Page images

of instruction was in direct antagonism to the teachings of the orthodox Sunday school. As a matter of fact, three-quarters of the material outlined in this book could be used in the ordinary Church school, without being in open conflict with the doctrinal teachings there given. The chief contrast would lie in the novelty of the method. I shall continue to hope, therefore, that orthodox minds, as well as reformers, may be disposed at least to examine into the system before pronouncing against it. As yet of course it is but an experiment which is being worked out in a single school, and it may seem as one only of many plans being put forward. But there is a positive clamour rising among those who are seriously concerned with Sunday school work, for more practical material in the religious education of the young. Each new scheme, therefore, if it has been planned or developed with long and painstaking care, may be worthy of consideration.

In conclusion, I wish to acknowledge my indebtedness to Professor Muirhead, the Editor of the Ethical Library, for reading my manuscript, and making a number of valuable suggestions. I shall always be glad to enter into communication with those who may wish to obtain any further information about the work outlined in this volume.



ST. LOUIS, Mo., U.S.A.




IN venturing to give this outline of a scheme of ethical instruction, I shall simply undertake to describe the system we have been working out in one ethical Sunday school in a large American city.

It was our intention to reverse the process customary in the average Sunday school, letting the teaching concerning what is commonly known as "religious conceptions" come in at the end of the course, about the time when the young people are passing on into young manhood and young womanhood; on the other hand, beginning the course of instruction with the elements of morality. It has not been our purpose in any way definitely to antagonise religious beliefs. But instead of beginning our teaching with talks about "God," this latter feature comes in as the last step, with which we close our course of instruction for the young, just before they leave our charge to enter the larger School of Life.

At the same time I am well aware that we can never have a satisfactory Sunday school of any kind until fathers and mothers shall send their children with the same seriousness of purpose with which they send their children to the day-school. In so far as we must hold the young only by pleasing them, we can never accomplish the full purpose we are striving for.

The amount of time allowed for the sessions of a Sunday school is usually much too short. We ought to have at least two hours, and be able to do a variety of work, giving about thirty minutes to one line of study and then changing the theme for another halfhour according to circumstances. It is a morning and not an hour we need for such a school. But it was our intention to divide the hour and a quarter or hour and a half which had been appropriated for this purpose, into two portions. In the first place we wished to have something that would take the place, for the young, of the so-called "religious service," and appeal to the receptive side of their natures. We desired to work on the sentiments, to touch the heart in certain directions. The opportunities for reaching this side of the growing soul in its younger days are great enough. In this part of the work it is vitally essential that what we offer the young people should give a certain pleasure. To a degree they

« PreviousContinue »