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light, or as the glistening of morning dew, which passes away before the meridian sun; while the other is “a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory,” for “they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.”
What then are we doing as members of the Church to aid its triumphs. As the ball requires but the slightest impulse to put it in motion, so the Church only wants our zeal, liberality, and prayers, to complete its conquests. It fears nothing but our apathy. Will we throw down our arms now the victory is about to be won ? Can we suffer precious souls to perish in the arms of the enemy without extending to them the hand of relief? If we possess any of the love which brought the Saviour from heaven, any of the zeal which inflamed the breasts of the apostles, let us adopt the side of wisdom, and act the part of consistency. With a clear perception of the original design of the Church, under an impressive sense of our responsibility, in the diligent use of all appointed means, be this our sentiment, "If I forget thee, o Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning, If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy." Measham.
AN ADDRESS TO SUNDAY-SCHOOL TEACHERS.
Results of communicating Scriptural Instruction. Fellow-LABOURERS,- In my last communication I stated some of the various inethods of cominunicating Scriptural instruction now in use, or which might, in my opinion, be practised with advantage. It remains now for me to lay before you a few advantages which I believe would be realized were those methods of teaching generally practised and carried out, in connexion with lively faith and fervent prayer.
1. The children will acquire a better acquaintance with the Scriptures.
1. By several of the methods of imparting Scriptural instruction previously recommended, a better knowledge of ihe various books which the Bible contains will be acquired. Many
of our senior Bible scholars, who have not been practised by such methods as these, would not know in what part of the Bible to look for some of the books which it contains; but by being frequently employed in referring to passages in various parts of the Scriptures, to illustrate the great variety of subjects which would come before them, they would soon acquire an expertness in the work, and be able to refer to any passage with facility.
2. A better knowledge would be acquired of the various and important Scripture truths which are every where scattered upon the pages of the inspired volume. Whether those truths are facts, or doctrines, or precepts, or prophecies, they will be presented before the minds of the children with a propuinence which will be likely to leave an impression upon their memories; and, also, through the divine blessing, to make a lavourable impression upon their hearts.
II. A barrier will be formed in every youthful mind, instructed according to these methods, against the insidious attacks of infidelity. I believe that if the subject was investigated, it would appear that very few who have been drawn aside into the mazes of scepticisin and infidelity, have had
much correct Scriptural knowledge; but, in general, persons who profess to disbelieve the Bible have never properly examined its contents. opinion, the Bible contains internal evidence abundantly sufficient to prove that it contains a revelation of the will of God which is the of highest importance to mankind; and I have no doubt, that if the methods of teaching noticed in methods fifth and sixth in the preceding communication, were extensively practised, there would be a barrier formed in the minds of our youth against the advance of infidelity, against which the gates of hell could not prevail. The Scriptures only need to be known, to have a conviction formed in every unprejudiced mind that they are what they pretend to be—a light from heaven to guide our feet, to point out the path in which we should walk, so that with certainty we may arrive in heaven. If the method of teaching recommended in method sixth was generally adopted, I believe it would be next to impossible, for the youth so instructed, not to be convinced that the
Scriptures are true. Many persons believe, or take for granted, that the Bible is true, who have never examined the internal evidence of its truth which it so abundanıly contains. There is more danger of these being drawn aside by the specious arguments of infidelity, than of those whose belief of the truth of Scripture is the result of examination ; for the former are like a house built upon the sand,- they have no proper foundation for their opinion that the Scriptures are true, and therefore are the less able to resist the storms and floods of temptation whicb may come upon them. There is, however, one exception, which it will be but justice to notice, it is this,—that sincere christians, who have never had the ability or opportunity of examining the Bible for themselves, are in less danger of being drawn aside by temptation to infidelity, than those who possess these advantages, but have not improved them, for the following reasons :1. They have experimental evidence of the truth of the christian religion.
“ They need no learning of the schools
To prove their faith divine."
That Jesus saves the world." 2. To persons of this class we may conclude, that the good shepherd who gathers the lambs in bis arms, and gently leads those that are with young, takes special care that no temptation comes upon them but such as they are able to bear, or when it comes, he spreads his shield over ihem, and makes a way for their escape. But let none who have the ability to examine the Scriptures for themselves, and neglect to do so, presume on special divine aid, or on their own fancied power to resist temptations to infidelity. The turning aside after satan, of many professors of religion, should be a sufficient warning to every one.
“Let him that thinketh be standetb take heed lest he fall.” If it is the duty of every one to examine the Scriptures for himself who is capable of doing so, it will be allowed that it is the duty of Sunday-school teachers to endeavour so to enlighten the understandings, and to clothe the minds of the children under their care, with such a variety of Scripture truth, that they may have a firm persuasion that the Bible is the word of God; and not merely because they have been so taught, but as the result of their own examination.
III. A foundation will be laid in the inds of our youth for extensive usefulness in future life. By many youthful minds being directed to the special study of the Scriptures, it is reasonable to suppose that a considerable number of them will continue to prosecute those studies of their own accord, uutil they become “mighty in the Scriptures.” And the more knowledge they possess of the oracles of divine iruth, it is likely the more consistent and useful they will be. A considerable number of the most active and useful members of Churches have been brought up in Sundayschools, and that, too, when the methods of teaching were less effective than those in use now, and certainly much less so than teaching might be. If, then, Sunday-schools in past years bave produced many of the best members of our Churches, with inferior teaching, it is reasonable to suppose, that if the methods of teaching previously recommended, or others more eligible, were vigorously carried out, a much larger proportion of pious youths would be transplanted from our Sunday schools into our Churches, and still more fitted to adorn their profession by consistent, holy, and useful lives.
I have long been of opinion, and constant observation only tends to confirm it, that those unhappy individuals who "make shipwreck of faith, and turn again to the beggarly elements of the world,” have, in general, but a very imperfect knowledge of the Scriptures; and also, that the greater part of those who remain in our Churches, but are frequently a source of trouble and anxiety to their brethren, and who rather hinder the cause by their inconsistency, their want of the christian temper, or their negligence of duty, are defective in Scriptural knowledge. Their ideas of the nature and desigu of the Gospel dispensation are much too low; and though they have heard the Gospel proclaimed for years, yet as they do not sufficiently search the Scriptures to obtain a thorough knowledge and acquaintance with their contents, the Word preached seems to do them but little good. Now I conceive that it is the duty of every christian teacher to labour and pray that this defect may be remedied, and this foul blot on Christian Churches may be removed; at least, with respect to those who shall in future join the Church from the ranks of Sunday-scholars. The prosperity of the next generation depends, in a great measure, upon the devotedness, the well-directed, and the prayerful efforts of the Sunday-school teachers of the present. Every teacher has a number of immortal souls consigned to him for instruction in those things which will conduce to their eternal welfare. If the teacher does his duty, there is reason to hope that many of these will become members of Christian Churches, with their minds well stored with Scriptural knowledge, or with a disposition to increase the knowledge they have. And if the ideas which I have formed be correct, the more Scriptural knowledge they possess, the more humble, pious, and devoted christians they are likely to be.
IV. The conversion of the children from sin to holiness, and from the power of satan to God, will be promoted by an efficient system of Scriptural instruction. If you examine those schools where there is a carelessness, or a want of patient, persevering devotedness on the part of the teachers to their work, and where, as a natural consequence, there is but little attention given to the nature of the instruction communicated, you will see but few children, if any, converted to God. But on the other hand, if you inspect those schools where the teachers make their work their study and delight, where they endeavour to communicate Scriptural instruction according to the best methods they can devise, with solemnity and affection; and where such instruction is well watered by earnest and persevering, prayer, and nourished by faith, you will observe, instead of a barren wilderness, a gar
den well cultivated and watered, where the buds and blossoms of divine grace are begining to appear, and where fruit has already been produced to the glory of God. When efficient methods of Scriptural instruction are adopted in connexion with that perseverance in the work, that tenderness and compassiou for the childrens' souls, and that confident expectation of the divine blessing, which every christian teacher ought to manifest, the effect produced upon the childrens minds will be like the hand of cultivation breaking up the fallow ground of their hearts, and preparing them for the reception of the seed of the divine word, Prayer and faith on the part of the teachers, are in my opinion, so closely connected with success in Sunday. school labours, especially with the conversion of the children to God, that I bope you will not consider it out of place if I extend my remarks a little
The best method of teaching in the world, without prayer for God's aid and blessing, is little better than practical atheism; for it would be labouring as though there was no God to look to for help, and as though the teacher considered his own efforts as all-sufficient to secure the end in view. One great object which every Sunday-school teacher has, or ought to have, in view, is the conversion of his scholars; unless, indeed, that desirable object is already accomplished, to this end he directs all bis instructions. If he is giving elementary instruction, it is that the children may be able to read the Scriptures, which are able to make them wise unto salvation, through faith which is in Christ Jesus. If this foundation is already laid, he endeavours to show them, by the Scriptures, that they are sinners and need salvation; and all the variety of Scripture truth which he endeavours to instil into their minds, whether to inform their judgments, or to affect their hearts, he designs by the blessing of God to be instrumental in leading them to the blessed Redeemer, that they may devote their early youth to his service and glory. And can this happy and glorious result be attained without prayer? without calling upon him “who has the residue of tbe spirit,” that he will grant the influence of the spirit to soften the children's hearts, and to regenerate their souls ? No my fellow-teachers, there must be prayer, fervent prayer, and persevering as our labours, that God may bless his own Word which we teach, and that the Gospel which we preach to them "every Sabbathday,"
," "may be the power of God unto their salvation.” If it is generally allowed that it is a minister's duty and privilege to go from his closet to the pulpit, I think it will also be conceded, that there is a similar necessity and advantage for a Sunday-school teacher adopting a similar course. But prayer and labour must be accompanied by faith-by a persuasion that our prayers will be heard, and our labours blessed to the conversion of the children under our care. Nor ought this desirable object to be viewed as far distant. I fear that many teachers, although they do believe that their labours will not be in vain, do not look so much for immediate as for distant success. They consider that the children's youth, their giddiness, or the perverseness of their dispositions and tempers, to make against immediate success; but they hope that when they come to years of sober reflection, that they will remember what they have been taught at the Sundayschool, and that in many cases such instruction will more or less lead to their conversion. Also, as the children are trained to the habit of attend. ance in the house of God, they hope that many will continue to attend there after they leave the school, and that in many cases the “Word preached will profit them.” This view of success, though far from discouraging, is
taken rather from past experience than from the capabilities of an improved method of teaching. There are frequent instances in our schools of children, young as they are, being made the subjects of a real change of heart, through the regenerating influences of the Holy Spirit; and if teachers combined a more efficient system of instruction with servent, persevering prayer, and lively faith, I am persuaded that such instances would be much more numerous. I fear that many teachers, and, if I may venture a bint, ibat many preachers of the Gospel have formed their hopes of success from too low a standard; and, therefore, there is no wonder that their success seldom exceeds, and frequently falls short of, their expectations.
It may very properly be said, that God works by means with regard to the conversion of sinners; and you may inquire what natural connection there is between the expectation of extraordinary success by a minister, or a leacher, and its being realized, I will tell you my opinion, and leave you to judge. Suppose a christian minister, who has not bitherto experienced extraordinary success in his sacred work, were to be fully persuaded, either by reflecting upon the divine promises, or by instances of remarkable success elsewhere, ibat his labours might be rendered much more useful than they ever bad been; and if on ibis conviction he should come to this holy resolation, that through the grace of God his future labours should be much more successful than the past bad been, what would he do to effect his ob
He would pray fervently, perseveringly, and with confidence, to Him “who has the residue of the Spirit,” that he would render his labours more successful: he would endeavour to make a more frequent, direct, and persuasive appeal to the hearts of the unconverted, showing them by the Word of God the necessity and duty of their turning to God without any further delay. The fervoúr, urgency, and sincerity of the preachers address, together with the proofs from the Word of God in the support of every thing he says, would make a powerful impression upon the hearts of sinners. When such impressions are made, and followed up by other urgent and powersul appeals to their hearts, and by prayer meetings for their especial benefit, the best results may be expected. Nor would the minister be content to labour alone; be would endeavour to rouse up his people to assist him to carry forwards the glorious work; he would labour to increase the pious and devotional feeling of the members of his Church, and to make them feel that their Redeemer “expects every one of them to do his duty," to use every means in their power to bring sinners to himself for salvation, and in every respect to promote his cause; and when the dormant energies of his people are thus aroused to holy and vigorous action, great results may be anticipated. “One shall say, I am the Lord's; and another shall call himself by the name of Jacob; and another shall subscribe with his hand unto the Lord, and surname himself by the name of Israel.” And when some come forward to make a profession of religion, giving good evidence of a real change of heart, such is the power of sympathy, especially among the young, that the example of such makes a powerful impression upon the hearts of others, so that they too become trophies of divine grace, first give themselves to the Lord, and then to his people, according to the will of God;" and thus the minister's hopes and expectations are realized, and his prayers are answered.
Such a mode of reasoning will apply to the Sunday-school teacher's labours and success. Wben a teacher resolves that, through the divine blessing, he will not be satisfied with less than the conversion of all the VOL. 3.-N. S.