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COUNSEL TO SUNDAY SCHOOL TEACHERS. DETERMINE to make a new and more entire surrender, a fresh dedication of your heart, and mind, and soul, and strength, to the work. Begin again and afresh. With the better understanding you may have acquired, and with the experience you have gained, give up yourselves with new purposes of entire devotedness. Open your heart to receive the subject; let it come in and possess you. In order to do this, surrender your heart more entirely to God; present yourselves to Christ, and let his love con
Pray for a more abundant effusion of the Holy Spirit upon your heart; seek a revival of your own personal religion.
Determine to embrace more intelligently, cordially, and constantly, the great work of Sunday-school teaching. Begin this day to be more intent upon seeking the salvation of the children. Fix your eye upon the soul and eternity.
Determine to qualify yourself more perfectly for your office and its functions : by more intense piety ; by the cultivation of your own minds, and by acquiring a greater aptitude to teach. Let it be a study with you how you can awaken, stimulate, and guide inquiry; how you can produce a thirst for knowledge and a desire for improvement.
Teaching is a great work. “ How vast and abiding the satisfaction which results from calling forth the intellectual and moral resources of your species. Give the immortal mind of man the consciousness of its powers and faculties, invigorating the judgment, regulating the will and purifying the heart.” But for such a work you must have higher qualifications than to teach the alphabet, and hear hymns; you must read, think, acquire knowledge, and know how to train the mind. Too many of our teachers are deplorably deficient in all essential qualifications for their office. Aim at completeness, at universal perfection in punctuality, constancy, method, order, submission to the superintendents, harmony with your fellow-teachers, respect and deference for your minister, affection for your children, and everything else
connected with the well-being of the school; look
upon the school as a piece of moral machinery, the working of which, as a whole, depends upon the working of each particular part. A single wheel, or pivot, yea, a screw, or pin, that does not work well, impedes all
. Will you be that bad pivot, screw, or pin? In collective bodies, each should be what the whole should be ; each should consider himself as the representative of the whole.
Meditate upon the importance of the times in which you are called to live and act. You have entered upon the state when the rapidity with which the scenes are changed, would seem to indicate that the winding up of the plot is approaching. Study the features of the age; open your eyes and ears, and minds, to what is going on around you; man's existence was never more important; know the times, and be up with your age.
Think of the great missionary enterprise. The whole Church is rising up for the conversion of the whole world. Train up your children to feel an interest, and bear a part, in the glorious undertaking; enlarge their knowledge, enlist their hearts, inflame their imagination by missionary intelligence, and qualify yourselves to carry on the great work of evangelizing the world. Fill the land with Bibles, and with Bible readers, and with Bible knowledge : for this is the best defence from Popery. Teach the children the doctrine of regeneration by the Spirit, and justification by faith; train them thoroughly in these momentous truths; render them as familiar with these doctrines as they are with their letters.
CHARACTER FORMED IN EARLY LIFE. The idea we wish to impress upon the minds of our readers, and especially upon the minds of parents, Sunday school teachers, and children themselves is this : that 'of all periods of our life, that of childhood and youth is by far the most interesting and important. Then character is generally formed, then the everlasting destiny is not only begun, but often actually fixed, for weal or for woe. What one is in his youth, he is apt to be in his mature years,
in his old age, on his death-bed, and forever. His outward habits
may be changed and modified; but his heart ordinarily remains the same. His future principles, feelings, and prospects, bear the same relation to those of his youth, that the streams of a mighty river bear to the source, from which it took its rise, among the mountains. Reformation, regeneration, conversion, are always possible; but they take place very rarely in old age; and even when they do take place at that period of life, the habits and feelings of earlier days, however changed and corrected, still colour and even controul the life.
In this respect, what Wordsworth says poetically, is true in fact :
“ The child is father to the man.” The day rests in the bosom of the morning; the rose is bound
in the bud; the oak lies in the acorn; summer * and autumn are contained in spring. So the life and destiny of the man are generally wrapped up in the heart of the child or of the boy. That little fellow there, looking up so pleasantly and gratefully in his mother's face, and as she tells him of Jesus and the great salvation, is, perhaps, truly converted. Like Timothy, from a child he may know the Scriptures. His little heart, perhaps, has been softened by divine love. He does not know much; but he can love, he can hope, he can obey. He grows up, and the world seizes him ; but he can never forget his mother, nor his mother's prayers. His image is before his eyes, even in scenes of folly, upbraiding him for his sin. Anew the Spirit of God touches his heart. He breaks away from the world. He weeps, he prays, he repents; and his child's heart, so soft, so calm, so satisfied, so grateful and happy, comes back again. In a word, he is converted, and becomes a little child, and thus enters the kingdom of heaven. Before, he seemed a full-grown man, with all the strength and pride of a man; cold, secular, worldly, unbending; ready to resent an insult, and quick to repel the arguments and appeals of the Gospel. But he is a child again, a Christian ; a subdued penitent, grateful child.
The most insignificant people must not through indolence and selfishness undervalue their own influence. Most persons have a little circle of which they are a sort of centre. Its smallness may lessen their quantity of good, but does not diminish the duty of using that little influence wisely. Where is the human being so inconsiderable, but that he may in some shape benefit others, either by calling their virtues into exercise, or by setting them an example of virtue himself? But we are humble just in the wrong place.
When the exhibition of our talents or splendid qualities is in question, we are not backward in the display. When a little self-denial is to be exercised, when a little good might be effected by our example, by our discreet management in company, by giving a better turn to conversation, then at once we grow wickedly modest: Such an insignificant creature as I am, can do no good. Had I higher rank, or brighter talents, then indeed my influence might be ,exerted to some purpose.
Thus under the mask of diffidence, we justify our indolence, and let slip those lesser occasions of promoting religion, which, if we all improved, how much might the condition of society be raised !
The hackneyed interrogation, “What, must we be always talking about religion?” must have the hackneyed answer—“Far from it.” Talking about religion is not being religious. But we may bring the spirit of religion into company, and keep it in perpetual operation, when we do not professedly make it our subject. We may be constantly advancing its interests; we may, without effort or affectation, be giving an example of candour, of moderation, of humility, of forbearance. We may employ our influence by correcting falsehood, by checking levity, by discouraging calumny, by vindicating misrepresented merit, by countenancing every thing which has a good tendency-in short, by throwing our whole weight, be it great or small, into the right scale.
HINTS ON THE INTERPRETATION OF THE
The practice of Christians has assumed it to be legitimate in dealing with passages of Scripture, to apply them as to interpret them as applicable to a greater or less extent to bearing reference to more cases than one; in other words, other persons, times, events, cases, than those to which they originally were referred. I shall endeavour to shew in this paper, what warrant we have for this practice in Scripture, how far it is legitimate as a rule of interpretation, and bind up the observations made into a general maxim for our guidance herein. We certainly have many instances of such a proceeding in the interpretations given of various parts of the sacred volume by Christ and his Apostles. We constantly find passages directly limited and exclusive in their sense, when taken in the connection they were originally placed in, extended and enlarged by them, so as to bear a reference to present events or persons. In many prophecies which were at first delivered by the prophets, as directed to the Jewish people then living, and having their fulfilment in events then pending, we find them made to pass over the lapse of many ages, and become the predictions of other events, and bear an application to another generation of people. As for instance in the fulfilment of many prophecies in Christ, which had manifestly one fulfilment in, and were originally spoken of, David. Facts, too, are thus as it were enlarged ; and as they are made types of, so have their language reference to, other events, as though they were a simple prophecy of the latter. As those two facts recorded, the one by Hosea, and the other by Jeremiah, as occurring in the history of the Jewish people: “Out of Egypt have I called my son ;" and "a voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, and bitter weeping.' The former referring to the departure from Egypt, the latter to the mourning of the Israelites, during their captivity in Babylon. Both these are declared by St. Matthew, (chapter i,) to have been prophetical of certain events in the history of our blessed Lord. Nor is it confined only