The Anniversary Address to the Scholars of Trinity Church Parish Sunday School, New Haven, June 24th, 1838.
By Harry Croswell.
New Haven: S. Babcock, 1838.
My Dear Children:—
We always feel happy to meet you on the Anniversary-Day of the Sunday School. For, although it reminds us that another year of our life is gone, and that we are one year nearer to the eternal world, yet we hope the year has not been spent in vain; and that the pupils of the school, have advanced in knowledge, as in years, and are every day better fitted and prepared for their heavenly Father’s kingdom.
Every year, some little children are removed from the school, and from this world, by death. We are grieved to part with them; but if they are good children, we know they are much happier in heaven than they can be here; and we ought to submit cheerfully, if God sees fit to call them to himself. Some children are deprived of their parents, or other relatives; and so, in their [3/4] early years, are brought to feel sorrow and affliction. With these we deeply sympathize. But God raises up friends and protectors for them; and if they are diligent in learning, and behave well, and do their duty, we may hope, through the divine blessing, that they will become early disciples of Christ, and finally secure an entrance into the kingdom of glory.
Some of the children have been obliged to leave the school by removal from town; and some, who have been pupils for years, are advanced to the place of Teachers. But, notwithstanding these deductions, the school is still increasing; and we hope, by another year, the number will be much larger.
It gives us great pleasure, too, to see that the “children’s offerings,” for the missionary schools in foreign lands, are on the increase; and that they will probably amount, this year, to sixty or seventy dollars.
Dear Children,—You enjoy a great privilege in being admitted into the church by baptism. Jesus Christ is the head and ruler over the [4/5] church; and when he commanded little children to be brought to him, he intended they should be placed in the church, and instructed in his precepts. And so the church which he founded, has always taken care to provide instruction for the little children, as well as for those who are older, that they may all be brought up according to Christ’s commandment. The ministers, who are bound to teach all the children of their respective parishes, are enabled, by the help of Sunday Schools, to perform this duty much better than they could possibly do it alone. The labor of instruction is divided among a large number of superintendants and teachers, who engage in it as a delightful task; and nothing can give them greater pleasure, than to see the schools filled with attentive pupils; and to see them eager to gain the knowledge which will make them happy here, and secure their happiness hereafter.
You have always been well provided with books of instruction, besides a choice library of reading books, to be carried home, for your amusement and instruction during the week; and the Visitor and Magazine have also had a [5/6] large circulation among you. But, in addition to these, you have lately been furnished with a series of books, designed both for reading and instruction, under the name of the “Young Churchman’s Guide.” And, as I have prepared these books myself, it may be well to spend a few minutes in explaining them, and recommending the use of them to the schools.
These books are called the “Young Churchman’s Guide,”—because they are intended to guide you in knowledge,—to guide you in duty—to guide you in this world—and to guide you to heaven. They are called the Churchman’s Guide,—because all the instruction is framed to suit the doctrines, and order, and worship, of the church to which you belong. And they are called the “Young Churchman’s Guide,”—because they are prepared expressly for the use of children and young people.
It is proper here to remark, that all the instructions in the church are drawn from the Bible, which is the great light of the spiritual world, as the sun is the great light of the natural world: But this instruction is presented to you, [6/7] in the first place, in catechisms and simple lessons, which, like the moon and stars borrowing light from the sun, borrow all their light from the Bible.
Book First, of the Young Churchman’s Guide, is designed for little children, when they first begin to commit lessons to memory, and when they require short reading lessons. In this, very Short Questions and Answers are annexed to the common catechism; so that the youngest child may not only learn them, but may be made to understand their meaning. And then, in the same book, will be found, Instructions for the Worship of God in the Church. These instructions may first be used as reading lessons; and then, as the pupils advance, they may be turned into catechetical exercises. It is important, that children, in their earliest years, should become well acquainted with the services of the church, and should be properly instructed in the use of them. it is the peculiar and distinguished excellence of our church, that we worship by a regular and set form,—so that the youngest persons in the congregation, by attending carefully to the Prayer Book, may understand and join in the worship.
 After the children have been well instructed in this book, then they are to be advanced to Book Second. This book contains a full explanation of the Church Catechism, with practical reflections, and appropriate Psalms and Hymns for each lesson. In this book the scriptural authorities are given, for every doctrine and precept contained in the catechism; and it is designed to shew how closely the church has adhered to the Bible in all her instructions. This may be first used as a reading book; and afterwards, by the help of the catechetical exercises, every pupil must be so thoroughly instructed in all its doctrines, principles and precepts, as to be well qualified to enter the Bible and Liturgy Classes.
For these classes, Book Third has been prepared. This is a very important book, and is worthy of the consideration of all who would become wise unto salvation. It contains questions on all the Lessons, Epistles and Gospels which are read in the church, on the Sundays and Holy Days, throughout the year; with a short explanation of the appointments and observances of the church. The pupils, in using [8/9] this book, are required to search the scriptures to find suitable answers to the questions: and thus they get acquainted with every part of the Bible. They become familiar with sacred history—they learn the meaning of the prophecies—and they see how they apply to the gospel, and how they were fulfilled by the coming of Jesus Christ. And they also learn the moral precepts of the Bible, and how they may serve God acceptably.
Thus they go on, step by step—they learn how man fell from a state of innocence—and how he was redeemed by the blood of Christ. They learn that Christ has risen from the dead, and gone to heaven, to prepare a final place of rest for his faithful followers; and that he has set up a church and kingdom on earth, into which children are admitted, and where they are to be trained up for the final enjoyment of the mansions above. They learn that there will be a resurrection of all men in the end of the world, and a general judgment in the last day, in which all will be judged according to their works. They learn that the wicked will be miserable forever, and the righteous eternally happy.—[9/10] Hence, they learn the necessity of repentance, and of turning their hearts to God; and finally, by the help of divine grace, they are brought to feel a sincere desire to confirm their baptismal promises, and to become the professed disciples of Christ, in the holy communion. This is the design of the book; and we hope that every pupil in the Sunday School will study it, until the scriptures, with prayer to God, shall produce this happy result.
When this is the case, the pupils will be prepared for the next and last book in the series, Book Fourth; which contains instructions respecting Confirmation and the Lord’s Supper.
Such is the series of books which I have prepared for your use; and which, you will perceive, are designed for all ages,—from the youngest child, to the full grown disciple of Christ.
And now, my dear children, I have only time to urge you to be faithful and diligent in studying these books, and in searching the scriptures, from which all their light and knowledge are [10/11] borrowed. Pray also to God, that he will bless this instruction to your present and eternal benefit—that you may become pious and devoted christians—that as teachers in the Sunday Schools, and in all the various walks of life, you may serve your God faithfully—that you may enjoy all the consolations of religion in this life—and that you may finally be well fitted and prepared to enter into the kingdom of glory.