« AnteriorContinuar »
Unknown, and yet well known."—2 Cor. vi. 9.
JESUS said of His disciples, "The world knoweth them not," and surely it is one of the first discoveries of a spiritually enlightened soul, that the world is out of sympathy with it, cannot understand, and cares not to examine its new aspirations and experiences. Every true Christian must often feel himself, not only a "pilgrim," but a "stranger" on the earth.
Apart, however, from this strictly religious aspect of the case, and speaking comparatively, it must be true of the majority of persons, that they are "unknown" beyond the immediate circle of their family and friends. We who meet in these thoughts now, may doubtless class ourselves among the "men of low estate," of whom the multitude around know nothing, and for whose welfare the world takes no thought.
Perhaps sometimes our pride is wounded by this reflection, and we are fain to crave more notice. Or may be, our life-burdens, pressing heavily, wring from us a cry for more of that blessed human sympathy which goes so far to relieve their weight. Or, perhaps, we long for some noble band of kindred spirits to help our hymn of joy,
"That to God's treasury might be coming in
Both all our praise, and more."
Full often, for lack of these, we go to our closet (which, but for One Presence there, would be so lonely), feeling sadly and sorely that we are in the world "unknown."
But this is only one aspect of our circumstances as Christians, and we need not stay looking upon it until we forget that there is a bright reverse. For though "unknown, yet well known,” says the Apostle.
How "well known" are we to God! Our names are uttered lovingly in heaven; angels receive commission to wait upon us; the Great Intercessor makes special mention of us before the throne, while He who sits thereon answers, "I know them by name, and they have found grace in my sight."
Our circumstances are "well-known," every variation of prosperity or trial is matter of interest there.
Our tears are never shed in secret, for the witnesses whose close observation is prompted by compassion all Christ-like, count them as they fall, and "go and tell Jesus."
Our smiles of hope and joy are likewise watched for, and reflected on the lovelit countenances of our angels."
And our voices are "well known," whether they rise in prayer or song, our Father recognizes the tones which, though faint and feeble, never pass His ear unheeded.
Ah, never let us be concerned if in a world of equals we live and strangers," while we are thus "well-known" in Heaven
die as itself!
PHILOSOPHY OF QUESTIONING CHILDREN.
A good, searching examination of children is by no means that very easy thing which people commonly think. . . . The desirable point is to insinuate your information into their minds, so that by indirect and tortuous entrance it may be caught and entangled with what is already there, and not slip out again as it would through a direct passage. . . . Begin with a simple question readily admitting of an answer; on that answer build another question, and on the answer to this another question; and so on, until you bring the child to the answer, which is the conclusion required. In going through such a course the child feels not only a curiosity as to what will come next, and so keeps his attention awake, but also a lively interest from the experience of his own in working power, and he regards the conclusion with something of that partiality which a mother entertains for her offspring. No wonder that he should firmly retain such information to the inculcating of which have been brought to bear three of the most powerful principles of his nature, curiosity, consciousness of power, and regard for his own.
The main point is so to shape and order our questions as never to be reduced to tell them anything on the way, and that the last answer should give the conclusion full and convincing. This evidently requires much patient practice on the part of the teacher, and some acquirements also. He must have gauged the capacity of the minds of the children, obtained an insight into their working, so that he may know where and how to press with his questions. He must have an intimate acquaintance with Scripture, be possessed of a good stock of clear vernacular language, be distinct in his conceptions, and be furnished with the means of apt and familiar illustration. And he must have a quickness of apprehension, to catch all for which the text gives him a handle, and to turn to account, on the way, the answers of the children, so that they may go on steadily in the proposed direction.
SUNDAY SCHOOL RECOLLECTIONS.
AN EARNEST TEACHER.
FEW can so highly appreciate the character and work of the teacher as those who have been largely benefited by the efforts of some loving and earnest worker in the Sunday school. Those who have thus striven with self-denying purpose for our spiritual advantage, have a first and foremost place in our affections. We have love and admiration for those who first led our steps into some path of knowledge which has since been to us a mine of hidden treasure, rich in profit and delight. We remember, with gratitude, their patience over our many failings and shortcomings, and their longcontinued efforts before they could help us to attain any proficiency. But we retain still greater affection and reverence for those who first ministered to us successfully in divine things; those who removed from us the objections we had to entertain religious subjects; those who, with more than ordinary care and diligence, impressed our minds with truths of heavenly wisdom, and who, by the charm and loveliness of their characters, made us to see the beauty and dignity of a holy life. For these, our hearts are moved with profound emotion; we bless their labours, we magnify their office, and we joy in their works of faith and labours of love, the more because they did them so noiselessly and disinterestedly.
We owe to such no ordinary respect and veneration. They have imparted to us knowledge without which our life, with its fierce struggles and mighty temptations, would have been a wreck; without which, life, with its strange adventures, its blighted hopes, its weary waitings, would be a still greater mystery; without which we should have to mourn the parting of friends with unmingled sorrow, and stand beside the graves of our dead without hope; without which, with all our earnest longings, our enquiring dispositions, our sensibility of feeling, how could we live!
Few have spent many years in a Sunday school without knowing those whose memory will ever be fragrant because of their devotion to their work and the wealth of their labours. There are those who have at once impressed us favourably by the earnest manner in which they have fulfilled their duty, and the unity of purpose they have manifested in seeking the salvation of their scholars; those who realized the greatness of their work, who watched, and waited, and prayed, and looked believingly for the blessing.
Such was the character of one who, some years ago, taught with
great success in our school, and whose influence will be long felt for good, though he has passed away. From his first introduction to our class, he gained the respect and attention of nearly all by the unmistakable interest he evinced for our religious welfare. In that eye, which scanned each of us so closely and so lovingly, there were depth and meaning; while the earnest tone of his voice told us that his whole thoughts and noblest energies were engaged for our profit. He seemed to have a lively realization of the fact, that in a very little time his scholars would be beyond the reach of Sunday school influence; and the hearty and genuine welcome with which he ever greeted us, indicated his eager desire to make us possessors of the blessing he had himself felt and tasted. Seldom was he interrupted in teaching, for, before we commenced our Scripture reading, it was his custom to offer a short, fervent prayer, for a blessing on the lesson about to be taught; and even the most thoughtless did not then care to spoil the behaviour of the class. His teaching shewed us how carefully and conscientiously he had prepared for his work; he seemed to throw new light on every passage, and to make those lasting impressions which can alone result from a diligent effort to make the subjects well understood, and to make them attractive and suitable to the youthful mind.
The Parables of our Saviour, and the Sermon on the Mount, were especially the favourite portions of Scripture in which he delighted to instruct us. To those who have had the advantage of listening to a variety of instructors, it is interesting to note the individual characteristics of taste and feeling shown in the selections of Scripture which they severally endeavoured to teach. We can remember how that one interested us chiefly with the wondrous narrative of Old Testament history; how that another has led us with sympathetic spirit through the journeyings and difficulties of the Apostle Paul; how that some have opened to us the interpretation of the Parables, and others revealed to us the glory and majesty which surround the life and death of our Saviour. With our teacher, the Parables seemed especially suitable to have an influence on youth; and so thoroughly did he enter into them that there was a beauty and freshness in his exposition that arrested the attention of the most careless. But he was not satisfied with the ordinary time for giving instruction and advice, though his regular and punctual attendance might seem to excuse him from other engagements. On the Sunday evening, or during the week, he invited us to meet him, that he might have renewed opportunity of impressing us with the importance of the truths he had to communicate. Teachers cannot too highly estimate the advantage of these
extraordinary efforts to gain the sympathies of the scholars, and to train them for good; they have a beneficial tendency far superior to those made in the regular routine of school duty.
Soon the result of his labours became apparent; one of the elder scholars of our class, who had hitherto been careless and refractory, became seriously disposed. Gradually a marked change had taken place in him; from being one of the most inattentive and disobedient, he had become attentive, obedient, and eager to improve. So strange and beautiful, also, was the change in his life and character that his companions could not but wonder. He had always been a favourite amongst us,—his lively disposition, and his intense love of action; in the week, he was always at the head of all boyish sports and youthful enterprise, so that he had gained the admiration and affection of all his school-fellows. Time passed on, and the change proved to be neither slight nor evanescent; the first blade of promise grew and prospered, and bade fair to develop into a noble and devoted Christian character. He was still the chief actor amongst
his companions, and the centre of attraction for them; for, while he retained his former vivacity and love of enterprise, he had lost much of his passionate and resentful disposition; and when, sometimes, his quick eye glanced revenge, as of old, his angry feelings were speedily repressed. The example which he lived before us was worthy and commendable, and had an influence for good which was strongly felt by all. It was the beginning of good things amongst us,-the dawn of brighter days; one by one became impressed with the importance of divine things, until nearly the whole class were brought to the knowledge of the truth, and teacher and scholar had to rejoice together over the blessing of God in their midst. But the labours of him who had been chiefly instrumental in bringing about the change were not long to be continued. Having beheld the firstfruits of his earnest efforts and prayers, he had to leave it to others to carry on his work, for the Master had called him to his rest and his reward. But his holy influence did not die with him; his name will long be remembered for his earnest and faithful labours and selfsacrificing spirit. Other teachers remind themselves of his success, and feel encouraged in their work. And now, from far and near, go up, ever and anon, thanksgiving for the life he lived, and the holy deeds he wrought; and praise to Him, who, having first bought him with a price, led him to employ his noblest powers and energies for the good of others.
C. R. D.