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liveth to make intercession for us, (Heb. vii.) All the blessings promised to the house of Israel were to be granted in answer to prayer, (Ezek. xxxvi.) Let us then
often that the Lord will fulfil his promise—that he will pour the water of life upon him that is thirsty, and floods of converting grace upon the dry ground--that he will pour his Spirit upon the seed of man, and his blessing upon man's offspring, that they may spring up as among the grass, as willows by the water-courses-that one may say, I am the Lord's, and another call himself by the name of Jacob, and another subscribe with his hand unto the Lord, (Isa. liv.,)-until the knowledge of the glory of God shall cover the earth as the waters cover the sea, (Isa. xi. 9; Hab. ii. 14.)
2. All, too, can more or less, give of personal effort.
Men," says Vinet, “have a right to demand from the professed adherents of Christ's kingdom, if not a perfect illustration of its excellence, certainly a fair and consistent embodiment of its nature and tendencies. They look for this. They know that Christ came to propagate a faith essentially pure. They hear the professions of his followers, that they are a peculiar people. They have read the command of Christ to his disciples, “Let
your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven," Matt. v. 16. They WILL take practically their estimate of Christian character, not from its published principles, nor from the unblemished life of Jesus, but from the every-day deportment of the members of the Church. Alas for the honour of our faith, and for the darkening prospects of surrounding impenitency, when sinners beholding the living of Christ's people, have ground to put the stinging interrogatory,“ What do ye more than others?” Matt. v. 47.
If we refer, for example, to one branch of Christian effort-tract distribution-how much does this need to be increased! A very large class of our Metropolitan population are not accessible at their own homes to the Missionary, and attend no place of public worship. Most of these persons, however, can be reached, though imperfectly, by religious tracts. I may perhaps mention having been in the habit of intrusting to a person on the Sabbath morning about four hundred tracts to be delivered in the streets during Divine service, Those tracts have scarcely ever been refused. On board steam-boats, between the bridges, I have given away hundreds at one time, whilst going from one part of the town to another, and have met
with refusal to accept the boon but, once; and it has constituted quite a hopeful sight for good, to see so many of these little messengers of mercy being eagerly perused.
I am fully persuaded the good results of this branch of Christian philanthropy, important as they are acknowledged to be, are yet greatly underrated. It has occasionally been said, “ After all, we do not hear of many conversions from reading religious tracts;” but such a disposition of the subject evinces very slight acquaintance with Scripture, or with religious experience either. In general, “ the kingdom of God cometh not with observation,” Luke xvii. 20, and the formation of the new man in Christ Jesus, like the formation of the natural man, is a gradual work, and one also ordinarily occupying even much longer time in its completion.
It is found in the work of the London City Mission, that the perusal of religious tracts, which are kindly supplied to the Institution by the Religious Tract Society on very favourable terms, constitutes one great element of its power and usefulness. *
* Each Missionary receives four hundred monthly. Distributing very large numbers in the public streets, I have not found my gratuitous supply sometimes equal even to the extent of one-fourth of the requirement.
One of the most serious impressions the writer ever received in youth, was by having placed in his hands one evening, a well-known tract of the Religious Tract Society—“The Two Ways and the Two Ends."
An idea also prevails in some minds, that religious tracts are not extensively read. People, it is said, take them, place them in their pockets, and they are forgotten. I believe this, to a great extent, to be a mistake. Curiosity forms too considerable an element in the human heart, to render it likely to be the case by far so often as is imagined; and the very persons to whom religion is unfortunately the greatest novelty, are often the most likely to read from curiosity.
An immense amount of the good effected by public tract distribution does not come to light. Circumstances are continually arising which prevent any question of the reasonableness of this supposition.
An immense amount of good, however, so effected, does. In illustration of this, as the present work is expected to be a personal narrative, I may mention having some time since written a tract on the Sabbath, of which some thousands were distributed in the public streets in walking. About twelve months afterwards, in company with a very pious
person, I happened to present one of these tracts. He then related an incident so strongly illustrative of the benefits of tract distribution, that I shall be pardoned relating it.
A young friend, utterly careless respecting the salvation of her soul, called upon his family very altered in demeanour; and on this change being remarked, she stated that she had for some months been a member of a Congregational place of worship. Inquiry was made respecting the circumstances which had led to her conversion, when she stated that whilst walking, a tract had been placed in her hand, which she received, but laid by on reaching home without noticing its contents. Some days afterwards, however, in an idle moment it happened to attract her attention, and curiosity led to its perusal. It pleased the Almighty to convey conviction of sin to her mind by this simple means, and totally to alter her life and character. Request was made to see the tract, which on her next visit she produced, and it proved to be the one to which reference has been made.
But many can give far more of personal effort than an hour's occasional employment in distribution of tracts; they can spare an hour to visit the sick, they can talk with those they meet with by the way, they can teach in Sabbath and Evening