in deportment, orthodox in faith, and well meaning enough, but in whom all generous enthusiasm has perished, and who go about their tasks mechanically, like ingeniously contrived automatons, destitute of feeling, if not of thought, regular, precise, decorous models of propriety, yet lifeless, spiritually or emotionally defunct. There are positions where such machine men may be of use, or at any rate, where they are in nobody's way; but when they invade the pulpit and the teacher's desk it is time to raise the question of their sepulture, for in these positions their influence is benumbing and devitalizing. The alternatives are to get them out of the way, or have all under their influence share their stupor and deadness. The pulpit is never so empty as 'when filled by such men. After a while the emptiness extends to the pews, and sleep and silence form a fitting finale to the dreary scene. Preachers and hearers continue to nod to each other, but it is painfully evident that the vital spark has fled. The preacher repeats the story of the Cross-it elicits no feeling; he repeats the formulas of his faith, he exhorts with a simulation of fervour, but his words are cold. The time might have been when he moved the hearts and consciences of men, but it is long since. The fire has gone from his heart, and the light from his eyes. It is an unspeakable calamity for a congregation to have such a pastor. It is a no less serious matter when a Sunday school comes under such influence. We have seen him often—the dead-alive superintendent. He is a good man, but no one ever accused him of having any life or spirit. He is an able man, —that is, a learned, scholarly man,—but there is no bond of sympathy or interest between him and his scholars, and he fails to make an impression for good. It is hard to put the proper estimate on such a character. He has many virtues, and but one defect. He is dignified, yet kind in his manner. He is punctual. He is never absent or a minute late. He commences the school exactly at the hour named. The bell sounds at the very second, and is followed by his scarce less metallic voice, announcing the hymns, the lessons, the order of the day. He selects only the best hymns, and takes care that they are sung in correct lines and time. His prayer is a model of simplicity and comprehensiveness, his explanation of the lesson is faultless, his questions aptly asked, and his whole conduct of the school exemplary, and yet he fails. The scholars obey him, but they obey listlessly. They sing, but it is without enthusiasm; they answer his questions, but it is as mechanically as they are asked. He exacts the same promptness from others that he exemplifies in himself. He gives his time, his talents, and his means to the cause he professes to love, and yet without success. He has kept all the commandments in the superintendent's decalogue, and yet there is one thing lacking. He wants life. He has no generous enthusiasm. He is the victim

of the proprieties. He enters upon his work not because his heart is overflowing with love and zeal for his Master's cause, but because it seems to him the proper thing to do. It is eminently respectable and right to engage in such work; but the weightier motive of love for Jesus has not found a place in his thought. He wants the religion of love to fire his heart and make its presence felt by all under his influence.

We find the causes of his failure in the absence of the true motive, and not of the necessary knowledge for one in his position. He is soulless and dead because constrained by other motives than the love of Christ. We cry out against his formalism. It is not that which calls first for correction. Formalism is right in its place. In the conduct of schools there must be machinery, and it must move with smoothness and precision. Formalism, in a restricted sense, is order and the law of heaven; but as it is so frequently a mask for spiritual deadness, we cry out against it as the cause of that deadness. We say of this or that school, that it died of too much discipline, of too many taps of the bell, of excessive decorum and propriety, when the truth is that it died because it had no living teachers. Machinery is an excellent thing. It is indispensable. The steamer can make no headway without it; but if the pilot slumbers at the wheel, or is careless of his duty, the same machinery may bear the vessel on to a speedy destruction. When a school seems to be dying of formalism and routine, it may be well, before striking at the apparent cause, to inquire whether it has a living head, for there, without doubt, is the fatal defect—the cause of sterility and stagnation. Let the cause be removed. The Sunday school, no less than the adult congregation, wants a living guide and exemplar, one whose heart has been touched by a live coal from the altar of God's love, and is able to communicate & genial warmth to other hearts. Says Dr. Steel, “All the Lord's labourers should be redeemed souls—believers—those who have tasted and seen that the Lord is gracious. It is such only He commissions to the work. To such only does He promise the blessing.” This is the key to success. The teacher of righteousness, like the preacher of righteousness, must have life and love in his heart. He must be alive to the work before him.

There is, then, this momentous question that we may ask ourselves, Am I alive? I walk abroad, mingling with men, talking, thinking, acting with the living. Are we alive? or are all these objects surrounding us the phantoms of a dream? Have these children immortal souls to be saved or lost? Are we responsible for their salvation ?

Important question. How shall it be answered ?-The American Sunday School Worker.


(By J. Bennet Tyler.) THE time was, within the memory of many now living, when one could not go astray in the selection of books for children. Bunyan's Pilgrim, and Holy War, and Janeway's Token, were about all the market afforded that claimed to be juvenile. The whole number of books for children, as late as 1824, was little more than twenty. Now, from the seven thousand different books pressed on public attention as Sunday school books, par excellence-published by thirty-six different houses, the question is, what not to buy, and “how not to do it.The demand for this class of books is enormous. Five million young people are reading these circulating libraries, besides a large number of older people, in sections where reading matter is scarce. The number of persons actually engaged in writing for children is almost incredible. One publisher offering prizes for the best books, finds himself overwhelmed with over

three hundred manuscripts, and now stops counting, and measures them by the cord! To those of us who are familiar with the usual way of purchasing libraries, the character and attainments of the persons often entrusted with this important duty, the method of selection, or rather the utter lack of method in selection, it is by no means a matter of surprise that so many books utterly unfit to be read are put into the hands of children. The wonder is, not that the libraries are so badbut that they are no


If the dear confiding public will continue to buy the spread eagle hymns and fantastic music, the highly wrought, exciting, sensational, so-called Sunday school books, Messrs. Spread and Sniggins will certainly publish them. If there is a demand for the weak religious story books in which the good boy always comes out ahead, or the un. naturally pious books in which the good children always die—why, of course, Deacon Dolorous or some Religious Society will supply it.Abridged from U.S. Christian Union.

the age.

THE OLD PATHS. ONE who desires to keep up with the learning of his day must be constantly buying and studying new text books. Such great discoveries and inventions are being constantly made in every art and science, that the old-fashioned scholars, who will keep to their old books, are far behind

What a blessing it is that there is one study that changes not, and that, too, the one most important to us of all others ! A man may get on very well who does not know all the latest chemical discoveries. He may be ignorant of the names of all the latest discovered planets, and may even fancy the sun really rises and sets as it appears to, and yet have the most profound and important knowledge thoroughly grounded in head and heart. The old beaten paths of the Bible have been known for ages; and though we find in them constantly things new and marvellous to us, thousands of hearts have made the same discoveries long before us. When any one parades before us some entirely new discovery he has made in this mine-some fanciful new interpretation of a text-we may well question the truth of his theory. The Spirit has gone with the Word these thousand years and more, and has often revealed its precious truths even unto babes in Christ.

When the flocks are descending into the valley pastures, they do not choose out a new way around the brow of the fearful precipice, or through the black morass. They follow the old beaten paths, and tread them with confidence and safety. So should we “ ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein. So shall ye find rest to your souls.”

CAUSES OF FAILURE.—Want of preparation, lack of sympathy, and lack of the progressive element in teachers. He is the true and successful teacher whose mind assimilates to his calling, and who enters with zeal into the development of youth into men and women.- .-F. W. Tilton.

SABBATH SCHOOL HOSANNAS.- Children should honour Jesus and shout hosanna to Him, (Matt. xxi. 15.) The chief priests and scribes, in the time of our Saviour, were displeased that they did it; and many of the great, and many formal professors since, have been displeased that children should profess to love and honour Jesus. They have opposed Sunday schools, and opposed the praying of children, and opposed their singing to His praise, and opposed their giving their money to spread His Gospel; but Jesus loves such praise and such service. The mouths of babes and sucklings should be taught to speak His name; and whatever the world may say--whatever the proud, the rich, or the formal may say, children should seek Him early, and give their first years to Him. He loves their praises. Perhaps few of all the songs of thanksgiving are so pleasant to His ear as the hosannas of a Sabbath school.Albert Barnes.

DEATH OF T. J. HARKNESS, ESQ., DUMFRIES. We re-open this page, after the Magazine is ready for press, to make the sorrowful announcement of the death of Mr. Harkness, so well known in connection with Sabbath School Conventions; which event took place at Auldgirth, on the 19th of May.

NOTICES TO CORRESPONDENTS. We cannot undertake to return rejected communications. A notice of the Annual Meeting of the Southern District Sabbath School

Union, held on the 21st February, is three months behind time. We

hope to hear from our friends at an earlier period next year. The matter for each Number of the Magazine requires to be in the hands

of the printers not later than the middle of the month before publication. The insertion of communications sent later cannot be guaranteed.

Intelligence. WESTERN DISTRICT UNION'S RE- pointed ; as were also committees on PORT.-The above Union met on Mon- prayer meetings, finance, visiting, and day, the 27th of March, in the Hall district. of Free St. Matthew's Church, Bath South-EASTERN SABBATH SCHOOL Street, under the presidency of Mr. UNION.—The usual bi-monthly meetConnell

, and was attended by a large ing of Directors was held on 13th number of representatives. The March -Vice-president Mr. James business consisted in appointing re- Miller in the chair. The conveners presentatives to the Sabbath School and members of the various commitUnion, and other necessary commit- tees for 1871-72 were appointed. The tees for the year. A committee on chairman then introduced Messrs. the boundary question was also ap- Geo. Hunter and James Howat as a


deputation from the General Union the meeting for their attendance. A anent “Special Sabbath-day Services committee was accordingly appointed. for the Young." The deputation POLLOKSHAWS

THORNLIEhaving explained that the Directors BANK.—PROPOSED SABBATH SCHOOL of the General Union were desirous UNION.-A meeting of teachers and to see such meetings commenced in others interested in Sabbath schools those localities that were in want of was held in the Burgh School, Town them, they took the opportunity of Hall Buildings, Pollokshaws, on inviting the attention of the Direc: Monday evening, 24th April, to contors of the South-Eastern District sider a proposal to establish a SabUnion to the subject. After some bath School Union for Pollokshaws, conversation, a committee was ap- Thornliebank, and neighbourhood. pointed to consider what steps it There were about 100 present, reprewould be advisable for this Union to senting the various schools of differadopt, and report to next meeting. ent denominations. Amongst those The thanks of the meeting were ten- present were Rev. Robert White, dered to the deputation.

Rev. Neil Brodie, Messrs. John MIDDLE DISTRICT SABBATH SCHOOL Bissett, John Hall, Geo. Govan, Union.—The first meeting of the Geo. Gemmell, Archd. Miller, Thos. Union for session 1871-72 was held M'Cready, David M. Gray, Geo. in the Religious Institution Rooms, M‘Farlane, &c. Alex. Drysdale, Dr. on Tuesday, 11th April

, 1871. There Ritchie, Esq., the Rev. Geo. Campwas a large attendance. Mr. Colin bell

, Rev. Philip Rodger, and Bailie Brown, president, in the chair. It Miller, of Eastwoodbill, apologized for was agreed to hold the half-yearly absence, and expressed their approval prayer meeting of the Union on Sab- of the object in view. Messrs. George bath, 14th May. Attention was Hunter, John Henderson, James called to the fact that there were Richmond, and James M‘Gill, were evident inaccuracies in some of the also present as a deputation from the statistical returns; and it was con- Glasgow Sabbath School Union, at sidered that these could to some whose instance the meeting had been extent be obviated if societies were convened. Mr. John Hall, having specially instructed not to include been called to preside, briefly stated. young people attending Children's the object contemplated, and reSabbath-day Services and Minister's quested the deputation from Glasgow Bible Classes as Sabbath scholars. to explain in detail the object and Mr. D. M. Lang and Mr. Thos. Hen- operation of the Glasgow District derson appeared as a deputation from Unions, and the benefit which they the General Union. These gentle- conferred upon Societies and Schools. men, in a few appropriate remarks, Several members of the deputation explained the object of their visit. having spoken, a lively conversation An interesting conversation then en- followed; and ultimately it was agreed sued; and it was agreed to appoint a to appoint a Provisional Committee, special committee to ascertain the with Mr. David M. Gray as conexact situation of all the Children's vener, comprising two representaSabbath-day Services in the district, tives from each School in the Disto find out the most suitable places trict, with a view to the matter being for commencing such meetings, and brought formally before each Society, 80 soon as this information is ob- and their co-operation secured, before tained to communicate with the any further steps be taken. A vote Committee of the General Union, of thanks was awarded to the depuand to report to a future meeting of tation from Glasgow and the chairthis Union. Messrs. Lang and Hen- man, and the Rev. Mr. Brodie closed derson received the cordial thanks of the meeting with prayer.

« ForrigeFortsett »