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Series of Instruction Books for Sunday Schools,
BISHOP OF ALBANY.
Manual of Christian Doctrine,
ACCORDING TO THE CHURCH CATECHISM, ADAPTED TO
“Rooted and built up in HIM, and stablished in
THE FAITH.”-Co. if. 7.
14 AND 16 ASTOR PLACE.
THE FUNCTION OF THE SUNDAY-SCHOOL, THE plan of these Manuals is based on a theory of the true function of the Sunday-School, which is briefly this : First, That the Sunday School is the gathering place from which to lead the children directly to Divine Service every Sunday ; and Second, That it is a place for preparing the children for the public catechizing which is supposed to follow in Divine Service every Sunday; and that the course of instruction should therefore have for its outline the authoritative teaching of the Church in her Catechism. .
There is nothing new in these principles. Fifty years ago no one ever dreamt of calling them in question. Today they sadly need to be reasserted and emphasized. With brighter services and better music there ought to be no great difficulty in their enforcement.
Something may be fitly said here on each of these functions of the Sunday School
1. The Sunday-School must not be made a “Children's Church.” In this connection the present writer would most earnestly enter his protest against all “Sunday-School Liturgies,” so-called, and every other form of Sunday-School service (except, of course, the few and brief devotions necessary to call down God's blessing on the work of instruction). Elaborate services, conducted without vestments, and in a half-secular room, are utterly foreign to the spirit of the Church. They act as substitutes for, and encourage non-attendance at the Church Services, besides breeding a low idea of the dignity and purpose of public worship. One of the saddest features in our ordinary congregations is the absence of the children. Even in God's ancient Church children had their place beside their parents and elders in synagogue and temple. And the Church of Christ sanctions no such unnatural divorce of the child from “ the great congregation" as that which has lately grown up among us.
If the Sunday-School is held in the morning then let the children be brought directly to the Church. If in the afternoon then let them be brought to evening prayer, and let catechizing take the place of the second sermon. Or if evening prayer be said later, then let such a service as that on p. 12 for a first evensong be used, the Church's
Prayer Book being alone employed. There is no instruction that can take the place of the Church's solemn service. Seeing and hearing and joining in the reverent worship of God will do more to intensify and enlighten Christian faith than any merely didactic system whatever. Thus only can be acquired that fixed, inwrought and ingrained reverence of thought and manner, which instinctively loves the hab. itation of God's house all through the after life.
2. The second function of the Sunday-School is to prepare the children for the public catechizing, which should follow whenever practicable every Lord's Day. Much as the Church's teachings are ignored on this head, she herself has spoken with no indistinct or doubtful voice. Both in rubric and in canon she enjoins the duty of systematic and public catechizing by the clergy. “ T'he Min. ister of every Parish," she orders, “shall diligently upon Sundays and Holy Days, or on some other convenient occasions, openly in the Church, instruct and examine so many children of his Parish, sent unto him, as he shall think con. venient, in some part of this Catechism." All teachers are, in the Church's view, simply the agents and helpers of the min. ister for this purpose. They are to catechize into the children what he is afterwards to catechize out of them. He is the solely responsible public teacher of young as well as old in his cure. Christ's first command to him is, “ Feed My lambs" ; His second, “Feed My sheep." And our Lord's estimate of the two kinds of work is seen in the conditions which He imposes for each. For while for the second He asks the question, “Lovest thou Me ?” for the first He asks, “ Lovest thou Me more than these ?” Surely then we are justified in claiming for the art of catechizing a position equal if not superior to the art of preaching.
And the basis and framework of all teaching of the young, the Church tells us with equal plainness, is “this Catechism.” Holy Scripture is to be made the proof of our teaching and not the basis. There we are to find our reasons and our illustrations, but in the Catechism we are to find the Church's authoritative interpretation and her analogical chart or compendious outline. What St, Luke says of his own gospel is true of all Scripture. Its purpose is not that thou mayest find thy faith there, but “that thou mayest know the certainty of those things wherein thou hast (already) been instructed,” or as the Greek has it "catechized.” In other words and as a matter of fact, the Faith always precedes the Scriptures. “We receive our
religion from the Church,” says Dean Hook, “ we prove our religion from the Bible."
Even as a matter of mere economy and expediency there is no time in the brief space allowed in the Sunday-School to make our children thorough Bible scholars. The Bible is a life-long study, and the Church by her almost prodigal use of it in Divine Service, gives ample opportunity for its intelligent comprehension in later life. You cannot teach a child geography by sending it all around the world on a voyage of discovery. The child will learn more by studying its maps at home with the privilege of occasional excursions. This is equally true in regard to God's Word. The Catechism and the Church-Year are the true maps of the Bible. Let them be used as such from week to week, employing Holy Writ, especially its stories and parables, as the proofs and illustrations of the Church's dogmatic teaching. To know the value of the Jewish shekel, or the age of some patriarch, or the name of the mother of some Jewish king, this is not to know the Bible. The boy or girl who has an intelligent comprehension of the Church Catechism knows infinitely more about that holy book than one who, without such aid, has read the Bible through from Genesis to Revelation.
The following Manuals being simply an enlargement of the Church Catechism, adapted to the Christian Year, and graded for three classes of scholars, are an attempt to make these principles practicable.
It may be well also to state here that the fuller teaching on the Holy Catholic Church and the Prayer Book is simply an effort to fulfil the requirements of Title I., Canon 21, which reads, “ The Ministers of this Church who have charge of parishes or cures, shall not only be diligent in in. structing the children in the Catechism, but shall also, by stated catechetical lectures and instructions, be diligent in informing the youth in the Doctrine, Constitution, and Lit. urgy of the Church.”
In the preparation of these manuals much of the matter has been taken from Mr. Sadler's excellent book, “The Church Teacher's Manual,” though in many cases the questions thus taken have been re-arranged. The rest is for the most part original. The adaptation to the Christian Year, the arrangement of illustrations and texts, and the division of the lessons into sections are entirely new; as are also the four lessons on the Holy Catholic Church and those on the Communion of Saints (except seven questions), and on the Prayer Book.