« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
external, intrinsic, and experimental, evidences of Christianity,---exegesis, generalization,—the cavils and objections of infidelity,--the serious, though easily surmountable, difficulties, together with the presumptive arguments arising out of those difficulties, in genealogy and chronology,—all may be laid open to a higher culture of the juvenile mind.
It is, therefore, another idea which the Sabbath School awakens among the churches in the northern part of our island, and of the Transatlantic shores. They would not abrogate this institution, but the model-thought, the archetype, is far more exalted than
Pastors, deacons, the most gifted, the most zealous, take their part. It is an intellectual labour which none think unworthy of them. The plan is not only interrogatory and suggestive. While it awakens a sense of mental power and activity, it puts in requisition both the knowledge of the instructor, and his aptitude of conveying it. He may not slumber. He cannot idle. The religious encyclopædia must he explore and teach. And is not this the highest style of Christian, and Christian minister, that he shall be mighty in the Scriptures? Why have we mourned in our day over such revolting defections from principle ?. Why is the rule of judgment and obedience even now so little settled ? Why the present contests of opinion? Why reasonings the most forced and inconsequential ? The Bible is neglected. The Bible is displaced. It must be restored to its supremacy. It
must be allowed its incontrovertible authority. It must be enthroned in its all-sufficient independence. Aid not this oracle by incantation. Help not this sun by satellite. Support not this heaven by axis. But what shall give the Holy Volume this rightful vindication ? Does not every influence of human systems work in an adverse direction? Is it not a tendency of our fallen nature always to seek the satisfaction of itself with the inferior and unworthy imitation ? For the fountain of living waters," do we not substitute the vain likeness of a “broken cistern?” Instead of a full day-light, do we not "compass ourselves about with sparks ?” So have we disparaged the Word. All the plagues of schism and heresy, of error and infidelity, have come upon us for this sin. We “hold fast deceit, we refuse to return." There is, nevertheless, a power in action, which shall, we believe, "restore all things." It is that educatory regimen of which Scripture is the rule and end. Bible knowledge is the knowledge which we are most desirous may increase. Bible truth is the truth whose promotion we principally implore. This alone can save. We see in it, also, the only spirit of an enlightened philosophy, and the only basis of a sound legislation. It is the catholicon for all political, as well as moral, ills. There is no lever to upheave the sunken nations but this. The Sabbath School system may well then be our boast. Like some great principle of nature, incredibly simple and certain, it is only so much the more sublime, that it serves
where all else fails, and achieves that of which every thing beside despairs.
They who “call the Sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, and honourable,”—who say not "what a weariness it is," -- who deprecate every abridgment of its moments and every relaxation of its decencies, – will hold to a system which is its truest acknowledgment and best defence. A child so educated will not be easily induced to profane it. Instead of secularising it, the school, which takes its name, causes it to be remembered and hallowed. If this country be ever doomed to fall into the vortex of that desecration which marks the Continental Sabbath,--and there are conspicuous leanings to the doctrine which would abet it, as well as palpable conformities to the practice which would acclimate it, the instruction which it identifies and blesses must first be overthrown. Then, indeed, its worship may be speedily forsaken, and its sanctity, be profaned. That sign between heaven and earth may be blotted out. Its deep-fixed reverence in the public mind will be laughed to scorn. A whole Sabbath, the only possible Sabbath, the Sabbath of both Covenants, will be repealed. Antichrist may then hold its revel! Tractarianism will have gained its passion! The Sabbath of Laud and Butler will burst in all its irreligion and dissipation over our land! Then for the Morris-dance on the common and the Polka in the hall ! Ye who shudder at the thought of such a wreck, stand forth the uncompromising assertors and
guardians of this best Discipline of our Nation's Youth and Country's Posterity!
It cannot be doubted, that the spirit, peculiar to this institute, has produced the most beneficent effects. If its inevitable reaction were only to be viewed, there is no result of a present kind more to be desired. The nobility of the land have been seen occupied in the instruction of the children of their poorer neighbours : merchants have gathered round them the offspring of their artizans and workmen. Was it possible that no conciliatory influence should thus be borne to the mind of tenants and servants? Was not the distance of the parties for a little while reduced and shaded down for mutual good will ? Did not affability and condescension banish discontent and surly malignity? Would not both parties profit in these passages of confidence ? Must not station and rank lose their haughty bearing ? Must not poverty and depression reject their wrongful suspicion ? While the nation has been divided into so many factions and convulsed with so many dissensions, it is no small good, that the rising generation have been placed under a system which gives the most obvious contradiction to the brawl of the demagogue, the insinuation of the sceptic, and the scorn of the churl.
And this influence has a two-fold direction. The manners of the uneducated parent are softened as he discerns the gentle bearing of his offspring. He feels that the new-awakened sense of truth and right, now
set before him, constrains him to caution and selfrestraint. A child's rebuke is a smiting thing. He cherishes a deeper interest and hope in his family, and if he speak foolishly of their attainments and their prospects, it is an ambition we have little heart to check. His happiness is now within his household. He provides for it and tends it. It is his charmed circle. It is his garnered store. He rises in the scale of humanity. He is from the moment of his first desire for the true welfare of his children, a useful citizen. He is another man. The State has in him à support; unseen, but important, as the foundation's most hidden stone. His influence is carried onward to an extent that omniscience only can define. From that purified fountain of domestic order and intelligence, a downward river, still purer than its source, goes to far distant times and generations. The parental covenant shall assume a higher sacredness. All the domestic charities shall bloom into richer beauty. Each nation shall be a family, and each land shall be a home. And thus some humble individual
become an honoured founder, he may “become a great and mighty nation,” giving laws to them and ruling them from his urn. The light may be thrown upon the remotest period, and be reflected from an unborn state! “One generation shall tell Thy works to another, and shall declare thy mighty acts !"
It is, doubtless, an inferior view of Revelation, but one not unworthy, one not inapposite, - that it