« ElőzőTovább »
for the communication of that instruction of which we are speaking. Each Collect is a prayer,
—a simple, scriptural prayer, so short as to be readily learnt, and easily retained in the memory; but at the same time most expressive and comprehensive; hence, it is well that the Collects are learnt, even if the lesson end there. But the Collects have other uses. They should be studied that they may be imitated ; for they are perfect MODELS of prayer, and set before us plainly and clearly what prayer should ever be. By dissecting, therefore, and analyzing these prayers, and resolving them into their several constituent parts, we shall gather instruction upon each of the topics already alluded to. We shall learn who is the proper object of prayer, i. e. the Person to whom alone our prayers must be addressed; for we shall see to whom alone they are all offered. We shall learn what are the proper matters of prayer, i.e. the things for which our requests may be preferred; for we shall see what are the matters we pray for therein. We shall learn the right manner of prayer, i.e. through whom all our prayers must be offered ; for we shall see in Whose name and merits they are all put forth. And these, which are the great elements of prayer, will be learnt not the less effectually though it will be, in a sense, incidentally; for they will come so regularly and so repeatedly under our notice, that by that constant repetition alone they will gradually become firmly impressed upon the mind.
From such an analytical examination of the Collects, would be also seen how the various doctrines of Holy Scripture may be brought to bear upon the subject of prayer; how the facts and histories of the Bible are used and may be used therein ; how our natures and characters respectively affect the case by way of incentive to prayer, and encouragement in prayer; for we shall see how all these various points are from time to time introduced in the Collects which come under review. And thus would a vast amount of right knowledge on this great subject be almost insensibly acquired; and the Collect lesson, in addition to its being an appropriate exercise for the memory, would become emphatically a lesson on Prayer. Hence, therefore, does this subject merit all the attention which can possibly be devoted thereto.
By this extended lesson on the Collects, of which the outline is here sketched, the following desirable objects would be accomplished.
First. The Seasons of the Christian Year, their origin, and the purposes aimed at in the services of the Church during each season, would become better understood ; and the more the services of the Church are understood, the more they will be valued and enjoyed : this alone would be a great point gained.
Secondly. An amount of valuable instruction would be imparted on the all-important subject of Prayer, including, among other minor points, what prayer is, how it is to be offered, what objects it may and should embrace, its necessity, its requirements, its times, its places, as well as the use and bearing of the facts and doctrines of the Holy Scriptures, by way of inducement thereto, and support therein.
Thirdly. Every Collect would be thoroughly examined, and its sense and object fully ascertained ; and a mere parrot-like repetition of words, the meaning of which is not comprehended, and which too often express wants not realised because they are not understood, would thereby be prevented. Our congregations would become increasingly familiar, not merely with the words, but with the matter of their prayers; and realising the wants with the nature of which they had been made acquainted, would be able to throw heart and soul together into those prayers. Head-work and heart-work would unite ; for, in
the language of Scripture, they would“ pray with the spirit,” and they would "pray with the understanding also.”
If it should now be objected, as perhaps it may be, that such an extended and comprehensive lesson as is here suggested, is beyond the capacities of many of our Sunday-school teachers, or that it would require an undue proportion of time, the writer would say, that in his opinion,– an opinion which practice has in some measure already confirmed,—such will not prove to be the case. As respects the first objection, — the capabilities of the teachers, it must be borne in mind that the lesson is suggested (in its extended form, that is), chiefly for the senior classes ; and the teachers of such classes ought surely to be equal to what is here recommended. But, if at present unequal to such a work, it can only be because it is beyond their information, not because it is beyond their powers of mind; for, in that respect, there is nothing required for this lesson which is not equally necessary for every other portion of their work. The object of the lesson once understood, and its scope and range once grasped, no greater amount of study would be necessary than it is presumed they would give to any other subject. Repetition would soon make them familiar with the several topics, and practice would make it easy to treat upon them, and it would be a pleasant and profitable lesson both to their scholars and to themselves. If even beyond their present powers of mind, those minds, doubtless, are capable of expansion, as well as the minds of the young under their charge; and not only are they capable of being expanded, but they require it, and must be expanded, in order to maintain their position in advance of their classes, and to be able to meet the extended and extending wants of those classes. What teacher is satisfied with his scholars unless he sees them advancing step by step in knowledge and in grace? But can he expect their minds to be enlarged, and their knowledge to increase, whilst his own remains a fixture—a stereotyped plate, always presenting the same appearance, and always producing the same combination of words and phrases? Hence, if the lesson itself be a desirable one, as we believe it is, this objection, even if it were well grounded, as we believe it is not, would be a recommendation rather than the reverse; because it would proclaim the tendency of the lesson towards the improvement of the teachers themselves, by shewing them wherein they are deficient, and what they themselves have yet to learn, if they would be efficient labourers in the vineyard of the Lord.