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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 1

Voluntary Labor

Voluntary Labor.

Again, it has been thought that ministers of the Gospel should undertake the task. And many praiseworthy instances can be adduced of ministers giving a portion of their time and strength to the providing of religious instruction [unclear: in town] page 12 and country schools throughout the land. Ministers of various denominations have also met in conference on the subject on several occasions in the principal towns. They met so in Christ church in 1883. A concerted effort was made in Dunedin in 1882 to give religious instruction in several of the city schools, with the consent of the authorities. The late Rev Lindsay Mackie, for example, in addition to the multifarious duties of a large city congregation, undertook a large class in the Normal School. In a year or so the ministers so engaged found they had all to give it up. Bishop Moorhouse, late of Melbourne, has proved that it is utterly impossbie for clergymen to visit the schools from week to week to the extent of their parishes, and train them in religion. And the reasons are not far to seek. In the first place attendance is to a large extent, optional. Then, for any one else than the master to undertake the instruction of a number of children of the different standards, withont the aid of school discipline, will be found a difficult task, and this, either before or after school-hours, and from year to year. Besides, the children who avail themselves of such efforts, are as a rule, those who are a'ready receiving some religious instruction. The neglected children of careless parents are still unreached, and the evil of their ignorance of essential truths is still unremedied. There are over 80,000 scholars in our State schools, and it is a very small fraction of these that has been reached by ministers of religion. How can it be otherwise? In a country like this, if no encouragement is given by the authorities, voluntary effort of this kind may be carried on under many disadvantages.