Page images

ble means, to seek the ministry; while they, as carefully, discourage and keep back the LATTER. Let presbyteries and synods take order on this subject, at every meeting, keeping it constantly before the minds of all the ministers, and elders, and churches, within their bounds, and recommending unceasing attention to it, as one of the most vital parts of their stated business, as judicatories of Christ. Let every congregation ask— Can we not furnish from our number, and support in study, at least one pious young man, to be trained up for the ministry of reconciliation?" Let every wealthy Christian, who feels that he cannot preach the gospel himself, ask—“Cannot I indirectly become a peacher, by selecting and sustaining one, if not more, beloved youth, “strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus,” who may go forth, and be made a blessing to perishing thousands?" Let pious fathers and mothers ask— Have we no sons, and if we have none, have our neighbors no sons, whose hearts the Lord has enlightened and sanctified, and whom we should be glad to see bearing the gospel far hence to the Gentiles?" And let ALL-ALL-male and female, who desire the speedy conversion of the world, ask—“Can we not, nay, are we not bound, to take a deeper interest and agency in this great subject than we have ever yet done?

Can we not pray more, and give more, and make more efforts to rouse and animate others to come to the help of a cause so vital in its character, and so dear to the heart of every intelligent Christian?" You see, my friends, that this is a cause in the prosecution of which every one, without exception, may contribute some aid. Yes, every one who has a heart to pray, a tongue to speak, or a cent to give, may be a “worker together with God” in this great concern, which may be said to lie at the foundation of all enlightened efforts for promoting the best interests of mankind. For it is only when ministers shall be raised up by tens of thousands, that the gospel can possibly be preached “ to every kindred, and people, and nation, and tongue."



The Editor takes occasion to append a short statement, collected from the most correct sources of which he has a knowledge. It may illustrate to the reader, more particularly, the lamentable facts that “the harvest truly is great" -that “the laborers are few.” The venerable preacher of this discourse wisely omitted an extended statistical statement, which could not have been of so much benefit to the hearer of ordinary memory, as a somewhat more particular enumeration may be to the reader, who may not have an opportunity of arriving at a tolerably accurate knowledge of the religious state of the world.

“ The field,” which “is the world,” contains from 310 to 500 millions of Pa. gans—from 90 to 100 millions of Mohammedans—from 60 to 70 millions belong. ing to the Greek church—from four to eight millions of Jews-about 116 millions of Roman Catholics-and only from 42 to 50 millions of Protestants. In all, from 653 to 800 millions of people. Some parts of the field have not a single evangelical laborer of any denomination. Other portions of the unevangelized world have laborers in the following proportions, who are, in most cases, depressed by the fact, that their number is so “ few” in proportion to the work to be done:

Africa and her Isles, containing from 70 to 110 millions, have 90 missionaries. In the Islands of the Mediterranean and the parts circumjacent, there are twenty. In Egypt, Abyssinia, and among the Jews, there are six. Caucasus and Siberia have fourteen. China, with from 200 to 361 millions of people, had, till recently, but two. India beyond the Ganges, with 18 millions, has eighteen missionaries. India within the Ganges, containing 140 millions, has one hun. dred and twenty. Ceylon has twenty-four missionaries. Indian Archipelago, thirty-one. Australasia, fourteen. Polynesia, forty-one. West India Islands, one hundred and thirty-five. North American continent, fifty-six missionaries. In all, 539 evangelical preachers of the gospel of all denonrinations, for about THREE-FOURTHS of the world!! That is, about one laborer in the foreign field to every million of degraded, dying, sinful people!! Some small increase of labor. ers as also of population, has taken place since our information was communicated. The proportions, then, are the same.

[blocks in formation]

The original of this psalm is one of the curiosities of Hebrew literature. It belongs to that small class of sacred poetry which is denominated alphabetical or acrostic. It consists of twenty-two stanzas, corresponding with the number of letters in the Hebrew alphabet and arranged in alphabetical order. Each stanza contains eight lines, and each line in the same stanza begins with the same letter. Though the author's name is not prefixed, this psalm is generally ascribed to the inspiration of the royal psalmist of Israel. David is supposed to have written it in the different vicissitudes of his eventful life, and afterwards to have arranged the detached parts in their present order, and given them an acrostic form for the aid of the reader's memory. But how. ever this may be, it is no way doubtful to the pious mind, accustomed to an attentive perusal of this portion of sacred writ, that the author has here furnished a precious treasury of truth, adapted to the Christian's experience in all the variety of the circumstances of his life. If there be any one design, rather than another, apparent throughout the whole, it seems to be to exhibit the practical excellency of the word of God; and though only a small part of what is now comprised in the sacred canon was then written, the commendations here found are certainly not less applicable to the entire bible. There are at least ten different titles here applied to the scriptures; and it is another curious fact respecting this psalm, that some one of these is introduced into al. most every verse. Sometimes each of these different terms appears to have its own peculiar signification, and sometimes they appear to be used promiscuously to avoid tautology, or to suit the metrical arrangement.

In our text, we understand the term judgments as a general title of the word of God.

In discoursing on the passage, we shall consider it as a declaration of the excellency of the sacred scriptures. “ Thy judgments are good.”

It may not be unprofitable nor altogether uninteresting, as it is calculated to encourage our confidence in the divine authority of the scriptures, to show, in the first place, that they are good as to their uncorrupted purity.

Admitting, as I trust all my hearers do, that the bible was given to mankind as the word of God, containing an inspired and authentic revelation of his will, the inquiry sometimes arises, may it not have been since materially corrupted by the hands of men? Has it not, in the lapse of ages and in passing through its numerous transcripts and edi. tions, lost much of the original integrity of the text? These are surely questions of primary importance, and lying near the foundation of all our Christian hopes.

But, in reply, we may observe,

First, That it seems reasonable to suppose, that He who is yester, day, to-day, and for ever the same, after having so graciously regarded the necessity of mankind in past ages, as to give a written revelation of his will by the inspiration of his Spirit, would, in his providential care, preserve it in such a state of purity as to answer the purposes of a revelation to mankind in all subsequent ages. We are not supposing a continual miracle in the case. Nor was this necessary. That Providence that exerts an every-day agency in all human concernments, needs not be diverted from its ordinary course of operation for the accomplishment of that for which we contend. And surely if a sparrow does not fall to the ground by the arrow of the archer, without his permission, the preservation of that heavenly truth which his own Spirit has revealed, and which is as “the wings of a dove covered with silver and her feathers with yellow gold," should not be thought beneath his care.

Nay, his own glory and the salvation of his people are intimately connected with the preservation of these holy doctrines, and may we not, therefore, believe that heaven and earth shall pass away before one jot or tittle shall in any wise fail?

We remark, secondly, That the inspired writings have ever been held in the greatest reverence by those to whose immediate care they were entrusted, whether Jews or Christians, and this fact, while it affords another presumptive argument against their corruption, at the same time exhibits one of the means which Divine Providence has actually employed for maintaining their purity. This reverence was the natural offspring of their uniform conviction that all scripture was given by inspiration of God; and it was doubtless heightened by the consideration of the repeated prohibitions against their making any addition or diminution, on pain of forfeiting all the blessings and incurring all the plagues written in these books.

So great was this reverence among the Jews for their scriptures, that, as Philo and Josephus inform us, they would incur any torture and even death itself, rather than alter a single letter or point; and we learn from ecclesiastical history that, in fact, both Jews and Christians have often chosen martyrdom in preference to the sacrifice of their

sacred books. Is it not then unreasonable to suppose, that while the scriptures were in such hands there was any disposition to corrupt them?

Nor do their care and diligence, in guarding against their corruption, appear to have been less remarkable.

A distinguished biblical critic justly remarks, that such care and diligence were employed in the preservation of the scriptures as were never exercised in regard to any other books in the world. The Jewish teachers are known to have been superstitiously exact about their copies; and learned Christian divines have spared no labor in revising, comparing, investigating, and vindicating the sacred text. In regard to the Old Testament, what biblical scholar does not know that an almost inconceivable amount of labor was expended by the Jewish doctors for its uncorrupted preservation? A learned Jew affirms that hundreds and thousands of their rabbins, in successive generations, were concerned in what are commonly denominated the labors of the Masorites; and many of their writers maintain, that though these labors were not completed until the council met at Tiberius, in the beginning of the sixth century of the Christian era, yet they were commenced as early as the time of Ezra. Among other means which these men adopted for preserving the purity of the text, they established certain rules according to which their scriptures should be transcribed; and to guard against the smallest possible alteration, they even numbered all the verses, words, and titles in each book. Hence the Masora was called “the hedge of the law;" and it is easy to perceive how admirably it was calculated to answer the idea of the name it received.

Thirdly. The sacred oracles have been transmitted to us through the hands of different guardians, whose watchfulness over each other in relation to the common trust reposed in them, was a security for their mutual fidelity. After the five books of Moses were completed, the original was deposited, by divine appointment, and long preserved, in the side of the ark of the covenant, a kind of chest prepared for the purpose. But beside this, there must have been for common use, many copies in the hands of the Levites, and still more in the hands of the people generally; for the Levites were commanded to teach the children of Israel all the statutes which the Lord had spoken to them by Moses; and the people also were required to study them attentively in their private dwellings, and to teach them diligently to their children. Moreover, as the government of the Jews was a theocracy, and the law of God was the law of the land, there must have been other copies in the possession of the magistrates, as the standard of all their judicial transactions; and it was expressly enjoined that the king should write him a copy of this law in a book out of the autograph of Moses kept in the ark. Thus all classes being entrusted with this portion of the scriptures, they became not only the common guardians of their purity, but each class exerted a salutarý influence over the other, and rendered the design of introducing any corruptions—had there existed such a design in any party—utterly impracticable.

Now it has been in similar circamstances, or in circumstances, if

« PreviousContinue »