Page images

that their only appoal is to the sword whenever thoy quarrel? Let me take you as a contrast to this to an instance which I havo become acquainted with in London, which shows how an influence of a totally different character is being oxorted. I was attending the other day a school meeting at Kentish Town in connection with Mr. Fleming's chapel, at which a most interesting report was presented. It appeared that one set of boys had divided the district amongst themselves, and had canvassed the inhabitants for subscriptions to periodical literature. Another set of boys distributed the works so ordered, as they came out once a month; and I will now read you a list of the works so circulated in the course of last year, leaving you to form vour own judgment respecting the intelligence which tins fact represents, and that which must be the natural consequence of such a course of training as is pursued in the Government schools of Milan. I find that in the course of last year those boys at Kentish Town have delivered the following periodicals, for which they had previously obtained subscribers :—193 Leisure Hour, 158 Sunday at Home, 24 Sunday Teacher's Treasury, 47 Sunday School Union Magazine, 61 Christian Miscellany, 26 Ragged School Magazine, 10 British Messenger, 85 Christian Witness, 1G Christian Treasury, 153 Mother's Friend, 242 Bible Class Magazine, 789 British Workman, 1,224 Child's Companion, 46 Children's Paper, 99 Christian's Penny Magazine, 24 Tract Magazine, 291 Teacher's Offering, 19 Day Star, 27 Friendly Visitor, 13 Sabbath School Messenger, 691 Band of Hope, 563 Dew Drop, 92 Juvenile Missionary Magazine, 565 Child's Own Magazine, 76 Gospel Trumpet, and 100 miscellaneous publications, making a total of 5,587 during the past year, and during the last three years and a half no fewer than 17,428 copies of periodicals of the most healthy and useful character.

Now let me take you a little further north. Our beloved Sovereign has got two schools on the Royal estate at Balmoral. When two teachers were required for one of those schools, I was applied to by a person who was high in the confidence of the Queen to know whether I could certify that those teachers were pious, and would be prepared to teach the Bible among the youths of Balmoral. I think, my friends, with such instances as I have given; first, of the growing intelligence of the young, and then the anxiety of our illustrious Queen to provide for the religious instruction of those around her, contrasting so nobly as it does with the example of the despot of Austria, we may indeed bless God for the circumstances in which wc are placed. But my resolution, after referring to the increase of general education, and the extended circulation of periodical literature, intimates that these faots "require on the part of all those who undertake the intellectual and moral and religious instruction of others, diligent preparation for the faithful discharge of so important a duty. And this is a most important question, demanding the earnest attention of those who desire to be successful labourers in the work of the Lord. I would urge upon you to seek wherever you are, and under all circumstances, to obtain materials for illustrating the lessons you have to communicate. And remember that the simpler the truth is, the better for children. Do not puzzle them with questions of a complex and difficult character; go kindly and tenderly to your work: and, above all, ■ have faith in prayer if you would get at the hearts of your children. We are too much in thethabit of looking at prayer merely as an act of personal devotion in private, or of public homage in the house of God. Now, as I understand it, prayer is as much a means in the hands of God for the conversion of the world as the preaching of the everlasting gospel is, and even more so. You know perfectly well that though Ezekiel preached over the dry bones in the valloy, and bone came to bone, and there was motion, and to some extent beamty, yet until he prayed to the four winds of heaven, "Come. O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live," there was no vitality amongst them ; and it was only when the Spirit took possession of them that they stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army. Therefore never forget that while you instruct, you must also pray, and that it is only as you pray that God will bless you. In the far north of Scotland, a teacher, who has been tho means of bringing eight of his class into church membership in the little village of Banff, was one day missing from our school, and when he was sought for by tho superintendent, it was found that he had been so deeply engaged in prayer for his class, that he had actually forgotten tho time of meeting. If all our teachers were men of that spirit, we should soon have all our youth converted to God. A British merchant was at one time on board of a slave ship, where he observed a poor negro in chains. He went up to the owner of him, and demanded tho price of the slave. A largo sum was asked, but he said, "I must buy him, evon if it costs overy farthing I am worth.'1 He did purchase him, and the papers by which he was transferred wore made out, and handed to his new owner. Calling the slave on to the quartor deck, the Englishman said to his servant, "strike those manacles from his arms, and those chains from his feet." It was done, and the poor negro stood up before the merchant, who said to him, "I have bought you, not that you may remain a slave, but that you may be free—here are your papers ; use your freedom well." Tho poor fellow fell on his knees, and said, "I will never leave you; I will be your slave for ever." "No," said tho merchant; "you shall not be my slave, you may be my servant, and I will pay you wages. You shall do my work, and wo will endeavour to holp each other." Could that negro help serving with all his energy and all his heart? Would he require written rules respecting every point of duty! Would not overy impulse of his being throb with a desire to serve him who had bought his liberty, and to serve him well? Now, we are all by nature the bond slaves of sin, but Jesus Christ has purchased for you and for me a pardon, which he freely offers to us. The holy Spirit is at hand, and God givos the command, "Strike off those fetters, and let the slave go free." If we have received that pardon, and all our chains arc gone, wc cannot help loving and serving God, not only in tho Sunday school, but everywhere else. 0, then, pray for grace that this motive may be more dooply and lastingly impressed upon your minds, and seek also, as the resolution urges, by specific prayer for and with your scholars, and by personal and individual appeals to their hearts, to render the class instruction more interesting and more efficient, and thus to bring the scholars to an early decision for Christ. A poor lad, who had lost his father, said to his widowed mother one day, " What is to become of me? I must bo taken from school." "Do not despair," said his mother, "God will provido; and Jesus Christ has said, If ye ask anything in my name, I will do it. Pray, then, my boy." "What is prayer, mother?" "Just Uke sending a letter to a friend," said she, "and waiting for tho answer." Tho poor little fellow went away and wrote a letter to the Lord Jesus Christ, in which he told him—" Father is dead; we have no bread to cat, and I shall bo taken from school;" and he asked the Lord Jesus to send them some money, quoting the promise which his mother had repeated to him. He addressed liis letter to tho Lord Josus Christ in heaven, and dropped it into tho letter-box of the post-office. The postmaster, whon he found it, read it, put it aside, supposing it to have been written by some foolish person. By-and-by a friend, who was a member of tho Methodist church with which the poor lad's mother was connected, incidentally called upon tho postmaster, who shewed him this curious epistle. He asked to have tho letter given to him—went with it to a benevolent lady, showed it to her, and asked what should be done in the matter. "Send for the mother," said the lady, "the prayer is answered.* The mother came. "Is that your boy's writing?" said tho lady. "It is." "Then God has answered his prayer; I will provide for you, and your boy shall be kept at school.* Then turning to the lad, she said, "My boy, you prayed to the Lord Jesus, and though you did not take the right way to send your letter, Jesus Christ lias answered it." 0, my friends, teach the young the value of prayer. And now, in conclusion, one word for the outcast. While you are taking into your Sunday schools many of the young around you, and training them in the ways of God, think of the poor outcasts who are living without any ono to caro either for their souls or bodies. I thank God for our Sunday schools, and for the blessings of this institution; but oh ! there are others who are neglected besides our ragged outcasts. Find them out, gather them in. If you have the love of Christ in your hearts, you cannot help going to the highways and hedges that you may constrain them to listen to the words of truth ; and if you have faith in your work, and are earnest in prayer, God will bless your labours on their behalf. Spoaking of these poor outcasts, we may well say of each,—

"Thy prospect of life is cold and dark;
And the passage seems rough for so frail a bark j
Thy morn is wrapt in gloom, sweet child;
And the world to thee is a barren wild.
But He from whose hands thy spirit came,
Can temper the wind for the shorn lamb;
Can make thee rest and walk'at will,
By the pastures green and the waters still.
The proud may look with disdainful eye;
And the Priest and the Levito may pass thee by;
But the heart where feeling is not exiled
Will pity the fato of the outcast child."

The resolution was unanimously adopted.

The Rev. John Clauk, of Jamaica, moved—

"That the best thanks of the Meeting be presented to tho Hon. A. F. KlNNAIBD, M.P., for his kindness in presiding on this occasion."

Ho said: I nood not say anything in support of this resolution; but as I hava been requested to give some account of our sabbath school operations in Jamaica, I beg your kind attention for a fow minutes. There was no class of our fellowsubjects who felt a deoper interest on behalf of tho slave, some five and twenty years ago, thau our Sunday school teachers. Thoy met together; they petitioned tho legislature, and implored them to undo tho heavy burdens of the slaves, and let the oppressed go free. In answer to their petitions, and those of the Christian public of this land generally, the great curse of slavery was swept away, and 800,000 of our fellow-creatures wore set at liberty. Since that period, the Sunday School Union has ovor taken a deep interest in the cause of tho emancipated negro. Year after year have we received grants of books, and letters of sympathy and encouragement; and although T felt great reluotanco in agreeing to take this resolution, having only just landed on theso shores, and having had but little time for preparation, I felt it was only due to you to take this opportunity of thanking you for your sympathy and kindnoss; and only due, also, to our Sunday school children and teachers in Jamaica, to convey their thanks to you, and to say that your generous efforts havo not boon expended in vain. The enfranchised population in Jamaica numbers upwards of 300,000 ; and in some of the publie prints, I find, sometimes, tho grossest calumnies respecting theso people It is said that thoy are idle, that thoy are steeped in vice, and that freedom to them is a curse rather than a blessing. I beg, on behalf of those maligned people, as before God and you, to deny these statements. True it is, that in Jamaica, as well as in every other part of tho world, there are idle and bad people; but, sir, there is loss crime in Jamaica, in proportion to tho population, than there is in England; and there is a larger attendance on tho means of grace in Jamaica, in proportion to its population, than is to be found in this country. About 80,000 of the cnfrancliiscd slaves are members of Christian churches, and an equal number attend the house of Uod from Sabbath to Sabbath. Now, to what is this to be attributed? Various agencies have been employed ; but there are three which I will specially refer to. One is the preaching of the gospel; another, the circulation of God's word; and tho third, Sabbath school teaching— a threefold cord that cannot be broken. During the last ten or twelve years, we have had trials and difficulties to encounter in carrying on tho work of God in Jamaica, which time would fail me to set beforo you ; but I havo no hesitation in saying this—and I believe that nearly all my brethren of every denomination in the island will bear me out in it—that it is mainly owing to our Sabbath schools that the work of God has been carriod on up to this time. We have, I think, upwards of 25,000 children in the various Sabbath schools of the different denominations in the island; and these Sabbath schools now supply nearly all the membors who aro received into the various churches. As I cannot better give you an account of the position of affairs there than by referring to myself, you will, perhaps, permit me to do so. It is now twenty-four years since I landed on the shores of Jamaica. Previous to that time, I often attended meetings of tho Sunday School Union, and I coramencod my missionary work as a Sunday school teacher at Hose and Crown-court, near Bishopsgate-street—a place which, perhaps, you are well acquainted with ; and if I have been at all useful to the cause of God in Jamaica, I consider it is mainly owing to the training I got, as a teacher, in that school. When I went to my station, I found a chapel half built; and a considerable congregation was gathered about the chapel yard, seeking shade from the burning sun, and tho greater part of them had the first class books of the Sunday School Union in their hands, from which they were attempting to learn to read. They had been stimulated to this by one of the noblest offers ovor made by that most noble institution, tho British and Foreign Bible Society. It has been said that good thoughts come always from God; and I believe it was a good thought from God which led a clergyman on this platform to propose that, prior to tho act of emancipation, a copy of God's word should bo sent to every negro in the colony who would be willing to receive and road it. Our people were diligontly employed in loarning to read. In some cases, where tho children had got on with great rapidity, they were teaching their parents and grand-parents; and soon I was obliged to send for spectacles, to enablo the old people to sec to read their Bibles. I gladly complied with their request; and in the course of a year or two, we had as many as 800 scholars in our Sunday school. Our place would not hold them, and we were compelled to break out right and left, and form five or six others. I could not but observe this, that those who learnod to read the Bible, and tried to understand its meaning, their intellectual capacities were increased; there were signs of intelligence in their faces, which were not visible in others: thus proving to us that the entrance of God's Word givcth life, and light, and understanding to the simple. We have continued these Sunday school operations to the present timo j and it is with gratitude to God I record this fact—that during the lost fifteen or sixteen years, it has been my happiness to receive 600 young people from our Sunday school into tho Christian church, who have proved, for the most part, consistent and faithful disciples. When a proposition was made by Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton to send an expedition to Africa, I think twenty or more of our Sunday school people came forward, and expressed their willingness to go to tho land of their lathers. The plan having failed—or, at least, not having been carried out—in connection with our own missions, some of them went out to Africa, and there laboured with steadiness and zeal, adorning the gospel by their consistent and holy lives, and doing good to others; and I am happy to say that five young men, who have gone out from our Sunday school ore now ordained ministers of the New Testament. I do not exactly remember how many, but a considerable number, are employed in day school teaching, and also, Sabbath after Sabbath, in instructing others. I was much cast down, some tinio before I came here, partly by affliction and other trials; but there was one thing that cheered mc, though it caused me to leave the station for a while with regret. It is with gratitude to Almighty God that I state, between thirty and forty of the young people from our Sabbath school came to me, inquiring what they must do to be saved? and wishing to join themselves to the Lord in an everlasting covenant. And I am not alone in this case. Many of my brethren of other denominations, who are labouring in Jamaica, could give similar statements. God has blessed our Sunday school operations, and they are the hope of our churches. But I will not lengthen my address. I thank you most cordially for aU that you have done for Jamaica and other parts of the West Indies; and I implore you for a time to continue to us your sympathy and aid, and, above all, your prayers. I alluded just now to the difficulties we have had to encounter; for these additions to our numbers baroly make up for the losses sustained by the death of older members. We long for a richer outpouring of God's Spirit upon our Sunday schools ; and when you pray for your schools at home, don't forget those in the West Indies. Do not forget the poor negro. Pray to God to bless the labours of His servants among them, so that soon Ethiopia may stretch out her hands to Him. But I cannot conclude without a fow words of exhortation to you. I have often had my hands strengthened and my heart cheered by attending meetings of this Union in days gone by. Never, however, have I felt a deeper interest in any as I have felt in this: and never have I received more benefit than I did at tho Conference this morning. I there learned some things which I hope I shall carry back with me, and be enabled to put in practical operation, and that tho result will be the increased efficiency, the enlarged prosperity of our Sunday schools, and the glory of God. 0, my brethren and sisters, you are engaged in a great and glorious work. Live near to Jesus Christ; work in close and intimate fellowship with him; sympathise with him in his compassion for dying sinners; and 0, may the love of Christ constrain you, that your hearts may bum with love for the dear children under your charge. Seek their conversion, and do not bo satisfied until you see them turning to the Lord God. I have had reason to thank God sometimes, on beholding the results of Sunday school teaching in the dying hours of some who have been scholars. Well do I remember visiting one old woman, upwards of seventy years of age, who had learned to read tho Bible in the Sunday school. That book was a priceless treasure to her. She loved it dearly; and sometimes in tho school, when she had read one verse, would say, "Massa, this is so sweet, let me read it again." And she died, trusting to that Saviour whom that book reveals, and rejoicing in tho hope of everlasting life. I remember another, too, who had also learned to read in the Sunday school, and when between seventy and eighty years of age, met her death with hope and joy. When she could no longer, speak, she pointed with her finger to heaven, in order to assure us she was about to go to that Saviour whom she loved. I have been with some of our young people, too, the young lads who have been taught in our school, and I have had the happiness of seeing them in the time of trial and affliction, and in the struggle of death, at peace with God, and looking forward to an abundant entrance into his everlasting kingdom. And, my brethren, God will thus reward you for all your labours in his cause, and you will have the joy at last to meet before his throne, many of those whom you have been instrumental in bringing to Christ, to unite with you in singing the praises of him who loved both you and them, washed you from your sins in his own blood, and made you kings and priests unto God.

Tho Rev. Robebt Robinson seconded the resolution. He said, I am quite sure when I tell you that I have been confinod to my bed during the greater part of this week, you will excuse my not addressing you to-night. I would not hesitate for a moment, if I felt physically competent, for my heart is so thoroughly in this work,

« PreviousContinue »