Public Sentiment

—Home Department Day


THE LESSON—That the earnest prayers and work of the stay-at-home members are a great inspiration to the active workers in the school.

Home Department Day in the Sunday School may be made a most helpful event in the life of the school and in the lives of those who do not enjoy the privilege of attending the services regularly

Many who are usually employed on Sunday, in hotels, boarding houses, railroad positions, and the like, can ofttimes arrange to attend this session prepared especially for them. It is assumed that you have been supplying the members of the Home Department with lesson helps, and that you have kept in touch with them. Souvenirs may be sent to invalids and aged people as well as to other members who cannot be present. The colors are purple and white; the flower, the violet.

The Talk.

"I am going to draw for you today the portrait of one who exerts the most powerful influence in this community. [Draw the outline of the head, omitting the facial lines. Fig. 76.]

Figure 76: A man, with the face drawn blank.

"But before I finish the portrait I want you to know that if it were not for this one we would never have had our beautiful parks or our magnificent court house. It was he who attended to the paving of our streets. We would have had no public library but for him. There would have been no public schools here, and no church spires would be pointing heavenward, if he had not sanctioned them. We would never have had our water works system, our sewerage system or our electric lights. In short, we never would have had any of the great public benefactions but for him. And I am sorry to add, too, that we would never have had any saloons but for him.[Footnote: Substitute words describing local conditions.] [Draw the letters composing the words, "Public Sentiment," completing Fig. 77.]

Figure 77: A face formed from the words 'Public sentiment'.

"Yes, this is Public Sentiment. And what is public sentiment? I think it may be described best as the expression of the will of the greatest number of people in a community. It is the voice of the majority. It is only when people want things that they get them. As the years go by, the people themselves are becoming more and more mighty in directing the work of those whom they have chosen to represent them.

"A contractor is not the builder of a public library or a public school. These are built by the people who are united in sentiment for a library or a school; the contractor is only the hired man who does the bidding of the people. The residents of a city themselves bring into existence beautiful streets, magnificent public buildings and ideal health conditions; or else they bring to themselves the saloon and other degrading institutions, all depending upon public sentiment.

"And so it is with the church and the Sunday School. The human factor which keeps this school prosperous comes not from the superintendent or the officers or the teachers alone. Its success is due largely to the public sentiment outside of the school. It is the sentiment of the fathers and mothers of these boys and girls, many of whom, while their hearts are with us, cannot attend the sessions regularly. It is the sentiment of you who are so loyal to us and whose prayers for the school have been so effective. It is the sentiment of you members of the Home Department who have shown in every way the appreciation of this school. The knowledge that you are with us is a powerful help.

"During the dark days of the civil war there were two armies fighting the battles of the North and of the South—the army that was in the field and the army that stayed at home, the great silent partners in the awful conflict. The latter was composed largely of the noble mothers and sisters, whose daily prayers ascended to heaven while their sad hearts and nimble fingers provided the comforts for the brave boys at the front.

"So, with the members of the Home Department, we have come to think of you as 'silent partners' in the work of our school. And as occasion develops, we want you to feel that here is your place of activity—your school.

"But we shall remember the words of Paul, 'We have many members in one body, and all the members have not the same office,' and we shall not forget the important places in our school of those who are enrolled in our Home Department."