Page images
PDF
EPUB

But this is not enough-ministers and which, if earnestly, judiciously, must combine their influence with pa- prayerfully taken up, will, by God's rents, to secure the youth of this sex; grace, be followed with a blessed reand yet is it not an undoubted fact, sult. that both parents and ministers do I shall conclude by a few hints more for the religious education of both to parents and ministers on the girls than for the spiritual good of momentous subject of this paper. boys? And why? Because it is, or To the former I would

say seems to be, a more easy task to suc- Cultivate, I repeat, your own perceed with the former than the latter. sonal religion to a higher degree of “I can do nothing,” says the mother, eminent and consistent piety. Withthe father, and the minister, “with out this you will have neither the disthat lad; I can teach and move his position nor the power to do much sisters, but his sturdy and unyielding in forming the religious character of nature resists all my efforts ; I must your children. Many of you must give him up.” Thus requiring more be sensible that you are in too lukeattention, they receive less. True it warm a state, and too inconsistent as is, they are removed at an earlier age, professors of godliness, even to make and through subsequent life far more, the attempt to bring your children from beneath the care of parents and under the influence of religion, much ministers than their sisters; but even less to expect success, if you were with this admission, I still say they even to make the attempt; and it is are neglected. Ministers, I speak to not improbable that some of you are you and intreat you, as you would acting upon the conviction that you have your churches built up with will do more good by silence and by pious and intelligent young men ; your leaving them altogether to ministerial Sunday-schools replenished with able influence, the power of preaching, and and influential teachers; your insti- the course of events. Alas! for both tutions directed by sagacious and you and your children. But shall well-educated committees;--look well matters remain thus ? Shall this year to the boys that are growing up in be added to the number in which you the families of your flock. Wait not have thus lived? Awake from your till they are young men; they will be slumber, which, if continued, will be gone then from beneath your care. the sleep of death, both for you and Gather them round you in Bible for them. classes, and for catechetical instruc- Settle with yourselves the point tion, while they are yet boys, and la- fully and for ever, that whatever adbour, by training their minds and vantages of general education you hearts to habits of right thinking, wish and intend to procure for, and reading, and piety, not only to attach bestow upon your children, their relithem to yourselves, which you easily gious character is the first object of may do at that age, and by such at- your deepest solicitude, and shall be tention, but to your denomination, of your practical and persevering and, what is of far more consequence,

effort. Let there be no question, no to true religion. I do not hesitate to hesitation, no wavering here. Here say, that we are all verily guilty fix you centre; here direct your aim ; touching this matter, and are thus as here concentrate your efforts, your much wanting in pastoral sagacity as energies, and your prayers. we are in pastoral duty. Be this one Remember, their religious educaof the defects of the past which in the tion is your business. Whatever aids future we will supply---one of the mis- you call in from ministers, or teachtakes we will rectify-one of the means ers, you never must, you never can, of revival we will adopt-one of the you never should, delegate this work. plans for increasing our churches we God will hold you responsible for the will carry out. Here, in this increased religion of your children, so far as parental and pastoral attention to the

means go. religious education of children, espe- Begin religious education early. It cially of the boys, is something defi- is in general too long deferred. The nite, tangible, easy of accomplishment, natural corruption of the heart is al

lowed to acquire strength before it is resisted, and Satan is permitted to be beforehand. Begin with calling out the conscience; this may be done as soon as a child can speak. Conscience is the great faculty which in religious education is to be enlightened, invigorated, and made tender. A child can soon be made to know and feel the distinction between right and wrong, and taught to be a law to himself. Inspire a reverence for yourself; be you, in a sense, to the child in the place of God as his representative, before he can understand who and what God is. Train even the little child to obedience, to surrender his will to a superior will. What else is practical religion, if we only substitute God for the parent ?

Let religion be seen in you as an ever-present and ever-regulating reality; no mere abstraction, or thing of times and places. Let it be a part of your whole character. Appear before your household as one habitually conscious of the presence of God and walking with him.

Be exemplary in matters of truth, integrity, generosity. A religion without these will disgust your children. Let there be no little acts of equivocation, injustice, spite, or meanness. Acquire a nobleness of character. A very little child can understand all these matters.

Be good tempered; not passionate, stormy, impatient, severe, denunciatory. A bad-tempered saint is a contradiction. You may give your children much Scriptural knowledge, and bore them with warnings and admonitions, but frequent fits of passion and stormy gusts of anger will drive it all out of their heads and hearts.

Avoid all censoriousness upon the failings of professing Christians, and all cynical criticism and cavils upon the sermons of ministers.

Bring round your children the best specimens of religious professors. I do not mean the most fashionable and worldly, for these are often the worst, but those whose piety is consistent and cheerful, whose manners are engaging, and with as much of polish as can be obtained.

Choose their schools with reference

to religion as well as fashionable accomplishments; and if you can, send them where they will have the advantage of a lively, impressive ministry. It is a sad thing for a lively girl, or a sprightly boy, not perhaps illdisposed towards religion, to find the Sabbath the dullest of all dull days.

Í need scarcely remind Christian parents how much of earnest, believing, persevering prayer for the Holy Spirit is necessary, and how much of familiar, affectionate, judicious, instruction, or how much of vigilance, expostulation, tender rebuke, and salutary restraint, must enter into their system of domestic religious education : all this is taken for granted.

Well, then, parents, be this your purpose for the year on which you have just entered; your intelligent, solemn, and deliberate purpose. Begin afresh. Set out anew. Recollect, again, what an awful thing it is to be a parent, and what a responsibility attaches to those who have immortal souls committed to their care, and those the souls of their own children.

Ministers, have we not something to repair for the future in the neglects of the past ? Have we been faithful pastors as regards the children of our church members ? Have we fed the lambs? Have we, with the mild authority, and, at the same time, with the tenderness of a good shepherd, looked after the younglings of the flock? True, we are not to be the substitutes, but ought we not to be the helpers, of the parents ? Has not the catechetical instruction of children fallen into general desuetude? Why? Can we assign a solid reason? If we neglect it, are we not the only religious functionaries who do? Do the Roman Catholics neglect it? Do the clergy of the Church of England neglect it? We are the ministers of the whole congregation committed to our care, and the children are a part of it, and therefore a part of the objects of our legitimate attention. The parents will thank us for aiding them in their endeavours to bring up their children for God, and the children will gladly avail

themselves of our instructions. What a field do we neglect to cultivate while we leave this virgin soil untilled. Let us then all begin the year with a renewed consecration of ourselves to

the interests of the youth of our flock, and then all future years will yield us abundant evidence that this is one of the most effectual plans for the revival of religion.

THE SAINTS.

The holy spirits of the just

Yes, we have gone, and so have Grow fairer in the skies,

learned But handfuls of their crumbled dust What had been dimly taught, Were loathsome in our eyes. If where the flickering tapers burned

For counsel we had sought. No altars to the saints we build,

Though faithful deed and word It was not for a broidered vest,Have long with pleasant fragrance Not for a sculptured rood,filled

They who have entered into rest The temple of the Lord.

In the hot battle stood : We heap not in a golden shrine It was not for a vision fair The relics of the dead :

Of priestly rule below, What then-must fervent spirits pine They girded them the cross to bear

Our cold, bare aisles to tread ? In the fierce noon-day glow. There are, have builded altars fair, It was not for the love they bore Have carved the shapely stones,

To any earthly name, With eager hands have gathered there Hallowed by faithful works of yore,

The blanched and scattered bones. They felt the scorching flame. If ever to the sculptor's side

It was, that Jesus crucified
The blessed ones drew nigh,

In
every

heart might reign, Methinks they marvelled at the pride, Those ancient saints rejoicing died The fond idolatry;

And spake not of the pain. If aught could mar their high content It was, that men might see the light Surely they sorrowed then;

Where once the shadows fell, Surely their snowy robes were rent It was, that men might wash them To watch the sin of men.

white

In life's unfailing well. Their tombs we would not garnish now,

Look not on broken images, But in their footsteps tread,

On altars trampled down, And in the heart's dim chamber show And say we blot their memories The relics of the dead.

And mar their glorious crown;What though the images of stone For he who through the opened door Are from the niches cast,

Beheld how heaven is fair, Think you our souls have never gone Saw that his Master's throne before, Back to the crowded past,

Their crowns they would not wear, To gaze upon the martyr band But cast them on the crystal stone Who fought the fight of old

That paves those mansions old, Till quailing heart and faltering hand While glory to the Lord alone The while grew strong and bold ? Through the bright city rolled.

H. T.

LETTERS TO THE WIFE OF A YOUNG CLERGYMAN.-No. XIV.

BIBLE CLASSES.

MY DEAR YOUNG FRIEND,—I do and miracles harmoniously arranged, not doubt that your many and varied (as Mr. Bickersteth has done,) will duties fully occupy your time and answer the twofold end of personal thoughts, and that you often feel the improvement, and qualification for necessity for much watchfulness, con- teaching, better than any other. You sideration, and prayer, to prevent will find the greatest assistance in this their injurious effects upon your own work from the marginal reference spiritual state. You know by expe- Bibles, which you should accustom rience that it is these “little foxes

your young friends to use constantly that spoil the grapes," and often pre- in their own reading, and whilst invent your heavenly Father

from reap- structing their classes. If you do ing that portion to which he is justly not know Bagster's “ Treasury of entitled.(Canticles viii. 11, 12.) Our Scripture Knowledge," I would great adversary is constantly endea- strongly advise you to procure it. vouring to injure the root, blight the This work is far preferable to the blossom, or destroy the fruits of our Scripture Harmony," by the same exertions; and we cannot be too ear- author. The “illustrative notes" nest in prayer that God would fulfil connected with the “ Treasury,” and his own promise, of "keeping his the improved arrangement of the vineyard, watching and watering it references,” so as to correspond every moment,” by the dew of the with each clause, without obliging the Holy Spirit.

student to look through those for the But we must not be discouraged by verse, make this work more generally constant proofs of our own weakness useful. After your own prayerful inand imperfection; on the contrary, we vestigation of the word of God with must pray for a deeper sense of the your young friends is concluded, you infinite value of souls, and the great will find it both interesting and proimportance of making, as well as using, fitable to add your usual family woropportunities of usefulness. By this ship. This affords the clergyman a means our capabilities will increase, nice opportunity of sanctioning and and the performance of our work will impressing the instruction which his improve: we shall act with more de- wife may have given, and of making cision, and mingle less of human in- all present feel the family interest firmity, less of self, and less of mis- which is taken in the work. If you placed endeavours in our essays to do undertake the duty in a simple degood.

pendance upon Divine aid, and with In proportion as you enter into the the desire to advance your Saviour's details of your own schools, you will cause, you will find many other benesee the importance of having your fits attached to it besides the improveteachers grounded in Scripturaltruths, ment of your schools. and you will find it a most desirable An increasing interest in the word thing to meet them yourself once a of God will be felt when every faculty month, or if you please more fre- of the mind is called into exercise by quently, for the express purpose of a it, and your young people will see, simple conversation on the word of that He who requires them to avoid God. If you endeavour to make all those mental snares, which would these seasons really interesting and lead them into sin, has provided for profitable, you will have no difficulty them an inexhaustible fund of enjoyin keeping up either their attendance ment, whilst they are preparing for or their attention.

those pleasures which are at God's As to the plan of reading, your own right hand for evermore. A late judgment will direct you; but, per- eminent servant of God speaks of the haps, going through the life of our “well-stocked garden of spiritual deblessed Saviour, with his discourses lights, where every tree bears heavenly

[ocr errors]

fruit, to which the smile of an approv

In the former case, the greatest ing God will yield a flavour truly watchfulness is needful. That resistdivine." This description is fully ance whilst decided, may be in the realized by those who can say, “Thy spirit of Christ; in the latter, the words were found, and I did eat them, same spirit is needed in the giving up and thy word was unto me the joy of our own will. Affectionate advice, and rejoicing of mine heart.”

in such cases, is often most valuable When by this means your young in the commencement of a religious people become more and more inter- course; and I can truly say, that the ested with the simple reading of God's means of usefulness to which this word, they will be led to bring what Letter has referred, have often been to they hear and what they read to its myself seasons of great enjoyment. standard ; and never was there a time In a small country town, out of a when this result was more to be de- Bible class of about fourteen, three sired. There is something very strik- young persons have now entered on ing in the account which we have of spheres of important parochial usethe Bereans. (Acts xvii. 11, 12.) A fulness, and I trust that they will find real desire to know God's will, accom- that word, which they once searched panied by a diligent search into the out with much interest, to be indeed Scriptures of truth, was followed by a a lamp unto their feet, and a light believing reception of it.

unto their path.” Such an opportunity as a Bible It is said that they which feared the class affords of bringing forward Lord, spake “oftentimes one to anoScripture difficulties, is also truly ther.” And surely no conversations valuable; and as our acquaintance are so suitable and delightful as those with the state and circumstances of which are founded upon God's own ourflockincreases, we shall find many word, of which it has been quaintly, opportunities of giving a hint which but truly said, cannot be done from the pulpit. The last benefit which I shall refer

“Men's books with heaps of chaff are

stored, to is, the more personal intercourse

God's book doth golden grains afford.” which often results from such meetings, and which brings the wife of a May we, my dear friend, profit by the clergyman acquainted with the do- advice which follows : mestic trials, temptations, and duties

"Then leave the chaff, and spend thy of the young people around her.

pains Without encouraging an unlawful

In gathering up the golden grains." exposure of family concerns, she may often give much valuable advice, es- With much Christian affection, pecially as to the distinction between Believe me, yours truly, what is really sinful, and what is only self-denial on the part of the young Bristol, Nov. 17, 1846. Christian.

[ocr errors]

THE SPIRIT OF THE GOSPEL.

A GREAT evidence of the divine origin Gospel has made an entirely different of Christianity is found in the cir- class of persons the subject of panecumstance that its maxims are in direct gyric.

« Blessed are the poor in opposition to the opinions current in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of the world. On the prosperous and the heaven. Blessed are they that mourn: powerfulare bestowed the applauseand for they shall be comforted.” friendship of mankind; and the very hold, we count them happy which fact of a person's not wanting help or endure.” The world heard with aspraise seems often a sufficient reason tonishment that patience under opfor his being loaded with it. But the pression and insult was a mark of

JANUARY—1847.

6 Be

B

« PreviousContinue »