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but a scene of confusion, such as could scarcely be put into human language. They were generally opened with a sermon; at the close of which, there would be an universal outcry, some bursting forth into loud ejaculations of prayer, or thanksgiving for the truth ; others breaking out into emphatical sentences of exhortation; others flying to their careless friends, with tears of compassion, beseeching them to turn to the Lord; some struck with terror, and hastening through the crowd to make their escape, or pulling away their relations; others trembling, weeping, crying out for the Lord Jesus to have mercy upon them, fainting, and swooning away, till every appearance of life was gone, and the extremities of the body assumed the coldness of death ; others surrounding them with melodious songs, or fervent prayers for their happy conversion; others collected into circles round this variegated scene, contending with arguments, for and against the Work. This scene frequently continued without intermission for days and nights together.
“At these meetings many circumstances transpired well worth relating, and very interesting; but it would overleap our limits to narrate them. One at this time must suffice. At Indian Creek, a boy, from appearance about twelve
age, retired from the stand in time of preaching, under a very extraordinary impression; and having mounted a log at some distance, and raising his voice in a very affecting manner, he attracted the main body of the
people in a very few minutes. With tears streaming from his eyes, he cried aloud to the wicked, warning them of their danger, denouncing their certain doom if they persisted in their sins, expressing his love to their souls, and desire that they would turn to. the Lord and be saved. He was held up by two men ; and spoke for about an hour with that convincing eloquence that could be inspired only from above. When his strength seemed quite exhausted, and language failed to describe the feelings of his soul, he raised his hand, and dropping his handkerchief wet with sweat from his little face, cried out, · Thus, oh sinner, shall you drop into hell, unless you forsake your sins and turn to the Lord!' At that moment some fell, like those who are shot in battle, and the Work spread in a manner that human language cannot describe.”
“* At one of these meetings (at Cabin Creek) the scene was awful beyond description. Few, if any, escaped without being affected. Such as tried to run from it were frequently struck on the way; or impelled, by some alarming signal, to return. No circumstance at this meeting appeared more striking, than the great numbers that fell on the third night; and to prevent their being trodden under foot by the multitude, they were collected together, and laid out in order on two squares of
* Continued at page 272 of the same work.
the meeting-house, till a considerable part of the floor was covered.
“ But the great meeting at Caneridge exceeded all. The number that fell at this meeting was reckoned at about three thousand, among whom were several Presbyterian ministers, who according to their own confession, had hitherto possessed only a speculative knowledge of religion. One of the most zealous and active Presbyterian ministers, estimated the number collected on the ground at twenty thousand souls. At this meeting, as well as at all others, wherever the Work broke out, the Methodists appeared to be more active and more in their element, than any other people. Indeed when it first appeared in most of the congregations, other ministers were so alarmed, not knowing what to make of it, that they would have deserted it, and their own meetings too, had they not been encouraged by the Methodists. But they soon joined, and moved forward cordially in the Work. Having been thus inured and prepared, this great meeting brought on a general engagement. It was necessary that such a concourse should be scattered over a considerable extent of ground; of course there were several congregations formed in different parts of the encampment, for preaching and other religious exercises. Nor were they at a loss for pulpits : stumps, logs, or tops of trees, served as temporary stands from which to dispense the word of life. At night the whole scene was awfully
sublime. The ranges of tents, the fires reflecting light amidst the branches of the towering trees; the candles and lamps illuminating the encampment; hundreds moving to and fro, with lights or torches, like Gideon's army; the preaching, praying, shouting, all heard at once, rushing from different parts of the ground, like the sound of many waters, was enough to swallow up all the powers of contemplation. Sinners falling, shrieks and cries for mercy, awakened in the mind a lively apprehension of that scene, when the awful sound shall be heard : Arise, ye dead, and come to judgment.'»
These then are the people, who not only would deprive the Indians of their
unadulterated theism, but who send Missionaries even into the remote parts of Asia, and who, though their own orgies exceed in absurdity every thing ever done by conjuror, priest, or Mumbo-Jumbo, among the most uncivilized nations, pretend that they alone are the elect of God, and blaspheme his holy name by saying that He inspires their abominable fanaticism !
The friends of an established state religion, and of the impracticable doctrine of Uniformity, may point to the scene above described, and suggest that it proves the want of a national church. I would however desire them to look at home, and see if the Methodists, Jumpers, Ranters, and Muggletonians of England, are not almost or fully as
contemptible as their brother fanatics in America. I would also appeal to every one who has read history, and who is acquainted with the progress of superstition and religious enthusiasm, whether the attempt to put down such extravagances by coercion, or in other words, by persecution, has not always produced the contrary effect, viz. that of strengthening and confirming them.
As is the case in England, the United States abound in societies for propagating Christianity in foreign parts, and for distributing bibles and
prayer books. The parent societies have ramifications all over the country, and are busied day and night, in collecting every farthing they can lay their hands upon ; from the penny intended for the purchase of gingerbread, and nevertheless contributed to the
Children's Mite Society,” up to the large sums of hundreds of dollars, subscribed by the wealthy enthusiast.
The Missionaries, and those striving to convert the Jews, the American Indians, the Hindoos, &c. have indeed adopted such an extensive system of begging, that they strongly resemble the Capuchins, and may be termed a Mendicant Order.To such a length had public contributions for religious purposes been carried, and to such vexation and annoyance, was a man exposed for refusing to contribute to them, that the legislature of Connecticut passed a law in 1823, forbidding contributions for religious purposes, unless when