THE HISTORY OF JAMES.
There is a something connected with early associations which is almost indescribable. Every one has felt it, but few, very few, have been able to excel in a description of it! Who has not felt, as he gazes upon the cottage,—the home of his childhood,—his youthful days flash with all the vividness of reality before his mind; and as he stands and muses on the bygone years, numbered with those before the flood, he is almost spell-bound to the spot! All his childish pastimes and youthful pleasures pass in review before his mental vision; while the little trials with which his cup was mixed, are not without their influence in mingling a melancholy with the pleasing reminiscences of the past. Much has been said on this principle of association, and truly much remains unsaid on the subject. Scarcely is there a green sod, or a purling brook, a shady forest-tree, or a smiling flower, an enchanting and fairy landscape, or a barren and desolate heath; scarcely an object in nature, or a work of art, which does not awaken some gratefully pleasing, yet painful recollections of the past!
It is to this principle I attribute much of the good which results from Sabbath-schools. Often has the pious teacher to return from his onerous duties in the school, and retiring to his closet, to mourn on account of the fruitlessness of his efforts; and Satan never fails, at such seasons, to fill his mind with discouraging thoughts, which weigh down his spirits, and lead him almost to decide on retiring from the work. To such, let the precept and promise of God’s word,—“Cast thy bread upon the waters; for thou shalt find it after many days,”—be a source of never-failing encouragement. How frequently, in after life, has it been found, that the instruction of the Sabbath-school, though it may have lain dormant for a time, has not been annihilated; but, through some circumstance, or by some object, it has been resuscitated in the memory, and it germinates, blossoms, fructifies, and brings forth glorious fruit, which has cheered the hearts and upheld the hands of many thousands of the most self-denying and arduous laborers in God’s vineyard.
James, the eldest of the three lads mentioned, was a youth of considerable promise. He had one of the most retentive memories I have ever met with. Having reached the age of seventeen, his parents placed him with a Methodist in a neighboring town, as an apprentice. For twelve months after his removal, he stood aloof from all connection with the Church and people of God; after which period, as he remarks in a letter to his brother, “at the request of the superintendent of C—— school, I became a teacher in that school, and for four years remained as such.” James continued as a teacher in the school for about twelve-months previous to his becoming a member of society; at the expiration of which time, he was induced,