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God formerly committed to the Jews. If “wise as the serpent, and harmless as the dove;" if dilligent in our calling, and devoted in our lives to the work of faith, the labor of love, and the patience of hope, what a revenue of glory to God, and of happiness to man, may we annually yield! And that it is our duty and our privilege, cordially to consecrate ourselves and our substance to the work of the Lord committed to us, I need not argue, as there is not one amongst us that does deny or doubt it.
Still, it is pertinent and appropos to call forth, direct, and encourage the efforts of our brotherhood in this great and mighty enterprize. We have as much health, wealth, and discretion, as any papistical or protestant association in our land; and why not be equally, nay, more than equally zealous, indefatigable and self-sacrificing, in this our calling and mission to this our age and nation?
The harvest is truly great, and, with the mass of our country before our eyes, to say nothing of lands remote and realms abroad, may we not say, is the laborers are few?" How much is yet to be done for the glory of our Redeemer and the salvation of our world, within the bosom of our beloved country! Nor are we legally, morally, or evangelically confined to these United States, as the field exclusively demanding our aids and efforts. 6 The field," nay, our field " is the world,” because it is our Master's world, and our common humanity. In the economy of man, the blood in his heart is carried through every channel which God has opened, to the utmost extremity of our individual personalities. So ought our Christian charity, the heart's blood of our corporation, in its reviving, consoling, and vivifying warmth and efficacy, to carry life and health to the farthest domicil of fallen man on the face of the broad earth.
But this is not our present theme. We all have yet much to do. The ground taken from error and delusion, is to be retained and defended, and its present boundaries still farther and farther extended. In this divine service the pen and the press are mighty agencies, and we must not leave them out of our premises. God has put them into our hands, and we must not lay them down and sleep upon our arms.
We are asked for a thousand preachers, and cannot furnish, for the new and increasing demand, five per cent. We can send out written Harbingers equal to the demand, but living, talking, and self-moving harbingers, are not so soon Aedged, nor so easily pinioned, as our monthly missionaries. Still, they do a good work, and frequently strengthen the things that remain, and are sometimes “roady to die.” A whole church has been builded by the monthly visits of one of these cheap and rapid heralds of reform.
We concede to the living voice of a Christian living man, whose head is full of light, and whose heart is full of love, a superlative agency and power in this great work of preaching and teaching Christ. But there are three degrees of comparison, and, of these, the positive and the comparative are not to be despised. The Messiah taught his apostles and evangelists to write as well as to preach to write to churches, as well as to teach Christ. And Paul wrote words both of exhortation and consolation, as well as spoke them. Printivg is better than writing. It is read with more ease, and considered with more calmness and concentration. And by the impulse of steam and electricity, it flies, angel-like, all over the land.
We advocate all the means which God in his providence has vouchsafed to us.
We, therefore, ask our friends, and the friends of God and man, to give us space and room in their hearts, and to send us to their neighbors and friends once a month, with their prayers, to carry on the work which our monthly messengers have, so early and so late, so untiringly and so successfully carried forward to the present time.
We are full of good designs. Will our brethren and fellow-laborers amplify our commission, or at least enlarge our parish and fields of labor? The present volume is designed to elaborate, in the form of essays and conversations, Bible truths; to develop the treasures of wisdom and knowledge contained in the apostolic writings especially. There is now less demand for controversy. The great questions and debates called forth by our opponents are disposed of. There is little more to be called for in the form of controversy. The cannons of our adversaries are dismounted, if not spiked. It is conceded, we have got the vantage ground. We shall, therefore, have more space for Bible translatiou and Bible interpretation; and it is equally a concession, not to be recalled, that in this department we may do more than in any other, to convince, persuade, and please the lovers of truth, and righteousness, and peace.
Still, I would not lead any of our readers to imagine that a cessation of hostilities is to be expected or desired, while error is enthroned in many temples of sectarian institution, and while its unconscious friends are indefatigable in their efforts to wield its leaden sceptre over a slumbering world. A purely philological and grammatical exposition of some porcions of God's own book, we doubt not, however, will do more, at this stage of the controversy, to emancipate the slaves of tradition and human authority, than any formal attempts in verbal combat or controversial style, to unmask its haggard countenance or to disrobe its ungraceful person. Nothing is more beautiful than truth in its own simplicity: nothing more unsightly than error in its naked and native deformity. To present the former in its own attractions, and to expose the latter in its meretricious attire, shall always be regarded as our duty, when formally and providentially summoned to the work. Our “Conversations on the Epistle to the Romans," shall now be resumed, as well as upon other portions of the Inspired Writings. This, with his letter to the Hebrews, we have long regarded as the two most profound and grand compositions in the Christian Scriptures; the comprehension of which does more to enlighten the understanding and to enlarge the heart, than any other two compositions gisted to the Christian church.
The plan commenced and prosecuted to the seventh chapter of the letter to the Romans-diffuse and popular though it be-we regard as better adapted to the present condition and taste of the Christian profession than SERIES IV.-VOL. I.
any other which we could at this crisis, and under present circumstances, adopt. Such we have learned, from numerous sources of high respectability, to be a prevailing opinion; and as it better suits our desultory employment, we shall continue it through the present volume.
But beside this, we have essays of some importance on sundry topics, which, at the present crisis, do en ge, and which will still more engage, the attention of our particular brotherhood. These we shall from time to time furnish, as our opportunities admit and the times demand.
But we do not like to promise much. We must in the future, as in the past, act as the crisis demands, and be more or less controlled by circum. stances, which we can neither anticipate nor control. We are set for the defence of the gospel, the edification of the brotherhood, the conversion of the world, and must, therefore, appear both offensive and defensive, as the times demand. We ask the aid of our brotherhood in extending the field of our operations, by giving us wings to fly and facilities to enlighten their children, their friends and neighbors, by putting into their hands the offerings of our pen. We ought to have, and we might have without detriment to any one, and with much greater advantage to many, a much greater number of readers, and, consequently, a much more abundant harvest. The more active, zealous, and faithful they are in their professed benevolence and efforts to enlighten and sanctify the world, the more successful we shall be in our endeavor to gather fruit unto eternal life. As they lead we must follow. We will only add, that our steadfast aim and effort shall be to keep pace with their devotion and their benevolence. We will endeavor to be as near to them as possible, in the onward, upward, heavenward career of glory, honor, and immortality. As many as be thus minded, peace be on them, and on all the Israel of God! DECEMBER 3, 1850.
- Nevertheless, when the Son of Man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?"-Luke xviii. 8.
This question of the Saviour suggests, to the reflecting mind, an important inquiry with respect both to himself, and the age in which we live. The exercise of faith is, indeed, essential to the very existence of our race, and we can conceive of no possible way, consis. tent with the present order of things, by which the present operations of society, the progress of nations, and the intercourse of friends, could be carried on and perpetuated, were we to discard from our system the principle of faith. It is the sun of our moral and intel. lectual nature, affording warmth and light to both. The learning and wisdom of the past are its treasures of light, and over the dreary wastes of the unexplored future, it sends its genial and inviting warmth. It whispers in our ears the encouraging story of the days that are gone, arms us for the conflicts and labors of each passing moment, and urges to eager, hopeful efforts for the years to come. By it we lay our head upon the pillow of experience, and, unstartled by fear, dream of joys to come, sweeter than those that sleep in memory. Most full in the pure-hearted, we see it personi. fied in the gentle-eyed infant, looking into its mother's face with. out a fear, trusting in her protection and love, and clinging, with its little arms, closer around her neck when she chides, than when she
But is this the faith of which the Saviour speaks? If so, he scarcely would have expressed this doubt of its being found in the world when he shall come; for, as long as man exists in the world, and his nature remains as it is, we can hardly imagine any want of this principle in its ordinary action. But there is a faith which acts upon that, which human experience did not ascertain, nor human reason discover; a faith which confides in promises, that do not even relate to this state of being in which we now exist; but which, willingly and undoubtingly, looks for not only a fountain of joy, from which mortal never drank, but for a change in the very theater of our being and the mode of our existence; new heavens and a new earth; spiritual bodies and eternal joys; a faith, indeed, which admits, and fully relies on, that which is not only contrary to the little human experience of such inhuman monsters as Hume and his parasites, but in what is, truly and in fact, above, and contrary to, all human experience, in the broadest, fullest, largest sense of the expression; for what eye has seen the heavens rolled up as a scroll, what ear has heard them passing away with a great noise, and whose heart has thrilled, save in imagination, to the heavenly tones of seraphic harmony ! No. This faith claims from us something altogether beyond experience and above the discoveries of reason; and the question is, Shall it be found in the earth when the Son of Man shall come?
If we admit that, so far as the virtue of faith may avail us, the Son of Man comes to us at our death; that no change can or will be wrought in us, by any means, for our salvation, after we die; then this question may become a solemnly impressive one to all who live; for in this sense, it is also most true, that the Son of Man cometh in an hour that we know not of. That the Saviour has asked this question in a manner so impressive, challenges our consideration, and, indeed, creates the suspicion that faith will be found with but few. Nor, if we judge by the test of the Evangelist James, and look for its manifestations in the works of professors, shall we find much to relieve us of our sear. Christians do not walk as seeing Him that is invisible. On the contrary, whilst they would honor God with their lips, their hearts appear to be far from Him. The most explicit precepts of the word are disregarded by many; the works of the flesh are not mortified nor suppressed; the graces of the spirit are not cultivated; soberness, righteousness and godliness, are not made the characteristic qualities or habits of life; the model of Christ is admired, but not imitated; his morality, in its purity and excellency, is extolled, and placed above all contrast with that of any other code, but it is not adopted in the practice of those who delight to expatiate upon its superiority; his wisdom is