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provide hospitals, medical dispensaries, kindergartens, nightschools, employment bureaus, reading-rooms, gymnasia, bathrooms, Chinese schools-every form of applied Christianity. And this the Church must do, not to protect itself in its luxurious appointments from undesirable members, but to save itself from dissolution. It must be influenced by that tender and melting and most persuasive of all arguments-" for Jesus' sake."
Is it not then a providence that the Methodist Church has at this juncture a whole generation of young people organized and obedient? In the whole history of the Christian Church there can be found no greater opportunity than that before the Epworth League the opportunity to lead the Methodist Church, born in the streets of London and in the highways and hedges of old England, back to the masses from whom it is now slowly becoming alienated, that it may resume its leadership over that mighty throng who yearn in their misery for a Redeemer, and whose sin renders the statement of the doctrine of depravity unnecessary. These opportunities improved will be sufficient reason for the existence of the Epworth League.-Methodist Review.
BY THE REV. G. O. HUESTIS.
TEEMING and sparkling with thoughts that are living,
Harnessing forces to elevate mind;
Everywhere treasures to truth-seekers giving;
Moving the veil from intellects blind.
Excellence fostering, character moulding,
Tincturing the soul with cosmetic art;
Home-life ennobling, its blessings unfolding,
Odours refreshing, thy pages impart.
Delving in mines where rich treasures are hidden,
Interrogating to ascertain truth;
Stopping in thought this side the forbidden,
Tracing sin's methods to capture our youth.
Meddling with knowledge, its limit exploring,
AYLESFORD, N. S.
CLASS-MEETINGS AND HOW TO IMPROVE THEM.
BY THE REV. ADFRED ROEBUCK, B.D., F.R.G.S.
THE idea embodied in the Methodist Class-meeting, though not the name, is found again and again in the New Testament. And even if it were of human origin only, surely an object so laudable as that aimed at in weekly fellowship, and bearing the seal of God's blessing, as this ordinance undoubtedly does, cannot but be in harmony with the spirit and aim of Jesus Christ. It secures for individual members education in practical Christianity, and development in Christian experience cannot but be sanctioned by "the Master of assemblies."
The Class-meeting was the outcome of a felt necessity in the early history of our Church, and was intended as auxiliary to the pastoral oversight of the Societies. The Leaders were looked upon as sub-pastors, and were expected to report special cases of lukewarmness, difficulty, or sickness to the minister, who through them was thus brought into instant touch with those who needed him most.
No one asserts that there can be no fellowship except in the Methodist Class-meeting; but we may as confidently declare there is no institution where the ideal is better realized than within our own communion, in this, one of our specific gatherings. Other Churches have coveted it, and not a few isolated ones have borne their testimony to its utility by imitation.
It will be well to consider the subject under two aspects: the man, and his methods.
I. The Man.-The Leader must not rely upon his social status or his intellectual qualifications, useful as they are in conjunction with essentials. The office will not sanctify the man nor efficiently cover his defects. He must be above everything else "a man of God," quick to know "what Israel ought to do." The knowledge of other hearts must come chiefly by self-examination; for each man is the key to all. To know ourselves is to have gained a good understanding of others. Take, for instance the doctrines of repentance, faith, sanctification, the witness of the Spirit. These must be understood in some better way than by a definition; but if the explanations thrill with the glow of personal experience, as they will if they express stages of one's own growth in grace, then they will be "with power and with the Holy Ghost," or if the force and insidious arts of temptation are referred to, the specious and dangerous forms of doubt, what
counsel comes so forcibly to a distressed and doubting soul as that which falls from the lips of one who, ransacking the wellremembered diary of his own heart, can speak of victories in similar crises and dangers? If the Leader's self-knowledge is insufficient to meet the multiform experiences, the deficency may be supplied by the studies of the best biographies of good men and women, and, of course, by the careful and prayerful study of the Holy Scriptures.
Behind the Leader must be the sincere Christian, whose counsel corresponds with his conduct, whose practice illuminates and enforces his precepts, and whose strength springs out of a heart of purity. The poorest member should be made to feel equally welcome with the richest, and have equal courtesy shown him in the street as in the class-room. The man who has power with God will have most power with man; his success may not attract the public eye, but it will be seen and felt when every popular wind bag has collapsed.
Some Leaders, through constant failure, are evidently not intended for the duty. The officers of a church ought not to be swayed by sentiment when souls are at stake; the law of fitness should rule in the realm of religion, as in every other department of life. The duty of every Leader who cannot succeed in getting or keeping a class, after fair and full trial, is to resign.
We are in these days so afraid of being thought superstitious, that we are in danger of the opposite extreme, of lacking reverence and solemnity. If the Leader is to be what his name implies, then he must be at least a step in advance of his members, if not in intellect, in holiness. He can only lead, in so far as he himself has plodded forward in explorations of the "green pastures." The true Moses is the man who knows how to strike the veins of truth where the finest gold is and the deepest "wells of salvation"; who knows the plentiful, common-looking white coriander seeds lying all around the desert path, and tells the hungry pilgrim it is manna. Such a Leader seldom lacks a following.
The chief essentials, then, in a Leader are knowledge of God's Word, acquaintance with human experience, a love of private prayer, and tender strength. If life is a constant vision of God, as Elijah's was and Paul's, then the requisite courage, tact, and skill will be present, so as to warn without harshness, avoiding on the one hand coldness, and weakness on the other.
II. Methods. No stereotyped rule should be permitted to fetter or make impossible holy originality in this or any other department of Christian work. There is no reason why a Class should be conducted according to any set plan or formal routine, where
questions are never varied and often the answers are as monotonous. You know exactly what certain members will say, and the danger is lest any young convert should imitate the same type of dulness. How to remedy this defect is of supreme importance. 1. Our first suggestion is trite, but worthy of iteration, Begin and close punctually.
2. Strike a bright keynote in the opening hymn, and endeavour to keep the meeting up to heavenly concert pitch throughout.
3. Let the weekly meetings be regarded as home-reunions, where gladness prevails.
4. Give the Word of God a premier place in each gathering; better men say less and God more, than that we should fail to hallow them with prayer and the Word of Truth.
5. It would be well for classes, meeting on the same night, to join together, say, once in six weeks or quarterly, for united prayer, that the members may never forget that they are part of a great whole.
6. Now and again they might be invited to meet one another in a social way. If the Leader is unable to afford the expense so incurred, perhaps one or two, or more, members could be encouraged to take the responsibility in turns as often as thought desirable.
7. Again, the Leader should aim at the training of members for the office of Leader. The work could be accomplished by a graduated method; first, the powers of each so willing to cooperate could be tested by asking the most promising to lead the opening devotions of the meeting; others more advanced could be asked to suggest what line of counsel came into their own mind as most suitable to the cases of a few who had borne their testimony, or even might be asked to take the whole conduct of that part of the meeting. Thus all would be done under the eye of the Leader, who could supply helps and hints privately. The Church would not lack suitable Leaders then; they would be ready, trained and equipped.
8. Endeavour to create an esprit de corps in the Class, and encourage members to feel their individual responsibility. I have long thought that each Class should have its inner visiting committee, whose duty it should be to supplement the work of the regular Leader in visiting the absentees or the sick. Hundreds of members are well pleased to enjoy the benefits of the Class-meeting, but do nothing to increase its interest, or usefulness, or success. They should be led to speak of "our Class," thereby sharing the responsibility as well as the pleasure.
9. Nothing will tend to the revival of a Class, or rouse its noblest sentiments like the presence of, in the virile parlance of Scripture and of early Methodism, "a penitent inquirer." Classmeetings are for all who "desire to flee from the wrath to come." How frequently have burdened souls been brought to this means of grace, and light has shone upon them, and peace with God has come-the peace of God, and glad doxologies rang out from the enraptured company of believers! Scenes like these are, alas! too few. Members should be urged importunately to be on the watch for such cases and encouraged to bring them; or if unsuccessful in their efforts, requests for special prayer might be presented, when the whole Class, with quickened sympathies and broadened horizon, might taste the sympathy of Christ, and pray for definite blessings upon definite people or neighbourhoods.
10. Finance. By many Leaders this part of the service is deferred until after the benediction has been pronounced, thus banishing the taking of the weekly contributions outside, as if a secular as distinguished from a sacred duty. But surely this is to create a false impression on the minds of the members, for the gifts should be regarded as part of the religious exercises, and being cheerfully presented should be sanctified with prayer.
The Class-meeting may not be a perfect system in practice, but with all its imperfections it is a wise, beneficent, and good system; it must be ours to talk it up, not to talk it down, to improve and make as efficient and useful as our consecrated talents can make it. To the Leaders we would say, "Neglect not the gift that is in thee"; and to the Methodist Church, "Destroy it not, for a blessing is in it."-Wesleyan Methodist Magazine.
THE SWEETEST LIVES.
THE Sweetest lives are those to duty wed,
Are close knit strands of an unbroken thread
Where love ennobles all.
The world may sound no trumpets, ring no bells,
Thy love shall chant its own beatitudes
A poor man served by thee shall make thee rich;
A sick man helped by thee shall make thee strong;
Of service which thou renderest.