« PreviousContinue »
of this suggestion are numerous. The greatest of these, and the one for which we are the most anxious, is the efficacy of united prayer. But there are others, which, though of minor importance, are not to be disregarded. Brotherly love would be increased in the hearts of the teachers; confidence would be inspired in opening their minds one to another, so that we should be enabled to bear each other's spiritual burdens. How pleasing would be the smile with which a teacher, when entering upon the scholastic duties of the day, would be welcomed by his fellow-labourers. There would be no more that solitary feeling which sometimes fills the mind, but we should feel as one body. The early hours of the Sabbath would become endeared to each heart; and instead of being spent in carnal indulgence, as they now too frequently are, they would be gladly devoted to the work of prayer and praise.
Hoping that this subject will receive your attention, and praying that a blessing may rest upon the labour which you undertake for our advantage, and that a spirit of earnest prayer may be poured into the hearts of the fraternity, I have the happiness of subscribing myself,
A SUNDAY-SCHOOL TEACHER. Bilston, September 2nd, 1845.
[The Editor thinks this suggestion most worthy of consideration. Properly conducted, such an arrangement could not fail to have a beneficial influence over the minds of the Teachers throughout the day; and where the Clergyman could meet his Teachers, and conduct their devotions, it would be a great advantage.]
ON LEVITY AND GRAVITY. AMONG the many things required by the Teacher, is a complete control over himself, particularly a control over his risible faculties. Children often say and do such strange things in the very midst of the most solemn exercises, that it requires a summoning up of all the religious feeling of the sacredness of our duties, to overcome the almost irresistible desire to laugh. The subject is one to which young teachers especially would do well to pay some attention. All laughter or appearance of
levity ought to be carefully avoided, if it was for no other reason than because it makes sacred things to be lightly thought of. Abbott, or Todd, makes mention of a teacher who gave way to laughter once in a class, at some absurd thing which a boy had said, and the evil effects of which were seen afterwards, by the class getting into bad order, the teacher having, in consequence, lost to a considerable extent, his power of control over them. In order to show the nature of the things that occasionally are so very trying to the Teacher, a few instances may be given from the writer's own experience.
One Sabbath, during the time of prayer, I looked round to see that all the children were conducting them. selves properly, and to my great discomposure, observed one of my boys, at a little distance, with great gravity, going through the operation of shaving ; brushing away with one hand, and then using a finger of the other, in imitation of a razor. I was afraid to move, lest I should attract attention to him. I was equally afraid to take my eye off him, in case he might continue his ex travagances, and so set the whole class a laughing. With great difficulty I managed to conceal a smile under an appearance of great sternness, and having caught his eye at last, he stopped abruptly. I had much pain for some minutes in the effort to overcome myself. On another occasion, a boy had fallen asleep on his seat, and in one or two seconds, a boy on one side had taken a string from his pocket, passed it round his big toe, (it being summer, he was barefoot,) and the other end having been taken by the boy on the other side, they commenced to see-saw it up and down, making the boy, of course, awake with a start from feeling the pain. It was done so rapidly that, before I could interfere, it was over, leaving the same painful feeling as before. But the last instance I shall mention is perhaps of a kind more common than the others. A boy was reading a verse of the New Testament, and instead of saying “ The Scribes and Pharisees," said, “ The Scribes and paraphrases.” The ludicrous mistake was too much for me, especially when he immediately read it over again in
the same manner, and I could not resist a smile: the boys giving a glance at me, but too willingly joined, and laughed outright. I found, to my sorrow, that I could not get them again to listen seriously that night; and for several nights afterwards, some of them were always trying to say things to make me laugh. It took me, I dare say, four or five nights to overcome the effects of that smile. With a great many children, and with Teachers too, (and they are happy teachers, such an incident would do no permanent harm; the effects would pass away in a few minutes: but still there is a very large class of children, with whom to give way to a smile, even on such an occasion, is almost to give up authority over them.
The best method I found, to keep down the ludicrous feeling, was to speak immediately and rapidly on the the lesson, so as to turn attention from the subject. I had asked the question of a boy, “What did Christ do, when he had done preaching ?” the answer immediately was, “He would precent." (For the sake of the English reader, I mention, that the precentor in Scotland is the person who leads the tune in the congregation.) I said at once, “ Just look at the few verses before, and answer me this,” putting a few questions that had nothing to do with what we had been speaking about. This plan perfectly succeeded in leading my mind and theirs from the answer given. To some, feeling that they could not be moved by such things, it may seem strange that a person should be so easily made to laugh; allowance must be made for different constitutions.
But, no doubt, the best way to overcome all these light and ludicrous feelings, is to breathe a secret prayer, that God would, at this time, so tune our hearts, that we may be led to feel more and more the importance of conducting ourselves aright in our sacred duties, and that we may allow nothing trifling to interfere with or mar the progress of our pupils in the way to eternal life. A constant attention to praying and meditation about eternity will, no doubt, be the means of bringing our feelings of this nature under more complete subjection to our divine Master.
EXAMPLE AND ENCOURAGEMENT FOR
SABBATH-SCHOOL TEACHERS.* “I could not help feeling very low on Monday. Like Hezekiah, I thought the Lord was about to cut short my days. Oh! that I could have made use of his language, and said, 'I beseech thee, O Lord, remember now how I have walked before thee in truth and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in thy sight.' But, my beloved Eliza, I have to mourn how little I have done for him who hath done such great things for me. Let me entreat you to pray that, if my life be prolonged, I may be more anxious for the spiritual welfare of others. And oh! may I more than ever magnify the riches of his grace. May he suffer me never more to wander from him; but may his love be the prevailing principle in my life, his word the rule of all my actions, and his blessed self my all in all, my portion for ever.”
To another dear friend (who considers her advice and counsel the means in the hand of God of impressing upon her mind the reality of divine things, and awakening her to a deeper concern about her eternal interests,) she wrote in a similar strain, with allusion to her Sabbath-school labours.
“I tremble lest, while I have been anxious about the souls of others, I have neglected my own. How awful if, in the great day, these dear children should be found in the kingdom of God, and I myself cast out! Let me then, while anxious for their spiritual welfare, be more concerned for the salvation of my own soul. May I ever seek a humble and a contrite spirit! May the prayer of the publican be mine, ‘God be merciful to me a sinner.'
ADDRESS TO THE GIRLS OF MY
DAY-SCHOOL. The readers of the “Teacher's Visitor" are doubtless well pleased to find the subject of rewards taken up by
* From a “Memorial of a departed Sister,” by the Rev. Thomas Page. London: Simpkin and Marshall.
some of its contributors. It is a subject which merits the earnest and careful attention of parents and instructors. There is a singular contrariety of opinion prevailing in regard to it. Much has been said and written cn both sides of the question—the one party conceiving that outward marks of approval may be so employed as to exercise a beneficial influence on the youthful character, the other rejecting all records of conduct, and all expressions of approval in the shape of tangible reward, as unnecessary, and even injurious—insisting that no other inducement to well-doing ought to be held out to the young than the pleasure arising from the consciousness of having fulfilled the demands of duty. I leave it to abler pens than mine to enter upon further discussions on these much-disputed points. It has occurred to me, however, that the following little address may not be altogther uninteresting to some Teachers, inasmuch as a simple, practical illustration sometimes arrests our attention, when a theoretical narrative fails to do so. It was my first address to the assembled children of my recently formed Day-school; and fearing that in my new position I might speak unadvisedly before my juvenile audience, I made copious notes on the subjects which I wished to bring forward. From these notes the following portions of the address, bearing on the subject of reward, are selected.
It will be perceived that reward, and not competition for reward, is the plan pursued. A mark of approbation for doing well—not for doing better than another-conferred without any invidious comparisons of intellectual superiority—without any reference whatever to the merit or demerit of others—the question being, not whether one child have one talent, and another two, but whether all have, by regular exertion and general good conduct, so traded with the talents intrusted to their keeping as to merit the approving testimony of those whose favourable opinion I anxiously hope I do not err in thus stimulating them to obtain. It is plain that my own views on this very important and very difficult subject have a decided bearing towards the employment of rewards when cautiously and judiciously bestowed. Let it, at