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Some of you are TEACHERS. It is much to be lamented that there are so few enthusiasts in this honourable and important work. Many who are engaged in it regard it as a bondage, and sigh for the day which shall finally release them from its drudgery and din. They have never felt that theirs is a high calling, nor do they ever enter the school-room with the inspiring consciousness, that they go as missionaries and pastors there. They undervalue their scholars. Instead of regarding them as all that now exists of a generation as important as our own; instead of recognizing in their present dispositions the mischief or beneficence which must tell on wide neighbourhoods ere a few short years are run; instead of training up immortal spirits and expansive minds for usefulness now, and glory afterward, many Teachers have never seen their pupils in any other light than as so many rows of turbulent rebels, a rabble of necessary torments, a roomfull of that mighty plague with which the Nile of our noisy humanity is all croaking and jumping over. And many undervalue themselves. Instead of recollecting their glorious vocation, and eyeing the cloud of teacher-witnesses with whom they are encompassed ; instead of a high-souled zeal for their profession, as that which should form the plastic mind after the finest models of human attainment and Scriptural excellence, many regard their office as so menial that they have always the feeling as if themselves were pedants. To prescribe the task, to hear the lesson, to administer monotonous praise and blame, is the listless round of their official perfunctoriness. But there are few fields of brighter promise than the calling of a
Teacher. If he gives himself wholly to it, if he set before him the highest object of all tuition, the bringing souls to Christ; if he can form a real affection for his scholars, and maintain a parental anxiety for their proficiency and their principles; if he has wisdom enough to understand them, and kindness enough to sympathize with them; if he has sufficient love for learning to have no distaste for lessons, he will be sure to inspire a zeal for study into the minds of many, he will win the love of all except the very few whose hearts are deaf-born, and in a short time the best features of his own character will be multiplying in spheres far-sundered, in the kindred persons of grateful pupils. Should he live long enough, they will praise him in the gate of public life, or cheer his declining days in the homes which he taught them to make happy. Or should he die soon enough, the rest from his labours will ever and anon be heightened by the arrival of another and another of the children whom God hath given him.
But without descending to more minute particulars, let me remind you, my friends, that all of you who are members of this church have got a special “business” as the professed disciples of Jesus Christ. In the day when Christ said to you, “ Arise, follow me,” he called you to a life like his own, a life of industry and self-denial, and continual doing good. You are a consistent Christian in proportion as you resemble him whose fervent spirit poured out not more in his midnight prayers than in his daily deeds of mercy, and who, whether he disputed with the doctors in the Temple, or conversed with the ignorant stranger at the well, or fed the five thousand with miraculous loaves, or summoned Lazarus from the tomb, was still about his Father's “business.” They little understand the Christian life, who fancy that a slothful or languid profession will secure an abundant entrance into the heavenly kingdom. If the believer's progress from the cross to the crown be, as it is again and again represented, a race, a wrestling, a warfare, a fight, a continual watching and a constant violence, there is good reason for the exhortations, "give diligence to make your calling and election sure. We desire that every one of you do shew
diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end ; that ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises. Wherefore, brethren, seeing that you look for such things, be diligent that you may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.
It needs diligence to keep the conscience clean. “Herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God and toward men." It needs diligence to keep up a happy hopefulness of spirit. Gird
up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end." It needs diligence to maintain a serene and strenuous orthodoxy. “Watch ye; stand fast in the faith ; quit you like men; be strong.” It needs diligence to maintain a blameless life. “ Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.” It needs diligence to lead a life conspicuously useful and God-glorifying Seeing we are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, (as Abel, and Enoch, and Noah, and Abraham, and Moses,) let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus.” And it needs diligence to attain a joyful welcome from Jesus and a full reward. And besides this, giving all diligence, add to your faith, virtue (fortitude); and to fortitude, knowledge ; and to knowledge, temperance; and to temperance, patience ; and to patience, godliness; and to godliness, brotherlykindness; and to brotherly-kindness, charity. Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure ; for if ye do these things (fortitude, &c.) ye shall never fall : for so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ." “And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth : yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours, and their works do follow them.” “Let us labour, therefore, to enter into that rest.' To labour in the word and doctrine is the business of
* 2 Pet. i. 57,10, 11. Rev. xiv. 13. Heb. iv. 11.
one; to feed the flock of God and rule the Church of Christ is the business of others; to “serve tables,” to care for and comfort the poor, and see that all things be done decently and in order, is the business of yet others; to teach the young and instruct the ignorant is the business of some; and to train up their households in the nurture and admonition of the Lord is the business of others; to obey their parents and to grow in wisdom -in favour with God and man—is the business of many; and to do work for others, with a willing hand and a single eye, is the business of many more. The work of the day needs diligence ; much more does the work of eternity. It needs fervent diligence to be constantly serving our fellows; and it needs no less diligence to be directly serving Christ. To tend the sick, to visit the widows and fatherless in their affliction, to frequent the abodes of insulated wretchedness or congregated de. pravity, to set on foot schemes of Christian benevolence, and still more to keep them going—all this needs diligence. To put earnestness into secret prayer ; to offer petitions so emphatic and express, that they are remembered afterwards, and the answer watched for and expected ; to commune with one's own heart, so as to attain some real self-acquaintance ; to get into that humble, contrite, confessing frame, where the soul feels it sweet to lie beneath the cross, and “a debtor to mercy alone, of covenant mercy to sing;" to stir up one's soul to a thankful praising pitch; to beat down murmuring thoughts, and drive vexing thoughts away; to get assurance regarding the foundations of the faith, and clear views of the truth itself; to have a prompt and secure command of Scripture ; to possess a large acquaintance with the great salvation, and a minute acquaintance with all the details of Christian duty; all this needs no less diligence on our part, because God must give it or we shall never shew it. To put life into family worship; to make it more than a duteous routine; to make its brief episode of praise and prayer and Biblereading a refreshful ordinance, and influential on the day; to give a salutary direction to social intercourse, and season with timely salt the conversation of the friendly
circle; to drive that “ torpid ass,”* the body, to scenes of duty difficult and long-adjourned; to make a real business of public worship; to scowl away all pretexts for forsaking the solemn assembly; to spirit the reluctant flesh into a punctual arrival at the house of prayer, and then to stir up the soul to a cordial participation in all its services; to accompany with alert and affectionate eyes the reading of God's Word, and listen with wakeful ear to the exposition and application of its lively oracles; to contribute a tuneful voice and a singing heart to our New Testament offering of praise, and to put the whole stress of an intelligent and sympathising and believing earnestness into the supplications of the sanctuary, so that each petition shall ascend to the throne of grace with the deliberate signature of our Amen—all this requires a diligence, none the less because unless God work it in us, we shall never of ourselves muster up sufficient fervour thus to serve the Lord.
Dear brethren, and Christian friends, consider what I say. There is little time to apply it; but you have heard from this text some hints of important truthapply them for yourselves. As reasons why we desire to see a Church more industrious and not less fervent and unworldly than the Church has usually been, and as motives why each right-hearted man among you should this night start afresh on a career of busy devotedness and fervent industry, let me remind you,
1. Herein is the Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit.
2. Herein will you truly resemble, and in measure reexhibit the character of your blessed Lord and Master.
3. Hereby will yourselves be made far happier.
4. Hereby will the world be the better for your sojourn in it.
5. Hereby will the sadness of your departure be exceedingly alleviated.
6. And hereby will your everlasting joy be unspeakably enhanced.
* Calvin in loco.