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ACTUAL CONVERSIONS IN SUNDAY SCHOOLS, UNDER this important head, the last report of the Sunday School Union of the Methodist Episcopal Church of America, presents the following very valuable statistical details :
During a period of eleven years the number of conversions in our Sunday schools corresponds with the whole increase of our Church members, nearly eight to nine. Or, estimating the per centage of these totals, we find that during the last eleven years nearly eighty-nine per cent. of the nett increase of our Church membership has been derived from our Sunday schools.
Eighty-nine per cent.! This is a very large proportion. Can any man, possessing a particle of real interest im the progress of the Church, study it without being profoundly impressed with the immense importance of the Sunday school as an evangelizing instrumentality ? With such a fact before him, can any minister innocently neglect or despise the Sunday school? Can he abstain from diligent efforts to develope its capabilities for training the children of the Church and nation in the theory and experience of Christianity without offence to Him who says to all his ministers, “Feed my lambs ?" Let every man answer these queries at the tribunal of his own conscience.
But there is another and less cheering view to be taken of these figures. While we rejoice over our one hundred and fifty thousand Sunday school converts, we cannot help asking why the number is not at least three times as great. By examining our returns, we find that during the period of eleven
years the average number of children and youth in our schools has been, in round numbers, 460,000. Now, it is a well-ascertained fact that pupils do not average more than five years' attendance in Sunday schools ; but to place these calculations above criticism, we will set down the average at eight years. Hence it follows that our Sunday schools have changed their pupils, during the eleven years past, at the rate of 51,250 per annum. In other words, 51,250 new scholars have come in, and 51,250 youths have graduated or gone out of our schools every year. In view of the mortality among children, we will deduct five per cent., or 2,562, from this number, so that the average annual number of our Sunday school graduates during the eleven years has been at least 48,688.
We will now compare the number of these graduates with the average of conversions during the same period. This we have found to have been in round numbers, 13,000 per annum. So that while our schools have annually graduated 48,688 youths, they have reported only 13,000 conversions. We are thus forced to the conclusion that during the eleven years past no less than 35,688 of our children have annually left our Sunday schools without professing faith in Christ!
Doubtless, many of these precious youths have been subsequently converted. Yet we greatly fear that the vast majority of them have continued unregenerate. Ilad it been otherwise, the accessions to our Church would have been vastly greater than our Minutes show them to have been. In the eleven years, these unconverted graduates would, if converted, have given over 300,000 members to our Church, in addition to those of our
144 LORD J. RUSSELL'S OPINION ON PARLIAMENTARY GRANTS FOR EDUCATION.
150,000 Sunday school converts who did join her fellowship, and who thereby gave her eighty-nine per cent. of her actual increase. Hence, our conclusion stands but too firmly. Over 35,000 of youths annually quit our schools without giving their hearts to Christ.
Now, although there is no doubt but that these youths become better men and women, better citizens, better sons and daughters, better merchants and artisans, better fathers and mothers, than they would be without the salutary influences of the Sunday school, yet the Church cannot be, ought not to be, satisfied with results only. Sunday school instruction must be regarded as only a means to an end, and that end the conversion of the soul. It can, therefore, only be deemed a real success when that glorious end is attained. Hence, we earnestly call the attention of every friend of children to this question, What can be done to make our Sunday schools increasingly eficient in bringing the scholars to Christ and into the Church ?
If parents, teachers, superintendents, and pastors, would set the conversion of the children before their minds as the grand, almost sole, object to be attained by the Suuday school; if they would aim at this teaching; if they would earnestly wrestle for it with prayers and tears; if they would make every Sunday school a battle-ground for young souls, far greater spiritual triumphs would, doubtless, be achieved. Who questions but that faithful, judicious, believing efforts for this object, steadily persisted in by our hosts of teachers, and guided by our ministry, would quickly treble the number of our Sunday school converts ? Let us, then, up and struggle for the regeneration of the children! Let the united prayer of the Church be, "Lord, save the children of this untoward generation !"
LORD JOHN RUSSELL'S OPINION ON PARLIAMENTARY
GRANTS FOR EDUCATION, A NEW light on this subject seems to have suddenly broken upon the mind of the ex-Premier. At a Conference on Education held on the 16th February, at the house of the Society of Arts in the Adelphi, Strand, after a very intelligent paper had been read by Mr. Harry Chester, on the Society of Arts Union of Institutes, and the examinations connected therewith."
LORD JOHN RUSSELL, M.P., spoke as follows:
The country should be jealous as to receiving Government aid. Govern. ment aid and plans were very good, but they excited jealousy on the part of the people.
It occurred to him, in the next place, and perhaps more so as a member of the House of Commons, but it ought to occur to every one else, that there were two questions that could not be separated in the consideration of the matter —they were the giving of money in the shape of Government grants, and taxing the people heavily to get the money to give. People were apt to say, here is a great mechanics' institution that is about to be assisted by the Government; what a great, good, and benevolent Government it is ! They have given £1,000 for Manchester, and £1,000 to Sir J. Kay Shuttleworth for the East Lancashire Union; the Government evidently intend to advance the education of the people. But then
the people saw that their tea, sugar, and other articles they consumed as necessaries of life were heavily taxed, and they said, here is a vexatious Government, to tax the people to support their visionary projects of benevolence. He thought the Government should give up that course, and not incur the blame of being a Government so extravagant as to heavily tax already over-burdened people for such objects, when they could be better carried out, if made self-supporting, by voluntary efforts. The better course wond be that the Mechanics’ Institutions, the British and Foreign School Society, the charitable trusts of the country, should be made to benefit the people, which would be more advisable than taking the Government aid in the proposed shape. lle was sure that, if they arrived at the desired end by those means he had suggested, every one would be more satisfied than if they found they owed their advanced position to the aid of the Government. In fact, it would be pleasing to them to find they had gained their end by their own voluntary exertions. The many persons to whom he had spoken for many years had said that there were a number of skilled workmen whose wages were so high as 20s., 25s., or 30s. a week; but, however skilled they might be, they had no restraint over their physical passions, and, therefore, do not attend to the advancement of their intelligence or the education of their children. Instoad of doing good for their families or buying a good book, they spent the whole of their money in gratifying their physical enjoyments; and when the day of distress arrived, those same men might be seen selling their furniture, and, eventually, many of them were obliged to seek the poor-house. The only way to alter that condition--and he thought they must all feel sorry the class he had mentioned did not show a greater desire to elevate the mind--the only remedy, he repeated, was to give them objects and thoughts which would influence and elevate the mind ; thus showing them that they had a great and responsible duty to perform, and that restraints must be put upon their physical enjoyment; and finally, that their whole condition would be improved; that they would rise to independence; that they were raised in the scale of social life ; that they were better fitted to fulfil their duties in this world, and to appear in the next ; and that they would be in a better condition to do their duties in that state of life to which they had been called,
THE UNPREPARED TEACIIER, Going the other day to a water-butt, I could only obtain a little stream of muddy water, and on looking in I soon saw the reason, for the barrel was almost empty. The next day it was filled by the rain, and I had an abundant supply of bright clear water. What a strong likeness there is in this barrel, to a Sunday school teacher. If he sits down before his class, with his own soul empty, what has he to offer the children but the muddy waters of worldly thoughts, and an uneasy conscience, and how feeble and lifeless the lesson is. But when his heart is filled with the love of Jesus, how he delights to speak of Him to the little ones, and how soon they feel the difference. Oh, may every Sabbath find us seeking large supplies of grace for ourselves, that we may not have the sorrow and shame of feeling that the children are seeking the living water" from an empty barrel.-Church Sunday School Monthly.
A GENERAL GUIDE FOR CLASS EXAMINATION.
Questions adapted to bring out the Instruction contained in almost any
Chapter of the Historical Parts of the Old Testament.
1. What persons, facts, or places, are mentioned in this chapter. 2. Point out the places on the map.
3. Are these persons, facts, or places, mentioned in any other parts of the Bible?
4. Mention any duties enjoined in this chapter.
6. Does the duty appear to have been performed in a right spirit, or a wrong?
7. Does this chapter contain anything to show the value of God's blessing, or the means by which that blessing may be obtained or lost?
8. Is there any account of any sin committed ?
9. What led to the commission of that sin ? See, for example, 1 Sam. xviii. 8; 2 Sam. xi. 1; 2 Chron. xxiv. 17.
10. By what consequences, either to the transgressor himself or to others. was that sin followed ? See, for example, Numb. xvi. 27,32; Josh. vii. 24; 1 Kings xvi. 34.
11. Were these consequences such as the transgressor had expected ? See, for example, Judges viii. 27; 1 Sam. xiii. 12, 14; xxi. 2; xxii. 19.
12. How is that sin spoken of in other parts of the Bible ?
13. Compare the actions recorded in this chapter with other similar actions recorded elsewhere in Scripture.
14. Does the chapter contain a command, promise, threatening, or example, which you can apply to yourself?
15. What may you learn of the attributes of God from this chapter? 16. Does the chapter contain any prophecy, or record the fulfilment of any prediction ?
17. Is there anything in the chapter that reminds you of the Lord Jesus Christ? Is there any type of Him, or anything to exhibit our need of Him as a Saviour?
18. Is there anything that shows the necessity of the Holy Spirit to renew our hearts, or anything to present to your mind the nature and power of his work ?
19. Does the chapter contain any prayer, or any answer to prayer ?
20. Do the events recorded in this chapter illustrate any great truth of Scripture, or any proverb contained in God's word?
These questions will lead to others, or suggest them; and by employing such questions intelligently, teachers may awaken attention, elicit important truth, and direct their scholars to the great objects of the inspired history, Rom. xv. 4; 2 Tim. iii. 16, 17.
Questions which a Teacher may ask the Class, after having gone with them
through any historical book of Scripture, or any considerable portion of
a book. I. QUFSTIONS RELATING TO GOD.
What illustrations are given in this book, or section, of God's power ; knowledge ; justice ; long suffering; and mercy? What of his readiness to hear prayer; of his providence; of his control over the actions of men ; of his faithfulness, and of his grace ? II. QUESTIONS RELATING TO THE CHARACTER AND CONDITION OF
MAN. What instances are given of human weakness; ignorance of the future ; and inconstancy? What illustrations of resistance to temptation, and of yielding to it? What of the folly of sin ; of its deceitfulness; of its progress when indulged ; and of its evil? What virtues are exhibited in this book, or section? What instances are there of turning aside from a right path once pursued ? What instances of affliction are there; and what were the effects of the affliction? What illustrations are given of the nature of human life; its disappointments ; fears ; changes; or of the insufficiency of worldly things to afford happiness? III. QUESTIONS RELATING TO THE PREPARATION FOR THE COMING
OF JESUS CHRIST, EVER GOING ON IN TIIE DIVINE DISPENSATIONS What types are there of the Saviour in either persons or things ; and point out the resemblance? What prophecies of Christ are there ; these prophecies referred to in the New Testament? Are these prophecies of any other person than Jesus Christ; or of any historical event; and can you mention the fulfilment of such prophecies? What proofs are there of man's need of a Saviour ; and of the Holy Ghost to renew his nature ? Do you learn from any part of this book or section, how you should pray and for what?
The above questions are not given as all that should be asked, but merely as suggestions which some teachers may find of use; and they are so printed as to indicate how teachers may divide them into separate questions.- Sunday School Union Notes on the Lessons.
CRUELTY TO CHILDREN. It would be accounted a very barbarous thing in a father or master, to suffer a child to starve for want of the necessaries of life, food and raiment; and all the world would cry shame upon them for it: but how much greater cruelty must it in reason be thought, to let an immortal soul, and one for whom Christ died, perish for want of knowledge and necessary instruction for the attainment of eternal salvation ?-Archbishop Tillotson.