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THE SABBATH SCHOOL ALMANAC for readers. In spirit and style his is a

1873. By Rev. MATTHEW BROWN, model address to children. This will Hightae. Glasgow: John M‘Cal- prove itself emphatically the girl's lum.

book of the season. Mr. M‘Nab's

threefold motto is briefly, living in, We have received an early speci- for, and with Christ, and is treated of men copy of this publication, which is the production of a gentleman to mixture of anecdote and personal illus

in an engaging manner, with a due adwhom the youthful readers of the tration. The tone of the book will Magazine were once indebted for a recall to Sabbath school teachers who New-Year's story. The Almanac is of a varied and novel character, the cordial interest evinced by the

were present at the Perth Convention affording useful information and prac, author in the spiritual well-being of tical suggestions to Sabbath School

the young. The Children of a King, teachers and others. Three pages by Mr. Gibson, is another excellent are devoted to ecclesiastical and edu- contribution to the juvenile literature cational statistics. The Almanac is a

of the season.

It describes with vividneat and comprehensive pennyworth.

ness and force the true dignity of the

Christian life. The three publications THE FIRST GIRL IN THE WORLD's fident that they will carry with them

are neatly illustrated.

We are con HISTORY. By the Rev. JAMES their own recommendation, and that WELLS.

their success will be equal to their My Motto: or Watchwords for Young deserts.

Soldiers. By the Rev. DAVID E.

M`NAB, Ardrossan. THE CHILDREN OF A King. By the LEAVING SCHOOL: A CRISIS; conRev. WILLIAM GIBSON, Abbotshall,

taining friendly counsels to those Kirkcaldy.

who have been taught in Sunday Glasgow: Charles Glass & Co.

and Week-day Schools. By Rev.

A. LANGLEY. London: Elliot THREE little gift-books for the New- Stock, Paternoster Row. Year, of unexceptionable merit and The author shews much Christian suitableness. Mr. Wells makes a wisdom, sympathy with the young, singularly happy use of the history of and knowledge of the world. His Miriam, to stimulate the curiosity, little book is well suited for being inform the minds, and touch the placed in the hands of youth on hearts and consciences of his youthful leaving school.

NOTES ON THE UNION'S LESSON SCHEME FOR 1872.

LESSON L.- DECEMBER 15.

ACHAN'S TRESPASS AND PUNISHMENT.—Joshua vii. Jericho was devoted to utter destruction. Of the people, only Rahab and he relatives were spared. The property of the inhabitants was given to the flames excepting only their gold and silver, and their vessels of brass and iron, which were consecrated to the treasury of the Lord. Such was the commission given by the Lord to Joshua, to be executed by the children of Israel. In his instructions to the people, Joshua warned them against the sin and danger of appropriating any of the spoil of the city to their own use—“Lest ye make yourselves accursed, when ye take of the accursed thing, and make the camp of Israel a curse, and trouble it,” (vi. 18.)

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Verse 1.-Amongst the thousands of Israel who devoutly respected the commandment of God, there was only one man so covetous and daring as to disregard it. Achan took of the accursed thing, and his guilt provoked the Lord's anger against the entire people. They were all one body; nor could any part be infected with so dire a disease without the detriment and danger of the whole."

Verses 2-6.-Meanwhile, a detachment of the army is sent by Joshua to capture the town of Ai. They expected an easy conquest after the fall of Jericho, but are ignominiously repulsed, and six-and-thirty of their number are slain.

Verses 6-9.—Joshua and the elders are overwhelmed with grief for this unexpected and unaccountable reverse, and prostrate themselves in self-abasement before the ark. The natural disappointment and dejection of the military commander find vent in an unworthy murmur that the Israelites have been brought over Jordan to be exposed to defeat and disgrace; but in a more commendable spirit Joshua shews his zeal for the honour of God by pleading for what is due to His great name.

Verses 10-15.—The Lord graciously accepts the prayer of His servant, and gently rebukes his despondency and faltering faith. Joshua is informed of the cause of Israel's discomfiture, and instructed how to bring about the public detection of the delinquent who has caused Israel to sin and suffer.

Verses 16-26.— The alert commander lost no time in following the instructions he had received. He rose up early in the morning,” and commenced the inquisition. Early rising was evidently a habit of Joshua's, (iii. 1; vi. 12-15; viii. 10.) The process of examination (14, 17, 18) resulted in the conviction of Achan, who confessed his sin, (20, 21,) acknowledging that he had coveted and appropriated “a goodly Babylonish garment,” together with a quantity of gold and silver. The scrutiny into tribe, family, and household, appears to have been determined by lot. Notice how the magisterial fidelity of Joshua is tempered with tenderness in addressing Achan, (20,) and in pronouncing upon him the sentence of death, (25.) “So the Lord turned from the fierceness of His anger,” (26,) and blessed the obedience and faithfulness of Israel with a succession of victories, till all the land was conquered, and the people rested from war.

PRACTICAL LESSONS. 1. At the siege of Jericho the Israelites learned that “wisdom”—heavenly wisdom—“is better than weapons of war.' The defeat at Ai taught them that one sinner destroyeth much good,” (Eccles. ix. 18.)

2. The crimes of individuals involve the guilt of a nation when left unpunished. Be not partaker of other men's sins: keep thyself pure,” (1 Tim. v. 22.) Members of the Christian Church are enjoined to look diligently, lest any “root of bitterness” spring up amongst them to “trouble” them, as Achan troubled” Israel, (v. 25,) and “thereby many be defiled,” (Heb. xii. 15, 16.)

3. Covetousness is described by the Apostle as idolatry; the worshipper of Mammon cannot also be the servant of God. “The love of money,” says the same Apostle, “is the root of all evil;" and it is the prevailing and characteristic sin of our time. Love of money and fondness of dress "pierced” Achan and his hapless family “through with many sorrows.' In an age when wealth is the paramount object of pursuit, and men are valued by society chiefly on account of their gold, the Christian—and especially the youthful Christian entering upon active life—had need to pray:

“Lead me not into temptation, but deliver me from evil.” Memory Exercise Shorter Catechism 50.—Psalm cxxxix. 1-6.

Subject to be proved—Secret Sins are known to God.

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Text for Non-Reading Classes. Achan answered Joshua, and said, Indeed I have sinned against the Lord God of Israel, and thus and thus have I done.” -Joshua vii. 20.

LESSON LI.-DECEMBER 22.

THE PARABLE OF THE SOWER.–Mark iv. 1-20. Our Lord had again gone forth from the house in Capernaum to "the seaside," (v. 1,) i. e., the shore of the Sea of Galilee, an inland lake of about 16 miles long by 6 miles broad,-“the most sacred sheet of water which the earth contains," (Stanley.) "And there was gathered unto Him a great multitude," so that Jesus had to enter the boat provided by His disciples, (ch. iii. 9,) and to speak from its deck while the crowds of people stood upon the sandy beach. “And He taught them many things by parables,” (v. 2,) or comparisons, a figurative method of teaching, wherein the idea or lesson is brought out in connection with some familiar object. When asked by His disciples why He did so, our Lord explains, (v. 10-13.) The group of parables contained in this chapter were probably the first, as they are perhaps the richest which He spoke.

First comes the PARABLE OF THE SOWER, (v. 3,) founded, like so many others, on the common things of life. What a dignity and significance do our Lord's words here give to the toils of the husbandman! Perhaps at the very time there may have been a sower at work near Him. He was himself the chief sower; His entrance into the world, a going forth to sow; the word which He proclaimed, the seed; the hearts of men, the soil; and they who came after did but carry on the work.

I. And it came to pass, as he sowed, some fell by the wayside,(v. 4,) fell on the hard footpath or road, and lay exposed to the feet of passers, or to the flocks of birds which follow the husbandman. Of this parable we have an interpretation by our Lord himself, (v. 14, 15.) In Matthew the expression and understandeth iť not,” is applied to this wayside hearer-important as indicating the state of mind in which the Word of God fails to produce any effect. He has exposed his heart as a common road to every evil influence, until all higher and heavenly truth has become unintelligible to him. And besides, there is Satan, the personal Wicked One, watching to snatch away every possible advantage, sending his ministers in the shape of evil thoughts, desires, and lusts.

II. There was other seed which at first promised hetter, but ultimately had no better result: “ Some fell on stony ground," (v. 5, 6,) or rather, rocky placesground where a thin coating of earth covered the face of a rock, into which roots could not penetrate, and through which no moisture could be reached. At first this seed grew all the quicke but having no depth of earth, was soon scorched and withered by the sun's heat. Compare Jonah iv. 8; James i. 11. In verses 16 and 17, our Lord explains that this class of hearers, attracted by the first beauty and loveliness of Christianity, “receive the Word with gladness;" but lacking all deep earnestness, and not having counted the cost of discipleship, “when afiliction or persecution cometh for the Word's sake, immediately they are offended.' As heat would have promoted the growth of the seed, if it had had root enough, (Jer. xvii. 8,) so trouble and afflictions do strengthen true faith, as the furnace purifies gold: but they cause possessors of a merely temporary faith to fall away, for such have no root in themselves." Similar ideas, Matt. vii. 25; xxv. 4. The tree depends on its unseen root, so the Christian's strength lies in that life which is hid with Christ in God. Compare 2 Cor. iv. 17, 18; Heb. x. 34.

III. “And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no fruit, (v. 7 ;) fell into ground which had not been cleaned or purged of thorn roots, which consequently grew up, overtopped the good seed, shut out the light, and drew away the moisture and richness of the earth. In this case it was not want of soil, nor shallowness of soil, but the lack of careful husbandry in not rooting out the noxious growths. Compare Prov. xxiv. 30-32. In verses 18 and 19 we learn, that by “the thorns” are meant two distinct and somewhat dissimilar causes: first, the crushing oppressive side, struggle for subsistence, the cares of this world;" and then the flattering seductive side, the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things.” In the case of persons in whom such influences have choked the Word, the world has not lost its power over them; the old man is

not dead in them-may seem for awhile to be dead, but unless the soil of the heart be diligently watched, the thorns and briars will again grow up apace. An attempt to serve God and Mammon, to combine the two, but in vain-no fruit will be brought forth.

IV. But the sowing is not always in vain, for other seed fell on good ground, and did yield fruit," &c. The large return of an hundred-fold is sometimes obtained in the East, (Gen. xxvi. 12.) Our Lord tells us, (v. 20,) that this class of persons are " such as hear the Word and receive it,” adding, in Luke viii. 8, “they which in an honest and good heart,” &c. This brings out the truth, that there is an apparent preparedness or fitness for receiving the Word in some persons more than in others; so that preaching may be likened to the scattering of sparks, which, when they encounter combustible matter, cause fire; or to the loadstone, which attracts iron, but no other substance. Not that there can be any fitness in man, other than by God's grace. The “good ground,” the faculty to receive" thé word, the “honest and good heart,” come as much from God as the good seed.

The different degrees of fruitfulness, “some thirty, and some sixty, and some an hundred,” perhaps indicate different degrees of fidelity in receiving the Word, for the warning is immediately given, (v. 9, He that hath ears to hear, let him héar.". There may be a diversity of preparedness or fitness in the soil of men's heartsthere may, hindoubtedly, be such things as destroying and souring the soil, treading it to hardness, wasting it away, or leaving it to thorns and briers : yet, by the grace of God, recovery is in all these cases possible. Previous condition may effect the issue, but it now behoves us all to listen to the Word in such a way as to insure, that with God's blessing it may bring forth abiding fruit.

Memory Exercise—Shorter Catechism 51.-Psalm xc. 14-17.
Subject to be Proved-Profitable Hearing requires Faith and Preparation.

Text for Non-Reading Classes. “These are they which are sown on good ground; such as hear the word, and receive it, and bring forth fruit, some thirty-fold, some sixty, and some an hundred.”—Mark iv. 20.

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LESSON LII.-DECEMBER 29.

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JESUS' TEACHING.-Mark iv. 21-41. I. How to hear, (v. 21-25).- This passage, as well as the two parables which follow, evidently hang upon the preceding parable of the sower, all to illustrate how the Gospel-message was to be published, and what reception it would meet with. “Candle,or lamp, nothing ħid,(v. 21, 22,)--as it would be wrong to hoard up wealth for no purpose, so it would be wrong to hide knowledge, and not impart it to others. Take heed," (v. 24,) we are responsible for the use we make of God's Word, and for the opportunities we may have of spreading the knowledge of it. Compare Matt. xxv. 20, 21. For he that hath, to him shall be given,(v. 25,)—the exercised faculty increases in strength, a principle true physically as well as spiritually.

II. Parable of the seed growing we know not how, (v. 26-29.)---To shew that seed cast into the ground grows under the creative hand of God, independently of human care and anxiety: or in other words, that the Word of God operates secretly, and not under the control, or by the power of man. Paul plants, God alone can give the increase. Hence the importance of sowing the seed-spreading the Gospel. No one need be discouraged, or think it useless to do good in Christ's name. God will cause the seed to grow in His own good time, (1 Peter i. 23-25.) The blade, the ear, the full corn, (1 John ii. 12-14.) Regeneration is the work of the Holy Spirit, (John iii. 8.)

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III. Parable of the grain of mustard seed, (v. 30-34.) The idea taken from a plant well known in the district; its seed small, the plant itself of large growth. Small beginnings have often great results--Abraham, Gen. xxii. 17, 18, Jacob, xxxii. 10. Christ's kingdom was at first despised and rejected of men. Kis reign was to begin unseen in the hearts of men, gradually but surely extending itself, until all ends of the earth would acknowledge Him to be the Lord, (Dan. ii. 44; Rev. xi. 15.) Great branches-lodge under the shadow, (v. 32.). What was once small and unnoticed will shew itself to be what it really is, the “Strength of Israel,” in whom all mankind may trust, (Hosea xiv. 7; Psalms xxxvi. 7; Isaiah iv. 6.) And with many such parables,&c., (v. 33, 34,) only a few of the more striking ones being preserved. Jesus made large use of this method of communicating truth, and no teacher ever used it with such power and kindness. " And when they were alone,” Jesus more fully expounded all things to His disciples.

IV. The stilling of the storm, (v. 35-41.) – This took place in the evening of the day on which the foregoing parables were spoken, (v. 35.) Jesus was now about to cross over to the other side,i. e., the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee, to the country of the Gadarenes or Gergesenes. They took Him even as He was in the ship,(v. 36,)-proceeded across the lake without any previous preparation, just as He had left off addressing the people. Other little ships,”-some of the multitude endeavoured to follow Him. Great storm,(v. 37,)- the Sea of Galilee subject to sudden gusts of wind. The boat was now full," i. e., shipped a good deal of water. And Jesus was in the “hinder part of the ship,” (v. 38,) asleep on a "pillow,”—the helmsman's seat or cushion at the stern. He required rest, He hungered, thirsted, and was made in all things like unto His brethren, (Heb. ii. 17, 18,) yet without sin. The disciples wondered that He should be calmly sleeping while they were in such danger. Master, carest thou not that we perish?" Wben fear is great faith becomes small. He arose and " rebukedthe wind, (v.39,)—the Creator speaking to the creature, (Job. xxxviii.8-11.) How simple, yet authoritative, the words, Peace, be still !How difficult it is for a sinner to trust Christ ! yet He will deliver, (Ps. cvii. 25-30). And turning to the disciples, how gently He upbraids them! “Why are ye so fearful ?" (v. 40.). He had given them many proofs of His power and affection, yet in the hour of trial they forgot that they had with them one whom even the wind and the sea must obey. They feared exceedingly,not now with terror for the waves, but awe-struck in the presence of the Lord.

Comforting thought, that nothing can happen to us without His knowledge and control. He rules the universe, nature and all its powers, for His own glory and the good of His people. Learn to trust in Him at all times, and to look for daily guidance and support from His gracious hand. Memory Exercise_Shorter Catechism 52.- Paraphrase xiii. 1, 2, 7, 8.

Subject to be ProvedThe Holy Spirit works unseen.

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Text for Non-Reading Classes. “ The earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.”—Mark iv. 28.

The Teacher's Quiber;

OR, ILLUSTRATIONS OF THE LESSONS. Lesson LI.Points for illustration:—The pulpit, the preacher, and the

parable—the sower, the seed, and the soil—the trodden, the stony, the thorny, and the good ground (100)—all hear; the many ways of losing, the one way of keeping bring forth fruit (101, 102.)

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