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But I look round upon THE TEACHERS to-day, and they will suffer me to say a word to them.
My dear friends, except at my own place at Reading, which would not hold one half the number that I see here to-day, I have never seen such a sight as this before. And it has been a most pleasing sight to me, while I have thought that many of these children, gathered from spots and places, sinks of iniquity, where their spiritual welfare never could be taken care of, are brought under the charge of those who have learned of Christ, and desire the welfare of others. To you let me say, be cheered in your work. I think, if any person had never been a Sunday-school teacher, and saw this sight, he would wish to be one to-day, to have some share in bringing this regiment into the heavenly world, and taking all these children, and forming them as soldiers for the Prince of peace, and blessings to the world. I know your work is arduous ; I know your sacrifices are great; I know your difficulties are often very many. But still your reward is in your work, and is infinitely sweeter than all difficulties which you can encounter. I say that Sunday-school teachers, and Christian Instruction teachers, and all individuals of that class, are greater patriots than those that enter the field of battle, and stand at the cannon's mouth; for they, by such means, are endeavouring to stop the progress of vice, and the horrors of war, and make people learn to live happily.
And there are three things I wish to impress upon your minds ; the worth of the soul, the shortness of time, and the value of the blood of Christ. These three things will inspire you for the work. Think of the value of one soul; O! who can tell of what value is a soul? Think of the shortness of time; in a very little while all your opportunities for doing good must pass away. And think of the value of the blood of Christ, that he has redeemed you, and blessed
for These things will inspire and animate you in your work, and give you courage and joy, while prosecuting it.
And now, let me say to those who support Sunday-schools, if any should be here besides the teachers, who are interested in Sundayschools, let me just say, how cheering is this sight! You are all instruments in training up souls for heaven, if you are subscribers to these schools. You are to be encouraged in your work. You will never regret the giving of a small portion of your property to such a blessed work as this ; you will be amply repaid in the considerations of your own conscience, and in the contemplation of so great a work.
I think I saw to-day some few children coming here with the others, who do not belong to Sunday-schools. Now if there are a few such children here to-day, just let me say a word to them. Perhaps some of you go to boarding-schools, and receive a superior education ; you have parents that can afford to send you. What a mercy is this to you, if you have parents who wish you well, and endeavour to train you up themselves, or send you to places where you can be trained up without the aid of Sunday-schools. Improve your time, dear children. Be very anxious to gain all the instruction you can. And, above all, gain a knowledge of Jesus Christ and his salvation ; else, many of these children in the Sunday-schools will rise up against you at the judgment, because you have greater opportunities, better means of attaining a knowledge of the way to heaven than these children--they will rise up and condemn you, if you learn not to serve the Lord.
Now, dear children, I have done. I said I would not detain you long, and I will not, because you know children soon get wearied with long discourses, and I am very anxious that you should make this a day of rejoicing. You recollect the seven things I have told you are to be matters of rejoicing. You are to carry these seven things home, and tell them to your fathers and mothers, and talk of them to-day, and when you go to bed at night, you are to return thanks to God for them; and all through this year remember this is the fiftieth year, and it is to be a year of jubilee; and every Sunday you are to think of these seven things, and you are to endeavour to get them in your minds, so that they may be matters of joy all the year round. O! that God may enable you to do it; and then, at the last day, may the minister, who now speaks to you, meet you in heaven, with all your dear teachers. This is a great company ;
but what will that be, when all shall have white robes and palms in their hands, and shall stand before the throne, and all have harps and songs, and all praise and love Jesus Christ?
“O! may we bear some humble part
In that immortal sung." and every individual now present, in that solemn year of jubilee, be gathered to Christ, and serve him, and rejoice in him.
THE CONCURRENT TESTIMONY OF THE SPIRIT AND TIE BELIEVER
REV. H. MELVILL, B.D.
CAMDEN CHAPEL, CAMBERWELL, NOVEMBER 27, 1836.
“ The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.”—
ROMANS, viii. 16.
You will remember, that in those parting discourses, which were designed to sustain the sinking spirits of his followers, Christ dwelt much on the coming of the Holy Spirit in the character of a Comforter. .“ The Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things :” and “I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever, even the Spirit of truth :” and yet again, “ When the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me."
In accordance with this title of the Holy Ghost, you must be aware that the joys and consolations bestowed on the righteous are ascribed ordinarily to the third person in the Trinity. In writing to the 'Galatians, St. Paul gives a catalogue of “the fruits of the Spirit ;” and in this catalogue you find “joy” and “peace.” You know, moreover, that this Spirit is spoken of as “sealing believers to the day of redemption;" as setting them apart for God, so that themselves and those around them have evidence, that they belong to the heavenly family.
It cannot be necessary, that we go at length into proof, that the title of Comforter is fulfilled by the Spirit. The Spirit is that divine agent who acts upon the human mind, and whose especial part it is, in the economy of redemption, to procure admission for the truths of Christianity. Hence it necessarily follows, that neither the promises nor the threatenings of God's word can produce their right effect, except as handled and applied by the Holy Ghost. And of course, if this divine Being must carry home to the conscience and the heart the statements of the Bible, ere they can alarm or animate,
he must be emphatically the Comforter, as having at his disposal the whole material of comfort.
But the more we magnify the office of the Spirit, the greater importance we attach to his operations, the more deeply interesting becomes the inquiry, Are we ourselves possessed of this Spirit ? In regard, for example, to this character of a Comforter, if no spiritual consolation can be such as it is safe to receive, unless it is the result of the working of the Holy Ghost, of what unspeakable moment is it that we determine whether any hope that we cherish, any joy that we experience, can fairly be traced to this divine authorship. We need not say, that, if there be probability of mistake, it is of first-rate importance that we obtain some definite rule by which to distinguish a false hope from a genuine. If, indeed, a man may feel confident that he is safe for eternity, and yet his confidence be wholly without scriptural warrant, there cannot be a question with which we can have more concern than how must we determine our true state before God.
And our intention is, on the present occasion, to furnish at least certain elements from which the reply to this question may be framed. We, therefore, select as our subject of discourse, a passage of scripture which is often referred to, and perhaps often misunderstood, when the point to be described is that of the evidence we may gain of our condition before God. The apostle affirms generally, in our text, with regard to true believers, that “the Spirit itself beareth witness with their spirits, that they are the children of God." He here undoubtedly speaks of some testimony, which the Holy Spirit affords to an individual, and which may assure that individual of his adoption into the family of heaven : and we are bound to conclude from this, that it is the office of the Holy Ghost to convey to us intimations of our safety, and furnish us with that internal evidence which may assure us of our justification with God. But then, it yet remains to be decided, what this testimony of the Holy Spirit is-of what nature, and in what way communicated. Men will tell you, that the testimony is something not to be described ; a writing on the tablet of the soul, to be read only by the individual to whom it is addressed; a secret whisper which none can hear but the single party mysteriously addressed. Now we are amongst the last who would deny that the Holy Spirit may occasionally impart to believers in Christ assurances of their safety, which must, from their very nature, be limited to themselves. We are quite aware, that those who wait earnestly on the Lord, and
work out salvation with unwearied assiduity, are often privileged with seasons in which they enjoy such foretastes of heaven, and enter into such communings with God, as furnish them with a kind of irresistible proof that they are appointed to the inheritance whici fadeth not away: and we are equally aware that this proof, though most convincing to themselves, is not of such a nature that it can be brought to bear upon others. We quite admit, that good men may often enjoy, in the retirements of their closets, such manifestations of the divine favour, as furnish full ground of assurance that they are pardoned and accepted: and yet, when they come back into the world, bring nothing to which they can appeal, as warranting their confidence. There may unquestionably be a secret consciousness, a testimony mysteriously sent into the heart, the whisper of a voice which could not be heard beyond the confines of the soul, but which there spoke thrillingly and persuasively; and these may satisfy the favoured individual that he is the heir of immortality, though manifestly the evidence is of a character to convince none but the party immediately interested. A man may speak to me of the internal witness which he has of being God's child: I do not question that there may be such a witness; but manifestly it is a witness of which I can form no judgment; it is necessarily confined to the party who affirms its possession, and can in no degree work conviction in a stranger. We desire, therefore, to avoid most carefull-the appearance of resolving into enthusiasm all pretensions to a secret and indescribable testimony. We charge no man with speaking the words which are not“ of truth and soberness," because we find him dwelling on heavenly communications with which he is privileged, and appealing to discoveries which God is pleased to make of himself in the depths and solitudes of his own heart. God forbid that we should in the least degree limit the operations of the Spirit. God forbid that we should throw the slightest shadow of suspicion on those joys of the righteous with which no stranger intermeddleth, as though to question that they furnish any evidence of the man's being a true believer. But we may lawfully declare, that this secret testimony, this witness which can satisfy none but the individual in whose breast it is planted, may very easily be counterfeited, and is not to be trusted when it stands alone. And the question now is, whether it be of an evidence such as this that St. Paul speaks in our text. The question is, whether that testimony of the Holy Ghost to which the apostle refers be a secret, and silent, and intangible thing, coming in the