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ples, and how cautious should this make us, least they should discover any thing wrong in our behaviour. This idea should
operate as a salutary check, and while it teaches us to avoid even the appearance of evil, should lead us to pray and to strive that we may become proper examples to the tender flock of which God has made us shepherds and overseers.
5. Our employment is calculated to promote personal piety. While we teach our children the depravity of the human heart, can we be insensible to our own? While we tell them that they cannot save themselves, do we not feel our own insufficiency? While we point them to the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world, do not we apply to him for the pardon which we equally require? While we talk of the influences of the Holy Spirit, are we not anxious that they should dwell in our hearts? While we speak of the necessity of a holy life, are not we desirous, by our walk and conversation, to prove that we are Christians indeed? "Yes," I think that I hear you replying, " as we have talked of Jesus to our young disciples, while we have recommended his dying love, and his continued goodness, to their notice, we have felt our hearts burn within us, and have resolved to consecrate ourselves more entirely to his service and glory. As we have retired to our closets, we have meditated, we have prayed, and have gone into the world under the influence of these impressions." Thus our pupils have been the means of exciting our spirituality of mind, and quickening us in our Christian course. Many young persons, I am persuaded, will have to bless God through eternity that they ever entered a Sunday School; and I trust that all of us, in reviewing the scenes of life from the realms of Immortality, will look upon this little spot with pleasing remembrance, and grateful delight. O! may all of us walk worthy of the Lord, unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God."
6. The last benefit which I shall mention is, the reward which faithful labourers shall receive at the last great day. The labourer is worthy of his hire, and shall in no wise lose his reward. Not that we are to suppose our poor labours will of themselves earn for us everlasting enjoyment, but that God has been pleased to connect our duty and his mercy, our exertions and his reward, so that while we magnify his grace, we should "be steadfast and immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as we know that our labour is not in vain in the Lord." O may we be faithful to our charge, and see our pupils rise up to call their Saviour blessed, that at the day of judgment we may be addressed by our Redeemer from his
throne of glory," Forasmuch as ye did it to the least of these ye did it unto me. Come ye blessed of my father, enter into the joy of your Lord." Thus may we appear as diligent labourers, and rejoice before our God," according to the joy of karvest." "He that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto eternal life; that both he that soweth, and he that reapeth, may rejoice together."
On the tendency of SUNDAY SCHOOLS to promote the SPIRITUAL INTERESTS of the TEACHERS.
I NOW sit down to perform my promise, in endeavouring to point out some of the ways in which Sunday Schools promote the spiritual welfare of those who are concerned in them. I am glad that I am able to do this; but if I were not, and could not see the beneficial consequences they produce, I should nevertheless credit the promise of him who cannot lie, and should not doubt but that they who watered others should be watered themselves. And I never could believe that they who in humble dependence upon his word, engaged in his work, with a feeling sense of their own weakness, and a watchful attention to those points where they were most in danger, would suffer in their most important interests.
The first beneficial effect of Sunday Schools is, that they furnish a useful and important employment. Employment has been shewn to be in many ways essential to happiness, but my object is to prove, that it promotes our spiritual welfare; and this I think may be shewn by the following considerations.
1. Employment preserves young persons from one peculiar danger of the present day, viz. the bad influence which literature frequently has on the spiritual interests of the young. I know this will excite much surprise, and I shall be thought by some, guilty of little less than blasphemy; but I cannot help noticing the evil effects produced upon the minds of many by an inordinate attention to literary pursuits, and rejoice in any thing which may preserve our ingenuous youth from the blan dishments of philosophy and vain deceit. I do not overlook or undervalue the good effects of science in its proper place, but my complaint is, that it is hardly ever kept there, and Í cannot but grieve when so many of our hopeful young people are injured by an improper use of what might be a great blessing. I see that many are awfully departing from the faith
once delivered to the saints, that its purity and energy are degenerating by an admixture of much that is human, that the simplicity of the gospel is in danger of being lost; and believing that our fashionable literature has produced these and many other evils, I rejoice in any thing which will otherwise occupy our young people, and call them off from pursuits as bewitching as they are fatal.
This is not the place to shew how and why the study of our elegant writers has a tendency to corrupt the gospel, or to make it unacceptable; but it were easy to do this, and if any of your correspondents require, I will engage to attempt it.
2. Employment tends to preserve young persons from the frivolity into which those who are unemployed are frequently betrayed. Some young people in our congregations are a disgrace to their profession, by their frivolity and vanity, and one would hardly suppose them in possession of reason. To see an immortal spirit occupied upon trifles more contemptible than the pastimes of infants, is painful, even if we only considered the dignity of a rational mind; but when we remember that they are accountable creatures, and must soon appear before the judge of quick and dead, we are filled with deep compassion and concern. From this evil, active engagements will secure the rising generation. Those who are concerned in pursuits which not only occupy the attention, but call out the talents, have always matter for agreeable and useful conversation, and will hardly be reduced to such emptiness and insipidity as we often hear passing under that name.
3. Employment likewise fits for future usefulness. We see many grown up into life, who are desirous to exert themselves in the cause of God, but are so unacquainted with public business, that they are unwilling to join in societies; or if they do, are unable to further the great object as they could wish. Our young people are now soon initiated into the forms of business, and obtain an early habit of activity. In future years, when perhaps circumstances may prevent their attendance at Sunday Schools, this habit and this knowledge will prove a blessing to thousands. They may then take the places which our fathers are now filling, and may carry forward the great designs of the Missionary, Bible, Tract, or other Societies, with increased energy and success. Or if their lot should be cast in different places, or other circumstances should prevent their acting this conspicuous part, they will be a blessing wherever they go, and never forget the employments and feelings of their early years. I was engaged in Sunday Schools when I was very young, and I think I there acquired my first
wishes for usefulness, and a regard to the great cause of God. Owing so much as I do to these institutions, I cannot but recommend them to others, and whatever dangers may occur in this path, I am persuaded it is honourable and important. I rejoice to see so many volunteers in the cause of Christ, training up for future service in a comparatively obscure seminary, and look upon the teachers of Sunday Schools as the best hope of the church.
4. Employments of a safe and useful nature, preserve from others of a doubtful or dangerous tendency. Youth must have objects, the vigour and the feelings of that period will come into action, and if we do not engage our young friends in the service of the Redeemer, we may expect that they will be seduced into another employment under a very different master. Many have engaged in politics with the best motives, who have been drawn into a vortex from which they have never escaped, and where they have lost their spirituality, and the vital energy of religion has become extinct. Or if their activity is merely engaged in their several callings, and they become eminent in them, though this is not so liable to dangers, yet we cannot but fear that they may become worldly minded, and lament over the waste of energies which might have been so beneficially employed,
A second benefit resulting from Sunday School engagements is, that they have a tendency to produce a love to the souls of others, and a concern to be useful to them. No teacher ever engaged in a Sunday School without feeling his affections. drawn out to the children under his ca care. Their youth, their artless innocence, and the strong attachments they manifest to their teachers, naturally call out an affectionate feeling, and make them tenderly beloved in return. And as our occupation is of a religious kind, this gives our love a spiritual nature, and makes us earnestly concerned to do good in the best way to those whom we so dearly love. I am writing for Sunday School teachers, and I am persuaded they know what it is to yearn over souls, and to travail in birth till Christ is formed in them. And I may safely appeal to all of them, whether these better feelings have not come upon them since they have been thus employed, and whether they have not felt more of the value of the gospel themselves, while they have seen that nothing else could benefit the dear children of their charge. A concern for them has often' drawn them to the throne of
grace, and he who goes there upon one errand upon which he feels strongly, generally finds several things to plead for there.
This has often given life and feeling to their prayers*, when nothing else has done it, and they have felt more earnestness in pleading for others, than they had in seeking blessings for themselves. And as such prayers are always returned sevenfold into the boson of the petitioren, abundant blessings always descend in answer to them.
Many teachers have likewise experienced another benefit from their engagements, and that has been a desire to learn, that they may be able to teach. Their children have asked them questions which they felt themselves unable to answer, and they have searched the Scriptures, that they might be enabled to solve them. Several who have entered a School with very little knowledge, have been struck with a sense of their ignorance, by the remarks or the questions of the children, and while they were attempting to teach them, have been gradually led forward themselves, till they have acquired in the School a very considerable acquaintance with the Scriptures and the. gospel plan of salvation. And in addition to this it has frequently happened, that in the School they found some who were qualified to be their guides, who by their age, their experience, and their knowledge of the human heart, were fitted to direct them onward in the ways of God, and to whose company and conversation they have been very much indebted.
The last benefit I shall mention is, a conviction of our insufficiency to do any real good. When first we entered the school, we expected to convert every child to whom we could explain the depravity of its nature, and the glorious provision made to restore the ruins of the fall. And it has not been till after repeated and heart-rending disappointments, that we have been convinced that old Adam is too hard for young Melanc thon. We have set before them their ruined state by sin, the loveliness and excellency and completeness of the Saviour, the certainty and nearness of death and judgment, and have been amazed to see that we have been talking to the air, and that these all-important truths have not even sufficed to obtain their attention for a moment. We expected a universal and abiding impression, and have failed to produce even a momentary conviction. And we have sometimes met with even more painful circumstances than this. We have remarked some who seemed
Dr. Doddridge in his Diary, after exceedingly lamenting his "distracted and wandering thoughts," his "barrenness and deadness of heart," in one of his days of secret devotion, says, "at length the duties of this retirement concluded with a bright hour, when committing my family academy and church to God, and interceding for my friends and the public, my prayers were warn and lively."