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Measures were taken in 1823 for the infant schools, &c., it has published about forming of a national society which should 450 volumes of books for libraries, a comextend the benefit of Sunday-schools to all plete set of which, well bound, costs sevparts of the country; and, accordingly, the enty-five dollars. It has published, likeAmerican Sunday-school Union was insti- wise, a selection from these as a library tuted ; an association composed of excel for common schools. Among its publicalent men of all evangelical denominations, tions may be mentioned its admirable manbut in which no particular denomination is uals or aids for studying the Bible ; namerepresented as such. It has now been diffu- ly, a Geography of the Bible, Natural Hissing its blessings for more than nineteen tory of the Bible, Dictionary of the Bible, years. The board of managers is com- Antiquities of the Bible, Scriptural Biogposed of intelligent and zealous laymen of raphies, Maps of the Holy Land, and Books the various evangelical denominations, the of Questions, in several volumes, on algreater part residing in Philadelphia and its most all parts of the Bible, for the use of vicinity, as that is the centre of the socie- children and teachers. While all these ty's operations.
publications are thoroughly Protestant in Its grand object is twofold: to promote their character, they contain nothing rethe establishment of Sunday-schools where pugnant to the doctrines of any of the required, and to prepare and publish suita- evangelical denominations, so that there ble books, some to be employed as manu- is nothing to forbid their being used in the als in the schools, and others for libraries, Sunday-schools of any of the Protestant intended to furnish the children with suit- churches. This is a great advantage, and able reading at home. In both depart- enables the society to establish hundreds ments much good has been done. In the of schools in places where various reliformer, Sunday-school missionaries, com- gious bodies intermingle, and where none monly ministers of the Gospel, and some of them is strong enough to support a times capable laymen, have been employed school by itself. The society publishes in visiting almost all parts of the country. also a very valuable journal, which appears They hold public meetings in every dis- once in a fortnight. It is replete with intrict or neighbourhood where they have teresting and instructive matter, and adaptany prospect of success, endeavour to in- ed alike to scholars, teachers, and parents. terest the people in the subject, and to es. It also publishes small monthly magazines tablish a school. Time and care are re- and gazettes for children. quired for such a work. The nature of a But besides this great society, which Sunday-school must be well explained; stands ready to promote the cause anyfit persons must be engaged as teachers; where, and on the most catholic principles, these must have their duties pointed out there are other Sunday-school societies, to them, and the motives that ought to not less efficient in their respective spheres. prompt them to undertake the office pre- The Episcopalians have theirs, the Bapsented and enforced ; and money must be tists theirs, the Episcopal Methodists theirs, collected for the purchase of books. the Lutherans theirs, and so forth. The
In 1830, the society resolved to estab- Presbyterians, strictly speaking, have no lish a Sunday-school in every neighbour- Sunday-school society of their own, but hood that was without one, throughout the by their Publication Board they publish Western States or Valley of the Missis- books for Sunday-school libraries. Indeed, sippi, wherever practicable. Three years all the denominational Sunday-school sothereafter it adopted a like resolution with cieties publish books for their own schools, respect to the Southern States. Both, but and in these they set forth and defend the particularly the former of these resolu- peculiar views they hold respectively, on tions, called forth much effort. Large points of doctrine or discipline, to such an sums were collected, and a great many extent as they deem proper. This is not schools were established. Every year unnatural, for each school is mainly attendsince its commencement the society has ed by the children of parents attached to employed a number of agents and mission- churches of the same denomination with aries; in soine years as many as twenty, that of the society that supports the school. thirty, forty, and even fifty such. These Not that all the publications of a denomi. traverse the country throughout its vast national Sunday-school society are of what extent, resuscitate decaying schools, es may be termed a sectarian character. This tablish new ones, and encourage all. is by no means the case, and, besides, these
In its other department the society has more limited societies buy from the Amerrendered great services to the cause of re-ican Sunday-school Union whatever books ligion, and, I may add, to that of literature upon its list they may think proper to add also. Exclusive of the Scriptures, spelling to their own. books, primers, catechisms, maps, cards for It is impossible to calculate the extent Bethune, Esq., who published at his own expense a
to which the Sunday-school libraries, comnumber of little books for the instruction of youth
in posed as they are of most interesting books Sunday-schools.
on almost all subjects of a moral and reli
gious character, are fostering a taste for, attached to a farmhouse in the State of reading among the rising youth, and the New-Jersey. adult population, also, of the country. The The hours of meeting are very various. scholars receive from them one or two In the cities and large towns they comvolumes each, according to the size, ev-monly meet twice in the day; at eight or ery Sabbath, to read in the course of the nine o'clock in the morning, according to week, and return on the Sabbath follow- the season, and at two o'clock in the aftering, and these volumes thus pass into the noon, for about an hour and a half each hands of older brothers and sisters, parents, time. In the villages and country churchand other members of the household. The es they usually meet for two hours, once proceeds of the sales of books by the Amer- a day, immediately before, or immediately ican Sunday-school Union amounted last after, the public services. In some cases year (1843) to $55,895. If we add to this I have known a pastor, with a parish exihe value of those sold by the denomina- tending many miles in all directions from tional Sunday-school societies, we should the church, meet, during an hour before find it rise to at least $100,000. And if we his public service, with nearly all the adult farther add the cost of Sunday-school books part of his flock in a Bible-class, and go purchased from the booksellers, we shall over with them the portion of Scripture have a total far exceeding the last amount given out to his Sunday-schools for that as the value of books bought in one year day; and then, instead of having service for the use of Sunday-schools, and mainly in the afternoon, he would in the latter for the libraries attached to them.
part of the day visit one or other, in their · Besides the series of 450 volumes pub- order, of the ten or twelve schools held by lished by the American Sunday-school his people in as many different neighbourUnion, a far greater number have been hoods. On these occasions he would ad. published by the denominational societies.* dress, not only the children and teachers, Neither pains nor money have been spared but also the parents and others who crowdin the preparation, improvement, and pub-ed to hear him. And how could a pastor lication of these volumes, and in this re- instruct his people more effectually ?* spect, I am inclined to think that the Amer- A word or two may not be amiss on the ican Sunday-school Union has outstripped manner of conducting our Sunday-schools. every similar institution in other countries. Each is under a superintendent-a gentleMuch, notwithstanding, remains to be done man where there are scholars of both sexin order to render these Sunday-school es, but usually a lady where there are only books all that they ought to be. It is no girls. The scholars are divided into classeasy task to write books for children well. es, according to their age and capacity. Much talent has been bestowed upon it of all the reading classes learn the same part late years in the United States, and such of Scripture, going through a certain book has been the demand for children's books, in order. Suppose, for instance, the fifcreated by the Sunday-schools, that the teenth chapter of Luke, from the eleventh booksellers have found it for their ad- verse to the end. It is the parable of the vantage to publish such books for those prodigal son. As soon as the school is schools. Many of these are good, but opened the scholars take their places. The many, too, are worthless enough, as may service begins with prayer by the superinreadily be supposed where there is no in- tendent or some other person. Each class telligent committee rigorously to examine -composed usually of six or eight perthem previous to publication, and to de- sons—has its teacher, to whom the scholtermine what should go forth to the public ars repeat the lesson in the Scriptures for and what should not.
the day. When that is done the teacher Sunday-schools are held in various pla- takes the book of Bible Questions (a copy ces; sometimes in churches, or in the lec- of which each scholar should have), and ture-rooms attached to many of our large asks the questions in it relating to the paschurches, or in rooms fitted up expressly sage which the class, in common with the for the purpose in the basement story of others, have learned. The answers to many of our city churches; sometimes in these questions the pupils must find out the schoolhouses, which are very numer- through their own efforts, or with help ous; and, especially in the new settle- from their parents, during the week. The ments, in private houses. In summer they teacher asks, also, such other questions as sometimes meet in barns; and I once su- he may think useful, and calculated to lead perintended a Sunday-school myself which to a more perfect understanding of the submet for many months in a large kitchen ject. An hour, perhaps, is spent in this
exercise. After that the scholars return * The series published by the Methodist “ Book the books which they had received from Concern” exceeds 250 ; that of the American Bap- the librarian on the preceding Sabbath, tist Publication and Sunday-school Society 170; while those of the Protestant Episcopal, the Prot- * In some of the large cities Sunday-schools are estant Methodist, the Lutheran, the Free Will Bap- held at night, especially for the benefit of the colourtists, and several local societies, are considerable. ed people.
and obtain others. Then the superintend-, aiding them in their toils. And it is not ent, or pastor, if he be present, addresses uncommon to find some of those who hold a few words to the whole school on the the very highest offices in the State or passage which they have learned, and en- General Government, spending a portion deavours to impress upon their minds the of their Sabbaths in giving instruction to importance of the truths which it teaches. a class of young persons in a SundayA hymn is sung, and a prayer offered up, school. I have known several governors
a and the school closes.
and their ladies, members of Congress, and If there be any children that cannot read, of the Legislatures of the states, judges, they are arranged in classes by themselves, eminent lawyers, mayors of cities, &c., and taught that important acquirement. who were, and who are at the present time, In many of the schools there is a consid- Sabbath-school teachers, and who have able number of such, and persons beyond felt it no degradation to be thus employed. the years of childhood, who have had no The present distinguished Chancellor of opportunities of learning to read before, the University of New York was the susometimes make the attainment in the perintendent of a Sunday-school, even course of a few months at a Sunday-school. when he held the office of attorney-gen
In all the free states, and in such of the eral of his native State, and afterward, slaveholding ones as permit the slaves to when he was a senator in the Congress of be taught, there are Sunday-schools for the the United States; he is a Sabbath-school coloured people. * In these schools thou- teacher still, and delights to associate himsands and tens of thousands of them have self with the youngest teachers engaged learned to read the sacred Scriptures, and in that heavenly employment. have made much progress in divine knowl- The Hon. Benjamin F. Butler was a edge.
Sabbath-school teacher, even while hold. The superintendents of the Sunday- ing the distinguished office of attorneyschools are sometimes elders and deacons general to the United States. The late of the churches; sometimes they are pi- Chief-justice Marshall, and the late Judge ous lawyers, and other intelligent gentle- Washington, both of the Supreme Court men; and in the vicinity of our colleges and of the United States, and the former of theological seminaries they are often stu- whom, it is admitted, was the most distindents of religious character, who may be guished jurist the country has ever proprosecuting their studies with a view to duced, were warm friends and patrons of the ministry. The teachers are, for the Sunday-schools. Both were, in their day, most part, young people of both sexes be- vice-presidents of the American Sabbathlonging to the churches and congregations. school Union. Within five years of his Wherever truly pious persons can be found death, I saw Chief-justice Marshall march willing to be thus employed, they are pre- through the city of Richmond, in Virginia, ferred; but where this is not the case, se- where he resided, at the head of the Sunriously-disposed and moral persons, who day-schools on the occasion of a celebradesire to be engaged in this benevolent tion. And, finally, the late President Harwork, are taken, and almost invariably it rison, who in his youth had been a rough happens that, in teaching others, they them- and far from religious soldier, but towards selves become instructed out of the “law the close of his life became interested in of God.” It is to be regretted that most the things that concerned his everlasting of the ladies, after they become wives and peace, taught for several years a class of mothers, have 100 many domestic cares young persons in an humble Sunday-school and duties to allow them to continue as on the banks of the Ohio ; and the Sabteachers in the Sabbath-school. Some, bath before he left his home for Washinghowever, there are who persevere in this ton, there to become his country's Chiet blessed employment, their zeal triumphing Magistrate — and, alas! within a month over every obstacle.
thereafter to die — he met, as usual, his As to gentlemen, many more of them Bible-class. may continue in the work after they have I have dwelt the longer on this subject become heads of families. Hence we oft- because of its great importance. A Saben find men of age and experience among bath-school is so simple an affair that it Sunday-school teachers, encouraging and may be begun wherever two or three per
sons are found disposed to undertake it. I * There are Sunday-schools held by some pious have known even a single individual keep slaveholders in Georgia, South Carolina, and persone himself, and spend several hours every haps some other states, in wbich portions of Scrip; Sabbath in instructing some dozen or twenture are often repeated to the assembled slaves, and remarked upon until they have committed much of ty poor youth, who came around him to them to memory. Prayer and singing are added to learn to read and understand the Word of these exercises. Such schools no laws can well God. I have known a lady, who, as her hinder, no more than they can the preaching of the health did not permit her to go to a SunGospel to the slaves. These schools have only been commenced within a few years, and are spreading in day-school, received a class of
young ladies several places.
in her parlour every Sabbath for years.
Why, then, should not Sabbath-schools be attend; a practice feasible only where the established in every city, town, hamlet, and population is compact, and the flock within neighbourhood, where there are only two an easy distance of the place of meeting. or three persons with hearts to love the In country churches, these classes often kingdom of God, and hands to promote it? hold their meetings in church before the Were such a spirit to prevail in all lands regular service commences, or in the interprofessedly Christian, how soon would val between the morning and afternoon they show a very different aspect from services. This is convenient, but is apt to what they do at present ?
produce fatigue. It is impossible to state with accuracy I have known pastors in country churchthe present number of Sunday-schools in es who had no fewer than 500 persons in the United States. They were reckoned one Bible-class, if I can call it so, which seven years ago at 16,000; the teachers at met in the afternoon instead of the regular 130,000 or 140,000 ; and the scholars, com- service; and others, whose Bible-classes prising, it was supposed, 100,000 adults, at included the whole adult part of their 1,000,000! These numbers must be much flocks, and met previous to the forenoon greater now. Who can estimate the amount service, or in the interval between that and of good resulting from 1,000,000 of minds the afternoon service. being brought into contact every Sabbath In conducting these classes, the common with the word of Him who hath said that method is to go through some particular His “word shall not return unto him void ?" book of the sacred volume in course, and Thousands and tens of thousands, both some system of Bible questions is generalteachers and scholars, are known to have ly pursued. Upon this plan, all who have become enlightened and saved, by means of time and inclination for the task, prepare the lessons given and received at Sunday- themselves, by reading and study, for anschools. But a whole volume would not swering the questions to be found in the suffice to unfold all the benefits conferred book of questions that is used.* But it is by this blessed institution, to which may not the practice of any well-informed pasbe emphatically applied the words of the tor to confine himself to the questions concelebrated Adam Smith, in speaking of tained in the book. These he employs as popular education in general, that it is he sees fit; by the questions he puts he “the cheap defence of nations."
assists in sustaining the attention of the people; and he takes occasion to give a great amount of scriptural instruction.
To conduct a Bible-class in a manner at HAPTER XV.
once interesting and profitable requires no little preparation ; and, when well done,
few methods of instruction are more edifyAkin to Sunday-schools are Bible-class- ing, either to the people or to the minister es. Indeed, the former, conducted as at himself. The divine blessing has rested present in America, are little more than an most remarkably upon it. Nor could we assemblage of the latter.
expect that it should be otherwise. What What are commonly called Bible-classes more likely to secure the divine benediction are composed of a comparatively large than to bring the mind to the study of that number of persons, all taught by the pastor which God himself hath spoken? of the church, or some other individual entrance of thy words giveth light; it givwhom he engages to act for him. To pre-eth understanding to the simple.”.
« Sancside over a Bible-class of from twenty to tify them by thy truth ; thy word is truth." some hundreds of persons, the greater number, if not all, of whom are adults, and some of them, perhaps, remarkably intelligent and well informed, requires far higher
CHAPTER XVI. qualifications than simply to teach a small class in a Sunday-school.
These Bible-classes are generally con- I must not omit, among the means which ducted by the pastors, and so highly are there is reason to believe that God has they valued as a means and occasion of greatly blessed to the advancing of his good, that few settled ministers have not kingdom in the United States, the Maternal one or more among their flocks. In some Societies-institutions that have not been cases, one for each sex is held once in the week—that for gentlemen in the evening, have written systems of Bible Questions, among
* Several excellent clergymen of the United States that for ladies during the day. They meet whom may be mentioned the Rev. Drs. M.Dowaccording to circumstances, in the church, ell, Tyng, Barnes, Professor Holdich, and the Rev. lecture-room, vestry-room, schoolroom, or Messrs. Covel, J. Longking, and Newcomb. The Biin some private house. The pastor some school Union are good, as are, also, several of those
ble Questions published by the American Sundaytimes devotes his Sabbath nights to a Bib-printed by the denominational Sunday-school socielical service, for the benefit of all who can | ties.
of many years' standing among us, but they ought to be, how different would it which have existed long enough to produce soon become from what we see it now! A much good.
praying, devoted, holy mother! What an These societies are composed of pious interesting being! Such was the mother mothers, who meet in parties, not incon- of Samuel, of Timothy, and of thousands veniently numerous, once in the week, besides, who have been eminently useful fortnight, or month, for the purpose of in the world. conversing on the subject of bringing up I have known Christian fathers who their children for the Lord, listening to the met once a week for years to pray togethreading of valuable remarks and hints on er for their children, and their meetings the best means of discharging this great have been eminently useful and happy. I duty, and mingling their prayers before the have seen another kind of meeting which throne of grace in behalf of themselves I wish were more common-a quarterly and their beloved offspring. These little prayer meeting specially for parents and meetings prove very precious seasons to children. It was affecting to see parents, many an anxious, perplexed, and disheart- the unconverted as well as the converted, ened mother, by communicating grace, and bringing with them their children, dear to strength, and support, and light, for ena- them as life itself, into the sanctuary on bling her to fulfil her fearfully responsible such occasions, that they might share in part. God has greatly blessed them. For the earnestly-sought blessing. the benefit of mothers, some excellent periodicals have been published in the United States during several years past. Among these let me mention“The Mother's
CHAPTER XVII. Magazine,” issued in New York, and republished in London. It appears once a month, is neatly printed, and costs only a One of the most interesting developdollar a year. It has a very extensive cir- ments of the voluntary principle in promoculation, and furnishes much admirable mat. ting religion in the United States, is seen ter for reading at the Maternal Societies’ in the Education Societies; institutions of meetings, as well as in the family circle. comparatively recent date, and having for Another valuable periodical is published at their object the granting of assistance to Utica, in the central part of the State of pious youths of promising talents but small New-York, and is read in several thousands means, in preparing for the ministry. of families. It is conducted by a talented One of the first of these was the Amerlady of the Baptist Church. A similar ican Education Society, formed at Boston journal has been commenced at Boston; in 1816. Hence it has been in existence while all our religious newspapers contain for twenty-eight years, and rarely has any many articles on the same subject. society been the instrument of more good.*
On the other hand, several publications In all denominations of evangelical Chrisappear once a month, or once in two tians in the United States, there are to be months, for the benefit of fathers and of found among those classes of society whose entire families. One such is published in means are too limited to give their sons a the city of New York, and is entitled “The college education, young men of talent, to Christian Family Magazine, or Parents' whom God has been pleased to impart the and Children's Journal.” It is said to have knowledge of his grace, and in whose an extensive circulation. Other journals hearts he implants a strong desire to preach of like character, and having the same ob- the Gospel." Now, before the Education ject, are published in other parts of the Societies appeared upon the field, such country. Moreover, almost all the reli- youths used to find it very difficult, and gious newspapers, now very numerous, sometimes even impossible, to obtain such and some one or more of which are read an education as was required by the rules in almost every Christian family, contain of the church in whose ministry they wishmuch that bears upon the religious educa- ed to place themselves. Some, indeed, tion of children, and the whole economy might succeed by their own exertions; by of a Christian household.
dint of industry and economy they might The subject is one of vast moment. lay up' enough to enable them to comThe world has never yet seen the full results of the Christian education of children. * This society published from the year 1827 to Parents have much to learn in this respect, Quarterly Register.” It was originated by the late
1843 a valuable periodical, entitled “ The American and need all the helps and appliances possi- Rev. Dr. Cornelius and the Rev. B. B. Edwards, the ble, to enable them rightly to discharge their secretaries of the society at the first-named epoch, important duties. Were all fathers and and continued by the latter gentleman to 1843, aided mothers in a nation such as they ought to for several years by the Rev. Dr. Cogswell, succesbe, how mighty would be the influence of sor of Dr. Cornelius; and afterward by the Rev. Mr.
Riddel, who has taken the place of Dr. Cogswell. the Gospel upon it! Were the fathers and Mr. Edwards is a professor in the theological semimothers in the Church of Christ such as
nary at Andover.