« PreviousContinue »
improper ones. By being properly supplied, they escape the temptation to idleness, and vain thoughts, and foolish talking; their minds are improved, and conversation furnished. A minister of religion can in this way bring home the ministry of advice, and reproof, and comfort.
"Parish libraries would be an useful institution. Reading forms the mind. influence of books at the Reformation was mighty, and is at all times great. In the dawn of knowledge, it was an object with Leighton, and others, to supply the clergy with books. By private and circulating libraries, the middle ranks are now supplied; by a Parish Library, knowledge would descend. Under a minister's direction, poisonous books would be excluded, and good ones chosen, suited to the young, the thoughtless, the busy, the sick, the mourner, the melancholy, the aged. An appetite for controversy will subside when better food is provided.
"The expense of such a plan, if properly
explained and recommended, would perhaps be defrayed in some parishes by landholders, or well disposed individuals. Religious ladies who minister kindly and liberally to the bodily wants and diseases of the poor, would minister with equal kindness and liberality to the wants and diseases of their souls. Clergymen who have any thing to spare for alms (and they should deny themselves, in order to spare a little) might bestow it on food for the mind. The most pressing temporal wants are usually supplied by poorrates and individual compassion, while wants of the mind have been hitherto less considered. There would be a new motive for writing practical treatises suited to the times. The Puritans, who excelled in this kind of writing, adapted religious instruction to their own day. Since they wrote, a century has elapsed; knowledge has been increased; language, and taste, and manners, and circumstances, both private and national, have undergone a change. By adapting religious instruction in sermons and books to actual circumstances, mankind may be prepared
for the purity and simplicity of genuine Christianity.
The composition of such works may not lead to literary fame and emolument, nor will it interest persons to whom those attainments are ruling objects. But to many country ministers it might relieve the languor of solitary hours; it might prevent unclerical company and pastimes, attach them to the closet, and furnish suitable conversation with one another. By practical writings, the general good is promoted, the ministerial character is sustained, and a considerable degree of personal honour is reflected on the man, who thus redeems his leisure hours, and consecrates them to the service of his creator and of his fellow creatures,
October 17, 1807.
Extract from an Account of the BISHOP of DROMORE'S Sunday Schools. By GEORGE AUST, Esq.
In the Sunday Schools which the Bishop of Dromore has established in his neighbourhood, children of all persuasions are admitted, and in considerable numbers. On a Sunday, when I visited the Bishop last autumn, there were above 100 children assembled on the lawn in the front of his Lordship's palace, half a mile from the town of Dromore; and they were all carefully examined and rewarded according to their merits. I have since learnt that they frequently assemble there in far greater numbers; and I have received the following particulars concerning the establishment of these schools.
There are five Sunday Schools in the rish of Domrore; two of them entirely sup
ported by the Bishop. He contributes to the three others, giving occasionally to them all, books and other premiums. Twenty years have passed, since he first established them. Having for some months tried the effect of a certain number of children of the different religious persuasions, he had a meeting of some of his own Clergy at an examination of the Schools, uniting with them the Roman Catholic Priest, and two Dissenting Ministers of different congregations, called here old and new lights.* With them was settled a plan of instruction, for instilling the fundamental principles of Christianity, chiefly taken from our Church Catechism; and for teaching them their duty to God and their neighbour; impressing them with a particular abhorrence of lying and theft.-The effect has answered his most sanguine expectations; the surrounding peasantry being now remarkable for their truth and honesty.
* The Old Lights strictly adhere to the Calvinist Doctrine. Both agree in the same Presbyterian Church