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A mother takes her child by the hand; with what skill does she guide its feeble footsteps ; how tenderly does she support its weakness ; diligently observe and hasten to remove all unnecessary obstacles; how temptingly she directs its attention to some attractive object to allure it to exertion; how she encourages to renewed efforts by approbation and reward! Yes; and her very look is eloquent to that infant's mind and heart. Should we not thus deal with our youthful charge? They are in the infancy of life ; taking the first steps in the journey allotted them ; for a very short distance in that journey shall we have the privilege of guiding and helping them, but that short distance is at the commencement, when “life's first hopes are green;" when the energies of Sabbath-school scholars are fresh, and their spirits panting for exercise, whilst they are yet unentangled in the labyrinth of pleasure ; before their feet have long trod in the smooth broad road to destruction, or their minds have become familiarized with the flowery paths of vice. Oh! thrilling and awful is our responsibility; the pious, earnest, persevering teacher " takes them by the hand” at this important period, and does not willingly relinquish his hold until they have entered the strait gate, are seen walking in the "highway of holiness ;" until they are under the special protection of Him who shall“ guide them with his counsel, and afterward receive them to glory.” Are there not hindrances we can remove; difficulties which we can assist them to surmount ; false steps that we can prevent ? Have we no attraction to offer to those who walk in the path of duty ? Is there no beauty in a life devoted to God and his service ; nothing desirable in a peaceful or triumphant death and a blissful eternity; in the “inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away ?" Yes, there is something beautiful and attractive in the religion of the Bible, but we are not sufficiently under its influence, and therefore it is that we do not “take our scholars by the hand,” and assist them in the attainment of so glorious an object. Let us examine ourselves, and see if we are not lacking in the very first requisites for usefulness ; devout love to God, and earnest sympathizing love for our fellow-creatures.
Some of us, we fear, are blind leaders of the blind. I have seen a kind father conducting his blind daughter along a difficult pathway, and she clung to him with a feeling of happy reliance upon his care aud guidance ; but a teacher blind to his own natural depravity ; blind to the beauties of religion ; blind to the dangers of the path he is pursuing; is not the best fitted to be a guide and counsellor of youth. Such cases, we hope, are the exception, and not the rule, in our Sabbath-schools.
Many of us, however, who wish to be right, and intend to lead our scholars right, still need much more of the spirit of the Great Teaeher. We forget how constantly, daily, hourly, we are ourselves dependent upon the kindness, and forbearance, and wisdom of our Heavenly Father: we forget what short-sighted, ignorant, helpless creatures we are. O how often, in our difficulties, and perplexities, and despair, ought we to go to Him who said — " they shall come with weeping, and with supplications will I lead them; I will cause them to walk by the rivers of waters in a strait way, wherein they shall not stumble ; for I am a father to Israel.” Truly indeed the "good man” would “fall,” and “be utterly cast down,” but for " the Lord who upholdeth him with his hand.”
Let us then, Christian fellow-teachers, in humble dependence upon the good Spirit of God, take our scholars by the hand, and say to them; with
us, and we will do you good.” Possibly some humble, timid, conscientious teacher, reading these few broken remarks, may be more than ever downcast. He is conscious of endeavouring, with all his heart, to take his scholars by the hand, and bring them to “see Jesus,” but as yet is unsuccessful; their continued waywardness and indifference cause him to be
disheartened and almost to despair. To such we would say, "ye have need of patience, that ye might receive the promise ; though it tarry, wait for it ; because it will surely come.”
Not long ago, a pious teacher was earnest in prayer, during the week, for God's Spirit to operate upon the hearts of his scholars. On the following Sabbath he went to school, spoke seriously and feelingly to the boys, but they seemed more unimpressible than ever; he was leaving sorrowful; how was that sorrow turned into joy, when the worst boy in his class went up to him, saying, “O! teacher; I will give my heart God.”
"Yours is not a single case;
Try, try again."
BLACKBURN CIRCUIT; JUVENILE MISSIONARY EFFORT. One pleasing feature in connection with the Missionary enterprise of the present day, is the active efforts which some of the children in our Sabbathschools put forth. Some of the schools in our Connexion have done nobly in this respect. I have pleasure in informing the readers of this Magazine, that our first Juvenile Missionary Meeting in connexion with Paradise Sunday-school, Blackburn, was held on Lord's-day, Dec. 16th, 1854. Mr. John Briggs (one of the Superintendents,) was called to the chair; and the meeting was addressed by several of the teachers and friends. It was truly pleasing to witness the interest manifested by the youthful audience in the addresses which were delivered ; and the noble manner in which they responded to the appeals which were made, by a liberal collection amounting to 11. 108. 8d. The committee intend giving a number of Missionary Cards to the scholars, and expect next December to be able to give a very favourable report. There seems to have been an interest excited in the mind of our young scholars, in the Mission cause, which I trust will bear fruit in years to come. I would earnestly advise all the friends of the Association, to commence immediately a Juvenile Missionary Society, in connexion with each Circuit, where such organization does not exist at present. I am persuaded, that if proper efforts were put forth in all our Sabbath-schools, our Mission Fund might be greatly augmented ; and thus additional agents might be employed, and the dawn of that bright day hastened, when, a regencrated world shall be found rejoicing in the salvation of God.
REVIEW AND CRITICISM. The Grand Prize for Christian Effort. By the Rev. W. COOKE. PARTRIDGE AND OAKEY.
This is the title of a Discourse delivered before the Methodist New Connexion Conference, in June last, by the Rev. William Cooke, and now published at its request. We have read the Sermon with great interest, and regard it as equally creditable to its reverend author and to the community of which he is so distinguished an ornament. The text is taken from the Epistle of James, " Let him know that he that converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.” The author's observations on this passage are distributed under three general heads. He treats First, on the Soul. Second, on the Duty of Christians to seek its Conversion. Third, on the Infinite Importance and Blessedness of the Result. Each of these topics is discussed with great eloquence and power. Take as an example, the passage in which he treats of the intellectual and moral capabilities of the human soul.
MAN'S MORAL AND INTELLECTUAL POWERS. The faculties of the soul are unlimited. Look at man's capacity for knowledge. Devoid as the infant mind is of ideas, it soon begins the process of inquiry and acquisition, to which no limitation can be fixed, except, indeed, by the weakness and decay of the physical organisation through which it acts in the present state of being. In the varied and extensive productions of literature, and the achievements of science, we have wonderful displays of the vastness of man's mental capacity. The human mind has unbarred the strongholds of the universe, ascertained the magnitudes, distances, revolutions, and laws of the heavenly bodies, explored many of the secrets of nature, and is daily extending the field of discovery. The profound investigations of an Aristotle, a Locke, a Brown, a Reid, and a Stewart; the extensive erudition of a Jones, a Johnson, a Clarke, and a Greenfield; and the great discoveries of a Pascal, a Boyle, a Laplace, and a Newton, evince the vast capabilities of the human mind for the acquirement of knowledge, even in the present imperfect state, while restrained and encumbered by a frail and perishable organisation. And if such be the extent of its attainments within the few brief years of its existence here, amid a thousand hindrances and interruptions, what heights and depths, what breadths and lengths of knowledge will it attain when every impediment is removed—when every restraint is thrown off-when full scope is given for the development of its powers, and ages without end are opened out for its proficiency! It is not, indeed, assumed that all minds are psychologically equal in activity and power (though much of the feebleness and inferiority which now distinguish some, are, doubtless, owing to an inferior physical organisation), but let the lower class of minds be freed from all earthly impediments, from all material restraints, and in a state of being favourable to their full development, with inexhaustible stores spread out before them, and eternal ages in which to expand and progress, and it may be safely affirmed there can be no limit to their attainments in knowledge.
Look at the soul's capacity for moral excellence and happiness. Endowed with conscience as well as intellect; with moral emotions as well as natural instincts; with anticipations of the future as well as consciousness of the present, and memory of the past: with aspirations for the infinite, as well as delight in the finite; susceptible of love to the glorious Creator, as well as fellowship with man; endowed, I say, with these noble faculties, the soul may ascend to the most exalted moral excellence and felicity. It is capable of rising superior to all that is mean, grovelling, and sensual ; of subordinating the present to the future, the earthly to the spiritual, the transient to the eternal; of giving supremacy to conscience, and imperial authority to truth; of appreciating the holy, and delighting in the good ; of conforming to holiness, of being like God, of shining in his image, as well as rejoicing in his favour, reflecting the purity, the benevolence, and moral glories of Jehovah.
The feeble in intellect, as well as the most vigorous minds, may attain this spiritual elevation; the most deeply-sunken ignorance and depravity may be cleansed, and invested with these robes of purity and moral dignity; the most brutal and sensual, the most alienated, rancorous, and implacable, may be renovated and transformed into the Divine likeness; and the bosom convulsed and lacerated by the vilest passions, may become endued with the tenderest sympathies, the holiest principles, and the most benign affections.
Happiness is the associate of holiness. When passion is subordinate to reason, tranquil emotions pervade the soul; when conscience is pure, it is peaceful and serene; when the affections embrace right objects, they yield satisfaction and delight; when the soul is united to God, and is conscious of his favour, it has access to a fountain of pure, perennial, and eternal joy; it tastes the bliss of angels, it antidates the felicity of heaven.
Now here is a state for which every human mind is fitted—a state placed within the reach of all; and who shall suppose any limit to man's attainment in these elements of blessedness? If there can be no bounds fixed to his intellectual attainments, how can we circumscribe and confine the developments of his moral excellence, dignity, and happiness? Does reason or revelation say to a redeemed and sanctified spirit, Thus far thou shalt
but no farther? On the contrary, it spreads before it the ample provisions of grace, and bids it increase with all the increase of God, it commands it to cultivate, refine, and expand its powers throughout life; and, standing on the frontiers of the spirit land, it points onward to an existence when, in a more congenial clime, it shall ascend to the heights where angels now dwell, and, passing those heights, shall ascend higher and higher still, till in the distant ages of endless being, it shall look down on the most exalted created excellence that now exists, as the mere dawnings of infantine intelligence and bliss. Look above at the shining ranks of happy spirits now surrounding the throne-see there the radiant throngs of angels, cherubim and seraphim; you have there the development of mind, of intellect refulgent with knowledge, of moral powers refined and expanded by the experience of ages, of capacities filled, and enlarged, and filled again, from the inexhaustible fountain of holiness and joy; and yet the highest archangel in heaven does not surpass, does not yet reach, the estate which, in some distant age, in eternity, shall be attained by the children of God now passing through this vale of tears.
Seldom have we met with a passage on the powers and capabilities of man's moral and intellectual nature, which we have more admired than the above. Dr. Beaumont's observations on these topics, in his great Sermon on “He that winneth souls is wise,” are perhaps, in some respects, superior, but the staple of thought is the same in both.
It is singular how very clever men do sometimes, without intercourse or concert, fall upon exactly the same line of observation. We have a striking illustration of this in the case of Mr. Cooke's “Grand Prize," and Dr. Beaumont's “ Wisdom of winning Souls.” They are both masterly productions ; but, we think, Beaumont's the more eloquent, and it was an earlier “birth of Time.”
The Wesleyan Pulpil. No. I. January, 1855. Price Threepence. PARTRIDGE, OAKEY AND Co., 34, Paternoster-row, London.
This is a new series of a periodical devoted to the publication of Discourses delivered by leading ministers of the various Methodistical communities. The first Sermon, by the Rev. William Arthur, may be regarded, perhaps, as a somewhat favourable specimen of Methodistical preaching.
H text is, “ The Unsearchable Riches of Christ.” Eph. iii. 8. The whole discourse bears decided marks of pulpit ability, and the introduction we regard as one of the most effective and popular examples of its class that we have ever met
into our pages.
with. The apostle is sketched, with a graphic power, that deserves all praise. If our readers examine the sketch with as much gratification as ourselves, we shall have no occasion to apologise for introducing it
We give it below
PAUL THE IMPRISONED APOSTLE. In the city of Rome, under the reign of Nero, one might have seen an old man of Jewish origin. He was far from his native country, and was a prisoner; he had few friends, and was very poor; so poor, that he was obliged to write across the seas to Troas for a cloak he had left there. Yet the man had very remarkable qualities, and was every now and then surrounded by earnest groups of people, who listened to deep discourses from him upon the most important and solemn subjects. If
f you to some respectable and wealthy Israelite living in the same city, to some Jew banker or other, and inquired, “Who is this old man that is continually discoursing to the people about religion, and the prophets, and the Psalms, and the Messiah ?” very probably you would have got some such answer as this, “Well, that poor fellow had as good prospects as any of us: he was well connected, and well educated; indeed, he was one of Gamaliel's favourite and most promising pupils ; he started with uncommon energy into public life; the chief priests and leaders of the nation put him forward very much ; and he had every prospect, from his talents and education, of being one of the leading men of the nation : but unfortunately for him, he took it into his head to become a Christian, and, above all, to be a preacher of Christianity, and that has been the ruin of him. Of course, all his friends forsook him; he lost caste completely ; his prospects were blighted; he was thrown out from everything like society, and from that day to this he has been driven up and down the world a vagabond and a wanderer, punished and persecuted in every possible way; he seems to have no place where he can rest the sole of his foot; and now you see he is a prisoner, and very likely he will come to a bad end. This Christianity has been his destruction, and yet he seems wedded to it.” If, after getting this answer from one of his countrymen, you had gone up to Paul himself, and repeated all you had heard, and asked if there were any truth in it, he would have acknowledged, “Well
, in the main it is true.” Then you might have said, “What a pity that you ever took this turn! What a pity that you ever began thus to preach Christ, and to bring all this upon yourself! Are you not sorry ?” “ God forbid !” he would reply. “I glory in the cross of my Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.” “But you have lost everything." “Yes, and I count it but dung and dross for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord.” “But no one has a good word for you."
.” “Yet I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.” But
you are persecuted."
Yes, but I am not forsaken.” “ But you are cast down." “ Yes, but I am not destroyed.” “But you are poor.'
“ Yes, but I make many "Make many rich! But you ought to do something for yourself. Now you have nothing.” “That is true, yet I possess all things."
Now these two expressions of St. Paul, “ making many rich,” and “ possessing all things,” are the key to that particular turn of thought that we find in the passage that I have just read as a text. In alluding to the fact that he was permitted to preach the Gospel of Christ, and to make known to mankind its unsearchable treasures, he feels himself in the position of one who is bringing to the view of men wealth that they will never be able to exhaust. It is just like a man who has gone over a tract of country, and discovered in it mines of gold, such as have lately been discovered in Australia, alone, wandering over barren hills, and visiting val