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rejoined the servant, looking sternly at his master, "what is that to you if I had a mind to venture that? "You had removed my greatest terror; why should "I fear the less ?"
Behold the wisdom of propagating infidelity and atheism in a nation! As the middle and lower orders of mankind are always ready to imitate the behaviour of their betters, this is one woful specimen, among millions, of the manner in which the general corruption of faith and morals has descended, and infected the world. We must now, therefore, take up the matter at the other end, and try, if by reforming the poor, we cannot shame the rich into better manners and better principles. And for our encouragement, in opposition to the instance of a master perverting his servant, let us recollect that mentioned in the Scriptures of a female servant, who waited on the wife of Naaman, a general officer of the Syrians, and converted her master to the worship and belief of the God of Israel. To the poor the Gospel was at first preached: to the poor let it still be preached. The rich must do as they please; but for the promotion of their interest, temporal and eternal, they cannot do better, than to believe and practise it themselves, and to see that every body belonging to them does the same. God defend all masters from free-thinking servants! and all servants from freethinking masters!
The foregoing considerations have been of a more general nature. It is time now to note the peculiari
2 Kings, v. 2.
ties which distinguish the institution of SUNDAY SCHOOLS, and recommend them to particular notice and encouragement. These have already been set forth to great advantage by a worthy clergyman in our neighbourhood. I have only to draw his arguments to a point, and state them in as concise a manner to you as I am able, adding withal what may have occurred to myself in the way of confirmation or illustration.
It is to be observed, then, first, that when the managers of all other charitable foundations have done their best, numbers of children must still be left in ignorance, being employed from morning to evening, during six days of the week, and all little enough to earn the bread they are to eat. Their case therefore is desperate, unless we contrive to give them on a Sunday that instruction which they can obtain on no other day.
II. By appropriating the charitable fund to the use of Sunday alone, numbers may be comprehended (perhaps all the poor children in a place) who stand in need of such assistance: whereas a very few only could be benefited, at the same expense, for the whole week.
III. Sunday being a day of rest from the labour of the hands, from worldly business of all sorts (for such it ought to be among Christians), we are the more at liberty to employ it in the opening of the
The Rev. Mr. Moore, of Boughton Blean, in his Sermon on the subject, and the excellent and very useful Appendix subjoined to it.
understanding and improvement of the heart, which is the proper employment of the day. And blessed are they who do so employ the hours which remain after the attendance on public worship is over. One of the great lights of the law, in the last century, Lord Chief Justice Hale, went so far as to say, and has left it upon record, in his instructions to his children, that he never failed to experience the kindly influence of a well spent Sunday, on the business of the succeeding week. He supposed (and I know of no good reason to be given why we should suppose otherwise) that, by the devout exercises of such a Sunday, the mind and the temper were formed and prepared to encounter the fatigues and difficulties which might occur; as also, that the favour of Heaven was a natural consequence of having kept its commandments. Give me leave, therefore, to take this opportunity of entreating you to consider, whether the face of things would not be very soon and very much altered for the better among us, if each master of a family should resolve to institute a kind of SUNDAY SCHOOL (if I may so speak) in his own house, and dedicate the evening of the Lord's day to the instruction of his children and his servants in matters of religion. I am not pleading for a Jewish or a puritanical sabbath, for a sour face or an ill temper. But it seems reasonable, that one evening, at least, out of seven, should be given to this good and necessary work, and
On the design of the Christian sabbath, and the proper manner of observing it, see a very sensible letter in the Supplement to the Gentleman's Magazine for the year 1785, p. 1020.
that Sunday evening should be fixed upon; for unless some time be fixed upon, the work will never be done at all. A man may live fifty years, perhaps, without once recollecting, that it is his duty to take this care of the household over which it has pleased God to place him.
IV. By a SUNDAY SCHOOL a number of children are kept out of harm's way; they are collected together, and inured to early and regular habits of attendance on God's worship; they are instructed in what is right; they are enabled to employ well their leisure hours when they grow up, and teach others after them to do the same. Let me say, that these are very great points gained indeed! For though the observation be trite, it is true, and cannot be too often repeated; that most of those unhappy wretches who suffer for their crimes, when they come to confession, charge their destruction upon the manner in which in the days of their youth they misspent Sunday, while their neighbours were at church. And how can it be otherwise? What wonder that they should turn out bad, who constantly missed the opportunities (the only ones, it may be, which they had) of becoming good? The thing speaks itself. And in confirmation of what was said above respecting families, let it here be added, that more young people of either sex, servants especially, are ruined by being permitted to wander abroad, instead of being well employed at home on a Sunday evening, than on any other. The reason again is plain; because on that evening, for want of the discipline in families above recommended, there is a far greater
number of idle young people stirring, whose sole business is to seduce and corrupt one another. Thus is the holiest of days, beyond any other, polluted and profaned! "If the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!"
V. The children of the poor, by being drawn out of their obscurity into notice and protection, are humanized and civilized. They are equally surprised and pleased, on finding themselves thus regarded, and quickly become different creatures. Their pastor has an opportunity of visiting, addressing them according to their capacities, examining them, commending and rewarding the good and diligent, and reproving those that misbehave themselves. In these circumstances, he is always sure of being attended to with reverence and respect, and every thing he says will be minded. To form early in young minds a proper disposition towards their spiritual father and teacher, is a great acquisition, which must be productive of the best consequences, and would often prevent some of the worst evils with which we are troubled.
Lastly, let it be considered (for, though the consideration be of a less noble kind, it is by no means to be omitted) that by the principles of honesty and industry instilled into them, these children will be disposed, in future, to provide for themselves and their families, the number of paupers will be diminished, and that heavy burthen of poors' rates lightened, which now threatens to overwhelm and crush the nation.