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SPECIMEN OF A SUNDAY SCHOOL ADDRESS.
but we may
Many suppose that the world which we inhabit is a very unhappy place; they say so, whether they really think so is another matter; and they would teach us, that while here, we have nothing to expect but sadness and sorrow.
Children read about the beauties of Paradise ; its glorious rivers laughing to the sun-its delicious fruits so sweet to the tastemits harmless animals roaming at pleasure-but more than all of Adam and Eve in their innocence, till they almost wish they could live there, and have Eden for their home!
All was joy there! There was no disease or death in that happy garden. It must have been a song full of sweetness which they sung there; no discord in it, but full of praise and thanksgiving. These are some of the words wbich the good blind poet Milton imagined they might have sung,
be sure they were even more glorious still :
" His praise, ye winds that from four quarters blow,
Breathe soft or loud ; and wave your tops, ye pines,
Bear on your wings, and in your notes his praise !"* Oh! to think that they sinned ! that they were shut out from that beautiful place
"That fruit Of that forbidden tree, whose mortal taste
Brought death into the world, and all our woe." And what disappoints many so much is, that there is no more entrance there. “So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden, cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.” And so, because this garden is closed against us, some suppose this is an unhappy world, and that mankind must be miserable. It would be much better if such people would think less of “ Paradise Lost,” and more of “ Paradise Regained.” It is really wicked to complain of this beautiful world which God has given us ! He intends us to be happy. This is why he
• When we consider the exposure of children to the profane language of the streets, we have a sufficient argument for the occasional use of the highest classical compositions, and poetry should never be quoted except it be of the choicest order. Good poetry is more easily understood than bad.
made us. He did drive Adam and Eve out of the first garden, because of their disobedience, but the question is, whether he has not given us another! Let us see, whether this world, notwithstanding that sin has entered it, may not become a Paradise! We are created by the same God. He “has breathed into our nostrils the breath of life." We have the same father, and the blessings bestowed upon our first parents may become ours.
1. But what was their very first duty ? --Industry. " And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden to dress it, and to keep it.” God having made man, knew that he must have something to do in order to be happy. This then is the first secret of the happiness of Eden—something to occupy the hands and the mind. You have sometimes looked abroad in the beautiful summer-time, and all seemed calm and happy. If by the sea you have watched the waves rolling fresh upon the shore, bringing cheerfulness and health with them! Or you have heard the lark, as it rises from its bed of grass, singing its sweet songs, mounting higher and higher towards heaven! You have smelled the sweet fragrance of the flowers, or seen the busy reapers in the harvest field! Why is it that everything looks so happy? because everything is doing its work. The sun, the sea, the birds, the flowers, are all fulfilling their appointed tasks !
Look at that mother, how cheerful she is ! Yet she is hard at work for her child. But it is because she is so industrious that she is so happy.
And what sort of child is it that is most miserable? Just the idle child. Oh! if any of us wish again to live in Paradise, let us remember that we must learn the first duty of that happy place. Life to us is a garden. There are many spots in it which we have to cultivate: all have some duties to perform, even the youngest. These things bring Eden back-when we are doing all according to God's will, and on the spot where He has placed us. Just as it was with Adam, so it is with us, we are put into the garden to dress and keep it. No one ever was born into this world without some spot in this garden of life which he was to dress and keep.
II. Obedience. This was his next duty. This was necessary to Paradise. You see that immediately our first parents neglected the command of God, they were driven out of the garden.
There were beautiful trees there ! " Every tree that is pleasant to the sight;" and most refreshing were the fruits that grew upon them. Yes; and there are beautiful trees in this world, the fruit of which makes the heart glad. There is that fine tree " Obedience to Parents." "Honor thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.” What beautiful fruit is that! how pleasant to the taste !-- not forbidden fruit, but none is sweeter. It is
as much our duty to honor and obey our parents, as it was the duty of Adam and Eve not to touch “ the tree of knowledge of good and evil.” It was because they failed in obedience that they were driven from the garden; had they remained obedient, they would have had Eden for their home.
And what is it that so often makes us unhappy? Disobedience to God. When a child has told a lie, conscience, like a “flaming sword," drives him from happiness; while one who speaks and acts the truth, is always in a kind of Paradise.
Let us not forget that obedience to the commands of God restores us in part to the happiness of Eden.
“ Yet thy commandments are my delights."
These, then, were the duties-Industry and Obedience-which made Paradise a happy place; and if we practice them, the joys of Eden so far will be ours.
But there were enjoyments as well as duties.
1. Knowledge. We do not know much about the wisdom of our first parents before the fall. Nothing is told us upon the subject. We read that Adam named the cattle, and, therefore, we know that he had all the knowledge that was suited to his state. Ignorance, where we ought to be wise, makes us unhappy; and, therefore, Adam must have had just as much wisdom as was necessary to his happiness. How much knowledge he had none can say, but since God was his instructor he must have been very wise ; wisdom then was an enjoyment of Paradise—it was a part of it-it made man happy. Now who will say that this enjoyment has not been granted to us? Without industry it is impossible ; without obedience worthless! But with both-how good it is! And consider what knowledge God has granted to us. He has told us about the creation of the world, as far as we can understand it. In his book he has given us the history of many good menfine poetry-simple parables--and all to teach us wisdom. A knjwledge of God's works and word, will make us happy, and bring back the joys of Eden! Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding.” Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.” “ She is a tree of life to them that lay hold
upon her, and happy is every one that retaineth her.” We know some things that Adam could never have known. “ The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” And what is the object of the Sunday school? What do your teachers want to do for you? Restore you to Eden by teaching you “ the wisdom of God!"
II. Innocence.-- This was the next enjoyment. But surely we can never have this! This was the great secret of happiness, and the beauty of Paradise. Sin now has cursed the world. “ We are born in sin." “ We have all sinned and come short of the glory of God." How then can we return to that blissful state? But do we not sometimes value our safety more when we know that we have been in danger? “ Death bath passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.”
But Jesus came to regain Paradise for us. He came from Heaven to make man happy again, to forgive our sins and make us holy. These are joys equal to those of Paradise. It was glorious and we wish it had been our joy), to converse with God as a friend in the garden of Eden!
But still he talks with us in his Word-Jesus converses with us there, and the Holy Spirit comes and dwells in those who believe in him. He produces fruits equal (yes even more beautiful to look upon) than those which bloomed there. “ The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith!” A glorious cluster! as sweet as could be found in Paradise. Why the great work of the Saviour was to restore us to innocence! Can any one rise to a higher state of happiness on earth than this? “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God, for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with jewels.”
The subtle serpent by tempting our first parents, was the means of their losing Eden. But Christ is stronger than our enemy, and has conquered him. “ For this purpose was the Son of God manifested that he might destroy the work of the devil,” and to give to each “a Paradise within him-happier far."
“HOW DO YOU DO!" How often does this familiar salutation pass our lips ! And under how many and varied circumstances! Often they are the expression of anxious desire for the welfare of a friend or relative; at others a mere form of recognition. And, perhaps, many of us would be sadly annoyed if, in reply to the question, we were subjected to a long list of ailments-imaginary or real—in return for our inquiry. Let me say, there is no apathy in the “How do you do ?” at the head of this paper. The salutation is cordial. No closer bond of universal brotherhood exists than the one which draws our affections and sympathies towards each other. We need no secret sign or pass-word; for throughout the world we are (or ought to be) “united as the heart of one man."
Permit me, then, as one of yourselyes, to ask in all affection, “How do you do?"
How do you do as regards personal piety? We must never forget that this lies at the very root of usefulness. As well might we expect fruit without the seasonable rising of the sap, or fruitful harvest without the seasonable showers and sunshine, as expect increasing
usefulness without a constant growth in grace. Lacking this, our work will be slavery ; possessing it, a constant source of Christian enjoyment. When religion has its throne in the heart, it will be no sacrifice to devote time and talent to the sweet occupation of training souls for usefulness, and happiness, and heaven. " Pure religion and undefiled,” will be to us the very life and soul of Christian effort.
2. How do you do as regards Christian unity? The time has come for us to cast off all that approaches to narrow-mindedness, and to think only of the progress of the great cause in which we are engaged. A delightful change has taken place of late in this respect, which is manifested in the fellow-feeling existing amongst our evangelical denominations. And surely we can afford to fraternize, for the cause is one; the object is one; the results one; the final meeting one ; the rest from labour one. It will not at all impoverish us to wish God speed to all who love the Lord Jesus; and whilst we properly have a preference, and make a selection as to our own sphere of labour, we may still rejoice in the prosperity of all.
3. How do you do as regards cordial co-operation? Has the superintendent the staunch support which is his due? There are many ways in which he may be annoyed, yet falling short of an absolute breach of the rules. Thanks to “ Brother John” for his list of "things which he has seen" appearing in the February number of this Magazine. Very pointed, and very good. The comfort and usefulness of a superintendent depend much on the co-operation of the teachers. By them is he made weak or strong. He ought to be valiant indeed if all the teachers are true to him in the management of the school. Give him fair-play. Meet his wishes, so far as they are consistent with the rules, and its general welfare. His position needs the sympathy and kind regard of all who are identified with him. Better give way a point of no vital importance, than pain his mind. Depend upon it, he loves his teachers better far than any other class of associates. Be ever ready to heartily unite in whatever may tend to advance and increase the influence of your own dear school.
4. How do you do as regards brotherly-love. Love !-that noble attribute of the mind which religion so eminently developes. To labour for immortal souls, is, in some humble measure, to tread in the footsteps of the Redeemer ; and to do this well, we must “ love one another." The ordinary friendships of life may be, and often are, sweet and refreshing; but something higher and sweeter is attainable by those who have consecrated themselves to the service of their Lord and master, and have his cause at heart. Ours should be a closer communion than exists in the interchange of sentiment and feeling of commom place life. “Love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous.”
5. How do you do as regards tender affection? A blessing on the