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TO HIS FRIEND AND FELLOW LABORER IN THE GOSPEL,
REV. HOSEA BALLOU, 2d,
Is this little volume respectfully inscribed, as a slight token of long
cherished affection and esteem, by
Job viii. 11.
Can the rush grow up without mire ?
Can the flag grow without water?
For the last half century or more, as is well known, an active controversy has been going on in this country, and to some extent in the most enlightened parts of Europe also, in relation to the final destiny of the human race, or rather, perhaps I should say, in relation to the destiny of an important portion of the race. For it is agreed on all sides in Christendom, that the virtuous, the good in the christian sense of the term—those who have lived in accordance with the requirements of our holy religion, and died in possession of its faith and hopes--shall in the world to come be received to heaven and exalted to a state of felicity beyond all that our poor hearts are here able even to conceive. But this favored class embraces, unfortunately, but a small portion even of the christian world ; for we behold on every hand unbelief and crime, and a too obvious want of the spirit of Christ and his gospel. It would, of course, be in vain, to attempt any accurate estimate of the relative proportion of saints and sinners, of true christian believers and of unbelievers or false believers in Christendom. But it would be a liberal estimate which should give them as one to three ; one saint to three sinners! Perhaps one to nine would be a nearer approximation to the truth.
Beyond the sphere of Christendom, which as yet embraces but about one quarter of the habitable earth, all is of course darkness and death.There is no gospel, no Savior, no salvation. For who can expect to find christian faith where christianity itself is unknown? Who will look for christian virtues where the spirit of Christ has never been diffused ?
You will readily perceive, then, that the controversy to which I allude, is by no means one of idle speculation, as some would have us believe. It concerns the everlasting weal or wo of far the larger portion of mankind; it concerns not merely indifferent persons--the Hottentots of Africa or the Tartars of Asia-hut our own fellow citizens, our neighbors, our friends, and our kindred. It concerns our own households, our wives, our children
-those whom we love as we love our own life. It concerns ourselves, if in no other
at least in the same proportion as we are christians, and feel interested in the welfare of those whom it