« EdellinenJatka »
To supply the deficiency in the Scriptural education of youth, thousands of you, my fellow-teachers, are devoting your time and talents, knowing that "for a soul to be without knowledge is not good.” And whether the necessity of your labours arises from the neglect, or the want of ability in parents, you see that there is a necessity for them, and you therefore cheerfully devote yourselves to the work, and I trust are patiently and perseveringly employing the little time at your command to impart Scriptural knowledge to your youthful charge. And while you are thus engaged, I believe that many of you lift up your hearts to the author of the Bible, that he may bless his own word for the eternal benefit of the children, with confidence that your prayers will be heard, and your labours crowned with the desired success.
As the duties of Sunday-school teachers are of such vast utility to the rising generation, it is of importance to inquire how Scriptural instruction can be communicated to them to the best advantage. Various methods are in use, each possessing its peculiar advantages.
1. There is the old and common method of reading the Scriptures from beginning to end regularly and consecutively. This method gives the reader a general and connected knowledge of the Scriptures, and of the bearing which one part has upon another. Whatever other method be used, this may be practised with advantage; but in my opinion it is more adapted for private and family reading, than for Sunday-school, or special parental instruction. There are two reasons why I consider this method inexpedient for use in Sunday-schools.
1. Because it is desirable that as much religious instruction, drawn from the Scriptures, should be given to the children as the limited time for instructing them will allow. And though there is nothing in the Scriptures unimportant when they are taken as a whole, yet it will readily be allowed that some things in them are much more important than others; and, I believe, that children, by reading chapter after chapter in their usual careless manner, will learn less of divine truth than they would by some other methods during the time they attend the Sunday-school.
2. Because every advantage to be gained by the common method of reading the Bible may be obtained without its being practised at the Sunday-school. Let the teachers make a little labour to induce the scholars to read the Bible at home, and encourage them to read it from beginning to end, and then to begin again, and in this manner to continue to read it as long as they live. The teacher might inquire at stated periods respecting their progress, and he might keep a record of it. A little time employed in this way about once a month would not be misspent, and Scripture read. ing would probably be introduced into many families where it otherwise would not be much practised. To such teachers as prefer this method of communicating Scriptural instruction to any other, I beg to submit the following hints as improvements upon the common practice.
1. When in the course of the lesson some remarkable passage occurs of a practical nature, let the teacher analyze it, by asking the children questions on every part of it, until they have it impressed on their minds; and if the passage teaches a practical lesson, let that lesson be impressed upon their minds in the same manner.
2. When, in the course of reading, some remarkable event is related, which is connected with another remarkable event, let the teacher advert to the event so connected before he proeeeds. It would also be useful to obVOL. 3.-N. S.
serve the chronology of such events, or the time in which they happened, and the distance of time intervening between one event and the other; as, for instance, the time intervening between the Israelites going into Egypt, and their return. This may easily be done if the teacher has a reference Bible.
3. When a prophecy is read which is connected with a future event in fulfilment of it, if that event is related in the Scriptures, let the teacher advert to it before he proceeds, and point out how much time elapsed between the prophecy and the event. If the event is not recorded in the Scriptures, but still has happened, if the teacher be acquainted with it, he might state the particulars of it, with the time in which it occurred, and by whom it is related.
4. When in reading the Old Testament a passage occurs which is connected with the New Testament, or which is quoted by the writers of it, let that connection or quotation be referred to before the teacher proceeds; and, also, when reading the New Testament, such reference is made to the Old Testament, or there is a quotation from it, let the Old Testament be referred to before the teacher proceeds. A reference Bible would make this easy. Many more suggestions might be made, but submitting these as a specimen of what may be done, I leave the rest to the teacher's good sense to find out as he proceeds with his lessons.
II. The next method of teaching which I shall notice is the collective method, as recommended and illustrated by Dr. Gall, in bis Help to the Gospels, &c., and as simplified by Mr. Alibans, in his Teacher's Assistant." By this method each scholar in the class, however numerous, is supposed to learn alike, other things being equal, and that, too, in the same time, and with little or no more trouble on the part of the teacher than would be required to teach one. This method is excellent, and ought to be practised more or less by every Scripture teacher, as hy this method some important or practical Scripture truth may at one opportunity be so riveted on the childrens' minds that in all probability many of them will never forget it.
III. Another method of teaching is for the teacher to read to his class some practical work which abounds with references to Scripture passages; such as Doddridge's Rise and Progress, Pike's Persuasives, Dan Taylor's Principal Parts of Religion, &c., always taking care that the children refer to the Scripture passages as often as they occur, and read them in their turns. The teacher may, when some passage of peculiar importance occurs, ask questions on every part of it, so that the children may not only better understand, but have the idea of it impressed upon their minds.
IV. Another method adopted by some teachers is for the teacher 10 have a reference Bible, and to read some part of the New Testament, suppose the epistle to the Hebrews, or to the Romans, always taking care to notice the Scripture references as he proceeds, and that the children find the passages and read them in their turns, the teacher making such obser. vations or explanations as he thinks necessary upon any particular subject about which they are reading, and which the passages referred to illustrate,
V. Another method of teaching is for the teacher to prepare before. Jiand references to Scripture passages wbich explain, recommend, or enforce any subject which the teacher wishes in bring before the children. This method, it will easily be seen, is very comprehensive, as there is no conceivable subject respecting our duty to God or man, with respect to this world or
another, which may not be thus illustrated or recommended by a collection of various Scripture passages which more or less bear upon the subject. If the teacher wishes to impress upon the childrens' minds the duty of repentance, he will be at no loss for passages which enforce it. If he desires to bring before them the subject of pardon, he may find abundance of passages to answer his design with equal facility. If the teacher has true converts in bis class, and he wishes to encourage, to guide, to caution, or to instruct them in any of the numerous duties which they owe to God or man, he may find both subjects and passages to answer his purpose. The teacher who practises this method will find that a reference Bible will render some assistance in finding suitable passages, a Concordance will give considerable aid, a Bible Dictionary will assist on some subjects, but above all, Barr's Index to the Bible will render the most efficient aid. And let no teacher shrink from practising this method merely on account of the labour which it requires in preparing the subjects. I believe that it as necessary for a teacher to go prepared to his class with something, whatever plan of teaching he adopts, as it is for a preacher of the Gospel to go prepared to the pulpit; or else how can he consistently look for the divine blessing upon ihai which has cost him nothing.
VI. Another method of teaching which might, and ought to be practised, especially in these times of unblushing infidelity, and of peculiar danger to youth, is the following: -Let the teacher examine the prophecies of the Old Testament, noticing when, where, by whom, and under what circumstances they were delivered. Let him also observe whether the prophecy which he has under consideration has been fulfilled—whether its fulfilment is recorded in some other part of the Scriptures. If the Scriptures do not record the fulfilment of the prophecy let the teacher examine by whom the event is related, the circumstances which brought about its fulfilment, and the time which elapsed between the prophecy and fulfilment. In this manner the prophecies respecting the Israelites, and the surrounding nations, might be considered. When the same event is foretold by different persons, and at various periods, or if the event is related by various writers, whether sacred or profane, it will strengthen the impression made on the childrens' minds by referring to them. The prophecies respecting our glorious Redeemer, concerning his person, bis birth, his life, his sufferings and death, his resurrection, his government, and his glorious reign, are subjects which form a conspicuous part among the prophecies of the Old Testament. Simpson, in bis Key to the Prophecies, or in his plea for Religion, has this subject stated at length, of which the teacher will do well to avail himself. Each prophecy should be examined separately, with its fulfilment in the New Testament. The prophecies delivered by our Saviour respecting bis own death and resurrection, &c., must not be overlooked. There is such an exact correspondence between the predictions given by him, and the events which followed, whether respecting himself, or the destruction of Jerusalem, that it is evident that he saw things future as plainly as if they were then before his eyes; and thus he proved his divine mission, and the reality of his pretensions, as being the Saviour that should come into the world. The impression which, I conceive, would be made on the childrens' minds by such a mode of examining the prophecies, and the fulfilment of them, would be, that “ All Scripture is given by inspiration of God;" and that“ Prophecy came not in old time by the will of man, but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost." The principal miracles recorded in the Old and in the New Testament should be minutely examined ; especially such as tend to establish the truth of the leading historical facts recorded in Scripture. When examining a miracle it might be inquired, By whom was it wrought? why was it wrought ? and any other circumstance attending the miracle might be noticed; and if the mairacle is mentioned by any other sacred writer, such notice should be referred to. If there be any institution, or sensible token, designed to commemorate any miracle or remarkable event, it should be distinctly pointed out. The rainbow, the passover, the feast of unleavened bread, Aaron's rod that budded, the pot of manna, the feast of tabernacles, the stones taken out of Jordan, and the ordinance of the Lord's-supper, are instances of this kind. The examination of these matters will lend 10 impress the minds of the children with the conviction, that there is irresistible evidence that the miracles recorded in Scripture were really wrought, and that the remarkable events which they commemorate did really occur. And as they will easily perceive that the finger of God was apparent in performing those miracles, and in bringing about those remarkable events, a persuasion of the truth of divine revelation, or that the Bible is the Word of God, must, I conceive, necessarily take place.
To strengthen the impression of the divine authority of the Sacred Scriptures, the teacher might advert to the transcendant morality which is there inculcated; of its complete adaptation to the reasonable duty of man to his Creator, to his Redeemer, and to bis fellow-man; and also to produce the end designed-universal peace, happiness, and love. Aud as unassisted reason has never been able to discover such a moral remedy for the evils under which the world groans, the conclusion is obvious, that the morality of the Bible must have come from beaven.
The sublimity of the doctrines of divine revelation might be examined with the same view; and, I hope, with a similar effect. The doctrines of the incarnation of Christ, his vicarious sufferings and death, justification by faith, regeneration by the Holy Spirit, adoption into the family of God through faith, the resurrection, the last judgment, and the final award which will be rendered to the righteous and io the wicked, &c. &c., are subjects which infinitely transcend the feeble power of the human mind to invent them. As they conld not have had their origin with man, therefore they must have come from heaven.
It will easily be seen, that the method of teaching comprehended under the sixth division, is more especially adapted to the senior Bible, the select, or special Bible classes, as it implies a previous general acquaintance with Scripture truth in the scholars, as well as their being of an age at which they will be able to judge for themselves when a truih is set before them. It will also require the teacher to bave a considerable acquaintance with bis Bible, and also to possess some general information. But though all teachers of Bible classes cannot be expected to possess the requisite qualifications, yet I hope that those who teach the select, or special Bible classes, will generally be able to practise this method.
Having brought before you the principal methods of teaching, in this communication, I purpose, if the Lord will, to state to you in my next, and concluding address, the results which may be expected from such methods of teaching, combined with prayer and faith.
A SUNDAY-SCHOOL TEACHER.
CHAMBERS OF IMAGERY.
IN reading Malcolm's travels in South Eastern Asia, I was forcibly reminded of the Chambers of Imagery, mentioned in Ezekiel viii. 7-12. The traveller was at Maulmain, in that part of the Birman territory ceded to the British. The district is mountainous, and there are many large caverns.
Selector. “Most of these mountains contain caves, some of them very large, which appear to have been, from time immemorial, specially devoted to religious purposes. The wealth and labour bestowed on these are of themselves sufficient to prove how great the population has been in former ages. I visited, in these excursions, three of the most remarkable-one on the Dah Gyieng, and two on the Salwen. They differed only in extent, and in the apparent antiquity of the idols they contained. Huge stalactites descended almost to the floor in many places, while, in others, stalagmites of various magnitudes and fantastic shapes were formed upon the floor. In each, the bats occupied the lofty recesses of the ceiling, dwelling in deep and everlasting twilight. In one they seemed innumerable. Their ordure covered the bottom, in some places, to the depth of many feet. Throwing up some fragments of idols, we disturbed their noon-tide slumbers, and the effect was prodigious. The futter of their wings created a trembling or pulsation in the air, like that produced by the deepest bass of a great organ. In the dusk of the evening they issue from the cave in a thick column, which extends unbroken for miles. The natives all affirmed this to be the case every evening; and Mr. Judson himself, when here with Major Crawfurd and others, saw the almost incredible fact.
This cave has evidently been long deserted, except that a single large image at the entrance is kept in repair, before which were some recent offerings. I might therefore have easily obtained images for my friends; but, Mr. J. being afraid of an injurious influence on the native Christians who were with us, I abstained, and afterwards obtained a supply by regular purchase.
The last one we visited is on the Salwen, about fifteen or twenty miles above Maulmain. The entrance is at the bottom of a perpendicular but uneven face of the mountain, inclosed in a strong brick wall, which forms a large vestibule. The entrance to this enclosure is by a path, winding along the foot of the mountain; and nothing remarkable strikes the eye till one passes the gate, where the attention is at once powerfully arrested. Not only is the space within the wall filled with images of Gaudama of every size, but the whole face of the mountain, to the height of eighty or ninety feet, is covered with them. On every jutting crag stands some marble image, covered with gold, and spreading its uncouth proportions to the setting sun. Every recess is converted into shrines for others. The smooth surfaces are covered by small flat images of burnt clay and set in stucco. Of these last there are literally thousands. In some places they have fallen off, with the plaster in which they were set, and left spots of naked rock, against which bees have built their bives undisturbed. Nowhere in the country have I seen such a display of wealth, ingenuity, and industry, But imposing as is this spectacle, it shrinks to insignificance, compared to the scene which opens on entering the cavaru itself. It is of vast size chiefly in one apartment, which needs no human art to render it sublime. The eye is confused, and the heart appalled, at the prodigious exhibition of