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THE SABBATH AND THE SABBATH-SCHOOL.
It was a good thought that originated the prize essays by working men on the Sabbath, and nearly a thousand responses to the proposal shew that the pulse still beats healthfully in our operative population. The great importance of the subject demands that no means be left untried for spreading sound and scriptural views regarding it in the present crisis of the question. With this view written exercises have been prescribed to the young people attending some of our Sabbath-schools. We annex the form of one as printed on a slip and circulated among the scholars. We do not know a better way of bringing the subject in a definite shape before, not only the young people composing our Sabbath-schools and Bible classes, but also their parents and friends. Such an exercise introduces the question in its scriptural, social, and economic aspects, and will lead them to read and think upon it. We recommend it to the notice of superintendents and teachers.
SUBJECT OF ESSAY.—"THE SABBATH."
It is required to shew—
I.—When the seventh day was set apart as a Sabbath or day of rest.
II.—When and why was the Sabbath changed from the seventh to the first day of the week.
III.—That the Sabbath is binding upon all men to the end of the world.
IV.—Why the Sabbath was given.
V.—What should not be done on the Sabbath.
VI.—What should be done on the Sabbath.
VII.—To what extent the securing of employment on six days depends on no work being done on the seventh.
VIII.—Why those who keep holy the Sabbath are more prosperous in this world than those who do not.
IX.—That the way in which the Sabbath is kept is an index of the state of religion in the soul.
X.—That the stability and prosperity of the nation depend on one whole day in seven being preserved as an holy Sabbath to God.
*** Proofs from Scripture are to be given, but they need not be written at length. Under head V. state the forms of Sabbath desecration which prevail in your neighbourhood.
THE WEECK OF THE RANDOLPH.
The following circumstance took place during the American war, and the principal person concerned in this history, whose conduct gave bias to the whole transaction, was the late Nicholas Vincent, Admiral of the Red. The wonderful working of God, in the overruling of events, and in turning the hearts, and directing the ways of men, is set forth in a striking manner.
It was towards the close of the day, in the month of March, 1778, on board his Majesty's ship the Yarmouth, in the latitude of the island of Barbadoes, and about sixty leagues to the eastward,— when the man at the mast-head called out that he saw several sail to the leeward, and near to each other. Soon after, they were discovered from the quarter-deck, six sail,—two ships, three brigs, and a schooner, on the starboard tack.
The Yarmouth bore down upon them; and about nine o'clock, got very near to the largest of the two ships, which began to fire on the Yarmouth.
In about a quarter of an hour after the action commenced, one blew up; being then on the Yarmouth's lea-beam, and not above three or four ships' length distant. The rest of the squadron, taking advantage of the night, immediately dispersed.
It is impossible for the imagination to form any adequate conception of the effect instantly produced by the explosion; from noise, confusion, fire, and smoke, which before was in every direction, there was at once a dead silence,— darkness,—not an object to be seen;— and the consciousness of what had taken place, failed not to add to the solemnity.
This event happened between nine and ten of the clock on Saturday night. On the Thursday following, the Yarmouth being in chase of a ship steering about west, with the wind in the north-west quarter, the man at the mast-head espied somewhat on the water abaft the beam. To account for this appearance was impossible;—neither, indeed, could they ascertain what it was;—the probability, however, was that it was some one or more persons in distress; but by what means, or how they came there, surpassed all conjecture.
The question, however, arose, what was to be done? If the Yarmouth hauled up to make the discovery, the
prize then in pursuit must be relinquished, and all hopes of any future coming up with her be done away.
This was a moment for the display of that gracious government of God in his providence; and a very blessed and gracious display, indeed, did the Lord make of it, as the sequel of the event proved in more instances than one.
None but the captain had to say what should be done: and though the loss of a prize to seamen could not be pleasant, et that humanity which formed through ife so shining a feature in Admiral Vincent's character allowed of no hesitation.
The Yarmouth hauled up; and very shortly after, by the help of a glass, as they sailed towards the object, they discovered four persons who seemed to be standing on the water; for what supported them was not visible.
In two or three hours she got up to the little float on which they stood, and providentially arrived in time to get them all safe on board. But how astonished were the whole ship's company to find that they had belonged to the ship that was blown up the preceding Saturday! so that they had been five whole nights and nearly as many days floating on the waves, and buried alive, as it were, under the vault of heaven.
Being young and hardy, they did not appear to be much hurt when brought upon the quarter deck. They felt no hunger as they declared, although they had not eaten; but were thirsty and very sleepy. A little tea, however, and a hammock to each, perfectly restored them in a few hours; and when they arose, the only complaint they had was of their feet being swollen, in consequence of having been so long in the water, added to the want of rest.
They related that the ship in which they had been blown up was the Randolph, of 36 guns, with a complement of 350 men. Their destination, at that time, was for an attack upon the Island of Tobago;—but by what means the ship blew up, they knew not, being themselves quartered in the captain's cabin, from whence, in the explosion, they were thrown out unhurt.
Being all of them able to swim, they got hold of some spars and rope, which came in their way in the water, and made the raft on which they were found. It was their mercy also to pick up a blanket, which served them as a reservoir,
and in which they gathered water from a few showers of rain, which they sucked from time to time to preserve life.
On the arrival of the Yarmouth, two days after, at Barbadoes, the ship's company discovered that the ship they had been in pursuit of, when detained by this call of humanity, was an English vessel, bound for Barbadoes, the master of whom came on board the Yarmouth on her arrival, and made this report.
But now, having related the circumstance of this event, I would call upon the reader to mark some of the striking things in it, which may serve to the illustration of the doctrine of Divine Providence in general, and lead the mind to contemplate in how many instances the same overruling government is every day, and every hour of the day, carrying on in thousands of special cases throughout the world.
Here were four men, out of 350, snatched from instant death, and their lives saved by such a concatenation of circumstances as, humanly speaking, was among the most improbable things in nature ever to have come together;—. and yet, had one failed, the whole must have failed, and proved abortive. It was night, and a dark one too, when it happened;—and though those men escaped immediate destruction from the explosion, as well as the going down of the ship,—yet, had they not been thrown beyond the vortex made when she sunk, here again they must have been brought within the power of it.
That they escaped also every injury from the showers of broken timbers falling down after the explosion, and being placed beyond the reach of it, was another singular mean of preservation, —and when, having survived the dangers of the night, all the while living on the water, to find such materials floating around them, as might form a temporary ark for their present safety, and to be blessed with strength in their forlorn situation, to be able to work them up into any form, while having nothing to tread on but the water; all these were distinguishing providences over them.
To continue alive, and even with strength, for five whole nights and more than four days, in this perilous situation, without food, and to have no swell of sea from wind or storm,—and hope against hope still bearing them up, when, to all appearance, not a shadow of probability existed of their being saved; these are all so many additional circumstances to make their preservation the more remarkable.
Had not the man at the mast-head, who first saw them, had his eyes directed that way, or when seeing this little apparently insignificant float upon the water, had he not regarded it,—had he not reported it,—or when reported, had the officer upon deck disregarded it,—had the account been kept back from the captain,—or when he was brought acquainted with it, had his humanity not prevailed over every other consideration, to the giving up, as was then thought by every one, a sure prize, to the picking up this raft upon the water;—in short, in these and many other things to be taken into account, had not all and every minute circumstance corresponded together,—had a single link in the chain given way, the whole had been over,— and who but He, whose way is in the sea, and whose path is in the great ivaters, could have gone by and ordered, influenced, and directed all,—who doth not, or will not see a divine hand in the ordination?
I should not be doing justice to this very interesting history of the preservation of those men, if I were not to add, that, by this providence, the seamen and crew of the Yarmouth recovered what otherwise, for want of evidence, had the whole ship's company of the Randolph perished, they would have lost, what is called head-money: and actually received 1,575/.;—so that the ship they were pursuing, when detained by this act of mercy, had they taken her, would have proved no prize, being a friendly sail;—whereas the floating substance on the water where they expected no prize, proved a very rich one; and brought with it money, and the blessing of them that were ready to perish.
So wonderfully powerful, so effectually poisonous is indwelling sin, that it can bring leanness on the souls of men, in the midst of all precious means of grace and flourishing. It may well make us tremble to see men living under, and in the use of, the means of the Gospel, preaching, praying, administration of the sacraments, and yet grow colder every day than another in zeal for God; more selfish and worldly, even habitually to decline as to the degrees of holiness which they had attained unto.—Owen.
The love that cheers life's latest stage,
THE BELIEVER. All joy to the believer 1 he can speak— Trembling, yet happy; confident yet meek, Since the dear hour that brought me to thy foot, And cut up all my follies by the root, I never trusted on an arm but thine, Nor hop'd, but in thy righteousness divine; My prayers and alms, imperfect and defiled, Were but the feeble efforts of a child; Howe'er performed it was their brightest part That they proceeded from a grateful heart; Cleansed in thine own purifying blood, Forgive their evil and accept their good; I cast them at thy feet—my only plea Is what it was—dependence upon thee; While struggling in the vale of tears below, That never failed, nor shall it fail me now.
The Thief On The Cross.—" 0 Saviour, what a precedent is this of thy free and powerful grace! Where Thou wilt give, what unworthiness can bar us from mercy? When Thou wilt give, what time can prejudice our vocation? Who can despair of thy goodness, when he that in the morning was posting towards hell, is in the evening with thee in paradise !"—Bishop Hall.
Let me learn what noted examples gospel ministers ought to be of holiness and purity; what close and earnest attention they ought to give to their work, with what patience and resignation they ought to bear the loss of worldly comforts, how circumspect they ought to be with respect to their marriage and family, and how, as servants, they ought to labour to be perfect and unblemished, even as their Master.—Brown, of Haddington, on Leviticus xxi.
THE RIGHT PREPARATION OF THE SABBATH SCHOOL TEACHER FOR THE WORK OF THE SABBATH.
BY THE REV. JOHN WE1B, OP BITEB TEBBACE CHURCH, ISLINGTON.
The necessity of preparation to ensure success in any earthly enterprise is universally recognised. But the value of preparation is seen above all in connexion with those enterprises that are identified with the glory of God and man's eternal welfare. To prepare for the advent of the Lord Jesus Christ, patriarchs were called out from idolatry as the depositories and the witnesses of truth; for this the altar streamed with blood, and the cloud of incense arose to heaven; for this David, the sweet singer of Israel, Isaiah, and a long succession of holy prophets, swept their harps and gave utterance to the secret responses of the holy oracle; and, last of all, was heard the voice of John the Baptist, the courageous pioneer of the coming Deliverer, "the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God!"
Your work, Sabbath-school teachers, is one requiring special preparation; because your primary object must ever be —the salvation of souls, the education of the young for God and for heaven. Allow me, therefore, to impress on you—
I. The absolute necessity of "the preparation of the heart," of personal devotedness to God, as the very foundation of this work. The question may be asked, "Can an unconverted teacher do good?" But it stands on the same level with the inquiry, "Can an unconverted minister bring souls to Christ? " and is one which should never be practically entertained. Just as it would involve deep and awful guilt for the Church to admit into the sacred office one who was evidently a stranger to the grace of God in truth, but who commended himself by intellectual power and shining accomplishments; so would sin lie at our door if we should recognise those teachers as qualified and prepared for their duties, who too clearly, amid all their acquirements, have never obtained that wisdom which consisteth in " the fear of the Lord" and in "departing from evil." I bless God for the multitudes of righthearted and godly teachers to be found in our Sabbath-schools; but I tremble to think that there are many too, who, without any decision on the Lord's side,— without a public confession of Christ at his holy table, have yet been recognised
as teachers in our schools. And if this, indeed, be so, need we wonder that there has been so little success, so much spiritual barrenness, and so many blasted hopes? Listen to the testimony of one of this class, who afterwards was brought to give his heart to Jesus :—" I offered myself as a teacher on the first day of the opening of the school. I [was placed in 'a Testament class.' No inquiries were made as to my piety. Belonging to a religious family, no doubt it was presumed I lacked not 'the one thing needful ;' yet, in truth, I had it not. Religion did indeed 'play around my head, but came not near my heart;' still I felt some interest in my class, and 'performed my duty' with precision and diligence. My honour was concerned to make my scholars advance, and I took pains to prepare myself for my Sabbath labours." But hear the sad result,—mark, I beseech you, the fruitlessness of the toil. "Not having believed, I could not speak of the love of Christ; and, unregenerate myself, how could I recommend, with feeling and earnestness, the 'great salvation?' Thus I cumbered the ground; and have no remembrance of any good being done to my scholars, during this period of my cold and formal labours." I solemnly call on all the teachers in our Sabbath-schools to examine and ponder deeply, as to their own spiritual state, and whether, or not, their hearts be "right with God." Have you been, indeed, like Mary, sitting at Christ's feet; and have you, like her, "chosen that good part which shall never be taken away from you?" Are you "a band whose hearts God has touched?" or, rather, is any of you crying out, "They made me a keeper of vineyards, but my own vineyard have I not kept." I would urge on every one of you entire consecration of your hearts and lives to the Redeemer. Ever live near to his cross,—ever draw fresh supplies from the fountain of "His fulness;" and with his love constraining you, your labour will be made light,—the children committed to your trust will take knowledge of you that you have been with Jesus; and, with growing life and heavenly unction, you will speak of his matchless grace. Then, instead of resembling the stream which winter has arrested and congealed amid Lapland snows, you will be like some glorious river of the sunny South, on which frost has never laid its fetters, but which—as the flowers spring up on its banks and the tree puts forth its clusters —in perennial and ever fertilising beauty, goes on its way rejoicing!
II. A further essential ingredient in preparing for your work consists in counting the cost,—in a right estimate of the obligations which it imposes, and of the sacrifices which it demands. It requires from you the ever fresh and healthy exercise of self-sacrificing benevolence. You must resist the temptations to sloth. What has the Sabbath-school teacher to do more than the minister of Christ with the claims of indolence? or what fellowship can there be between this energetic and untiring diligence, and the fascinations of a soft and voluptuous life? To each of you comes the summons which the veteran Paul addressed to Timothy, "Thou, therefore, my eon, endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ." You must resist the solicitations of sleep on the Sabbath morn, even after a week of weariness and toil,—you must shut your ears against the invitations which would summon you away from your class, in the afternoon, to mingle in the giddy throng. You must feel that your class has claims upon you which are paramount, and which demand from you a vigilance that never sleeps—a patience that never tires, Alas! there are too many who give melancholy proof that they have not thus counted the cost. Hence irregular attendance, most disastrous in unsettling the minds and marring the progress, and, if long persisted in, of finally breaking up the class of children committed to their care. Hence the total neglect, by others, of the visitation of their pupils at their own homes. Hence, too, when the work is entered on, many are listless, and, therefore, useless teachers, and close their inglorious and unblest connexion with the Sabbath-school by retiring from it altogether. Brethren and sisters! you are workers together with God. Oh, then, let your zeal and diligence and perseverance give you a blessed resemblance to the builders of Jerusalem's ruined wall, whom Nehemiah has immortalised, by recording thatli they had a mind to work." Say like them (when sloth spreads its couch, and when pleasure with her syren song and mantling cup would allure you away), "we are doing a great work, and therefore we cannot come down."
III. Another most important ingre
dient in right preparation is, a thorough appreciation of the many encouragements which cheer the faithful teacher. You must have faith—living and animating— in the constant presence and unfailing wisdom and power of Him who never sends any to warfare on their own charges. You must never forget that He who loved the young when on earth, regards them with a boundless love in heaven. The Son of Man, the Lord of the Sabbathday, delights in the Sabbath-school; and there, as well as in the sanctuary, "His goings are seen;" and there, likewise, "He makes the place of his feet glorious." He does not despise these little ones, as if "interested only in a higher order of beings and distinguished men. The little child is as dear to him as the hero, as the philosopher, as the angel." Remember, too, that truth is the instrument which you wield, and that the Spirit of Truth can make it a fire and a hammer to break the rock in pieces. Have faith in the admirable adaptation of that Christianity which you unfold to the mind of the child, as the very truth fitted to enlighten, to interest, to ennoble, and to prepare for heaven. Oh ! what a blessed religion is ours—how truly and gloriously heavenborn and divine, which, while it awakens to the utmost stretch the highest order of intellect, condescends to become the teacher of babes!
Recollect, also, the encouragement arising from the fact that the Glory of God is the grand object of Sabbathschools. For this the universe exists with its countless worlds—for this the earth was formed—for this the sea roars, the planets move and shine—and Sabbathschool teachers rejoice that, in the object of your pursuit, you are in harmony with them all. Consider, too, the encouragement which springs from the pleasures of doing good: in itself an ever-satisfying and present reward. In such a cause you will have reason to say, even when most exhausted, " I am wearied in, but blessed be God, I am not weary of my work."
IV. That you may be rightly prepared for the work of the Sabbath, it is essential that you should study the Word of God. The Bible is your text book, the truths and facts of Revelation your theme; and, therefore, "the word of Christ must dwell in you richly with all wisdom." If you would give light to those that sit in darkness—if you would bring out of your treasure things new and old—if you would inform the under