We seldom hear of the execution or imprisonment of one who regarded in youth the Sabbath school. Indeed, I think it impossible for one who has been successfully taught to reverence and to love the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, to become an outcast from society. It is true, envy, with its envenomed tongue, and malice, with its still more poisonous breath, may assail even such a one; but their shafts will fall harmless at his feet. The shield of his soul they cannot pierce. They cannot eradicate from the heart the influence of the high and holy lessons which it received in youth. Its many sources of enjoyment they cannot destroy.
Pleasant and important, therefore, are the duties of teachers. The directing of tender affections, and the development of youthful powers, are intrusted to their hands. If they perform their duties faithfully, they may have the satisfaction of seeing the pupils of their charge useful among men, devoted to right, and obedient unto God. Such an office is lovely. It is more than lovely, it is holy. It blesses him who fills it. It exalts his affections, ennobles his purposes, and enlarges his heart.
Do we not see the fruit of this labor in our own school? In the kindness and love of the children for each other, in their faithfulness in the duties of the school, and in their respectful and affectionate bearing towards their teachers and all others, do we not recognize some of the fruits of Sabbath school culture? And may we not expect that such children will be beloved, honored, and useful among men?
Do we not also see some of the fruits of these influences in the fraternal regard of teachers for each other, in their devotion to their duties as teachers, and in their distinguishing virtues as Christians? Have we not, especially, seen the fruit of these influences in the enduring patience, calm hopefulness, and cheerful trust, of one of our number whom we have just followed to her resting-place? The Lord make us faithful, that our end may be like hers.
"O Memory! thou wak'ner of the dead! Thou only treasurer of vanished past! How welcome art thou, when bright hope is fled, And sorrow's mantle o'er the soul is cast! Back o'er those days too beautiful to last, Thy gentle hand will lead the saddened thought; And though the tears may trickle warm and fast, Yet thy sweet pictures with such peace are fraught, The heart, beguiled, exclaims, 'This is the fount I sought.'"
Memory! Who has not felt its influence! Who of us would wish to part with its delights and quiet teachings! Beautifully adapted is the twilight hour to the cherishing of the recollections of the past. It is then that the hum of busy life is hushed, and all nature seems resting from its toil. Then, in undisturbed peace, rise before us the loved ones we have cherished, and whose memories, like guardian angels, always attend us. We recall every affectionate word and kindly deed, however trivial or little heeded at the time. And how sweet then are our thoughts, and our recompense, if we have never caused them an unhappy moment! Half the bitterness of affliction is removed by such blessed memories. Then let us make them ours. Let us so live that it shall be possible for us to cherish them. Then will they bring to us many happy hours, and sweet solace to the suffering heart. Each moment, as it flits by, enters its record upon the tablet of memory, to be read with joy or sorrow at some future moment.
Then let each moment find some worthy deed to perform, or kind word to be spoken, that shall cause a glow of pleasure and satisfaction when memory recalls it. All memories are not alike pleasing; yet each may have its mission to perform. Past sin may bring pain with its recollection. It comes as a warning, lest we should transgress again. If, then, we would treasure up for ourselves pleasant memories for the future, we must guard well the present moment.
It is equally cheering to feel that we ourselves have a place in the memory of our friends. What a motive it should be to us, then, to live in such a manner that their memory of us may be as "the memory of the just," which the Scriptures declare to be "blessed."
The selfish man wrongs himself in attempting to wrong others. In filling his pockets unjustly with gold, he drives away joy from his soul. He forgets his relationship to angels, and only remembers his affinity to brutes.
Worldly trouble is the tonic of the soul. Affliction at once humbles us and gives us a relish for spiritual food. Those providences which teach us the insufficiency of earth, make us lean on heaven.
Revenge is the putting out of one's own eyes for the sake of putting out the eyes of another.
A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH.
In admiring the virtues and moral excellence of one who holds a high rank in society, who fills a distinguished place in the State, or occupies a responsible seat in the halls of science or in the church, we are liable to be swayed in our judgment. His social position is a kind of magnifying lens, through which all his virtues are viewed. But when a comparatively obscure individual from the humbler walks of life claims our attention, we are better able to estimate his virtues at their true value.
Such a one we meet with in the subject of this brief sketch. Miss Hannah S. Shedd was born in Boston, February 5, 1826. The death of her father, preceded as it was by the death of her mother, left her an orphan at the age of eight years. She was the second of three surviving children by their father's second marriage, all of whom were left in charge of a half sister, who was the eldest of five children by a former marriage, and who was all to them that a mother even could be.
One of the parents was an Episcopalian in sentiment, the other a Universalist. The elder children were attendants upon Universalist worship in the School street Church, while the younger attended one of the Baptist churches of the city. Hannah, the subject of our sketch, continued under the influence of Baptist doctrines and worship until about fifteen years of age, when at her own earnest solicitation she was permitted to attend the Universalist church, and become a member of the School street Universalist Sunday school.
The influence upon her feelings of the change in regard to a place of worship, was very marked. She was naturally inclined to religious meditation and reflection, but was never satisfied with what she had been accustomed to hear. Nor can she be regarded as singular, in this respect. However true it may be that Christianity is adapted in its simplicity to the susceptibilities of the young—and I believe this is eminently true—it is equally true, that the ordinary partialist interpretations of it are not thus adapted to their susceptibilities. The young are not satisfied with these. The clearer their perceptions, and the more comprehensive their thought, the greater is their dissatisfaction. It was so with Hannah, even when but a child.
But when the hungerings of her soul found their appropriate aliment in the ministrations of the venerable Hosea Ballou, then the sole pastor of the church to which she turned for peace, the change was in the highest degree salutary. Her satisfaction was very great. She also found great pleasure in accompanying her eldest sister to the Rev. Mr. Streeter's Friday evening meetings; and so highly did she prize these religious privileges, that she could scarcely submit to be deprived of them for a single evening or Sabbath without shedding tears.
Her natural amiability and generosity of disposition—a generosity especially marked in her demeanor towards her eldest sister, who had become a mother to her—made the Universalist interpretation of Christianity to be to her indeed the "bread of life." Not only did she seek for this spiritual nutriment in the regular ministrations of the sanctuary and in the conference meeting, but she turned also to the Sabbath school with the same fond devotion to Christian truth.
During the connection of the Rev. Mr. Soule with the School street Society, he established a Bible class, of which Miss Shedd became one of the earliest members. She has often spoken to the writer of this of the great profit she was conscious of having derived therefrom. She was also one of the earliest members of the class formed by the present junior pastor of the Society, Rev. Mr. Miner, and in the discharge of her duties in that capacity she showed uncommon clearness of perception, and not a little vigor of thought.
At the age of fourteen she left school and took up the needle that she might aid her sisters in gaining for the family an honorable maintenance. She has been known to ply the needle with all diligence till ten o'clock at night, and then turn to her Sunday school book to make preparation for the Sabbath. If this is an example of too severe application to toil, it shows at the same time a devotion to spiritual culture in the highest degree commendable.
Strict integrity and a strong sense of justice characterized her even in her childhood. A little circumstance bearing upon this point I will relate. She had been to an apothecary's shop for some medicines, and on reaching home found that she had received back more change than was due. Of her own accord she proposed to return it, nor would she willingly delay for a moment the performance of so manifest an act of justice. She received from the apothecary the highest encomium, and a reward for her integrity. In all her transactions she showed the same scrupulousness in matters of right, and thus became a bright example for all children to imitate.
She was not less remarkable for her obedience to the wishes of her sister, than for her regard for justice. She not only obeyed, but obeyed readily and cheerfully. And so sensible is that sister of her great excellence in this respect, now that she has passed away, that she cannot speak of her but with the deepest emotion.
She seemed to have very little power to bear disappointment. Her feelings were very tender, and her sensibilities great. Disappointment, therefore, brought the ready tear to her eye; and solicitous affection, if possible, removed the pressure which had caused it. But some of the later revelations of her life indicated rare ability to endure disappointment, and to cherish hope even in the audience-chamber of death. Thus will it appear in the end that her heart was full of Christian confidence and holy trust.
In the course of June, 1850, it was observed by her friends that her health was manifestly declining. She was advised to leave her employment at once, and seek in relaxation and change of scene the reestablishment of her health and the restoration of her accustomed vigor. Accordingly accompanied by her brother, she spent some three weeks of the month of July in various parts of Maine; but health did not come back to her. Disease was too deeply seated to be beguiled away.
She returned to her home but to languish and die. When the news of her mortal illness reached the Sabbath school, in which she had now been a faithful and beloved teacher for about a year, it produced the most intense interest and solicitude. All felt that a dearly beloved sister had become the victim of the destroyer. That, however, which was a source of unmingled grief in the beginning, became a sanctifying power in the end.
When first informed that it was feared her disease would terminate fatally, she betrayed the deepest emotion, with scarcely the utterance of a word. Her natural sensibility made the weight upon her spirits seem insupportable. But when the first shock was past and her powers had had time to rally, she was found equal to the trial that awaited her. That truth which she had long loved, and which had produced very little of that Christian display by which the world judges, had wrought silently but powerfully upon her understanding and her heart. It had begotten hopes in a naturally hopeful spirit, stronger than death itself.
When her pastor from time to time spoke to her of the labors and sacrifices of Christ, of the love of the Father and of the blessedness of immortality, leading her sometimes to meditate upon the highest forms of Christian truth, the smile of satisfaction that played upon her countenance, showed not only that her powers were equal to the effort, but that her heart was satisfied with its fruit.
Her disease, which was consumption, was of a very painful character, especially as regarded difficulty of breathing. She was compelled to sit up continually, almost to the hour of her death. Yet in the moment of expected dissolution, so generous was her nature, her heart was yearning for blessings on others rather than herself. At one time just before her death she requested her pastor to remember in his prayer an absent sister, that she might recover from a critical illness; and in one of his last interviews with her, she desired him to "attend her funeral and comfort her brothers and sisters, and especially that sister who had been a mother to her." "Oh, Hannah has always been a good girl" burst from the lips of that sister,—an involuntary tribute to cheerful, ready obedience, and true excellence of heart. She had given some little memento of affection to each of the family and friends, and enjoined upon her brother, who still remains with the sisters, to "be sure and be kind to them," when she quietly fell asleep.
Thus died an excellent young woman, Oct. 2d, 1850, aged 24 years and 8 months. The strength of her trust and the depth of her Christian experience could be seen in her meek submission to suffering, in that remarkable patience which allowed not a word of murmuring to escape her lips through the whole progress of her disease, and which enabled her to believe that every providence of God is ordered in perfect wisdom.
Humble in her outward position, her spiritual attainments were of the most exalted character. The stores of excellence treasured in her heart were made manifest in the hour of great trial, and the Christian instruction to which she was accustomed to apply herself, begat the holiest resignation and the most confident trust.
The fact that this good was in no small degree wrought in the Sabbath school, should lead the Sabbath school teacher to understand the dignity and importance of his office, the opportunities he enjoys for directing the affections of the young heart, and the necessity of a large measure of Christian attainment to qualify him for the successful discharge of so great responsibilities. May the example of our departed sister be sanctified to the good of all thus employed.
THE SABBATH SCHOOL BOYS.
"What do we go to the Sabbath school for?" asked a little boy of his companion who was some years older than himself, and who had, as I discovered by their conversation, attended the school for a long time, that is, compared with the time which many children, boys especially, think it of any use to go to the Sabbath school. Some boys when at the age of twelve or fourteen years, think they are too old to receive any benefit from Sabbath school instruction. Hearing the question of this little boy, and observing the look of intelligence and sincerity in his companion, and being desirous of knowing what answer would be given, I remained within hearing of their conversation, and will try to present to the scholars in our school, through the medium of "Our Gift," the good reasons which he gave to his little companion, (who was his younger brother,) why he went to the Sabbath school.
Eld. B. I go because I like to go, and I like to go because I always enjoy myself there better than I do anywhere else. I find pleasure in the singing, in the prayer, and in the lessons. The lessons are not hard to learn when I understand them, and the learning of them is even a pleasant task; for my teacher has a way of making our lessons interesting to us, in hearing us recite. He asks us questions about the subject of the lesson before using the book, and he generally finds some interesting matter relating to it, and we become so much engaged that the time is gone before we are aware of it, and we have to stop and wait for the next session of the school.
Young. B. I like the school too, though I have been only twice. How old was you when you first went to the Sabbath school, brother?
Eld. B. I was seven years old, and I am now fourteen; and I mean to continue till I am able to take a class myself. I want to have the pleasure of being a teacher in our school, and I hope soon to do so, for the school is increasing very fast in numbers. There are a good many small children coming into the school, and I think that I shall be wanted, for I observe that there are not male teachers enough. Sometimes one teacher has to attend to two or more classes, and the time of a session in the school is not sufficient to do this with much advantage. What did you learn in twice going to the school? tell me that, and then we shall know, at least, what you went to the Sabbath school for.
Young. B. I will tell you. After I had said a short lesson, my teacher gave me a little piece called "The Child's First Hymn," which she said she found in a paper published in England. It was published for the children of the Sabbath schools of Old England. She said it would do for us, the children of New England, and wished me to learn it.
Eld. B. Well, brother, I am sure you have improved the few times that you have attended the school. Have you learned the hymn? and how do you like it? Let me hear you repeat it. I should like to know what the children are taught in the Sabbath schools of Old England. Will you please to repeat it to me?
Young. B I will. I did as well as I could. I have learned the hymn, and am much pleased with it. I think of it the last thing when I fall asleep at night, and awake in the morning with it on my mind. But I will repeat it to you, and you will see that I have not been to the Sabbath school, though for so short a time, for nothing.
The Child's First Hymn.
Listen, Father, to my prayer, Guard me with thy tender care; Teach a humble child to know, The path of duty here below.
Set a watch upon my heart, Lest an evil thought should start; Make me gentle, kind and good, Through the Savior's cleansing blood.
All I have, and all I see, Ever comes, great God, from thee; Help me from my earliest days, In thankful hymns to sing thy praise.
Bless my parents with thy grace, On my kindred turn thy face; Through the darkness of the night, Give me rest till morning bright.
Teach me day by day thy will, With pure love my spirit fill, Till I'm fitted for that rest, In the mansions of the blest.
Eld. B. It is indeed a very pretty hymn, and I am glad you have learned it so well. I hope you will never forget it. Here comes my teacher; and as it will be ten minutes before the school commences, we shall have time for conversation.
Here the teacher drew near and spoke to the boys:—
Teach. Good morning, my boys; how do you do, this fine morning?
Eld. B. Good morning, sir; we are well, I thank you.
Teach. You are in good season this morning, and I am glad to see that you are. It is so much better to be before our time, than to be a little late. We get along so much better with the business of the school, and have time to converse together. Besides, to be in school at the opening of the exercises, shows that you value and wish to improve its privileges.
Eld. B. We were talking about the school, and why we go there. I told my brother that I went because I like to go. Will you please to tell us the advantages of attendance on the Sabbath school?
Teach. I will, my dear boys, so far as I can. It is well to know what we are doing, how we are accomplishing our work, and what is to be the result of our labors.
Eld. B. I am very often asked what I learn at the Sabbath school, and I sometimes answer that I learn what there is in the Bible, and that my lessons are subjects derived principally from that book.
Teach. You answer rightly so far. You might add, also, that you learn by the example of others. Do you see punctuality? You will learn to be punctual. Do you see system in the arrangement of the school, in the method of instruction, in the library department, and in the general discipline of the school? You will be orderly and correct in your deportment.
Eld. B. As I am almost old enough to be a teacher, and desire to take a class as soon as I am wanted, I should like to know the best way to make my scholars interested in their studies, so that they will attend and be correct with their lessons.
Teach. It is often the case that children feel no interest or pleasure in the school, because they do not understand its object. They may recite well, so far as to repeat the words of the lesson, yet if it be above their capacity, they will not be benefited.
Eld. B. This has been the case with me sometimes. After I had recited my lesson correctly by the book, I have felt that I did not know much about it, and did not understand what I had learned to repeat.
Teach. It is of great importance in teaching that the subject should be presented to the pupil in the simplest form possible, that he may be profited by his instructions. I read an anecdote the other day which illustrates this matter, and I will repeat it to you. "It is related of Dr. Green, of Philadelphia, that in early life he was one day returning from the services of the sanctuary, and was accosted by a woman in the humble walks of life. She found difficulty in understanding him, and took the liberty of giving her youthful pastor a hint. 'Mr. Green,' says she 'what do you think is the great duty of the shepherd?' 'No doubt, to feed the flock, madam,' was the reply. 'That is my notion too,' she added, 'and therefore I think he should not hold the hay so high that the sheep cannot reach it.' This admonition was kindly received, in the spirit in which it was given, and had an influence in making him afterwards 'hold the hay lower.'" This fact should cause you to see to it, as the old lady did with her pastor, that your teachers present their instructions in such a form that you will understand them. The hay may be of very good quality, but it will give no nourishment to the hungry sheep if it is beyond their reach; it will not benefit them any more than if it were not provided at all. So with your lessons. If you do not feel an interest in them, if they are beyond your reach, they may be of no benefit to you. No lasting principle is gained, but the whole may be lost, as the words of the lesson are lost to memory and forgotten.
Eld. B. What are the results of attendance on the Sabbath school?
Teach. That question we answer, partly in faith, and partly by knowledge. Faith is good;—and we know that our school is a good school; we know that we enjoy ourselves there; and we know what is learned there is good. It is there that divine influences and joyful communions fill with gladness the hour. We enjoy them, and if we could say no more, we think that this would be sufficient.
Eld. B. That is true.
Teach. But that is not all; the results go still further. They are not confined to the hour passed in the schoolroom. The scholar is better and happier for having been there. Is it not so with you?
Eld. B. Yes sir; I always feel better when I have been to the school. When I have said my lesson, conversed upon the subject of it, and obtained my library book, I am always glad to have been there.
Teach. Your answer is full of hope and promise; for if you now find your enjoyment in learning the things of the Kingdom of God, those evil days will never come to you, when you will say you have no pleasure in them. The Sabbath school scholar who is prompt in his duty is in a safe path,—one which, while affording happiness by the way, results in the fulness of joy. To him the example of Christ is an example of love and goodness, drawing him to the Father by these divine influences and attractions. "He sees God, not only as the Creator, but as he is manifested in the world, by his providence, which shows us that he not only made the world, but that he makes the world; that he is the same in the creation of the flowers and streams as in the creation of storms and tempests; that he is not far off, but near, ever blessing us with the favors of his parental providence; that his power is over everything; that motion is his power, for there can be no motion without mind; that God is present in the child. It cannot live by bread alone. Communion must be held with God—spirit with spirit."
It is recorded of our Savior that he was led into the waters, and was buried in baptism; the Spirit descended upon him; he heard the encouragement of that voice which proclaimed his Sonship to the Most High, and in the enjoyment of that holy time he came up from the river. Then came the tempter; in the strength of the spirit of the baptism, he resisted the temptation, and was victorious over all its forms. So with the object and mission of our Sabbath schools. You are led to the river of divine truth, that you may be baptized in its pure waters. You are there shown the Father, and we trust that when you go out into the world, you will, in the strength of your Sabbath school baptism, resist and overcome all temptation to wrong, and being always engaged for the right, and living in the light of the gospel, you will pass through life undefined; thus may a Christian character be the result of your attendance on the Sabbath school.
FEAR OF DEATH.
He who rightly understands life, will not fear death, he who has learned to trust, will never cease to hope. He who always cherishes a love of right, will never be without God in the world.
Treasures.—Knowledge and virtue are the greatest treasures in the universe.
Gratitude.—Every faithful Sabbath school teacher has the unfailing gratitude of his class.
Faith is the eye with which the mind surveys the future.
It was the season of vacation, when children's minds are given to play, instead of study. It was during this interval, that a little girl, whom we will call Jane, came from a neighboring town to visit one of her school-mates, another little girl, whose name we will call Emily.
The disposition of Emily was very different from that of Jane. She was always pleasant and kind, willing to confer favors upon others, even though she should not receive the same in return. Jane was ill-tempered, told wrong stories, and did many things which rendered her a very disagreeable companion. Her parents could see no fault in her, therefore she was permitted to give way to her temper, which was the cause of her losing friends and gaining enemies. When she was in these violent fits of passion she would accuse her companions of things which would wound their feelings very much. During vacation, Emily accepted an invitation which had been given her to spend a few days with Jane.
She enjoyed herself very much while there and invited Jane to come and see her. Soon after Jane went to visit Emily. The first part of the time, she enjoyed very much; but as her visit was drawing to a close, she gave way to a violent fit of temper. She took this opportunity to relate to Emily many things her parents said about her after she had left them. She told her that if she knew what her father and mother said about her, she would never visit them again. Whether they did talk about her, or whether it was Jane's ugly temper, that led her to taunt Emily, I do not know. But it caused Emily to feel very much grieved, because she was not conscious of having done anything which would cause them to talk about her. Emily has never visited Jane since, nor has she desired to. She thinks that those who treat her well when she is present and talk about her when she is absent, cannot be her true friends. Thus we see that those who govern their temper, and endeavor to make themselves pleasant and agreeable, are much more loved and respected than those who give way to this wicked passion.
In my experience, both as teacher and scholar, I have observed among the young those who read a great many books, but at the end appear but little wiser. They may have a confused and indistinct recollection of events and characters, and may be able perhaps to follow out the plan of a story. Out of the mass that they have read they may have retained a great many facts; but being without connection or object, they are nearly useless. Bad habits are formed, their reading is to no purpose, and their time, therefore, misspent.
I fear there are too few among those whose years should enable them to understand and appreciate the objects for which we live, that do appreciate them. There are too many who suppose that reading is only a very pleasant amusement. They think of printing as a very ingenious invention, and have no thought higher. They may look about and see a great deal of misery and unhappiness; but its alleviation is nothing to them. "The great mission of life" is something that is very well to be talked of in the pulpit, and ministers and reformers will accomplish it, no doubt. But life has no responsibilities for them.
One of our first duties is to seek our own moral and intellectual culture. Let both these portions of our nature be cultivated together. Do not separate them, for by so doing both are threatened with danger. Heart without mind is generally weak, but mind without heart is always dangerous. Do not suppose because you have left the schoolroom and no longer have lessons set, and are no longer reprimanded if they are not committed, that your education is finished. Rather regard the school as the place where you shall learn to study, life as your term-time, and consider your education finished when there is nothing more for you to learn. It is not necessary that study should be confined to books. Accustom yourself to study actions and their influences and effects. Public lectures, conversations, in short, every event of your life, will present questions, and your own mind, with a little reflection, will present the answers. If it does not, do not let the fear of ridicule prevent your asking.
But it is through books, chiefly, that we are to look for improvement. Every person should appropriate some part of each day to reading. Young persons should early be taught the advantages of a method for appropriating their time. Let each duty have its time. In this way much time is saved. Let the time you appropriate to reading be one that will be the least liable to interruption. Defer it not, if it can be avoided, till late in the evening, when you are wearied with the fatigues of the day.
At the present day, when books are so easily obtained, there is no need of the excuse of inability to procure them. Circulating libraries are easy of access,—though caution should be used in selecting from them,—and each Sabbath school has a library open for all. There has been much said, and much written about books of fiction, whether they may be read with safety by the young. Fiction as such need not be condemned, though works of fiction should be sparingly read. But if read at all, let them be selected by persons of experience. There is much in the current fiction of the day that is pernicious and unfit for publication.
But if we set aside the light reading, there are standard works enough to furnish reading for one generation. The better newspapers of the day should be carefully read. The newspapers of this week are the history of the world for this week. In each particular branch of literature there are books without number, not only worthy of perusal, but deserving of careful study. In history we have Rollin, Hume, Smollet, Prescott, Macaulay, and Robertson. Philosophy, theology, and science, each in its turn, brings names as illustrious.
But there is one book above all others. Never complain for want of reading while we have such historians as Moses, poets before whom Shakspeare dwindles into insignificance, philosophers of a higher and holier school, and truths that exceed the most astonishing fictions. Where has Scott a heroine that can compare with Ruth? Grand as are the beauties of the Bible, life-giving as is its wisdom, and imperishable as are its truths, it is too frequently left unread.
As a general thing, too much is read; more than can be well retained. One page well read is more beneficial than a whole volume merely glanced over. Never read the second line until the first is fully understood. Make the author's sentiments your own. In reading history it is highly important you should have a clear idea of the locality where the events occurred. I have found by experience that the best method deeply to impress what I have read, is to have at hand writing materials, and after each reading write out as fully as possible whatever new idea has been presented. But in all that you read, keep in view the great object of your reading,—Self Improvement.
A SABBATH SCHOOL EXCURSION.
The morning breaks. A hundred voices rise, In shouts of gladness echoing to the skies. The happy time draws near, the day is fair, To festive scenes and rural joys repair. Bright expectation gleams from every face, And lighter footsteps bend with eager pace; Children and parents, pastor, people, all With one accord obey the welcome call; And hand in hand, along the path they wind, As heart responds to heart a greeting kind, To hold in verdant temples high and broad, Commune with Nature and with Nature's God. Far from the city's worn and narrow streets, To sunny slopes embowered by Nature's sweets, How blest the change; to breathe the scented air, Steals for the moment every sense of care, Its healing powers to all new life impart, Expand the mind and elevate the heart. But now arrived at the appointed place,— A rural spot adorned with every grace, Which Nature from her bounties could bestow, To make the world a paradise below,— Our party pause a moment to reflect; Then towards a path their several steps direct, Which leads the way to some sequestered seat, Secured by foliage from the noonday heat; Or to the various sports their tastes incline, Where art and nature, toil and skill combine To give to all a welcome warm and kind, That every weary heart sweet rest may find. Here a few friends in social cheer are met, Discoursing topics which such scenes beget; And there a crowd, intent on sports more gay, In lively measure tread the hours away. Some roam in groups through fields and meadows green, And laden with the fragrant spoils are seen, Bedecked with crowns from Flora's own fair hand, A radiant company from Fairy-land. Apart from this another group behold, A burden sweet their little arms unfold— Lilies, fit emblem, when by childhood twined, Of purity and innocence combined. But hark! what sound is pealing through the air? A summons from their sports to join in prayer; Come one and all, your voices mingle here, To bless His presence who is ever near. From east and west they come, from south and north, From every path and thicket issuing forth, Till all together seated once again, The songs of worship and of praise begin. Up to the throne of Heaven their prayers ascend, Together rich and poor their voices blend; While with their songs unite the feathered choir, With gratitude each spirit to inspire, Till hill and valley echo all around, And "God's first temples" with His praise resound. And look! for now again the scene is changed; A group before that rustic altar ranged, With bended knee the throne of grace implore, On infant heads its showers of love to pour; That infant tongues may lisp the praise of God, To guide their feet in paths by Jesus trod. Sure, angels hallow scenes like this below, And holy spirits at that altar bow, Like winged messengers from Heaven, to bear These offerings, and ever guard them there, That every bud of promise reared below, May bloom in Heaven, and to perfection grow. But fast in scenes like this the day is spent; Again toward home their weary steps are bent. Weary with pleasure, they reluctant go, Once more the toils and cares of earth to know: But purified, and strengthened for the strife Of labor, and the busy scenes of life; While the remembrance of those happy hours Shall deck the barren path of toil with flowers; And praying each that as the years roll on, Laden with pleasures soon forever gone, Each year shall bring but added virtues forth, And leave behind the impress of their worth; Till every heart to innocence be tuned, Nor sinful pleasures ever dare intrude, To mar the image God has made and blest, With means of pleasure, happiness and rest; That all may find, in holy joys and pure, Relief from care, for every sorrow cure; And live to be in holy pleasures blest, Till earthly toil is changed for heavenly rest.
CHRIST AND DUTY.
It is profitable for us to meditate on such a character as Christ's, if by dwelling upon it we become even in one respect like him. The more we know of him, the more we shall love him; for his character is love. We should imitate the example of Mary, who was first at the door of the sepulchre where Jesus was laid. She had great love for him, and her faith in him was as strong as her love. She was not a stranger to the miracles which he performed while here on earth. She had seen him, and she knew that in him perfection dwelt. So we should try to be first in doing any act of kindness or benevolence, not in a spirit of unholy emulation, but from a love of doing good. By cultivating this spirit we shall be happy in life, and prepared for death. We shall be far happier than those who seek worldly honors; and more than all, we shall leave a name behind us more precious than fame or wealth can bestow. When I was young as are many of you to whom I am now speaking, I had not the privilege of worshipping God as we now do. I was taught that a greater part of the human family will be destroyed, and will have no part in the heavenly kingdom. But thanks be to God that he has now opened the eyes of many to see him a Father to the fatherless, and a sure help in time of need. When such thoughts take possession of the heart, we view him in his true character.
In order to serve him as we ought, we should commence in youth. Christ said, "they that seek me early shall find me." The whole life is short, if happily spent in his service. We have every encouragement to trust wholly in his kind care and keeping, for his watchful eye is ever over us. If you seek Christ in youth, nothing will be lost, but much will be gained. When I look back upon the early days of my life, I regard them as lost to the true service of Christ. It was impressed upon my young mind, that God was filled with anger and wrath; and still I was told that I must love him with my whole heart. I am sorry to say it, but I fear I had no true love for him at that time. If the path in which I have walked has been desolate and dreary, I do not desire that others should walk in it. If God is seen in his true loveliness, the young, as well as the old, will love his holy name.
In this regard, I think much good can be done in the Sabbath school, and many profitable and lasting impressions may be made upon the young mind. I cannot think we meet together every Sabbath in vain. The blessing of God will surely rest upon us, and we shall be profited by our assemblings. We must not be forgetful of God, for he is not forgetful of us. When we lie down on our pillow at night, we ought not to close our eyes to sleep without thanking him for his kind care of us through the day; and in the morning we should thank him for his watchful care through the night.
In time of sorrow and trouble we at once fly to him. This is right; but still it is our duty and privilege to call on him in time of prosperity as well as in time of adversity, never forgetting to seek his divine blessing. Without this we cannot enjoy life, or be prepared for death. And when the days on earth are all passed, and we are called to lay ourselves on the bed of death, if we can but look back upon a life well spent, it will smooth the pillow of pain, and make even death itself sweet.
Salvation is the right direction of all one's powers and activities.
Hope is the sunshine of the soul.