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ON THE CULTIVATION OF A PROPER SPIRIT
AMONG SUNDAY-SCHOOL TEACHERS.
POLICY as well as duty recommends the divine injunction, “ Overcome evil with good.” The purest philosophy is here blended with the distinguishing virtue of Christianity. The principle of love, is the purest and the sweetest which can actuate the human heart. Where this prevails, a halo of peace is thrown over the community in which it dwells, and men with men enjoy a reciprocity of feeling, and a mutual regard for each other's interests; the jarring of conflicting passions never disturbs such happy friendship; “each esteems other better than himself;" and confidence and fidelity are mutually experienced. Such is the love of Christianity: a love so strong and so lasting, that the most untiring persecution cannot wear it out; which forgives the greatest injuries, and benefits the greatest enemies. A love so broad, that heaven and earth are not too wide for its exercise; which, whilst it holds with deathless vigour to its great Creator, extends itself to all the inhabitants of the world. Love in reality, without dissimulation. “Love that suffereth long and is kind; envieth not; vaunteth not itself; doth not behave itself unseemly ; is not easily provoked ; thinketh no evil; beareth all things:" the very bond of peace, and of all virtues. How few, indeed, possess such a love! yet such is no more than is required of us.
Amongst the different classes of individuals who compose
the Christian church, we might suppose that none possessed this blessed principle more than Sundayschool Teachers. The nature of their office and their voluntarily taking such an office-would naturally bring us to such a conclusion.
While the political and commercial worlds are torn and rent by strife, and envy, and mistrust, we should hope to find in them a little community, carrying on a labour of love, bound by the same motives, armed by the same zeal, and united in the closest bonds of friendship and unalloyed regard; a happy family, in which all that is lovely, all that is pure, all that is of good report, are cherished and nourished to the utmost extent. But, alas ! it is not always so: we find, to our sorrow, that even amongst them, there sometimes exists a seeming indifference to each other's interests, an apathetic coldness, a disregard to the more sensitive amongst them, till it bursts into open disunion.
When Satan cannot tempt Christians to serve him by the commission of gross sins, he sometimes throws in brands of contention, and stirs up the hearts of some to strife and perverseness, in the most unimportant matters, to weaken and retard their efforts. How often, when all is going on smoothly, and when the little band humbly lift up their heads, as lights in the midst of the surrounding darkness, pursuing the work of the Lord with diligence and prosperity-how often does Satan throw up some root of bitterness, and spread, by this cause, disunion and opposition among them!
In all quarrels, there is generally fault on one side, sometimes on both; and too often pride and ill will are the supporters or the causes. In worldly men, this is almost always the case; while, in professors of religion, bigotry, shortsightedness, intolerance, and sometimes indeed the former, are the distinguishing blemishes. But where true Christianity reigns in the heart, neither one nor the other appear.
In the exercise of true Christian charity, it is of importance to observe, that some minds are so constituted or shaped, by early education, that they cannot concur in many of the opinions of others : their conscience, more tender, shrinks with alarm from what others, with equal sincerity, may practise without compunction; that is, in matters of mere form, where no principle is involved; and for the sake of peace, it becomes absolutely necessary to bear with the tenderness of such consciences,
and strictly avoid any thing which may unnecessarily give them offence. It is not only necessary, but it is the bounden duty of the strong “to bear the infirmities of the weak.” Where this is not the case, but practices, unimportant in themselves, are continued to the injury and annoyance of those who conscientiously object to them, disunion will surely prevail; and where it does prevail, under such circumstances, on which side lies the fault? May God Almighty enable every proud heart to learn in time!
“It is impossible," said the blessed Saviour, “but that offences will come; but woe be to him through whom the offence cometh.” And oh! how little does the obstinate supporter of such measures reflect on the injury he may be doing, both to himself and others! When the destruction of the Grecian empire was threatened by the immense army of Xerxes, the few determined and patriotic men who fought its battles resolved to deliver it, or perish in the attempt. They were comparatively a mere handful, compared to the almost innumerable army of the Persian Monareh. Themistocles and Aristides—who, like most worldly great men, were opposed to each other, either from difference of opinion, or probably from jealousy of each other's attainmentswere the two principal commanders. Being at variance with each other, and each commanding at different stations, they were ignorant of each other's schemes. Aristides, therefore, mistaking an artifice of Themistocles to mislead the enemy, and supposing him to be in danger, "ventured in a small boat by night, (says the historian,) through the whole fleet of the enemy. Upon landing, he made up to the tent of Themistocles, and addressed him in the following manner : 'If we are wise, Themistocles, we shall henceforth lay aside all those frivolous and puerile dissensions, which have hitherto divided us. One strife, and a noble one it is, now remains for us, which of us shall be most serviceable to our country. It is yours to command, as a general, it is mine to obey, as a subject; and happy shall I be, if my advice can any way contribute to your and my country's glory. He then informed him of the fleet's real situation, and warmly exhorted him to give battle without delay.' Themistocles felt all that gratitude which such generous and disinterested conduct deserved; and eager to make a proper return, he immediately let him into all his schemes and projects. After this, they exerted their joint influence with the other commanders, to persuade them to engage, and accordingly both fleets prepared for battle.”
You are the soldiers of a little army, which has to contend with and overcome the powers of darkness, led on by “the prince of the power of the air ;” and will you, in the heat of battle, stay to quarrel amongst yourselves in trifles, when the interests of eternity are at stake? Without love, there can be no real unity; and without unity in the little flock, who are counted by world “not fit to live,” who are despised, and persecuted, and hated, how are their consolations lessened? Oh! Sunday-school Teachers, if the world take delight in war, in envy, in deceit, in malice and pride, be it yours to “love each other with a pure heart fervently,” never forgetting that, though “we speak with the tongues of men and angels, and have not charity-or love—we are sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal.” Neither the highest attainments of wisdom, nor the most abundant almsgiving—nay, even martyrdom itself, is worth any thing without this love.
Faith will one day be lost in vision, and hope in reality; but love will endure for ever : the eternal happiness of saints and angels, the very element of heaven.
PUNCTUALITY. “No one can be a good Teacher who is not a punctual one."
Todd's Sunday School Teacher. Amongst the many requirements requisite for an efficient Sunday-school Teacher, Punctuality stands in a very prominent situation on the list. But it is a requirement with
many that is too often dispensed with, and in consequence it is fraught with evils.
It is an evil which affects the non-punctual Sundayschool Teacher personally. His class being aware that he will not be at school until after the time of its commencement, some of them will say to each other, “Our Teacher does not come very often in time for school, and so let us come to school before the time, and have a bit of fun.” And accordingly they come earlier, and have their bit of fun; and when he arrives a quarter or half an hour after the time of commencement, in what state does he find his class? He finds the steam of levity is well up, and the engine of idleness every minute increasing its speed. While some of the others (and especially boys) will say, “Let us go for a run before we go into school; and if we are late, it does not matter. Our Teacher can't scold us, for he is always late himself; and if he does, we could say we thought it was not worth while to come so early, because we knew that he would not be there in time.' And accordingly they go; and when they come to school after the run, they are heated, idle and wild, and all the Teacher's efforts (genea rally speaking, for some Teachers have more moral authority than others) to hold them in will be almost as useless as to try to "hold in" a horse that is frightened -it will break the reins, and run away.
The first evil is common to both morning and afternoon; the second more particularly to the afternoon. And hence the levity and idleness, if not insolence of his class, and particularly if he be of a testy temper, irritates him; the class soon discovers his ill temper, and then no good is effected. And this often repeated, he begins to get tired of Sabbath-school teaching, and it becomes, instead of a pleasing duty, an irksome task.
He also loses much precious time, and also many opportunities for doing good, both by his being too late, and by the idleness of his class, which, had he arrived earlier, might have been prevented. He loses also (which surely none ought to lose) the singing and prayer.
It is an evil affecting the children, in thus allowing them the opportunity of an excuse for their being late, and by example sanctioning and confirming in them