Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

THE DUTIES OF THE CHURCH TO THE SABBATH-SCHOOL.

255

Now, why is the history of the Jews left on record? It is for our learning. It is that we may profit by the lesson taught by their ! apostacy and rejection. We are very ready to condemn the Jews, and certainly their condemnation is well-deserved; but let us "not be high-minded, but fear." We inherit the same hearts of unbelief, the same propensity to depart from the living God. Our condition, in respect to privilege, is very greatly superior to theirs. Even the least in the Christian church possesses advantages greater than those who lived under the Jewish dispensation. And if, in despite of all, we be found to have rejected the Saviour, will not our guilt and our condemnation be great indeed! We may none of us openly reject the Saviour; by profession we may all love and serve him. But profession, in itself, is nothing. Everything depends upon the state of the heart in the sight of God. We must be born again, before we can enter the kingdom of heaven. An outward profession, however well-sustained and consistent, is mere hypocrisy, without a sanctified heart, and an humble walk with God.

J.

THE DUTIES OF THE CHURCH TO THE SABBATH-SCHOOL. No one who reflects for a moment can consider an essay on such a subject unnecessary or unimportant. Many members of our churches seem to take but little interest in Sabbath-schools. What do they more than give their annual subscription, (and only a small one is required,) or listen with interest to the children's annual hymn, or join with the minister in supplicating a blessing, or in exclaiming with the thousands who agree to declare that of all institutions worthy of patronage the Sabbath-school stands amongst the foremost? Not only are many thus deficient in their duty, but, remarkable as it may appear, it is nevertheless a fact, that not a few were devoted teachers till they became members of a Christian church; as though the handling of the elements of the Saviour's body and blood gave them a right to turn away from the Sabbath-school.

in vain. And is there not hope of success? Are we not about to direct our attention to those who feel the value and importance of religion-a class of individuals who will walk in the right path, when that path is shown to be right, and when their walking in it appears practicable? An enemy of truth you have to conciliate; a servant of God you have merely to take by the hand, and, pointing to the sphere of his activity, say, "There you must labour, labour hard, labour till the close of life; and may the Lord be with you!"

Now, if anything can be said to arouse one of God's servants to activity, this essay will not have been written

In pointing out the duties of churchmembers toward Sabbath-schools, we are bold to assert that there are numbers who ought to be active labourers in them. Why are they not? Let us look to their reasons: let us do so with faithfulness and kindness.

Some think they want the ability. We would be very far from leading our friends to think that any one will do for a Sabbath-school teacher. There

must be one talent at least, and if there be five they will be well-employed in the Sabbath-school. But (to use a familiar phrase) are we able to tell what we can do till we try? Is not Divine assistance promised, if we seek it aright? Have we not already done many things for which, at one time, we considered ourselves but ill-qualified? Besides, may not some, by a little diligence, obtain the qualification they may need? It would be no disgrace for a member of a church, on a Sabbath morning, to say, "During the past week I have spent several hours in searching the Scriptures and in general reading, that I might be prepared to represent truth in such a manner as that it should arrest attention, and, through the Divine blessing, convert the soul."

families, are those where the father and the elder branches of the family attend upon the Sabbath-school. The gardener, in following his employment in his neighbourhood, does not usually neglect the plot of ground nearest his own dwelling; he finds time to culti vate it, and to cultivate it well. It is just so with the pious head of a family labouring in the Sabbath-school.

One plea which is often brought forward is, "We are so actively engaged in business during the week, and till such a late hour on Saturday evening, that we find it almost impossible to attend the school on the Sabbath morning." How deeply, brethren, is it to be deplored that many are compelled thus to labour! When will Mammon require a less portion of time devoted to his worship? When will undue competition in trade be most effectually checked by the prevalence of Christian principles? But still there are members of churches who have almost all the leisure they can desire: the way, therefore, is open to them. With refer

Some plead their want of time, as a reason why they do not teach in a Sabbath-school. Three or four hours in a week are all that is required. Can this be too much to give for the education of souls for eternity? Surely some portion of our time ought to be spent every Lord's day in teaching the Chris-ence to others, should they not be willtian religion.

[blocks in formation]

ing to make a sacrifice for the good of their fellow-men? Let the member of the Christian church who, on the Sabbath morning, after his first meal, takes up his book, or lulls himself to sleep on the Sabbath afternoon, and congratulates himself upon the ease that he enjoys, recollect that Jesus did not thus please himself; that apostles laboured for souls with untiring energy.

Some say if they teach they must make a sacrifice. Let it be so. The greater the sacrifice, the greater the reward. The Christian tradesman who, on Saturday evening, is obliged to be behind his counter till nearly midnight, and will be, from love to Christ, at a

class on the Sabbath morning, shall know of such in Leeds, Manchester, have no common reward. London, and other places. May they long be engaged in their useful and honourable employment!

Some say the young should engage in the work; they have more leisure and more activity. Perhaps so; and we love to see a band of young disciples labouring with diligence and perseverance in the work of tuition. But are those in the middle of life, or those even who have passed it, to be excused? The advanced in age may not have all the activity of youth, but they generally have more intelligence, more prudence, and they ought to have more zeal. The writer of this paper is happy in being able to number among his teachers two, at least, who have not only passed the meridian of life, but who are fast declining in years. They are always at their work, always apparently happy, and always stimulating the young by their example. are stars of the first magnitude above our little firmament, and we trust that they may shine on till they set only to arise in greater glory!

They

Thus we say that numbers might teach in the Sabbath-school who do not; and the reasons for not doing so, if examined, would be found unjustifiable.

But admitting some cannot teach, are there no duties for them to discharge? There are duties, and these we have yet to mention.

We point out the first by asking, What is a Sunday-school? We may call it a harvest-field. If members of churches cannot cut, or bind, or carry, they may at least sometimes go into the field, and say, as Boaz, "The Lord be with thee;" and many a teacher would heartily respond, "The Lord bless thee!" The writer of these pages can mention a third aged member of his church, who, till infirmities had disabled him, was in the habit of going into the Sabbath-school, and though he could not read a word, he would sit and witness the animating scene, and doubtless offer up secret but sincere prayer.

Another way of being useful is that of having the eye frequently directed to the youthful part of the congregation.

Once more perhaps a few may shrink from Sabbath-school labours in consequence of their exalted situation in society. It is stooping too low to teach the children of the poor. Such individuals are too exalted: they may be brought low. May it be in their minds, rather than in their circumYou may easily conceive of the stances! Is it not, however, right to influence which an aged or influential condescend to children of low estate? member of a church would have upon Can the Son of God be pleased with the young, were they to go to one and the contributions of those who think it another, and say, “Come, young friend, beneath them to teach children the you must not stand here all the day way to heaven? Were Paul on earth, idle. I think you would be of service he would not blush to be seen teaching in the Sabbath-school. Devote your in a Sabbath-school, nor would Gabriel. youthful powers to God." How much But happily, in our day, we have some more useful this than passing them persons of influence and wealth en- with indifference, or repelling them gaged in teaching every Sabbath. We with frowns!

258

THE DUTIES OF THE CHURCH TO THE SABBATH-SCHOOL.

Again; there are doubtless members of churches who cannot well teach in Sunday-schools, perhaps from want of time, or delicacy of health. Such might have a class at their own dwellings, selected from the senior scholars, or might take up the children who are about to leave the school. Were this the case, what good would accrue! The good would be certain. It has been in part realized. It would form a connecting link between the Sabbath-school and the church. We cannot dwell longer on this particular, but we hope it may be seriously thought of and vigorously carried out.

Another duty suggests itself by the practice of the horticulturist. He sowe his seed, a large bed of tender plants soon appears: he has his eye frequently directed towards it; in due time he sees some plants taller and stronger than the rest; these he carefully selects and transplants. In like manner members and deacons of Christian churches should ever have their eyes directed to Sabbath-schools. Do they find children more serious, more religiously intelligent than others? Let them encourage them; let them never rest satisfied till they be fitted to be transplanted into the church.

Again; something might be done in some cases, by members of churches, with reference to the parents of children in the Sabbath-school. Parents sometimes do not send their children so regularly as they might to school; they often keep them away for mere trifles. Now, if an influential member or deacon were to speak a word, those parents might be aroused to their duty. In addition to what we have said, we ask, Cannot members of churches aid teachers in the management of

their schools? Cannot they encourage them when they are depressed? and, should the angry waves of contention arise, might they not say, in imitation of Christ, and in dependence on his Spirit, "Peace, be still;" and would not a calm in most cases ensue? A minister of Christ discharges the most important office in the church; still he is a member of it. Much is said respecting what ministers ought to do in Sabbath-schools. Without marking out their path in every particular, we may say, Should not ministers be acquainted most intimately with the schools, and should they not preside in all the deliberations of the teachers?

Lastly; members of churches ought to pray for Sabbath-schools. They ought to do so in their closets, in their families, and also in their social meetings for prayer.

Some

These, then, are the duties of churchmembers to Sabbath-schools. may teach personally, others assist in the various ways just specified. Thus there is something for all to do; no one need be idle.

How much good would result from the members of churches throwing their energies into the good work! Would not children become eminently intelligent and God-fearing? Many pious people are apt to utter unkind remarks about teachers: some are too young, others too trifling, others too hasty. We are almost ready to say, Why not, then, fill up their place? Do we long for the time when all shall know the Lord? It will never come till members of churches do their duty to the Sabbath-school.

In calling upon church-members to exert themselves, we call upon them to promote their own welfare. Never

[ocr errors]

can we clearly understand Divine truth till we teach it. To feel aright for children we must be amongst them. While we speak to them of a Saviour's love our love to him will be enkindled. A Sabbath-school is something more than a place of noise, disorder, and ignorance: some have found it a Bethel; some have said, "It is good to be here." Admit that at times the pious teacher is cast down, and overpowered with distress; still he says, "I am in my Master's work, and I ought to be faithful." If motives are wanted, they are numerous and powerful. The value of the soul, the evils of sin, the influence of this generation upon the next and succeeding generations, are motives to arouse us to activity. Not the least, however, is the consideration that Christ calls us to engage in his service. We see, in imagination, the great river of Egypt; the Nile is an emblem of the world and all its dangers. We see an ark floating on its waters; that ark is the Sabbath-school. Raikes, of Gloucester, began to build it. Pharoah's daughter comes to the river, and takes up the ark; she is an emblem of Christ. When she opens the ark, the babe weeps; Jesus sees many a little child crying for instruction, and most anxious to receive it. Pharaoh's daughter takes up the child, and sends for a nurse; Jesus sends for the members of the church, and entrusts the Sabbathschool to their care. "Take this child, and nurse it for me, and I will give thee thy wages," says Pharaoh's daughter; and so says Jesus. Moses, under his mother's care, lived, and ultimately became all that could be desired. Oh! what would the youth of our day be, if we were but faithful to our Lord's command! May he make us faithful!

CALVIN AND ECKIUS. ECKIUS, being sent by the Pope's legate into France, upon his return resolved to take Geneva in his way, on purpose to see Calvin, and, if occasion were, to attempt reclaiming him to the Romish Church. Therefore, when Eckies was come within a league of Geneva, he left his retinue there, and went, accompanied with but one man, to the city in the forenoon. Setting ur his horses at an inn, he inquired where Calvin lived; whose house being shown him, he knocked at the door, and Calvin himself came to open it to him. Eckius inquired for Mr. Calvin: he was told he was the person. Eckius acquainted him that he was a stranger, and, having heard much of his fame, was come to wait upon him. Calvin invited him to come in, and he entered the house with him, where, discoursing of many things concerning religion, Eckius perceived Calvin to be an ingenious, learned man, and desired to know if he had not a garden to walk in; to which Calvin replying that he had, they both went into it, and then Eckius began to inquire of him why he left the Romish Church, and offered him some arguments to persuade him to return; but Calvin could by no means be persuaded to think of it. At last Eckius told him that he would put his life into his hands, and then said he was Eckius, the Pope's legate. At this discovery Calvin was not a little surprised, and begged his pardon that he had not treated him with the respect due to his quality. Eckius returned the compliment, and told him if he would come back to the church, he would certainly procure for him a cardinal's cap; but Calvin was not to be moved by such an offer.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »