Page images
[ocr errors]

Natural Religion,) on occasion of some mention of the ancient philosophers in a passage which our pupils were then reading, asked Laurie "What did their philosophy do for them?" The boy returned no answer. "Did it" resumed the examiner, "lead them to any knowledge of religion?" They had no RIGHT knowledge of God." "But could they be said," rejoined the visitor in a marked tone of disapprobation, " to have any knowledge of God at all?" After a moment's thought, the child answered "Yes." "That" observed the gentleman to ourselves," is by no means a right answer." Upon which we asked our young pupil whether he had any reason for making this answer, to which he replied "Yes." "What is it?" "The Apostle Paul in the first of the Romans says that when THEY KNEW GOD," laying an emphasis on these words, " they glorified him not as God." This passed in the presence of a large company of visitors. Had the gentleman thought proper to press the conversation further, as we in consequence thought it necessary to do on the following Sunday, he must have been quite satisfied on the other hand that our pupils were by no means impressed with any undue or very favourable estimate of the extent of religious knowledge possessed by the wisest heathens, nor were at all insensible of the infinitely superior advantages in this respect, which may be enjoyed even by the poorest child in a Christian land. Whether the gentleman was satisfied with the child's answer, which he admitted to be "very remarkable," we know not. But at all events, it is impossible not to indulge a hope that the knowledge and ready application of Scripture, which these children indisputably possess, may be found of infinite value to them, when assailed with questions of still greater moment than the one which was now discussed, and may enable them to " give to every one that asketh a reason of the hope that is in them." Surely a mind so furnished must be more impregnable to the insidious assaults of infidelity than his, who is in a great measure left to derive the knowledge of his religion from the false representations of the infidel; and it must afford every benevolent man no slight satisfaction to find that the mind may be so furnished even amidst the darkest and, apparently, most unpromising circumstances. We were particularly desirous to have our pupil initiated in

mental arithmetic, a branch in which all our scholars are instructed, but which obviously held out to him extraordinary benefits. This department alone was destined for a long period to be to us, in his case, a source of severe disappointment. In this study he did not appear, notwithstanding all his anxious endeavours, to be making the slightest progress, insomuch that we reported to his kind patron, Dr. Brunton, our total despondency upon this subject. Such a feeling however was happily quite a stranger to the child's own aspiring mind, which was of a nature ill calculated to brook defeat. The more he failed, the more he exerted himself; and at length these exertions were, when the event was least expected, crowned with the most triumphant success. Within a very few weeks after the period when we made our desponding communication to the Doctor he was not a little surprised to find his interesting charge making a conspicuous figure in this very department, in which he now outstrips almost all his companions.


"BE clothed with humility," is the command of scripture, of reason, of common sense; but is it too harsh to affirm that the error to which young persons, of both sexes, are most liable, is pride a high opinion of their own persons, their own powers, their own acquirements,-in a word, of their own importance. Many circumstances conduce to confirm them in this error, and from it, as a prolific root, spring faults and follies, annoying to those around them, but most of all, inju rious to themselves. It is one prevailing custom of the present day, to pay peculiar attention to the young, and an excellent custom it is; but the best of things may be abused. Our places of worship are thronged to hear popular ministers address the young; schools of every description, for their benefit, are more numerous than ever; the press teems with publications adapted and addressed to them; and excitements are provided, to stimulate the display of their talents in every laudable direction. Now these are great privileges, and if young persons of the present generation are neither wiser nor better than their predecessors, they will certainly have much more to answer for; but allow me to caution you against

thinking yourselves of great importance, merely because you are young. The blossom may be very beautiful, but it is the expectation of fruit which gives it value in our eyes. The more promising your talents-the more extensive your powersthe more careful or costly your education-the greater is your responsibility: "For where much is given much will be required; and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more." Now this feeling of self-importance, respecting which I am so anxious to caution you, is a most effectual bar against mental, moral, and religious excellence.

That young person who thinks himself already so superior to others, will hardly take the trouble to seek for further improvement. The same cause will render him deaf to instruction, heedless of the friendly warning, and sullen, if not rebellious, under reproof; he feels quite able to take care of himself, and is highly offended that any one should doubt this ability. Again: this fault will render him an easy prey to the flatterer. Perhaps there are few general assertions more correct than the common one" that young persons will always be flattered." How beneficial, in such a view, is humility! If I had but known, some years ago, how to form a due estimate of my own importance, or rather non-importance, I should have avoided disappointments and distresses, the effects of which will attend me to my grave. But while we have so excellent an opinion of ourselves, we conclude that those who flatter us are the only persons in the world who speak truly. Now, a flatterer, of all others, is the man whose attachment is least likely to last; he must be either foolish or wicked; and just when we begin to cherish a real regard for persons of this description, and to fancy them our most faithful friends, some new object presents itself, some petty disagreement occurs, and it is well if they do not prove formidable and dangerous enemies. But the most fatal effect of this error is yet to be named; it is a bar to spiritual improvement. "Seest thou," says Solomon, “ a man wise in his own conceit; there is more hope of a fool than of him." 66 Surely he scorneth the scorners, but he giveth grace unto the lowly"-the humiliating sense of guilt, and ignorance, and weakness, and dependance, which leads us to the footstool of divine mercy, earnestly to implore pardon, and

strength, and wisdom, for the Saviour's sake, and to cleave with purpose of heart unto him, who alone is able to keep us from falling, and to guide our feet into the way of peace. Is this compatible with high ideas of our own importance? Let my young friends judge for themselves. They are capable of doing so in this instance, and I will leave them now to reflect upon the subject. X. Y. Z.


"Divine communion carefully enjoyed,

"Or sought with energy, must fill the void."


I would draw near to the fountain of love and blessedness, with godly fear and joyful hope: assist me Holy Spirit! that I may do so with acceptance for the sake of Jesus Christ. Thou who art the great Jehovah hast said, "Thou shalt have none other Gods but me," but O heavenly Father! I have presumed to neglect and disobey this first and great commandment. I have sought my own glory, not thine; I have done my own will, not thine; and have thus exalted my sinful self into a rival of thee, "the living God." O pardon my impiety, and save me for thy mercy's sake, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Thou Lord hast also said, "Thou shalt not make to thyself any graven image:" Lord, I have not hewed out to myself gods of wood and stone, and bowed down my body before them; but I have loved and served the creature more than the Creator, and have thus bowed down my soul in idolatry. O wash away this, and every sin in the blood of Jesus, I beseech thee, for his sake.

Thou hast said, thou wilt not hold him guiltless that taketh thy name in vain. With shame and confusion of face O Lord! I acknowledge that I daily transgress this holy commandment. Lord, I often offer to thee lip service, while my heart wanders far from thee, thus offering but “ the sacrifice of fools;" O pity my weakness, forgive my sinfulness, and preserve me, for Christ's sake, from this great transgression.

I am commanded to "keep holy the sabbath day:" yet repeatedly do I sin against thee, O Lord, who hast sanctified it; refraining perhaps from doing my own works, while I hesitate not to speak my own words, and to think my own thoughts, forgetting, or not caring, that "thou seest the heart." O pity, cleanse, and save, for Jesus Christ's sake.

In thy mercy and goodness, O Lord, thou hast commanded me to honor my father and mother. Lord thou knowest and I know, that I have often sinned against this law. I am grieved and ashamed, and wonder at thy patience, and at thy goodness, which still spares them to me. I have “yielded them cold service; but the smile that cheers" I have refrained, or kept for younger, but not more faithful friends. I bless thee Lord that they are yet alive, O do thou teach and enable me to assist and comfort and help them in every way possible.

But well do I know a parent's love can readily forgive and quite forget their child's transgression. Let me remember Lord, also, what I have been to thee, surely most thankless, most rebellious. "Against thee, thee only have I sinned and done this evil in thy sight." O forgive and help me by thine own spirit for Jesus Christ's sake.

C. A.


A YOUNG person, who had been in a Sabbath school, went to live in a family in which religion was wholly neglected. On the other side of the street a pious family resided, who strictly observed the Sabbath. The young woman perceived that the servants were allowed to attend public worship twice on the Lord's Day, while she could not go once to church, as her master generally invited company to dinner on that day. She reminded her mistress of this circumstance, and requested she might go to chapel one part of the Sabbath. This was refused, on the ground that she could not be spared. She then resolved, that if any vacancy occurred in the family opposite, she would offer herself. This happening soon after, she waited upon the lady, who observed, "I am afraid that, as you have high wages where you now live, my place will not suit you, as I give but five pounds a year; but if you will come for that, VOL. 11. 3d SERIES.


« PreviousContinue »