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12mo. and a Supplement was subsequently added by Dr. Erskine, of Edinburghi.
I refer to so many authorities, because I conceive the subject to be one of great present interest to the churches of Christ in this country, and which calls loudly for the attention of all who are engaged in the ministry of the Gospel. I am afraid many mistakes and prejudices exist respecting it. From the manner in which revivals have been talked about and promoted among the Wesleyan Methodists, I am afraid that a revival is considered by many something necessarily connected with fanaticism and extravagance; and that means to promote such a thing, would be regarded as altogether absurd or improper. The information which has been published is, I think, calculated to remove these grouudless jealousies and misapprehensions.
It is a fact, that in Britain, as well as in America, remarkable success attended the preaching of the Gospel in par. ticular places, many years ago. It is a fact that such occur. rences still take place in America, to the great delight of the people of Christ, and of the ministers of the Gospel. So late as the year 1826, “A Narrative of the Revival of Religion in the County of Oneida, particularly in the bounds of the Preshytery of Oneida," was published by the presbytery, and reprinted at Princetown, containing details of the most important nature. From the excellent preface to the Prince. town edition of this document, I beg the reader's attention to the following passage. While I admire its fidelity, and am thankful for the support which it affords to the sentiments I have advanced, I earnestly pray that it may produce a suitable effect on the minds of my brethren:
“ The design of a New Jersey edition of the following pamphlet must be obvious to every serious and reflecting
We have here presented to us a luminous exhibition of the power of the Gospel. The simultaneous revi.
val of a score of churches, with the consequent conversion of three thousand individuals, is certainly a spectacle not to be contemplated by any Christian mind but with feelings of the devoutest admiration and gratitude. And every occasion fitted to inspire such emotions ought, on that account, if no other, to be sedulously improved. The manner too, in which the following narrative is unfolded, gives it peculiar claim; on general attention. The immediate causes of effects so illustrious-the means by which results, so grand and salutary, have been obtained, are disclosed in it, with singular minuteness and precision; and will be found to furnish more instruction on the great subject of the work of the Gospel, than perhaps has ever been condensed in the same number of pages.
“ It is a matter of earnest prayer with those concerned in the present republication, that it may answer two capital ends.
“The first—that it may open the eyes of Christians in general to the real state of things around us, and inspire them with the wish and the hope, for an adequate change in it;that it may possess their hearts with the desire and expecta. tion of such a blessing from on high as we need; and in one word, place before them a well defined and legitimate and most glorious object of their devoutest prayers, and most ardent, and united, and persevering exertions.
“ It is moreover hoped, that it may prove the means of exciting, impelling, and directing ministers, elders, and church members together, in the path of duty. We have here one inore irresistible proof, that it is through the active instrumentality of his charch, iu certain, distinctly prescribed methods, that God imparts his salvation to men. Of these methods, we have here a living exemplification; and behold them in full and effective operation. It is vehemently desired, that all the classes of brethreo just mentioned would look here intently ;
and-see for themselves into what attitudes and courses of action churches are brought, by the Spirit of God, previously to their becoming successful in diffusing his salvation.
“Ye fathers and brethren of the ministry, among us, to you these pages in the first place appeal. Here you have the spectacle of compeers and contemporaries not primitive apostles, 'filled with the Holy Ghost,' gifted with the spirit of power and love, and of a sound mind,''making full proof of their ministry,' and becoming consequently“ a savour of life unto life' to hundreds. Be entreated to mark how the Spirit works in them. Hear that certain and full and overwhelming sound which the trumpet of the Gospel pours from their lips, on the ears of trembling and rejoicing sinners. Behold how they go after infatuated men into their houses and workshops, and all their haunts; and how, 'in season and out of season, as commanded, they press them with the call of repentance toward God.' See how they welcome 'the reproach of Christ,' and willingly appear ' fools for his sake;' and suffer no jeers or scoffs of insane sinners, or even of false or mistaken brethren to daunt, or turn them from their purpose. Will you not, to secure that crown of reward they seek, risk the favour of the perishing creatures you are sent after? Will you barter the plaudit of your Lord for theirs ? Behold, once more, how taking the lead and going ahead, as they should do, in the work of the Gospel, they see to it, that the churches under their care follow on in it. Hear their warnings to unfaithful professors. Hark, how they sound such a charge to the battle of the Lord as leaves none of his true soldiers asleep at their posts, but brings them up all armed to the conflict; and leaves the unfaithful to stand by themselves, convicted of their hypocrisy !
“ Reverend brethren, suffer a word of humble, but, as cir. cumstances call for it, of deep-toned remonstrance. Just look at those churches-in what action they are! And with what
mighty effect! Now look at our own. What a contrast! See that region basking in the smile of God! Behold ours smit by his frown! Why is it? why?_We have often confessed that shame belongs to us, and confusion of face.' Have we ever meant that? Shall we not both say it and mean it now ?-For is it not at our door that the guilt of this long and wide-spread desolation lies? Were we awake, could our churches thus sleep? And is it because our churches sleep, that men are perishing by liundreds around us? Then where lies this rank offence ? And what of him, by whom it cometh.' (Matt. xviii. 7.) Who of us in this view of things can be supine an hour longer; and not either arise, and shake off our sloth ; or sink down, and abase ourselves in the dust; or else retire altogether-and leave a post of such dreadful responsibility to be filled by those who will discharge the duties of it? Already may the blood of two or three generations here, be crying to Heaven for retribution on our ministry! Is not that enough?
“And will not the other office-bearers, and the church mem. bers among us be besought to look here, and see what they ought to be, and what they ought to do—what they must be and must do, if they would see the salvation of God! Ye fathers and bre. thren of our Sessions, were not the deacons' of the first ages of Christianity, who were appointed avowedly to serve tables' required to be men full of faith and of the Holy Ghost ?' And what are ye, who are Elders, invested with a spiritual function; set apart as "helps' in the work of the ministry; and bound to stand forth as leaders and examples in the church! Where is your 'labour of love ? Where is your prayer of faith.' How: will it help out your account with God-when he shall reckon with you for your utter neglect of plain duty-- that you have either not been led on in it by your pastors, or that you have, in spite of their remonstrances, left all the weight of it to rest on them? And fellow Christians at large, where are your anointed eyes, and your renewed hearts! Why is it that you 1 !
do not see your impenitent friends standing manifestly on the brink of perdition ? Why have you not the spirit to warn them, and pray for them? How can you leave them at rest in that awful case; and take it so easy, that, as you think, you are denied of God a saving blessing on their souls? Ah! many of us may find an answer to such questions, on these pages, which will make us tremble for ourselves.
“No-God has not denied us the blessing in question-for we have not asked it. Let us give up for ever so wretched a subterfuge. The illustration of his sovereignty does not require the desertion of his church. The first thing we have to do, is to abase ourselves in the dust before him, for the impiety of such a sentiment. The crime of holding and uttering it, is alone sufficient to account for the spiritual judgments that have been resting upon us. God is—and has been for eighty years—' waiting to be gracious' to us; has been all this time manifestly presenting himself to our churches in that attitude of wondrous condescension, and long-suffering mercy ; and we are pretending to be —
waiting his time ! Let it come down upon our ears as his own voice, that ' Now is the accepted time; that to-day is the day of salvation :'-And tremble lest this time and day suddenly close upon us, and upon our children, and pass by us for ever.”
The details contained in the pamphlet are too numerous, and the view of the means employed in the different places, to carry on the work too extended, to be introduced in this place; but very copious extracts from the pamphlet were published in the Congregational Magazine of this year, (1827,) which the reader can easily procure.
If it be the fact that such awakenings do not now occur in England, either in the endowed or unendowed churches in which the Gospel is preached, I should like to see a faithful and satisfactory explanation of the cause. Are we for ever