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John Angell James the Sunday School Teacher's Guide

John Angell James the Sunday School Teacher's Guide

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Published by: Blaga Adrian on Mar 09, 2013
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By John Angell James, 1816"He who wins souls is wise."The Ultimate OBJECT of TeachingQUALIFICATIONS for TeachingMANNER of TeachingDUTIES of Teachers to Each OtherTEMPTATIONS of TeachersDISCOURAGEMENTS of TeachersThe Teacher's ZEALMotives to DILIGENCE
The Sunday School Teacher's Guide
By John Angell James, 1816
The OBJECT which Sunday School Teachers should ever keep in view asthe ultimate end of all their labors.
To the success of any exertions whatever, it is necessary that the object to whichthey are to be directed, should be distinctly understood. Any confusion on thispoint, will be attended with a fluctuation of design, and an imbecility of endeavor, but ill calculated to ensure success.There is just ground of apprehension, that many who are engaged in the work of Sunday School instruction, are but imperfectly acquainted with its ultimate end.It is to be feared concerning some, that in giving their assistance to this cause,nothing further enters into their view, than communicating to the children anability to read and write. In the estimation of such people, these sabbathinstitutions seem to rank no higher than the ordinary schools, where theoffspring of the poor receive the elements of the most common education.Provided therefore they can assist their pupils to read with tolerable facility, andespecially if they can teach him to write, they attain the highest object of theirdesires, or expectations. How will such teachers be surprised, when I informthem that the top-stone of their hopes is but the foundation of their duties; andthat the highest elevation of their purposes, is but the very beginning of theascent, which leads to the
of the institution.
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I admit that where no higher aim than this is taken, though very far below theproper mark, much benefit is likely to accrue to the children themselves, to theirimmediate connections, and to society at large. Where no effort to form thecharacter, and nothing more in fact is done, than simply to communicate the artof reading, a vast advantage is conferred upon the children of the poor. It is thetestimony of inspiration "that for the soul to be without knowledge is not good,"and the whole history of man confirms the truth of the remark. The very firstrudiments of knowledge, independently of any systematic attempt to improve thecharacter, must have certainly a moral tendency. In the very lowest elements of education, the soul experiences an elevation, and however it may be precipitatedback again by the violence of its depravity, begins to ascend from the regions of sense. Ignorance debases and degrades the mind. It not only enslaves theintellect, but dims the eye by which the human conscience traces the naturaldistinction between right and wrong. "On the contrary," says Mr. Hall,"knowledge expands the mind, exalts the faculties, refines the taste for pleasure,and in relation to moral good, by multiplying the mental resources, it has atendency to elevate the character, and in some measure to correct, and subduethe taste for gross sensuality." From hence it is obvious, that the very least andlowest end which, as Sunday School teachers, you can propose to yourselves inyour labors, is fraught with benefits to the interests of the poor. I wish howeverto remind you, that simply to teach the art of reading,
the least and lowestend you can contemplate.Others, as the ultimate object of 
efforts, connect with the rudiments of knowledge, considerable attention to habits of order, industry, and morality.They are most laudably anxious to form the character of the children, so as thatthey may rise into life an industrious, orderly, and sober race. This is of vastimportance, and subordinate only to what I shall afterwards propose as theultimate end of all your endeavors. Much of the peace, comfort, and safety of the community depend upon the character, and the habits of the poor. If societybe compared to the human frame, they are the feet and the hands, and howmuch do the ease and welfare of the whole body depend upon the healthy stateof the extremities. To tame the ferocity of their unsubdued passions; to repressthe excessive crudeness of their manners; to chasten the disgusting anddemoralizing obscenity of their language; to subdue the stubborn rebellion of their wills; to render them honest, obedient, courteous, industrious, submissive,and orderly—should be an object of great desire with all who are engaged in thework of Sunday School instruction. It should be your ceaseless effort to reformthe vices, to heal the disorders, and exalt the whole character of the lowerclasses of society, by training up their offspring in "whatever things are true;whatever things are honest; whatever things are just; whatever things are pure;whatever things are lovely; whatever things are of good report." Then, to usethe beautiful imagery of the prophet, "instead of the thorn, shall come up the firtree, and instead of the briar, shall come up the myrtle tree."
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Pleasing and important as such an object really is; delightful as it is to produce inthe bosom of a poor man a taste for reading, together with a habit of thinking;and thus teach him to find entertainment at home, without being tempted torepair to the ale-house; delightful as it is to bring him into communion with theworld of reason, and help him, by the joys of intellect, to soften the rigors of corporeal toil; delightful as it is to teach him to respect himself, and secure therespect of others, by industrious, frugal, and peaceful habits; to assist him tobecome the instructor of his own domestic circle, and thus to raise him in theirestimation; in short, delightful as it is, to strip poverty of its terrors, and render itat least respectable by clothing it with moral worth—this of itself, and alone, isfar below the ultimate object of your exertions. Higher even than this you mustlook for the summit of your hopes. A man may be all that I have represented; hemay be industrious, orderly, moral, and useful in his habits, and still after all bedestitute of "that faith and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord." Addressing you as believers in all that revelation teaches concerning the nature,condition, and destiny of man, I must point your attention to an object whichstands on higher ground than any we have yet contemplated. It is for you toconsider, that everyone of the children, which are every Sabbath beneath yourcare, carries in his bosom, a SOUL as valuable and as durable as that which theCreator has lodged in your own bosom. Neither poverty, ignorance, nor vice, cansever the tie which binds man to immortality. Every human body is the residenceof an immortal spirit, and however diminutive by childhood, or dark byignorance, or base by poverty, or filthy by vice the hovel might appear, adeathless inhabitant will be found within. Every child that passes the threshold of your school on a Sunday morning, carries to your care, and confides to yourability, a SOUL, compared with whose worth the sun is a bauble; and with whoseexistence time itself is but as the twinkling of an eye. And as these poor children partake in common with you in the dignity of immortality, so do they also in the degradation and ruin of the fall. The commontaint of human depravity has polluted their hearts, as well as yours. They, likeyou, in consequence of sin, are under the curse, and stand equally exposed toeverlasting misery. To them however the gracious scheme of redeeming mercyextends its blessings, and indeed by the express provisions of the gospel charterthey stand first among the objects to whom salvation is to be presented; "for thepoor have the gospel preached to them." Denied neither the privileges of immortality, nor the opportunity of eternal happiness, so neither are they exemptfrom the obligations of religion. Without the duties required in your own case, inorder to eternal life,
will never possess it. Faith, repentance, and holiness;or in other words, regeneration, justification, and sanctification, are asindispensable in
case, as in yours. Their danger of losing all the richblessings of salvation, unless great exertions be made to instruct and interesttheir minds, is imminent, and obvious. Dwelling in those walks of life where sin,
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