A Hint on Usefulness

James Smith, 1856

It is now generally admitted among real Christians, that as our days are few, our means are limited, our obligations great, and our responsibilities solemn — we should seize every opportunity to do good to our fellow-sinners in the name of the Lord Jesus, in order that we may extend his cause. Much is now done; and we are thankful that it is; but that much more may be done, is very clear. We certainly ought to take advantage of every circumstance that offers for the circulation of the truth of God.

The present is a reading age; the generality of the people will read a Christian Tract — but they will not sit down to peruse a folio. The present arrangements of the post-office afford us an excellent opportunity of putting tracts into the hands of our correspondents. The post-office authorities engage to take a letter weighing half an ounce for one penny; and a tract of eight pages, a moderate sized letter, and an envelope will not weigh more. Now I think such an opportunity for usefulness, ought not to be trifled with or lost. Tracts are cheap, very cheap; and may be obtained on every subject, calculated to convert the sinner, edify the believer, or reclaim the backslider. Tracts are intended to preserve from sin, inculcate virtue, and honor our dear Lord and Savior.

Besides which, small books, under four ounces, may be sent by post for one penny to any part of the United Kingdom; if more than four ounces, and under eight ounces, for two pence; and so on, in proportion. Thus we may send small, plain, spiritual volumes to the neglected hamlet, the ignorant village, or the back lanes and streets of any of our towns. We can also send them to our own friends and relatives, to old acquaintances, or others we may hear of and wish to benefit. Who can tell the amount of good which will result from such operation, if fully carried out by the Lord's people.

Just look at the matter a little; a number of Christians adopt the plan recommended; a letter arrives at the counting-house, the tract is thrown on the desk; perhaps the master does not read it — but in his absence the clerk may. Or it is received in the workshop, laid on one side, and left, and the apprentice takes it up, and, at his leisure, peruses it. Or it is delivered in the parlor, laid on the table, and the children read it, or perhaps the servant reads it the next morning when she dusts the room. Now as God has promised a blessing to his Word, who can tell what good effects may follow in these instances? If sent to Ministers or Christians, they may, as I do, read them, and then enclose them again to someone else; and thus make them tell the same tale of redeeming love many times over to as many people.

The times in which we live are such that no Christian can be justified in neglecting any means by which he can circulate the truth of God, and assist in driving soul-destroying, church-dividing error from our land. Papists write, and circulate; — puseyites write, and circulate; — infidels write, and circulate; — erroneous men of every description write, and circulate; nor can we blame them if they believe they are in the right.

But shall we Christians be still, or allow our brethren to write, print, and publish — and not purchase and circulate their productions? Surely not. How can we justify our conduct if we do? Will not the love of Christ, influence us to spread his fame? Will not love to souls, influence us to seek, by all means to save some? Will not zeal for the glory of God, influence us to circulate his truth? Is there more power in error than in truth?

We have been too, too negligent! Henceforth let our motto be — Circulate, Circulate, Circulate. Follow every tract with prayer, and the God who hears prayer — will send you an answer of peace. The way is clear, the path is plain, the means are provided, and difficulties are few. Reader! will you adopt this mode of doing good? Will you begin today? Send at once an order for your tracts, place them by your envelopes, and enclose one with the first letter you write; follow it up in faith and prayer, and you will find that "in due season you will reap, if you faint not."

Remember you are accountable for every talent you possess; if you cannot speak for Christ in company — if you cannot visit the sick for Christ — if you have not money to devote to the cause of Christ — you can enclose a tract in your letter, for Christ. Forget not that the Lord is now noticing your thoughts upon this subject; he will register the conclusion you come to, and how you act in future on this point. You may not before have thought of it, it may never have been presented to your mind; but do not wrap up this one talent in the napkin, nor hide your Lord's money in the earth — but lay it out for his glory and the spread of his truth. What is laid out for God in time, will be found to be laid up for the Christian in eternity. "And don’t forget to do good and to share — these are the sacrifices that please God." "Let us not be weary in well doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not." "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the Word of the Lord, forasmuch as you know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord."