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a.....=---Tenaith (Nonconformist)…


a.=- Tenaith (Nonconformist) Sunday School Teachers' Union. The following paper was read by Mr Goffin at the meeting of the Nonconformist Sunday School Teachers' (Jnion, held in Arcet-street Wealeyan Chapel last week:— The history of the religious education of the young is an ancient one. It dates back to B.C. 1451, when God addressed Israel, through Moses, in the words (Dent. v., 6-7), 1 These words I command thee. thou strait teach them diligently to thy children.' Until the Christian Era, almost without exception, this command was carefully observed but when the founder of the Christian dispensation foresaw that the destruction of the Jewish economy would hinder, and probably end, the religious education of the young, He left with His earliest chosen reprensentatives the brief, but authoritative, command Feed my lambs' (Job a xxi., 15). This command seems to have been faithiully carried out. The study of ecclesiastical history clearly shows that the Christian Church has never fallen so low as to formally deny the children's claim to a place in the sanctuary and a share in its pulpit ministrations, and that where spiritual life has been fullest there those claims have been most clearly recognised. Children's worship and Sunday teaching of cbildien have had no beginning since the days of the apostles. It may also be affirmed, without fear of disproof, that the Sunday School represents the chief instrumentality of modern times for the dis- charge of this solemn duty. It has been, and doubt- less still is, marked by much feebleness and imperfec- tion yet, as an agency, it stands unrivalled for Scriptural simplicity, flexibility, and adaptation to the object in view. "PLACr..—Toe special circumstances under which the Sunday School system of this country was originated, or, more correctly speaking, revived and modified, by the excellent Raikes and his coadjutors, have tended (o obscure its primary design and retard its progress by its missionary aspect. In the mind of many Christian people it never passes this limit- To them the Sunday School is a place where self-denying ladies and gentlemen stoop to impart the elements of religious knowledge to *I roor children,' and hence they conclude the spread of godliness among the lower classes will render such philanthropic efforts anneoessary. Such a conception is partial and mis- leading, and has wrought much injury to the cause. j It is true that the followers of Christ have gathered ^$eglecttd children into Sunday, Mission, and Ragged Schools, but the Church's first duty to the young is to teach and to train those who are within her direct and immediate influence, the sons and daughters of those who call themselves Christians, that to reach the offspring of the ignorant and ungodly is the duty which stands next. The modern Sunday School com- bines both these funtions, and in proportion as its full scope and purpose are recognised will its power and usefulness increase. It will be seen that its place is, in familiar language, a nursery to the Church, or, in other words, the 4 Church's mission to the young,' irrespective of social or religious distinctions.. Its sphere is bounded only by the moral and spiritual needs of childhood and youth, and its operations will become obsolete only when the ancient prediction shall have been translated into history, and All shall tnow the Lord from the least to the greatest.' "OBJECT.—The iipecial object and work of the Sunday School is to make known the children's duty to God, and the doing of that duty, or religious edu- cation, comprbing instruction and training. In- struction is the communication of ideas or knowledge from one mind to another, and ordinarily we regard the purpose of ii itruction fulfilled when the truths -taugbt are fully apprehended by the pupil, and we say the end of instruction is knowledge. As a rule, it must precede training,for it must needs be that we know before we can feel, believe, resolve, or act. It will be clearly seen that for our scholars to be bene- fitted in any sense—more especially iia the highest sense-tl ey must possess knowledge. For example, if I desire to walk to Barry, and possess no knowledge of the road, the end of my journey may find me at Cardiff. If our scholars are-to get to heaven they must possess a knowledge of the way, or their feet will never tread the golden streets. To impart a clear knowledge of the character and will of God, is one and an important aim of the Sunday School. May we keep this aim in view, attain spiritual knowledge ourselves, and impart it intelligently to our scholars. Training may be defined as inciting to action, putting into practice truthful thoughts. This is of equal importance to the possession of knowledge. Know- ledge without the corresponding action is useless; ihus'a man may possess the knowledge that an excessive indulgence in alcoholic liquor will make him drunfc, but that knowledge will benefit him but little if he indulges in the bar parlour to such an extent that upon going home at 11 p-m. he embraces the lamp- post as a friend. In like manner our scholars may have an abundant knowledge of spiritual truth and be none the better; may know the Ten Command' ments by heart, and yet render no obedience to their Creator; may have knowledge of the truth as it is in Christ Jesas, and yet be as far from the Kingdom as those in darkest Africa. Hence the Sunday School aima at training, or putting to ptactical advantage the knowledge already possessed, thus leading to a saving knowledge of the truth the young people under its influence. li There are also two elements of training—the teacher's example and the pupil's imitative effort. Thus the apprentice learns how to use a particular tod by first seeing it handled by another workman, and then endeavouring to use it. By frequent repeti- tion of this process skill is attained, and so in moral and religious training. It, is found that the teacher's example exerts a powerful influence upon his young1 and imitative pupils. Let the Sunday School workers, therefore; recognise this, and seek in all right and noble words and actions to render their teaching and example an abiding power for good. A Digiculty.-Bearing in mind the easily moulded and susceptible nature of a child, the process of reli- giously educating the your mind and heart might seem a simple aifd comparatively easy task, at least whenever it has been begun early in life's morning; No sooner, however, is the experiment fairly tried than the educator is confronted with the fact thai so far from religious conduct being 'sthe natural sequence to religious knowledge, the latter may, and in the majority of instances does, exist, without producing the former, except in a very limited and superficial degree and not only so, but the effort to train the moral and spiritual nature in conformity with the truth communicated, is ordinarily met by a voluntary and more or less decided resistance on the part of the pupil. An important link is missing. Such a state of things, though plainly taught in Scripture, is apt to disconcert and depress the inexperienced teacher, but it will prove an incentive to labour aud a guide to success if he is thereby led to a fuller and deeper appreciation of the companion truth, I Our sufficiency is of God.' He cannot recognise too soon, or remember too often, that there is a diverse element in all religious education, and as no duty is enjoined without corresponding provision being made for its right performance, so the constant and gracious co- operation of the Holy Spirit is freely offered to all who will undertake this arduous and responsible task. It will have been seen in the paper that the Sunday School is not only a work for and commanded by God, but it isplso an eminently Godlike and Christ-likework. Not only is it a system to make known the will and character of God, but also an effort to train in con- foimity therewith, resulting in the production of a godly, righteous, and sober life This is the end and aim of Sunday Schools. Much good may be accom- plished which falls short of this grand object, but no Sunday School teacher who has rightly estimated the work will be satisfied with less. Mental activity, moral habits, Biblical knowledge, religious feeling, whatever is embodied in the familiar term hopeful- ness, all such will yield him encouragement and de- light. But a converted, godly band of scholars will be his supreme joy and his highest crown. That the Sunday School has not failed in its aim may be gathered from the fact that during thb 22 years from 1864 to 1885 the total number of scholars returned as having joined the churches from schools belonging to the Union amounted to more than a quarter of a million; number in last-mentioned year (1885), 15,622. Dear fellow-labourers, I feel by your presence here to-night that this is the desire of your hearts. May God strengthen and deepen these desnes within us, and in his own time and way convert .those desires into accomplished realities that our classes may be lor Christ.' Our Sunday School system, high and glorious as are its aims, has not yet reached the fullest extent of its power. There are possibilities ahead for the Sun- day School of the future. Then why be content with present attainments, when greater heights are as yet unsealed ? Suggestions (1).—The special work of the Sunday School, as we have seen, lays arrong the young, but it would seem, from the spiritual ignorance of many morejadvauced in years, that religious education as imparted by the Sunday School might profit- ably be extended to those who are older. It is to be feared that there is a sad ignorance of spiritual things amongst our adult population. Why not the Sunday School to the rescue? (2). This verges on the question of our elder scholars. Are not the young too exclusively made a speciality in our schools,-so that our youth feel that they have outgrown both the school and its object ? (3). We live in an age of controversy. I doubt, many puzzling and harrasing questions are raised which keep some from salvation, and others who pro- fessed have their faiih shaken. Is there not room in our schools for classes to meet and combat these questions, whether doubtful, theological, or scientific? Mrs Marychurch, at Cardiff, in her excellent paper, I The Relation of the Secular Education of to-day to the Sunday School Teachers' Work,' dealt with this point in a masterly way. Could not the Sunday School with advantage pursue a course of this kind ? (4). Then, too, the Pleasant Sunday Afternoon question is being advocated by many who fancy they can see in this direction an avenue of usefulness for I the Sunday School of the future. (o). Then there is the Sunday School in the week, if that is not too much a pamdox. I mean this —that the world and its attractions—which aie neithei few nor small to-day-are undoing, to a great extent, our work on the Sunday- Dr and Mrs Francis Clark have in part solved this question in the Young feople's Society of Christian Endeavour, but there ia yet work to be done iu this direction- There are the theatres, music-balls, public-houses, dancing classes, luring by their attractiveness our Sunday scholars while the school doors are carefully locked against them. These are a few lines in the direction of which the Sunday School of the future may travel. I am not 7 prepared at the limited time placed at my diposal for writing this paper to advocate any I have mentioned. We must never, however anxious we may be :to ex- tend the sphere of usefulness of the Sunday School, lose sight of the one great end and aim already re- ferred to, the conversion of our scholars, our classes for Jesus. For this let us work, for this let us pray. In this may we be successful, for Jesus sake." An interesting discussion followed, baingf taken part in by Messrs Mayne, Bichards. Williams, Owen, Brockington, Rogers, Wallace, and the Chairman, and the Misses Prosser, Sillifanj;, Brockington, Mrs Richards, &c. The following are a few of the lead- ing points remarked upon :—Teachers' example, per- sonal contact with scholars, visitation, our adult scholars and how to retain them, our scholars in the week, the dispositions of teachers, Sunday School impressions, if parents did their duty would Sunday Schools be necessary P,

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