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The New Zealand Evangelist

The Sunday School — No. 1.—First Impressions.

page 35

The Sunday School

No. 1.—First Impressions.

On a fine sunny Sunday, in the beginning, of June, 182—, a youth found himself for the first time within the walls of a Sunday School. With all the light-heartedness of youth, and the self-importance of seventeen, he had also his full share of that dim unconsciousness of purpose, that vague, dreaming un-reality which so characterizes that fair but thoughtless period of life. Yet there he was, scarcely knowing why, having some indistinct idea that Sunday Schools were “places in which poor children were taught to read,” and that as he happened to have acquired that art himself, it would be right in him to communicate it to others. As to religion—why as he had none himself, he could not be very anxious to teach that, and perhaps had he distinctly perceived beforehand the religious character of the institution, he would not have been found there then. But there I repeat he was, and a few words from the Superintendent impressed him at once with the character and the importance of the work he was about to undertake. By degrees so rapid as to leave no trace of their progress, he found his mind filled with emotions altogether new. The feeling of awkwardness so inseparable from such an introduction soon wore off. The whispered criticisms of the boys on the “new teacher” were soon suppressed or ceased, and when school for the day had ended, and he had joined in the devotional service with which it was concluded, and the teachers had pressed round their new associate greeting him with cheerful looks and words of welcome, not only was the current of his thoughts completely changed, but he felt himself shrunk into a most painful nothingness. He had page 36 been accustomed in his family and among his lately quitted school-mates to be regarded as a “Sir Oracle,” but now he found himself only one among more than forty—and that one the least. At the same time he was conscious of a strange but most earnest desire to be useful in his new vocation, and although not conversant enough with Scripture language to say “who is sufficient for these things,” still that was his feeling as with a heavy heart he sought his home.

Before leaving the school, the Superintendent had given him a copy of the Teacher's Magazine. He read it with feelings of thrilling interest. A new world seemed opening upon him. He found that Sunday Schools were an organization, and their teachers a phalanx, and being invited to attend meetings of teachers, conference meetings, and so forth, he found to his unutterable surprise, but with wild throbbing delight, that in the midst of “merry England,” even in the bustling throng of London, there were thousands of simple minded, but earnest men, who made education their study—teaching their business—and the Sunday School their home. His heart bounded at the idea. He was no longer alone! He was one of a mighty host—an integral portion there of, however small, and as the grand idea took possession of his mind, he sprang onwards and took his place in the army's midst, where for many long years he was found, “faint yet pursuing.”

Sunday School Teacher, take “heart of grace.” True, thou art oft times almost borne down by the wearing anxieties, the onerous burden of the much loved work, but apart from the thought that—

“Poor though thou art, despised, forgot,
“Yet God, thy God, forgets thee not!”

there is also this that thou and such as thyself form this great section of the army, in which the King of Kings, the Captain of Salvation, “sits as chief, and which under him goes forth conquering, and to conquer.” This, this is thy position, thy happy lot, for say, Teacher! Brother! have not some such feelings been thine?