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PREFACE.

THE year 1874 will soon be numbered with the years of the past. What the character of the record it will make has been in most instances already determined ; some may be able to slightly modify, but none can hope to completely change it. And yet none can tell what may be the issues of its few remaining days.

We may hope that every one of our readers may be able to review the past year with calmness and confidence-that each day has been distinguished by victories over temptation and sin, and by sacrifices and efforts to promote the wellbeing of others. A good conscience is the best preparation for the uncertain future ; and a good conscience is only possible to him who acts nobly in the living present.

So far as our Denomination is concerned, 1874 will be remembered as a peaceful and fairly prosperous year. Our pages bear ample witness of the activity of our friends and the progress of the cause in many places.

If we take a wider view, perhaps the Church of Christ, without distinction of name or sect, has gained most by the rich blessing which has rested upon the labours of unordained evangelists in Scotland, and later in Ireland. This fact, taken in connection with the arrogant claims and pretensions of modern priestism, is most suggestive and significant. Civil and religious liberty would have to be reckoned among the things of the “dead past” if the sanguine hopes of proud ecclesiastics be only realized, if their zealous efforts be only crowned with success, and what we cannot but regard as their dreams could only be transformed into facts and realities.

England, the world even, has been blessed with a good harvest; and we would not forget what we cannot but regard as a marvellous proof of the kindness of our Heavenly Father, that when the stock of grain was perhaps less than it has been at any time in the present century, the harvest was not only more bountiful, but weeks earlier than usual.

Politically, the position of parties has been changed in this country. So it has also in the United States. But things move on much as they did before ; thanks to the force of public opinion, if Statesmen who are before their age have to wait upon events, those who are behind are prevented from doing the mischief they would else, or from pursuing to any considerable extent a retrograde course. Our advantages, as citizens of this great and free country, cannot be realized, unless our country be compared with unsettled France, and more unhappy and divided Spain. The efforts of the rulers and statesmen of the great nations of Europe seem to be constantly directed to increase their armaments, so that there is greater danger than ever before that the whole of Europe will be converted into a large camp, and the various populations into mighty armies. But there is “a light in the cloud;" some of the most enlightened and patriotic of the citizens of all these countries have responded most heartily to proposals which have been placed before them with consummate ability by Mr. Henry Richard, to inaugurate a movement whose grand object shall be a High Court of Nations to settle all disputes by arbitration instead of by the sword. That, and every other wise and benevolent enterprize will receive encouragement and support as the principles of true religion are accepted by individuals, and permeate all the relations and institutions of society. Our duty, then, is clear, to work for Christ in the sphere in which God has placed us, satisfied that the direct end of our efforts will not only be gained in many instances, but many collateral benefits will follow, and every movement advanced which tends to the consummation of all things.

LONDON, Nov. 15th, 1874.

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“Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth anything, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase. Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour.”—1 Cor. iii. 5-8. The institution of the Christian ministry is one of God's chief gifts both to the Church and the world. In the Redeemer's great commission—"Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, and he that believeth not shall be damned"-we have His message of mercy to mankind, and our authority and obligation to preach it to every creature. This is a high commission, and it can only be understood and fulfilled by those who, through the Holy Spirit, receive it directly from Christ Himself. The wealthiest, the wisest, and the best, may well court the honour and distinction of being ambassadors for Christ. But Christ's chief heroes have generally come from the humbler ranks of men. To receive and enjoy God's choicest gifts, lawfully and gratefully, is wisdom which all persons do not possess. The gifts of nature and of grace are often shamefully prostituted. I know of nothing to which this will apply with greater force than to God's gift of ministers of Christ. Upon apostolic authority they are to be “esteemed very highly in love for their work's sake" (1 Thess. v. 13); but a factious admiration of these servants of God is denounced in unmeasured

: The substance of a sermon preached to the Bible Christian Conference in Stamford-strect Chapel, Landport, on Wednesday, July 30, 1873. Published by request.

JANUARY, 1874.

А

regard as a marvellous proof of the kindness of our Heavenly Father, that when the stock of grain was perhaps less than it has been at any time in the present century, the harvest was not only more bountiful, but weeks earlier than usual.

Politically, the position of parties has been changed in this country. So it has also in the United States. But things move on much as they did before ; thanks to the force of public opinion, if Statesmen who are before their age have to wait upon events, those who are behind are prevented from doing the mischief they would else, or from pursuing to any considerable extent a retrograde course.

Our advantages, as citizens of this great and free country, cannot be realized, unless our country be compared with unsettled France, and more unhappy and divided Spain. The efforts of the rulers and statesmen of the great nations of Europe seem to be constantly directed to increase their armaments, so that there is greater danger than ever before that the whole of Europe will be converted into a large camp, and the various populations into mighty armies. But there is "a light in the cloud;" some of the most enlightened and patriotic of the citizens of all these countries have responded most heartily to proposals which have been placed before them with consummate ability by Mr. Henry Richard, to inaugurate a movement whose grand object shall be a High Court of Nations to settle all disputes by arbitration instead of by the sword. That, and every other wise and benevolent enterprize will receive encouragement and support as the principles of true religion are accepted by individuals, and permeate all the relations and institutions of society. Our duty, then, is clear, to work for Christ in the sphere in which God has placed us, satisfied that the direct end of our efforts will not only be gained in many instances, but many collateral benefits will follow, and every movement advanced which tends to the consummation of all things.

LONDON, Nov. 15th, 1874.

[graphic][merged small][merged small][merged small]

“Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth anything, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase. Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour.”—1 Cor. iii. 5-8. The institution of the Christian ministry is one of God's chief gifts both to the Church and the world. In the Redeemer's great commission—"Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, and he that believeth not shall be damned”-we have His message of mercy to mankind, and our authority and obligation to preach it to every creature. This is a high commission, and it can only be understood and fulfilled by those who, through the Holy Spirit, receive it directly from Christ Himself. The wealthiest, the wisest, and the best, may well court the honour and distinction of being ambassadors for Christ. But Christ's chief heroes have generally come from the humbler ranks of men. To receive and enjoy God's choicest gifts, lawfully and gratefully, is wisdom which all persons do not possess. The gifts of nature and of grace are often shamefully prostituted. I know of nothing to which this will apply with greater force than to God's gist of ministers of Christ. Upon apostolic authority they are to be “esteemed very highly in love for their work's sake" (1Thess. v. 13); but a factious admiration of these servants of God is denounced in unmeasured

The substance of a sermon preached to the Bible Christian Conference in Stamford-street Chapel, Landport, on Wednesday, July 30, 1873. Published by request.

JANUARY, 1874.

A

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