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Apostles—the right use of the Sacraments—and the whole Catholic doctrine.
This is God's great incorporated system of means for saving the world. By its preaching men are called to repentance and instructed in the Faith : on the profession of their Faith they are admitted into Membership, by the Sacrament of Baptism ; thus baptized and admitted, if they continue in the daily fulfilment of their vows, an increase of Grace is vouchsafed to them in Confirmation : after this solemn ordinance they are admitted to the Lord's Supper, whereby they are further nurtured into greater maturity of age and perfectness in Christ.
With this understanding of the nature and constitution of the Church, it will be easily seen that whatever efforts be made for the conversion of men, must have especial reference to the bringing them into the unity of the Church; and must therefore be conducted on principles in accordance with it, and by means which it sanctions. The same rules must be observed with regard to Christian Children. They are already in the unity of the Church. Whatever, therefore, is done for their education, must have reference to the keeping them in that unity : with them it is not a work of conversion, but of edification. It is a leading them through all the successive steps and stages by which they are to advance in grace; so that from being made children in the faith, they may grow up to the measure of the stature of a perfect man in Christ Jesus.
Now from the very conditions of their calling as christian children, it will follow that their real and proper guardians are these three-the parent, the sponsors, and the clergyman. Every necessary provision for their bodily and spiritual wants is here made. The general duties of nurturing the child for God devolve upon its natural guardians, the parents. The particular duty of instructing him in his Baptismal vow, and leading him to the performance of it, belongs to the Sponsors. The higher duties of catechizing, preparing for confirmation, and admitting to the Lord's Supper, are confided to spiritual hands, and pertain of divine right to the Clergyman of the parish where the child lives.
This arrangement seems so admirably adapted that it may not unreasonably be asked, what is there left for the Sunday School Teacher to do? Will not his voluntary office clash with those already constituted ? Will he not interfere rather than help, his services be a loss rather than a gain, and the Sunday School system an evil, rather than a benefit? Is he not unnecessarily undertaking duties for which the Church has already made other provision ? The answer is not difficult. The Parents, the Sponsors, and the Clergyman, are the persons to whom the Church confides the care of her little ones : and if each of these could and did fulfil their several parts, the necessity for Sunday School instruction would be greatly diminished. But the reverse is the case. Some parents, through the neglect of their forefathers, are wholly unable to instruct their children, being themselves untaught; others are altogether wicked, and care nothing whatever for the souls of their children. Others are so hindered by poverty, the cares of a large family, sickness, and other causes, that they can do little more than attend to the merest bodily wants of their offspring; others again die and leave their little ones, a sacred trust, in the arms of the Church, to be nurtured at her altars for Christ. Here then is a vast arrear of unfilled duty on the part of the parents, which must be made good by the Church herself.
At the outset it was foreseen that under the most perfect system such must be the case; the Church therefore provided that parents should not be admitted as Sponsors for their own children; thus securing to every child a sacred guardianship, under which he should advance in knowledge and grace,
whether the parents' duty were fulfilled or not. But so much has the world gained upon the Church ; 80 prevalent has been the growth of undutiful feeling towards her requirements, that persons have been admitted as Sponsors without any, even the least, qualification for such a holy responsibility. It has been customary to look upon Sponsors as mere accessories towards the baptism of the child ; and it has been forgotten that they thereby enter into a solemn obligation to God on behalf of the child, by which they are bound to see him taught. The consequence is, that the Church's little ones have had to suffer from the unfaithfulness of Sponsors as well as Parents.
The ministry is the only remaining function of which mention has not been made. Can the Clergy, . in addition to their more proper duties, discharge the arrears of unnatural or incompetent parents, and the delinquencies of unfaithful sponsors ? A single glance at the question decides its impossibility. Under the very best circumstances, were every parent most faithful, and every sponsor most devoted, still the utmost the Clergy could do in any parish, would be a general superintendence. Watchful it might be, and prayerful, anxious and constant; but it could never reach every several child, and impart to it the benefit of individual care and training. Much more must this be impossible in the present overgrown state of parishes in England. So far has the increase of population outrun the progress of Church extension, that a single Clergyman is now charged with a population for which in other days three or four or even more would have been provided. So that between the inability or carelessness of parents, the faithlessness of sponsors, and an overworked clergy, the lambs of Christ have been well nigh lost.
To meet this growing evil the Sunday School system is had recourse to; children who are denied individual instruction must be brought together to be
taught collectively. In this way much that is left undone at home, may be done at school; much that parents, sponsors, and clergymen do not, or cannot, perform, will be in some measure attained through the instrumentality of teachers. Sunday Schools must, therefore, be worked as a function of the Church ; not as an extraneous element, but as a legitimate help to a system already recognized. This then is the Mission of the Sunday School teacher—to stand towards the children of his class, in some sense, in the place of a parent, not indeed to supersede him but to help; to act in some measure as a sponsor training his charge to holiness of life, with especial reference to the keeping of the baptismal vow; and to catechise him in the stead of the minister, when so permitted. Here are embodied in one person and office, three of the most sacred relationships that can possibly exist between two parties. Let all Sunday School Teachers think of the dignity of their calling, the usefulness of their labours, if properly conducted ; and the tremendous responsibility which their office entails. Such considerations will be productive of humility, patience, prayerfulness, watchfulness, and faith ; besides those subordinate qualities of regularity, punctuality, energy, and diligence, without which no Teacher can be either happy or useful.
Several other considerations flow out of this view of the Teacher's Mission ; such as, the system to be pursued, the subjects to be taught, the difficulties and encouragements, with many others which must be discussed in other papers.
Meanwhile be it never forgotten that the teacher's mission, is a mission of souls. It is intermingled with most fearful considerations. The immortality of the soul ; the rewards and punishments of another life, death and judgment, heaven and hell, time and eternity, are among the tremendous realities with which he has to do. “Who is sufficient for these things ?" St. Paul furnishes the answer, “ Our sufficiency is of God.” Let then the Sunday School Teacher first secure for himself the grace that saves his own soul ; and add to it those gifts which will help him to save others.
In speaking of the names of men in the early Church, we find them of three kinds :-1. Those which designated them as Christians, and by which they owned and distinguished themselves. 2. The names of reproach, cast upon them by Jews and infidels. 3. Those names which express the different degrees of rank, and different kinds of offices both of clergy and laity.
1.–Soon after the planting of Christianity, the early converts were known among themselves by the name of disciples, believers, elect, saints, and brethren, before they received the title of Christians. They have also been called Jesseans, either from Jesse the father of David, or more correctly from Jesus. The words, saint,' believers,' elect,' were used to signify, not what the Calvinists pretend, a select part, but the whole body of Christians. They were also called Gnostic; that is, men of understanding : they must not, however be confounded with heretics of that name, a perverse sect, who aped the name because of their great pretence to knowledge and science properly so called. Another name which frequently occurs, is that of Theophori, which signifies Temples of God :" St. Ignatius always called himself by this name. In the acts of his martyrdom, it is recorded that the emperor Trajan hearing this holy father style himself Theophorus, asked what that name meant? to which Ignatius replied, that it meant one that carried Christ in his heart. “Dost thou, then," said Trajan, “ carry him that was crucified in thy heart ?" Ignatius answered, “ Yes,' for it is written, 'I will dwell in them, and walk in them.'” St. Ambrose, in one place gives them the name of Christi, from the word Christus, which signifies any one that is anointed with oil, or receives any commission from God by a spiritual unction, in which sense every Christian is the Lord's anointed. At the same time it is very observable, that in all the names which the early christians adopted, there was still some relation to Christ and God, from whom they would be named, and not from any mortal men, how great and eminent soever. Party names and party appellations, they ever professed to abhor. “We take not our denomination from men,” says St. Chrysostom. And Epiphanius adds, “The Church was never so much as called by the name of any Apostle ;" we never heard of Petrians, or