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But gladly would I hail the dawn of a brighter dayof a purer Christian epoch—when all such idle questions, and verbal controversies, and family quarrels, and jealous rivalries, and ambitious aspirings, shall be forgotten. When celestial charity shall pervade the hearts and the ranks of the Christian soldiery, and all the world be constrained to exclaim: “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!" (Ps. cxxxiii. 1.) When Christian sects will strive, not for the mastery over one another, but for the mastery over their own evil tempers, and for the palm of glory in self-devotion to the common cause of God and the Saviour!
THE NECESSITY OF CIRCULATING
At the anniversary meetings of this Society, I am informed, an address is expected from the chair. While, on the one hand, I do not wish to depart from established usage, so, on the other, I am desirous to appropriate as little of the time devoted to the exercises of this evening as will barely satisfy the claims of official duty.
The distinguished and eloquent individuals who are expected to advocate the Bible cause, on this interesting occasion, preclude, not only the necessity, but the propriety, of my entering upon the merits of this hallowed and infinitely momentous theme. I shall, therefore, for the few moments which I presume to occupy, merely approach the threshold, and take a hasty glance at the outworks—committing your introduction into the interior of the celestial temple to abler and more experienced guides.
The oracles of the one living and true God—composed at different and distant periods, by divers men inspired for the purpose—were, during a period of fifteen hundred years, entrusted exclusively to the Israelites, and for their sole benefit. When, in the fulness of time, the predicted Messiah appeared and put an end to the Mosaic economy and to the whole Jewish ritual, he broke down the partition wall which had hitherto surrounded the favoured nation, and commissioned his disciples to preach the gospel of peace and mercy and reconciliation to every kindred, tongue and people upon the earth. This constituted a new and glorious era in the history of our world. The apostles obeyed the command of their Master. They traversed the most distant and inhospitable regions: and literally planted the standard of the cross in almost every country of the known world. Their success, though astonishingly great, and altogether unparalleled, considering their natural qualifications and means, was but partial and temporary. For, although multitudes in Asia, Europe and Africa, believed—although flourishing churches were everywhere formed—although within three centuries after the crucifixion, idolatry disappeared from the Roman Empire, and Christianity became the established faith of the civilized world—yet it soon appeared that human policy and imperial smiles added nothing to the purity, the lustre and the stability of that spiritual kingdom which it was our Saviour's purpose to erect. Ages of ignorance, darkness, superstition, tyranny and crime succeeded the impious union of the ecclesiastical and the civil powers. The Bible was studiously withheld from the people. It was locked up, in an unknown tongue, in the cell and the cloister. It was inaccessible to the multitude. It was criminal for them to seek it—it was a capital offence to read it. The
* An Address delivered at the third Anniversary meeting of the Bible Society of Davidson County, Tennessee, auxiliary to the American Bible Society, Nov. 14, 1826.