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The Village Sunday School by John C. Symons

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Ball and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team.

[Illustration: JAMES, THOMAS, AND GEORGE.]


With brief Sketches of



New York:





The writer of the following pages makes no pretension to authorship. He
is deeply conscious that many defects characterize his production; and he
hopes that they will be treated with the consideration which so candid an
avowal merits, and which the fact demands.

The narratives are substantially true; but, for obvious reasons, the
names of persons and places are changed.

The reason why this little book is sent into the world is, the writer
considers the details which it contains of an exceedingly encouraging
character, and calculated to support and strengthen the pious teacher in
the discharge of his important and sometimes discouraging duties.

The writer has felt the need of encouragement while laboring in the
Sabbath-school; and he has had that need supplied in no small measure
from the consideration of the facts now before his readers. He hopes that
the effect which these facts have had upon his mind, will be produced
upon the minds of all who may peruse these pages. If such be the case--if
but one devoted, self-denying teacher derive encouragement--his end will
be more than answered.

With earnest prayer that the great Head of the Church will grant his
blessing upon this little work, the writer submits it to his reader.










M---- is a small village in the west of England, delightfully situated in
a wooded pleasant valley. Through it runs the parish road, which--as it
leads to the seashore, from whence the farmers of that and the
neighboring parishes bring great quantities of sand and seaweed as
manure--frequently presents, in the summer, a bustling scene. The village
is very scattered: on the right of the beautiful streamlet which flows
silently down the valley, and runs across the road just in the centre of
the village, stands an old mill; which for many a long year has been wont
to throw out its murmuring sound, as the water falls over its broad and
capacious wheel. On the other side of the stream, and just opposite the
old mill, a few yards from the road, stands a neat, commodious, and
well-built Methodist chapel, which, from the prominence of its situation,
and good proportions, has often attracted the eye of the passing

It was about the period when my narrative commences that the chapel was
built. For many years the Methodists had preached in the village, and
there had been a small society under the care of an aged patriarch, whose
gray hairs and tottering frame bespoke the near approach of the last
enemy: soon he came, and suddenly removed that good man to "the palace of
angels and God." In consequence of the preaching-place being far out of
the way, and the place itself--an old barn--anything but inviting, there
had been for many years but little success.

In 18--, two or three zealous brethren from another part of the circuit
settled in the vicinity of M----, and steps were at once taken to get a
favorable site, and to raise subscriptions towards building a chapel as
speedily as possible. The neighboring "squire" was waited upon by two of
the new members, with whom he was personally acquainted; when, without
hesitation, he gave them the spot of ground on which the chapel now
stands. The chapel was soon built, and opened for divine worship; and
many of the old members, who had witnessed the introduction of Methodism
into the village, were constrained to exclaim, "What hath God wrought!"

The village, though small, was surrounded by a populous neighborhood, and
many of the friends were anxious for the establishment of a
Sabbath-school. In this they had many difficulties to contend with;
arising principally from the awful carelessness of parents about their
children's spiritual welfare, and the want of adequate help to carry on a
school. However, they determined to make an attempt: and, accordingly, at
no great period after the new chapel was erected, a school was
established. As the society was small, pious teachers could not be
secured, and they were under the necessity of employing persons of good
moral character, or of abandoning the school altogether.

Few, perhaps, are more sensible of the advantage of pious teachers, than
myself: and, whenever it is possible, I would have no others in a school.
How is it to be expected that a teacher, careless--at least comparatively
so--about the salvation of his own soul, can faithfully and earnestly
enforce the duty of salvation upon his young charge: and yet this is the
principal design of Sabbath-schools. It is not so much to teach the
children to read,--though this is a great object,--nor even to give them
a superficial acquaintance with the Bible; but to lay before, and as it
were rivet upon, their minds the practical duties of Christianity. How
can one who loves not the Lord Jesus Christ, successfully enforce the
duty of love to God with the whole heart, and soul, and mind, and
strength? How can one who knows nothing of the saving faith of the
gospel, successfully exhort his children to believe on the Lord Jesus
Christ? For, as he does not feel the necessity of these and kindred
truths himself, he cannot enforce them so as to win the affections, and
touch the hearts of the children. But of the privilege of pious
teachers, M---- Sunday-school was deprived.

The superintendent was a man well known and much respected, and was
eminently qualified for his arduous task. With the exception of the
senior female teacher, he was the only decided person in the school. He
had much to contend with: and I am sure, from my own observation, had
many been situated as he was, the school would have been speedily
abandoned. He resided about a mile and a half from the chapel, but
morning and afternoon, winter and summer, wet or dry, he was at his post!
The numbers which attended the school might have been about seventy. The
teachers, considering that they were not members of society, were pretty
attentive for a year or two; but after that they began to fall off, and
frequently was the superintendent obliged, in addition to his regular
duties, to place the senior boys of the first class over the lower ones,
and take the remainder, with the second class, under his own care.
Laboring under so many disadvantages, it cannot be expected that M----
Sunday-school should in any respect be very prosperous: yet this I may
say, that though I have been connected with Sabbath-schools for some
years, and have had an opportunity of examining several, I have rarely
ever met with a more orderly set of children, or a better conducted

But who, from such a school as this, would have expected anything like
success? and yet the sequel will show, that, even under such unfavorable
circumstances as these, God did not fail to work for his honor and glory!

The senior class of boys consisted of about a dozen promising lads, whose
ages varied from nine to fourteen. They were placed under the care of two
respectable moral young men, but who, with very many excellent qualities,
were devoid of religion. The boys were encouraged to commit to memory
portions of Scripture, for which they received small rewards; and thus a
spirit of emulation was created as to who should possess the greatest
number of these. Among those who distinguished themselves were three
brothers, named James, Thomas, and George. James, the eldest, remained
but a short time in the school: but Thomas and George continued much
longer, and learned the whole of the three first Gospels, and part of St.
John. They were very regular in their attendance, and when in school
behaved just as others did, only that for their generally correct answers
in the catechetical exercises, which usually followed the reading of
Scripture, they were almost constantly at the head of the class. They had
comparatively little time during the week; but often on a Sabbath morning
have they repeated one or two hundred verses of Scripture. And here let
me remark, that Thomas has since assured me, it was not a love for the
Scriptures, nor a desire to become acquainted with them, which induced
him to commit such large portions, week after week, to memory! it was a
desire,--a kind of emulation,--to be at the head of the class, and to be
thought highly of by his teachers and the superintendent. In this he
gained his reward; for he was looked upon by them as the most promising
lad in the school.

There was one thing connected with M---- Sunday-school, which is worthy
of notice and of imitation. The superintendent never dismissed the
children without giving them a short address of from five to ten minutes.
It was usually his custom on these occasions to impress upon the mind of
his young hearers some important truth, through the medium of an
interesting anecdote, or some well-conceived figure; so that, though the
remarks he made might be soon forgotten, yet the anecdote and subject
illustrated by it remained, and will, I doubt not, be remembered to the
latest period of their lives by many of those who were privileged to
listen to him. I am thoroughly satisfied that an effectual method of
reaching the ear and the understanding of children, is through some such
medium as that used by the superintendent of M---- Sunday-school. I hope
the period is not far distant, when it will be more generally adopted.

A few years ago, the village of M---- was visited with a very gracious
revival, during which a great number were soundly converted, most of whom
have continued steadfast in the faith. Many of the teachers and scholars
were among the number of those who gave their hearts to God.

The following extracts show the extent and reality of the revival:--

"There has been," writes the superintendent, "an extensive revival in
this circuit. On Friday, the Rev. Mr. V---- preached at this place. A
prayer-meeting was held after the sermon, when several began to cry aloud
for mercy--one professed to have obtained pardon. We have held
prayer-meetings nearly every night, and a very gracious influence has
rested upon us. We had, on one occasion, no less than twelve penitents
crying to God for the pardon of their sins, amongst whom are some of the
most thoughtless in the neighborhood. So many of our teachers and
scholars were under conviction, that we did not think it proper to have
school in the morning, but held a prayer-meeting, at which the presence
of God was eminently felt, and several cried aloud. Nearly every female
teacher or scholar, in our Sunday-school, is convinced or converted, and
some of the males also. Glory to God!"

On another occasion he writes,--"Our revival still continues, though we
have not had any crying aloud for mercy lately, but every time we meet in
class we have some new members. The numbers, small and great, who had
begun to meet in class, amounted to nearly one-third of our general
congregation--their ages vary from eight years old to above sixty. Mrs.
R.'s, our sweet singer, was a delightful conversion. She had long been
seeking the Lord sorrowing. One morning she went into a neighbor's house,
to inform them that a young woman had found peace: while in the house she
was herself constrained to cry for mercy. One of the leaders was called
in to pray with her, and, after a severe struggle, she found peace. The
next Sunday I asked her (for she was singing delightfully) whether it was
not sweeter to sing as she did, than before? She laid her hand on her
breast, and with uplifted eyes, said, 'Yes, it is indeed, for I have
often been condemned while singing words in which my heart did not join,
but now I can sing with all my heart.'"

One of the teachers, writing to a friend, says, "You will rejoice to
hear that the work of God is steadily progressing in this part of his
vineyard. Many are found crying, in bitterness of soul, 'What must I
do to be saved;' while others are enabled to adopt the language of
inspiration, and exclaim, 'O Lord, I WILL praise thee; for though thou
wert angry with me, thine auger is turned away, and thou comfortest me.'
You will have heard that many members of Mr. T.'s family have been truly
converted. Sunday-school teaching is now a delightful employment; most of
our children are feeling the power of religion; and many of them, perhaps
one-third, meet in class. Four out of seven, whom I teach, are, I trust,
adopted into the family of God, and two others evince a desire to 'flee
from the wrath to come.' I think I may venture to say there is not a
family in the vicinity of our chapel, but has some one or more praying
persons belonging to it."

It is exceedingly gratifying to know that the great majority of those
who were converted belong to the school, continue steadfast, and are now
pious and useful members of the Methodist Church.



There is a something connected with early associations which is almost
indescribable. Every one has felt it, but few, very few, have been able
to excel in a description of it! Who has not felt, as he gazes upon the
cottage,--the home of his childhood,--his youthful days flash with all
the vividness of reality before his mind; and as he stands and muses on
the bygone years, numbered with those before the flood, he is almost
spell-bound to the spot! All his childish pastimes and youthful pleasures
pass in review before his mental vision; while the little trials with
which his cup was mixed, are not without their influence in mingling a
melancholy with the pleasing reminiscences of the past. Much has been
said on this principle of association, and truly much remains unsaid on
the subject. Scarcely is there a green sod, or a purling brook, a shady
forest-tree, or a smiling flower, an enchanting and fairy landscape, or
a barren and desolate heath; scarcely an object in nature, or a work of
art, which does not awaken some gratefully pleasing, yet painful
recollections of the past!

It is to this principle I attribute much of the good which results from
Sabbath-schools. Often has the pious teacher to return from his onerous
duties in the school, and retiring to his closet, to mourn on account of
the fruitlessness of his efforts; and Satan never fails, at such seasons,
to fill his mind with discouraging thoughts, which weigh down his
spirits, and lead him almost to decide on retiring from the work. To
such, let the precept and promise of God's word,--"Cast thy bread upon
the waters; for thou shalt find it after many days,"--be a source of
never-failing encouragement. How frequently, in after life, has it been
found, that the instruction of the Sabbath-school, though it may have
lain dormant for a time, has not been annihilated; but, through some
circumstance, or by some object, it has been resuscitated in the memory,
and it germinates, blossoms, fructifies, and brings forth glorious fruit,
which has cheered the hearts and upheld the hands of many thousands of
the most self-denying and arduous laborers in God's vineyard.

James, the eldest of the three lads mentioned, was a youth of
considerable promise. He had one of the most retentive memories I have
ever met with. Having reached the age of seventeen, his parents placed
him with a Methodist in a neighboring town, as an apprentice. For twelve
months after his removal, he stood aloof from all connection with the
Church and people of God; after which period, as he remarks in a letter
to his brother, "at the request of the superintendent of C---- school, I
became a teacher in that school, and for four years remained as such."
James continued as a teacher in the school for about twelve-months
previous to his becoming a member of society; at the expiration of which
time, he was induced, by the persuasions and invitations of his
fellow-teachers, to meet in class. From this period he became a steady
and devoted follower of the Lamb, and was at all times anxious to do what
lay in his power to further the cause of the Redeemer. From his first
connection with Sabbath-schools, when about five years old, he had
conceived a love for them; and as he grew up his love and attachment to
them increased, and his delight now was to devote all his energies to
their promotion. As he more than once remarked to me, he conceived he was
greatly indebted to Sunday-schools for the benefits he had received from
them, and he determined, so far as in him lay, to discharge the debt of
gratitude he owed.

His qualifications as a teacher were of no mean order. To an earnest
desire for the salvation of his young charge, he added a large store of
Scriptural and general knowledge, all of which was brought to bear upon
the edification of his class. He was firm and resolute with his children,
and at the same time kind and affectionate; so that I may safely assert
that there were few, if any, more efficient teachers in the school than
James. And the secret of the matter was this;--his heart was in the work;
he delighted in it, and many of his happiest hours were those spent on
the form with his class. The responsibility which he justly conceived
attached itself to the Sabbath-school teacher, was shown by his attention
to any of his own class who were sick; and not a few interesting records
has he given of Sunday-school children, who, dying in the Lord, have left
a bright evidence behind them that they are gone to glory.

Who can count the number of those who, through the instrumentality of
Sunday-schools, are now before the throne of God, joining with angels,
and archangels, and the spirits of the just made perfect, in singing,
"Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon
the throne, and unto the Lamb forever and ever." Truly, there is no
individual who verifies the truth of the Psalmist's declaration,--"He
that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come
again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him,"--more frequently
than does the pious Sunday-school teacher. Methinks I see him enter the
paradise of God, met and surrounded by those who sat in his class, who
listened to his teaching, and who were directed by him to "the Lamb of
God who taketh away the sins of the world." Joyful indeed will such
meetings be. O may such bliss be ours!

After serving five years as an apprentice, James removed to London. There
are many persons who imagine, that to settle in London is the very acme
of happiness; how little do such persons know of the reality! It is true,
that in the religious sphere there are many advantages possessed by the
resident of the metropolis. He has the teaching and counsel of ministers
eminent for their piety, usefulness, and talent; he is brought into
connection with some of the holiest and best men of the day; and, if
his time be not altogether absorbed in the world, he has constantly
numerous means of grace within his reach, so that he can frequently and
delightfully join the great congregation, mingling his voice with theirs,
swelling the anthems of praise and the solemn accents of prayer, as they
rise like incense to the skies. But there is, on the other hand, much
more allurement and temptation; there is everything around to draw away
the attention from heavenly objects. Those with whom you have to
associate, and who constantly surround you, are men of the world; men
whose whole _delight_ is in _forgetfulness_ of God!--men, in many
instances, whose whole energies are directed to ridicule, blaspheme,
and overthrow the pious and devoted Christian; so that, being thus
surrounded, the temptations of our great enemy are powerful, and often
more fatal.

Many a promising young man within the range of my own limited
acquaintance, has, through coming to London, made "shipwreck of faith,
and of a good conscience;" and to any into whose hands this little work
may find its way, let me earnestly and faithfully say, "Flee the very
appearance of evil;" parley not one moment with temptation; but when
tempted, fly at once to the cross, lay hold there, nor let that hold be
loosened, till the enemy is vanquished, and your soul filled with
perfect peace. Be particular what companions you have; "a man is known
by the company he keeps." And let me warn you to be careful how you
comply with the invitations of ungodly associates, in attending places of
amusement and scenes of gayety. The wise man says, "My son, if sinners
entice thee, consent thou not." Many and specious are the arguments which
will be adduced to gain your consent; but take the precaution to ask
yourself, honestly, and as in the sight of God, Can I get any good there?
May I not get harm? Can I ask God's blessings upon it? Should I like to
die while there? If these questions can be answered satisfactorily, then
give your consent; but beware, even under those circumstances, how you
choose for your companions those who know not God!

It was at the end of March, 18--, that James left his native country. On
his arrival in London, he was at once provided with employment at a large
establishment. Here he had much to contend with, being surrounded by, and
brought into immediate contact with, a great number of men, many of whom
were not only devoid of religion themselves, but ridiculed and sneered at
those who made the least profession of respect for the commandments of
God. Being known as a "Methodist," and refusing to work on the Sabbath,
when ordered to do so, or leave his situation, he came in for a
considerable portion of their obloquy and contempt.

There are few persons more social in their character than the subject of
our narrative. To such, how beneficial and salutary is the influence
arising from that friendship and communion so well provided for among
the Wesleyans, and of which he soon availed himself. For want of this,
many suffer; and, surrounded by the temptations and seductive influences
of the giddy and polluted votaries of pleasure, they look back to the
empty enjoyments of the world--they eat, drink, and are merry, while
to-morrow they die. Providentially for James, there was one person in the
establishment in which he labored who feared God, and to whom the gospel
had come with life and power; he was a class-leader at a neighboring
Wesleyan chapel. He took him to his class, where he constantly met,
until his leader was translated from the Church militant below to the
Church triumphant above. It was the privilege of James to witness, in his
dying hours, his firm and unshaken confidence in the Redeemer. He was
"ready to depart, and to be with Christ."

In July, 18--, James became connected with a Sunday-school in T----
street. At this period the number of scholars was fifty, and teachers
six; while the school required every assistance that he could render.
With the assistance of a devoted young man, who soon became his
colleague, the school was put into order and efficiency. Here, in
consequence of the want of teachers, and the close, unhealthy,
cellar-like appearance of the place, the school was not very prosperous;
but the society and cause were still less so. In fact, but for the vigor
and vitality evinced in the Sunday-school, the chapel would have been
soon given up. In September, 18--, he writes, "I have been fifteen months
in connection with this school. The future may show to me great good
resulting from this school, but at present we have only enough to
encourage us." For five years he had much to contend with from the apathy
of friends, or from the neglect of those who ought to have been the
friends and patrons of the school; as well as from the indifference of
parents to the religious welfare of their children. There have been a few
pleasing indications of good; and, considering the difficulties they have
to contend with, the conduct of the children was generally favorable. The
few exceptions were forgotten in the sweet smiles and affectionate
remembrances of others.

I will conclude this sketch of James with a remark or two of his own:--"I
am," says he, "one of those who owe much to Sabbath-schools; to deny it,
would be foolish and sinful. Many a happy hour have I spent in the
Sabbath-school; many more I hope to spend. My firm belief is, that the
Sabbath-school should have every Wesleyan child, whether he be rich or
poor; and I cannot but deplore that false pride, evinced by many
respectable religious people in the present day, which prevents their
children being sent to the Sabbath-school, 'because they have learning
enough through the week;' while they will let them ramble out, or play
within the house instead: thus training them for Satan rather than for

"Sunday-schools are the militia of the Church: it is from them the most
efficient youth are drafted into the service of Jehovah, to fight
manfully under the Captain of their salvation, numbers of whom win the
well-fought day, and receive the prize of victory.

"Sunday-schools are the nurseries of the Church; they compose the youth
who are to live when we go down to the dust. When the teachers are aged,
or dead, their children will rise up to fill the ranks of Immanuel. Where
are the additions to our church to come from, but from Sunday-schools? Do
not most of those who join the Church in the prime of their days, and
present whole sacrifices to God, come from our Sabbath-schools? The
churches of Christ should see to it that good nurses are provided for
them, and not, as is too often the case, leave them in the hands of the
inexperienced and the youthful."



Thomas, the second brother, remained much longer in the school.
Possessing a retentive memory, he learned the whole of the three Gospels
of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and part of John. After remaining as a scholar
for about three years, during which time he was often employed in
teaching the junior classes, he was formally admitted as a teacher, in
the presence of the whole school, the secretary delivering an interesting
and affecting address to him, on the duties and responsibilities of his
position as the guide of youth; at the conclusion of which he presented
him with a book, entitled "The Guilty Tongue," as a reward for his good
conduct and proficiency. Thomas had not long been a teacher, before a
vacancy occurred in the first class, to which he had formerly belonged as
a scholar, and he was at once nominated to it.

After continuing as a scholar for three, and a teacher for about two
years, he removed to a neighboring town, as an apprentice. Absent from
the parental roof,--placed in the midst of temptation, and surrounded by
many allurements,--Thomas soon became forgetful of his former
instructions, and his Sabbath-school engagements: instead of connecting
himself with the school, and being found on the form by the side of his
class, he might be seen ranging over the fields, and wandering through
lanes, in company with those whom he had chosen as his associates. One
thing is worthy of remark, and it shows the force of habit, and the power
of early associations: he was regular in his attendance at the Wesleyan
Chapel twice a day. This happened, perhaps, not more from choice than
from a partial restraint which he felt, from the knowledge, that if he
neglected this duty, it would come to the ears of his parents, and not
only grieve them, but bring down on him their displeasure.

Though thus, for a brief space, led away into the sins of youth, Thomas
was far from falling into what would be called gross sins.

The superintendent of the H---- circuit at this time was the Rev. J.R.,
a man who, in the work of the Lord, was instant in season, and out
of season; and who was made very useful, not only by his public
ministrations, but in his numerous and constant private visits among his
flock, and the members of his congregation.

Under a sermon by Mr. R., addressed specially to the young, the subject
of our sketch was powerfully wrought upon by the Holy Spirit, and
awakened to a right sense of his danger as a sinner. But he strove to
banish these convictions, and soon again became careless and indifferent
to the great concerns of his soul's salvation.

About this period Thomas's father, anxious that he should become decided
for God, told him he would send Mr. R. to visit him. But so averse was
Thomas from seeing him, that he declared should Mr. R. walk in at one
door, he would walk out at the other. However, Mr. R. called; and Thomas
did not, and could not, put his threat into execution. Mr. R. urged upon
him the danger of a course of sin,--the necessity and advantages of
seeking God in youth,--and begged him to join his class, which met at
seven o'clock on Sabbath mornings. Thomas promised to go; but when the
morning came he broke his promise, and remained at home. In the
succeeding week Mr. R. again called. Thomas again promised; and on the
following Sabbath met in class for the first time. In about a month after
joining the society, he was enabled to exercise faith in Christ, and
obtained a clear evidence of his acceptance with God: this took place on
a Sabbath evening, in company with one of his religious friends; while
they were pouring out their souls at the throne of grace, light from
heaven beamed upon his soul,--he was enabled to believe.

Connected with Thomas's joining the people of God, there is an incident
not unworthy of mention here. A short time previously he had, with his
elder brother James, paid a visit to their father's house. During that
visit, the subject of union with God's people was strongly urged upon
both of them by their parents. They had each been the subjects of the
Holy Spirit's striving for some time, and were fully awakened to their
danger and duty. While walking through one of the shady lanes situated
between their home and the chapel, and conversing on the subject of
religion, and the necessity of devoting themselves to God, Thomas said,
if James would join the society he would. No immediate result followed;
but about a fortnight before Thomas's connection with the Church, James
had joined the Wesleyans, and had written to his father informing him of
Thomas's promise. It was in consequence of this, that Mr. R. was
requested to call on him; the result of which, through the blessing of
God, was, as the reader has seen, his becoming connected with the Church.

Thomas had joined himself to God's people but a short time, when he
determined, by the advice and invitation of his friends, to become a
Sabbath-school teacher. His experience and success in this sphere of
labor will be best described in his own words: "Soon after my union with
the Wesleyans, I became a teacher in the Sunday-school, which, at that
time, was not very prosperous. Here, as teacher of one of the junior
classes, I strove to do my duty to God and the children placed under my
care. A few of our teachers determined to establish a school at I----, a
small village about two miles distance from H----, in which the Wesleyans
had preaching at a private house, and a class of five members, to whom I
willingly gave my assistance. But where should we get a room? was the
next question to be solved. After some difficulty on this point, we got
the use of an old barn; but which, by the way, had no window in it, and
was consequently so dark, that we were obliged to keep the door
constantly open, and, it being winter season, we found it very cold. Yet
even this was too good to last long, for we were soon told that we could
not have the barn any longer, and we were, therefore, obliged to look out
for another place. Our next remove was to a different part of the
village, to a room over some stables, the floor of which, besides having
sundry large holes in it, was so rotten that we were obliged to range the
children around by the walls, fearing lest the floor should give way from
their weight, if placed in the centre. Even in such a place as this, our
school increased from twenty to forty.

"After remaining in this room for some months, I may say truly, in
continual fear of our lives, we removed to a much more commodious place,
offered us by a Mr. H----, the only person in the village who was in
circumstances of ease. But his love after a time grew cold, and we were
surprised on our arrival one Sunday, to find that, without giving us the
slightest intimation of his intention to do so, he had turned out forms,
boxes of books, and all our paraphernalia, and locked the door; alleging
as a reason, to the persons who lived at the next house--members of our
society--that he wanted the place for potatoes; but to do him justice, I
must add, that the room did not see a potato for many months after. I
have before stated that we had preaching at the village, in a private
house; the persons in whose house the service was held, were, I should
say, both past sixty. They were poor, but excellent people. At the same
hour with our school, the class used to meet at their house; and as they
had only two rooms, it met in the one in which preaching was held. But no
sooner did these good old people hear of our being turned out of our
place, than they at once--before our arrival--got the forms and books
into their house, and seated and arranged the children; so that you may
judge of our surprise, when, on finding ourselves shut out from the one
place, we were so unexpectedly put into the other. These noble-minded
Christians consented that the class should meet in their sleeping-room,
and that we should have the use of the other for our school. We could not
allow such generous and self-denying devotion for the cause of God to go
unrewarded, and we therefore determined to pay them a small sum per annum
for the use of the room.

"I have not done with our difficulties yet. The road leading to the
village was anything but a good one; indeed, in the winter it was very
bad: so that, though in summer we could get plenty of teachers, yet when
winter came we could get none, and the whole concern of the school then
fell upon three or four. In the midst of our discouragements, one of our
superintendents left us. The other was taken ill, and was prevented from
being with us for six months. I was nominated to the office of our friend
who had left, and excepting when a substitute could be found--which was
not very often--I had to take the place of our sick one also: add to this
the fact that we had only two other teachers who regularly attended, and
you will see that our difficulties were of no light character. Often have
I been at our little school with only one teacher and myself; and,
indeed, at length things were come to such a crisis, that I said on my
return home one afternoon, 'I will go no more; I'll give it all up,' But
my friends reasoned with, and showed me the impropriety of such a
decision; they told me that as the school was now entirely dependent
upon myself for support, I should be much to blame if I gave it up. I
listened to their advice, and continued to discharge my duties as well as
I was able."

"Beware of desperate steps; the darkest day,
Live till to-morrow, 't will have pass'd away."

So sang Cowper, and so it proved in the case of I---- school!

"I determined," writes the subject of our narrative, "not to abandon the
school. I made its position a matter of earnest prayer; canvassed our
people for teachers; and God raised us up friends, so that soon we had a
supply of teachers, and things went on smoothly. And here I would remark,
that during the lack of teachers the attendance of the children was most
gratifying, considering that most of them had to come a distance of from
one to two miles, through roads which a 'Londoner' would consider almost,
if not quite, impassable.

"Our little school, from this time, began to attract some notice, and we
had an examination or two, had sermons preached, and gave the children an
annual treat. This mode of procedure we found absolutely necessary; so
that, by coming out prominently, we might draw the attention of our
friends, and so reach their pockets.

"Our school continuing to prosper, we began to talk about a chapel, and
several subscriptions were promised toward it; but in consequence of the
landowner's antipathy to Methodism, we could not obtain a spot of ground
to build upon. The death of the landowner, some time after, obviated the
difficulty; a suitable site was obtained, and a chapel built, in which, a
few years after, I had the pleasure of addressing the children on one of
their festive occasions. The scene had changed, the new chapel which had
been erected was well attended, the school prosperous, and the blessing
of God evidently rested upon the place."

In my former narrative I made a remark or two on the evils and dangers
to which a young man is exposed in coming to the metropolis, and the
dreadful consequences to which a yielding to them leads. Those remarks
will, I think, be fully borne out in the case of Thomas; for, although,
by the preserving grace of God, he was kept from all gross and outward
sins, yet it will be seen that he lost the sweets and comforts of
religion, which before he had possessed. But I will give his own account
of his residence in London.

"I have said," he writes in continuation, "that in the beginning of 18--
I removed to London: but I should have remarked, that, for some time
previous to my leaving H----, I was impressed with the conviction that it
was my duty to be engaged in a more prominent sphere of labor in the
Church. This impression received countenance and strength from the fact,
that several persons connected with the society urged such a step upon
me. I had for some months been accustomed to accompany a very excellent
friend of mine, a local preacher, to his appointments in the country, and
now and then to take part of the service: but by natural temperament, my
youth, my inexperience, together with the overwhelming feelings of
responsibility which I attached to the office, prevented my acceding to
the request of my friends that I would preach; until just a month before
my leaving for London, when I made an essay at the house in which our
school was held, at I----. Had I remained in the country, it is likely
that I should have continued in the work of calling sinners to
repentance; but on coming to town, I had not moral courage to obey the
dictates of my conscience, and to offer myself for this work. I shall
repent this step as long as I live!

"I had not been in London a week, before I succeeded in procuring a
situation in a very respectable house on the Surrey side of the Thames;
and being nearer to Southwark than any other Wesleyan Chapel, I decided
on making that my place of worship. Here again I fell into error. I did
not, as I had been warned and entreated to do--and as I knew I ought to
do--join myself to a class at once; but, at the end of a month or six
weeks, I connected myself with one which met in the vestry, at seven
o'clock on Sunday mornings, and for about eight or ten months I went on
pretty well; but when winter came, I was not regular in my attendance,
and as every one acquainted with the benefits of class-meetings will
judge, was not so prosperous in my soul's health.

"Nor was this the only error into which I fell during my stay in town. I
fell into others which have often proved fatal to the piety of youth,
and, but for the amazing goodness of God, would have proved so to me. One
of these was the evil of itching ears. I could not be contented with my
own place of worship, and our own ministers: but must be running here and
there, to hear Dr. So-and-so, or Mr. Somebody; or, when indisposed to
ramble after popular men, must go to this or that church or chapel, to
see some beauty or peculiarity which it was said to possess: thus a kind
of spiritual dissipation was kept up, which was far from being beneficial
to growth in grace. Instead of going to the house of God that the soul
might be fed with the bread of heaven, it was too frequently the case
that I went to gratify a taste for curiosity, or to get an intellectual
feast. Another error into which I fell, and that, too, a serious one, was
indolence. I was in no way employed for God. Instead of taking my seat in
the Sabbath-school, or going from house to house as a distributer of
tracts, or being in some way or another employed for God, I stood aloof
from all, and preferred idleness to employment. And in thus acting I
sinned against my conscience. I have before stated what were my
convictions respecting preaching; but fear kept me from that path of
duty. I ought to have been engaged in the Sabbath-school; but constant
and excessive confinement--our hours of business being from seven to nine
in the winter, and from seven to half-past ten in summer--and the alleged
want of fresh air, were pleaded as an excuse for not engaging in this

"I cannot reflect on this period of my life without painful emotion. When
I think of the precious time murdered, time which might, and which ought
to have been employed for the glory of God,--I am filled with sorrow. O,
had I been faithful; had I but improved the grace imparted; had I yielded
to the strivings of the Spirit, and the convictions of my conscience, I
should, I am confident of it, now have been occupying a different
position in the Church, and should at this moment have been in the
possession of more vital godliness. These are painful reflections: yet I
trust they are not without their benefits, for they lead me to humility
before God, and I hope will ever have the effect of keeping me
distrustful of self, and dependent upon God alone.

"But to go on with my narrative. After about fifteen months' residence in
London, my health began to fail, from the labor and confinement of my
situation; and at the expiration of nineteen months, I was under the
necessity of quitting the metropolis, and returning to my native county.
Here I again took up my residence with my late employer, at Y----, with
whom I remained about five months.

"I had never, during the whole of my stay in London, been free from the
conviction that it was my duty to call 'sinners to repentance;' and I
made a solemn vow, that should God again lead me to my native place, I
would at once offer myself to the Church. Now came the trial. 'Remember
your vow,' said my conscience. 'You are not well enough yet; wait till
you have got better,' answered inclination: and as there was much truth
in the answer--my friends, together with myself, for some time thinking
me in a consumption--inclination was listened to. But as I grew better,
conscience was not so easily silenced, and a mental conflict was for some
time kept up, which is more easily felt than described; and such was its
effect upon me, that I began again to sink, and to get very ill.

"Well do I remember the day on which I became decided. It was on a
Sabbath evening: I had been hearing a very faithful and powerful sermon
from the Rev. Mr. G----, on the responsibility of individual Christians,
and the duty of all to be employed for God. I saw my duty, and felt that
I was grieving the Spirit by the course I was pursuing. I determined that
I would open my mind to a friend with whom I was spending the evening. I
did so; and the counsel I received was, 'Parley with temptation no
longer; but to-morrow go to Mr. G., and open your mind to him,' 'I cannot
do that,' said I. 'Then write to your leader,' answered my friend. This
was just the advice I wanted; and I determined, by the help of God, to
act upon it.

"Monday evening, at the close of business, I retired to my room; and
after earnest prayer, commenced a letter to my leader. It was nearly
finished: but on reading it over I was not pleased with its composition,
and tearing it in pieces, commenced another. The agony of my mind was now
at its height: my head seemed ready to burst; my brain was bewildered,
and I was in a state bordering on distraction! While I write I seem
almost to pass through this agony again. I finished a second letter! What
I said in it I no more know than a child: I feared to read it over, lest
I should be displeased with and destroy it, as I did the former. I at
once sealed it up, and thrust it out of sight. I then threw myself on the
bed, where I lay for a considerable time, till the exquisite excitement
of the struggle being over, I retired to rest, thankful to God for the
victory I had gained. In the morning my first work was to send the letter
to my leader: after which I had another struggle with the powers of
darkness. 'You cannot retract now,' whispered the enemy. 'You have done
it; and now where are your sermons to come from? You know you have only
two in the world: suppose you should make a failure in your first
attempt, what a fool you would look like! how you would get laughed at!'
But the step was taken, and I rejoiced to feel that I had done my duty: a
load which had long been too heavy for me was removed, and I felt
altogether a new man.

"I fear I have been tiresome; but I will now soon conclude. I was
proposed at the local preachers' meeting, accepted, preached several
times before the brethren, with some degree of acceptance; and after
remaining about four months in Y----, from the period referred to, my
health being re-established, I again removed to the metropolis, where my
name was regularly inserted on the plan. Having passed my examination in
the usual way, I was received into full connection as a local preacher. I
need not tell you that I am now fully occupied in this blessed work; that
my happiest hours are those spent in it; that, were it the will of God,
I am willing to live and die in the work."

Thomas is now a local preacher in one of the London circuits; and
although by his occupation he is necessarily prevented from much study,
being in business, as unfortunately most young men are, from early in the
morning till late at night, he is, nevertheless, an acceptable, and, it
is hoped, a useful preacher.



The third brother, George, remained in M---- school for some years after
the elder brothers had left. As a scholar he was well-behaved and
attentive; and after conducting himself with propriety for a considerable
period, he was appointed a teacher. He had not long been thus engaged
before, during a gracious revival of religion in the circuit, he became
deeply impressed with the necessity of salvation, and determined to seek
the forgiveness of his sins. He joined the Wesleyan society, and after a
short period, professed to have obtained peace with God through Christ,
and the remission of sins through faith in his blood.

Shortly after he had joined the Wesleyan society, he was sent for some
months to a boarding-school in a neighboring town. At that period the
Rev. J.B. was one of the resident Wesleyan ministers. Mr. B. had, a
little time previous, preached a sermon to the young; and at the close of
the service had invited those young people who were not connected with
any church, and who were determined to begin to serve God, to meet him on
the ensuing Thursday evening. Thirty came, whom he formed into a class,
and continued to meet while he remained in the circuit. To this class
George united himself; and the instructions and kindness of this devoted
minister, exercised a beneficial influence on his character and conduct.
By the grace of God he was enabled to persevere amidst the enticements of
his youthful associates, and to keep a conscience void of offense
towards God and man.

Soon after this, he was removed from the parental roof, and placed with a
local preacher at B., as an apprentice. Here his religious experience
deepened, and he enjoyed more of the favor and love of God; continuing
instant in prayer, and adorning the doctrine of God his Saviour. His
Sabbaths were indeed days of rest; but not the rest of the idle, for he
engaged heartily in the duties of the Sabbath-school, and was a regular
and punctual teacher. Some of his friends, who knew the state of his
health, were rather opposed to his leisure moments being thus occupied,
and considered that he ought to take exercise and recreation in the open
air. Such were not his views. He shortly had to remove from business for
a time, and to take one or two sea voyages, which happily restored him to
his former health, and enabled him to return to his duties.

After exercising as a prayer-leader as well as a teacher for some time,
he became impressed with the conviction that it was his duty and
privilege to preach the gospel. He was encouraged to proceed, and his
name placed on the local preachers' plan. He then ceased to attend the

In a letter to a brother, George observes: "I can scarcely remember
anything of serious impressions while at school; though, I doubt not, the
instructions I there received had a salutary influence upon my mind. If I
remember rightly, several of the elder children were converted during the
revival at M.; and most of those who continued steadfast were, or had
been, connected with the school, either as teachers or scholars."

George was not satisfied with his attainments in the divine life, but
sought to possess higher enjoyments and more extensive usefulness,--"to
deeper sink, and higher rise, and to perfection grow." He was soon
enabled to testify that "the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth from all
sin;" and had much delightful evidence that to be more holy was to become
more happy and useful. He labors devotedly and successfully as a local
preacher, and is determined to live to the glory of God.



Having now brought my sketches to a conclusion, I would here make a few
remarks, before I take leave of my reader. First: the benefits resulting
from Sabbath-schools are not confined to those which are present and
palpable. How often do we hear of children leaving the school, and going
out into the world, without any apparent effect being produced in their
minds; but yet, in the course of time, through the blessing of God, the
most beneficial results have appeared from these instructions.

Not a few instances of boys who have been excluded on account of bad
conduct, but who have been brought to the knowledge of the truth, through
the blessing of God upon the instructions received in the Sabbath-school,
have been laid before the public. And who will say, that in many cases
where there seems no connection whatever between the instruction and the
conversion of the individual, no such connection exists? It is my firm
conviction that a person who has received instruction in a Sabbath-school
is much more likely to receive the truth in the love of it, than is the
individual who has been brought up in complete ignorance of the truths of
the gospel. The heart and understanding of the former may be compared to
the ground broken up, and prepared for the seed; while those of the
latter are like the field through which the plow has never passed, and
the face of which has never been prepared; to sow seed on which is, in
general, to cast it upon "stony ground, where" it is either picked up by
the "birds of the air," or, should it chance to take root, soon "withers
away, because it has no deepness of earth."

Secondly: if no positive good resulted from Sabbath-schools, the amount
of negative good produced would be sufficient to compensate for all the
labor and toil of the teachers, and to warrant their continuance and
support. How much Sabbath-breaking is prevented by these instructions! A
very great proportion of those children who attend Sabbath-schools would,
but for them, be spending their time in running about the streets, and
in profaning the Lord's day; and, by the unholy companionships which they
must form, into how much of profligacy and vice would they be led! Is it
true on the one hand, "train up a child in the way he should go; and when
he is old, he will not depart from it?" Then it is equally true, that if
a child be trained up in the way in which he should not go, when he is
old, he is not likely to depart from it! So that by the prevention of
Sabbath-breaking, and its consequent train of evils, you actually lessen
the amount of crime in riper years. Children _will_ be educated; and if
the _people of God_ do not educate them for _their_ Master, and train
them for heaven, the servants of the _devil will_ not be slow in
educating them _for theirs_, and in training them for hell! I conceive
that none, save the _Tractarians of Oxford, and their party_, will deny
the beneficial moral influence which such Sabbath instruction has exerted
upon our teeming population. Go to the gloomy prisons, and search in the
lonely cells for those wretched beings who through crime have become
their inhabitants, and make the inquiry as to who are the tenants of
those places; and the result of that inquiry will be, an overwhelming
majority stands on the side of the ignorant--of those who never had the
benefits of Sabbath-school instruction. Search into the history of those
poor wretches who people our "Union Houses," and you will find that but
few of them enjoyed the benefits of Sabbath-school instruction. And it
may be relied on as a fact, that in the black catalogue of the annals of
crime comparatively few are to be found who were instructed in
Sabbath-schools. Let Sabbath-schools become universal, let proper
teachers be provided for the children, and let religious instruction of
an orthodox character be instilled into their minds, and next to the
preaching of the gospel, it will do more towards the establishment of the
reign of grace--towards the universal reign of Christ--than any one thing

Thirdly: let it be known that the immediate, positive results of
Sabbath-school instruction, are incalculable! Scores, yea hundreds,
have, during their connection with them, been soundly converted to God.
Hundreds and thousands date their conversion from the instructions and
admonitions received at those noble institutions; and not a few of the
most devoted missionaries, illustrious divines, laborious commentators,
and translators of the Bible, and most popular preachers of the age, have
been among those very persons who owed--and have rejoiced to own that
they owed--their conversion to Sabbath-school instrumentality.

I cannot take leave of the reader, without adverting for a moment to an
objection which may be raised with reference to the subjects of the
preceding narrative.

Some persons, perhaps, may be ready to say, that in all probability these
brothers would have become what they are, had they never seen a
Sabbath-school. To this objection I answer: That such a position would
prove fatal to all instrumental means of salvation. God could,
undoubtedly, save man without any instrumentality whatever. He _could_,
we say, do this; but such is not God's method of procedure; and we are
therefore justified in believing, that to the various instrumentalities
in operation is the salvation of man attributable: and if so, why should
we deny that God can and does bless the labors of Sabbath-school
teachers, and, through their instrumentality, render Sabbath-schools
channels of salvation to many?

I will only add,--and I rejoice that I am able to do so,--that each of
the brothers is now actively engaged in the work of God. James is the
superintendent and manager of a Wesleyan Sunday-school; and in point of
perseverance, and constancy in the prosecution of duty, he is quite a
pattern. Thomas and George are very acceptable local preachers in the
Wesleyan connection. May they ever be zealous in every good work, and
have grace to continue faithful unto the end.

"He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless
come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him." Psalm cxxvi,

"Cast thy bread upon the waters; for thou shalt find it after many days."
Eccles. xi, 1.


The following letter has been put into the writer's hands since the
preceding pages were in the press, and will be read with deep interest,
as containing an account of the death of one of the teachers of
T---- street school, from the pen of her brother, James's colleague:--

"My beloved sister entered into the joy of her Lord about half-past
twelve this morning. I sat up in company with Mrs. B. and another
friend--it was a delightful night, there was a calm and cloudless sky,
and the full moon shone in at the window in spite of the blind and
rush-light. I rose at last, and extinguished it, and drew up the blind;
it was a beautiful and a solemn sight! I shall never forget it. Jessy
found it hard work to breathe, and at times, I almost indulged a wish
that she might be speedily released. But I did not dare to pray for life
or death; 'Thy will be done,' was my motto, and all was well. Seeing her
eyes often turned upward, I spoke, and pointed upward,

'Yonder's your house and portion fair;'

she hesitated a moment, and then added,--'M--y tr--easure--and--my HEART
are there.'

"At another time, observing her in great pain for the want of breath, and
at the same time moving her lips in silent prayer or praise, I said,--'As
thy day, so shall thy strength be,' She replied with feeling, 'Yes.' At
another time we understood her to say 'Jesus,' with something like energy
in her voice; but whether in prayer or praise we could not decide, as the
voice was thick, and rather indistinct, although loud, and many words
could not be understood because of this.

"The last word I caught was 'Glory,' and a very appropriate one it was to
bid adieu to this lower world, and enter that which is above. I attempted
to move her head a little, in order to let her see the beautiful moon
once more, as it shone on every part of her, except just the forehead and
eye; when she said, 'Don't bring me back from heaven,' and when we could
not understand her words, we were convinced by the tone of her voice that
pleasure and joy reigned within. Her hands had been for some time down by
her sides; but a few minutes before death she raised them gently up, and
clasping them together, seemed by her motions to commend her soul to
Jesus. O! I shall never forget that scene: there lay the dying saint
before my face,--it was the solemn, still hour of midnight--the calm
serene without beautifully harmonized with the scene within. The virgin
was ready, with her lamp trimmed, and the cry came, 'Behold the
bridegroom cometh; go ye forth to meet him,' The summons was obeyed, and
the faithful servant entered into the joy of her Lord.

"As regards my own feelings, I was without agitation; and that sweet,
sweet peace, which is the peculiar property of the people of God, kept my
heart and mind: but when the spirit had fled I felt a little excitement,
and could have disturbed the house by shouting her dying word, Glory!

"She selected a verse for the funeral sermon; it is the last in the
seventh of Revelation: 'For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne
shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters; and
God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.'"


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