It is a great and cheering truth, that the progress of the church cannot be separated from the progress of humanity. And probably more has been done by Christians for the elevation of the human race, during the last half century, than during any previous period of equal length, with the exception perhaps of the period denominated the apostolic age. Within the period of half a century how many benevolent institutions have been founded! How many missionaries have been sent to heathen lands! What mighty changes and improvements have taken place in administrations and forms of government! What efforts have been made to enlighten the ignorant, to relieve the poor, the oppressed, the dumb, the blind, the insane! How changed is the public sentiment in relation to war! — and how widely disseminated, compared with the state of things at any former time, is the sentiment of universal brotherhood and good-will to man!
These and many other favorable results have been witnessed, chiefly through the influence and exertions of Christians, and by the mighty power of the religious sentiment. Christians have done much, not only because they desired to do much, but because they believed. They begin to understand, more than in former periods, the mighty results of simple trust in God. It is a sentiment found in the great poet of the ancient Romans, that faith, even in the ordinary concerns of life, is power, POSSUNT QUI POSSE VIDENTUE. And if much, in accordance with this sentiment, can be done by the natural man with the aids and strength of natural faith, how much more can be done by those, who, in adding religious to natural faith, are aided by the promises and the power of God!
But what has been witnessed during the last half century is only the beginning. The mighty power of divine faith strengthens itself day by day. If to-day the man of faith can arrest the listening ear of warring nations, to-morrow he may expect to hear the last sound of their cannon. Every step that he takes gives him increased strength for effort and increased influence. If to-day he can plant his missionary stations in Africa, in China, in Syria, in the Sandwich Islands, to-morrow, by effort added to effort, and by faith added to faith, he may expect to see the foundations of the old idolatry totter, end its temples fall.
Engage, therefore, in the great work of man's redemption. Engage in it, not in human strength, not under the influence of human excitement, but in Christ's strength, under the leadings of the Holy Ghost, and in the fixedness and calmness of everlasting principle.
The day in which we live, if we regard either the intimations of prophecy or the signs of the times, is the day of the last struggle. Everything indicates that the powers of light and darkness are marshaling themselves for a contest greater than any which has preceded it. Humanity must rise now, or, we have reason to fear, that it will sink forever. Whatever may be the result of the struggle, there is but one course for those who would either seek or maintain their union with God, and that is, to possess the spirit of Christ, and, like him, to toil, to suffer, and to die if it be necessary, for the renovation of a fallen and suffering race.
— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 7, Chapter 1.