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wit, and a gentler manner. They make fewer speeches, eschew heads and sub-heads, deal more in surprises and in the home language of children. The interest which the children will feel in the teacher will be in proportion to the interest which the teacher feels in the children. Great sympathy is needed ; for, says an Arab proverb, “The neck is bent by the sword, but heart is bent by heart." Perhaps, however, much of the dulness which adheres to Sunday-school addresses might be relieved by the adoption of some expedients that have long been in use in America. The black board there is almost a mania; indeed, one enthusiast declares that “the motto for all good teachers isto the black board with everything." "We would not undertake to conduct a Sabbath-school,” says an experienced Sunday-school writer, " without a good black board.” The board is indispensable to the dayschool, and it may be greatly useful in fixing the eye upon the prominent texts or thoughts of the lessons for the day in the Sabbath-school. Pictures and even objects should be frequently used. As in preaching, 80 in teaching, all legitimate means must be employed to secure success. Stereotyped plans must be discarded, and old prejudices renounced, if by any means we may save some.
No statistics will fairly represent the direct results of Sunday-school effort. Has it not fostered a greater respect for the Sabbath-day ? Has it not improved the public morals, elevated the public sentiment ? Unconverted men and women may trace much of that which has helped to make them reputable members of society to the Sabbath-school. The member for Stockport has said that in his borough, where there are many and large schools (one numbers three thousand children), there is. a less percentage of crime than in any borough in Britain. We do not know what has been the experience of the Editor of this magazine, but it is no small result of voluntary effort that in twenty years' pastorate Mr. Chown, of Bradford, has received into his church eight hundred persons, one-half of whom ascribe their conversion to the Sundayschool. A writer in the Freeman Baptist paper estimates that only ninety-three in every thousand, or a little over nine per cent. of scholars in the Sabbath-school, make open profession of faith in Christ; but this is admitted to be a rough estimate, and does not include the still larger numbers of grown-up people who trace their first religious impressions to the Sunday-school. The same writer says that only seventy-five per cent. of the teachers have been former scholars, while eighty-four per cent. are church members. These figures, encouraging in some respects, may well awaken serious thought and anxious enquiry. Have we tolerated unconverted teachers, and have we neglected to press home upon them decision for Christ? Ought not a special interest to be felt towards such? The fact that they are ready to be of service to the little ones should encourage their fellow teachers to address them on the all-important matter of personal piety.
To all teachers we have this parting word. If you have not succeeded in winning souls, agonise with God until you do. Learn from books and from examples ; reform, amend, study, pray, labour, and be not content till you can say to the Lord, “ Here am I and the children thou hast given me.” If on the other hand you have been honoured to be a soul-winner, let your watchword be " Onward.” We commend to you the following incident which may serve to excite in you a determination that with God's help you will
* Forget the steps already trod,
And onward urge your way.” At the battle of Meeanee, an officer who had been doing good service came up to General Sir Charles Napier and said, “ Sir Charles, we have taken a standard !” The general looked at him, but made no reply, and turning round, began to speak to some one else; upon which the officer repeated, “Sir Charles, we have taken a standard !” The General turned sharp round upon him, and said, “ Then take another!”
The Agency of the Holy Spirit in the Work of
Sunday School Teaching.
BY REV. VERNON J. CHARLESWORTH, OF THE STOCKWELL ORPHANAGE.
An Address to Teachers.* To
revelation, to impress the heart and mould the character by divine precepts, and to secure the salvation of the children by leading them to a penitent trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, is the grand aim of Sunday School Teachers. No teacher should be satisfied with the mere communication of Biblical knowledge to his scholars, important as this is; his teaching should be made to subserve their eternal salvation.
I would not be thought to insinuate that this is not your aim, I believe it is ; but you will bear with the question when I ask you, in how many instances have you succeeded? Can you look upon those who have been a reasonable time under your care as giving satisfactory evidence that you have been successful ? Of course I would not encourage a spirit of impatience-a morvid craving after results which suggest a sickly precocity. But while I would not counsel a premature demand for the exhibition of results, I would most strenuously discourage a slipshod belief in the "after many days " theory. There is, alas ! too much unbelief in the possibility of child conversion, even among Sunday School Teachers. The influence of this unbelief is most pernicious; it robs the teacher of definiteness of aim in his work, and draws a veil between the Saviour and the little ones, the gloomy shadow of which retards their early consecration to his service.
Now, although the aim be well defined, you will fail of its realisation if you are actuated by false or unworthy motives, or if the means are not those of divine appointment. It is to be feared that some have taken up the work because they have considered it the thing to do, or because it might lead to the formation of a desirable alliance, or because they were pressed into the service by some respected friend, whose importunity they could not resist. If singleness of eye, definiteness of aim, and thorough consecration of heart are demanded in any work, it is in that of Sunday School teaching.
* Can be had of W. Champion, 161, New Kent Road, London. Price One Penny. For distribution, 25 copies will be supplied for 1s. 6d., or post free ls. 8d.
Moreover, there must be no lack of earnestness and diligence. So great and grand a work demands the entire consecration of all the faculties of your being. It is no pretty pastime to win souls to Christ; it is no beguilement of the leisure hours of the Lord's-day to develop and mould the Christian character of a generation. As the earnest teacher contemplates his task, the fittest language of his heart will be, “ Lord, who is sufficient for these things ?”
Nor are purity of motive, definiteness of aim, and consecration of heart sufficient; the agency of the Spirit must be recognised and relied upon. As well may you expect to see the sterile tracks of Sahara waving with golden grain as to see your children brought to a knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, and yielding the peaceable fruits of righteousness, without the operation and blessing of the Spirit of God. If you grieve the Spirit by ignoring his prerogative, you are trying to make bricks without straw, and a signal failure will ere long prove that you have laboured in vain and spent your strength for nought.
Now, assuming the distinct personality, the divinity, and sovereignty of the Holy Ghost, truths which, I suppose, you would not dare to question, let me remind you that in your threefold aim—the exposition of the Word, the salvation of the soul, and the formation of the character—the agency of the Spirit is essentiaí.
1. He is the author of the divine Word, hence he is called, “ The Spirit of wisdom and revelation,” Eph. i. 17; “ The Spirit of prophecy,” Rev. xix. 10; 1 Peter i. 11; and “The Spirit of truth,” John xvi. 13. " Holy men of old," who completed the canon of Old Testament Scripture, and the apostles who added the New, "wrote as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” They originated nothing, although as the channels of the divine communications they stamped wbat they wrote with their own individuality. The Spirit is the author of the Word, for every thought is due to his divine inspiration. He is, moreover, responsible for the method of its communication, whether the truth is enfolded in the facts of Scripture history, and embedded in the ceremonialism of the Mosaic economy, or whether it gleams in the page of prophecy, or shines in full-orbed splendour in the Gospels and the Epistles. Moses and Isaiah, John and Paul, only held the pen while the Spirit traced each syllable of the divine word. A subtle criticism may discredit the doctrine of the plenary inspiration of Scripture, but we claim for it the place of the key-stone in the arch of revelation. Remove it, and the fair fabric will soon be laid in ruins at the feet of a godless and benighted infidelity.
As the Spirit is the author, so he is the expositor of the divine Word. He alone can lead us into the fair temple of truth, and reveal its hidden mysteries to the soul. Unless the light of his lamp shines across the page, the words are unintelligible hieroglyphs, and its mysteries an inextricable labyrinth. “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him : neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” 1 Cor. ii. 14.
If, then, you are rightly to understand the Word of God, your hearts must be the temple of the Holy Ghost, and you must seek his gracious help in its study and teaching. Of course, you can teach the letter of the word without such aid, but will fail to illuminate the minds and impress the hearts of your scholars with its saving truths. We cannot insist upon this point too strongly. The zeal of Paul and the eloquence of Apollos are of no avail unless God gives the increase. Oh, if there be one truth you should read with double emphasis, and engrave upon the tablets of your hearts, it is this: “NOT BY MIGHT, NOR BY POWER, BUT BY MY SPIRIT, SAITH THE LORD."
Let me urge you, then, dear friends, to a more entire dependence upon the Spirit's aid in your work. With the Bible in your hands, and text books of exposition at your command, all you need is light. Neglect no opportunity of study ; but oh, do not neglect the only aid by which that study is rendered fruitful. You may walk through the cornfields of our rural hamlets, and discourse, with philosophical accuracy, upon the laws of vegetation, and grow quite poetical in speaking of the undulations of the sea of golden grain ; but this would not satisfy the hunger of the starving multitude who are clamorous for bread. And you may traverse the whole range of divine revelation, and preach more eloquently its philosophy and poetry, but if you do not glean the sheaves as they fall from the sickle of the sacred mower, you will not be able to distribute to others the bread of everlasting life. O clasp the Saviour's precious legacy to your hearts—“ If I go away I will send another Comforter, and when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide into all truth.”
2. Then not only as to the truth taught, but as to the communication of the divine life to the soul, which is your supreme aim, you need the agency of the Spirit of God. Except a man be born of the Spirit he cannot enter the kingdom of God." * According to his mercy he saved us by the renewing of the Holy Ghost.” The earnest application of the most gifted teacher will yield no return apart from the operation of the Spirit of God; conversion is an utter impossibility. On one occasion the celebrated preacher, Christmas Evans, was announced to preach at a Welsh village. He stayed at the house of a Christian farmer, and an hour before the service he retired to his room to pray. The time came for him to leave for the appointed place, but the preacher did not make his appearance. The farmer, grown quite impatient, sent his servant to tell the man of God that it was time to go. On reaching the door of the room, she heard him saying, “I will not go unless thou wilt go with me.” Fearing to intrude, she returned to her master and told him the preacher was speaking to someone in the room. He asked her what she heard him say. She replied, “He said, 'I will not go unless thou wilt go with me.'»
“ That will do," said he; "he will come, and that Other will come with him, and great things will be done here to-day.” It was truly so, for the preacher came forth from the chamber of communion, and his “word was in demonstration of the Spirit and with power. The hearts of the multitude swayed beneath the mighty influence like the trees of the forest in an autumn gale, and many were converted to God. Dear friends, it is the presence of that Other with you which will ensure success in your work. Never venture alone, then, to your class. Let every arrow of truth be winged by prayer, and let the Spirit draw the bow.
Full reliance upon the promised aid of the Spirit does not preclude the most anxious solicitude and the most earnest efforts. The Rev. William Arthur, in his “ Tongue of Fire,” has a striking illustration in point. “Suppose” says he, we saw an enemy sitting down before a granite fort, and they told us they intended to batter it down. We might ask them “How?' They point to a canuon ball. Well, but there is no power in that. It is heavy, but not more than half-a-hundred, or perhaps a hundred weight. If all the men in the army hurled it against the fort they would make no impression. They say, 'No; but look at the cannon. Well, there is no power in that. A child may ride upon it, a bird may perch in its mouth. It is a machine, and nothing more. ' But look at the powder!' “Well, there is no power in that. A child may spill it, a sparrow may peck it.' Yet this powerless powder and powerless ball are put into the powerless cannon; one spark of fire enters it, and then, in the twinkling of an eye, that powder is a flash of lightning, and that ball a thunderbolt, which smites as if it had been sent from heaven." It is yours, then, to forge the cannon, to mould the ball, to make the powder, and to lay the charge ready for the sudden flash. Do not fail in your duty, and the fortress of sin and the strongholds of Satan shall be levelled to the ground when you get the baptism of fire. “We want in this age, above all wants," says the same writer, “fire, God's holy fire, burning the hearts of men, stirring their brains, impelling their emotions, thrilling in their tongues, glowing in their countenances, vibrating in their actions, expanding their intellectual powers, more than can ever be done by the heat of genius, of argument, or of party, and fusing all their knowledge, logic, and rhetoric into a burning stream.” With the Pentecostal fame we shall get the Pentecostal blessing. And who is to blame if we have not the power? To a solemn extent the responsibility is ours if there is a restraint of Divine power. “God is not willing that any should perish,” and the Saviour has promised to cast out none. Let us not by a criminal unbelief, a guilty indulgence, and a prayerless indifference, grieve, resist, and quench the Holy Spirit, whose prerogative it is to quicken the human soul with the impulse of the Divine life. Oh, if teachers everywhere were walking in the Spirit, we should ere long see the beginning of the fulfilment of the promise—“ All shall know the Lord from the least to the greatest."
3. In the formation of Christian character, the agency of the Spirit is indispensable. You may thunder into the ears of your scholars all the prohibitions of Sinai, ana dogmatically enunciate all the precepts of the Bible every Sabbath in the year-but you will awaken no response in the heart, and produce no change in the life unless the Spirit is present to bless. “God hath chosen us to salvation through the sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth.” If we expect to see in children "love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, fidelity, meekness, temperance,” we must remember that these are the
fraits of the Spirit.” It were as rational to look for purple clusters of fruit from the pines of Nova Zembla as to expect these graces of Christian character apart from the direct agency of the Spirit of God. The gardener who expects his fruits to ripen is careful to keep the vines exposed to the genial rays of the sun, and if you are to see your