Page images

want. He was a good old man, and loved the boy tenderly. As Joseph grew, he sought to implant right principles in his breast. He taught him to read, and early familiarised his mind with the Bible stories. The Bible and the Pilgrim's Progress were his only books, and with both Joseph was well acquainted. The boy's affections were centred in the old man, who had been to him as mother and father. But the stern messenger who had called away his parents summoned his only remaining relative also ; and the day that Joseph was nine years old he followed his grandfather to the grave. The old man left him to the care of a friend, a shoemaker, who lived alone with his little niece. This friend took Joseph home; he was poor, but upright, and kind to the boy; and intended teaching him his own trade. Joseph's grandfather, when dying, gave him his whole riches-his Bible, his Pilgrim's Progress, and his blessing; he then charged the boy to search the Scriptures, to love Jesus, and, like Christian, to withstand the temptations that would entice him from his duty to God, by being constant in prayer, in striving after holiness - and so, the boy said, his grandfather entered the river, and crossed over to the celestial city. When I first knew Joseph the old man had been dead about a year; but his faithful instructions had sunk deep into the boy's heart, and directed his course of life. He was now a regular attendant at the school, and was a general favourite there. He was kind and conciliating; and I observed that his mild, forgiving glance, when treated with any rudeness, was an effectual reproof, protecting him from annoyance, and gaining him the love and esteem of the other scholars.

Joseph was not a strong boy, and I was pained to observe that as the spring advanced he gained no strength, but seemed to be gradually declining in health.

The first time I visited him during the week, he was sitting by the fireside with his favourite Pilgrim's Progress out-spread on his knee. The old shoemaker was sitting near him, busy at work. On my entrance Joseph explained who I was, and I was much pleased with the old man's cordial welcome.

I sat down beside the boy, and after inquiring for the welfare of the family, said, “You have got the Pilgrim there, Joseph ; wliat part of his journey are you reading about ?”

" About the hill called Difficulty, Sir," he replied, " and the harbour where Christian slept and lost the roll; and about Mistrust and Timorous, who would have turned him back for fear of the Lions."

" It is a wonderful book, Joseph; you have read it through many times, I know; do you understand its meaning ?"

“Oh yes, Sir, my grandfather often explained it to me. The city of Destruction is the world, with all its sins and wickedness; and those who live in it, but hate its sin and wickedness, who love Jesus, and serve God, and seek earnestly to go to heaven, are like Christian.”

"I am glad you understand the meaning of the book so well. That portion of it you were reading as I entered is very instructive, and details the experience of every Christian, whether old or young. Whoever strives against sin, and endeavours amid surrounding temptations to preserve holiness of life, has a hill of difficulty to climb. It is hard often to resist the devil, to deny an evil desire, to shut our ears to the voice of pleasure when it calls us from the path of duty. But if we rely upon God for strength to resist sin, if we pray for help in Jesus' name, and if we strive manfully against the temptation, He has promised to give us the victory."

“ Just like Christian when he fought with Apollyon.”

“Yes, Joseph, Christian trusted in God for strength to overcome the adversary, and he did overcome him.”

“Ay," said the old shoemaker, "and he gives God all the glory. He knows that to lean on his own strength is to lean on a broken reed; but strong in the Lord, not only can he withstand the assaults of him who goeth about as a roaring lion, but even the gloom of the valley of the shadow of death cannot make him afraid.

Joseph delighted in conversation such as this, and he spoke with great propriety and good sense. He delighted also in speaking about God's love to sinners in the gift of His Son. He knew that the blood of Christ alone cleanseth from sin, and he had a simple trust in the Saviour which no doubt ever disturbed. He often spoke of Christ's work on earth and of His glory in heaven, of the angels that surround the throne of God, of the happiness and splendour of the land of pure delight, of the crowds of the redeemed ; and his eye would sparkle with joy as he thought that there he would yet meet his grandfather, the old man whom he had so dearly loved.

The spring had passed away, and the genial summer had come, but Joseph's health showed no sign of improvement.

The old shoemaker, when speaking of this on one occasion, said that Joseph had never been strong; early deprived of a mother's care, the loss could not be replaced, and those means of cure which might have restored the poor boy to health, his grandfather's circumstances could not afford ; he feared Joseph's days on earth would be few, “but," he said, “he is a good boy; his knowledge of Divine things would shame many who are far older; and I have no doubt that when the Master calls him away it will be to dwell with Him in glory.”

One Sabbath Joseph did not come to the school. It was the only time he had been absent since the memorable occasion I first saw him. When the school was dismissed I went to his humble home. He was very unwell, and the doctor had no hope of his recovery; but he was asleep, and fearing to disturb him, I withdrew. Next day I received a message from Joseph, saying he wished to see me. The old shoemaker's niece, who brought the message, said that Joseph was much worse; they did not expect he would be with them long. I obeyed the summons, and found Joseph lying on his little bed. On one side he had his Bible, on the other the Pilgrim's Progress. A sweet smile played on his thin white face as

I entered.

"Joseph, my dear boy," I said, as I sat down by his side, “I am sorry to see you thus; is your trust in God still firm ?”

“Yes,” he said, " I trust in God." " Is Christ still precious to you?" "Yes, He is still precious to me; but I have not loved him as I ought."


" None of us can say we have," I replied, " though He has loved us with a perfect love and gave Himself for us.”

“Yes," said the boy, "and His blood cleanseth from all sin ; He hath made our peace with God.”

The effort of speaking exhausted him ; but laying his hand on the Pilgrim's Progress, he seemed desirous that I should take the book.

"Do you wish me to read to you?" I asked.

“Yes,” he said, " where they cross the river and reach the gate." I opened the book and read as he desired.

His closed as if he were asleep ; but he looked up with wonder and joy as I read that beautiful passage, beginning, “Now Į saw in my dream that these two men went in at the gate; and lo! as they entered, they were transfigured, and they had raiment put on that shone like gold."

"I wished myself among them,” said Joseph, repeating the closing words when I had finished. He lay still for a while as if thinking on the glories of that wonderous vision, when he asked me to read the fourteenth chapter of John. Taking up the Bible, I read the chapter.

"Many mansions," he said, “many mansions, and Jesus is there, and all who loved Him. When they were crossing the river, Hopeful saw the gate; I see it, and the angels waiting.”

“Joseph," I said, “ it is all peace, is it not?”
"Yes," he feebly whispered, "yes; I'm going home."

These were his last words. The golden beams of the setting swi streamed through the window of the little room, and surrounded the dying boy with a glory too dazzling for us to behold, as, with a gentle sigh, he fell asleep in death.-From " Leaves from a Sunday School Teacher's Note Book," by Robert Frame.

ORIGIN OF HOLIDAYS FOR SCHOOLBOYS. THERE lived a philosopher in ancient times who laid a solid foundation for the lasting thankfulness of schoolboys. He used to say that he would rather have a grain of wisdom than a cart full of gold,-and who, heathen as he was, had strong perceptions of the doctrine of the immortality of the soul. That man was Anaxagoras, not the princely gentleman of Argos, but the far-seeing, yet often wild and fanciful, philosopher of Clazomene. Just before his death at Lampsacus, three years subsequent to the commencement of the great and protracted struggle of the Athenians and Lacedæmonians for predominance in Greece, 428 B.C., Anaxagoras was asked if he had any particular wish, as it should be fulfilled if he would only give it expression. “ Certainly I have,” said the kind-hearted old man; “I wish to be remembered with pleasant feelings by all schoolboys, and I only ask that, in memory of me, they may always have a whole holiday on the anni. versary of my death.” And this was decreed accordingly; and this fine anselfish old fellow was not the mere recommender, but the founder of holidays for schoolboys, which holidays, in further commemoration of his name; were long known by the name of Anaxagorcia.


Mr. EDITOR, -I think that the checks of many a right-hearted Christian teacher must have been tinged with a blush of honest shame, when reading the letter of a Sunday School Secretary, of Cambridgeshire, in the February Magazine, on this subject. That such arguments and assertions should be presented to the great body of Sunday-school teachers, in the present day, by one of their own number, is to my mind, a very lamentable and humiliating fact. Whether the article is the real expression of the mind of the writer, I am at a loss to decide; but, supposing the latter to be the case, 1 beg to offer to my brother, and all others whom it may concern, a few observations in reply.

In the first paragraph, after quoting the admirable principle laid down by a Union Secretary in the January Magazine, p. 42, your correspondent observes, " that there are many children attending Sunday schools who are too young to imbibe this, and who would seldom, if ever, be in time for the opening services of the schools, if no rewards were given.” Now, really this is too bad. Where did the worthy Secretary get his information from? On what fact does he ground his assertion, that these little ones would seldom, if ever, be in time, if no rewards were given ? I must beg leave, in the name of the young ones, to deny this sweeping statement In the school, which it is my happiness to superintend, we have an unusually large proportion of very young children, but we have quite as many present at the opening service now, without any reward or inducement, as we had some years back, when we practised the ticket system, and I will engage to say also, quite as many as in schools generally where the system still prevails.

Passing by the illustration, which all hinges on "probably," "perhaps," and such like terms, (and indeed, the same may be said of the entire article, which from first to last, is based on opinion, unsustained by a single fact), we come to a startling sentence, “It is very difficult, indeed, almost impossible, to teach children to come to the Sunday school, because it is right, if you do not bestow rewards for so doing." Now, here again, in the name of the maligned little ones, I must enter my protest. It is neither “almost impossible," nor “very difficult," nor at all difficult, but the simplest thing imaginable, if the teachers will only heartily enter into it. Against these vague surmises I will place this fact, -that our school, where rewards have not been given for years, is larger in proportion to the congregation, than any other school in the town. Your correspondent proceeds to argue that we are to begin by holding out some little inducement, and when they are old enough they may love to attend from better motives. I have heard of reasoning backwards, and this certainly is a fair specimen; begin wrong, and by and by they will set themselves right-begin by appealing to their lower, their selfish motives, and as they grow older they will acquire a taste for the higher and more spiritual motives. Nos Sir, begin right-teach them to love and serve God, as both their duty and their highest pleasure, and not for what they can get by it. Let our friend turn to p. 80 in the February magazine, and he will find this homely truth,

"To unlearn is harder than to learn, &c.," and every teacher can vouch
for the correctness of the axiom; but according to his theory we are to sow
to the ignoble, and expect to reap the noble-to sow to the flesh, and
expect to reap the spirit. This is certainly contrary to the Scripture rule,
that whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. There is, alas, in
the present day, far too much of this commercial element in the church-
80 much service for so much return-and how can it be wondered at, when
in the Sunday school—the very nursery of the church-we give the first
lesson, taking the little ones, just as their minds are opening, and teaching
them to do right, not for the pleasure there is in doing it, but for the sake
of what they can get by it.

A step further on, after having got the child to attend school by means of
this fictitious inducement, it is assumed, that "he May, sometime or other, be
80 struck by the prayer that is offered up to the throne of grace, by the
superintendent or teacher opening school, as to cry out, what must I do
to be saved?” And equally true, he may not, and so far as I can judge,
the chances are, that the child will be thinking more about the tickets than
the prayer; at any rate, I can speak again from experience, and say, that
a large number of our own children are really, in the best sense, hopeful
characters--and many of them are at this very time anxiously enquiring

way to Zion, with their faces thitherward.
The hope expressed in the closing sentence," that where no such practice
exists, they may see ample reason to adopt rewards at once,” is, I


fear, thrown away. I have not the slighest idea that where once discon-
tinued they will ever be renewed. No, Sir, "No man having tasted the
old wine straightway desireth new, for he saith the old is better.” Adopt
them at once! What turn again to the weak and beggarly elements, after
having been free from these trammels for years, after having taught our
little ones to love God from pure and holy motives ; after having witnessed
a large amount of fruit from seed thus sown, shall we stoop again to the
earthly, selfish, debasing element? No, verily, let us who are free, stand
fast in our liberty, and take heed, lest we become again entangled with
the yoke of bondage, and let us show to our brethren who doubt it, that
children are susceptible of right impressions; can appreciate pure motives,
and do come to our schools, and come early too, not for the loaves and
fishes, but because they love to be there. I wish our friend from Cam-
brigeshire could pop in, and hear our little ones, as they sing with a gusto

16 For 'tis there we all agree,
All with happy hearts and free,
And I love to early be,
At the Sunday school.

Yours very truly,


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

A TALENT is perfected in solitude ; a character in the stream of the

« PreviousContinue »