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Observer, Aug. 1,71.
power of God-facts to be believed, and which, when believed, will scatter scepticism, destroy pride, root out sinful desires, and bring the soul in repentance to bow humbly to the will of God; (2) of commandmentscommandants to be obeyed-commandments in cheerfully accepting which we may test our change of heart, and learn how far we are genuinely converted; (3) of promises-promises of pardon, adoption, of the Holy Spirit, of fatherly guidance and priestly intercession, and spiritual fellowship, and of the joys of an endless life-promises to be appropriated and enjoyed as the result of hearty obedience to the Gospel. So that when we believe the facts, obey the commandments and enjoy the promises of the Gospel, we are Christians and may know it and rejoice in it as surely as we may know of the existence of God and of Christ. And all this is in the Gospel always, everywhere, day and night, year in and year out for every one who will accept it, and for all on precisely the same conditions.
4. The equal brotherhood of all Christians—all children of God, all kings and priests to God. No popes, no cardinals, no archbishops, no clergy, no hierarchy ; for ye are all one in Christ Jesus," Fatherly teachers and guides_brotherly helpers, and genuine brotherly co-operation in all good works—these may be and must be; but no lords over the heritage of God—none to have dominion over our faith.
5. The pure word of God as our light and our food; and fellowship in keeping the commandments of our Lord Jesus Christ. Every one bound to honour Jesus and to obey Him-no one bound in aught outside of this. Every soul answerable to God for its convictions and doings in all elseanswerable to its brethren only for integrity in the faith of Christ and faithful obedience to His laws. Hence it became a matter of the first im. portance to possess the pure
word of God, and to cast out all interpolations and corruptions of the text. The careful and critical study of the original text, and a faithful translation of that text, that all men might know the truth and walk in its light, became an essential demand from the principles already adopted. In a word, the Church of the New Testament in opposition to sects; Christ in opposition to all human leaderships ; faith in Christ and obedience to Christ, as terms of fellowship, in opposition to all doctrinal and ecclesiastical tests; the New Testament in opposition to all human creeds, as the standard of truth in the Church; and Gospel facts, conditions and promises in opposition to all imaginative, arbitrary or mystical evidences of pardon or adoption. These are the prominent items of the reformation we have been pleading, which in fifty years has gathered half a million of communicants in this land, and thirty thousand in this State.
The conflict has been a severe one—not always wisely waged, it may be; not without some mixture of error and extravagance; but, in the main, it has been manfully and ably waged, and bravely sustained against tremendous opposition. But to-day we are enabled to say, with Paul, in reference to this plea, “a great and effectual door is opened unto us.” These fifty years have witnessed a gradual but wonderful revolution in religious sentiments of the people. The hyper-Calvinism and Antinomianism then so prevalent, and so fruitful a source of protest and revolt, are scarcely heard of. Many of the fierce controversies of that time have entirely ceased. The theological speculations of that period have given place to matters of more solid, practical import. The theologians and mystics of that time regarded us as little better than infidels, because we fixed the sinner's attention on Christ, and received him to baptism on his simple avowal of faith in Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God; but Rationalism
Observer, Aug. 1, 71.
has forced this issue upon the Christian world, so that to-day the great question in theology is the Christological question, and everything distinctive between the believing and unbelieving world hinges on the answer to this question: Is Jesus the Christ, the Son of God, or not? Creed authority is on the wane; has, in fact, largely departed. Even in good old Scotland where metaphysics and stubbornness find their best embodiments, creeds have lost their sacredness, and their wise men confess that a new departure must be made. In this country, no one dreams longer of holding the members of the churches to the church standards ; and they are fast learning that they cannot hold the clergy either. More and more, men are learning everywhere to value faith in Christ and obedience to Christ as the true test of Christian fellowship, and to reduce all else to the plea of expediency. Sect-dominion is also rapidly waning. The demand for the union of Christians is increasing every day, and the charms of denominationalism are not half so prominent in the public eye as its evils and mischiefs. The science of Biblical Criticism may be said to have been reconstructed during these fifty years, so that the necessity for a more faithful translation of the Scriptures is no longer debatable.
Add to this the general revolution in the public mind as to investigating all these questions. There is no longer trouble to obtain a hearing. No apology is needed in these days for overhauling these questions and pointing out the need of reformation. It is rather demanded. A man needs but to be manly, honourable, respectful, and competent, and every. where his plea will be listened to with interest. In all this it will be seen that a great and effectual door is opened to us. II. But now we must look at the other side.
" And there are many adversaries.” It is idle to attempt to disguise the fact, that while the opportunity for speaking the truth is great, the opposition is correspondingly great.
1. Look at Roman Catholicism, with its shameless avowal of the despotic spirit and doctrines of the darkest of the dark ages, and its impious claim to papal infallibility; its open hostility to freedom of conscience, freedom of speech, free schools and State education. And look at her progress in spite of all this, in our own land—ber immense purchases of real estate, her control of politics and of the public funds, and the fear and dread of offending her that is manifested by our politicans generally; and you have one style of opposition formidable in its dimensions and in the practiced skill by which it is conducted.
2. Look at Rationalism in its varied phases, undeifying Christ and pantheistically deifying human reason-plying the inquisitive minds of the age with the follies and discords of the Protestant world, and paralyzing the faith of myriads in the word of God and the divinity of our Lord Jesus. Not so much in the converts openly made as in the indifferentism everywhere engendered, is its power to be dreaded. It is a fearful reaction from the creed bondage of the past. In rejecting human authority, they reject also the divine, and the inspired creed is swept with the uninspired into a common condemnation.
3. Far more wide-spread is the mischief arising from the intensely secular spirit of the age. The second-mentioned evil is one that is realized by thinkers and students; but the mass of people do not think or study closely on these subjects. Without much thought or study they drink in the spirit of the age, which is grossly material and worldly. It is an age of material interests. Even science is subsidized by materialism, and has its chief value in ministering to the advancement of material interests.
Observer, Aug. 1, 71.
Education no longer proposes intellectual and moral enlargement and elevation as an end. Its end now is to fit us for the successful pursuit of wealth. Money is more than intellect, and intellect more than heart, these days. We are willing to wear the long ears of Midas, if only every thing we touch may turn to gold. This insane thirst for riches, and the absorbing interest in the worldly pursuits which it necessarily engenders, puts every spiritual interest in peril. Not only are the devotees of wealth impervious to all attacks made by the Gospel on heart and conscience, but the Church is unnerved for the attack that ought to be made. This secular spirit is eating out the piety of heart, and home, and church. The closet is for. saken; the family altar crumbles. The Bible is no longer the book of the household. The daily papers, saturated with worldliness, and reeking with vice and crime, and the weekly or monthly journal of literature and fashion, utterly Christless, if not positively Infidel in its tendencies, form the reading of the family. Beyond this, if books are reached, they are apt to be frothy fictions, written to minister to sensationalism, and leaving the reader with hot blood and prurient desires. Our children go from these almost godless homes to secular schools, from which every thing moral and religious is being almost diligently rooted out, in obedience to the Atheistic demands of a foreign population, who are not content to enjoy in this land the liberty which Christianity has given them, but seek to establish in our country the same Atheistic principles that have already sapped the foundations of morals in Europe, and made France the helpless, pitiable spectacle she is to-day. And our churches are invaded by the same secular spirit. The simplicity and spirituality of the Church of God are sacrificed to pride and fashion. The crashing thunders of truth against all sin and wrong are exchanged for dulcet notes of rhetorical elegance, or the sky-rockets of a sensational oratory. A false and hollow liberalism succeeds to the stern old bigotry that used to reign in the pulpit. Very short prayers and ten minute sermons are the rage now. For the rest, the house of God must be made a place of refined amusement, so as to draw. Either delicious music or startling oratory must be had to draw. And when our children go from such homes into such schools, and from such schools into such churches, what sort of a generation are we training for the work of God ? I tremble when I think of it. I am no foe to refinement or to oratory, and certainly no advocate of boorishness or of Ishmaelitish aggressiveness in the pulpit; but I would a thousand times rather see our pulpits filled with hairy Elijahs than with the most accomplished trimmers and slaves of the hour.
It is this worldliness, so wide-spread and so insinuating, that more than anything else paralyzes our missionary efforts. We are so intoxicated with the spirit of the times that we can not be brought to sympathize with a world that is rushing down to death. And we grow so selfish and ambitious in the midst
of our earthly prosperities, that we have no heart to give as we ought to give in the missionary work. There is ever an increasing selfishness attending our growth in wealth, which very few escape. We have less sympathy with the world, and more anxiety for our own interests. And this operates in regard to our religious givings as in all other things. We lose our sympathy with the world of mankind. We learn to sneer at foreign missions, and figure on it to ascertain how much it costs to convert a soul in Africa or in India. Nor does it stop there. We soon lose all interest in benevolent enterprise in our own land, outside of our own neighbourhood. Nothing can open our purse, unless it is something in our own neighbourhood, for our church, and
Observer, Aug. 1, '71.
for the benefit of our community. Nor will it stop there. For this mean selfishness is ordained to curse its possessor until it withers and blights every generous and noble impulse of his nature, and will eat him up at last with carking care and nervous fear lest even he himself should desire some benefit from his possessions and make some needless drain on his own resources. “ There is that scattereth and yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, and it tendeth to poverty.”
When I look to-day on the gates that God has opened in Italy and Spain, and Austria and Mexico, that His people may enter in, and think of the demands for Bibles, and colporteurs, and preachers, to give the bread and water of life to famishing multitudes, and remember that we have not one man offering for the work, nor one dollar to give to such an one, were he to offer, I bow myself in the dust for very shame. When I look at our own broad land, and listen to the cry coming up from all quarters, from men of every country who have come hither for refuge and rest, and look at the millions of degraded freedmen ready to sink back into the lowest superstitions, and think how little we are doing for them, I begin to ask whether we believe what we preach. But when I look into our own State, and see the demands at our very doors, and the openings that God has made for us, and see how slow we are to enter, and how little there is of spontaneity in our benevolence, I am staggered at the spectacle, and know not what to say.
If we had no higher motive than ordinary patriotism, it should inspire us to greater efforts than we are making. I have alluded to the secular character of our public school education, and to the fact that it is becoming less and less moral and religious. It is to my mind clearly evident that such an education can never subserve the interests of the State, and that the Church must do for the State what the State cannot do for itself-infuse into society the moral and spiritual potencies which alone can conserve the interests of freedom, and impart the soul-culture, without which a merely intellectual education may be more of a curse than a blessing.
To be continued.
MY SUNDAY SCHOOL.
I am not the proprietor of a Sunday school ; nor am I the superintendent of one. I am not a teacher; neither am I a scholar. I say my Sunday school because I only have seen it, and because it exists in that region of imagination to which I only have access. I purpose to describe it to the reader; so far, at least, as shall enable him to see it (with the mental eye) not in its perfection and maturity, but as of recent organization and capable of considerable improvement. This purpose I can best accomplish by bringing into view the old school,
Ι out of which my Sunday school is developed. Well, then, the reader will consider himself engaged in inspecting an ordinary third or fourth rate Sunday school, held in a fair sized room, under a chapel that seats some four hundred
persons, to which a smaller room is attached. The scholars are about two hundred, and quite an average number are very young. There are some eight classes, and a considerable infant class in the smaller room. There are fewer teachers than classes (speaking of regular and efficient teachers), and often classes are without teachers. Only members of the church are permitted to fill that office. School hours are from nine till
Observer, Aug. 1, 'n
half-past ten and from half-past two till four. The Meetings are opened, in the usual way, by prayer and singing, and all classes and operations are carried on together during the hours here specified. In the morning the elder scholars are taken into the chapel, where they get tired of the service, while the younger are kept below till a quarter before twelve, amused and instructed by one or two of the teachers. One afternoon in the month is set apart for recitation,
when children repeat portions of Scripture, Hymns, etc. Rewards, as Bibles and other books, are occasionally given. Much time and labour is devoted to teaching reading, a considerable number of the scholars being unable to read. A B C keeps constant place. Lesson boards, with words of two or three letters are in good demand. Other boards, supplied by the Society for the promotion of Scripture Knowledge, have contributed to the enlightenment of the youthful thinkers of the smaller room, such as—"
“THE CAT HAS GOT A TAIL"_"I HAVE NOT GOT A TAIL,” etc. I am not in love with these lessons, as I cannot doubt but that the youngsters know perfectly well not only that puss has a tail but also where to find it, as we should learn could their favourites of the feline tribe but publish their afflictions, consequent upon the irregular handling of their cordal appendages by many of these Sunday students of Natural History. Neither can I see any necessity to teach them that they, themselves, are without tails. They have, no doubt, discovered that much by contrasting themselves with their four-footed playmates. Had the lesson read—“HUMAN BEINGS NEVER HAD TAILS," I might have supposed that the Scripture Knowledge Society, and the teachers who selected these cards from its stock, designed to seize the earliest moment to preoccupy the infant mind against the errors of Darwinism. But, whatever the motive, the lesson boards were there, and so the children were instructed.
It was out of this school that my school arose. My school is under the management of a committee appointed by the church. The committee raises funds, forms classes, fixes times for meeting, selects class books, appoints teachers, and arranges for periodical and occasional examinations and recitations. An important feature in my school is that no class assembles more than once on the Sunday, and that each class is fixed for such time as the committee finds most convenient to the persons of whom it is composed. In this way a scholar can attend two or more classes, if time and inclination favour. Another advantage is, that scholars in the higher classes can also be teachers in those less advanced. In the old school I have known useful Bible classe's broken up by taking away those who desired and needed to remain, in order to find teachers for the young children. And I have also known Bible classes established away from the chapel, partly to place those who formed them out of the reach of those who would have carried them off for teachers had their meeting been held in the chapel.
Now as to classes. It must be understood that in my school young children who cannot read are not taught reading. The Alphabet and all that immediately follows instruction therein is shut out entirely, being left to the day schools and School Boards under the regulations of our new national educational arrangements. But, though this is the case,
the youngest children, excepting only such as require merely nursing and amusement, are gladly received, whether they know letters or aot.
These young and tender plants form one class. In a larger school, upon the same plan, they would make two or three classes. This class embraces all who can. not road the New Testament so as not to obstruct the next higher class