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EDITED BY REV. AUSTIN DICKINSON,
Corner of Spruce Street and Park Row, New York.
Nos. 1 & 2. Vol. 10.]
[JUNE & JULY, 1835.
CONTENTS-SIX SERMONS on “ The Nature, Importance, and
Means of eminent Holiness throughout the Church;" by Rev.
TO THE BENEVOLENT.-In consequence of the peculiar interest felt by numbers in tue subject of these six Sermons, and the suggestions of individuals that extra quantities would be called for, for gratuitous circulation, they have been stereotyped for the N. Preacher. And such pledges, in regard to part of the expense of printins, have been received, as enable us to say, that any number of copies will be furnished in New York, or distributed by mail, on application to the Editor, at Three Dollars a hundred, or thirty dollars a thousand. For the sake of connection, the Numbers for two months, are, in this instance, included in one cover. To those who approve, and are blest with means of aiding this effort to elevate the standard of holiness throughout the churches, we may say respectfully, in the words of another,—"The freedom and power of the press is a price put into our hands, not only to get wisdom, but to impart it to others and to all. We are under sacred obligations, then, of which we cannot divest ourselves, to use this power, and to . use it WELL.”
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UPWARDS of fifty Clergymen, of five Christian denominations, and belonging to sixteen different states, most of whom are well known to the public as authors, have allowed the Editor to expect from them Sermons for this work; among whom are the following:
Rev. Dr. Richards, Professorin the Theological Seminary at Auburn; Rev. Dr. Proudfit, Salem; Rev. Drs. Tucker and Beman, Troy ; Rev. Dr. Sprague, Albany; Rev. Drs. Milnor, Mathews, Spring, Woodbridge, and De Witt, N. York City ; Rev. Drs. Alexander and Miller, Professors in Princeton Theological Seminary; Rev. Professor M'Clelland, Rutgers College, New Jersey ; Rev. Drs. Green, M’Dowell, Tyng, and Cuyler, Philadelphia ; Rev. Dr. Bishop, President of Miami University, Ohio; Rev. Dr. Fitch, Professor of Divinity, Yale College ; Rev. Asahel Nettleton, Killingworth, Con.; Rev. Dr. Wayland, President of Brown University; Right Rev. Bp. Griswold, Salem, Mass. ; Rev. Dr. Griffin, President of Williams College; Rev. Dr. Humphrey, President of Amherst College, Mass.; Rev. Dr. Beecher, President of Lane Seminary, Cincinnati; Rev. Professors Woods, Stuart, Skinner, and Emerson, of Andover Theological Seminary ; Rev. Dr. Fisk, Presi. dent of the Wesleyan University, Middletown, Ct, ; Rev. Daniel A. Clark, Bennington, Vt.; Rev. Dr. Bates, President of Middlebury College ; Rev. Dr. Matthews, Hanover Theological Seminary, Indiana ; Rev. Dr. Baxter, Union Theological Seminary, Va.; Rev. Dr. Tyler, Portland, Me.; Rev. Dr. Lord, President of Dartmouth College ; Rev. Dr. Church, Pelham, N. H.; Rev. Dr. Leland, Charles. ton, S. C.; Rev. Dr. Coffin, Greenville, Tennessee; Rev. Professor Halsey, Western Theological Seminary ; Rev. Drs. Perkins and Hawes, Hartford, Conn.; Rev. President Wheeler, Vermont University.
THE NATURE, IMPORTANCE, AND MEANS OF EMINENT HOLINESS
THROUGHOUT THE CHURCH. Matt. xvi. 3. Can ye not discern the signs of the times ? Rom. xiv. 17. For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness and peace, and
joy in the Holy Ghost. Luke xvii. 20, 21. The kingdom of God cometh not with observation. Neither shall they say,
Lo here ! or lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you. Isaiah lii. 1, 2. Avake, awake; put on thy strength, 0 Zion; put on thy beautiful garments, 0
Jerusalem, the holy city: for henceforth ihere shal no more come unto thee the uncircumcised and the unclean. Shake thyself from the dust; arise, and sit down, 0 Jerusalem : loose thyself from the bands of thy neck, O captive daughter of Zion.
In the progress of the cause of God on earth, there are certain great crises, or turning points of destiny, full of deep interest to him and to the intelligent universe. Such was the coming of Christ, an event around which were concentrated the interests of the whole human race, and of the moral government of God in all ages.
The advent of such eras is announced beforehand, and preceded by signs. The event stands predicted on the prophetic page, throwing its light into the dark regions of futurity; and God himself, as the long-expected day draws near, so orders his providence that signs of his advent may be seen on every side. He holds up a standard to his people, and calls on them to behold it from afar.
When he does this, it is their duty to notice such signs, to be fully aware of their import, and to act accordingly; and to do this is rightly to discern the signs of the times.
To none are these great truths more applicable than to Christians of every denomination of the present age. By the sure word of prophecy a great event has been announced as near at hand. It is the regeneration of a world. An event which, like a lofty mountain summit, rises to view on the chart of prophecy, as the great intervening event between the first coming of the Savior to redeem, and his final advent to judge the world.
The advent of this day is also preceded by its appropriate signs, which may be clearly seen by all of unblinded vision, but to mention which time will not now permit. And to a great extent these signs are seen and under. stood, and the people of God seem to be making preparation for correspond. ent action.
Beneath the inspiring influence of the Almighty, the universal church is aroused, excited, and agitated by the persuasion that a glorious advent of the kingdom of God is near at hand. The conversion of the world to God is no
Vol. 10-No. 1,
longer regarded as merely the glorious but distant vision of inspired prophets. As a vivid reality, and near even at the door, it rises in all its majesty and soul-exciting power before the mind, awakening intense desire, and urging to incessant effort. Under this influence the church is daily approaching nearer to a full conception of all that is involved in a deliberate, all-absorbing effort to accomplish the mighty whole.
The field is the world, and the plans of the present age are as comprehen. sive as the field, and the church seems determined not to rest until the gospel shall be preached to every creature.
Nor is this all. A result is to be ex. pected, and should be aimed at, unlike any thing ever seen or conceived of on earth before. Not merely to fill the earth with the knowledge of the Lord, not merely to preach the gospel to every creature, but to reorganize human society in accordance with the law of God. To abolish all corruptions in religion, and all abuses in the social system, and, so far as it has been erected on false principles, to take it down and erect it anew. Hence incessant efforts are made to extend the influence of the Christian sys. tem into all departments of life; and all institutions, usages, and principles, civil or religious, are exposed to a rigid and fiery scrutiny. Abuses are assailed, and the whole community is in a state of constant agitation. Nor is this state of things destined to cease till the heavens and the earth have been shaken at the advent of God; till the last remnant of rebellion has passed away from the earth, and the human race shall repose in peace beneath the authority of Him whose right it is to reign.
How great the privilege, and how great the responsibility of living in an age like this; and to one who deeply feels this responsibility, and the shortness of life, how natural the inquiry-How can I do most to secure the end in view? My time is short, the work is great. I desire to enter into it with all my heart and soul, and to be supremely engaged in some department of action. Which shall I select ?
The inquiry is appropriate. A man cannot be supremely devoted to all departments of action. He must lay out his main energies in some one. He needs and must have a ruling passion, an all-absorbing purpose of the soul, of power to draw all else into its current, and render all else subservient to itself. And the natural course is to select some one of the great enterprises of the present age, and throw into that all the energies of the soul. Nor is it difficult to find an enterprise large enough to absorb the whole soul. Any one is vast enough to give exercise to more than all the energies of the highest mind, and, to him who meditates much and deeply on it, to fill the whole horizon of his vision, and to seem more intimately connected than any other with the salvation of the world. Thus to one the cause of Sabbath. schools may easily become the most important of all; to another, foreign or domestic missions; to another, the discussion and defence of doctrinal truth, and the exposure of error; to another, the abolition of slavery; and to another, the circulation of tracts, or of the word of God. These and similar enterprises are, without doubt, great and glorious beyond conception. But neither one of them is or can become the leading and most important enterprise of the present age. Neither one of them can deserve to become the all-absorbing object of the soul, nor can safely so become.
This prominence belongs to one enterprise and only one. An enterprise at present not at all recognised as a great enterprise of the age, or as an enter. prise at all; and on which public apathy is deep and general. Yet, on re. flection, it must be seen to be the only one which deserves the first rank, and the only one to which it is safe to give supreme and all-absorbing power in the soul, so as to compel us to view all other subjects only in their relations to it. The enterprise to which I refer is this :
THE IMMEDIATE PRODUCTION OF AN ELEVATED STANDARD OF PERSONAL HOLI. NESS THROUGHOUT THE UNIVERSAL CHURCH-SUCH A STANDARD OF HOLINESS AS GOD REQUIRES, AND THE PRESENT EXIGENCIES OF THE WORLD DEMAND.
That such a standard of holiness ought to exist cannot be denied; that it will exist hereafter is expected. But its indispensable necessity now, this very day, is not felt as it ought to be, nor the possibility of producing it; and ade. quate efforts to secure it are not made. These things ought not so to be. The attention of the whole church should be at once aroused to the subject and fixed intently on it, and the work of producing such a standard of holiness deliberately undertaken, as the first great enterprise of the present day. That it is such is the obvious import of our text. It teaches us that the kingdom of God is a spiritual kingdom, that its advent depends on no secular power, and implies no worldly victories, no external splendor, no earthly dominions, but simply that reign of God over man which is the result of holi. ness in the soul. From this it is manifest that the kingdom of God can make no real progress except by an increase of holiness, and can never be fully established on earth till holiness prevails in its highest power.
Of course, to secure such a prevalence of holiness ought to be the great business of the present day. Still further to illustrate this truth, I propose
1. To consider what is implied in a standard of holiness adapted to the exigencies of the present age.
II. Show that to produce such a standard of holiness should be regarded as the most important enterprise of the age.
III. Show how this enterprise should be undertaken and conducted.
In general, we remark that the standard of holiness required by the present age should be distinguished by two great peculiarities—that it should include all parts of a holy character, and that these should be fully developed so as to exert a high degree of power. In other words, the exigencies of the age require a COMPLETE, FULLY-DEVELOPED, AND WELL-BALANCED holy character. Let us now proceed to look in detail at the elementary parts of this.
1. Communion with God deserves a prominent place, as the foundation of all high attainments in holiness.
By communion with God I understand an interchange or reciprocal exercise of views and feelings between God and the soul, when, according to his promise, he draws near, and manifests himself to those who love him.
This is both a reasonable and intelligible state of mind. Men are so made that they can exchange with each other both views and emotions, and this is essential to the highest degree of love and mutual confidence. And the same is no less true of the relations that exist between men and God. He is a holy being, and has infinite intellect and emotions, and if emotions exist in us of a corresponding kind, there is a rational basis laid for union with him, not only in views but in emotions. Hence it is said, “ every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God, and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God and God in him.” And all Christians familiarly speak of this state of mind as involving a sense of the presence of God. It was this state of mind which David desired when he longed, and thirsted, and fainted after God, and which he actually enjoyed when he said, “thy loving kindness is better than life,” and spoke of his soul as “satisfied with marrow and fatness” while in a state of joyful communion with God, and when he exclaimed, “whom have I in heaven but thee, and there is none on earth that I desire besides thee.”
This is the very foundation of all high attainments in holiness. The great and fundamental principle of Christianity is, that the mind of unrenewed man is entirely corrupt and degraded. Even the mind of a renewed man has no self-restoring power. Left to itself, it would again subside into passions and purposes corrupt and only corrupt. Nor is there any way to restore it to perfect purity but to bring it under the renovating influence of the pure and holy mind of God. In him are found the only causes adequate to produce this result-infinite power of exhibiting the truth, and infinite holy emo. tion to destroy the deadness and apathy of the soul. Both of these influences are needed, and either without the other is ineffectual. And both reside in God alone. Hence the whole progress of the work of moral renovation de.