« PreviousContinue »
APPEAL TO SUNDAY SCHOOL TEACHERS AND THEIR
FRIENDS ON THE PRESENT CRISIS.
BRETHREN and fellow-labourers in the church of Christ! War is again proclaimed in Europe. · It has commenced; but who will declare its termination ? Before the fierce rage of human passions, and the conflict for masterdom by violence have ended, many souls will be driven to their final account, and many homes will be embittered by bereavement. The disciples of Sardinia, who have been studying the gospel of peace, meeting in humble homes to teach the young to pray and read the word of God, will find in this conflict temptation for baser passions; and miseries not to be described in language, will make them, more than they have lately been, the objects of your pity, and the claimants of your prayers. Forget them not !—they have laboured, and they now must suffer, in the place of former martyrdom. Their fathers were heroes for the truth of God, when our forefathers worshipped stocks and stones. Their interests and their hopes are identical with our own.
Let no sympathy be suppressed; but let the profoundest wisdom guide its exercise.
While the malignant errors which infect Europe are, in their open and concealed agencies, repeating the ancient policy of fighting nation with nation, till all are weakened and debased, for spiritual slavery, God, in His gracious providence has, by the proclamation of our beloved Queen, made a strict neutrality the privilege and duty of British Christians. May God preserve her gracious Majesty! and may He preserve for her the ripest and the richest fruits of the neutrality which has been proclaimed.
No fear is entertained, brethren, of your disagreement with the aim of the wise and royal proclamation. Teachers of mercy must be averse to woe; but temptation awaits the young. The call for rifle clubs, and rifle practice, as preparations for the coming storm, is put forth with so much speciousness and spirit, that not the ungodly only, the teachers and elder scholars of our sabbath schools become endangered by the delusion. Penetrated with this fear, these lines are written to put them on their guard. Patriotic as it may seem to study the use of arms, let every youth remember that this use of arms is worthless, except in the actual shedding of human blood. The rifle is a deadly instrument, and its use is found only in the taking away of life. In the study of its use, the mind is trained to the habit of deliberately aiming to kill. He that would not kill, therefore, but, like the Saviour, whom our teachers love and serve, long to save the souls of men from death, had better neyer study the
rifle practice at all. Why should they waste their precious time in studying an art which they do not mean to follow out into practice?
On the abstract question whether war, in any case, be allowable or not, no argument will be here advanced. But it is desired that our young men, both teachers and scholars, be warned to consider whether it be not better for them to let it quite alone.
If the governments of earth will have soldiers, and know not how to rule without them, let the governments train their own victims to their own use.
For sabbath school teachers and scholars, the study of such an art is attended with a double expense, which every victim of this growing delusion ought to consider.
First. It is expensive in moral character. The old volunteers of England have left a terrible remembrance of their influence upon the minds of those familiar with their effects. Youths of hopeful piety who entered them seldom or ever returned untainted to their homes. More perished by the vice they contracted in the days of meeting and of exercise. It is scarcely possible that the rifle clubs should be less dangerous to young men at the present time; and therefore nothing could be more unfortunate for our schools than that the youth should be allured to such voluntary risk of personal piety, which is, and must be, the strength and life of our Sunday schools.
Secondly. The work of Sunday schools is now no longer a problem. Many individual cases of failure call for improvement, while they occasion grief. But, taken as a whole, our sabbath schools, and the christian churches which support them, have done more than any earthly social agency whatsoever to preserve the peace of England, and to give her the eminent superiority which she enjoys over all the nations. Rifle clubs, how numerous soever, or how perfect soever, will never supply the place of sabbath schools, in peace or
Penetrated with the influence of divine truth taught and learned in these schools, men have suffered patiently and heroically, who, if skilled in the use of arms, and filled with the war spirit, would have lived through all subjection, and have hazarded, as the suffering population of other countries have in our own time hazarded, the very existence of the throne. Sabbath school teachers and scholars have a trust and a treasure too sacred to be thrown away on rifle practice and rifle clubs. The war which has commenced may convulse the entire social system of Europe ; but if England, by her christian schools, churches, and personal religion, can maintain the strict neutrality which has been proclaimed, she will, when the hurricane has spent itself, like a lifeboat on a troubled ocean, be precious to every one and to every thing that survives the storm. Let us appropriate the popular song, therefore, to our more
Hark! hark! the hoarse murmur rolls on from afar ;
Sunday schools, Sunday schools, Sundlay schools---form.
A PRAYING GENERAL. “No time for the business of religion”-I am afraid many people excuse themselves from God's service on this plea. The apprentice does ; the school-boy in the hurry of term-time does ; the man at his workshop; the mother with her large family around her.
General Havelock, that distinguished general in India, whose wisdom and bravery have done so much to put a stop to the cruel and bloody mutiny of the Sepoys, never made this excuse to get rid of the service of his heavenly Father. He had time, among all the hurry and worry of camp life, to make the business of religion his first business. He found time. He did not believe God ever put men in posts where they could not serve him. He was a man of prayer, and he found time to pray—not only to pray by himself, but with his men. Among his camp baggage was a praying tent, the biggest one he had, and this he used to pitch at the stations, and hold prayer-meetings in it, and read the precious word of God to his soldiers.
He well knew if there was a class of men in the world that needed the comforts and the help of the Lord Jesus Christ, it was soldiers. And many a poor soldier found how superior was a heavenly service over anything the Queen of England could offer. In the hurried and awful marches which General Havelock and his regiments were forced to make in the present war, he arose two hours before his men, in order to have time to pray. If they were to begin their march at six o'clock in the morning, he was up at four. If the camp were to break up at four, he was up at two. He believed there was time for the business of religion. And the papers tell us there were no soldiers so prompt and faithful iu duty, so reliable in those dreadful times, as General Havelock and his praying regiments.
A TEACHER'S MUSINGS.
“And looking on Jesus as He walked, he said, 'Behold the Lamb of God.'”
John i. 36. In the three verses of which this is the middle one, we have a picture representing a very simple incident, yet fraught with interesting and practical lessons. In the foreground is a little group-master and disciples-engaged in high and holy discourse. As we study the central figure, and mark the rough garments and deeply-lined countenance, telling of contest with hardships and a life of stern asceticism, we at once recognise the “prophet of the wilderness."
But how changed is his aspect since we saw him beside Jordan, denouncing “wrath to come” on the unrepenting multitude around ! Whence that gentle smile lighting up the rugged features ?--the slight bending of that majestic head, as if in acknowledgment of a superior Presence ?—the general expression of rest that gives its tone to his whole figure? For an answer, we seek the eye-that index of the soul : it is turned from us—from the eager listeners at his side, who, like ourselves, are seeking its direction.
Following its course, we observe another object in the picture. Slowly passing along, at no great distance, is a man with nothing particularly distinctive about him, yet on whom having once looked our eyes desire to rest. No peculiar robe notes him as a prophet; neither does he bear the stamp of earth's nobility; yet instinctively we bow to his wisdoin, and recognise Divinity in that countenance “fairer than the children of men.” And now we want to know Him more intimately--to follow Him, to walk in His company, to see where He lives, to sup with Him, and He with us. “Our eye affecteth our heart.”
And thus the two disciples of Johu, hearing him say, “ Behold the Lamb of God," and seeing their master's eye gazing joyfully on the Saviour, turned and looked too. And with what result ?—No longer satisfied with the moral teaching, or even the spiritual lessons newly acquired by the Baptist, they resolve henceforth to seek instruction from the“ Wisdom of God” Himself; and from this day shall constantly meet them in His society.
Dear fellow-teachers, are we imitating John's example in word and deed ? Have we “looked on Jesus as He walked,” studying His character-noting His comportment in the varying scenes and acts of that life which was spent entirely for our instruction! If we have, has the “look” wrought in us conformity to the same image ? (2 Cor. iii. 18). Can our children see in us excellent graces which commend to them the religion we inculcate ? Is our eye still directed towards Christ, so that while we invite them to “ behold” Him as the “Lamb of God," our words may go to their young hearts with double impetus, because “ Teacher trusts in the Saviour, and it makes him happy ?"
Oh, the eye and the lip must share equally in this our service of love! The kindled heart alone can send forth kindling words, and for success in bringing little ones to Jesus we must
"Behold the Lamb of God!"
P. S. S.
THOUGHT AND FEELING.
Thought is deep, feeling is deeper. The plummet with which the student takes the lowermost soundings of the mind, touches only the surface of the heart. That is fathomless. It heaves and swells with innumerable under-currents-some from Time, some from Eternity; and, moreover, its uppermost surges are constantly affected by the changes of the surrounding world. Seasons of the year, fluctuations of trade, the state of the funds, turns of fortune, changes of government, the collision of classes, the position of the nations of the earth in relation to our country and of our country in relation to them ; aye, and the events of a narrower circle--health and sickness, births and deaths, meetings and partings in our own homes : all the outer scenes of this ever-shifting life-drama move and colour the sea-like waves of the deep heart within us. Even Newton, who could show us the mechanism of the remote heavens, could not explore the life-mechanism of the humblest traveller that crossed his path. There was a world there, which no astronomic instrument can weigh or measure --a human heart which will throb with unknown thoughts and emotions, when skies are dissolved.
As our worst, so also our best emotions surge up from this fathomless heart. We cannot therefore trace them to their origin, nor can we define them, as it is possible for us to define many of our ideas. They cannot be printed in superficial books. Like other holy and deep things, they love solitude and silence. What words, for example, can utter forth the newborn feelings which sometimes rise within us, when walking amid the glory of a Spring morning? When, having left the city, with its dim Babel-like confusion--its hard biting selfishness, in which man preys upon man-we have gone forth, in the old freedom of our boyhood, to roam once more over the green hills and valleys, have we not ere now been arrested, almost spell-bound, by the scenes and sounds of the magic Spring ? And while we have stood still, either to feast our eye upon the rich verdure, streaked with the white blossom of flowering hedgerows and fruittrees; or to watch the motion of the clouds, and the play of the lights and shadows disappearing in the blue hills which skirt the far-off horizon ; or to listen to the bleating of distant flocks, the hum of insect life waking up from its winter sleep, the rippling of streams blended with the songs of