him, but he had no communication further with her, until be heard she had applied for admission to the church. She then told him his letter was not the means of her conversion ; but after she had read it she laid it open in her trunk, so that whenever she got anything out of it, it lay before her as a testimony for God. It worked, however, upon her mind, and the sermon that he preached that day became the turning point. She became a most excellent Christian woman, and for the last ten or fifteen years had been adorning the doctrines of the gospel. With reference to visitation, it was very difficult to go to their houses to see the scholars, and converse with them privately, because they were usually in company with many more ; but there was another plan, and that was—to get the scholars to go to the teacher's house individually, and talk to them there. He had known amazing fruits to be produced in that way. The scholars, first of all, were diffident, but by-and-by their hearts opened and they freely told their teachers all the thoughts and emotions which, perhaps, had been struggling in their minds for weeks and months, but to which they had never dared to give expression. One word with regard to success in teaching. He was afraid that they crred in two ways here ; first, in not expecting success ; and second, in not believing in it when it arrived. It was of immense importance that the children should be converted when young. With few exceptions, men who were brought to Christ, after a long course of sin, never did any good to the church. Such men were wonderful monuments of the skill of the Great Physician, but as regarded usefulness, they were almost always cripples for life,-mere hospital Christians, -and though saved themselves, hardly ever were any good to others. On the other hand, when a person young in years, and strong and fresh in energy, became converted, who could tell how much good might be effected ? After referring to the religious awakening in the north, Mr. Inglis concluded by an earnest appeal to the teachers present to persevere in their work, whatever discouragements might surround them, and never to despair of success, while faithfully labouring for God's glory.
Mr. CULVERWELL referred to the practice of holding meetings from year to year for the purposes of reunions between old scholars and teachers. It was not so generally adopted in many parts of the country as in the metropolis, but wherever it had been tried, it had been found of great service. He urged the extension of the plan as one most effective means of making the influence of the Sunday school continuous.
Rev. J. LORD, of Thrapston, while admitting that in many cases Sunday school teachers and superintendents were not so well qualified as could be desired, reminded the meeting that it was often necessary to make use of whaterer agency was offered, if the work was to be carried on at all. He endorsed the sentiment of the delegate from Birmingham, and believed that the preparation by the Committee of a superintendent's handbook would be very serviceable, especially in those parts of the country where meetings for conference on subjects of interest in the management of schools could not be held. He spoke of the value of teachers' prayer meetings, and of the stumbling-blocks thrown in the way of the Sunday school teacher's success in his work by the drinking customs of the day.
Mr. WRIGHT, of Birmingham, thought that one error which had been committed in the past was that Sunday schools had been made too cheap ; and he suggested, among other means of increasing their influence, the granting of a certificate of attendance and good conduct to scholars who might have belonged to a school for some years.
Mr. GROSER said the Sunday School Union had prepared a form of such certificate, which could be obtained in the Depository.
Mr. SWALLOW, of Manchester, made some observations upon the dutios of superintendents, and laid special stress upon the exercise of discrimination lwy lim in appointing scholars to suitable classes on their admission to the school.
Mr. BUTCHER, in reference to his suggestion of a children's communion service,
said his object was to meet the observations sometimes made by pious children, that they were too young to join the church.
Rev. J. KEED, of Cambridge, encouraged the teachers, from facts which had come under his notice during the past year, to labour and pray for the conversion of their charge. He warned them against expecting old piety in young children-the development of a forty years' experience of the Christian life in a youth of tender age.
Mr. COOPER, of Brighton, believed that much of the want of the religious influence of teachers over their classes was, that they were so seldom with them ; while so large a portion of their time the children were exposed to influences of quite a contrary character. He suggested that one method of meeting this difficulty would be to establish a week-day gathering of the classes, in some service of a more or less religious character.
The conversation was then adjourned until the afternoon.
Mr. CUTHBERTSON, who read some extracts from addresses delivered in the recent Sunday School Conference in Philadelphia, and pointed out the importance of Sunday school teachers labouring for the conversion of their children, as though the attainment of that result lay in their own hands. He said he had been struck with one fact, which he had ascertained in the course of his inquiries, viz., -that very few children in Sunday schools were converted to God through the regular session of the sabbath day's teaching. None of those teachers who had been eminently successful in the conversion of their classes had confined their labours to the school, but had adopted various means to awaken and keep up a spiritual interest amongst the children. He believed that very much depended upon the appeal to the child individually by the teacher; and some of the most successful teachers had adopted the plan of meeting their scholars half an hour before preaching in the evening for that purpose. He referred also to the special Sabbath evening services, as valuable auxiliaries to the regular teaching in the schools. Another plan, which had been adopted with very great success, was for the minister to meet the inquirers in connection with the school ; and in the north of England it had resulted in considerable accessions to the church. He was satisfied that, though it was all very well to have intelligent teachers who could conduct their classes with skill and interest during the morning and afternoon of the Sabbath day, unless they adopted some means for getting their children alone, and praying and talking with them earnestly and pointedly, the work of God would not progress to any great extent among them.
Mr. Day, of the East London Auxiliary, spoke of the successes which attended his labours as a teacher in early life, which he attributed (under God) to the earnestness and devotion he was able to bring to bear upon it. The great want of the schools in the present day was not only that they should get all the information in their power, and acquire all the necessary skill for imparting that information to others, but that they should have a preparation of heart for their work. He feared that, in too many instances, superintendents were ill qualified for their duties, and unable to assist teachers in the discharge of theirs.
Mr. BRAIN recommended the holding of parents meetings, and said that he never had known an instance of such gatherings without good having resulted. He urged upon teachers a careful study of the characters and dispositions of their children, and spoke of the advantages likely to flow from the epistolary correspondence already spoken to. Mr. WHITE, of Woolwich, while concurring generally in the observations
the Chairman as to the future of our day schools, said he was not without hope