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Religion a Matter of Calculation.
win Christ. In all these cases there was a recompense sought, a calm and sober choice, a preference of the heavenly riches above the earthly mammon, and a readiness to pay the price, in the tribulations of a life of faith. One fact here deserves notice. They never repented their choice. Their living and dying testimony speaks their deep conviction of the value of the treasure secured, and the worthlessness of all they had forsaken to secure it. On the other hand, the careless sinner, who refuses thus soberly to calculate his destiny, has in thousands of instances, left his record of the folly of his choice, in preferring the baubles of earth to the crowns of heaven. Surely, thought I, as I ran over the subject, this question is settled. By the combined witness of God and man, is the result gained, that it is the part of true wisdom to seek first the kingdom of God.
While I thus reasoned with myself, the subject spread out before my mind, till I was lost in the contemplation. Nor can I present it to the minds of my readers, further than to suggest some of the questions of calculation the Bible proposes. I would you might take these home to your and work them out. Let the mind compute the numbers, let reason weigh the evidence, let conscience determine the result, and what answer would you arrive at in questions like these; “Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire ? who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?” “Can thine heart endure, or can thy hands be strong, in the day that I shall deal with thee?”—“How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation ?” In all these, and other questions of God, what a call for thought and judgment. Or art thou delaying repentance? Go and calculate the value of the present hour. Let me present the great thought once more in the most general terms, for I would have you see how religion is eminently a matter of calculation. What then is the question God proposes ? It is one of loss and gain. Lose the world and gain thy soul-or lose thy soul and gain the world. Bear the cross to win the crown-or lose the crown by shunning the cross. Reject Christ to pursue sin and gather its wages of death, or forsake sin and cleave to Christ, to enjoy the wages of everlasting life. Into these great questions, value, cost, and duration, the three elements of calculation, enter. Heaven is weighed against earth and hell for value-a life of holiness with all its trials against the unsatisfying pleasures of a life of sin for cost; and the moment of time against the boundless range of eternity for duration. And God calls on man to task his mind to consider the question, and determine the result. This is religion. A matter of deep thought, calm, sober reflection, in considering which the immortal mind will fill up eternity.
Remember, then, that religion invites, nay demands consideration. Unless I have succeeded in carrying this conviction to the minds of my readers, I have done nothing. Calm, sober reflection on these points, to which I have alluded, would make you tremble, if nothing more. For what is your life ? a vapor-even now vanishing away. What is dependent on that life? An eternity of happiness or wo. And yet how carelessly you let the vapor vanish, without thought, without prayer, without penitence, and pay no heed to the soul, committed to thy trust. Call you this prudence ? this calculation ? No, my fellow sinner, this is folly; this is reckless inconsideration. Thus saith the Lord, Consider your ways. I speak as to wise men, judge ye what I saySit down and calmly count the cost; put the mind on the calculation of the question proposed by the great teacher “What shall it profit a man, if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul?
E. F. C.
“ Let the warmth of your hearts, Sabbath school teachers, and the sunshine of your countenances fall on the young
blossoms about you, that the fruits of your labors of love may be abundant, and that you may not lose this recompense of reward.”
CONCLUDED FROM PAGE 64.
And then, the nobleness of our work, how loud its appeal to “try again.” Mere cultivation of the intellect and the accomplishments of good breeding and good manners, have reference only to this transitory life ; while we seek that cultivation of the heart which leads to happy alliance with God, and harmony with all his holy will, which gives human minds similitude to angelic, and fits them for the society of the purest, and happiest, and most exalted beings in the universe. We do seek accomplishments for our beloved young friends, but they are not the tinsel and the trappings that allure the eye of the external observer. We seek for the accomplishments that shall beautify their moral natures, and shall cause the eyes of God and all holy beings to contemplate them with pleasure. We seek that inward adorning of the heart, which, while it shall minister to all substantial beauty of external character, shall confer imperishable moral loveliness, and become a passport to the regions of external light and love. For grandeur of purpose and end, therefore, our design leaves in the dust all others. Could we make every child a temporal monarch, and lay kingdoms at his feet, it would be contemptible compared with making him a king and a priest uŋto God, that he may offer him incense in the eternal temple ! The nobleness of our enterprise, as it lists itself up in its moral grandeur, sends to us the animating appeal, “TRY
The kind aid proffered us from the most responsible quarter unites in the same appeal. Who ever undertook to lead a youthful spirit to love and honor its Maker, that did not, by that act, put itself into a position of acceptance with him ? Did God ever look on coldly and indifferently while a pastor, a parent, a Sabbath school teacher, faithfully sought to win for its Maker the warm affections of a young
mind ? 8
Can we separate from God the idea of his concurrence and aid in such a work? Do we not feel that we thtow ourselves into the current of his own infinite purposes, and into the same direction with the mighty stream of the emotions and desires of his infinite mind? Do not we and he agree, and is not our path the same, when we seek to recover the lost, and cause holiness to become the glory and beauty of the young around us ? Has he an attribute that is not on our side in such a work? And should not such a fact exhilarate our hearts, and stimulate the noble purpose to “ Try AGAIN!”
Yet another voice re-echoes that appeal. It is that of past success. Our enterprise a failure! What blessed testimony in heaven and on earth that it has been a triumph! Were all that our enterprise, under God, has sent home to glory, to send us their voices, whose heart would not melt at the music of so great a choir ! And the response to it, of souls on earth led to Christ by Sabbath school influences, how loud and how sweet! And, beside actual conversion, how much influence has there been for good in the softening, subduing, humanizing, restraining effect of the truth, impressed on millions of youthful minds! What evils from out-bursting guilt have thus been averted from the fireside, the neighborhood, the nation ! All the gracious influences which religious instruction of the young has thrown over them, unite in re-echoing the cry already heard from so many quarters, “TRY AGAIN!”
Yet one more voice is heard and is found in the fact, that if we yield and refuse to try again, we submit to the certain triumph of our great rival and spiritual enemy. To that fair field, the youthful mind of a new generation, Satan will hasten with all his artifice and power. There shall not remain one of them uncorrupted, if zeal and energy on his part can effect it. He will become the roaring lion or the angel of light, as shall best aid him in securing bis fiendish purposes.
The Teacher's Relation to his Country.
How many, how powerful, and how skilfully directed, the agencies he now has in operation for poisoning the tender plant at its earliest budding, so that the tree shall be hateful for its deformity, and yield only pestilence and death! Every spot neglected will be instantly occupied by the great antagonist of human holiness and happiness. If we do not try again, he will. Our retreat will be his triumph. Every youthful spirit we abandon, he will mould into his own likeness, inflame with his own destructive passions, make an agent in the wider sphere of pollution and ruin, and reward the servitude with everlasting sbame and suffering. Are we willing to yield the ground, with the certainty before us of so terrible an issue? Then we must “ TRY AGAIN!”
THE TEACHER'S RELATION TO HIS COUNTRY.
The Sabbath school teacher sustains a very important relation to his country at large. Whereas the spirit of insubordination, contempt of law and authority, disregard for all the bonds and benefits of society, is the ripening curse of the land, you are doing what in you lies to stem the torrent, and to stay the plague. If the habits of order and subordination which your children learn at school, make them dutiful to parents and comforts at home, they do, for this very reason, tend to make them obedient to governments, and blessings to society. If infidelity tends to brutalize, by destroying all respect, and courtesy, and mutual deference, the Christianity which you aid to teach, has this secondary, but most beneficial resul—it tends to civilize. Fearlessly may we appeal to experience, and ask, are the seditious or the disaffected, the revolutionist or the traitor, to be found in the ranks of those who retain the lessons which they have been taught in our schools; or, rather, amongst those who, if they ever came under such