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TO THE READER,
THE writer of the following Address can lay no claim to learning, having had but a very limited education, and therefore desires a little allowance from those who have been more favoured in that respect. He is thankful that he can read the contents of the inspired book, which is circulating to a greater degree, by the united efforts of the professors of Christianity, than in any other age of the world ; and he trusts, that the great Author of inspiration has seen meet to draw him to believe what is written, and to give him a little of what is written of, — namely, his love; and through its being shed abroad in his heart, it has kindled a desire in him to cast a mite into the treasury of truth, which he hopes will offend none, and attract the consideration of a few to the subject of vital religion, and true fellowship one with another; that so peace on earth, and good will towards men, may increase amongst us, and each individual be anxious for the well being of the whole. This he is certain is consistent with the whole tenor of the Gospel. Nothing is so powerful a testimony to the truth, on man's part, as love: it is as strong as death; many waters cannot quench it; neither can the floods drown it. This should be our main spring of action, and would be, if we were really in the life of religion. God is love, and he that dwelleth in him dwelleth in love. The author trusts his feeble hand has been guided under the influence of it, in the following Address ; and if it does not meet the views of all, he believes he has felt love towards all, and desirous to offend none. A return of the same feeling of love and credit is all he craves for his sincere intentions.
THE subject of religion, and the circulation of the Seriptures, is one which has, for some time, attracted the attention of Christians of different persuasions on doctrinal points; and I, for one, have rejoiced to see them unite in so laudable a work; not only to furnish the poor at home with the choicest outward blessing that was ever bestowed on man, but even to extend their labours of love to foreign lands, as far as to the isles of the heathen. In contemplating this subject, my dear brethren, I have felt a longing desire that the works of your hands may be blessed ; and that the dawning of the day may be succeeded by the arising of the Sun of Righteousness with healing on his wings; that so the contents of that blessed book, in the sending of which far and near you can join heart and hand, may be blessed to every one of
you; and that each may see the necessity of looking to the influence of that Spirit and power, by which the holy men spoke and wrote. The
doing this, would, I believe, bring you still nearer together, and lead you to interpret the sacred contents more in unison with each other. This is an object deserving the most serious consideration of all professors of Christianity. Seeing that some material errors must have crept in among us, let each be earnest to find out what belongs to himself; and, when we are enlightened to see with clearness the errors of others, let us endeavour to speak truth to our neighbours, for their good to edification. This, my dear brethren, is a lesson worth the while of all of us to learn; and, whilst we are concerned to teach others, we should also ourselves be ready to be taught.
Let us then search into the cause, why there is so much strife and division amongst us, respecting the contents of the book which we all seem equally interested in circulating, and which we all acknowledge to have been written by inspiration. I believe, ye Christians, the cause will be found to be this; that we are not sufficiently sensible of our own inability to know the truths recorded in Scripture by our own understanding, and are prone to depart from the teachings of the Spirit. “* A manifestation,” saith the apostle, “is given to every man to profit withal.” Now here, I conceive, is a deep lesson for us; and I long that we may all be able to learn it; and, in order to learn, we
a 1 Cor. xii. 7