« PreviousContinue »
It is hard to conceive a scheme wbich promises more benefit to the community. And wherever it has been tried, the expectation has been answered. Children have pressed to be admitted; when admitted, they have made due improvement; and, in some instances, have, ere long, commenced masters, and been found teaching other children at home what themselves had learned at school.
At first, it was imagined, that what was learned only on one day of the week, must needs be forgotten before that day came again. The objection seemed plausible, but the event has shown that it wanted solidity. Impressions made on one Sunday, have been found to remain on the following Sunday. We are not in general aware, how much may be done by a few hours in a week constantly employed on the same subject, especially where there is a willing mind.
Nor let us be discouraged though our endeavours may not succeed equally with all. What endeavours ever did so? What gift of God has not been bestowed on some person in vain? Rain falls on barren sandy deserts; but what would become of us, if none were therefore to fall on our fields and gardens? They must become deserts too. Nothing can be more trifling than this objection.
Another has been advanced in some of the public prints, though you will scarcely think it credible, namely, that they who teach the children are guilty of sabbath-breaking, because they work on that day for hire. Then the ministers of religion throughout the Christian world are verily guilty of sabbath-breaking, since they are paid for teaching. Were they
not so paid, and had they no other means of g their bread, they must all be starved.
Such are the objections which have been hitherto produced against the institution of SUNDAY SCHOOLS. If no better can be produced, it must be said, that, for all which appears, they are worthy of universal encouragement. To encourage them is to forward the great design of the Gospel, in a case which seems to admit no other method of doing it. It is done with ease; for one person can instruct many children : and it is done at an expense which is a mere trifle, compared with the expenses daily incurred in ways which afford no real comfort to the mind, on the recollection.
The institution solicits and implores, above all, the patronage and assistance of the clergy, under whose direction and superintendence, it should, if possible, be carried on. May we live to see the time when the laudable example now before our eyes shall be followed in every parish throughout the kingdom! Grateful surely must it be to angels as well as men, to behold those children behaving with reverence and devotion in the house of God, who might otherwise have been committing acts of violence or fraud without; to hear the praises of the world's Creator and Redeemer proceeding from mouths which might have been pouring forth' a' torrent of blasphemy or obscenity; to find a love of their duty and of their business implanted in hearts, where a love of idleness and of mischief might bave taken up its abode for ever. He who does not rejoice at the prospect of such a change as this, will bave difficulty
in discovering, why the tidings of a Saviour's birth were declared by the angel, who, as at this season, announced them, to be tidings of joy. “Thou shalt “ call his name Jesus, for he shall save his people” —from what?--" from their sins.” To see child. ren, therefore, wandering in darkness, ignorant of God and of Christ, reprobate to every good work and every notion of good; and to continue idle spectators of such a scene, without making those exertions which it is in our power to make-this can never be right in any of us, clergy or laity; but must contribute much to the weight of that charge which shall one day be brought against us. On the contrary, to succour those who are thus distressed for want of spiritual aid ; to preserve little children in a state of innocence, or reclaim them from one of error and vice, by leading them in the ways of truth and holiness; “These,” says one, who has spent his life in the service of mankind, readily and zealously giving his countenance and assistance to every scheme of piety and charity that in a long course of years has been set afoot among us, and to whom many of them owe their original _" These are imperial works, and “ worthy the immediate disciples of our Lord;" to whom, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, three Persons and one God, be ascribed, as is most due, all blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, might, majesty, and dominion, now and ever. Amen.
Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you · of the common salvation, it was needful for me
to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.
It has been a doubt among expositors, whether by the terms “ common salvation,” and “ the faith “ once delivered to the saints,” the apostle intended different things, or the same thing differently expressed. The latter seems most probable. “The “ faith once delivered to the saints" seems necessarily to involve in it “ the common salvation.” But, as this is a matter of no great consequence, it shall not detain us from the consideration of that which certainly is such, the duty here so evidently enjoined of " contending for the faith.” To take in the whole subject, and discuss it as fully as the time usually allowed to an exercise of this kind will permit, it may be expedient to bestow some reflections on the OBJECT to be contended for, the NECESSITY
of contending for it, and the manner in which the contention should be carried on.
1. The object to be contended for is, “the faith " once delivered.” A question is at present warmly agitated amongst us—What that faith is? A question somewhat extraordinary at this time of day; but certainly no triling one; since either our opponents are guilty of degrading and dishonouring the Son of God and the Holy Spirit; or the Christian church has been guilty of idolatry from the very days of the apostles. This faith, as we say, is that system of truths revealed in the holy Scriptures concerning the dispensations of the God whom we adore, and into whose name we are baptized; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; three Persons in one God. These truths are proposed to us as the ground of our hope, our comfort, and our joy; as the principles on which the conduct of life is to be framed, accepted, and rewarded. We receive the revelation which contains the truths, upon that plenary and satisfactory evidence vouchsafed us of its authenticity; and we receive the truths which it contains, on the authority of the Revealer. There can be no better reason for receiving them, when that revealer is God. Ignorance and malice have sometimes pronounced faith to be want of sense; but surely, there is as little sense in withholding assent when it ought to be given, as in giving it when it ought to be withholden,
The different articles of our belief, dispersed in the Scriptures, were very early collected in summaries, styled Creeds, recited at baptism, and con