by James Smith
James Smith was a predecessor of Charles Spurgeon at New Park Street Chapel in London from 1841 until 1850. Early on, Smith's readings were even more popular than Spurgeon's!
It has been said by a divine of the seventeenth century, in reference to the portion of the divine word of which this work is an exposition: "Search all the Scripture, you will not find any one chapter into which more excellent, sublime, and evangelical truths are crowded! The Bible is the book of books, and this chapter may be styled the chapter of chapters! From first to last it is high gospel, all gospel; it is the summation and storehouse of all the saints' privileges and duties. You have in it the love of God and of Christ shining forth in its greatest splendor. Blessed be God for every part of Holy Writ—but specially blessed be God for this eighth chapter to the Romans!"
The sentiments here expressed have found an echo in many a believer's heart. There is no class or character for whom it does not contain something suitable—but it is pre-eminently adapted to the various circumstances and conditions in which true Christians are found.
The distinction here accorded to this portion of Holy Writ may with equal truth be given to this production of the author's pen, in relationship to the many other works bearing his name. Being the last volume he was permitted to complete, written with a deep and abiding consciousness that his work was almost done, when his mind was evidently fitted and prepared for the inheritance he was so soon to receive—it possesses a richness and savor which will commend it to the judgment and heart of every child of God.
The intentions of the author appears to be:
1. to present before the reader experimental religion as distinct, and differing from that of the mere formalist or hypocrite;
2. to display the glorious privileges of the gospel and the believer's title to them;
3. to stir up the slothful to active service in, and consecration to, the Master's service, from a principle of gratitude for the blessings bestowed and love to their great Giver;
4. to present a consistent and connected view of truth, displaying the harmony that exists between experimental, doctrinal, and practical religion, and
5. to give to each and all, their portion of spiritual food in due season.
comfort for the mourner;
reproof for the erring;
condemnation for those who persist in rejecting Christ;
encouragement to seeking souls;
instruction for those who desire to know more of the Lord; and,
a withering exposure of the man whose religion consists in mere profession.
The thought that the hand that penned these pages, lies helpless in the cold and silent grave; that the breast that heaved with emotions, as the truths here recorded passed through his mind, is no longer susceptible of feeling; and that he who on earth handled, and tasted, and felt so much of what he wrote and preached for the good of others—died, before the publication of these pages, to that blessed world
"Where he can see, and taste, and know
All he desired or wished below!"
gives a more than common force and solemnity to this volume.
May that Spirit who so eminently used his servant during his long and active life, bless this his last effort, to the building up of the Church and the conversion of thousands of immortal souls!