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Alice was a sweet little girl whom every one involuntarily loved. She was a small, delicate looking child. Her pale face wore an expression of premature gravity, while she attended to the exercises of the school, but when conversing with her fellow-scholars her kind, gentle words, were accompanied by sweet smiles. Her dark blue eye ever beamed with good nature and sparkled with intelligence.
She was a lovely little thing, but her beauty seemed too spiritual and fragile for earth. It was not her beauty, however, that made Alice the loved of all. The fairest fruit may not be the sweetest, but Alice had an inward beauty, which, unlike mere external grace, is abiding and of great value. It was her calm, agreeable disposition, her humble and unostentatious manner, her love of all that was good and pure, and her simple but earnest piety, that constituted the chief charm. Her parents were in good circumstances, and being Christians, not in name only, but in deed, Alice, with her brothers and sisters, were early taught the truths of the Scriptures.
Though Alice was never seriously unwell, she was not strong; and as she grew in years she did not improve in health. As she grew older, however, her mind expanded rapidly; and her love to the Saviour increased. No one thought that Alice would be long on earth. Her parents, who were tenderly attached to her, tried every means in their power of benefiting her health but without any very favourable result following.
Alice frequently spoke about spiritual things to her companions and others. Her views of Divine truth were clear and decided. Occasional difficulties she experienced, but doubts or fears never troubled her. She spoke of death only as the beginning of eternal happiness, and alluded without reserve to the fears entertained regarding her health, frequently saying she believed her days on earth would be few; and indeed many things about her betokened an early ripening for heaven.
As long as her strength permitted, Alice attended the school regularly; and on the first Sabbath when illness prevented her from attending, both teacher and scholars were sad, when thinking about her, having a presentiment that they would see her there no more.
Alice resided in a cottage pleasantly situated, near the side of a broad stream that flowed in calm majesty through scenes of great beauty. A garden adjoined tho cottage, on which, and the shining stream beyond, the window of Alice's little chamber looked down. To that chamber Alice was now closely confined. But no murmur or complaint was heard there. Her words, as before, were full of gentleness and trust in God.
For some time hopes of her recovery wero entertained. It was early spring, and the summer was anxiously desired, when Alice might be removed to another locality more likely to be beneficial. The summer came, but Alice could not be removed, she was hasting away. It was pleasing and instructive to hear the words of the young dying Christian. As though her near approach to the eternal world had brought her religious life to maturity, she spoke with the experience of age. If hopes of her recovery were expressed in her presence, she at once stated her firm conviction that death would soon come, while she spoke lovingly of her friends, and sorrowed for their sorrow. She exhibited a deep interest in the progress of the school, and sent many kind messages to the scholars, hut she never desired to be among them again, or to remain with her friends.
"I am going home to God," she said, on one occasion, to Mr. C ,
"I am going home to God, where Jesus is at his right hand."
"It is a good hope, Alice;" replied Mr. C——, "Heaven is the Christian's home, and it is a blessed thought that there we shall be for ever with the Lord. There all those have gone who have been his faithful followers, and there we shall go too, if we love him steadfastly."
"Yes," she said, "Jesus loves those who lovo Him, and He will receive them into heaven. I wish I could love Him better; if I could recall my past life I would strive to do so."
"You may be spared yet, Alice."
"No, no! I am sure I shall not; hut I am not afraid to die. I know I shall be happier when 1 am away. Do not cry," she added, turning to her mother, who stood weeping by the bed-side; "you will soon come to Alice; you have all loved me very much, and I love you very much too, but soon I shall have to leave you."
"If it is our heavenly Father's will, Alice, you must," said her mother. "We hoped to have had you longer with us, but His will be done. It is a comfort to us that you have so good a hope, that Jesus is precious to your soul."
"Yes, dear mother, you and father taught me to love Him, and we shall meet beside his throne above."
Such conversations were frequent, till the effort of speaking became too exhausting for her. She then desired that hymns and passages of Scripture might be read to her, to which she listened with close attention. A special favourite with her, was the beautiful hymn beginning:—
"When I survey the wondrous cross-
My richest gain I count but loss
It was read to her many times, and she repeated it over again and again. Contrary to all expectation, she still continued in life, though the summer was almost gone. But the end was at hand, and it came suddenly.
It was a beautiful day; summer's prime seemed to have come back again, so bright and lovely was the face of nature. Alice had requested that she might be placed on an easy chair near the window. The exceeding warmth and beauty of the day induced her parents to comply with her request. Her father lifted her carefully, and placed her in the desired position. She looked so well that hope almost rose in his breast as he kissed her, and left to attend his business.
Alice seemed to enjoy the charming scene. The garden glowed with bright flowers; the river shone beneath the sun, and the air was filled with the song of birds. Her mother and sisters were beside her, but she seemed unconscious of their presence, nor did she answer when they addressed her. Feeling alarmed, they prepared to remove her to the bed, but a swift change passed over her countenance and arrested them. Her eyelids fell slowly down, her features became fixed as though cut in marble. They heard a few indistinct words wherein the name of Jesus was alone recognizable. Slowly and gently her hands sank down, her breath became faint, her lips closed, and the calmness of death lay cold and still upon her.
Heaven is a glorious place; there is no night there; the redeemed, who oast their blood-bought crowns before the throne of the Lamb, are a glorious throng, and many are amongst them who have died in early life.
Many lived as Alioe Ray lived, and many dio as she died; and happiness is their's for ever.
Youth is preolous. Early pioty is a blessed thing. It is beet to begin to be religious when the heart is young, fresh and easily impressed.
SUNDAY SCHOOL REWARDS AND FUNDS.
Some good while ago, this subject was pretty freely discussed in the Teachers' Magazine, and to the satisfaction of some parties, if not the majority of teachers, that such means of advancing the Cheat Cause of juvenile religious instruction "were by no means the most enlightened, legitimate, or efficient j and ever since, adhering to this conclusion, your correspondent in the number for January, p. 42, had no wish to re-open the controversy, but simply offer a few remarks consequent on the fact stated at the commencement of the article, viz., his refusal to contribute to the support of a neighbouring school, a great proportion of whose funds were foolishly frittered away on rewards ; but finding that two othor correspondents have followed, one advocating and the other as earnestly denouncing the system, the opener of the subject, agreeably with the established rules of society, may thus perhaps be allowed to add a concluding word—and that briefly.
That the system of hiring children by "tickets and rewards," to attend school, get off tasks, recite pieces for anniversaries, &c, is at best questionable, if not indeed harmful, as well as needless and useless, we had thought was pretty well shewn and proved, by the regular attendance and good behaviour of our own, and many other schools where no such enticements are offered. The injustice thereby dono to many poor children of slender capacity and few advantages; and moreover, the offence given to their parents and teachers by the seeming slight, wc had hoped, too, would havo been admitted.
As regards the self-support of schools (coupled, be it observed, with an annual congregational collection) the writer still advocates, but shall resmo further notice thereof to a future opportunity.
The reply to the foregoing communication, given in the February Magazine, p. 70, by a "Cambridgeshire Secretary," is not remarkable for advanced views of the Institution, but rather rear and lagging ones, so to speak; so much so, indeed, that one is compelled, though reluctantly, to indorse the opinion freely but honestly expressed on the same subject in March, p. 138, by a "Country Superintendent,"—" that such arguments and assertions should bo presented to the great body of Sunday school teachers in the present day, by one of their own number, is a humiliating feet." Why, the line of argument taken, coupled with its feeble illustration and inapt manner of application, cannot but make one feel, that in some quarters " the school master" can hardly be said to be "abroad." To hear persons so earnestly advocate the "hiring" of children thus mercenarily to attend school, demurely " sit still," "do'pieces," &c, forcibly reminds one of old dames long ago being hired at so much per day for teaching children to read and spell in Sunday schools; but happily these days of darkness and coldness are past, and now higher ground is taken, sounder principles adopted, and a greater amount of enlightened christian influence exerted. Let us cheerfully gather the children together, avail ourselves of all the happy facilities which the skill, intelligence and piety of the ago supply, and above all, let us tenderly talk to them of the love of God in Christ Jesus. His love, which was directed even to children, and moved Him to take them in his arms and bless them. Let us, as the great end and aim of Sunday schools, set forth all this attractively, illustrate this great love "wherewith He hath loved mankind j" and by our words, and looks, and lives, give force thereto, and associate all with earnest prayer, simple faith, and the grace of patience, and verily the end will be gained—the child blessed, the teacher encouraged, God glorified, and all the little paltry puerile machinery of "reward tickets" and "prize books" will be utterly and happily superceded.
Newcastle-upon-Tyne. A Union Secretary.
AN EASTERN SUMMARY OF ALL KNOWLEDGE.
Dabschelim, King of the Indies, possessed a library so largo, that it requiied a hundred Bramins to revise, and to keep it in order; and a thousand dromedaries, to carry the books. As he had no intention to road nil it contained, he commanded his Bramins, to make extracts from it, for hfs use, of whatever they judged most valuable, in every branch of literature. These doctors, immediately undertook to form such an abridgement; and after twenty years labor, coraposod from their several collections, a small Kncyclopoedia, consisting of twelve thousand volumes, which thirty camels could scarcely carry; they had tho honor to present this to tho King, but were astonished, to hear him say, " That he would not read a work, that was a load for thirty camels." They then reduced their extraots, so that they might be carried by fifteen; afterwards, by ten; and then by four; and then, by two dromedaries—At last, no more books were left than were sufficient, to load a mule of ordinary strength. Unfortunately, Dabschelim, had grown old, while his library was abridging, and did not expeot to live long enough to read to the end, tins master.pieoe of learning. The sage I'ilpai, his vurier, therefore thus addressed him :—
"Though 1 have had an imperfect knowledge of the library of your sublime Majesty; yet I can make a kind of analysis, of what it contains— very short, but extremely careful; you may read it in a minute; yet, it will afford you sufficient matter for meditation during your whole life."
At the same time, the vizier took tho leaf of a palm-tree, and wrote on it, with a pencil of gold, the four following maxims;—
1st. In the greater part of science, there is only this single word, perltaps, in all history, but these phrases:—
They were born; they were wretched; and they died.
2nd. Take pleasure in nothing, which is not commendable; and do every thing, which you take a pleasure in. Think nothing, but what is true; and do not utter all you think.
8d. Oh ! ye Kings! subdue your passions; reign over yourselves; and you will consider the government of the world, only as recreation.
4th. Oh, ye Kings! Oh, ye Nations! listen to a truth, ye can never hear too often, and which sophists pretend to doubt.
There is no happiness without virtue; and no virtue, without the fear of God.
THE TEACHER'S BURDEN.
A Merchant may be employed nearly all the day at his counting house, and so may a mechanic. A physician may spend all his waking hours in visiting patients, and feel little more than healthy fatigue. The reason is, that in all these employments, and in fact in most of the employments of life, there is so much to diversify, so many little incidents constantly occurring to animate and relieve, and so much bodily exercise, which alternates with and suspends the fatigue of the mind, that the labors may be much longer continued, and with less cessation, and yet the health not suffer. But the teacher, while engaged in his work, has his mind continually on the stretch. There is little to relieve, little respite, and he is almost entirely deprived of bodily exercise. He must consequently limit his hours of attending to his business, or his health will soon sink under labors which Providence never intended the human mind to bear.
DRAWING PICTURES TO INSTRUCT.
Not only is the whole language of Scripture full of emblems and metaphors—every line of some passages bringing images before our eyes—but we see Jesus drawing pictures to instruct, rather than giving direct answers to his audience. When watched, for instance, (Luke iv.,) by those, who wished to condemn him for healing on the Sabbath day, he drew a picture of themselves. Their ox or ass has fallen into a ditch. It is the Sabbath, nevertheless they go at once, and pull him out. They could not resist the conclusion. Again, (Luke x.,) when a lawyer, willing to justify himself, asked, " who is my neighbour?" the Saviour did not answer him, but drew that inimitable picture of the " Good Samaritan," and then said, "Go thou and do likewise." It is our endeavour humbly to follow him.