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in regard to them. We hope we have left an impression that more piety, a closer and more practical union to God, is indispensable. If we might speak of the talents of the Church, we would say, read the parable of the Talents. It is the duty of every Christian, as he hopes to be accepted of his Judge, to take his mind out of the napkin, to double all his powers by cultivation,-a duty that is grievously neglected, and one most intimately connected with the triumph of the gospel.
There is a great and lamentable deficiency of what we have called character. We have much to say (not too much) of the heart, the internal principle of religion, and the state of the disciple as related to God. But we either say too little, or what we say has far too little effect, of those charities, those duties of society, of good neighbourhood and good citizenship, in which human life is spent,--the kind and graceful feelings, honesty, mercy, generosity, - everything that is necessary to outward dignity and beauty,-in one word, character. Many Christians seem never to attain to a proper sense of character. Indeed, the attainment is a somewhat difficult one to those who have not been trained to it in their early education. The Church suffers an immense loss of weight and influence from this source. Those who are called Unitarian Christians, it will be observed, on the other hand, have much to say of character, and less of the distinguishing principle of piety, as internal. Nor is what they say without effect. If they encourage or leave room for the error of supposing that the substance of piety is made up of those individual acts, which are properly only so many manifestations of it, and not of internal principle as related to God, they do at least secure, in many cases, acts and manifestations that extort praise and respect. We have sometimes thought, that if a practical Unitarian and an orthodox disciple could be melted into one, they would make a Christian. This at least will do to illustrate our meaning. There needs to be more done for character—to produce a sense of character, what it is, what is necessary to it, and why it is necessary. A rude, graceless piety, a zeal that hurries by things that are of good report, is needlessly odious. If it be a well-tempered, it is yet an awkward instrument, wherewith to convert the world. Should not the preachers of Christ have more to do with his external life, which is itself the model of Christian beauty and goodness? Might they not often instruct themselves as well as their people by this model of character? If they had a nicer sense of character of themselves, might it not add much to the dignity and power of their ministry, as well as to their personal acceptableness ?—moderating austerity, softening hardness, expanding contractedness, making the unworldly spirit amiable, assisting them to be accessible with dignity, and dignified without distance, and preparing them to be pastors, not drivers of their flocks-or in failure of that, driven by them.
In regard to family training we have more to say. We have spoken of the immense resource, the fertile capacity of internal growth possessed by the Church in her children, if trained up in piety
according to the intent of the household covenant. By the prevalent misconception of this covenant, and of Christian education under it, we suffer manifold and grievous mischiefs. First of all we lose our children, which is too great a loss. Next, what is scarcely less deplorable, we pervert the style and habit of our piety.
One principal reason why we are so often deficient in character, or outward beauty, is, that piety begins so late in life, having thus to maintain a perpetual and unequal war with previous habit.
If it was not true of Paul, it is yet too generally true, that one born out of due time will be found out of due time, more often than he should be afterwards—unequal, inconsistent with himself, acting the old man instead of the new. Having the old habit to war with, it is often too strong for him. To make a graceful and complete Christian character, it needs itself to be the habit of existence ;—not a grape grafted on a bramble. And this, it will be seen, requires a Christian childhood in the subject. Having this, the gracious or supernatural character becomes itself more nearly natural, and possesses the peculiar charm of naturalness, which is necessary to the highest moral beauty.
It results also from our mistaken views of Christian training, that we fall into a notion of religion that is mechanical. We thrust our children out of the covenant first, and insist, in spite of it, that they shall grow up in the same spiritual state as if their father and mother were heathens. Then we go out, at least on certain occasions, to convert them back, as if they actually were heathens. Our only idea of increase is of that which accrues by means of a certain abrupt technical experience. Led away thus from all thought of internal growth in the Church, efforts to secure conversions take an external character, which is not proper to them. Accretion displaces growth. The Church is gathered as a foundling hospital, and lest it should not be so, its own children are reduced to foundlings. Immediate repentance proclaimed, insisted on and realized in an abrupt change, proper only to those who are indeed aliens and enemies, is the only hope or inlet of the Church. We cannot understand how the spiritual nation should grow and populate and become powerful within itself; nothing will serve but the immediate annexation of Texas !
Piety becomes inconstant, and revivals of religion take an exaggerated character from the same causes. If all Christian success is measured by the count of technical conversions from without, then it follows that nothing is done when conversions cease to be counted. The harvest closes not with feasting, but with famine. Despair cuts off Christian motive. The tide is spent, let us anchor during the ebb. It is well indeed to live very piously in the families, still there is nothing depending on it. The children will be good subjects enough for conversion without. The piety of the Church is thus made to be desultory and irregular by system. The idea of conquest displaces the idea of growth. Whereas, if it were understood that Christian education, or training in the families, is to be itself a process of domestic conversion, that as a child weeps under a frown and smiles
at the command of a smile, so spiritual influences may be streaming into his being from the handling of the nursery and the whole manner and temperament of the house, producing what will ever after be fundamental impressions of his being; then the hearth, the table, the society and affections of the house, would all feel the presence of a practical religious motive. The homes would be Christian homes, and life itself a stream of genial piety.
Here, too, is the greatest impediment to a true missionary spirit. The habit of conquest runs to dissipation and irregularity. It is as if a nation, forgetting its own internal resources, were scouring the seas, and trooping up and down the world, in pursuit of prize-money and plunder, forsaking the loom and the plough, and all the regular growths of industry. Whereas, if the Church were unfolding the riches of the covenant at her firesides and tables—if the children were identified with religion from the first, and grew up in a Christian love of man, the missionary spirit would not throw itself up in irregular jets, but would flow as a river. And so much is there in this, that we do not believe it possible to produce a steady, patient, practical spirit of missions, except through the education of childhood.
We ask, then, of every parent, that he will seriously review his impressions on this subject. Let him study the ductility of childhood to parental influence, and observe how easily religious impressions are excited, and all the prejudices of the soul turned on the side of religion. Let him try the conjecture, how far God has made, or will, by his presence, make what is lovingly exhibited in his own life communicable or translatable to the childish mind. Dropping the idea of a technical experience, as proper to older persons, let him see how far, by the Divine aid, really good and right dispositions toward God and man may be called into exercise. And if he has hitherto considered Christian education to be synonymous with lecturing and reproof, let him consider the text, ‘Fathers, provoke not your children to wrath, lest they be discouraged.' Let family religion be a domestic miniature of heaven, not a dull formality. Let him be there, as the gardener among his opening flowers, expecting their fragrance and beauty, not that they will all be thistles -expecting it, because God hath promised, and the dews of his grace are perpetually felt.
But we must not leave our subject in words of reproof and correction. The truth we have endeavoured to set forth is one of high promise to the Church. To see its whole import at a glance, imagine the Church of God to be a spiritual nation, founded or begun by a colony descended from the skies. It alights upon our globe as its chartered territory. Can this spiritual colony spread itself over the whole territory of the planet, and absorb all the human races in its dominion ? You find that it can unfold more of wealth and talent, by far, than the present living races of inhabitants. It has within itself a stronger law of population, as well as a mighty power to win over and assimilate the nations. Its people have more beauty and weight of character to exalt their predominance. They have great truths for their armour of assault and defence, which the world cannot match or
parry, and the superior wisdom of which they must ultimately yield to. And what is more than all, they are found to be all partakers of the DIVINE NATURE, which they have brought down with them to be unfolded in their history and make it powerful. Having in itself elements of power and precedence like these, not to believe that the heavenly colony will finally overspread and fill the world, is to deny causes their effects, and pronounce a sentence of futility on the laws of nature themselves. God, too, has testified in regard to this branch of his planting-THEY SHALL INHERIT THE LAND.
The Difficulties and Encouragements of Sabbath-school Work. We are under a deep impression that the magnitude and glory of this work have not yet been adequately unfolded and described.
It is a work that challenges the best ability of the Christian world. We shall see this truth by a further illustration of the subject :
I. First.—The difficulties of the work. These range themselves under two classifications—those in the teacher himself, and those in the child. We shall take the latter class first. In children you have undeveloped intelligence, a depraved bias, and a great variety of character. A word on each of these points :
We have to speak of the child's undeveloped intelligence. This every teacher meets with in discharging his duty. Our statement holds good, to say the least, in reference to the majority of those brought under Sabbath-school influence, and it is with this fact that we have to do, and not with any contingency in the work. When the teacher takes a child under his care, he finds its best nature imprisoned in the cell of ignorance and animalism, and the work of that individual is to thread his way up the avenue of that soul and introduce the light of heaven into it. We admit that the remark applies to adults as well as children, but with this difference :-- In the case of adults you have judgment matured and reason in exercise ; but in reference to children you have neither. The teacher has to unfold the bud of intellect into a perfect flower, and bring it into contact with the sun of eternal love. We conclude, hence, that in a certain sense the work of the teacher is more difficult than that of a minister of Christ. There are germs of glory in every child, but to develop these in all their beauty, and supply them with nourishment from the Fountain of life, requires the tact of no one less than that man who has himself been under the instruction of God's Spirit.
We feel, in the attempt to write this paper, as we have ever felt, that there is a “something' about children of an indescribable character. Such, for example, is the elasticity of their minds, that they require a constant urging on, as it were, to a certain course of action,
or all good impressions vanish as quickly as the dewdrop disappears before the beams of the rising sun. The mind of the child, like the sponge, is ready to receive, but the slightest external pressure will remove all that it has received. Souls live and grow upon thoughtfood, just as flowers, bloom with beauty by means of the sun, shower, and breeze; and the difficulty in the child's case is, to make it retain the thoughts communicated to its mind that it may grow thereby and unfold its beauties to the world. There is a difficulty in stirring the powers of the mind into action, and when done, of keeping up that action.
The greatness of the difficulty is enhanced, too, by the depraved bias of the child. It has elements in its constitution that are vitally opposed to infinite love. Say, for the sake of argument, that the element of good preponderates over the evil, our statement is not affected by the consideration, for as long as any particle of evil remains in the soul of man or child, it will stand opposed to goodness. Light and darkness, purity and impurity, can never agree. There is a corrupt fountain in the heart, and evil inclinations and tempers are streams flowing from it. The teacher has to purify that fountain, and ever to supply it with a flow of affectionate thought from the mind of his Lord and Master. This has to be done, too, for a mind incapable, to a great extent, by reason of its immature state, of seeing the immeasurable superiority of the spiritual over the material, and future glory over the false glitter of the present time; for a mind which, by reason of its depraved bias, has strong predilections for those things, which, in their tendency, are ruinous, and with a strong aversion to the great truths of Divine revelation that ennoble and give distinction to character.
Moreover, the teacher meets in the same class with a great variety of character. Take a class of twelve, and there are no two children alike; hence, at every step, the difficulties of the work increase. To adapt our teaching requires skill and patience. Some children are patient, some are passionate ; some are quick, some are dull; some are cheerful, some are stupidly heavy; some are loving, some are obstinate and daring; some have retentive memories, and some have not. Now, all this variety of character has to be moulded and fitted for action in life, but it can never be accomplished by teaching all according to the same rule and making use of the same appliances for one as for the other. We should deem that physician very unskilful who made use of the same medicine for the fever as for apoplexy; for consumption as for cholera. We should condemn such a man as a most incompetent practitioner. In matters spiritual it is precisely the same. Here are two children under the care of a teacher for spiritual cure, with minds, temperaments, and tendencies altogether different. To treat these alike would be consummate folly. To treat a loving soul as you would an ill-tempered one would be to display great imbecility. And yet there is a great danger on the part of the teacher of showing favour to the one and disregard to the other.
The true-spirited teacher will show his real character in en. deavouring to save the worst, and building up from the worst material