Page images
PDF
EPUB

is what the wisest and best of our statesmen, as well as ministers of the gospel, propose to do. Here are Moses and Aaron united in counsel and in labors, for the common good. Here is the true American union, of which no Christian, and no patriot can ever be ashamed. It is the glory and safety of our country. It is an union which gives its money, gives its time, gives its influence; and strives, in its daily prayers, to raise up good Chrstians and good ministers-good citizens and good rulers. It is such an union as was witnessed when Aaron and Hur held up the hands of Moses in the battle. An union of intelligence, public spirit, and deep moral principle, in all the members of the community, which effectually secures a conscientious obedience to the laws. That sort of union which makes every patriot a Christian, and every Christian a patriot. That union, in fine, which exists where all the members of a great family, love one another with a pure heart, fervently.'

This, I hardly need to say, is the only union of religion and civil government which the friends of Sabbath schools desire, or would consent to. For this they long, for this they pray.' And may such an union of hearts and minds, in all that can promote the public welfare, be speedily consummated by the universal prevalence of true religion. May the essential principles of the Bible be thus graven on every youthful heart, and may its life-giving spirit so thoroughly pervade all our institutions, as to animate them with a sound and enduring vitality.

But to this end, parents, teachers, ministers, churches, and all who love God, and their country, have a great work to do. While the American Sunday School Union must rely supremely upon Heaven for support and success, subordinately it' lives, and moves, and has its being 'in

your children.

the favor of the people ; especially of the pious, benevolent, and influential classes. To such, then, let me earnestly appeal on the present occasion. And,

First, to parents of every communion, and every rank in society. Consider your responsibleness, and accept the aid which is proffered you, in the religious education of

Sabbath schools can nowhere exist, but by your permission and countenance. For whom do so many teachers and superintendents ask the privilege of toiling, and often under great bodily exhaustion, from Sabbath to Sabbath, and year to year? Is it for themselves, or for you and those whom God hath given you ? And will you not bid them God speed—will you not help them? For whom did Christ die ? Was it not for your children, and will you not bring them to him in the Sabbath school, that he may there take them up in his arms and bless them, as he has blessed thousands of others ?

But here let me earnestly caution you against devolving the whole business of religious education upon others, as if their readiness to assist you could ever excuse you from the duties of catechizing and other family instruction at home. I greatly fear, that even many Christian parents are in fault here, and I do know, that some devoted teachers have almost doubted, on this account, whether their labors were of much use.

Now, such neglect on your part, is most ungrateful to God and to them. It is discourging, it is cruel! It is as if should requite an overflowing benevolence, in offering to aid you in feeding and clothing your children, by just throwing off the whole burden from your own, hands. And do not imagine that you have done all your duty, when you have secured the religious education of your own children. As it respects other families, the

you

only questions are, do they need your assistance, and is it n your power to help them ? How many are there, who cannot, or will not, decently clothe their children, and furnish them with the necessary books; and how comes it that you can purchase hundreds of the most interesting little volumes for your own children, at one quarter of the price which they used to cost ? Could you have done it, if the Sunday School Union had never been formed? And, can you not afford in your turn to help the Union? Is it not a debt whieh you are solemnly bound to discharge ?

To those of you, my friends, who give your time and thoughts to this great work, as superintendents and teachers, much more might be said, by way of encouragement, exhortation, and advice, than the time will rmit Where then shall I begin? Shall I speak of duty as the eonstraining motive to action and perseverance? The theme before us, no doubt, is fruitful of such arguments, and appeals, beyond almost any other. But the word duty is too cold—it has too little heart for such an enterprise as that in which you are engaged. It is a word which I am persuaded cannot be found in the vocabulary of heaven, and the sooner we can make it obsolete on earth the better. How strangely would it sound, to say that the angels serve God day and night in his upper temple, because they think it their duty to serve him! And surely it is high time, for the church at least, to emigrate from the polar circles of Christianity, and move nearer to the sun. To love God, and Christ, and the souls of men, is a very different thing from being convinced that it is our duty to love them. So to teach and pray in the Sabbath school under the constraining influence of love, is heaven-wide from any emotion which a inere sense of duty can excite.

Need I undertake to show you what a privilege it is, to be a Sabbath school teacher, and would be to the greatest man in the world.

Suppose, then, for a moment, that you could summon around you every Lord's day, some of the most prosperous and influential men of business—some of the most devoted and useful preachers of the gospel-some of the ablest advocates and judges, and some of the most distinguished legislators of our country? Suppose you could do this as easily as you can now call your classes together, and could open the Bible before them, and impress its great truths upon their hearts and consciences, and give a permanent shape to their whole character ? Would you not esteem it an honor and a privilege? And could you

ssibly exert so mighty an influence in any other way?

Well then, what are the facts in the case? Have you not actually before you, every Sabbath, some of the future ministers of the church, and rulers of the country? Some of the great merchants and bankers, jurists, legislators, and physicians of the next forty years ? That little boy, who now listens to you with so much interest, and whose heart and intellect you are helping to fashion, will one day preach the everlasting gospel to the Hindoos, or the Chinese. And that other lad whom you found in the cellar, and allured to your school-room, will, in your own life-time, be at the head of business in your city. Among those whose characters you are forming, on the eternal basis of Scriptural truth, one may be a Howard, another a Martyn ; one a Whitefield, and another a Robert Hall, or Jonathan Edwards. That little child, now at the head of his class, may become another Franklin, or he may hereafter sit upon the bench of the Supreme Court, or he may one day be President of the United States !

What an influence! What an advantage, to have the first training of the young idea, and to direct the moral power of a great nation! The thought is prodigious. And yet it simply represents the actual prerogative of Sabbath school teachers, wherever the system of the American Sunday School Union shall be carried into full and complete effect. Nor is your influence as teachers at an end; nor has it produced its grandest results when it is seen, not only in all the common walks of life, but in the high places of society-holding the awful balances of justice; wielding the powers of argument and persuasion ; presiding over all the civil rights and institutions of a great people; and shining in the golden candlesticks of the church. It is your higher privilege to assist in training up your classes ó for glory, and honor, and immortalityin making them kings and priests unto God and the Lamb.' What power to do good! What honor conferred upon every faithful teacher, and need I add, what amazing responsibility, is here !

Ministers of Christ ! heard ye that voice, in the hour of your consecration, · Feed my lambs? How much the prosperity of this glorious cause depends upon your faithfulness, upon your influence. To say that it cannot go on "unto perfection without you, is almost to say, that if it fails, or languishes, you must answer for it. On you it devolves, to teach the teachers, as well as the children of your respective charges--to counsel and encourage them in their arduous duties--to visit your congregations, and persuade them, if possible, to send every child to the Sabbath school, as soon as it is capable of receiving religious instruction, and to exercise a general supervision over this blessed system of benevolence. While the control of the American Sunday School

« PreviousContinue »