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becoming "changed into the same image from glory to glory, as by the Spirit of the Lord ?"
III. In numbering our days wisely, we ought to count upon exerting a far MORE WIDELY EXTENDED INFLUENCE as Christians. Such are the laws of our intellectual and social being, and such are the relations and connections of one mind with another, that an influence of some kind we must and shall inevitably exert. The kind of influence exerted, and the direction which that influence shail take, will be one of the most solemn items of man's last account to his God. The elements of Christian influence are knowledge and holiness. The degree of knowledge and holiness, particularly of the lat. ter, will measure the extent of the Christian influence which an individual or a church may exert. This indeed is an argument why we should num. ber our days with a reference to intellectual and spiritual attainments. But those treasures of mind and heart which we acquire are not to be hoarded as the miser's heaps of gold. The times that are passing over us constitute the great working period in the history of our world—the practical age of the species, when utility takes precedence of all theory and speculation. Capi. talists are now making larger and more advantageous investments. Poli. ticians are grasping at a more extended influence over the popular mind. The business and pleasures, the wealth and elevation, and advancement of the human race, are now projected on a mightier scale than at any former era in the chronicles of time. Does it not become Christians, then, with their eyes on the signs of these times, to count with a holy enthusiasm on a deep and vastly extended Christian influence over their fellow-men?
I am persuaded that we have too low an estimate of the possible power of Christian character. In numbering our days, then, with reference to a large investment of the capital of Christian influence, let us look at what has been accomplished by some uninspired men of no very remarkable mental endowments. Who does not feel an emotion of the sublime, as he contemplates the immeasurable impression which Richard Baxter made on his generation, and on succeeding ages, though he lived in an intolerant and stormy period of the religious world's history? What a controlling sway he held over the con. sciences and hearts of multitudes! How wide, and deep, and enduring the influence which David Brainerd exerted, even in the state of society which existed in this country almost a century ago! And what shall we say of a Mills and a Martin, a Hall and a Payson, “ who being dead yet speak ?" It is hardly presumptuous to say of such spirits, that, like the language of the planetary orbs on high, “ their line has gone out into all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.” Now the time must come, nay, it has come, when we ought to consider these cases not as exceptions, but as the legitimate measure of Christian influence, and fix our aim accordingly. Let us remember, too, how many more facilities of making our influence to be felt we possess, in our day, than did these holy men. What an easy, rapid, and extensive intercourse can we now have with society, compared with that enjoyed half a century since. With what a multitude of minds can Chris. tian character come in contact in a comparatively short period. How much more available is the power of holy example now than in those past days, when population was more sparse, and the means of personal intercourse more restricted. What an organ of extended Christian influence does the religious press constitute. This, under God, is to be the angel of Christen. dom, “ standing in the sun,”--the great dispenser of the church's moral light to the world. Think, too, what instruments of power are put into the hands of Christians by the organization of the great benevolent societies of these times. They can thus truly extend themselves, in an important sense, “be. yond their own measure," ---can stretch out the arm of mercy and pour light on the darkness and miserics of the whole earth. We can cause our Chris. tian influence to be felt alike in the regions of the rocky mountains in our own land, and along the rivers and bays, the hills and valleys, of Asia and Africa. Besides, that very excitability of the popular mind, which we have already noticed, furnishes a peculiar facility for an extended Christian influ. ence. There is a strange moveableness in the general mind of society. An illustrious exemplification of this is to be found in the history of the temper. ance reform. The popular mind has become susceptible of being set in mo. tion now, by causes that a quarter of a century since might have exerted all their power without attracting notice. Society craves excitement of some kind, and will have it. Why, then, should not the representatives of Christ -the lights of the world—make their influence to be felt extensively? The world is not “without souls”-men have consciences and hearts—they have hopes and fears respecting an eternal hereafter. Why, then, should not the exhibition of the high attributes of Christian character-the power of pre. eminently holy example—if brought in earnest upon the mass of ruined yet immortal mind, begin to make that mass heave and move under the impulse, heavenward! Has not that Christianity which we profess, the elements of a mightier excitement to the popular mind than commerce, internal improve. ment, politics, literature, or the arts? It certainly had, as lived out by Christ und his apostles, and primitive followers. It superseded the excitement of Judaism at Jerusalem, of philosophy at Athens, and of arms at Rome, and became the object of absorbing interest to the then known world. Chris. tianity is still unaltered, and that human nature on which it is to operate is the same. If the solitary influence of Paul, then, circled half the civilized world, what a mighty reach combined Christian influence might now make on the ready excitability of the general mind! Let the church of God, then, wake up, and in wisely numbering their days let Christians count on an indefinite extension of their moral power. Let them aim at nothing less than an influence which shall break up the monotony of sin and death, and move the entire fountains of the groat deep of thought and feeling in human society. This is the only excitement that is safe for man, or that will satisfy the popular mind. All the agitations and tumults of the race prove that the soul of man, mighty even in its ruins, is blindly reaching after those objects of exciting magnitude and glory, which can alone be found in pure Christianity. Let us determine, then, by the grace of God, to send out a Christian influence in a length and breadth that shall control these infinite but ill-directed aspirations of the immortal mind!
Another consideration to urge us to aim at extending our Christian influence is, that the world in these days is held in a general expectation of some vast movement about to be made by Christians.
The world does not calculate that the standard of Christian character, and the measure of Christian influence, will long remain what they have been and now are. It is presumed that piety will feel the impulse that is urging onward, with such momentum, every department of worldly activity. The community has heard much about the church's resurrection from the sleep and moral death of ages! The public mind has been turned to the recent marshalling of her forces. Infidel jealousy is watching the effect of her comprehensive plans of influencing the moral destinies of the race. A multitude of unsanctified hearts are brought within the reach of her deep and mighty sympathies for the miseries of the whole world, and a multitude of minds are eagerly contemplating her recent purposes and resolves, that that world shall be redeemed. Worldly men see that the mind of the church is beginning to be turned in expectancy and hope of a coming millennium : that there is a pervading apprehension of the near approach of that grand crisis in which “the kingdom and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven shall be given to the saints of the Most High God.” They know that Christians regard the present as the Saturday evening of time : that they are saying one to another, The Sabbath, the great Sabbath of the
world “draweth on.” Worldly men, then, expect to see the disciples of Christ coming forth in that energy of character, and that extended sweep of Christian influence, which will prepare themselves and the world for such a sublime consummation.
My Christian friends, what should prevent us from determining, in reliance on God, that we will meet this expectation of the world? Nay, is not the honor of our holy religion periled if we fail to meet it? The measure of former attainments, and of former efforts, will no longer sustain the credit of Chris. tianity. If we would honor Christ and sustain the interest of his cause, we must overtake and go beyond the anticipations of the world on this subject.
Lastly: As a motive to numbering our days wisely, with reference to a greatly extended Christian influence, let us frequently and solemnly call to mind one grand end which God has in view in his eternal existence. God lives and reigns with this, amongst other great ends in view, viz., that he may exert an influence in kind like that of pure Christianity. It is one great aim of his being, to bring forth and impress on the minds of his rational creation, the eternal truth and purity of his own character. He administers the affairs of the universe with the steady view of exerting the highest and best moral in. fluence over its intelligent millions. Is it not wise, then, in Christians, to count upon exerting the greatest possible degree of the same kind of influence ?
Beloved brethren, carry with you through this year, and through life, the undying conviction that progress in knowledge, in holiness, and in enlarged Christian influence, is your great business-the grand object to be counted on in your estimate of time. And though your days may be few or many, spend them all under the soul-animating and heavenly influence of such an object. We know not who of us are appointed unto death this year. But for such as are, will it not soften the dying pillow to sink down upon it, not in indolence and mental stupor, but in the increasing swiftness of our Chris. tian career? And will it not add unspeakably to our eternal joy, to be able to say in death, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith ?"
«The world can never give
The bliss for which we sigh,
Nor all of death to die.
Beyond this vale of tears
There is a life above,
And all that life is love.
There is a death whose pang
Outlasts the fleeting breath:
Around the second death!”
FROM THE PRESIDENT OF YALE COLLEGE.
" Allow me to express my decided approbation of the object and plan of the National Preacher.' It has opened a new channel for the religious influence of the press. It gives a durable form to a selection of able discourses; and proba. bly gains for them a more attentive perusal, by distributing them, not in volumes, but in smaller portions, at regular intervals of time. The execution, so far as I have observed, is such as to satisfy the public expectation.”
"I have read, as I have had opportunity, the Numbers of the National Preacher with great satisfaction. I regard it as a work peculiarly desirable to Clergymen, and at the same time, as worthy of a place in every intelligent family.".
FROM THE PRESIDENT
AND PROFESSORS OF AMHERST COLLEGE.
“Mr. Dickinson has a clear and discriminating mind; and is himself at once an able writer and preacher. Having spent four years at the South and West, and become extensively acquainted with Ministers and Christians of different denominations'; and having at the same time, an intimate knowledge of the religious state and wants of New England ; perhaps no man is better qualified to make a powerful and salutary impression on the public mind, by combining, (and in a sense directing) the talents of our most eminent divines in his Monthly Preacher.
"Most sincerely do we wish him the co-operation of those whose name and influence may make the work a blessing to many thousands.”
FROM PROFESSORS IN PRINCETON THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY.
"The plan, proposed by the Rev. Austin Dickinson, of publishing a Monthly Series of Sermons, from the pens of respectable ministers of different denominations of Christians in the United States, is one, which, in our opinion, may be rendered highly interesting, and extensively useful. We do therefore willingly recommend the undertaking to the patronage of the Christian community."
FROM THE QUARTERLY CHRISTIAN SPECTATOR.
"We do not hesitate to say, that Mr. Dickinson has adopted one of the happiest expedients hitherto devised, for eliciting that diversity of gifts,' in the Christian ministry, which infinite wisdom and benevolence have bestowed for the edification of the body of Christ, and for bringing sinners to the foot of the cross.
The NATIONAL PREACHER, which has been putlished for eight years in New York, besides being widely circulated in our own country, and to some extent in England, is also read with interest in China, in India, in South America, and in the far distant isles of the Pacific. The following extract of a letter from the Sandwich Islands shows how the work is regarded on the other side of the globe :
"This plan of calling forth the varied talents and united energies of cotemporaneous preachers, and bringing their happiest efforts before millions of our fellow men, even while the authors, warmed by their own exertions, are still on their knees, imploring a blessing on the truths they have sent forth, appears admirably adapted to promote the strength and harmony of the churches, to facilitate their highest attainments in knowledge and piety, to excite them to that course of benevolent action which the present state of the world demands, and to supply, to some extent, the spiritual wants of multitudes who are not favored, statedly, with the pulpit and pastoral labors of any minister of Christ. The National Preacher deserves the confidence of the world. May this highcommissioned messenger of Christ be received with thankfulness and joy by tens of millions of our race. May the Divine Author of all the valuable gifts in the church copiously shed down the graces of his Spirit upon the contributors to this evangelical publication, that their writings may be worthy of the enlightened age in which we live, and such as hundreds of millions may be edified to read, when the pens of the writers are exchanged for harps of gold."
From the New York Observer,
This periodical has, from its commencement in 1826, been regarded as a standard work; and, afforded as it is, at the low price of one dollar a year, and sustained by some of the ablest writers of our country, we should expect it would continue to have an extensive and increasing cir. culation