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1846.]

Public Exercises of the S. S.

273

THE GREAT CAUSE OF ALL DEFECTS IN SABBATH SCHOOLS.

The great cause of all the defects existing in Sabbath schools is, doubtless, the want of a due appreciation of the dignity and importance of the work in which they are engaged, and consequently an imperfect preparation for it on the part of teachers. The standard of qualifications for Sabbath school teaching is placed far too low, even by many true friends of this institution. The great requisites for a faithful discharge of its duties—a well disciplined mind, intelligence, a diligent study of the Scriptures, warm piety, active faith, and a love for the occupation-are possessed by but few Sabbath school teachers as they should be. The duties of the school are made to yield to personal convenience, and to other engagements, and are to be attended to as a secondary matter. * * * * Against such course we most earnestly protest, for while it is pursued, the Sabbath school will never take the place it should. * * * * The Sabbath school enterprise, in dignity, and importance, and capabilities for extensive usefulness, yields to no other; and until its friends claim that place for it which it should occupy, and strive to elevate its character and extend its usefulness, it will never succeed in gaining the confidence of the Christian community or the world, or in fulfilling all the expectations which they have formed in regard to it.

RESPONSIBILITY OF PARENTS.

God has given parents great power over their children. In the tenderest and most confiding moments of existence, parents can mould and shape their destinies. From the first hour of existence, children feel that influence. The food that is eaten—the exercise taken—the disposition, the temper of the parent, is to exert upon the future and eternal destiny of the child, a powerful, a never-ceasing influence. As great as the power is that parents possess, so great is their responsibility. He who says to them, " Take this child and nurse it for me, and I will pay thee thy wages,” will also say, "Give an account of thy stewardship."

Parents are without excuse, if they do not the will of God in relation to their children. Upon no subject has God spoken so frequently, so plainly. Promises, lasting as time, are offered to those who bring up their children in the fear of God; curses that touch the fourth generation and run over into eternity, are threatened to those who disregard God's commands in respect to the young. No parent can delegate this responsibility to another. No instruction can take the place of that which belongs to the parent. As you would not trust a stranger to mix and administer the medicine necessary to raise up your child from a bed of sickness, so you are not to trust a stranger to make the first, the most enduring impressions upon its immortal mind. Send your children to Sabbath school, but add, that most powerful of all, the instruction of home. Know not only that their lessons are learned, but know also what those lessons are. If in any degree erroneous, correct them; if right, confirm them. Juvenile depravity abounds—children, as of old, “go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies.” The harvest is ripe. Bad men are shouting it 1846.)

The Deacon's Fireside.

275

home. Our hope is in God, and in the power of home instruction. Parents must awake and act-learn God's will, and do it. They must train up their households in his fear, and guide by example, as well as by command. Parents need more principle in relation to their children; more religious dependence; more solemn prayer to God for wisdom and grace to guide them. Such consecration will be owned of God. In the last day, at the bar of God, faithful fathers and mothers will be able to say, “Behold us, and the children thou hast given us.'

M. H. S.

THE DEACON'S FIRESIDE,

NUMBER THREE.

It was Monday evening. Mr. Jones called at Deacon Oldschool's, to get the loan of certain articles for the following day. The Deacon was rather slow in giving an answer, as he wished to draw him into conversation on another subject. Instead of giving him his answer in full, and allowing him to depart, as it was evident he desired to do, he gave him an answer in part, and remarked, "We had a good sermon yesterday,-one that was adapted to rouse us to our duty.”

Mr. Jones. Well, I don't know but he had a little more life than usual. There was need enough of it.

Dea. O. It is certainly time that we were revived. Four communion seasons have now passed, and not one has been added to the church from the world.

Mr. J. Yes, it is pretty plain the church will run out, unless things take a different turn.

Dea. 0. The fact that none are added to the communion of the church, is not the only cause of grief. The state of the church itself,--of the individual members of it, is another cause. We are in a backslidden state. Our prayer meetings are but thinly attended, and so is the preparatory lecture, and monthly concert. Family prayer is, I fear, a good deal neglected, and the manner and bearing of

many of us is such as to render it difficult for men to determine who are professors of religion, and who are not.

Mr. J. They were talking about it over at the public house the other day; I heard some one say that he believed he should stay in, on some communion day, to find out who are church-members.

Dea. O. There is a sad state of things when such remarks are made, or when occasion is given for such remarks. We are verily guilty in this matter : I speak for myself, as well as for others.

Mr. J. I have never heard any complaint about you. I don't think you need to be concerned about it.

Dea. O. I need to be concerned about every thing that affects the cause of Christ-more so than any thing which affects my own character or interest, and I hope I am, generally. I am concerned that I have not done more to prevent the church from getting into its present state. I might have prayed more, and been more watchful over myself and my brethren.

Mr. J. I think you have done your duty. There are a good many who don't like to be exhorted too much, though they will bear more from you than any one else. The state of the church is not your fault.

Dea. 0. Each individual member is, indeed, responsible for the state of his soul; still we all owe duties to each other, which we may fail to perform. If my brother is in a backslidden state, he is to blame for it, and I also may be to blame for not having done more to keep him out of it.

Mr. J. It is pretty hard for a church to keep up to the mark, unless they have some one to lead them. If they have dull preaching, they will be dull Christians. The 1846.]

The Deacon's Fireside.

277

gospel is the great thing: if the gospel is not preached, or preached only in a dull way, the church must languish, and there is no help for it, as I know of.

Dea. O. We can't set too high an estimate on the preaching of the gospel, but the gospel is preached that we may believe and obey it. Our part, that of believing and obeying, is not to be thrown on the preacher. You would make the impression that you thought the church is not to blame for backsliding, if she has not the advantage of lively preaching. Now I think, that with the Bible in her hands, she would be to blame for backsliding, if she had no preaching at all.

Mr. J. You may be correct in theory, but I go by facts. I know that churches never do flourish under such preaching as we have.

Dea. 0. I can't agree with you. I can't think our present state, as a church, is owing to the preaching. I have wondered that our minister could preach with as much heart as he has all along, and we all asleep around him. The sermon last Sabbath was a very searching one. I felt it. I felt guilty under it. I felt as though I could not be a Christian, unless I had more feeling and did more for Christ.

Mr. J. I don't remember exactly about the sermon yesterday. I believe I did think he had waked up a little. He must wake up more yet, before he can rouse the people.

Dea. 0. Suppose every member of the church had spent a part of the morning, last Sabbath, in prayer for the minister and for himself, and had gone to meeting prepared to join in the devotional exercises earnestly, and then fixed his attention upon the sermon, and tried to see how much good he could get from it, and turned every sentence into a prayer, don't you think the effect of the sermon would have been much greater than it was?

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