Imágenes de páginas

them for blessings. It was but the other day I saw the image of a goddess. decorated in great style, and placed on a large wooden frame, carried along the streets by several men, who stopped opposite the doors of the houses, making a great noise with bells and rude instruments of music. While they rested opposite the doors of the houses, the senior man in the house came out, bearing in his hands a vessel, in which was placed a little burning camphor, and stood before the idol. Other members of the family then brought presents of fruit, flowers, and other things, and laid them down before the goddess. All this is done in order to please her, and the burning camphor is to cleanse away their guilt. Such sights as these could not fail to touch your hearts, and lead you to pray for their speedy rescue from such conceptions of Him, who 'so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.""

Another letter from the agent at Nazareth contains this account of an interesting case :

[ocr errors]

"A patient, who has been a long time bed-rid by pulmonary phthisis, sent me a hasty message, one morning, to come and see him. I found him in a state of extreme prostration, in consequence of having expectorated a large quantity of blood. I feared, at first, that he would entreat me to give him some medicine, that would either cure him at once, or relieve him from his sufferings in this world, as many poor creatures often request, but I was agreeably surprised. Doctor,' he said, 'I know if it were in your power, you would have made me leave my bed at once, and had it been the will of our Heavenly Father, He would have given you this power, but I am thankful for the consolation which our good Heavenly Father gives me, I feel an assurance in my heart that He will take me to Himself, because my whole trust is in the finished work and merits of Jesus Christ. How different is my feeling now, and how intense my happiness, compared with what I felt before.' The poor man is still lingering, but I believe he is still in the same frame of mind."

May the Medical Mission attract increased support and sympathy; may the agents be more abundantly imbued with the spirit of Christ, whose commission to His disciples is to heal the sick, and to declare to them the Kingdom of God.

A few Utterances on Infidelity.


HE second series of the Christian Evidence Society's Lectures, "Faith and

Free Thought, of the Cly published by Messie. Hodder and Stoughton, will be a helpful book to many a hard-working Evangelist, who commands neither the means nor the leisure to go more deeply into the controversy with unbelievers than they will be enabled to do by the perusal of such a work. Our readers will relish the following specimens of the various writers' style :


It would be far more unreasoning to believe that that unrivalled mechanism, the human frame, was self-developed, than to believe that if a "fortuitous concourse of atoms" of brass and steel, swept up from a workman's floor, were put into a bag and thoroughly well shaken, they would spontaneously evolve a firstrate chronometer. If this experiment were made, and, as is highly probable, attended by failure, the advocates of undesigned evolution would probably exclaim, "Aye, but you have not shaken the bag long enough; if you will only shake on for countless æons, no reasonable doubt can be entertained that your

efforts will be crowned with the happiest results. The course of development you may reasonably anticipate would probably be something of this kind; the atoms of brass and steel would respectively aggregate themselves into rounded masses, and these, when old enough to cut their teeth, would become wheels and pinions. As time rolls on, you must expect some examples of imperfect development; one, for example, without a main-spring, another without a balance, and a third without face and hands; but never mind, pitch them back again into the bag, where they will no doubt 'perish in the struggle for existence,' and be shaken to pieces again, that their disjecta membra may re-form themselves more successfully. Moreover, if you want your chronometer to go on a diamond, and to be jewelled in eight or ten holes, you must put into the bag a little soot and a little pipe-clay-soot and pipe-clay, what good can they do? All the good in the world;' we only want the material atoms, you know, and chance and plenty of time will enable their inherent powers to accomplish all the rest. The diamond, as you are aware, is only carbon, and, in due course of time, the carbon-atoms will rush into each other's embrace and constitute little diamonds, which will grow bigger by accretion. I know that these carbon-atoms are very coy; no one has ever yet induced them to take the final step, but time, my friend-time will work wonders. Again, the rubies are nothing more than alumina, with a small quantity of iron, and a trace of lime, which they can easily pick up; and pipe-clay is the handiest source of pure alumina that I can suggest to you."-Is not the unintentional evolution of organised beings infinitely more absurd, a fortiori, than this?


I have said nothing about those points of contact between the Scriptures and natural science in which accordance is beyond question. Yet it must not be forgotten that such harmonies exist, and are ever increasing in their significance; for instance, the oneness of God, as taught by modern views of force and by the prophets of Israel. It also deserves notice that some of the scientific ideas which at first appeared as the opponents are now the allies of the Christian religion; thus the enormous extension of time, which we now recognise for the divine process of creation, reconciles our minds to the apparent slowness, both of the divine manifestation in the kingdom of grace, and of the triumphs of the Gospel. . . . The storehouse of natural science has often been ransacked for weapons against the Old Book; the defenders of the faith have sometimes shrieked with alarm, and the assailants have sung their pæan in anticipation of victory; earthworks, which formed no part of the original fortress, have been easily carried, but the citadel itself has remained unshaken, and the very vigour of these repeated attacks has proved how impregnable are its venerable walls.


And then there is the great darkness and desolateness of death; that wraps up life in mystery; "through fear of which we are all our lifetime subject to bondage;" "the shadow feared of man." What philosophy of death can be compared with that of Jesus Christ who brought "life and immortality to light?" What comfort and hope in death are comparable to His? We think of Stoic and Epicurean; of the ghastly bravery of the old Alexandrine invitation to " supper and suicide;" and then we turn to Jesus comforting the sisters of Bethany; to Paul comforting the Thessalonians and Corinthians; himself having a "desire to depart," "ready to be offered up, the time of his departure at hand, and anticipating his crown of righteousness." We think of Stephen, looking with angel face up into heaven, and praying for the men who were murdering him. And we think of the myriads of Christian death-beds since-peaceful, joyous, triumphant. There is scarcely a minister of religion who could not tell of many such. For myself, if the personal allusion may be pardoned, I have, during the thirty years of my ministerial life, stood by

hundreds of death-beds. In the majority of instances faith has triumphed over all fear of death, over all love of life, even the tenderest affections have been overpowered by its hopes and visions. I have heard songs of triumph from lips faltering through pain, and seen rapture beam from eyes that the films of death were darkening-often "a joy unspeakable and full of glory." Never yet have I met an instance in which Christian faith was not sufficient to inspire perfect peace and comfort. Now it may be that all these feelings are delusions; that there is no forgiveness of sins, no new life of the spirit, no divine comforter for our sorrow, no inspirer of hope in death; none the less do our human instincts, our religious consciousness crave them. And if it be so, if Christ be not a real Saviour, if the dogmas of the New Testament be untrue, then we get this astounding anomaly, that the falsehoods of Christianity meet men's conscious necessities and cravings, and minister to them more perfectly than all admitted truth. If Christianity be not true we are, "of all men, most miserable." God has "made all men in vain." If it be true we possess the greatest comforts, and are inspired with the loftiest hopes that have blessed humanity.


Here, then, is in brief the argument. My reason and my understandingintuition and experience-demand a First Cause of all things. My entiry nature lives out for forgiveness, for holiness, for happiness. The world "sighe to be renewed." Christianity meets every one of these instincts in a was peculiarly its own, and yet intelligible and complete. It is so true in the descriptions it gives of things which are within the domain of my consciousness that I am ready to believe it when it speaks of things which are beyond it. I am sure of the "earthly things" it describes, and am disposed to believe in the heavenly. Acting upon the measure of faith I have, I get more light and deeper conviction: till, in the end, I am prepared to maintain, from inward feeling even more than from external evidence, that there is nothing truer than the Gospel, as there is nothing so holy in its tendency when once it is believed, or so blessed in its results!

The Faults and Foibles of Sunday School Superintendents.


OUBTLESS we should all be wiser and better men if we saw ourselves as

of which we are altogether ignorant. Introspection and self-scrutiny are important elements in the formation of character. The Pharisaic spirit, so common, might find expression in the words of the original prototype, “God, I thank thee that I am not as other men are."

To affect an indifference to the verdict of our fellow men argues a selfrighteous spirit. Every true man desires to command the esteem, and to live in the affections, of others. He will welcome the kindly censure which lays bare his faults, and the wise counsel which reveals "a more excellent way."

Having seen a great many Superintendents at their work, and believing they will be glad to have their faults indicated in a kindly spirit, I have ventured to write a few pages upon the subject. It is not my intention to wound their feelings, and that suspicion may not fasten upon any individual in particular, I have avoided the mention of names and localities. To every reader who sustains the honourable office of Superintendent of a Sunday School I would

suggest the exercise of that charity which "beareth all things," and a deter329 mination to "wear the cap if it fits well."

1. The first of the series I shall designate Mr. Fastman. He seems to have received his inspiration from telegraphs and express trains. He is always in a hurry, meet him where you will, and comes as near perpetual motion as anything you are likely to see for the present. He never feels the sweet sense of repose, and despises slippers and an easy chair. As a youth he made a mill to move by clockwork, and spent his leisure (?) hours with this and various other mechanical contrivances. At meals he has the daily paper or a book on the table, and feeds the mind as well as the body at the same time. He walks at a trotting pace to the peril of nervous pedestrians in crowded thoroughfares, who stand agape when he has passed, and think he is on the way to the next engine station to raise the alarm of fire. In business his haste often results in the most awkward mistakes, and causes discomfort to all with whom he comes in contact. He lacks that calmness which is essential to self-possession and sound judgment. Meditation and reflection are terms to which he is a total stranger, and the habits they define have no place in his arrangements.

As Sunday brought no rest to his unquiet spirit, he entered the school as a teacher, and soon got promoted to the office of Superintendent as a man of marvellous activity. He prides himself on his reputation, and justifies it by the speed with which he prosecutes the duties of his office. Entering the school, out of breath, he rushes up to the platform, bangs the desk with his Bible two or three times in rapid succession for order (?), gives out the opening hymn, and, before any one has had sufficient time to find it, leads off the tune in true vigoroso style. The result is a very irregular fugue, as the teachers and scholars take up the various lines. into order he is some distance ahead with the prayer, and before the eyes of Before the school has resolved itself the more devout are opened he is at the end of the room to welcome a new teacher and conduct him to his class. us. That will be your class. Boys, this is your new teacher." And before "Glad to see you, my dear sir, amongst the bewildered novice is duly seated, Mr. Fastman has almost been the round of the school, which he succeeds in keeping in a state of ferment during the whole time of teaching. The teachers wish he could be chained up for awhile or made to sit still, but he, good soul, thinks his activity most exemplary, and regrets his teachers are so very slow. Could he but see himself as others see him, his crowning virtue would lose its charm, and he would come to the conclusion that all this haste hinders true progress, and that a bustling Superintendent destroys that peace and quiet which are essential to order, devotion, and successful teaching.

2. In a neighbouring school is Mr. Fogey, a man about fifty years of age, short and thick-set and very round-shouldered. The advancing tide of improvement has rolled on leaving him altogether unaffected. He wears a swallowtail coat, with almost enough stuff in the collar to make a rest to match. Being a stanch conservative in everything, he deprecates change, and believes it is impossible to improve the methods of our ancestors. regular, and his movements so uniform that he has worn a deep rut from which he never deviates. Precedent is everything with him. His creed has been His habits are aptly defined as Faithful to his trust, he preserves everything as he found it twenty years ago, "As-it-was-in-the-beginning-is-now-and-ever-shall-be-ism." and denounces the new-fangled notions of his juniors. So dull and lifeless is he in the school, that the scholars are forced into a very natural protest by their playfulness and vivacity. The teachers find him a great obstructive, for he is opposed to the introduction of new class books, the re-arrangement of the classes, and the modification of the dull routine of the school. In his own mind he regards himself as a martyr, and holds the belief that, after he has gone, the school will become the hotbed of infidelity, or be shut up with "Ichabod" written on the walls. Alas! poor man, could he but see the reflection of his own image as projected upon the minds of those around him,

he would be convinced that his modes of thought and action are too antiquated to be of service, that old-fogeyism hinders prosperity, and that it is time enough to be conservative when there are no improvements possible.

3. The next on our list is Mr. Fidgets, a man of slender proportions, with razor-like features and a restless eye. He took the fidgets when he was a child, and they have never left him. Few people give him credit for his goodness, because he fails to give it expression. All about him feel uncomfortable for his presence. He is satisfied with nothing, and is always introducing alterations, which he calls improvements. During the teaching hours he annoys the steadygoing teachers by his fidgetty ways-altering the blinds, re-adjusting classes, directing attention to the most trivial affairs, which might be left till the school was closed, and in a thousand ways meddling with the teachers to their discomfort and disgust. Our fidgetty friend boasts that he has never been absent from school excepting on two or three occasions, when he was unwell, and then he made his family unhappy by his irrepressible fidgets. We scarcely like to pronounce his disease incurable, for "while there is life there is hope," and "it is a long lane which has no turning." We would advise him to "study to be quiet," and to "let well alone." Should this advice be refused, then we think he should be called upon to resign, for his fidgets and fussiness have proved him incompetent for the discharge of the duties of his office. Our judgment may be deemed severe, but we contend it is just. Why should voluntary teachers suffer unnecessary discomfort in their work, and be thwarted in their earnest endeavours by a superintendent who lacks that calm and quiet dignity so essential in a ruler?

4. Mr. Fretful must not be omitted from the catalogue. He was born early in the month of April, 1823, and was brought up by a teetotal nurse, a member of a "Hyper" church. He had water on the brain when he was very young, and was treated hydropathically for the disease. He was thus surrounded by the aqueous element from infancy, and always had a large reserve of tears for every occasion. From the age of fourteen he entered the employ of his maternal uncle, who brought him up as a hair-dresser, and ultimately left him his business. When he joined the church he undertook to teach the seventh girls' class. His addresses were based upon pathetic narratives; and, being delivered in a most melancholy tone of voice, converted the school into a juvenile Bochim. On the death of the old Superintendent he was elected successor. From the day he took office a gloom settled upon the faces of both teachers and scholars, which was rarely relieved by a smile. He moves about the school with the slow, solemn, measured step of an undertaker at a funeral on a dull November day. An awful sense of the solemnity of his office is depicted on his countenance, and he is always brooding over the darkest phases of human life and character. He has had the school walls hung with such texts as these “The wicked shall be turned into hell," "Flee from the wrath to come," "Prepare to meet thy God," etc. The hymns most frequently sung are funereal in their character, the changes being rung on the following


"There is a dreadful hell,

And everlasting pains,

Where sinners must with devils dwell,

In darkness, fire, and chains: "

"Oft as the bell with solemn toll

Speaks the departure of a soul,
Let each one ask himself-am I
Prepared should I be called to die ?"


These are generally sung to minor tunes, written in semibreves. annual treat has been dispensed with, and entertainments are no longer tolerated. The school is about the dullest place in creation, and the children as miserable as they can well be. If the Superintendent sees a boy playing at marbles, or leap-frog, he has a suspicion in his mind that he is not a Christian, and takes an opportunity the following Sunday of giving a homily on the

« AnteriorContinuar »