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Constancy in Attendance.
friends and patrons; and for many years most of the members of the church and society, with which it is connected, have lent it their hearty co-operation.
It has been a remarkable fact in the history of this school, that, while the church and society have passed through many trying and discouraging scenes, the school has generally presented a bright spot, around which, the feelings and hopes of those who love Zion have clustered, and where their drooping spirits have been somewhat cheered and revived.
The commencement of the past year was regarded by its friends, as an important era with this school. Its broken state, at the close of the previous year, filled our minds with some anxiety for the future. But the efficient measures taken by the society, brought together its scattered parts, and, when organized for the first time, in our new and beautiful house of worship, it presented a scene which satisfied us at once, that the people had not lost their interest in Sabbath schools, nor ceased to love the study of the Bible.
But while there has been a considerable interest in the study of the book commenced with the beginning of the past year, and while no unhappy divisions have disturbed the harmony of the school the past year, yet it is not our privilege to record the conversion of a single individual. This should lead to deep humility and earnest, humble prayer to him with whom is the residue of the Spirit.
CONSTANCY IN ATTENDANCE. Owing to the difficulty of obtaining permanent teachers, -says a superintendent in Hampden county,—we formed our school, last spring, into as few classes as possible, and were thus enabled to obtain teachers who have been punctual and constant in their attendance. The result has been that the classes have been unusually well sustained, and the interests of the school promoted. And my experience has been, that a constant and faithful teacher will be attended by a full class, while it is strange, if an inconstant one is not soon deserted. I would, therefore, say to teachers, let your class always expect you, and when you cannot be present, secure some one to take your place. The class will thus see that you are interested for them, and they will be ready to welcome your return.
THE TEACHERS' WORK. The work of the teacher is so important, that every suitable means should be employed to prepare for it. Thorough, earnest study, accompanied with fervent prayer for the teachings of the Holy Spirit, should be given to every lesson. The teachers' meetings should be scrupulously attended by every teacher, for the mutual benefit of himself and all his associates. And as scrupulously should every teacher, every parent, and every Christian give a constant and punctual attendance at the meetings of the Sabbath School Concert. The true foundation of all
prayer. Society's Annual Report.
DIFFICULTY OF COLLECTING ANNUAL RETURNS,
The Secretary of one of the County Auxiliaries, under date of May 14th, thus writes in regard to the difficulty of obtaining returns from the schools :
MR. BULLARD,— Dear Sir,- By much effort I have succeeded in securing three more returns. The one from Hawley came to hand this morning, and I dare not delay them longer, as I fear it may now be too late to have them entered in your annual report.
Procrastination seems to adhere firmly to certain schools or towns, as by reference to the last reports for some years
Difficulty of collecting Annual Returns.
past,“no reports," is the only information we are able to obtain from several schools. May it not well be questioned, --whether the best men are selected for superintendents, --whether they conduct the schools with sufficient energy and interest, if they do not keep records and possess devotion enough to make an annual report of their respective schools, which might occupy ten minutes in filling out? The frequent changing of superintendents renders it difficult to secure seasonable returns, as the county Secretary is often unable to learn the address of the superintendent in the several towns, --and if we direct to the pastor of the place, his mind is so much devoted to other things, that it is laid aside to be thought of no more,-if we direct to the former superintend ent he takes too little interest to pass it to its proper place. Can any remedy be devised?
The difficulty here referred to, has been felt, from year to year, by all the Secretaries of the County Societies, and also by the Secretary of the State Society. Only two auxiliaries, viz., the Boston S. S. Union and Caledonia Co., Vt., S. S. Society, have furnished full returns from all their schools.
One Secretary, in issuing his circulars, hoping thereby to secure immediate returns, wrote one of these various laconic sentences,
“ Brother H. Every thing is beautiful in its season. In time please execute, or cause to be executed that."
“ Brother B. Hazard nothing by delay. One minute too late is too late for ever.'
“ Brother M. Read, understand, and execute in time or cause to be executed.”
“ Brother P. Give ear. Time flies. Delays are dangerous. One minute too late is too late for ever. Read, understand, -do, in time.”
“ Brother B. A word to the wise is enough," &c., as above.
“Brother W. Time stops for no one. Delays are dangerous,”&c., as above.
“ Brother D. Will you be so good as to see that the above request, so far as is practicable, is complied with in time? A full report of all schools in the county is desirable.”
“ Brother S. We are desirous of making out to the State Society, by the 1st of April, a full report of all the Sabbath schools in this county according to the circular above,-as far as may be practicable.”
Will you be so good,-10 yourself,-your people,—the county,- the commonwealth,-our country and the world,—the favor to see the written circular filled out as may please you, and forward to me without fail, by the 20th of March or before.”
We suppose that similar notes were appended to all the circulars sent by this Secretary, to the 26 schools connected with his auxiliary; and yet no returns were received from six of them!
THE SABBATH SCHOOL PERVERTED. This institution of Sabbath schools, promises to be a great blessing to the young and to the world. But like most good things, it is liable to this objection; viz: it can be perverted, and there are some who do pervert it. It is now expected, almost as a matter of course, on every public Sabbath school occasion, and in every sermon on the subject, that a note of alarm will be raised in respect to certain evils growing out of this institution.
One of these evils is, that parents are making Sabbath schools which were intended only as an auxiliary, a substitute for parental instruction,—that they are throwing off responsibility upon the teachers. Now, so far as this is the case, a note of alarm and of warning ought to be raised, and it should be sounded loud enough to startle the slumbering conscience of every parent who is guilty in this matter.
But surely, no one can regard the evil here spoken of, as necessarily incident to this institution. The evil is seen only where the institution is perverted. In reference to far the larger portion of the young, it is true, - however lamentable the fact that the Sabbath school is the only source of personal religious instruction, except so far as they receive it from their pastors. They either have no parents,—they are orphans,- or they have such as concern not themselves with the religious education of their children. Sabbath school or not, it is all the same to them. To these multitudes of the young, surely no one will object that this institution comes forward with the kind offices of the pious parent.
The Sabbath School Perverted.
The only ground of apprehension is, that pious parents are transferring their responsibilities to the teachers. And so far as this is attempted, it is a serious evil, and it is a most unnatural evil. Sabbath schools a SUBSTITUTE for parental instruction ! Why! a parent may as well transfer to this institution, his obligation to maintain prayer and communion with God in secret, or good works before his fellow-men. If he is to throw off his obligation to teach his children the fear of the Lord, and to bring them up in his nurture and admonition, and watch for their souls as those that must give account, he may as well hire a family priest and commit to him the whole care of his own and the salvation of the household, and give himself no more concern or solicitude for any thing but the present life.
It is not merely for the good of the children, that God has placed this work in the hands of parents; but it is for the personal good of parents themselves. Nothing will more rapidly promote the parent's own growth in grace, than the prayers and instructions which deep parental solicitude will call forth. All this inestimable good to the parent is lost entirely, when he gives up his individual responsibility in the religious instruction of his children to the Sabbath school.
But as an auxiliary, no parent will be in any great danger of over-estimating this institution. Properly viewed, it will be found to increase rather than lessen the obligations and responsibilities of parents,-it will furnish favorable opportunities for personal conversation with children, and greatly aid the faithful parent in this important duty, which is so much neglected by many.
Another evil, in connection with our Sabbath schools, of which some complain, and, it is to be feared, have occasion to complain, is that many scholars are acquiring the habit of studying the Bible superficially, or of neglecting a suitable preparation of their lessons.
The nature of this evil may be exhibited by a single fact: