Sunday Schools

 •  7 min. read  •  grade level: 10
We are truly thankful to hear that you have commenced the Sunday school, and we count it a real privilege to be allowed to comply with your request for a word of counsel as to the mode of working it. The longer we live, the more highly we prize the blessed work of the Sunday school teaching. We look upon it as most interesting and delightful; and we believe that every assembly of Christians, gathered to the name of the Lord Jesus, should support such work by their sympathy and prayers.
Some, we are sorry to say, exhibit much lukewarmness in reference thereto, and others seem to disapprove of such work altogether. They look upon it as an interference with the duty devolving upon Christian parents to bring up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. This, we own, would be a grave objection, were it well founded; but it is not so, for the Sunday school is not designed to interfere with, but to assist, or supply the total lack of, parental teaching and training.
There are thousands of dear children thronging the streets of all our cities and towns, who either have no parents, or else parents utterly unable or unwilling to instruct them. It is on these the Sunday school teacher fixes his benevolent eye. No doubt he is glad to see all sorts occupying his benches; but the poor, the ragged, the neglected, the outcast, are his special objects.
There are thousands of young men and women who crowd the mill and factory, and spend their days in toil, in order to keep soul and body together, and who have no other means of being instructed in divine things, save what is afforded in the Sunday school class. Should not these be looked after? Is it not a good work to gather such, once a week, for a couple of hours, in order to store their young minds with precious texts of Scripture and sweet hymns, which may leave an impression which no lapse of time shall ever efface? We most thoroughly believe it so; and, with all our hearts, we wish God speed to every one engaged in it. We have the fullest assurance that such work will meet its rich reward in the day of Christ, even though present appearances may he discouraging.
It is impossible to tell where and when the fruit of a Sunday school teacher’s work may turn up. It may be on the burning sands of Africa, or amid the frozen regions of the North, in the depths of the forest, or on the ocean’s wave; it may be at the present time, or it may be years after the workman has gone to his eternal rest. But, let it be when or where it may, the fruit will assuredly be found, when the seed has been sown in faith, and watered by prayer.
It may be that the Sunday school pupil will grow up a wicked youth—a wicked man; he may seem to have forgotten everything good, holy, and true—to have worn out, by his sinful practices, every sacred impression; and, yet, notwithstanding all, some precious clause of Holy Scripture, or some sweet hymn, remains buried in the depths of memory, beneath a mass of folly and profanity; and, this Scripture, or this hymn, may come to mind in some quiet moment, or it may be on a dying bed, and be used by the Holy Spirit for the quickening and saving of the soul. Who can attempt to define the importance of getting hold of the mind when it is young, and fresh, and plastic, and seeking to impress it with heavenly things.
But, we may, perhaps, be asked, “Where, in the New Testament, have we any warrant of the special work undertaken by the teacher, or the superintendent of a Sunday school?” We reply, it is only one way of preaching the gospel to the unconverted, or of expounding the Holy Scriptures to the children of God. Properly speaking, the Sunday school is a profoundly interesting branch of evangelistic labor, and we need hardly say we have ample authority in the pages of the New Testament for this. But, alas! there are too many among us who have no heart for any branch of gospel service, whether among the young or old; and not only do they neglect it themselves, but throw cold water on those who are seeking to do the blessed work, and as it sometimes happens that those who raise objections to Sunday schools and stated gospel preaching’s seem to be persons of intelligence, their words are all the more likely to weigh with young Christians.
But to you, dear friend, we say, Let nothing discourage you in the work which you have undertaken, it is a good work, and go on with it, regardless of all objectors. We are told to be ready to every good work, and not to be weary in well doing, for in due season we shall reap if we faint not.
And, now a word as to the mode of working a Sunday school. You must remember it is an individual service, to be carried on in personal responsibility to the Lord. No doubt it is most important to have full fellowship in your work, with your fellow laborers, and with all your brethren; but the work of a superintendent or teacher must be carried on in direct personal responsibility to the Lord, and according to the measure of grace imparted by Him.
The assembly is no more responsible, and no more involved, in this work, than in any other individual service, such as the Sunday evening preaching, cottage meetings, lectures or Bible classes; though, most assuredly, the assembly, if in spiritual healthy condition, will have the fullest fellowship with the Sunday school, as well as with the entire range of personal work.
You will find, if we mistake not, that in order to work a Sunday school of any size effectively, you must have a good superintendent—a person of energy, order, and rule. The old proverb, “What’s everybody’s business is nobody’s business” is specially applicable here. We have seen several Sunday schools come to the ground from not being properly worked. Persons take the work up, for a time, and then let it drop. This will never do. The superintendent, the teachers, and the visitors must enter upon their blessed work, not by fits and starts, but with calm determination and spiritual energy; and having entered upon it, they must carry it on with real purpose of heart. It will not do for the superintendent to leave his school, or the teacher to leave his class to chance, under the plea of leaving it to the Lord. We believe the Lord expects him to be at his post, or to find a proper substitute, in case of illness or any other unavoidable cause of absence.
It is of the utmost importance that ever, branch of Sunday school work should be undertaken and carried on with freshness, heart, zeal, energy, and thorough personal devotedness. And inasmuch as these can only be had at the Divine treasury, all who are engaged in the service should meet together for prayer and conference. Nothing can be more deplorable than to see a Sunday school falling into decay, through lack of diligence and perseverance on the part of those who have taken it up.
No doubt there are many hindrances, and the work itself is very uphill and very discouraging; but O! if our words have any weight, we would say with heartfelt emphasis to all who are engaged in this most precious service, let nothing damp your ardor, or hinder your work. Go on; go on; and may the Lord of the harvest crown your labors with the richest and best blessing!
We have gone thus fully into the subject of the Sunday school, because it is one occupying a very large place in our thoughts and sympathies, and we long to see it getting its due place in the hearts of all God’s people. It is many years since we first entered the precincts of a Sunday school, and we feel bound to declare that the lapse of years has only tended to deepen our interest in what we must ever consider a charming branch of work. May God bless all Sunday schools, for Jesus Christ’s sake!
The work of the enemy is to scatter. The work of the Lord is to gather.
“He that is not with Me is against Me: and he that gathereth not with Me scattereth.” Luke 11:2323He that is not with me is against me: and he that gathereth not with me scattereth. (Luke 11:23).
“Gather the people,... assemble the elders, gather the children,” also said,
“Suffer the little children to come unto Me,” and how will they know to come, except some one tell them of the Lord Jesus Christ, and His love to them?