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"Knowing that I am set for the defence of the Gospel." Phil. i. 17.

No. 16.]

APRIL, 1822.

[No. 4. Vol. II.


To the Editor of the Gospel Advocate,

I AM a Sunday school teacher, and, as I am a constant reader of your valuaible work, I have often wished that some portion of it were set apart for the insertion of essays on the subject of Sunday school instruction-a subject, my humble opinion, of as much importance as that of preaching. As many of your readers are, no doubt, like myself, engaged as teachers in Sunday schools, I hope you will en deavour, occasionally, to insert an essay on the subject, pointing out the most eligible mode of conducting such establishments.

I reside, Mr. Editor, not far from the metropolis. I have visited several of the Sunday schools which are there established, and find several different methods pursued in their management. Now, sir, I am a plain man, and do not wish to puzzle my brains with an argument as to which is the best mode; but I wish to propose one or two queries, which I hope you, or some of your able correspondents, who are practically acquainted with the subject, will answer for my satisfaction.

I wish, in the first place, to inquire, Is it for the interest of a Sunday school, that the scholars should always be conADVOCATE, VOL. II,


tinued under the same teacher? If this question be decided in the affirmative, it will, I presume, be considered necessary that the instruction of a class should be varied, as often as the scholars have completed a course of study.-That every scholar in a class should be precisely on the same footing, and studying the same lesson, I take for granted; because the reasonableness and necessity of the provision is evident.

The arguments in favour of the affirmative to this question are, that the teachers and scholars become mutually attached to each other; and that the children will make greater improvement by being under the instruction of one whom they love, and to whom they have become attached. It is also said, that the teachers, by being long acquainted with their scholars, become more familiar with their tempers and habits, and feel greater interest in their welfare and improvement.

On the other side, it is stated that there ought to be a regular gradation of classes; that as the scholars advance in learning, they should be raised to classes of higher standing, and pursue different studies. If the teachers are always confined to teaching the same branches, they will become better acquainted with those branches, and of course better qualified to teach them.

Another question which I wish to

propose, is, Are rewards useful in a Sunday school? It is contended by those who think they are, that no school can be kept in so good order without, as with, the system of distributing rewards for good behaviour, diligence, &c.

On the other hand, it is said, that the system of giving rewards to children excites and brings into action those natural, depraved principles of the human heart, which it is the object of Sunday school instruction to discountenance and suppress. It should be the object of Sunday school teachers to stimulate their scholars to the due performance of their duty, by other than worldly motives;-by the satisfaction which will necessarily be produced in their own consciences; by the approbation of their friends; and, above all, the approbation of their God. These, it is said, are the motives to action which Sunday school teachers should hold out to the children committed to their care; to which may also be added, another inducement, which often has great influence upon the minds of children; the consideration, that the greater the progress they make in their studies, the greater will the benefit be to them in after life. They should be taught, that they are destined one day to fill important places in society; and that, in order to their filling those places with credit to themselves, and usefulness to others, they must be diligent, while they are young, in learning those things which will be of use to them in the stations to which they may hereafter be called. They should be excited, not by the desire of excelling their fellows, but by that holy emulation which will lead them to press forward till they attain to the possession of all the learning which it is possible for them to acquire. This point, being within the reach of every one, may be aspired to, without any reference to the exertions of their fellow scholars, and without being stimulated by a desire to excel them.

A third question, on which I wish to receive information, is, how far the Madras system, or system of mutual instruction, can be introduced with ad. vantage into Sunday schools. Were the only, or indeed the principal object of Sunday school instruction, to keep the children in order, I should have no hesitation in saying that this system would be decidedly the best which could be adopted. But as the principal objects of Sunday schools are to impart religious instruction, I think the introduction of this system would not be productive of much advantage. But I state the question for the purpose of receiving instruction on the subject; not for giving my own opinion.

One more question, and I have done. Ought corporal punishment, in any case, to be resorted to in a Sunday school? If not, how should refractory and disobedient scholars be punished?

If you, sir, or any of your corres. pondents, will give satisfactory answers to these questions, I shall be much gratified. I may, hereafter, trouble you with some further remarks, should you think the present of sufficient con sequence to merit a place in your valu able work.


An Earnest Persuasive to the frequent receiving of the Holy Communion. Supposed to have been written by the late Bishop Seabury. BRETHREN, beloved in Christ,—The title has informed you, that my design is to address you on the subject of frequent communion in the holy eucharist, or sacrament of the body and blood of Christ, commonly called the Lord's supper. The subject is an important one, and claims your serious attention: and the great neglect of the duty requires plainness of speech, and freedom of admonition on my part. I have, therefore, to request, that you will carefully read and consider what is

here addressed to you, and bear patiently that plain dealing which proceeds only from a desire to stir you up to the practice of a duty, which I suppose an indispensable one, and in the neglect of which, you live in a constant state of sin against your God.

Sin," said the apostle, "is the transgression of the law."* The will of God, when made known to us, is his law to us, and binds us in all cases whatsoever. Nothing is sinful any further than it is contrary to God's will; and every thing is sinful in the same degree that it is contrary to his will: for to contradict the will of God constitutes the nature and essence of sin. The will of God is made known to us by revelation, and is declared in the holy bible, which is intended by God to be the standard of our faith and practice, that we may know, at all times, what he requires us to believe and do.

Some of. God's commands are prohibitory, i. e. they forbid us to do certain things because they are contrary to his will and they are contrary to his will, because, as far as we can judge, they are destructive of our own happiness, and of the happiness of others. Other commands are positive, requiring us to do certain things in obedience to God. In many instances we can perceive that what God commands is conducive to our welfare, and to the welfare of others, and reason will teach us to believe, all God's commands proceed from the same benevolent principle-a desire of doing us good, though our blindness may not perceive it.

However, the essence of all sin consisting in acting contrary to the will of God, there must be the same sin and danger in neglecting to do what God commands, as in doing what he forbids. In either case, we transgress the will or law of God, and commit sin; and, whether it be by wilfully doing what God has forbidden, or wilfully omitting what he has commanded, we equally trans

1 John iii. 4.

gress his law, and are equally guilty in his sight.

That Christ declared the will of God, and that whatever he commanded is the command or law of God, must be owned by all who acknowledge his divinity, indeed by all who acknowledge he acted by divine authority. Now, he gave no command more positive than the one relating to the holy ordinance of which I am treating. The institution is as solemn as it possibly can be, and was made at the commencement of the most solemn period of his ministry on earth. The injunction on his apostles to do as he had done, and thereby keep up the memorial he appointed, is as absolute as any command that ever was given.*

From the account the holy evangelists have left us, the universal and perpetual obligation of this command is very apparent. It is true, it does not appear there were any persons present at the institution, besides the apostles; but this will furnish no argument against the universal obligation all Christians are under to comply with it. They are all as much interested in it as the apostles were. Christ died equally for us, and for all Christians, as he did for the apostles. We, therefore, and all Christians, are as much obliged to regard the institution as the apostles were. Nothing in the institution peculiarly related to them, except the power of administration. By the command, "Do this in remembrance of me," they were empowered and obliged to administer the holy ordinance; and, consequently, Christians were obliged to receive it; for unless they did receive it, the apostles could not administer it.

That the apostles were, by our Saviour's command, obliged to this administration, appears from the institution compared with the command. For the command, "This do in remembrance of me," relates not barely to eating bread and drinking wine in remem

*Matt. xxvi. 26. Mark xiv. 22. Luke xxiir 19.

brance of Christ, as the Socinians teach, and some ill-informed Christians suppose, but to the whole transaction. By it the apostles were enjoined, when they administered the holy communion, to do as Christ then did take bread and break it, and offer it up to God, by thanksgiving and prayer, consecrating it to be his mystical body, the memorial or representative of that body which Christ, in the institution, willingly offered up and devoted to God, a sacrifice and propitiation for the sin of the world, and which, in consequence of his offering, was soon after slain upon the cross for our redemption-the body of Christ in virtue and efficacy. They were then to distribute it to the Christians who attended the holy solemnity, as Christ distributed it to them. Likewise, they were to take the cup, and offer it up to God, by prayer, thanksgiving, and blessing, consecrating it to be the sacramental blood of Christ-the representative or memorial of his blood, which Christ devoted to God to be shed for sin- the blood of Christ, in virtue and efficacy, to all worthy receivers. They were then to give it to all the Christians present, to drink of it in remembrance, or for a memorial of Christ. So that all they who received the sacramental body and blood, i. e. the bread and wine, thus blessed and consecrated, by Christ's authorized minister, with true penitence and faith, might, at the same time, receive in a spiritual and mysterious manner, the life-giving body and blood of Christ, i. e. all the benefits of his passion, death, and resurrection.

This memorial, I say, the apostles were obliged to make in obedience to their Lord's command. And the Christians of their time were, of course, obliged to communicate with them, or their Lord's command could not be fulfilled

As it appears that the very institution of the holy eucharist laid an obligation upon the apostles to administer, and upon all Christians of their time to

communicate with them in the celebration of it; so a little reflection will convince us, that the same obligation lay upon their successors, the bishops of the Christian church, and upon all duly authorized by them, and upon all Christians of every period, from their days to ours, to make the same holy memorial of his blessed body and blood which Christ commanded. The command of Christ, "This do in remembrance of me," has no limit of time annexed to it. It must, therefore, continue in force till he who gave shall repeal it.

We are as much interested in the sacrifice of Christ's death, and, therefore, as much obliged to commemorate it, as the first Christians were. We need the benefits of his redemption as much as they did. It must, therefore, be as much our duty to commemorate his sacrifice for sin, in the way he appointed, as it was theirs; that, receiving his blessed body and blood in the holy communion, we may be made partakers of all the benefits of his death. Was there any doubt of this matter, the authority of St. Paul would fully remove it. "As oft as ye eat this bread and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord's death till he come.' ""* Ye do represent, set forth, exhibit, the Lord's death, till he come, at the end of the world, to judge the quick and the dead, according to his most true promise to his apostles: "If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to myself."+

In this sense the early Christians understood their Lord's command. And

*Or, show ye the Lord's death till he come. Probably there is an allusion to the show bread-the bread of the presence, or bread of representation, under the economy of the law; that, as that pointed to the true, (not figurative) bread, the bread of God which should come down from heaven to be given for the life of the world, even Christ Jesus; so the show bread under the gospel, the eucharistick bread and wine, points to the same Lord Jesus Christ already come.

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so strong a sense had they of their duty to commemorate their Redeemer's love in dying for them, that they never assembled for divine worship, but the holy eucharist made a principal part of the solemnity: nor was it till the love of Christians abated, and their faith declined, that the memorial of Christ's death came to be celebrated only on particular occasions.

Consider these things, and let your own consciences determine, whether your neglect of the holy communion can be justified on any principles of Christianity or reason? Whenever you compare your conduct with Christ's command, sure I am, your own hearts must condemn you. Remember then, "God is greater than your heart, and knoweth all things." ""* It is not so much with me, as with your God, you have this matter to settle; and did you attend to it, you would make no more excuses, but immediately prepare your selves to become worthy guests at God's table.

It is to be feared there are some who never think enough of the subject to make excuses about it. To these I have nothing to say at present. Till they come to a better mind, they will give no attention, and till they do, no reason or persuasion can take any hold of them. Iflatter myself there are few, I hope none, among you in so hopeless a condition. Most people intend to consider the subject of religion some time or other, and to make up for all deficiencies by their after diligence. The misfortune is, this some time or other is long in coming; and there is danger lest it never come at all. Negligence, and indisposition to reflection, and attachment to the world, and the lust of sensual pleasure, by continuance grows stronger, and death closes the scene, before any resolutions of the future amendment are carried into effect.

The great excuse for not coming to

* 1 John iii. 20.

the communion, and to which all others, where there is any hope of doing good, may be referred, is that of unworthiness. And it is probable, a sense of their deficiencies, and a strong apprehension of the sin of unworthy receiving, keep more well disposed people from the communion than any other reason. Let such well disposed people consider the danger of disobeying God, as well as the danger of unworthy receiving. By refusing to communicate, they sin against God's positive law; but by communicating, it is not certain they would incur the guilt of unworthy receiving; for with some tender consciences, there is more of apprehension than reality in the case. And why should any one keep himself in such a state as that he must sin against God, either by disobeying his positive law, or by unworthy attendance upon his ordinance? Why does he not rather repent of his unworthiness, and amend his life? God is ready to bless his efforts, if they be sincere, and to accept his penitence.



It is to be regretted that the word damnation is used by our translators, in rendering a passage of St. Paul to the Corinthians ;* for that seems to be the occasion of the great terrour of worthy receiving. The literal meaning of the word is judgment, and it is so rendered in the margin of our bible; and had it been in the text, "He that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself," it would have prevented much uneasiness to many pious people. That St. Paul used the word here to express temporal judgments, and not eternal damnation, appears from the next verse: "For this cause"-on account of this unwor thy receiving-" many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep"are dead. He then observes, that the way to avoid these judgments was, to judge ourselves, and amend our lives, and then "we should not be judged”

*1 Cor. xi. 29.

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