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of its being. During the first three nights of its life a light was kept burning in my chamber. On the fourth it was extinguished, and the child became restless and clamorous for the light." The quick eye of the mother saw that her child noticed, willed, cried to accomplish its desire. The refusal of that mother to relight her lamp began the training of that child's will and the formation of its character. Thus from the first is character formed chiefly by the parent. In due time the teacher also becomes its educator, and plies his formative task with good or ill effect, until the bent of the now grown-up child's life is fixed, and bis character determined almost beyond the probability of future change. This educatory power the Sunday-school places in the hands of the Church.
This power is one of the greatest, if not the greatest, of known moral forces for the determination of national character. Look, for example, at the four great religious systems outside of the Christian ChurchBuddhism, Hindooism, Mohammedanism, Judaism. What keeps up these systems? It is not aggression; it is not proselytism. They do not make proselytes. The doctrine of caste in Hindooism absolutely prevents proselytism. Yet these maintain their numerical strength. What sustains them? I answer, it is the moral force coiled up in early reh'gious education. Take away that tremendous moral force, and they are defunct. That force the Sunday-school offers to the Church in this nation.
You recollect the legend of the ancient Sibyl, who appeared with nine leaves to the Emperor Tarquin, demanding an immense sum for them. The monarch thought it too much, and refused. She withdrew, cast three of them into the fire, and returned, asking the same sum for the remaining six that she had first demanded for the nine. Again the monarch refused; again she destroyed three leaves, and returned once more, having only three left, but placing upon them the self-same value at which she had held the whole. The king's curiosity was excited; he purchased them; and they contained matter of so much interest and importance that it was a cause of deep and undying regret to the nation that all had not been purchased. So the Sunday-school to the Church is a thing of untold value. Its offer is so large that no figure can name, no mind can comprehend it. If the Church refuse to accept it, it can probably never be made again in all its largeness. Are there not signs already of this result? Is it not a fact that the Sunday-school has lost its prestige in some localities, owing to the indifference of leading men in the C; ristian Church to its claims?
For what purpose has the providence of God given the Church this opportunity to religiously educate the bulk of this nation's childhood? Can it be for any lower purpose than the conversion of the nation through the training of its childhood? Should not the religious education given in the Sunday-school be so used as to culminate in the conversion of the children?
The possibility of the conversion of children in large numbers, is a thought which God has been forcing into the mind of the Church by means of the Sunday-school, from its origin until now. Yet the thought was not born with the institution. Its founder had no conception of it. All Raikcs proposed to do was to teach the children to read, and give them some knowledge of the Catechism. But afterward Mr. Wesley, that sagacious man, saw beyond his compeers, into the possibilities of this new institution.
Yet I think it was At* purpose to merely prepare the minds of children for the subsequent reception of religion, for in speaking of one of his schools, he mentions it as a matter of surprise that a young child had been converted. Even his great mind did not fully grasp the idea of saving a nation through the conversion of its childhood. And it was only by the providence of God, causing a converted child to crop out here and there, that the Church learned to regard the thorough conversion of children as a thing to be looked for as an ordinary sequence of religious teaching, and not as an extraordinary event or phenomenon, whose frequent repetition was not to be expected. But this precious lesson the Sunday-school has now effectually taught. Our own branch of the Church demonstrates it.
If then, God has, by means of the Sunday-school, placed the religious education of the bulk of the nation's childhood within the grasp of the Church, and if by the same means he has demonstrated that the sequence of their religious education may be the conversion of the children, is it not clear that God is seeking by the Sunday-school to teach his Church that the time has arrived in which she should seek to evangelize the nation by specific, patient endeavors to convert its childhood? To penetrate this nation with the life of Christianity, the Church must seek to convert its childhood. This is the lesson which the Sunday-school is teaching.
Let the Church learn this lesson well, and her light, instead of declining with the death of this generation, will burn brighter and brighter. It will be like that of the Eddystone light-house, when the wreckers bound the keeper and his wife, carried them away, and rejoiced, with hellish joy, at the thought that on that dark night no friendly light would be there to warn the mariner, and that his bark would be dashed to pieces on the rocks. But they forgot that they had left in the light-house the two little sons of the keepers. These boys knew that the light was a source of much anxiety to their parents, that it should be kindled, at all hazards, when the night came on. So they climbed up the ladder, and performed the duty of their absent parents, and on that dark night the light shone forth beautifully and steadily as ever, and robbed the wrecker of his prey. So, if we improve the Sundayschool as we ought, when this generation has passed away, the light of our children will flow out with more beauty, and send its rays further than that of the fathers has ever done.
A TEACHER'S MUSINGS.
How different, yet how harmonious were the engagements of Master and disciples !" Constrained" by him, they set out on their voyage across the lake. He, alone, amid the gathering shadows, ascends the mountain, and seeks communion with his Father. Nor is it only converse, but prayer, which is heard on that hill-top; Jesus prays, takes the humble position of a suppliant, and pours out, from his large heart, the desires which are welling up within. Hour after hour glides away—the thin clouds of evening grow deeper, and darken into night—the heavy dew settles on the earth, and the mountain is wrapped in mist, but there he is still, "continuing instant in prayer!"
And how speeds the tiny bark on the waters? Alas, it is "in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves; for the wind was contrary." The poor fishermen long for their Master, almost wishing they had not embarked, but continuing to row hard against wind and tide. We almost hear them say, "Why is he not with us? is he unmindful of our peril? does he not see how impossible it is for us to cross the lake as he commanded?" And our hearts echo the words, "Does he not see?"
Yes, he sees them "toiling in rowing," and still he prays on! Thus night wears towards its "fourth watch"—the promise of dawn even begins to break through the silent darkness, as Jesus descends from the mountain. He is just in time—the disciples were so wrought up by the excitement of their position, as not at first to recognise him whose presence they so much desired. Jesus came "walking upon the sea," treading beneath his feet the raging waves. "Then they willingly received him into the ship: and immediately the ship was at the land whither they went."
We, as Sunday school teachers, may surely take encouragement from this narrative. "The love of Christ constraineth us" to engage in our arduous task. But we meet with much opposition, ever experiencing the truth of that assertion, "The wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest." Again and again, when we deemed ourselves progressing, our little bark is driven back by some new discovery of stubbornness in the hearts of our children; and sometimes, feeling that the work is too hard for us, we are fain to give over "toiling in rowing." "If wc were only sensible of our Master's presence," we think, "we could work hopefully on, but oh! not alone."
Where is our Master, then? On the mountain, praying. He sees us, marks each struggle, hears each dip of the oar, but he will not take the work out of our hands. "I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not."
Not always shall we thus be left. In his own good time, he will come to us, and then we shall see his power as God, for he "walketh on the wings of the wind, and his footsteps are in great waters." Our difficulties shall be surmounted, the victory won, the work completed— and Jesus shall be seen as the doer of it all. But we must not expect so glorious a result except as the end of our "patient continuance in well-doing," assisted by the intercession poured by our unseen Lord into the ear of Almighty Goodness. Jesus prays while wc work, and thus "we have fellowship one with another."
Norwich. P. S. S.
WHAT HAS THE SUNDAY-SCHOOL A RIGHT TO CLAIM AT THE HAND OF THE CHURCH?
1. That it shall have a hearty faith in the feasibility of childhood conversion? The history of this institution affords the evidence. Children can feel. They can weep tears of genuine Gospel sorrow when they have transgressed the Divine law. They can feel the agony of conviction, and they can exercise saving faith in Jesus Christ. But this must be ingrained into the heart of the Church. Only this will give working power.
2. The co-operation and leadership of the whole ministerial force. The religious teaching of children is recognized and insisted upon by our Church as an essential part of ministerial duty, to be performed diligently and in every place. The Church also recognizes the Sundayschool as an important agency in this work of religious, of doctrinal instruction, and has committed it, with her other great plans, to ministerial leadership. An occasional visit from a pastor is not enough. An interest so vast and far-reaching in its results demands hearty cooperation. Any minister too dignified for this, is an unmitigated abomination, and should be promptly located for unacccptability. Personally I have this to say, if any man is appointed to serve as the pastor of my family, and will not know my children, I shall use every exertion to have him removed at the close of the first year, and shall deeply regret that we have no usage which will cast him adrift at the end of six months. Perhaps the Lord may have use for such a man in some other Jicl'
3. The hearty, working sympathy of the whole Church. Not that which says, " Be warmed and fed;" "be supplied with books, and papers, and teachers, and prosper," and then leaves it destitute of each. We hear a great deal, perhaps noue too much, of Christian consecration. There is a genuine consecration. Any, save consecration to Christian service, the work of God, and the Church, causes rejoicing in perdition. Hear that brother talk; he has given all to Qod; he is willing to do anything or nothing—especially nothing—for the Lord. And yet, under the shadow of his dwelling are untaught, perishing children, and no effort made to save them! They were going down quick into hell, without a helping hand or warning voice, while he is prating of consecration! I have no faith in any genius but the genius for hard work; no faith in any Christianity but the Christianity of hard work. He who laid all upon that altar which he consecrated with his own blood, continually "wept about doing good." In His name we appeal to the Church for its hearty, working sympathy in behalf of this work.
4. Finally. Generous pecuniary assistance. Money is needed as well as work. "Money is the sinew of war." But there is just ground of complaint, that while it is poured forth like water for other purposes, for the interests of the Sunday-school it is given, even in the most prosperous times, in a grudging and niggardly spirit. We ask that here shall be devised " liberal things." It is a noble enterprise. It seeks the conversion and moral training of our children; therefore it has a right to claim of the Church a princely heart, a princely hand, and a princely coffer.
Let the Church realise the magnitude of the trust here committed to her charge. Let her meet those duties in the right spirit. For, truly, it is the cause of our children, it is the cause of humanity, it is the cause of God.
HAPPY DEPARTURE OF A PIOUS SUNDAY SCHOLAR.
The Sunday school at F was a most interesting one. The children
composing it belonged principally to the middle-classes of society. Their parents, for the greater part, were religious people; and the teacliing of the Sunday school being thus supplemented and enforced by home instruction, the result was considerable spirituality of mind and feeling among the scholars, and decorum in the school.
Mr. C , was a most sincere Christian, and devoted to his work. He
had been long connected with the school, and much success had followed his labours. His school being considered a model one, it was much visited. Scholars so orderly and attcntivo as were there, soon attracted general notice, but among them one little girl arrested particular attention. Her name was Alice Rat.