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FIXED PRINCIPLES. From a Lecture on "A Sound Mind," by the Rev. Jas. Hamilton, D.D.
First, for the rock:—firm faith, fixed principles. There is no greater blessing than a mind made up on the most momentous of matters. "My heart is fixed: my heart is fixed." The man who has got firmly moored in the Gospel—who has seen God's glory in the face of Jesus Christ, and in whom God's Spirit has enkindled aspirations after unsullied sanctity—he may well be congratulated on possessing the great pre-requisite to strength and stability. "Thou art Cephas," and where there are the clear comprehension and firm conviction of fundamental truth, He who has laid the good foundation will go on and build the character.
Of such first principles the great storehouse is the word of God, even as their great impersonation is the Son of God, the Saviour. He is the Truth, the Amen, the supreme Reality; that great Teacher who shows us plainly of the Father; that one Mediator, who coming from heaven, alone can take us thither; that mighty Revealer and Restorer, at whose feet, when once the legion of demons is driven forth, we hope to see a whole world sitting "in its right mind"— dispossessed, and come to itself by at last coming to its God.
You have been afloat on a windy day, and, as the boat frolicked over the swell, it seemed to you as if the land were in motion. As you lay back in the stern-sheets, and with eyes half shut and hazy, looked shorewards, you saw the white cliffs curtseying up and down, and as plain as possible the houses hurrying backwards, and running off round the corner. And even if you landed, you might have a curious sensation of universai instability. A stranger who did not know your total abstinence habits might misinterpret your movements. As you tried to steady yourself on the lurching pier, as you took a long stride to get over that rolling flagstone, as you proceeded towards your hotel heaving and lurching, see-sawing and sidling—it would need some charity to ascribe your eccentricities entirely to excess of water. And even after you lay down, and were safe among the blankets, you would feel so funny—the room swinging to and fro, the casement rising and falling with the swell, and the bed-foot going up and down "with a short uneasy motion."
So if you were taking a little trip on the troubled sea of human speculation, it is not at all unlikely that your brain would begin to swim; but instead of suspecting any gyration in yourself, you would see a whirlgig or earthquake on the shore. Embarking in an "Essay or Eeview," or in the gay old craft which Voltaire built, which Tom Paine bought for a bargain, second-hand, and which repainted and re-christened by a bishop, has lately come out a regular clerical clipper, you proceed to sea, and in a little while you say," Dear me, how strange it is! The mountains are in motion, the trees are walking; the world itself is running away. It seems to me as if the old Bible were going down. Moses and the miracles, the Ten Commandments and all such myths are fleeing away." And even if the captain should take pity on you, and seeing how pale you look, should say, "Poor fellow, you seem rather queer. I don't want to kill you, and as this sort of thing don't agree with you, I advise you to get ashore;"—it is not certain that you would all of an instant come right. Most likely the jumble in yourself would continue to operate as a general unhingement of the surrounding system, and, as with groggy steps and reeling brain you dropped upon the turf, you would be yourself for some time after, a troubled sea upon the solid land.
Ye who have arisen
With the Spring's first breath,
Smiling at past death;
How an angel's voice,
Called ye to rejoice.
How a new life filled ye,
Wanning heart and vein;
And a raptured pain.
Ye, through dewy sod,
And the face of God.
Blessed be the Father
Of our risen Lord,
By His living word:
From a deeper gloom,
SUNDAY SCHOOL RESULTS. A Pqper read at the Sunday School Convention, Newcastle-on*Tyne. By Mb. T. P. Babkas. Like all other agencies, Sunday schools have a past, a present, and a future.
The first topic for consideration at tliis Convention naturally divides itself into two branches; one past, the other present; and both past and present have intimate relations with and bearings on the future.
The proposition before us takes an interrogative form, and asks two questions. The first; Have Sunday schools accomplished the objeots for whioh they were founded? The second; Are they now accomplishing the objeots for which they are conducted?
Before attempting to reply to either of these questions, it may be desirable to understand precisely what they mean. Many controversies would be found to be perfectly useless, if the controversialists understood each other's precise positions. The shields of religious, moral, scientific, and social truths would often be found to have both gold and silver sides, if those who contended about them would but exert themselves to walk entirely round them, and see them not only from their own favourite positions, but also from those of their opponents.
I shall attempt to give the questions as practical a bearing as I possibly can, in order that we may not have a mere logomachical war, where parties may conteud for mastery, without any practical results; but a friendly discussion, in which old truths may be put in new lights; new truths placed before us for examination and acceptance; and useful practical conclusions be deduced for the future guidance of Sunday school teachers.
First—Have Sunday sohools accomplished the objects for which they were founded?
Sunday schools, as we all know, were founded by Mr. Raikes, in the town of Gloucester, in the year 1781. The primary design of their establishment was to teach neglected children the arts of reading and writing; to impress upon them moral duties, and to keep them from rambling about the streets on the Sabbath day. These were the objects for which Sunday schools were originally founded, and these, for many years, were the principal objects for which they were conducted. As in many other departments of labour and knowledge, the real importance and value of the Sunday school institution was not at first fully realised, and it was only gradually that the great truth dawned upon the minds of the general Christian public, and upon the minds of those who laboured in the Sunday school field, that the children before them had not only bodies and minds, but immortal souls; and were not only related to this world in a secular and social charaoter, but were also inalienably the heirs of a future and spiritual state of being, and that, therefore, the primary design of the Sunday school should be to train souls for heaven.
Thales, the Grecian philosopher, who found that amber, when rubbed, attracted light bodies; Franklin, when he drew electricity from the clouds; Wheatston, when he tried the conducting powers of various metallic wires, little thought that their puny experiments would result in discoveries so grand, as to out-rival the wildest imaginations of the poet. Shakespere makes Puck girdle the earth in forty minutes, and that was thought by all one of the wildest vagaries of the poet's brain; but now all the fancies of the poet are eclipsed, and electricity, which hundreds of years before the advent of our Saviour, was the plaything of Thales, is harnessed, like a fiery steed, into the chariot of human progress; and with a celerity that equals that of light, with an intangibleness resembling that of Deity, with an incomprehensibility equalled only by that of life, it does our bidding, and words of warning, encouragement, love, and reproach, are in an instant of time flashed to many of the remotest corners of the earth; and through its instrumentality, the leading events which havo transpired in all portions of the globe, will, in the course of a few years, and within a few hours of their occurrence, be laid upon the breakfast table of almost every educated human being. Much of this has been, and the remainder will be accomplished gradually,
Thales, rubbing amber, and finding it attract light bodies, may be compared to Eaikes gathering together tlie outcasts of society, and teaching them the rudiments of secular knowledge, and the beauty of moral truth; but he, like Thales, little knew to what extent his small seed of effort for humanity would grow.
The Second stage in the history of Sunday sohools, or that to which we belong, brought with it increased conceptions of the importance of the agency, and laid out for cultivation a more comprehensive and catliolie field.
In the present day, while Sunday school teachers appreciate secular instruction, and know something of its real value, not only as a means of elevating and humanizing the character, but of enabling them to bring more forcibly before the minds of their scholars Christian truth, they, at the same time, recognize the fact, that all have, in this country at least, the means of obtaining secular instruction, in day schools, mechanics' institutes, and other educational agencies, that cover and bless the land; and that, therefore, the work of Sunday school instruction should, as far as practicable, be confined to tuition in religion, and that all secular teaching and secular knowledge, should be made to bear upon the primary object of Sunday school tuition; viz.—the conversion of the souls of the children to the truth as it is in Jesus.
We now see the objects for whioh Sunday schools were first established, and for which they are now continued. Let us see if those objects have been attained, and if not, why?
The element of time enters into all arrangements that have for their object the elevation and improvement of mankind No agency, not even the Gospel itself, nor even the living embodiment of the Gospel, as manifested by Jesus Christ, succeeded absolutely; that is to say, all men do not immediately come under its influence; and experience teaches us, that not only do not all mankind come immediately under its influence, but that it may be many ages in operation, and yet but a small proportion of mankind have personal enjoyment of its many blessings. Not only is time an element in relation to the human beings existing at any given period of the world's history, but the field to be cultivated is ever extending, and if the Gospel or Sunday schools perfectly accomplished their object at any given period, there would, in the natural departure and increase of the human family, be a continually fresh field for exertion. In a sense, therefore, no matter how perfect the organisation, no matter how numerous and gifted the agency, the increase of population would always be in advance of the workers; this must always be true, and presents a difficulty to the theory of those who expect Sunday schools to do Everything. If, however, we take the question on its real and practical merits, then we shall see that they, to a large degree, accomplish the objects for which they are conducted. If we take it in the theoretical sense, viz. :— that they should educate for earth and heaven every neglected child, then they certainly do not accomplish that.
There are many reasons why the latter should not be considered the objeot at which Sunday school teachers aim. The first is, that the present instrumentality cannot possibly overtake the work, and the next, that if they could overtake the work to such an extent as to have every sane child and youth between the ages of four and twenty under tuition, the agency is human, and therefore limited and imperfect. Our object should be, not to aim at the immediate conversion of the whole world ; not to have all children immediately under Sunday school instruction, for these things without direct Divine interposition are impossible; but to endeavour to raise the intellectual, moral, and spiritual character of our teachers to the