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islands and continents, and are scattered around for the healing of the nations. The roots have struck deep; they have extended to remote lands, germinated in every congenial soil, producing trees of inferior size, but of the same fruit and foliage, as the parent stock.
When the nature and tendency of revelation are considered, no Christian can reflect, without a mixture of surprise and delight, that Bible societies, in vigorous activity, now exist, not only in England and Scotland, but in Holland, Germany, Prussia, Switzerland, Denmark, Sweden, and Russia, in Europe ;at Calcutta and Bombay in Asia ;-at the Isle of France, St. Helena, and the Cape of Good Hope, in Africa ;-at Jamaica, among the American Islands, and in various parts of the United States.
When the millennium will commence, or what in particular will be the state of things, during that happy period, I know not. But, when we contemplate the simultaneous and powerful efforts, which in various ways, are now making in so many Christian nations, and reflect on the natural influence of revealed truth on the condition of man, whether considered as a social or an immortal being, it is impossible to avoid the belief, that a broad foundation is laid for human happiness and virtue; and that these great measures will eventually issue in “
peace on earth, and good will towards men."
The interest, taken by so many among our own countrymen, in this great enterprise of benevolence and piety, justifies animating hopes, as to the condition of posterity. When we shall have “ fallen asleep, not being permitted to continue by reason of death,” our children will not be left to pass their probation in a nation of infidels. They will not, we confidently hope, be taught that death is everlasting sleep; nor to deny, that “God, who, at sundry times, and in divers manners, spake to the Jewish nation by the prophets, hath in these last ages, spoken to the world by his Son.” They will find objects and institutions, at once indicating, and promoting reverence for God and revealed religion. That spirit, which now moves the whole
Christian world, will, it is believed, in their day, be more active and widely diffused. They will witness the removal of some of those obstacles, which yet impede the propagation of Christianity. Much will be done in their day, and more in the days of their posterity, that “valleys may be filled, and mountains and hills be brought low." “ My spirit, that is upon thee, and my words, which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed's seed, saith the Lord, from hence forth and forever.”
If the value and tendency of the holy Scriptures have been fairly represented, men seldom meet together for a purpose more important, than that, for which we are now assembled.
Is our social, moral, or religious state so perfect, as to need no improvement ? Has it not been shown, that there is no method better calculated to effect such improvement, than the propagation of that system of truth, which is contained in the oracles of God? Have our endeavors been commensurate, either with the objects of the institution, or with our own ability? When I speak of ability, I mean to comprehend that patronage, which we might obtain, were greater interest excited, and corresponding endeavors used. Compared with other societies of a similar nature, can it be said, that we have performed our contingent of labor, or have offered our proportion of sacrifice? If others have not done too much, we have unquestionably done too little. With no greater ardor, than we have displayed, to instruct the ignorant, and reclaim the vicious in our own district, would the sacred writings have been, in the course of a few years, diffused in sixty different languages or dialects ?-Would they have been sent to China, India, Persia, and the regions bordering on the Caspian Sea ? When there are about forty Bible Societies in the United States, is it too much, that one should be liberally supported in the District of Maine? Whatever duties we owe, either to religion, or the public, admit no delay. The king of terrors is every year making new inroads, and returns, loaded with fresh spoils, to his abode of darkness and silence. Since our last anniversary, the late venerable president of this Society,* has closed his earthly labors: What thine hand findeth to do, do it with thy mnight; for in the grave, there is no work, knowledge, or device.
To the subject now before us, I beg leave to call the attention of this whole assembly.
We solicit your charity for no exceptionable, or doubtful object. We are not asking you to favor one denomination of Christians in exclusion of another; but to put into the hands of the ignorant poor that word, by which they may judge of Christian truth; and by which they must themselves be judged at the
in any way more suitable than this, testify gratitude for your present security from that hostile attack and perhaps wanton conflagration, which a few months since, you so justly apprehended, and which, but for the return of peace, you might, before the present time, have actually witnessed? The benefactions now solicited are for enlarging and confirming the empire of the Prince of Peace. Let the Scriptures be known, studied, and obeyed through the world, and war shall never again disturb or desolate the nations.
“ No niore shall nation against nation rise,
And the broad falchion in a ploughshare end." As to the proximity of our Saviour's reign on earth, his friends may, indeed, be disappointed. When they are looking for permanent and extensive peace, new wars may be kindled. There may again“ be distress of nations with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring, and men's hearts failing for fear, and for looking after those things, which are coming upon the earth.” But those revolutions, which disturb the world, do not shake the foundation of the Christian's hope.
“ God is not
* The Rev. Samuel Deane, D. D.
that he should lie, nor the son of man, that he should repent. Hath he said, and shall he not do it? Hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good ?
What has recently been done for the furtherance of the Gospel, has not been effected, while the nations were flourishing and tranquil. If therefore the earth is to be visited with new desolations, we need not apprehend, that the great interest which is so dear to Christians, will be abandoned: The walls of Jerusalem shall be built in troublous times. Therefore will we not fear though the earth should be removed, and though the mountains should be carried into the midst of the sea.Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of our God; the holy place of the tabernacle of the most High.
CONSEQUENCES OF NEGLECTING THE
Hebrews 2: 2, 3. For if the word spoken by angels was steadfast,
and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward, how shall we escape, if we neglect so great sal, vation : which at first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them, that heard Him.
Known unto God are all his works from the foundation of the world. He is incapable of disappointment; nor does he ever adopt any new measure by way of experiment. He never enters on the execution of any purpose, which he had not formed, before the universe began. Though to our view, his government has a different aspect at different periods, it is really uniform. The parts, though various, are so connected and proportioned as to constitute a system, in all respects, worthy of the Being from whom it proceeds. That which happens in any age, has relation to what precedes, and to what follows. The Mosaic dispensation had respect, on the one side, to the fall of man; on the other, to the coming of Jesus Christ. It was not designed to be perfect in quality, nor eternal in duration : The law made nothing perfect; but was a shadow of good things to come.
The apostle institutes in the context, a comparison between the religion of Moses and that of Christ. “ The word, spoken by angels,” was the law, as given at Mount Sinai. If it be asked, why the law is said to have been given by angels, I answer, that many of these celestial spirits, there is reason to believe, were present, as witnesses and ministers to that great transaction. This seems to be intimated by the Psalmist: The