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dently possessed of a strong, clear, discriminating mind, appears sincere in the pursuit of truth, and evinces an extensive acquaintance with writers of mental philosophy. We most cheerfully recommend his work to the attention of the public.
THE AMERICAN SUNDAY SCHOOL UNION.
The Annual Reports of the American Sunday School Union,
from 1825 to 1829 inclusive.
In perusing the history of mankind, from their origin down through the successive ages to the present, we find scarcely any fact so much calculated to arrest our attention as the occurrence of discoveries and inventions whose effects upon society have far exceeded the expectations, and even conceptions, of those by whom they were made. To prove this assertion, we might refer to a hundred instances, in which results have flowed from the inventions which science, or experiment, first indicated, which never had a place even in the excited imaginations of their sanguine authors. Little did Schwartz, or Guthenberg, or Galileo, or Copernicus, or Jenner, or Harvey, or Newton, or Franklin, or Arkwright, or Watt*, or Lancaster, conceive of the stupendous consequences which have resulted from their wonderful inventions and discoveries.
Even the moral and political, not less than what may be denominated the physical, history of man, strikingly illustrates the truth of the remark which is contained in our first sentence. How often has the adoption of principles in morals and religion, which seemed in themselves to be purely speculative, and comparatively unimportant, produced, by the doctrines inferred from them, the most astonishing
• The inventor of steam engines constructed upon the principle now universally adopted.
effects upon the opinions and conduct of men! And have not the assumption of certain abstract political principles or axioms, and the inferences which have been deduced from them, broken up long established orders of things, and overturned, and are destined still to overturn, the thrones of kings, and even to obliterate the very names of regal authority ?
And even those remarkable events which characterize the more recent history of our race, and which, one would suppose, were likely, from their nature, to excite the highest anticipations of those who were actors in them, might be adduced to show how far the results have transcended the thoughts and expectations of those by whom they were brought about. Ardent as was the mind of Columbus, little did he dream of the amazing consequences which have resulted to mankind, and will yet result to the latest period of time, from the discovery of the continent which we inhabit. Little did the pilgrim fathers of our country foresee of the grand, and truly astonishing, effects which their faith, and zeal, and love of liberty.of conscience, were destined to accomplish upon the history of mankind. Strong as was their faith, and large as were their hopes of great and good results to the church of Christ and to posterity, which they believed would flow from their self-denial, and patience, and zeal for God and his religion; could they have foreseen what has since been evolved in the dispensations of the Highest in regard to his church and the world, as the rewards of their labours and sufferings;—the re-establishment of freedom upon the earth, and the revival and wide diffusion of the religion of the gospel, which have followed their settlement in this western world ;-they would have breasted the difficulties which they had to encounter, with redoubled (if possible) alacrity and perseverance. Little did that band of devoted Christians, which met in London in 1804 to provide means to supply the poor in Wales with Bibles, expect that their deliberations would issue in the formation of a Bible Society to supply the whole world with the sacred scriptures; and that before a quarter of a century should elapse, nearly ten millions of copies of the sacred oracles should be distributed among the nations, by the influence of that society, and that they should hear of whole states, and even an entire nation of twelve millions of inhabitants, resolving to supply every destitute family within their boundaries, with the holy Chart of life! And little did the origi
nator of Sabbath schools know what an instrument he had found for the moral renovation of the world, when he first resolved to carry into operation the idea which a benignant providence suggested to his mind !
Having made these remarks, which we deem not inappropriate as preliminary to the consideration of the interesting subject which we are about to discuss, we proceed to take an extended view of Sabbath schools, and particularly of the noble Institution named at the head of this article, and whose annual reports we have recently re-perused with great delight. And that our remarks may be somewhat methodically arranged, we shall consider this subject under a variety of aspects.
1. We shall give, in the first place, a cursory view of the origin and progress of Sabbath schools.
With regard to the inquiry, “who was the founder of Sabbath schools,” we have some hesitation in saying that this high honour must be accorded to him whose claims to it seem to be almost universally admitted to be valid. We mean the late Robert Raikes, Esq. of the city of Gloucester in England. For Sabbath schools were unquestionably established throughout the diocess of Milan, a most beautiful and fertile region included between the Alps and the Appenines, by Charles Borromeo, Archbishop of that diocess, in the sixteenth century. But these schools were designed mainly, as far as we can learn, to instruct youth in the rudiments of the Christian religion, and, particularly, in the peculiar tenets of the Roman Catholic faith. They were therefore chiefly catechetical; and although reading and writing were taught in them, yet instruction in the Catholic catechism appears to have been the primary object. The following extract of a letter written in the year 1823, during a tour in Italy, by the Rev. Daniel Wilson, the excellent author of the “Evidences of Christianity," a brief notice of which is contained in our last number, gives us some interesting intelligence respecting these schools.
“ After our English service, we went to see the catechizing. This was founded by Borromeo in the sixteenth century, and is peculiar to Milan. The children met in classes of ten or twenty, drawn up between the pillars of the vast cathedral, and separated from each other by curtains, the boys on one side and the girls on the other. In all the churches in the city there are classes also. Many grown people are mingled with the children. A priest sat in the midst of
each class, and seemed to be familiarly explaining the Christian religion. The sight was quite interesting. Tables for learning to write were placed in different recesses. The children were exceedingly attentive. At the door of each school the words Pax Vobis, “ Peace be unto you,” were inscribed on boards; each scholar had a small pulpit with a green cloth in front, bearing the Borromean motto, Humilitas. Now, what can, in itself, be more excellent than all this? But mark the corruption of popery; these poor children are all made members of a fraternity, and purchase indulgences for their sins by coming to school! A brief of the Pope, dated 1609, affords a perpetual indulgence to the children, in a sort of running lease of six thousand years, eight thousand years, &c. and these indulgences are applicable to the recovering of souls out of purgatory ; then the prayers before school are full of error and idolatry. All this I saw with my own eyes, and heard with my own ears, for I was curious to understand the bearing of these celebrated schools. Thus is the infant mind fettered and chained. Still I do not doubt that much good may be done on the whole; the Catholic catechisms contain admirable instruction, and evangelical matter, though mixed up with folly and superstition."
It appears also, from a discourse delivered at Edinburgh, before the Sabbath School Union for Scotland, by the Rev. Dr John Brown, “ that the honour of establishing the first Sabbath Schools in Protestant countries, for the purpose solely of religious instruction, is due to Scotland.”
But although it seems quite certain that Mr Raikes was not the founder of the first Sabbath school, yet there can be no doubt that his exertions in this noble cause led, through the Divine blessing, to the glorious result, which the world now witnesses, of nearly, if not quite, one million seven hundred thousand youth receiving instruction in Sabbath Schools! And as there is no reason whatever, as far as we can learn, to suppose that he knew of any similar efforts being made elsewhere, and the schools which we have mentioned, conducted as they were, were not likely to be rapidly multiplied, let the meed of praise, which is due, not be denied to Mr Raikes, certainly one of the greatest benefactors of the human race.
The incident which led Mr Raikes to engage in this work is thus related by himself. “One day in the year 1782, I went into the suburbs of my native city to hire a gardener. The man was from home; and while I waited his return, I was much disturbed by a group of noisy boys, who infested the street. I asked the gardener's wife the cause of these
children being so neglected and depraved. “Oh sir," said she, “if you were here on a Sunday, you would pity them indeed; we cannot read our Bibles in peace for them.” Can nothing, I asked, be done for these poor children? Is there any body near that will take them to school on Sundays? I was informed that there was a person in the neighbourhood who would probably do it. I accordingly hired a woman to teach these poor children on Sundays, and thus commenced the first Sunday school.” Three other schools were shortly afterwards established in Gloucester by Mr Raikes, to which be and the Rev. Mr Stock gave much of their personal attendance every Sabbath, and superintended the instruction given, which was chiefly confined to reading, and committing to memory the Church Catechism.
Mr Raikes used to relate this anecdote, that when he was revolving in his mind the practicability of establishing a school on Sunday, the word “TRY” was so powerfully impressed on his mind as to decide him at once for action. And he remarked to a friend, “I can never pass by the spot where the word try came so powerfully into my mind, without lifting up my hands and heart to Heaven, in gratitude to God for having put such a thought into my heart."
In the year 1785, three years after he had established these schools, Mr Raikes was induced, by seeing their happy influence upon the morals of the children and their parents, to publish in the Gloucester Journal, which he edited, some account of their success, and shortly afterwards gave a more extended account of the mode of conducting them, in a letter to Col. Townley. This letter being published in the Gentleman's Magazine and other journals throughout the kingdom, brought this novel plan and its success into uni
rsal notice, so that schools were established in all parts of England in a few years. In the same year (1785) “the Society for the establishment and support of Sunday schools throughout Great Britain,” was formed; and in the succeeding year the Dean of Lincoln, and the Bishops of Salisbury and Landaff, openly espoused the cause of Sunday schools. And so did Bishop Porteus, then Bishop of Chester, and the Rev. John Wesley, the founder of Methodism; the latter of whom, then in the 84th year of his age, in a letter to the Rev. Mr Rodda, says, “I am glad you have taken in hand that blessed work of setting up Sunday schools in Chester. It seems these will be one great means of reviving religion