« PreviousContinue »
F. AND J. RIVINGTON, LONDON; PARKER, OXFORD; J. AND J. DEIGHTON, AND T. GREEN, CAMBRIDGE; AND ALL BOOKSELLERS.
SUNDAY SCHOOL TEACHER'S
INTRODUCTION. In introducing this MANUAL to their readers, the · Editors are desirous of stating in a few words its
objects, and the plans proposed to be pursued in furtherance of them.
Without entering fully upon the relation of our pre. sent Sunday School system to the Parochial system laid down in our Ecclesiastical Constitution, it is no prejudice to either to say that neither of them is effective without the other. Our Parishes are now, for the most part, so overgrown that our regular parochial system is not adequate to the wants of our enormous population. And, by consequence, if no other machinery be employed than that which was organized centuries ago to meet the circumstances of really manageable parishes, by far the greater part of our manufacturing, mining and commercial population, will never be reached by Church influence at all.
And, indeed, this was really the case during the greater part of the 18th century; the population went on increasing while church efforts and church exten
sion stood still: and so when at last it pleased God, towards the close of the last century, to raise up a few earnest minds to attempt a revival of religion in the Church, they awoke to a consciousness that their parochial provision was utterly unable to meet the wants of the church. Small hamlets had grown into populous villages, populous villages into market towns, and market towns into great cities. Besides all this, a thousand mills and factories had sprung up in places far removed from the utmost stretch of parochial influence. Wherever a well-sustained stream of water of sufficient capacity was discovered, there, as if by magic, rose the immense factory and the tall chimney; the singing of birds and the sweet sounds of rural life gave place to the busy hum of wheels, the hiss of steam, and the roar of furnaces; the quiet country village or the desolate moor-side, became quick with the running to and fro of hundreds of factory operatives; the village rustics turned artisans or migrated, and in their stead grew up a population numerous, money-getting, acute, hard-headed, and reckless. The influence of the squire tottered before that of the manufacturer, and a new dynasty sprung up, in which gain and self were the predominating influences over both masters and men. Mammon reigned supreme, and God was forgotten.
Such was the state of the Church and the country when a few earnest men set in motion a return to better things. The Sunday School system grew up out of the necessities of the times. There was the choice between that and nothing. It was not introduced as a new element in our parochial system, but as an additional influence, external, but not contrary to, the Church's prescribed order; by the operation of which, the Church herself might be quickened to the effective use of her own true and proper system.
It has been for some years the fashion to ascribe to Dissenters, the merit of having originated and prosecuted the work of grappling with the moral evils of the factory system. The following letter of the Rev. W. Romaine, which is strikingly characteristic of himself and the times in which he lived, will serve to shew that the “Sunday School system" was the work of Churchmen.
My dear Friend. I have been waiting a long time for news out of Yorkshire relating to the Sunday Schools. I can give you now a full and satisfactory account of them. They have been chiefly useful in the trading part, where there are great numbers of the manufacturers' children employed as soon as they can do anything, all the week, but let loose to mischief and wickedness all the Lord's day. It was with a view to prevent this, and also to instruct them in the way of salvation for their own sakes, and for their parent's, and for the public, that several persons, laity as well as clergy, tried to get them together, and teach them to read, write, and learn the Catechism. The Lord God has marvellously favoured the plan. He has inclined vast numbers of children to come; the parents in general are thankful; and the schoolmasters and mistresses have given great satisfaction. I know not of anything more promising for the rising generation, especially as it is made an indispensable part of their Sunday's employment, that they attend the Church regularly with their masters and mistresses. Mr. I. informs me of one good effect, that it has been the happy occasion of many conversions, by bringing poor people to see their children at church, who never came before to any place of worship. Others have also been won over to let their children attend by the little presents made to the neighbours' children, and by seeing their improvement in reading and writing. If you are disposed to do something in this way, you have my prayers for success.
“I hear you stay Christmas at R. May it be a season of nuch thankfulness as they sang 'glad tidings of great joy. This Advent has brought forth (Isaiah xi. 1, 2, 3, &c.,) verses to my unspeakable joy. I have trod upon John the Baptist's heels, and have been favoured with some of his views of the Lamb of God. It is