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NOTES ON THE GOSPELS, Critical and Explanatory. By Melancthon W. Jacobus, Professor of Biblical Literature in the Western Theological Seminary, Alleghany City, Pennsylvania. MATTHEW. Edinburgh: William Oliphant & Co. London: Hamilton & Co. 1862.
THAT the stamp of public approval has been set upon the work before us, is evinced by the fact that it is reprinted from the thirty-third American edition. We can cordially endorse the opinion thus practically expressed; the notes are terse, plain, suggestive, and convey within a limited compass the results of extensive learning and research. In addition to illustrations and explanations of the text drawn from Eastern life and the lands of the the Bible, the practical and doctrinal portions are really valuable and instructive. The usefulness of the commentary is greatly enhanced by a harmony of the Gospels which is added, and which, being interwoven with the text, is made of especial value by being placed where it applies, and bringing to view the additional records of the other three Evangelists in the act of examining one.
To teachers and superintendents it will be exceedingly useful in facilitating their study of the Word of God, and their preparation for the work of the Sunday school.
LABOUR AMONG THE NAVVIES. By Thomas Sayers.
MR. SAYERS appears to have been a very devoted labourer among the navvies; and, judging from the manner in which he discharges his duties, most admirably adapted for the work. This sphere of labour was the Lum valley, in the county of Westmoreland. Some interesting details are given of the social habits and kindly sympathies of the navvies, as manifested towards each other when in distress. Conversations with them are recorded; and every Christian employed in endeavouring to bring religious truth home to the conscience, will admire the shrewdness and yet faithfulness and solemnity with which this missionary takes the weapon, as it were, out of the hand of his opponent and uses it against him. Many useful lessons are drawn from these narratives, especially intended for the unconverted, and the false hopes to which many cling are fully exposed. We believe this to be a book calculated to be very useful.
PEARLS OF THOUGHT STRUNG in Rhyme; or, Hymns and Songs in small words. By Miss Sedgwick. London: Wertheim, Macintosh, & Hunt. pp. 30. We are not advocates of the attempt to fill thirty pages either of rhyme or prose with monosyllables. The restraint put upon the writer is so evident, as to produce a painful feeling in the reader. In this case certainly the result is not successful, and there are many poetical collections we should put into the hands of children in preference to this.
To the Officers and Teachers of Sunday Schools.
badly done, the lad was dispirited, and injured in mind and body. If we go to the spiritual teaching desired by these displays, we shall find little or no result. What lad has ever been converted by
them, or who has been led to Christ by the recital of some tale, or hymn, or anything usually introduced on these occasions? From beginning to end; yes, from the time the preparation com
BRETHREN,-In my last I ventured to call your attention to the evil attending Excursion trips, believing that it far exceeds any good which may result therefrom. In this paper my object is to speak of anniversary services, and, if possible, contribute something towards the discontinuance of what ap-mences, to the end of the anniversary, pears to many to be very objectionable : forming another link in the chain of hindrance to the extension of good, by clogging the wheels of the chariots of peace. An anniversary is always an interesting occasion, and when properly conducted beneficial; but when it partakes of the exhibition, many think its usefulness is more than counteracted, and how can it be otherwise in the present state of the human mind, seeing love of show and dress makes up a great part of our being in an unregenerated state?
The parts I object to are, placing the children in front of the congregation, and recitations. In the former, you may observe any fantastic dress and position. Often white caps are ordered to be worn; so that what with white caps, short-sleeve dresses, necklaces, and crinoline, the Sunday school presents a sight worthy of some ludicrous performance, more than a congregation of children training for heaven. In the large town of B
the whole is one system of emulation and contention, with a total disregard by the children of religion. Nothing being thought of but the eventful day when, with gaudy dresses, and voices tuned, they have to appear before the congregation.
Surely it is high time to alter this state of things. I am bound to respect the opinion of many excellent men who advocate those yearly demonstrations. At the same time, with my forty years' experience in Sunday schools, having visited most of the principal schools throughout England, and having been for many years interested in Ragged schools, and Refuge homes, I must differ from them, at the same time hoping that the difference of opinion may not alter friendship. But, if there is a question on this matter, why do we not at once abandon it? No doubt when such displays were introduced, there was great objection to these institutions, though nothing will qualify an evil; but now opinion is very much reversed, for, from the noble to the peasant, all are with us in influence and
at one of the most respectable chapels, I witnessed this only a few months since, and it is still a common prac-money; and that little despised school at tice throughout England. Then come Gloucester, has, by God's blessing, grown the recitations, which are at best so into one of the greatest and most gloridevoid of elocution, in most cases, as to ous institutions of our highly favoured become a burlesque. For my own part, land. I have never derived any benefit from Now, there is still an idea in the minds it, nor did any of my school-fellows. If of many, that to do away with these well said, pride was engendered; and if manifestations, is to have smaller collec
to state positively; but there is no doubt, that these two subjects, and these two alone, constitute the work of the Sunday school. We may talk of systems, of classes, of maps, of excursion trips, and I know not what else, but the great end we seek is not answered, until the souls of the children are purified by the blood of Christ, and they become accre
tions, but it is a fallacy. People begin to allot money, and the subscriptions are proofs of the deep-seated benevolence in the hearts of each congregation, showing us clearly that the preacher has only to present a legitimate object, and the aid requested is forthcoming. One thing is certain, Christ has promised to be with us, and all things needful shall be given out of his fulness. Sammy Hicks al-dited members of an evangelical church. ways said, that everything belonged to his Lord, and that he had only to go and ask him in a proper manner, and the answer came.
The Rev. R. Hall, in speaking of similar meetings, said, "We want more prayer and less show, my brother; that is our success." We endorse it, and would write it on our hearts, so that He who said, "Feed my lambs," should see our tears and hear our groanings, for their eternal welfare. Brethren, let us seriously consider this question with an unprejudiced mind. He who cannot reason is a fool, he who does not reason is a coward; but he who can and will reason, is a man. Such I trust are all Sunday school teachers. Consider the consequence of one wrong step, and don't let us for one moment continue an error because our fathers did so. Who can tell how much good has been lost by those unnecessary appendages, or how much has been prevented, to say nothing of direct evil, which probably does arise from them?
It is high time for us to awake, seeing that the children are in danger of being carried away down the stream of infidelity and immorality. Twelve millions of infidel publications, issued every year, must do something towards contaminating the youth; and this is not all. The present age is one in which the human mind, in its most wretched form, manifests itself. No doubt we are doing a great work, but how much more we should do, were we to adhere simply to informing the mind upon the lost condition of man, and upon the glorious redemption by Christ, I should not like
Why have we
The result unfortunately falls very short of what ought to be effected by the mighty agency at work, having the blessed influence of God's Holy Spirit, which he has promised to give his followers. not early conversions by thousands, as well as ones? Surely there is some evil in our midst. We let our scholars slip through our hands by some ill-timed means, and unfortunate circumstance, at the age when the church is opening her arms to receive them, and then, forsooth, we often think lightly of our ministers, if they are not successful in rescuing those whom we have by our errors let slip through our hands.
CATECHISMS AND SCRIPTURE. SIR. In these days of controversy and unbelief, Sunday school teachers have no trifling duty to perform. If our youth are to be champions in " tending for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints," their hearts must be disciplined now; the armour must be put on now, and "the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God," must be grasped and unsheathed in the prime of youth.
It is true, there are many of whom we have to complain in the language of the Apostle, "when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again, which be the first principles of the oracles of God, and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat." But this is not always the fault of the learner, sometimes the teacher may share the blame.
The law of adaptation should be observed | but cold in expression, the other simple in teaching. Milk for babes, "but in form, but marvellous in power. One strong meat belongeth to them that are addresses the intellect, the other touches of full age." In the Sunday school this the heart. One is theoretical, the other rule is often broken, and the manner of is practical! It is the scriptural and the teaching is not always adapted to practical that we must continually pre"nourish up in the words of faith and sent and enforce; doctrine must be picof good doctrine"-somewhere there is tured in example, and truth must be sad defect, and hence many are not written in life. The affections must be acquainted from childhood with "the kindled, the heart must be drawn out in Holy Scriptures, which are able to make love; truth must be taken out of a dry, them wise unto salvation through faith technical, and scholastic form, and which is in Christ Jesus." coupled with fact and life, and daily business. The scripture must be the creed; the heart and the head must be linked together by that "form of sound words" which speaks in power, and reveals itself in love.
The catechism is often used too early or used in a manner injudicious and unsuccessful. No person would teach French or English history from a mere outline. History must be known before it can be digested-when all the changes and vicissitudes of the nation, when all the deeds and dates are familiar to the mind, then a sketch is an admirable and convenient form, for combining and linking together in harmony the various individual details and facts. But to teach from a meagre outline, will give but narrow and prejudicial views of the noblest record of man's doings and God's providence. Catechisms are only outlines, compendiums "of those things which are most surely believed among us." These outlines must be filled up from the Bible, lest training should be defective, and growth stunted and dwarfish. Our youth must know from the word of God, and not from the words of man "the certainty of those things wherein they have been instructed." Against the present use, or rather abuse, of catechisms, we give one or two suggestions.
Catechisms and forms are mere abstractions in human language, and not lessons in a practical form. They are often beautiful and truthful, but too abstract and metaphysical, too logical and cold. Take the definition of a doctrine in any of our catechisms, and compare that with the scriptural expression of the same truth, how great the difference! One perfect in thought,
This mode of teaching by catechisms alone, is dangerous, and calculated to lead astray. This is a solemn charge to bring against any system of instruction. I am not insensible to the reponsibility I incur in uttering it, but “ we speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen." It puts theory before practice, and presents the form before the power. Of course knowledge is essential, but the scripture mode of teaching is experience first, and then knowledge after. Feeling before knowing, and knowing as the result of doing. "If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God." The blessings of the gospel are therefore within the reach of all, old and young, learned and illiterate, and are only obtained by faith, and known by experience. A vocabulary of words, forms of expression, and question, and answers, may be committed to memory, and even retained through life, without affecting the heart, and changing the character. This putting of the mere theory, before the practice, this teaching from the "form of godliness," and leaving out the powers, leaves the work undone, and permits the youth to grow up unacquainted with Christ, "whom to know is life eternal." Let me quote the authority of the great Dr. Arnold, speak
must be our text-book. Catechisms are of use to define and preserve our faith, but must never be regarded as the chief or the only instruments of religious training; use them if you like, but never put them before that blessed book by which God has trained his church, and blessed the world for ages. In the Bible we find precept and promise, doctrine and example, combined in harmony, and reflected in life. Samuel and David, and Timothy and Jesus, stand out in word and deed as examples, at home and in life, for youth and every "To the law and to the testimony" we must appeal, O teachers! Systems of men will change and pass away, but "the word of the Lord abideth for ever." Human philosophy is in
ing of the use of the 39 Articles in the Universities, he said: “I believe that the religious instruction of every individual undergraduate, would be far purer and more effectual than it is now, if the thirty-nine Articles were never presented to them as a subject of study; but the scriptures were made the only text-book in what are called divinity lectures, whilst the catechism furnished the outline for any more private and personal instruction that was given to individuals. There can be no more fatal error, certainly none more entirely at variance with the Scripture model, than to acquaint the age. mind with the truths of religion in a then, theoretical form, leaving the application of them to be made afterwards. On the contrary, the practical form is not only that in which they should be first com- competent to satisfy the heart and direct municated, but in many instances they should never be put into the abstract form at all, and if they are so put, they become misleading.
to God, but the Bible is a record of necessary and saving truth, with God for its author, and salvation for its end. Believe it yourself, and withhold it not from others, lest the curse resounds from the leaves of that holy book loud as the ocean's roar, "Wo unto you Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for
"I am led to think that this distinction between the putting of the doctrines of Christianity in the shape of abstract truths, and conveying them as lessons, is of no small importance, because I observe that the scripture constantly ye neither go in yourselves, neither adopts the latter mode, while the great suffer ye them that are entering to go disputes amongst Christians have mani- in." festly arisen out of the prevalence of the former.
"If the scripture itself be our textbook, we find all this given in its proper proportions; but on the present system it is perfectly possible for a man to study carefully what we call christian doctrines, and yet to have a most inadequate notion of christian doctrine in the scriptural sense of the term, the doctrine of christian feelings, and christian principles and practices."
The weight of these words will apologise for the length of the quotation. A good sound scriptural education is most essentially necessary in the present day. Sunday school teachers must feel their responsibility, and be alive to their duty. The Bible, and the Bible only,
SIR,-This is the custom of our Ragged schools. Why is it not so with Sunday schools generally? If instead of giving our "British Arabs" short addresses and then dismissing them, we request them to go with us to our Places of Worship, to sit for an hour and a half, or more, at each service, the greater part of which is quite beyond their comprehension, how many of these lads will be likely to attend our schools? We might come at once to the conclusion, that Ragged schools would soon be a total failure. Why should we then require so much more from our Sunday school children? We