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Class Exercises in Religion.
posed of it in the same manner? Why? Do you think any other of the apostles would have done the same ? Which of them? Why do you think so? Do you think any of the other distinguished men or women mentioned in the Bible, would have done the same with it as Judas did ? But why? What do you think a good person would do, nowadays, in the same circumstances ?
The Saviour, it seems, was not fond of the turmoil of the city, and of city life; and though he was much in Jerusalem during the day, he often went out at night, to Bethany, where Lazarus and Martha and Mary lived, and lodged there. Now which of the twelve apostles do you think most likely to be fond of accompanying him thither? Which would be most likely to remain behind, in the noise and bustle of the city? Why do you think so? What made our Lord prefer going out to Bethany ? and what made him particularly attached to the society of Martha and Mary and Lazarus ?
Do you think our Saviour was an early riser? Why do you think so ? Have you reason to think that any of the apostles were? Will you give me your reasons ? Do you think Judas would be apt to rise early? Do you think Solomon was an early riser? Do you think Daniel was? What advantages are there, in a religious point of view, in early rising ?
What are the names of fifty of the individuals mentioned in the Bible, whom you would most like to resemble ?- This, and indeed most of the exercises we have proposed, will, at first-we repeat it-demand time and thought. They may be given out, to-day, perhaps, at the close of the forenoon exercises, for the opening of the school tomorrow morning.–The contrary of the foregoing may be asked. What six characters mentioned in the Bible, should you be most unwilling to resenible? If there are degress of happiness in heaven, as some suppose, what six persons mentioned in the Bible, are likely to be among the highest ? Why do you think so ?
The teacher may sometimes pursue the following course. He may say to a class or to the school ; If John, the beloved disciple of Jesus, was tempted to do a wrong thing-say to swear profanely-do you think he yielded to the temptation and swore ? Suppose he became very angry at some person who had abused him, would be not then yield to the temptation ? Why not? What other individuals mentioned in the Bible would be likely to do the same? What reasons have you for thinking so? How many of you think it is right to swear, on any occasion ? Why may we not swear, if we are very angry? As many as think it right to swear when we are angry, may raise your hands. As
Moralizing from Common Occurrences.
many as think it not right to be angry, may raise your hands. Between the present moment and tomorrow at this time, I wish you would find and write down on your slates, all the passages you can find, and the books, chapters and verses where they are to be found, which relate to anger. Please to write those which you think allow it, on one side of your slates, and those of a contrary kind on the other.
Some persons are fond of using words, which though they may not be regarded as swearing, in the fullest sense of the term, are yet foolish to say the least; and not a few of them probably lead us, by degrees, to the habit of profaneness. Such are the words and phrases, · By George,' • Good heavens,'. Gracious heavens,' &c. &c. Now if the Saviour were on earth, and a multitude were following him round, and some were in the habit of using these words, do you think he would approve it? Would any of the twelve apostles be likely to do so ? To which of the twelve do you think it would be most painful to hear such language? To which the least so? Why do you thus judge ? I wish you would bring together, for tomorrow's lesson, all the passages, or at least mention the book, chapter and verse where they may be found, which speak against profane swearing, and the use of other words which lead to it. You may place all which relate to swearing, directly, on one side of the slate, and those which relate to the use of other words, not so obviously wicked, but only foolish, and leading to wickedness, on the other.
We would thus classify, or make distinctions in the nature or degree of the sin of swearing, both because there is a proper foundation for the distinction, and also for the sake of variety in the exercise ; and to bring into activity the various powers and capacities and talents of the pupils.- We have alluded to var:ety, and spoken of indulging in it, because we believe that the natural fondness of the young for it, should be laid hold of wherever it can be, as a means of advancing them in the path of improvement, and because we believe it is almost universally overlooked, and by many undervalued; nay, by some regarded in the light of a fault, which it requires not only age and experience, but discipline to correct.
Perhaps it is well to let these lessons grow, often, out of circumstances. For example, a boy has injured another, and the latter feels the spirit of revenge. The teacher may now put the question—not perhaps to the class to which he belongs alone but to the whole school, whether they think revenge is ever proper. When the question does thus grow out of an existing case, it may not be proper to require the upraising of hands before
Lesson on ‘Be ye merciful.”
spoken of, lest it should have injurious or at least unnecessary painful effects on the mind of the person whose conduct has led to the notice of the fault. The best way, probably, is to proceed, at once, to the Bible doctrine in regard to revenge in general. The pupils may be required, within a certain specified time, not too short, to select all the passages in the New Testament which speak of it. For the reasons already given, they may be required to place those which seem to ju tify its occasional use on the one side of the slate as before, and those which condemn it, on the other.
We have spoken of merely naming the book, chapter and verse, where the required passages are to be found; and we would certainly, in some cases, require no more. But it is in many respects, a highly valuable exercise, (and by no means, as some might at first view suppose, a waste of time,) to write out in full, all the passages bearing upon the subject, adding to them the place where they are to be found, as before, as well as any familiar remarks which the pupil may feel an inclination to make.
Precisely in the spirit of this course, might a teacher proceed to the inculcation of every principle in the Bible, in its bearing on all our words and actions, and even on our thoughts and modes of thinking. We say of every principle; but we refer now to what may be called the general principles and doctrines it contains, such as are applicable to all sorts and conditions of mankind. and to all times and places ; those, for example,which are found in the sermon on the mount, and in the ten commandments.
There are hardly any limits to this mode of instruction. Take for example, the single requisition of our Saviour. “Be ye merciful.' Now it would afford a class of pupils full employment for at least one hour of twentyfour, in finding out and writing down the other texts which speak of mercy, and commend it. It would be another interesting exercise to require them to select the instances mentioned in the Bible, in which this principle is acted out. Another, to bring together instances of the contrary kind -instances in which there was a want of mercy and its exercise. Another, to require the pupils to write down the names of one hundred good men and women mentioned in the Bible, who would be likely to be, in all their conduct, merciful and compassionale; and those of twenty or fifty, who might be disposed to act otherwise. Another exercise still, might be the bringing together proofs that the merciful man ought to be merciful to his domestic animals ; and lastly, they might be led to enumera e some of the instances in which men are, in common life, unmer
Proper Spirit of a Teacher.
293 ciful, both to each other and to brutes. Thus half a dozen exercises, each of sufficient length for one day's lesson, might be derived from or connected with the single short sentence ; Be ye merciful.
The same remarks and the same general course of proceeding are applicable to all the varied doctrines and duties of the Bible. The same course might be pursued in regard to all our relative duties, as growing out of the fifth command; for example, our duties to parents, to grandparents, to children and grandchildren, to masters and to teachers, to magistrates, and to subjects, to neighbors and to strangers. Pupils might be required to bring together all the texts which have a bearing upon the education of children, upon our duties to the aged, upon our being kind to strangers, tender to servants, respectful to magistrates, &c. So of the various vices condemned, and virtues encouraged by the spirit of each of the commands, as the sixth, the eighth, the fourth, the ninth, &c.
A teacher who has the highly important art of story-telling, may not only introduce and sustain religious exercises like those we have recommended, but may render them exceedingly interesting by his anecdotes and illustrations. Such a man observed, he will perhaps say at one time, that if he had it in his power, he would kill every Indian in the world. Now how many of you think him wrong? And why was it wrong? And what coinmand was it a breach of, &c.? Some of these questions might be decided, that is, an expression of opinion might be given, by uplifted hands; others by writing down texts, on the slate or on paper, as has been repeatedly mentioned. .
It cannot be denied that though these and similar exercises may and should be so conducted as not to approach even the confines of sect or party; still they may possibly, by injudicious teachers, be made both partisan and sectarian. It is impossible to present or suggest any course or plan of instruction, which in the hands of those who are themselves thoroughly inbued with the spirit of party and sect, might not degenerate into the very thing which it is the object of this whole essay to prevent and preclude. It is of the first importance therefore, in order to the complete success of the best and most approved and most conciliating religious lesson, that the teacher possess the right spirit; the spirit of Christ. Whether he belong to this or that theological school, or to this or that denomination of Christians even, is of little comparative consequence, if he has the right spirit and the right temper; and if with the general spirit and temper of Christ, he possess, in particular, a good measure of that wisdom which cometh down from above, and which is pure and gentle,
Mr Conant's Inaugural Address.
and which renders us, in our various avocations, full of good fruits. This preliminary qualification in a teacher, is believed to be indispensable, whatever other qualifications may be possessed, and whatever may be taught, whether by example, lesson, or precept. He who is like Christ, will scarcely fail to let his light shine on those around him, whether children or adults ; and to let it so shine, that good will be done, and God will be glorified. Nor are children less likely to be influenced by example, and to be transformed into the image of those whom they love and esteem, than adults. Let the teacher of modern times therefore, in one word, possess the saine mind and spirit which was manifested by the greatest of teachers 1800 years ago, and then it is impossible, in the nature of things, that he should labor wholly in vain-even though the formalities of religious instruction, were for the most part excluded, by a fastidious, erring, or infidel public sentiment.
PROPER EDUCATION OF MINISTERS.
Ar the beginning of an inaugural address, delivered in the Chapel of the Hamilton Literary and Theological Seminary, August 19, 1835, by Thomas J. Conant, Professor of Hebrew and Biblical Criticism, we find the following language.
• What is the proper education for a minister of Christ? The general principle is doubtless correct, that it should be such as will, at the same time, give him the most perfect command of his mental powers, and furnish him with the largest amount of useful knowledge.'
Now, though we like the general tone and spirit of Mr Conant's address, yet we do not feel at all satisfied with his standard of ministerial education. Is not a minister a man? And does not his whole nature, as a man, need developing and training? Has he not bodily powers and functions to be invigorated? Has he not moral powers to be attended to ? Has he not, at least, a conscience to be educated ?
We have some doubts what Mr C. means, in this place, by education. At first, we were disposed to believe that in his haste he had used the term in the old fashioned narrow sense, as synonymous with mere instruction-mere mental development and cultivation- forgetting physical and moral education entirely. But when we come to read on, we find him insisting on it as the duty of the church 'to establish institutions subject to her con