Page images

may be


[ocr errors]

father to sow.) Very well; but I am not going to talk of that kind of sowing, but of sowing seed in the heart. You and I, all, are sowers daily in this way; it may be in the heart of another, or in our own;

it good or evil seed. When we speak kind words to one in trouble we

? (good seed, teacher.) Yes; gladness or joy in another's heart. When we help one to do right, when we forgive one who has offended us, when we resist evil, we are sowing- -? (good seed.)

Yes; of what kind does our lesson speak? — (Evil, teacher.) And what is it called ? (Discord.) Right. Discord is a bad seed; it grows up an ugly weed, and when full grown destroys all that is good and beautiful in the garden of the heart with its poison. Can you give me another name for discord ?-(Strife.) Well, the Bible says “Where envy and strife are there

confusion and every evil work.” A spirit that is quarrelsome can never know happiness or peace.

Strife is like a blight. What does a blight do? -(Kill the plants, teacher.) Yes, it is a disease, or sickness among plants which destroys them. Just as sickness causes death to young and old persons, so when strife is in the heart it destroys and kills all that is good in it, and if not got rid of it will kill the heart at last.

Now, when you quarrel or try to make another quarrel, what are you doing ?—(Sowing discord.) Whose work are you doing then ?-(The devil's.) This is a very awful and distressing thought, that even a little child, by quarrelling and giving way to anger, can do the devil's work, and not only so, bat destroy the Holy Spirit's work at the same time. Think of this when tempted to sin in anger, and pray that you may do God's work instead, i.e. make and

and went to and from school together. One day a new girl came, and was put in their class; her name was Julia. She seemed kind and clever, and soon became a favourite. Well, when she found how fond Jane and Alice were of each other, what do you think she did? why, thought in her heart that she would make them quarrel because she did not like to see them so fond of each other. (That was “devising,” teacher.) Quite right. I am glad you remember last Sunday's lesson. She was thinking and planning to do wrong. Can either of you tell me what bad spirit was in Julia, tempting her to devise wrong?–(Envy, teacher.) Right. Well, to go back to my story. One morning, on her way to school, she met Jane alone. “ Now is my time,” she thought; so going up to her, she said, “ Jane, do you know Alice only pretends to love you ? for I heard her say that you are proud, and vain, and not so clever as people think.” This was not true ; but Jane did not stop to ask if it were. She was impulsive, and did things without thinking. So she believed all Julia said, and was so angry that she determined not to speak to Alice again, or be her friend. A quarrel thus began; and it was a very long time before the truth came to light, and the two girls were reconciled, that is, made friends again.

Tell me what did Julia sow?-(Discord.)

Yes, and misery in her own heart too. Do you see now that children may do this thing which is “hateful” to God? (Yes, teacher.)

They may quarrel themselves, or make others quarrel, as they so often do in the streets; but in both ways they sow discord. Can you tell me some texts to show the root of quarrels, i.e. what makes them? “A wrathful man [i.e. angry] stirreth up strife" (Prov. xv. 18). “A proud heart stirreth up strife (Prov. xxviii. 25). “ Hatred stirreth up strife” (Prov. x. 12). Three things the wise man tells us will cause persons to quarrel; pride, anger, hatred. Then, if we wish to be “ peace-makers, and " children of God,” we must get

sow peace.

Listen to a story that I have to tell you.

In a school there were two little girls, Jane and Alice by name, who were very good friends; where one was, the other might always be found. They sat in the same class, learned the same lessons,


I think you

rid of these three evil weeds from our heart. The "new commandment" of our Lord Jesus is “Love one another.” If we are to love, we must give up quarrels; we cannot love and strive too. We must either be peace-makers or peace-breakers.

Now, which would you like to be ?(The first, teacher.) And what does our Lord call the peace-makers ?--(Blessed.) Yes, or happy, because they shall be called?

(“children of God.") Right. Can you make yourself such ?-(No; but God will if I ask.) Then I hope you will every day ask Him to fill your heart with His Holy Spirit; for where He dwells there is love, peace, and every good fruit. And you will be pleasing to Him then. Think"The gentle child, which tries to please,

Who hates to quarrel, fret, or tease,
Who fears to say an angry word,
That child is pleasing to the Lord.”

Is not that a pretty verse, and encouraging to you all, to try and be

, -(Yes, indeed.)

And now we have finished our last lesson upon things — ? (" hateful to God.") Try and repeat to me the four we have talked about.--(1. A “ proud look.” 2. “A lying tongue.” 3. “A heart that deviseth wicked imaginations." 4. " He that soweth discord among brethren.")

Good. Now remember, dear children, that you must watch and pray that you may be kept from doing any of these. Some day we may be able to find four things which God loves to talk about. But if not, I am quite sure that you cannot grow up to hate and fight against the things which you learn are “ hateful” to Him, without learning at the same time to know and love what He loves.

F. B. W.

teaching you. If you were to see some child that you know, almost tumbling down from the window-sill you would be sure to recollect that; you would be sure never to forget just how he called out to anybody that was near him. Now Peter, who said these words, “Lord, save me,” was in quite as much danger as any child could be; for he was almost sinking into the deep, deep sea, which

" tossed with waves,” when he cried out in these words—say them again: yes, “Lord, save me." would like to know more about this man, and the reason why he spoke in this way: listen, and I will tell you.

Jesus Christ was a long way from Jerusalem, staying near to a large lake called the sea of Galilee. The day before, He had made (and He could do it, because He was God) a few little cakes and two fishes go as far and serve as well as thousands of loaves and hundreds of fishes could have done, to feed little children and their fathers and mothers—about five thousand altogether ; and when they had all had enough there was twelve times as much left over as there had been altogether when they commenced. After this Jesus Christ sent all away--the people to get home, and His disciples " to get into a ship.” What do you think He did Himself?_" He went up into a mountain apart to pray;" and remember, children, if you

cannot go up into a mountain, you too can go aside to pray, time after time; and the more you pray now, the more good you will be able to do, and the more like Christ you will be sure to grow.

Well, when the disciples had got away from the land and were out in the middle of the sea, it began to roar and to boil; and hour after hour the wind was blowing them away from the part they wanted to sail to; and oh how they wished that Jesus was there, Peter especially. Then it was, when the disciples were really tired out, that one of them thought he saw something or somebody on the water near them ; but

No," he thought, “that can't be !" But again he looked, and it was certainly somebody walking upon the water just as if it was land. Peter now, as


Matthew xiv. 30. Now, little ones, here is a very short text--one that you can quickly learn ; and you will be sure to remember it if you pay attention to me while I am


well as the rest of them, was frightened which the Bible says was " boisterous ;' indeed; and though they were men, and so poor Peter made sure that he hardy strong fishermen, they “ cried out was going, going, sinking, sinking, sinkfor fear."

ing. And now it was that he cried out You don't think, do you, that Jesus these three words; what are they?-_Yes, wanted to frighten them? Of course “ Lord, save me!” Depend upon it, not; so He at once told them who He Peter spoke plainly, and was thinking of was, and bid them to " be not afraid."

what he was saying. Ah! that was real Remember that, dear children; and prayer; and of course it was answered at whenever you know that Jesus is with

“O thou of little faith,” said Jesus, you, or has promised to be with you, or why didst thou doubt?” but He did that you are doing His work, “be not not say this until He had "stretched afraid."

forth His hand and caught him ;' then As soon as Peter heard the voice of they both got into the ship, and they Jesus he left off his shouting and crying that were in it worshipped Jesus, as well out, and thought it was almost too good they might. to be true that his Saviour was so near Now, dear children, you may rest him; then, thinking to discover whether assured that often you will be in as great it really were our Lord, he asked danger as Peter was : when you are inJesus to let him walk on the water too. clined to tell a story, to cheat, to disI think there was a little pride in the obey, to do whatever is displeasing to bottom of Peter's heart; if so, he came

God, you are in terrible danger : at such near destruction, as Solomon says pride times always offer up Peter's prayer; and always does. Jesus told him that he

just as he was saved, so you will have might come; so, “coming down out of God's own almighty power to save you, the ship,” Peter stepped on to the water. and by-and-by you will be taken into the Perhaps his faith would have been ark of safety which is above,sufficiently strong for God to have trusted

“Far from a world of grief and sin, him, if it had not been for the wind, With God eternally shut in.”




No. I.

Acts x. 1-8. If you were going to the Queen's palace, my young friends, would you like to find the door opened to you, or shut against you ?—(Open, teacher.)

I have no doubt you would ; and for precisely a similar reason is it that we should love exceedingly the chapter we are about to consider; for it tells us that God has opened the door of heaven to the Gentiles. Before this, the Jews thought that they only were God's chosen people; now God says to every one, Jew or Gentile, “ Only believe Jesus died for you, and is preparing an eternal home for you, and all good things are yours, for ye are Christ's!" (1 Cor. üi. 23).

Now read carefully Acts x. 1-8.

Ver. 1. What was this man's name? -(Cornelius.) What was he ?-(A centurion.) Yes; that means an officer who had one hundred soldiers under him; and these at the period of which we are reading were called " the Italian band,” to distinguish them from the other soldiers.

Ver. 2. Notice here, dear children, what God, in writing this man's character, places first: "a devout man.” What is meant by “devout” ? Just what most children are not. If you look at their conduct at prayer, at church, at Sunday-school, you will see their eyes wandering, their attention not fixed, their manner altogether indifferent. God, too, sees that their hearts are careless, their thoughts irreverent. So they are not devout; for to be devout is to

be reverent in all your thoughts of, and in all your dealings with, a holy God, to be inwardly holy, and outwardly to show in your behaviour, wherever you may be, that you fear God.

Now shall I tell you why God speaks of devotion first in this description of Cornelius ?-Because God reads the heart (1 Sam. xvi. 7; 1 Kings viii. 39 ; 1 Chron. xxviii. 9; Jer. xvii. 10).

That is the real test of our nature. Men only look at our general outward appearance and conduct, and can, in fact, judge of us in no other way. It is not so with God; and if we are really devout like Cornelius, we shall not only fear God ourselves, but try to lead all our families to love Him too; we shall also help others by our sympathy and our money, and begin and end everything we do with prayer. So we learn from this verse four things about Cornelius: he was a devout man, a God-fearing man, a generous man, and a prayerful man. Pray that you may follow his good example.

Ver. 3. At three o'clock in the afternoon he saw an angel, and the angel called him by his name. Does God know your name, everybody's name? See John x. 3; Isa. xliii. 1.

Ver. 4. Cornelius need not have been afraid; he was, however: yet, being a devout man, he wished to do God's will, therefore fear did not prevent his asking irectly “ What is it, Lord ?" And the angel gave him a beautiful answer. Read ver. 4 again. What is

“ memorial”? It is like a keepsake. Is it not a happy thought, that all you say and do for God is to Him a morial," a keepsake ? It is always before Him, and He ever keeps it. Have you, dear children, such a memorial in heaven, --something you have done with which God may be pleased and glorified ? If not, try and do something out of love to Jesus. Take care not to seek praise of men (Matt. vi. 1). Remember also that Jesus Christ is our great “ Memorial” in heaven; and when God looks at Jesus, He thinks of us poor sinners, and all that His dear Son has done and suffered for us that we might be saved.

Vers. 5, 6. The angel's message. You see God not only knows His people by name, but where they live, and all about them. (1 Kings xix. 14, 18; Acts xvii. 26.) We learn, too, how God honours men. The angel might have taught Cornelius all he needed to know; but God sent the angel only to tell him to send for a fellow-man, Peter. In like manner, my young friends, God has sent to you teachers to explain His word. He might have sent angels ; but He has not deemed them fit messengers to tell you of the love of Jesus; for the angels have not sinned, and Jesus did not die for angels—He died for men. Sunday-school teachers, who perhaps are greater sinners than their scholars, because they are

so much older, can speak of what Jesus has done for us all; they can tell their young friends of the happiness of feeling that we are all forgiven if we rely upon the merits of His blood, and that we should prepare to spend an eternity in thanking and praising Him for all He has done for us.

Do you remember that beautiful hymn,“ Now let us join with hearts and tongues,

And emulate the angels' songs;
Yea, sinners may address their King
In songs that angels cannot sing”?

Ver. 7. A good man generally has good servants. What a blessing it is to live in a religious family! All of us can more or less influence others. Abraham a good master ? (Gen. xviii. 19.) Naaman's little maid, how did she use her influence ? (2 Kings v. 1-3.) You and I have influence with somebody;

influence many. Is ours a good influence? What is the secret of influence? First, sympathy (Eph. vi. 5-9 : notice, “ do the same things,” i.e. sympathy); second, confidence. Ver. 8. Cornelius told them all he trusted them.

What influence will this lesson have on you? Will it lead you nearer to Jesus? Will you go home, and on your knees, in the quiet of your own rooms, pray for God's Holy Spirit to make you devout, useful, generous, prayerful? Will you be more frequently on the watch to see what is God's will, that you







[blocks in formation]


No. II.

Acts x. 9-18. LAST Sunday we saw how God prepared Cornelius for the great blessing he was about to receive; to-day we shall see how God was preparing Peter to carry " the glad tidings of great joy” to Cornelius.

What a happy thought this is for us : the same God is preparing you and me : you to learn, and me to teach. But, dear young friends, we should each ask ourselves if our hearts are like Cornelius' and Peter's-open to these preparations (Prov. xvi. 1).

Read ver. 9. Can you tell me the difference between an eastern house and one of our English houses ? An eastern house is built all round a court-yard, with a staircase leading up to a flat roof, and a wall all round the roof, that people may walk about and not fall over (Deut. xxii. 8). Believing it to be very quiet up on the roof, Peter ascended there to pray in the middle of the day. Do all God's servants love prayer, and wish often to be alone with God? Did David, the man after God's own heart (Ps. lv. 17) ? Daniel, whom God called a man greatly beloved," prayed regularly three times a day, as well as on other occasions (Dan. vi. 10).

Do you love to pray and to feel yourself alone with Jesus? to go and tell Him all your little wants and difficulties, and to ask Him to help you ? to tell Him all your little happinesses, and to

feel that He sympathises in your joys ? He is ever ready to listen to you, and is always at leisure to hear all you have to tell Him about yourself and about others too; and is more ready to answer than you to ask (Isa. lxv. 24).

Ver. 10. Peter was only a man, a poor weak man; and though he was praying and loved prayer, he became very hungry. He would have eaten; but while food was being prepared for him he fell into a trance-i.e. something very like sleep, yet not altogether sleep -a dream, yet à reality; and while in this state he saw- -? (a vision).

Ver. 11. What did Peter see in this vision ? Like Stephen (Acts vii. 55, 56) he saw heaven opened ; but did he, like Stephen, see “Jesus standing at the right hand of God”? No; he saw a vessel, like a great sheet, fastened at the four corners, coming down from heaven, and in it were animals that the Jews were forbidden to eat. See Lev. xi.

Ver. 13. Now Peter was very hungry, and perhaps thought this was a great temptation ; but he answered, “Not so, Lord.” Do you think Peter was right or wrong to give this answer ? I don't think Peter was wrong, for we find afterwards that he learned the lesson from it that God sent it to teach him.

How often did the voice speak to Peter? What do you think of this wonderful vision? (Was it not like a parable, teacher ?)—Yes, I think it was ; but the unclean animals, what were they intended to represent ?—(Tho Gentiles.) Yes, the Jews thought all Gentiles unclean, because they could not offer sacrifices; and many of these Jews thought themselves clean—i.e. very good indeed. But, dear young friends, the Bible teaches us that there is nothing so clean but that it needs to be cleansed (Job ix. 30, 31, and Jer. ii. 22), and nothing so unclean but that it can be made pure through the

precious blood of Christ (1 John i. 7 ; Rev. i. 5; 1 Cor. vi. 10).

Does God teach us, as He taught Peter, by visions ?-(No.) Why not?-Because we have the whole Bible, which is better than any vision; for we have it always with us, may read it once, twice, or as many times a day as we like ; aud also

« PreviousContinue »