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think it any reflection upon the sovereignty of God to say so.
The Lord works
by means of human agency, and commands his blessings upon the labours of those who are endowed with the essential qualifications for the specific work they have undertaken. Many Christian men have spent years of anxious but fruitless toil in spheres for which they had no adaptation, while their better qualified successors have enjoyed uninterrupted prosperity.
No sphere of Christian activity and usefulness is of more importance than the Sunday-school, and yet how seldom do we see the right men at the head of affairs! It is a matter of the utmost difficulty to find a duly qualified superintendent; hence many have been called into office, not on account of their peculiar fitness for the work but from the fact that they were the only individuals at command. Such men, we admit, have often laboured with commendable zeal and diligence, but their inaptitude has thwarted their best endeavours and disappointed the sanguine expectations of their co-workers. It is unfortunate that an inefficient man, when once elected to office, becomes blind to his own failings, and persistently retains his office, even when the services of another are available. We have known instances of this perversity where the results have been most lamentable. The superintendent has failed to command the confidence of the teachers, the classes have been disorganised, and the school, instead of proving a power for good, has become a scene of disorder and a scandal to the church. An annual election of officers is in many cases most desirable, as it affords an opportunity of change till the right man comes to occupy the right place; and every true Christian will feel it no dishonour to vacate a position for which he is adjudged unfit by those competent to form an opinion. The modest estimate we should form of ourselves, and the submissive spirit we should ever cherish, will constrain the dignified surrender of place or power, for the glory of God and the common weal.
It is to be deplored that many teachers have committed the serious mistake of electing a superintendent because he happened to enjoy the reputation of being rich and occupied a palatial dwelling. The church at large is too much influenced by the world's beatitude-" Blessed is the man who has plenty of money," forgetting that character not coin, piety not position, are the qualities which should commend a candidate for Christian service. Mr. Bounce may be an important individual in his way, and his patronage may be prized by the members of "the cause," but he is not, therefore, a fit man to conduct the Sunday-school. Of course it must be admitted that his influence will command the attendance of the respectable children in the neighbourhood, but we have yet to learn that the value of souls is increased in the ratio of the cost of the clothes and jewels which cover and adorn the body.
The superintendent of a school should be chosen for his personal worth and his fitness for the office, from his experience in the work. It should be the ambition of every teacher to become qualified for the office of superintendent, and to labour with all diligence in his special department until summoned to take the reins of government by the voice of his fellow labourers. As in an ideal regiment, every soldier carries a marshal's baton in his knapsack, and is competent to command if the officers should fall at the post of duty, so should it be in the Sabbath-school. This would be one of the best guarantees of discipline, because those who are most competent to command know how to respect authority and yield obedience to their superiors.
Our model superintendent is a man who remembers the fact that he was once a boy, and this enables him to tolerate the frailties incident to childhood, and to form a correct estimate of their moral value. He does not expect boys to be grave as their grandsires. His sympathies are intense, and his scholars love him in return. He controls the school without difficulty, because the children yield a ready obedience to his commands.
He is cheerful without being flippant. His face is a transparent medium through which the kindliness of his heart is seen. We cannot understand the man who, in the presence of children, is as gloomy as the moon in a November
fog, or as crabbed as though he had been weaned on cream of tartar. cheerfulness be maintained, but let it not degenerate into levity. We would not sanction the appointment of a man whose laugh is a giggle, and whose manner betrays a want of self-respect, for he would fail to command esteem and enforce discipline. It is possible to maintain cheerfulness without levity, and to be sober without being morose; but there are Christians who supplement the decalogue with the prohibitory command-" Thou shalt not laugh," and as to anything cheerful, like the monks of La Trappe, they impose upon themselves the vow of silence. In a beautiful world like this, where the sun kisses the flowers into beauty, and evokes the choral symphonies of the feathered tribe, the man who neither laughs nor sings is certainly out of place; and in the midst of children, whose affections instinctively embrace both flowers and birds, no one can be "at home" unless beauty and song are the apt exponents of the inner life. Heartiness, joyousness, and sympathy with the young are as essential to a model superintendent as trees and fields, and the glad sunlight to the beauty of a landscape.
To cheerfulness, tempered by sobriety, our model friend unites devoutnessthat chastened experience of the Godward side of our nature. Like the prophet of Horeb, he knows the bliss and power which come from divine fellowship, and therefore he seeks a renewal of his intercourse with heaven before he comes forth on the Lord's day to command the marching host. In every leader this must be maintained, even at the cost of the surrender of cherished idols, the abandonment of fond pursuits, and the sacrifice of earlier friendships. To dwell in the sunlight of the smile of God, to be energised by the divine strength, are blessings too great to be estimated by comparison with aught this world can yield; and he who is in earnest for eternity will account wealth, pleasure, and fame as trifles beneath his notice. The words of the Lord Jesus, spoken eighteen hundred years ago, "He that will come after me let him deny himself," are, alas! scarcely audible above the din of business, or are heard only in feeble echo; and yet all true success is measured by our surrender, in obedience to the mind and will of the Lord Jesus.
Prayer becomes a constant habit to the devout man, and his success is the divine response to his earnest pleadings at the throne of grace. The difficulties and vexations of his responsible office are mainly met in the solitude of his closet; he transacts more business with God than with man. Everything is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.
In ruling he is firm without being harsh. His kindness does not blind his eyes to the disobedience of his scholars, or lead him to tolerate a course of conduct inconsistent with true discipline. Having a reason for his commands, they are enforced without resorting to fiery threats, or angry denunciations. The scholars know he is not to be trifled with, and obey accordingly. A look from him is more efficacious than a lecture from a man of vacillating spirit.
But his firmness does not involve a disregard of the opinions of his fellow labourers. He knows how to conciliate their prejudices without compromising his own conscience, and always submits his plans in such a way to their judg ment that he commands their approval and enlists their co-operation. He is firm because he is acting constitutionally and has the teachers at his back; an obstinate tyrant never attains such firmness as he.
Strictly methodical in all he undertakes, he is never unduly excited. He is calm in his self-possession, and has a reason for everything he attempts and for all the methods he employs. Possessed of these qualifications, his teachers can trust him, and their co-operation is most hearty and thorough. He sets them such an example that they are elevated by it, and the tone of the school rises to a higher standard. The influence of the superintendent pervades the whole staff, and creates a holy and earnest feeling, which becomes the mainspring of power. All are imbued with the spirit of consecration, and strive to keep "the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace." The classes are well sustained by efficient teachers, and every year there are accessions to the church.
Happy is the man who combines these qualities, and happy is the school which commands his services.
We trust no worker will be discouraged if, in comparing himself with this ideal, he is conscious of not having reached it. It is far from our purpose to damp the ardour of any already engaged in the work, or to dissuade those who desire so good an office. Those who have had any experience in the Sundayschool must admit that we have indicated only the most essential and easily attained qualifications. To be successful a superintendent must be equal to the model we have endeavoured to pourtray. Should he stand condemned by his own just verdict, let him resolve to "go on unto perfection." The artist who contemplates a Raphael or a Michael Angelo may become conscious of his own shortcomings, but he will derive a healthy stimulus in his devotion to his art. It may be a trite remark, that what is worth doing at all, is worth doing well," but its application to Christian work is most apparent. Let our superintendents view their work in the light of eternity, anticipating "the joy which is set before" them when the results of their labours will be disclosed in "the day of the Lord," and we venture to affirm they will "magnify their office," and spare no effort to become perfectly qualified for the discharge of its important functions.
Talking to the Children.”
S we but seldom give our young friends papers designed for their exclusive benefit, we this month select a couple of stories from Dr. A. Macleod's "Talking to the Children," an attractive little volume published by Messrs. Hodder and Stoughton. The book is certain to find favour with the young.
There is another road we all like to travel-I shall name it the road beautiful. Old and young of us are all fond of beauty, and we desire to be beautiful ourselves. It is not a wrong desire. God has put it deep down in every heart. It is a joy to him when we grow up beautiful, and he has laid down a great line of way, the line of loving-heartedness, on which the most heavenly beauty may be reached. But there are side lines, not made by God, where beauty parts from that which makes it beauty. My second warning, therefore, is, Beware, in life's journey, of those breaks where beauty parts from lovingheartedness. Here is the right road where beauty and the loving heart go together-Christ's road. There is the wrong one, where beauty turns away from love. On the one, love makes heart and face beautiful with divine beauty; it fills the heart with sweetness, and purity, and humility. And these are the great and best beautifiers. On the other, beauty goes the wrong way, the way where love is not; and the heart is filled with pride, and scorn, and envy, and hate, and at the end of this way the beauty is all dead and gone. There was, about thirty years ago, a very beautiful child in the same city I referred to before; everybody said of her when a child, "How beautiful she looks!" and she looked very beautiful. At school the other girls were struck with her beauty. She was all over beautiful, and had beautiful hair, beautiful eyes, a beautiful face and figure, her very feet were beautiful. But although the loving Christ had made this beauty, the beautiful girl would not travel on the same line with Christ's love, she turned aside on a line of her own; she would go where pride, and vanity, and scorn of others were. As she grew into womanhood there grew up in her heart pride in her own beauty; she said to herself, " I am more beautiful than Jane, or Mary, or Margaret, by my side." She ceased to love Jane and Mary
and Margaret. She did not care to remember that Christ might love them very dearly; she cared neither for Christ nor them, she cared only for herself; it was herself she admired and worshipped. As she looked at herself in the glass she said, "I am more beautiful than my sister, more beautiful than ever my mother was." As she said such things, love for her sister and her mother took flight and left her heart. She could no longer love mother, sisters, or school companions. The poor, vain, empty soul of her loved only herself. Her beauty was her snare, and took her away, first from Christ and then from human love. But then came God's wrath upon her wickedness. She became a fine lady, had a fine house, a coach, many servants-had the same hair, the same eyes, the same face and figure. But somehow the beauty had all departed. She was no longer beautiful-Mary, Jane, and Margaret, and all her sisters had grown up to be very beautiful. There was a quiet harvestevening-like beauty still resting on the face of her mother, but nobody thought the proud daughter beautiful. People spoke of her as haughty, unfeeling and hard, but never more as beautiful. The path she chose to travel on seemed good to herself, but the end of it was death. For want of a loving heart in it her beauty had died, and as for admiration or love, she had neither the one nor the other from man or woman, from angels or God.
"THOU SHALT NOT STEAL."
Two young men were one day looking earnestly at a large factory in a certain town. They had come hundreds of miles to see it, and to get into it. There was a secret there which they wanted to find out-a machine which a clever man had invented, which was doing work nothing else could do so well. And these young men had resolved to obtain a sight of this machine, and find out its secret, and make drawings of it, and then come home and make a similar machine for themselves. And their plan was this: they put aside their fine clothes and put on the clothes of mechanics, and in that dress meant to ask for work at this factory, and work until they found out the secret. But they had just arrived, and they did not mean to apply till next day. One of the young men had the habit of reading a chapter of the Bible every morning. And next day the chapter happened to be that one in Exodus where the Ten Commandments are. He had read it many times, and always to the end; but this morning, when he got to the Eighth Commandment, he could not go further. A great light flashed up from it and smote his conscience. Right up it came out of the words, "Thou shalt not steal!" He read them again, and every word seemed to kindle into fire-" Thou shalt not steal!" He laid the Bible on his knee, and took himself to task. "Is it not stealing I have come here to do? I have come all this weary way to search out a clever man's invention, and make it my own by stealing it." His agitation was very great. But he turned to his companion and said, “What we have come here to do, if we do it, will be a theft-theft of another man's thoughts, and skill, and honour, and bread." Then he took up the Bible again, and opened it in the Gospel of Matthew, and read: "All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them." And he said, "If this machine were ours, if we had spent years inventing it, and had succeeded in getting it to work, should we think it right if some stranger were to steal into the factory on a false pretence and rob us of the fruits of our labour?" His companion was angry at first. But by-and-by he acknowledged that it would be wrong. And they came back to their home without the secret. God's word was a lamp to their feet to help them to depart from that evil.
Our Own Penny Hymn Book. Passmore and Alabaster.
WE have made a selection from Our Own Hymn Book of hymns suitable to be used at Evangelistic services, and at special gatherings where strangers are present unfurnished with books. A large hymn book is too expensive to give away, and a mere sheet inay hardly be sufficient, a penny book is therefore desirable. We believe that our book is the best of its kind, for most of those of a similar character contain hymns which no congregation will ever sing, and pieces set to peculiar measures quite unknown to common assemblies. Our friends will do us good service if they will get a copy of this new pennyworth, and recommend its use at special meetings.
Thoughts on the Essence of Christ's Atonement. By WILLIAM FROGGART. Hodder and Stoughton, 27, Paternoster Row.
THE essence of the atonement is "Christ's living and dying testimony for God," so says this author. "He was never the object of penal displeasure," is an astounding assertion in the face of the Scriptures which reveal the Lord Jesus as bearing the "chastisement of our peace." The book is as full of error as an egg is full of meat. The author lives at Coventry, and thither his book will most appropriately be relegated by us.
Israel in Egypt, or the Nursery_for
Canaan. By T. J. TAYLOR. Published by the Author, 105, Cator Street, Peckham.
Ir is a great mistake not to have had a publisher in the "Row" for this book, for it is worth publishing, and nobody is ever likely to journey into the remote regions of Peckham to discover the terra incognita of Cator Street. As the production of a working man it does the author great credit, indeed it would do no dishonour to a professional writer. It is intended for young people in Sabbathschools, and is calculated to furnish them with much useful Scriptural knowledge.
The Gospel Pulpit. Vol. XII. Sermons by Mr. J. C. PHILPOT, late of Stamford. J. Ford, Red Lion Square, Stamford, and J. Gadsby, Bouverie Street, London.
ALTHOUGH We are far removed from the party which clustered around Mr. Philpot, we have no hesitation in saying that their leader was a Master in Israel, and a great proficient in his own line of things. In dissecting the heart, and declaring the symptoms of soul disease, he was at home, and no man was his superior. Of bondage, despondency, conflict, backsliding, and despair, he could speak marvellously, and we have read his utterances with great profit; deeply regretting at the same time that he did not enter more fully into the liberty of the saints, and dilate more at large upon the high privileges of the believer. He is gone to his rest, and we will observe the rule de mortuis nil nisi bonum. Those who can treat such sermons as these with contempt are not worthy of much better treatment themselves.
Christ in the Tabernacle, with some Remarks on the Offerings. By Frank H. WHITE. Illustrated by twelve chromo-lithographs. Third thousand. Partridge and Co.
IN reviewing a former edition of this most excellent book we made some playful remarks upon the illustrations, which were somewhat inferior; in this edition this defect is removed, and the chromos are perfect gems. Our beloved friend writes as one who loves his Lord, and delights to see him in the types of the law, and at the same time as one who loves souls, and yearns to lead them to Jesus. We hope his book will circulate to ten times its present number; he must have incurred considerable expense in bringing out the illuminated plates, and we trust he will meet with pecuniary recompense, although we are sure that he will not be content without far higher results. If our College had no other son besides Frank White, she would still have reason to rejoice in the Lord's blessing on her work.