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and we think we are justified in making the assertion, because of the tendency there is in mankind to run, first to one extreme, and then to the uther.
Now, in a certain sense, God may be said to will that which he permits, as in the case of Pharaoh's hardness of heart; and, in an unlimited sense, he wills that which he imperatively commands, as he did when he called the worlds into being. But in neither of these senses, is the word used in the text. It is far removed from both. It is, nevertheless, a real will, a real desire, that every one of these little ones should be saved-a desire that has given birth to a plan for their salvation. But still this salvation is only provided and offered, not irresistibly imposed, either upon them, or any other human beings. Means must be used, and efforts made, to bring them to that salvation which the will of God has planned, and his mercy effected, for them.
But our subject will rise into vast importance, if we reflect for a few moments, before we proceed to the second part of our discourse, upon what these little ones are whom it is the will of our Heavenly Father to save, and what that is which they are to be saved from. They are then immortal beings. They have within them that which can never die. Each of these little ones possesses a soul-a precious, ever-living soula soul endless in its duration, incalculable in its worth. What are thousands of years, or millions of ages, compared with that eternity throughout which these souls will have to exist ? a moment! What are all the treasures of the world, what the whole fabric of unconscious, perishable nature, compared with one of these souls ? a mere bauble! My brethren, when the worth of the soul is the subject of our thoughts, there is no fear of our imagination exceeding the truth-we have no need to be cautioned against supposing too much—we may give full play to our mental powers in attempting to grasp it, and when we have done our utmost, all our efforts will be but like those of a feeble fly trying the extent of infinite space. The subject is too lofty for even the mind of an archangel to reach; well then may we be baffled by its immeasurable height.
It is this consideration, which attaches so much dignity and value to the humble labours of a Sabbath School. The achievements of the warrior, the statesman, or the scholar, much as they are lauded by the world and rewarded by the munificence of a grateful nation, sink into mere insignificance, when compared with the successful efforts of a zea
lous, pious, enlightened Sunday School teacher. For what are the triumphs of the warrior, but the fading, blood-bought wreath of a few short years? What are the deeds of the statesman, but merely a slight addition to the honour, or greatness, or happiness of a fleeting, earthly existence? What are the attainments of the scholar, but often a more refined method of trifling away this life and forgetting the next? Whilst the good done by the faithful Sunday School teacher, is commensurate with eternity—it is the instructing of an immortal spirit, the bringing of a soul to God and endless glory. They may gild in brighter colours the passing objects of this world, but the night of death will soon throw an eternal cloud of oblivion over the fairest prospect they can rear; whilst the soul which he has been the means of saving, will emerge from the tomb clad in infinitely more than mortal beauty. What an encouragement this should be to all such teachers ! How it should stimulate them, when they know that the mine, in which they toil, is rich with treasures far more valuable than rubies! And how it should excite every one of us to contribute, to the utmost of our ability, to forward so noble an object as that of bringing immortal souls to heaven!
But another most important feature in our subject, is, that which these little ones are to be suvell
from. And what, my brethren, do you suppose this is? It is ignorance—it is vice—it is misery here, and hell hereafter. They are born in sin, and the children of wrath. They are inheritors of a corrupt nature. They have within them the seeds of wickedness, which will spring up into noxious weeds, unless checked by early culture. And, above all, they are liable to eternal death, and must perish everlastingly, unless they are brought to Jesus the Saviour of sinners. Surely this thought must give a fearful interest to our subject, and must invest it with an importance inconceivably great.
What should we not be willing to give, in order to save these little ones from bodily injury, especially from the loss of natural life? How eagerly we should exert our best efforts, to shield them from the ruffian's grasp, or from a watery grave, or from devouring flames ! Could it be made to appear that we had it in our power to ward off any such danger, we should scarcely conceive ourselves justified in neglecting the opportunity, however arduous might be the exertion, or however great the risk, to which it would subject us. Where is the man, who would not think that the happiest moment of his life, which permitted him to save a fellow-creature from an untimely death? How much rather, then, ought we to strain every nerve, as it were, to save these little ones from the jaws of hell, the Tophet of everlasting destruction !
We mentioned above, that the will of our Heavenly Father that these little ones should be saved, had led him to put forth a plan for their salvation. Now this is what we proposed to consider secondly, and what we called,
II. THE PROOF WHICH HE HAS GIVEN ('S
THAT SUCH IS HIS WILL.
Not, my brethren, that we really need any thing to prove the truth of either this, or any other assertion, contained in the word of God. It ought to be sufficient for us to know that He says or does a thing, without our requiring to be told why. And, indeed, this plan of salvation is not to be looked upon, as something done in order to convince us that God wills us to be saved; though now it is done, it cannot but be a powerful argument towards producing such an impression on our minds
—to use the Apostle's language, it “commendeth God's love towards us, in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us."
Had we been told merely that God willed us to be saved, and that he had provided salvation for