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ELDER BEEBE: – When the plan for Sunday schools was first proposed, it was held forth to the public as being necessary for the Education of the poor class of children, whose circumstances were such as to render it difficult to attend school on any other days than Sunday; which plan, if adhered to, all must approve. But unfortunately, as soon as these schools were rendered popular, this proposed benefit was lost sight of, and they were converted into machines for producing religious professors, and it is very doubtful if any can be found at the present day where the originally professed plan of giving the poor children a plain education is pursued; but all that can be are brought in, rich and poor, to be taught Sectarianism. As a proof of this look at all the reports of proceedings. Take for instance a recent one made by the Sabbath school Association, of the first Presbyterian church of Philadelphia, which is a fair specimen of the whole, – “The present school consists of a Director, Librarian and Treasurer; 11 Male & 11 Female Teachers, who instruct an equal number of classes, & which altogether contain 150 pupils” – by what follows we may learn what these pupils are taught. “These during the past year have recited 11,723 verses of Scripture; 11,464 Stanzas of Psalms; 10,904 questions in Brown’s abridged Catechism; 5,232 questions in the shorter Catechism; 202 questions in the larger Catechism; and 36 in the young communicants Catechism. And in addition to this, some of the classes have pursued a course of proving and illustrating doctrinal questions and biographical history, for which much time and searching of the Scriptures were necessary.” One of the Teachers in his report says, “The recitations from the Psalms, Scriptures, & Catechism in the mornings are accompanied with such explanations as the subject may seem to demand, or I feel myself competent to make.” Another says, “IN order to keep up an interest in the exercises, I have contrived to vary them frequently, sometimes reading in the Old Testament, and sometimes in the New, always however, accompany the reading with such remarks as were calculated either to explain the meaning of the passage, or to fix it on the memory.” See S.S. Journal, March 16, 1834. For the character of these “explanations” reference may be had to the books used, published by the S.S. Union, which they say are “rendered so abundant as to force out of circulation” all others – prepared to answer their own end, in which no sound doctrine is to be found. The Westminister Catechism has been discarded, as it sets forth the total depravity of human nature, and the doctrine of original sin. The S.S. Union have 760,000 receiving this kind of instruction, and what number there is, not embraced in the Union, we have no means of knowing. From what we know of the Religious Instruction of the present day, are we not led to conclude that this multitude of youth are taught little else but ERROR? Yet there are to be found amongst such as contend for the truths of the Bible, – those that say they would rather their children should attend a Sunday school, than be at home idle – with such I differ; I would much rather my children would receive no Religious instruction, than such as is not consistent with Divine truth. Suppose there was no Sunday school in the vicinity but one under the tuition of a Papest, Unitarian, or Universalits; would they prefer that their children should attend such than remain at home? Probably they would answer no, still I think the name is immaterial, if they are to be instructed in nothing but error; and the nearer they approach to the truth, the more danger to be apprehended.


Signs of the Times
Volume 2, No. 11
April 30, 1834