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A NEW YEAR'S ADDRESS TO SUNDAY
BY THE REV. J. ANGELL JAMES.
My- DEAR FRIENDŞ,--I need not declare that I take a deep interest in Sunday-schools; if another proof of this be necessary, I hope the present address will supply it.
The natural division of time into years, by the revolution of our planet round the sun, should be, and by multitudes is,'made subservient to moral purposes.
There are three things, then, which I now urge upon your attention-Consideration-Examination-Determination.
Sunday-school teachers, CONSIDER! That is a great word, a word of mighty import; it is not only, i
indicative of rationality, but of a high and momentous exercise of rationality. The Author. of the Bible, the Holy Spirit, has caught it up, and, is ever and anon saying to immortal man, “ Consider, consider your ways ;" so I say to you, “consider.” Be reflective in your general habits as rational creatures, as youthful rational creatures; as sanctified rational creatures ; as rational creatures, dovoting your faculties to train the minds of others. Be considerate,—that is, cultivate a habit of serious thoughtfulness. You have minds of your own, use them well. Be not characterised by a butterfly levity, which keeps the mind in incessant vagrancy and flutter, and never allows it to settle in sober thought on any one subject. Be considerate, as Sunday-school teachers, and be considerate TO-DAY.
Look afresh at your object. Pause and ponder TO-DAY, Weigh well the import
of that appellation-A SUNDAY-SCHOOL TEACHER -study it afresh, what momentous interests it involves, what high qualifications it implies, what sacred obligations it imposes, what consequences it draws after it, what wisdom and grace from above it requires. Just consider what you have to do,--to educate minds, to convert hearts, to form characters, to save souls. Yes, it is the lowest of your aims that you “put forth your strength upon a nation's mind in the morning of its life, when all is young, and fresh, and tender.” The highest of your efforts, and you should of course never leave out the highest, as to pour the light of revelation, the benefits of Christianity, and the blessings of salvation,overa generation of immortal souls. Consider, yours is a vocation, not only to teach letters, and syllables, and words, but truththe truth, the truth concerning God, Christ, salvation, and immortality. Yours it is to carry the torch, kindled at the source of heavenly radiance, into the dark and dreary abode of squalid poverty, and to gladden with the light of heaven the regions of want and woe. Should you not consider ? Think what you are about. Let such words as God, Christ, mind, soul, salvation, heaven, hell, eternity, all pass through your mind, with due reflection upon each, and also recollect, all these are involved in your object.
Next, ExAMINE. Have you thought of what I have just stated ? Is this the light in which you have viewed your object? Have you come to this day without consideration? Do you understand your vocation ? Have you ever seriously said, on setting out to the Sunday-school,
66 What am I going to do? What is my object, aim, purpose ?” Are you qualified for such a purpose as I have set before you? By personal, decided piety: by
mental acquirements; by engagedness of heart in the work; by devotedness, diligence, patience, love, good-temper, humility, meekness; by a peaceable disposition ; by a willingness for the good of the school, to be first, middle, or last; by a deference to others; by a readiness to give up your ease, will, and ways? How have you acted hitherto ? What has been your conduct in past years ? What do you imagine your superintendent says of you, of your constancy, punctuality, order, submission? How do your fellow-teachers feel towards you? do they love you, respect you, work pleasantly with you, because you work pleasantly with them, court your society, value your labours, consider you of importance to the school? How does your minister feel towards you ? does he esteem you as a fellow-labourer and a help, or as a hindrance, by your factious, querulous, turbulent disposition ? What is the feeling of your class towards you ? have you attached them to you, do they love you, confide in you, obey you, and take pleasure in falling in with your plans, orders, and wishes ? What success have you had? What is the state of your class? have any been reformed, converted, added to the church, through your instrumentality ? Examine, examine. It is a day suitable for it. Do not go on without being inquisitive into all these matters; an uninquisitive teacher is a careless, heartless, bad teacher. Before you read the next particulars, look back, call yourself to account: carefully, anxiously, prayerfully, and, as in the presence of God, examine your conduct as a teacher.
Now comes DETERMINATION.
1. DETERMINE to make a new and more entire surrender, a fresh dedication of your heart, and