« PreviousContinue »
assembly to-night, we should thaw it. I would try to do my best, and I am sure the people would try to do theirs. But the resolution speaks of the labours of the Union. Now, the way to keep from being frozen is to take plenty of exercise ; and I am satisfied that the way to keep people out of mischief is to give plenty of the right sort of work. Then there is cause for joy in connexion with this. Now, some people would have us believe that religious folks are a very miserable sort of folk ; that our religion is something like a funeral, and its disciples chief mourners. But this is a great mistake. Our religion makes people happy. We have happy prospects, and happy homes ; and have we not happy men and women ? Why, Mr. Chairman, if all unions were as happy as this Union, they never would have got a Divorce Act. And why, Sir? Because it does not rest upon a legal foundation, but upon the strong foundation of love. The match was made upon principles of mutual affection, and the ceremony was performed by God : and what God hath joined together no man can ever put asunder. We rejoice in this. But then, further, there is a particular cause for joy this night, and that is in the extinction of this debt. A poor, distracted, disconsolate wife said to her husband, “John, how can you lie sleeping and snoring there, and owe so much money as you do ?” Nay, wife," said he, “if I, who owe the money, could not sleep, what would be the condition of the man to whom I owe it?' Now, thank God, in reference to this building, nobody need be kept awake. We can inscribe upon it, as I wish we could over the Treasury, and as I wish the Chancellor of the Exchequer could say, “Out of debt, out of danger.” Well then, Sir, the next feature is this, and I like it, that this meeting devoutly acknowledges God in reference to it. If we acknowledge God, we shall never want a God to acknowledge us. We often say, “My hands have gotten me this." “ I have done this." This says God has done it, and I hope that every person here is disposed to say, “Not unto us, not unto us, O Lord, but unto thy name be the glory.” Well now, division the second comes; and I am sure it would be as unnatural to look for Paul Pry without his umbrella, as for a preacher to talk without divisions ; it does not seem to be possible. It is success again :“The meeting is called upon to acknowledge, with gratitude, the success which
has attended the Sunday School Union in the increase of the sales of the Union publications, in the enlarged circulation of the periodicals designed for the
assistance of teachers in their work, and for the instruction of the scholars." Well now, the Magazine itself, I see by the Report, has increased in circulation from six to eight thousand. What a mercy, Sir. And then it not only assists the teachers in their work of teaching, though I confess it has done a great deal in that way. I remember, when I went to Sunday school, the teachers used to think that the way into the intellect was by a side door, and that if you knocked hard enough you would got it open. Many a thump on the side of the head has been given to me. Well, we do not lecture in that sort of thing now. We take the picklock of kindness and open the door, and walk into their affections. Kindness is better than coercion, all the world over. The Magazine is a sort of telegraphic wire between town and country--between this city and the provinces. There is an interchange of thought and feeling. Now, I think they require this first, because there is the absence of anything which appeals to the selfishness of human nature. You know, Sir, they do say, that we preachers do look after the fleece rather than the flock, and of being influenced by a love for filthy lucro. But nobody can say that of Sunday school teachers, who not only do the work for nothing, but buy the books -not only work for nothing, but find their own thread. Then again there is the absence of applause. If we go and preach a good sermon, we sometimes obtain commendation ; and if we can upon the platform make a happy hit ; people will applaud us, but there is nobody to applaud the Sunday school teacher. No. The only applause anybody
gets, even at the anniversary meetings, is given to the speakers; but the poor teachers do the work. But then, Sir, this Magazine comes and says :
“Let us, then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate ;
Learn to labour and to wait." Now that is Division 2 of my resolution. We come then to the last, and that is success again :" And that this meeting cordially approves of the addition of the “ Youth's Maga
zine' to the publications of the Union, believing that thus a valuable means will
be afforded for interesting and benefiting the family circles of our beloved land.” Solomon said, “Of making many books there is no end.” What would he have said if he had lived in our day. Then it appears, that this “Youth's Magazino” is not a now arrival, but that it is one that originated in the mind of the founder of this Union, and you thought it would become defunct : and out of love to the father, you are about to adopt the child and take it into your family, and recognize it as one of your periodicals in literature. Now my resolution concludes by asking you to welcome it ; and perhaps, by so doing, you will entertain an angel unawares. At any rate, it will be an angel of light, for it revolves around the Sun of Truth as tho planets around the sun in the heavens. Do we not want youth's magazines ? I think of the poison which is scattered abroad by means of a large mass of the publications which are circulated in this country. Let us encourage every effort to saturate the mind of youth with truth--truth taken from the Bible. And who would not say God speed to the “Youth's Magazine ?" Then it speaks not only of this magazine as a blessing to the teacher, but as going home, and being a blessing to the families of the children. I remember to have read an instance just illus. trating this. "A poor, drunken father, accustomed to spend his earnings and spare hours in a public-house, went home one sabbath-day earlier than usual. His little child was at home ; she had been taught in the sabbath school, and to her great joy and surprise he very surlily said, 'I should like to hear you read one of your books.' • Father, so I will,' she said. She took up a book, and read it to him. “Now I should like to hear you sing one of your hymns.' When she had sang the hymn, she said, 'Father, will you let me pray with you ?' 'You shall, my dearest,' he replied ; and he went down upon his knees, and she went down upon hers, he praying, and she praying. God heard them both. What must I do to be saved ?' said the father." Now this child knew the nearest way to Jesus Christ, because she had been herself, and she took her father to the Saviour, He became a pardoned man, and the father and the child are both walking in the way that leads to heaven. Does not the Committee, then, do right in hoping that this book will be a blessing not only to the teachers but also to the families? There is just one sentence in this resolution that I must notice before I sit down. It is this, “ The family circles of our beloved land.” Who does not respond to that? If ever I felt proud of my country it has been within the last few days ; while some nations have been brandisbing the sword, England's ambassador has been going about with the olive-branch of peace, trying to reconcile. I remember to have read during the Russian war of a shell falling upon a vessel ; in a few moments it would hare burst, and perhaps have killed the entire company on board ; but there was a brave fellow there who went and picked it up, and threw it over into the sea ; and the Queen gave him a reward for it. If ever I see a shell of discord in a family, or a church, or a nation, I should like to pick it up, and throw it into the sea of forgetfulness, and I know God will give me a reward, for he has said, “Blessed are the peacemakers.” I love England's power, represented as it is as the power of a lion ; but I like to see blended with it the gentleness of the lamb. I pray God that England's pacific course may be maintained, and that
we may always have to be proud of our beloved land. And now in reference to you, teachers ; and am I not right, sir, in addressing them as teachers ? Ah ! sir, we expect from this army of King Jesus exploits ten thousand times as brilliant as ever will be performed by those men in or around the kingdom of Sardinia. These will appeal to the mind, and who will not say, God bless them? But our work is not yet done. You know, they used to say in this country, “Ignorance is the mother of devotion;" but that old notion is dead and it is buried, and we have put it down so deep that it won't rise again here ; but we do not rest yet ; we have written upon our banner, “For the soul to be without knowledge, is not good." We shall go and take it, and put it upon the last citadel of ignorance, until heaven shall echo with the cry, " They all know God, from the least to the greatest." Go on, my fellowteachers ; go on, you that are our co-workers in the vineyard of God-our companions in arms; by-and-by the battle will be over, the victory will be gained, and the great God will say to us, “Well done, good and faithful servants, inasmuch as ye did it unto the least of these my brethren, ye did it unto me.".
The Rev. WILLIAM BROCK seconded the resolution. He said Dear Sir, my christian friends, I should always like to have just such a precursor or forerunner as my friend, Mr. Bushell ; though it does somewhat endanger the seconder of a resolution, too, to have a mover like that. He has in few words, but most apt and effective words, opened out and exhausted the resolution ; he has done it so well, that really that which one might have had to say must be left unsaid, because it is before you already ; so I must 'leave the resolution in spite of myself. I am not one of the preachers, Sir, that always take three divisions ; I think my friend was a little wrong there ; he must speak for himself, not for me. Very often I have no divisions at all, and all that I care about in the way of divisions at any time is that the word may be "rightly divided,” so that each may have a portion in due season. The very first speech I ever made in this hall was for the Sunday School Union; and I remember well the next day, in another part of London, hearing some one speaking about the meeting of the night before (and he is on the platform now) and he said, “Our young brother from Norwich did admirably.” Now that was I, a young brother ! Well, Sir, I am very glad that we got old; for where in the world would there be any room for us, if we did not ? Where would Mr. Bushell have been, for instance, if I had not got old ? But I am very thankful we do not get old together; that would be a calamity, I tako it. I am very glad we do not get old at once ; I should have beon very sorry to have beon what I was when I was the young brother in my first address to this Union, and then to be what I am, at a vault. I do not know how I should have felt or got on if that had been so; but God's plans and arrangements are always so beautiful ; I feel now, I think,,very much as I felt then ; and I think that the feeling, as one gets older, improves, ripens, culminates towards perfection ; and I stand here to-night after twenty years or more of hard wear and tear, a former friend of the Sunday School Union than I was then, and a more intelligent friend, therefore, a stronger friend. I have not been pastor of a church for twenty-five years and more, without knowing the value of the Sunday School. Times without number have I had the blessedness of receiving to fellowship and church-membership those who were converted to God in the classes of the Sunday school. The very last meeting over which I presided, when I had the blessedness of receiving the largest number I ever received at once to fellowship, there was a goodly admixture of Sunday school children. The very first children brought into my Sunday school at Bloomsbury ten years ago, are now joining our church time after time. I say that, to encourage you, teachers, and some of my brother ministers too. We have gone on, as I think, upon the principle that the teacher and the preacher have just one comipon object. That was well put by Mr. Watson in the Report, that the
preacher and the teacher have the same truth, and we have to a large extent the same kind of action. Only, according to his doctrine, and I believe it to be a sound one, you have rather the upper hand of us; you have a better opportunity than we have. I have often felt, “Oh, if I could get six or eight people at a time, and have an hour with them, instead of having six or eight hundred to talk to, some of whom I shall never see any more, and many of whom I can never get at foot to foot as you can. You have an opportunity that I know many of you do value, and out of which instrumentality I believe a great amount of your success has come. It is preaching and teaching, the same gospel, the same motives, the same hope and foundation of success, actuating you and actuating us.
You remember how Paul burst out into thanksgiving because of the preaching of the gospel : “Therein I do rejoice ; yea, and I will rejoice, because Christ is preached.” Sir, I wonder how he would have rejoiced, if he had lived in London in 1859. Why, no preachers had ever been heard from the steps of the Capitol there ; yet he rejoiced. No class of children had ever been gathered into the area of the Coliseum there ; or into the comparative retirement of the Pantheon. Oh ! if he could have done what we have been able to do with our teaching and preaching at Exeter Hall, and St. James's Hall, and Westminster Abbey, and all the other places besides, how he would have said, three or four times over, “Yea, and I will rejoice;" because he knew that by that sort of instrumentality God's work would be done on earth, and his will, even as it is done in heaven. I read the other day, I think somewhat in the prospect of this meeting, a very elaborate paper in a certain review, which ostentatiously proclaims itself the improver of the morals of the country, of the common people, on secular principles, and with secular instrumentality. I read that paper over and over and over again ; and I stand on the platform at Exeter Hall to-night, and say, after the experience of centuries-large, painful experience, too-that there is not a provision mentioned in that paper for the ultimate improvement of this country that would not turn out to be labour in rain, and the sponding of strength for naught. Good, I admit, in very many of its aspects; comparatively and subordinately good ; but as to grasping the master evil, which is the parent of all evils, the depravity of human nature, it not only does not meddle with that, but it officially and formally ignores it, and says there is no such thing. How can there be anything but failure out of a scheme which is based on a bottom like that? We were called upon to give a sound and secular education to the masses. Do not content yourselves, they said, with just giving the rudiments of things, but cultivate and bring out results : discipline the mind for thinking ; supply materials for thinking : familiarize the people with the best methods of thinking ; tell them about the chemistry of common lifo ; tell them about their moral, physical, and mental constitution ; tell them about their duties to their families, and about their duties to the country; and, so far, you will have done well. Besides that, take care to give them remunerative labour ; acknowledge the right of every man to live ; and then insist upon the fair day's wages for the fair day's work. And screen your countrymen (we were told in that paper) from their dread of pauperism ; let your so-called charity never insult them any more ; and, so far, you will have done well. Then we were called upon to give them the blessings, to which our chairman has referred, of enfranchisement, the criminal and the incapable excepted; deal with them as mon; take off the badges of serfdom from them, and let them be as you yourselves are ; let them be free mon ; and, so far, you will have done well. Then get them to adopt civilized, social habits; alter, with their permission, or get them to alter, with their help, that which is confessedly on all sides so bail ; get them to change filth for cleanliness ; the rotten rag for the seemly garment ; the dark, cribbed, dirty, dark attic, or the still darker cellar, for the well-ventilated and well-lighted chamber; and, so far, you will do well. And then, as a sort of climax, let the taste of the people be educated ; bring them into contact with your great works of ancient and modern art ; throw opon your museums to them ; bring them into your sculpture-rooms, into your artistic and antique saloons, and stir up within them the æsthetic which is in every man's nature (which I rather doubt); ensure the abandonment of the base by inducing a love for the refined, and teach them to detest the grovelling, by causing them to be enraptured with the sublime. Well, I read all that ; not in so many words, but in substance ; and I said to myself, " I will read it again.” That was just the whole of it-sound, secular education ; remunerative labour ; good, civilized, social habits ; the franchise, and the cultivation of the taste ; and when you have done all this, you will have a moral, an enlightened, and a loyal population. Sir, I ask every man and every woman in this place, whether they do not observe the entire absence of God's very name in those suggestions? It is as though there were no God; as I do solemnly believe in the theories of those men there is no God. There is not a word said about setting the man's nature right; it is all setting his circumstances right. Dress him well ; feed him well ; house him well ; but what about him-the underlying nature ? Not a word ; nothing about the seal, the fountain, the principle of all life and of all action; that is entirely left out of the question. Sir, the Sunday School Union takes it into the question, and, therefore, its operations will not fail, but, God blessing them, will succeed. We believe that as is a man's nature, so will be a man's life ; and that as is the state of a man's heart so will be the state of that man's conduct! and we go everywhere, to every child in our infant classes, to the oldest boy or girl, or young man or maiden in our Bible classes, and we not only proclaim it when necessary, but, what is better, we assume it from first to last – the heart of every one of them is desperately wicked, and they must needs be born again. And so teaching and so believing, there is strong, and I hold it to be indubitable, reason for the belief that we shall not labour in vain, nor spend our strength for naught. I grant to the secularists that every one of these things that I have mentioned is valuable in its way. Let them not so far misrepresent us (as I believe some of them would) as to say : "Oh! those saints at Exeter Hall ignore all that.” Sir, I ask who are the advocates of it all ? Who were the adyocates of it before some of these men were ever heard of? Why, the men who founded the Sunday School Union. Why, who is the man that goes about in all the dens and cellars of the metropolis ? Lord Shaftesbury. Who are the practical secularists ? Lord Shaftesbury, and our honourable chairman, and their coadjutors. But what about the other part of it? They are avowed honourable, public, consistent disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, willing to do all these things ; but doing them in the second place, and taking care about that depravity in the first place of all. And then, what saith experience as to the success which these various ,measures would obtain ? And, in the prospect of the future, what may we expect that they will secure ? Sir, I ask this great assembly, and through them all England, whether the debaucheries that all so much deplore are to be found amongst the people exclusively who never went to school ? I ask whether the dishonesties we so deploro are found amongst the men of scanty means ? Nay; they are found, some of the worst of them, amongst the men who have fured sumptuously every day. I ask whether the inhumanities that we deplore are found amongst the men only from whom the franchise is withheld ? Nay; they are found, to a large extent, amongst the men who boast that they are freo. I ask whether the frauds and falsehoods we so much deplore are found most amongst the men who have not a house over their head ? No; they are found, to a large extent, likewise amongst the men who have affluence and wealth almost boundless,