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H. Atkinson. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Baptism and the Church . . . . . . . .
TALKs witH our GIRLs—
Walsall, Vicarage Wal . . . . . . . . 461
Harvest Hymn. J. G. Whittier ... .. 829
Christians and Social Purity ... ... ... 140
Change without Relief ... . . . . . . 265
Seven Wonders of the World . . . . . . .301
REVIEws—Pages 29, 108, 148,226, 269,809, 849
OBITUARIEs—Pages 72, 111, 151, 232, 272, 812
Arrival of Mission Party in Orissa.. 77, 159
The Earthquake in the Island of Ischia.
£00 king 3 tan I'
DEAR FELLOW TEACHERs, I want to talk to you, this New Year's morning, about “Looking Ahead,” or fetching help in to-day's duty, by a far away vision of the incidents and accidents, possibilities and probabilities, of our Sunday School work. As a wise captain studies the chart of his ship's course; vividly represents to himself quick-sands and shoals, possible storms and collisions, and takes due care to prepare for the worst; so the teacher, whilst maintaining his faith in God, in his children, and in the Gospel, should work for his pupils, in full view of the fearful perils they have to face, and the prodigious difficulties they will confront; that is, he should use the best materials, adopt the best methods, and work on the best principles, so that he may prepare them to endure any strain of trial or shock of temptation, to which they may be exposed, and inspire them to attempt the loftiest height of spiritual achievement life may offer them. That is a high aim and a difficult task. But I have long felt it is “the one thing needful” in Sunday School work, the supreme educational problem—nay, may I not say the chief national and world problem ż For we dare not deny that we too frequently fail to give our young friends help, where it is most wanted, and when it is most difficult to get it, and of the precise sort they most acutely require. We take hold of infant life and nurture it, with delight in its charming simplicity, openeyed curiosity, singular freshness, and beautiful trust. e detain the child in the gentle grasp of the soft tendrils of affection, by the ministration of knowledge, sympathy, and love; and in many gladdening instances we keep the children as they travel through the first year or two of their “teens,” but as they get to
that unites the life of the youth and the man, of the grown girl and the woman; and on whose pathway temptations crowd in terrific numbers and appalling strength, we let go their hands, and in many cases never lay hold again. , Hence, a large portion of the manhood and womanhood of the land is indifferent to the charms and claims of religion, neglectful of the love and law of God, and unenriched by His mighty and life-ennobling salvation. The last census of religious worship suggests that, notwithstanding our conspicuous successes, this is where our work fails. Only one in four of the population seek the help of religious teaching and Sabbath worship, instead of one in two; and competent witnesses assert that most of those who are alien from organised Christianity have passed through our Sunday Schools, received religious instruction, and heard the warning voice of teachers and friends. But now they care not for the “services” to which they were trained. The school has not led to the church, as a i. to the temple, or childhood to manhood. Home, school, and church, together have failed for them. We began to build, and built with fine promise. We had capital tools, good materials,
* Opening paragraphs of “LookING AHEAD !” a New Year's Address to Sunday School Teachers. By J. Clifford, M.A., L.L.B. Sunday School Union. Price One Penny.
LOOKING AHEAD ! 3
earnest workmen, and brilliant hopes, but from some cause or other, where we expected a solid edifice we have a gaping ruin, and where we looked for a home of all the virtues we have a disappointing and irritating chaos.
I know, and rejoice to repeat, that our success has been wide-spread, immense, solid, and reproductive. I do not forget that most of those who preach and those who “hear,” who toil in our mission fields and teach in our schools, who lead in our civic life, and shape our national activities, received early and immeasurable accessions of power in the Sunday School; but who does not mourn the vast mass of what I may call “Sunday School Drift,” the numbers who have slid into incertitude of faith in the love of God, stolid indifference to the Unseen, and, in many instances, into violent irreligion ? Surely this would not have been, if we had so done our work as to be of the greatest service in the most perilous part of human life; when the impetuous, independent, and “headstrong” boy is laying hold of himself, and stands gazing and delirious at the threshold of man's alluring and illusive privileges; and the girl is thinking, not of the “old home” in which she has been reared, but is hasting with restless and heedless spirit to the duties and responsibilities of womanhood.
Ah! this is a tragic hour ! No moment in life's short day equals in pathetic interest that early one which links the youth with the man, where there is dimly, but with growing distinctness, dawning on the soul, the sense of its unfolding powers, immense capacities, huge desires and untried capacities. The excitement is portentous. As when the sea is lashed by fiercest winds; so the soul is agitated to its lowest depths. Every faculty is raised to the highest pitch of action. , Ambitious schemes march through the soul like troops of fancies through the poet's dream. Wisions follow visions. Temptations gather in besieging crowds and impetuously rush at every gate of the soul. It is the real entrance upon life; and it is through a wilderness tenanted by demons waiting to assail the spirit in its extremity, and by successive strokes of flattery buy the worship for themselves which should be given to God only.
If, then, our teaching and training are not effective for this time of stress and storm, what are they worth? Where is their value * “Good as far as they go.” No doubt, but “good” for what? The anchor that has a chain of forty fathoms in fifty fathoms of water is “good as far as it goes”; but not carrying the anchor to the sea bottom it is simply good for nothing in a storm. “I am only a minute late,” says the selfexcusing traveller as he sees the back-most lights of the train disappearing from the platform, but he might as well have been a week too late so far as journeying by that particular train is concerned. No doubt, we do good as far as we go; but unless we go with our children up to, and right through,
THE CRISIS OF THEIR LIFE.
we fail where and when the help is most wanted, lose the appropriate reward of our work, and miss the very end for which we have prayed and toiled. Our scholars lack our support when they most need it, and we look in vain for them when they are wanted. We win at Austerlitz and Jena; but we lose at Waterloo, and, losing it, lose all. J. CLIFFORD.