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And with respect to the second supposed objection, as to the time necessary for such a lesson, it must here also be borne in mind, that it would not be necessary to dwell on every topic at the same length, nor on every topic each day. The Seasons of the Christian Year, for instance, need only be treated on occasionally, as the changes therein occur, and we pass from one to another. At every such change this topic would need particular notice ; but afterwards, during the succeeding Sundays of the Season, it need only have a passing reference, to refresh the memories of the scholars generally, or for the benefit of those dull ones to be found in every class, who did not fully grasp it the first time it was dwelt upon. The same would also be the case with the general subject of prayer, the second of the topics proposed for elucidation in connexion with this lesson. This might be divided into a number of sections, of which one or two only need be examined each day. And then, as to the third topic, -the particular Collect or prayer, it will also be found reducible within moderate bounds. So many of the Collects both begin and end in the same words, that, when those beginnings and endings had been once thoroughly examined and explained, they would not require to be touched upon again, save for the purposes referred to above. The same may be said of many expressions, words, phrases, and doctrines, which repeatedly occur ; so that the chief points to be dwelt upon each time would be the particular statements contained in the Collect then under examination, and the particular petitions therein preferred. These would, of course, always require a full examination ; but for such examination ample time might readily be secured. If even the whole morning were to be devoted to the subject, there is no doubt but that it would be labour well bestowed, and a rich return might be confidently looked for therefrom.
To assist teachers in the communication of such a lesson in connexion with the Collects as is here suggested, is the object of the following pages. To that end these “Questions” have been drawn out, these “ Explanatory Observations” penned, and the accompanying “Analysis of the Collects” prepared. On examination of the “Questions,” they will be found so framed as to bring out the chief points in each particular Collect, or prayer (for, as we already observed, every Collect is a prayer), to which it is necessary that the attention of the class should be called ; and, also, to embrace those essential features in the general subject of prayer, to which reference has been already made, as necessary to be taught, and as
capable of being taught in our Schools. Not, however, that it is desired, or desirable, to confine all teachers to these questions, or in any way to urge their use where others better adapted for the purposes designed can be found or framed. They are simply intended to shew, in a yet more tangible and distinct manner, what the writer's idea is, and how he conceives it is possible to carry out that idea. They may be regarded as illustrative, that is, as illustrating the points on which it is necessary to dwell, and the manner in which a class may be examined on those points ; and where (from language or any other cause) inappropriate, they may, perhaps, suggest other questions more in accordance with the attainments of the teacher or the class. If the drift of the questions be discerned, it is enough ; for the teachers can then put those questions in their own way; and it is to be hoped that we have few Sunday-school teachers amongst us, who will not be able to discover that drift, even though they may not possess the information required in order to answer them. But to assist in this matter also, the “ Questions” are followed by an “ Exposition of the Plan” on which they have been framed, wherein the reason for each question, and the bearing of each question, is plainly and clearly stated. A few explanatory remarks on the more
difficult points, such as the names of the different Ecclesiastical Seasons, their origin, and purpose ; the various Titles of God and their signification, are also added : that all who approve of the plan, and are disposed to attempt its execution, may be thoroughly furnished for their work, and possess within a small compass that information which the proper handling of the subjects requires. These form the first part of the work. A separate “ Analysis” of each Collect according to the plan adopted in the “ Questions,” wherein each particular statement contained in the Collect is distinctly brought out, and its truth proved by appropriate Scripture references, forms the second.
THE QUESTIONS ON THE SEVERAL TOPICS OF THE
FIRST TOPIC. — The Season of the Christian Year,
its Reference, and Purpose.
Sect. I.— For Sundays generally. 1. By what name is this day known; and what is the
signification of that name? 2. Why is this day so called ? 3. To what event in the life of Christ, or in the history
of the Church of Christ, does this season of the
Christian year refer? 4. In what part of Holy Scripture is that event recorded ? 5. Describe its circumstances: that is, when, where,
and how, it took place? 6. Why has this event been deemed worthy of continual
commemoration in the services of the Christian
Church? 7. On what subject or subjects should our minds be engaged during this season of the Christian year?
SECT. II.— For Saints' Days only. 1. Was there anything particularly remarkable in the
life, character, or death of the Apostle whose memory is at this time honoured in the Churches ?