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knock." It would be well if we always had that picture before our minds, and that voice in our ears, but better still that we "open the door." In looking at this picture, one thing seemed very impressive. The door at which Jesus was knocking could hardly be approached because of the briars and thorns growing at its entrance, shewing that no visitor ever went there, and even Jesus must wound his feet before he can gain admission. Sometimes we sec such a door-way as this. The house is almost in ruins—the windows are covered with dirt—all looks wretched and lonely. The lank long weeds grow along the pathway—the steps are overgrown with moss—yet perhaps we are surprised to hear that a solitary person lives in that desolate house, though rarely seen to go in or out! We should be sorry to go and knock at the door, or if we did, should rather that no body came to open it! Yet it is to such a door that Jesus comes and knocks! The sinful heart is that door.
It is cheerless enough. The weeds and poisonous plants growing at the entrance, would turn away all but Him. Others would say " no one lives there," or " the person who is Bo indifferent does not deserve a visitor." But it is to such a place that Jesus comes, notwithstanding the nettles and sharp thorns. He knows the corruption and sin within. He sees our fearful passions overgrowing our hearts like prickly thistles, yet His holy feet have trod the pathway. "He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace teas upon him, and with His stripes we are healed." A sad world of sin was this—but he came! He knocked! but many, many, would not "open the door! So is it now-^-when they hear the first sounds of his gentle voice, they will listen no more—as when on earth many " walked no more with him." The knocks at the door vary according to the message to be given, or the person who wishes to be admitted.
There is the knock of the friend. We are ready to receive him. A gentle tap! the door is opened instantly, and the visitor is welcomed. So it was with old Simeon and Anna, in the temple. They were looking out for this visitor. The gentlest knock with an infant hand! the arms and the heart were opened to receive him. "Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word." "And Anna coming in at that instant, gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spoke of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem."
Conscience soon tells us that we are sinners. We hear in early life the gentle tipping of the Saviour's hand. Oh! that while our hearts are young and tender we would throw wide open the door! It is a voice of sweetest tones—" Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of heaven." Jesus knocks at the door of the child's heart as a visitor and friend! For he was once a child—so poor that he was laid in a manger for a bed. He felt a mother's love and knew a child's sorrows! Did he not love children —does he not still? Ho raised the daughter of Jairus! He gave back from the dead the only son to his widowed mother! He healed the lunatic boy who fell ofttimcs iuto the fire and oft into the water, and restored his reason! He unstopped the cars of the deaf, that they might listen to the voice of love. He unloosed the tongues of the dumb, that they might sing more sweetly than the birds! He opened the blind eyes that they might behold the beautiful things of the earth and sky, and look upon the faces of their friends. Shall we not let him in? He has beautiful presents for us—" A pearl of great price,*' for ornament. A " robe of righteousness," for dress. "The bread and water of life" for dainties. Do not keep such a friend waiting! Open the door !" Hosannah! blessed is he that eoraeth in the name of the Lord."
There is the loud block of warning.
When there is danger in a house, and we wish to give an alarm, we do not tap gently—we knock loudly. If fire has broken out, or thieves have entered, we do not call softly, but wc try by all means to arouse those who live there. Jesus stands at the door of " the heart whose wickedness burnetii as fire." He tells us that we have passions and 6ins which burn as a flarae, and will destroy us if we do not let him in to extinguish them. He knocks l»*dly, and tells us that thieves have stolen into our natures and will rob ns of eternal life—will murder cmr spirits ;—unless we open the door.
Suppose that you saw some robbers secretly enter a house, intending to take away all that was valuable, and perhaps murder the man who dwelt there. Would you not knock very loudly? But if he looked lazily from the window, saying, '* Why do you trouble me?" you would call out at the top of your voice—Thieves! Thieves! Yet, if he was still eo indifferent or fond of sleep, as to say, " I dont see them, and shall not come down," you would say, that he cared neither for his property nor his life—he loves sleep more than either. But is it not sometimes so with us? We come to the Sunday school, and read God's holy commandments, and they seem to waken up conscience a little. Wc hear of the love of Jesus, and then there is a knock at the door of our hearts. The soul looks out from the upper chamber of the heart and sees the heavenly visitor standing there. He says, "sin has «ntered into your heart, and will destroy you!" "The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." But what do we often say in return for bis love—" Yeu have waked me too soon, I must slumber again." Shame! shame
upon us! Let us open the door. He will drive out the sins that rob lis of our peace. His feet arc bleeding with the painful journey which he has taken for our good! Let us arise, and welcome our protector and friend.
There is the knock of news.
We all know this knock, and run to open the door. Yet there are times when it brings tidings of sickness or sorrow, or tells us that those we love arc dead. But it is not so with the knock at the heart by the Saviour's hand, he brings " good tidings of great joy." If a prince came to our door, surely we should make haste to open it. We should at once suppose there must be some grand news for us! We should never think of barring the door; and shall wc, when this Heavenly Prince comes from the King, his Father, to tell us of salvation, fasten the door of our hearts with the bolts of pride or passion, deceit or falsehood? Nay! we must let in this Prince of Peace! He comes to sup with us, and at that quiet evening meal will tell us of the good news from heaven. And what more can he say than this ?" For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in Him, should not perish, but have everlasting life."
Let no child think that because he is poor, or ignorant, or wicked, that Jesus will pass by the door. He knocks, with a good word for all. There are some who would only visit us if we lived in a splendid house—but this visitor comes to the lowliest hovel. It is not whether wc are rich or learned! He stands before the most wretched door and asks for entrance. We need not say, that we cannot have him as a guest, because we have nothing to set before him—he brings the feast himself, and it satisfies us for ever. "And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that comcth to me shall never hunger j and he that believeth on me, shall never thirst,"
Do not let us say our room is gloomy and without furniture, we cannot entertain him. He will come with his Holy Spirit and light up the chambers of our heart—ho will embellish them with virtue and pure thoughts, only let us hear his " voice and open the door." Then shall we sing our evening song with hope and gladness—
Abide with us, from morn till eve,
For without Thee we cannot live;
For without Thee, we dare not die.
Bcrmondsey. J- E.
THE SUNDAY SCHOOL TEACHER'S HOPE.
What is the character of the hope which upholds the faithful teacher? It is rooted in faith, faith in the power of God's word, faith in the assurance that that Word shall not return unto Him void, faith in God's purpose to gather in his own; faith in his will to use us as his instruments. On this, as a foundation, hope may build, not an airy castle, but a superstructure which shall ever and anon receive the additions of a living stone, and which shall one day stand complete without a flaw, and without one polished stone misplaced or wanting.
We know not the counsel of God, but we do know his will: "It is not the will of your father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish." Let us, dear friends, believe this word, and " go forth, bearing precious seed," let us " be sober," but at the same time "hope to the end," and we shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing our sheaves with us. The hope of meeting at last those for whom we have toiled, and wept, and prayed, though yet it seems without effect; the hope that "after many days" the buried seed shall spring and grow, we know not how; the hope that though another reap what we have sowed, in the day of Christ's appearing, "He that soweth and he that reapeth shall rejoice together;" oh, is not this enough to sustain our hearts when most disposed to utter the mournful lament, " I have labored in vain, and spent my strength for nought?"
Let us cultivate this upholding grace, not an unreasonable anticipation of unpromised success, but a sober expectation, grounded on the true and faithful word of Him who cannot lie, " that our labor shall not be in vain in the Lord." And whatever would depress our hearts, be it personal affliction, relative trial, or work for God apparently unprospered, while it leads us to watchfulness, confession, and prayer, let it not induce the despondency which unfits for successful effort; rather let us encourage our hearts in the Lord our God, and chide our unbelief in the words of the psalmist, "Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? Hope thou in God; for I shall yet praise Him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God."
THE UNCONVERTED TEACHER.
What an anomaly does this title seem when used in reference to Sunday-school teachers, the voluntary assistants in a scheme which lias for its professed object the training of the young for God! And yet this office is bestowed upon, and is taken nnd held by hundreds of persons who know not the path they pretend to point out to others, and who, therefore, can be but "blind leaders of the blind." Yes,
though the words may startle us for the moment they excite no great surprise, for, alas, we all know and feel them to be only too true.
Unconverted teachers! How came they to be ranged under the banner of the cross? Can they be sufficiently interested in the conflict to wrestle vigorously enough to reclaim any portion of the enemy's territory? If it be not their own Captain they are fighting for, but one with whose cause they have no sympathy, where is the prospect of victory? If it be not their own Master they are serving, but a 6tranger, where is the prospect of success? They are none of His, so they cannot battle manfully in His service—they are strangers to Him, so they cannot devote themselves with the zeal and love of disciples to His work. But why have they been invested with the garb of the soldier—with the badge of the servant—with the name and office of teacher? Perhaps in many cases the circumstances were something like the following :—
They may have been brought up in the Sunday-school, have advanced to the highest class, and been appointed from thence to the charge of a group of little ones. They may be those who have a general idea that teaching is a pleasant, and at the same time a profitable way of spending the surplus time before and between the services on Sunday. Or they may be individuals who have been introduced into the Sunday-school by their friends—may have a love for children, an aptitude for teaching, a desire to do good in the world, and to appropriate to themselves the command "Feed my lambs;" but, after all, are but " unconverted teachers."
They forget that before the injunction, "Feed my lambs" was given, the question " Lovest Thou Me?" was asked and answered. Could unconverted teachers give the answer Peter did? If not, how do they know that Peter's Lord intended his subsequent behest for them. Let thU be the test—" Lovest Thott Me?"
So far as knowledge and ability are concerned, these teachers may be among the most gifted—they may give excellent lessons and sound moral advice—may even know the Bible from beginning to end— understand and be able to explain the most abstract truths, and yet from lack of experimental and heartfelt acquaintance with the simplest truths of Christ's religion, fail in the application.
They may be all that is good, kind, and gentle, in their intercourse with the scholars—very amicable and amiable with their fellow labourers, and with all beside; they may be respected, esteemed, loved, and yet with all this lack the " one thing needful."
Again, there may be some among this class, who, in darkness, arc straining and struggling for light, who from the valley below are casting earnest glances to the mountain top above, longing to commence the ascent and scale the heights, if, perchance, they may gain a sure