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Our sorrow may be consequently superficial, our prayers feeble, our efforts to attain revival neither scriptural in character, nor in spirit; simple, earnest, and persevering. It may be that confessions of “lukewarmness," "spiritual deadness," and the like, have become so general that we associate with them, no other than such vague, and indefi. nite ideas, as can serve but very feebly to affect our hearts. It is possible that prayer for revival has degenerated into something like a habit which we indulge rather as a thing of course, than of necessity; and become an exercise in which we cannot help engaging, though we know not why. If this really be the case, it is no marvel that the evil still continues to prevail, and that so far from being mitigated, it is on the contrary confirmed. Heartless, such confessions cannot quicken us, nor can they be acceptable to God :feeble-zuch prayers cannot benefit ourselves or reach the Majesty of the eternal throne! No wonder therefore, that we "mourn," but are not "comforted;" “sorrow," but are not" rejoiced ;" "cry,'' but are not answered. “Luke warm" we continue, revival always acknowledged to be needful, is not often realized, and constantly prayed for, is but seldom indeed attained.
Impressed with thoughts like these, it is proposed, briefly to direct the attention of our readers, to the general subject of revival, its necessity, its nature, and its means. May the Holy Spirit so indite our thoughts, and prepare the minds of our readers for their consideration, that under its blessing, the result may be a realizing on the part of many a " time of refreshing from the presence of the Lord."
THE INSTRUMENTALITY, AS RELATED TO THE
DESIGN OF SUNDAY-SCHOOLS.
- HAVING in a former paper considered the conversion of the soul as the Design of Sunday-schools, it will be our object in the present, in accordance with our proposed plan, to consider the Instrumentality which Sabbath-schools employ to effect their Design.
It is a matter of great moment, as well as a mark of great wisdom, in every undertaking, to suit the means to the end. Let us first fix our design, and then let us use a right instru. mentality, and use it in a right manner, for the accomplishment of the design. The importance of this is seen in a thousand instances, and might be illustrated by a thousand examples. Let us take one, that of an astronomer. He is desirous of making his pupils acquainted with some one of the heavenly bodies, to which they have hitherto been entire strangers. They are unable to discern it with the naked eye, and he must therefore bring something to his aid, seek other means, employ additional instrumentality. What does he do? He obtains a glass ;-but not a microscope, such an instrument would not be suitable; he wants his pupils to see something that is distant in the heavens; a microscrope is intended to assist in viewing what is near-on the earth. He obtains a telescope; this is suited to his purpose, it is intended to assist in viewing what is distant. So far then, he is right. But this is not all, he does not stop here. When he has procured the telescope, it has to be used, and he is careful how he uses it. He does not put the wrong end to his pupil's eye, (for a right thing may have a wrong end,) but he puts the right, that which brings the object seen through it nearer, and makes it appear larger, not than it really is, but than it would be if did not so apply it. Thus he uses the right instrument, and he uses it in the right manner. But suppose, when he had proceeded thus far, he discovers that his pupils are all laboring under some defect of vision, and that in consequence of such defect they are still unable to perceive what he is endeavouring to show them. Here is another and a new difficulty to overcome, greater than that which he has already conquered. He is moreover, altogether unable to remedy this evil. What does he do? Does he not go to some one who can remedy it, if such person is to be found, and solicit his aid, endeavour to get his advice, and to enlist for himself and his pupils, his assistance ?-Certainly he does, and we may con. clude that he procures it, and that the consequence is the removal from his pupils of that defect of vision which had prevented a successful use of the telescope, and their possession of a power so to look through it, as to dis. cern, with wonder, gratitude, and joy, the object which had before been hidden from them.
Thus it is with Sabbath-schools and with Sabbath-school Teachers. Thus it is when they seek, by their instructions, to convert souls, to bring the children under their care, to behold Calvary, the cross, the Saviour, and beholding him to
be penitent, believing and happy. They must use a right instrumentality, and they must use it in a right manner. The only right, the only available instrumentality for the achievement of the object Sunday-school teachers have in view, is Bible truth-gospel principle. It is a knowledge of the Scriptures which brings it to our view, and it is a believing perception of Christ which saves the soul. The Bible is our spiritual telescope, and we may as well expect to see the most distant star in the heavens with the naked eye, without the aid of a glass, as to see Christ with the light of nature, mere secular learning and worldly information, without the Bible.
But Sunday-school teachers must not take hold of this spiritual telescope, and apply it to the eyes of their pupils' minds, at the wrong end. They must not prefer the Old
Testament, rich as it is in historic narrative and instructive biography, to the New; neither must they, taking the New Testament as their chief class book, dwell upon the abstruse and difficult portions of its contents, but the more simple, and these will not exclude the most important. The life, miracles, and parables of Christ, should be inuch read, which afford abundant opportunity for pointing to Christ, as John did, and saying with him, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” There should also be an effort to accommodate all that is said, to the capacities and tastes of those who are instructed. It is not at all intended, by the remark above made in reference to the reading of the Old Testament Scriptures, to disparage the practice, not even in Sabbath-schools, and amongst the youngest of the classes competent to read them. Both ends of the telescope, all parts of it are useful--necessary; but we must not put one end in the place of the other, or one part in the place of its neighbor. But when Sunday.school teachers have done all this, suited the means to the end, and used a right instrumentality in a right manner, they will find that the greatest difficulty has still to be overcome. The supposition of the astronomer's pupils suffering from defect of vision is no supposition here, it is only an illustration. The human heart-even the heart of a child, is so perverse through depravity and sin, that when Sunday-school teachers have done their best-their utmost, to instruct the young in the knowledge of Christ, they will find that something more is necessary, beyond their power to effect, in order to convert them, to lead them to look to Christ, and seeing him, to trust him as a Saviour. “ The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolislıness un
to him: neither can be know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” Sunday-school Teachers are as helpless here as the astronomer. The astronomer can solicit the aid of some professional man, and have the defect of his pupils' vision removed. Sunday-school teachers cannot do this; there is no human, no finite agency, competent to assist them. There is one being, and only one, who can assist them, that is God; but he is willing to do it; as willing, if they petition him, as the physician is to assist the astronomer, yea, more willing, inasmuch as he has given more and greater encou. ragements, and offers all his blessings for the asking. “ Ask, and ye shall receive.” What Sunday-school teachers need, to make their efforts successful, is the Holy Spirit, for this they should pray, for its influences they should ask, that the minds of their pupils might be enlightened, their hearts converted, and that through the instrumentality of the truths of the gospel they might see Jesus—and seeing him, be saved. Sunday-school teachers should also urge this important, this necessary duty of prayer, upon the children themselves. And though in one sense, the case of Sunday-school teachers is as helpless as that of the astronomer, it is in every other, more favorable and more encouraging. Sunday-school teachers, if they ask God's blessing aright and in faith, may entertain the hope, founded on his promise, that they shall obtain it, and if they obtain it, they may rest satisfied that the evil which is in the way of their instructions proving instrumental in the conversion of their pupils, will invariably and infallibly be removed.
ENCOURAGEMENT TO SUNDAY-SCHOOL
TEACHERS. WITH the hope of encouraging those who labor in the cause of Sabbath-schools, a short and simple narrative was published a few months since, bearing the following title:
The Power of Religion, exemplified in the Happy Life and Triumphant Death of Betsy Brewer.” To many it has been the means of administering comfort; while to one, at least, there is reason to hope, it has come with converting power. A teacher in the Sabbath-school at SM , writes as follows:
" It is with much pleasure I now employ a leisure hour in communicating to you particulars of the delightful change, hich has taken place in one of my precious charge.
About six weeks ago, from the awfully sudden death of a young woman, formerly in the school, I was led to speak very faithfully to my girls, on the uncertainty of life, and the importance of being prepared for death. I noticed that Maria B , was very attentive. Though she had never given me much trouble, my mind was pained to see what perfect indifference she had always manifested on the subject of religion, and how she courted the company of idle girls. She had been longer in my class than any other, and being sixteen years of age, I could not suppose she would be able to attend much more. The following Sabbath evening, I took the little book to read to them ; every now and then I stopped, to apply more closely the excellent advice, given in the letter to a sister. I perceived from Maria's countenance, that something particular was passing in her mind, at last not being able to repress her feelings, she burst into a flood of tears. Such a sight was, indeed, unlookedfor ; I felt deeply myself, for two others, who are pious, could not refrain from shedding tears of joy.
The school soon broke up: when Maria came to bid me good night. I said, “ My dear girl, you seem to feel differently this evening, to what you have before.” With a sob, which went to my very heart, she answered, “I do indeed, dear teacher, I do wish to become a child of God.” After a few words we parted, when I requested her to write me a few lines, as she is engaged all the week, so that I could not hope to have a private interview with her. Part of her note is thus expressed, “I thank God that he directed you to bring that little book, for I have been in the school a long time, but I never felt so much concern about my soul before. I pray that these convictions may not wear off; I never felt I was such a great sinner before; I hope I can say, that I hate every sin, and can give up all idle companions ; for I know they will delight in leading me into sin. I want to feel that I am building my hopes safe on that rock which is Christ.”
I have since seen her alone for half an hour, when she told me with a smile, she had “found Christ." I was satisfied from the little she said, that her feelings were of the right kind; she expressed deep contrition on account of sin, and thanked me very heartily for the advice I had given her. I heard she had joined two others, whom she used to shun, at a prayer meeting. I have thus given you a faithful and correct account; it is joyful news. Oh! pray that she may be kept from falling.