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It is no less true in relation to religious books than to ministerial effort, that “ Paul may plant and Apollos water, but God alone giveth the increase.” And the apostle's inference is no less applicable to authors than it is to preachers, “ so then, neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth, but God that giveth the increase.”
It should be the sole object of a religious author as well as of the Christian minister, to promote the glory of God and the spiritual interests of mankind. But it is a fact, of which there are a thousand proofs around us in the world, that an author may have the best intentions, he may possess highly cultivated intellectual powers, and produce a work of great intrinsic excellence and merit—and yet, owing to a variety of causes, his book may never have an extensive circulation, nor be productive of much good in the world. On the other hand, a work of inferior merit, owing to some apparently accidental cause, may gain a wide circulation, and be instrumental in effecting great good to the whole huinan
It is profitable to trace the movements of divine providence as developed in the history of a single volume issued from the press, and sent forth on an errand of mercy. The same unseen hand which moves all the complicated machinery of the universe, shapes the destiny of every volume sent forth from the press. And so humble an instrument as a single volume, written“ in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling,” may, through divine direction, be made tributary to the accomplishment of some of the great and eternal purposes of God. Take the following instance. A work may have owed its existence or publication to an apparently trivial or accidental circumstance. That work is sent forth into the world. A single copy of it finds its way to a remote village. It there falls into the hands of a minister of the gospel. He reads it. A new direction is immediately given to the whole train of his thoughts. His views become changed. He alters his style of
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preaching. The word which goes out of his mouth, that was before dead and inefficacious, now becomes a quick and powerful.” His congregation, who were before asleep, are now awakened to the importance of eternal things. Many become anxious about their salvation. They are pointed to “ the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world;" they embrace the Saviour, and enter into life. I have not been drawing upon my imagination, but have given a simple statement of facts connected with the history of a religious volume.
In the case above stated, it would seem at first sight as though the everlasting salvation of a number of immortal souls were made to turn upon one or two events, that were merely accidental. But for a certain trivial occurrence, the book would never have been published—but for another occurrence, equally fortuitous, the book would never have found its way to the hands of that minister-and but for that book, that minister would not have been enlightened, nor those souls awakened and converted to God.
Now let it here be borne in mind, that with God there can be nothing fortuitous or accidental—that he sees all things from the beginning to the end—and that these apparently fortuitous events constituted a part of the instrumentality by which he determined to accomplish his purposes of grace. And in like manner can God, in ten thousand ways unknown to us, make the productions of the press instrumental in gathering for him a vast revenue of glory. And the fact, that God does often put honour upon very humble efforts to advance his cause, through the medium of the press, is a very great encouragement to prompt those who feel inclined to try to do something in this way “ to cast their bread upon the waters."
The present work has been before the public about eighteen months, and has now reached the fourth edition. The author desires to feel truly grateful to God for the good this volume may have effected. He has received from different parts of the country, through private letters, many pleasing testimonies of the spiritual benefit it has been the instrument of conveying. It is his earnest prayer to almighty God, that it may again go forth on the same blessed errand, conveying spiritual light to the darkened, and leading many to love and serve the great Redeemer.
J. A. C. Vestry Room of St. Andrew's Church,
Philadelphia, Dec. 1, 1835.
INTRODUCTION :—The adaptedness of Christianity to the moral
condition of the world, a proof of its divine origin—The tenden-
Confirmation :- View of death-Confirmation-Reason of the
Christian obedience : Counting the cost-Obedience-Know-
-The danger of a backslidden state-Need of Divine grace