The American Tract Society was founded on May 11, 1825 for a specific purpose: To make Jesus Christ known in His redeeming grace and to promote the interests of vital godliness and sound morality, by the circulation of Religious Tracts, calculated to receive the approbation of all Evangelical Christians (from the ATS Statement of Purpose, 1825).
Three trends motivated the founders of American Tract, a diverse group of evangelical religious leaders from various denominations, to form the Society--a spiritual trend, a geographic trend, and a social trend:
First, the Second Great Awakening of the late 1700s swept across much of America, giving many Christians a deeper interest in Christian missions and motivating many of them to more aggressively share their faith with others. This new exuberance resulted in many Bible societies and gospel tract ministries being founded from 1800 to 1825. By 1825, some Christians thought that consolidation of some of these various groups was needed.
Second, the United States was expanding rapidly geographically. After the Missouri Compromise in 1820, Maine and Missouri were added to bring the total states to twenty-four. Florida was annexed in 1819. Oregon Country was jointly occupied with Great Britain. How could the gospel be taken across a land that was growing so quickly?
Third, the prospects of a new life in a new land brought millions of immigrants to America in the early 1800s. Between 1800 and 1820 alone, the population of the US swelled from 5,300,000 to 7,250,000. The new land act passed in 1820 reduced the price of land to $1.25 an acre. Ever increasing multitudes needed to know about Jesus Christ.
All of these factors combined to bring about the birth of the American Tract Society, an organization that could efficiently and effectively share the gospel message of forgiveness and eternal life through Jesus Christ with the many US citizens flung across our vast nation.
Tracts varied from 4 to 48 pages in length and were written by men such as John Bunyan, Jonathan Edwards, Joseph Alleine, Archibald Alexander, J.W. Alexander, John Flavel, John Witherspoon, John Newton, Robert Hall, James Hervey, Richard Cecil, John Owen, Philip Doddridge, Timothy Dwight, Richard Baxter, Isaac Watts, Legh Richmond, Thomas Goodwin, Gardiner Spring, William Cowper, Edward Payson, Ashbel Green, Andrew Fuller, Benjamin Rush, Cesar Malan and many more.
These 194 gems have been brought back to the 21st century for several reasons:
- These tracts were written before the day of decisionism, and thus avoids that terrible error.
- These tracts were owned by God in the conversion and sanctification of multitudes the world over.
- These tracts were written in a language that can be understood by the common man or woman.
- These tracts were written by those of doctrinal and moral integrity with no thought of personal gain.
- These tracts are brief enough for use in Family Worship, Personal Devotions, Christian School & Sunday School.
Here is a free sample essay on the [url=http://www.monergism.com/holyspirit2.html]Work of the Holy Spirit
[url=http://www.monergismbooks.com/Publications-of-the-American-Tract-Society-6-Volume-Set-p-17599.html]Publications of the American Tract Society (6 Volume Set)[/url]
[i]If you wish to live in the fellowship of the Spirit, you must guard with no less care against the encroachments of worldly-mindedness, recollecting we are Christians just as far as our treasure and our hearts are planted in heaven, and no further. A heart overcharged with the cares of this world, is as much disqualified for converse with God, and for walking in the Spirit, as it would be by surfeiting and drunkenness; to which, by their tendency to intoxicate and stupefy, they bear a great resemblance.
How many, by an immoderate attachment to wealth, and by being determined at all events to become rich, �have fallen into divers foolish and hurtful lusts, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows!� and where the result has not been signally disastrous, a visible languor in religion has ensued, the friendship of serious Christians has been shunned, and the pubic ordinances of religion attended with little fruit or advantage. As it is the design of the Spirit in his sacred visitations to form us for an habitual converse with spiritual and eternal objects, nothing can tend more directly to counteract it, than to bury our souls in earth; it is as impossible for the eye of the mind as for that of the body to look opposite ways at once; nor can we aim supremely at �the things which are seen and temporal,� but by losing sight of those �which are unseen and eternal.
There is a holy skill in turning the several parts of Christian experience to account, analogous to what the votaries of the world display in the improvement of every juncture from which it is possible to derive emolument; and though the end they propose is mean and contemptible, the steadiness with which they pursue it, and their dexterity in their choice of means, deserve imitation. In these respects �they are wiser in their generation than the children of light.�
... You have sometimes felt a peculiar seriousness of mind, the delusive glare of worldly objects has faded away, or become dim before your eyes, and death and eternity, appearing at the door, have filled the whole field of vision. Have you improved such seasons for fixing those maxims, and establishing those practical conclusions, which may produce an habitual sobriety of mind, when things appear under a different aspect? You have sometimes found, instead of reluctance to pray, a powerful impulse to that exercise, so that you felt as if you could do nothing else. Have you always complied with these motions, and suffered nothing but the claims of absolute necessity to divert you from pouring out your hearts at a throne of grace? The Spirit is said to make intercession for saints, with groanings which cannot be uttered. When you have felt those ineffable longings after God, have you indulged them to the utmost? Have you spread every sail, launched forth into the deep of the divine perfections and promises, and possessed yourselves, as much as possible, of the fullness of God? There are moments when the conscience of a good man is more tender, has a nicer and more discriminating touch, than usual; the evil of sin in general, and of his own in particular, appears in a more clear and piercing light. Have you availed yourselves of such seasons as these for searching into �the chambers of imagery,� and while you detected greater and greater abominations, been at pains to bring them out and slay them before the Lord? Have such visitations effected something towards the mortification of sin? Or have they been suffered to expire in mere ineffectual resolutions? [/i]
"[i][b]when things appear under a different aspect?[/b][/i]"
If this seems a bit pricey at $100 I would say the free article alone more than covers it ...