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church organization. Yet, strange as it may be regarded, the uncertainty which hangs over these points, arising from the indifference of inspired men, is allowed to be the occasion of perpetual internal dissensions and divisions in the church, to engross their time, their labor, and their feelings; and to circumscribe their sympathies. It should be written in tears and pondered in anguish, that multitudes of Christian teachers, otherwise qualified for eminent usefulness, are, mind and soul, absorbed in defending points, which the Savior, and the Holy Ghost, and inspired Apostles thought it unworthy of their attention, or subversive of their purpose, to define.
Nothing, but the emancipation of Christianity from the innumerable cords with which men have attempted to bind its Catholic Spirit. can secure its universal prevalence and triumph.
In the following pages, an attempt is made to present divine truth in its due proportions. Numerous difficulties embarrass the execution of such a plan, and the author is aware that it is imperfectly done. A sufficient approximation, however, is made to surprise the careful student at the comparative fulness of different topics, when exhibited in the symmetry which they bear as coming from the mind of the Spirit. And if his labors result in directing the minds of religious teachers to the symmetry of the temple which they are building for God, instead of throwing in their precious stones promiscuously, without regard to order or design, he will feel himself abundantly rewarded.
It will not be understood to be the object of this work to present a DIGEST of religious truth and duty. It is intended to bring into contiguity those passages which require examination and comparison, in order that one may form a welldigested opinion of the relation which they sustain to one another; and of their bearing upon a given topic. It is not to forestall, or preclude examination. Judgment is not pronounced; but the witnesses are gathered, and their affidavits filed. Some of them may say little or nothing directly to the purpose, and yet an indirect allusion may be as important, in many cases, as direct assertion. Of the relevancy, however, of every passage, the examiner must make himself the judge; and allow to each whatever weight he deems proper, and make up his verdict upon the united testimony of the whole.
Such a comparison is essential to the complete discharge of a minister's duty,- that these lively oracles may be fully developed in the sanctuary; and these fountains of living water may flow more abundantly to fertilize the field committed to his care,-that every important truth may be found, fortified by the concurrent testimony of many witnesses; every duty clearly exhibited and enforced by multiplied inducements; every sin surrounded with flaming swords pointing in every direction, and every act of obedience encouraged by unbounded and gracious promises. That the minister may be admonished how to lay out his strength to promote those objects which God deems important, and warned from swelling beyond proper limits those which he has lightly esteemed,—and that he may be preserved from a distorted vision of truth by contemplating its partial development in disconnected passages.
Such a comparison, however, no minister, amid the multiplied cares and labors of the pastoral office, can carefully make.
The utility of a work of this kind need not be limited to the ministry. It affords facilities for communicating a practical knowledge of the Scriptures in the Sabbath school and Biblical class, which can be obtained in no other way. To adapt it to this purpose, and also to family worship, or private meditation, when the Sections are too long for a lesson or family reading, they are divided into paragraphs, adapted to that object. By this arrangement the attention of the class, or of the family, will be directed to one single topic, and a deeper impression will be made upon the mind.
It also presents suitable instructions for every state of religious feeling, from the awakened sinner, to the Christian, sanctified and "ready to be offered."
This collection has been prepared without much aid from the concordance, or any similar work. It is made out by a consecutive reading of the Holy Scriptures, from beginning to end; a labor which has brought the compiler into intimate and long continued contact with the Bible, and convicted him of having formerly deprived himself of untold consolation, and spiritual advancement, by neglecting, or lightly studying, the word of God. And he would close his labors by an affectionate, but most earnest exhortation to all who
have a soul to save, "SEARCH THE SCRIPTURES; " search dili
gently, prayerfully, earnestly, as for hid treasure. In them is light and life, strength, wisdom,
all you need.
May the Spirit of Inspiration accept this feeble effort to manifest his glory and promote his cause!
Cambridge, April 24, 1837.
[For the particulars of each Topic, the student can consult the Contents, as here
Part I. Top. II.