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duty stands forth with its own claims, holding its appropriate place. In short, we know of few writings which are fitted to make an impression more in this respect like that of the bible itself, than those of Mr. Jay. Whoever reads them attentively and imbibes their spirit, will not be punctilious in respect to one set of duties, and lax in regard to another; but he will be only attentive to all ; and under such an influence his christian character, instead of being unsightly and monstrous, will develope itself in fair and beautiful proportions.
After what we have already said of Mr. Jay's writings, we scarcely need add, that they are fitted to form christian character on the most lovely and attractive model. It cannot be disguised, that as the beauty of christian doctrine has sometimes been marred by human philosophy, so the loveliness of christian example has been obscured by what has almost seemed a cold and lowering melancholy. There have been those, and they are yet to be found, who appear habitually gloomy from principle; who set down the playfulness and buoyancy of the animal spirits to the account of an inveterate waywardness; and who never venture to speak on the subject of religion at all, but with what seems an air of affected solemnity. There are those who, while they carry this spirit with them into all the intercourse of life, display it especially in their personal addresses to those whom they would influence to attend to their soul's salvation; and make it a point to begin every such conversation with the utmost abruptness, and sometimes in a manner to shock all the finer sensibilities. We do not doubt that this course has often been adopted with the best motives, and that the individuals concerned have supposed they could accomplish more good in this than in any other way; but we have as little doubt that such a course is inconsistent with the spirit of the bible, and at war with all just notions of the philosophy of the mind. In all cases of this kind we would have deep solemnity, but we would have associated with it the utmost tenderness; a spirit and a manner which should be adapted to find its way to the kindest feelings of the heart. And in the common intercourse of life, while christians should take heed that they avoid the appearance of evil, they should also manifest by their consistent and dignified cheerfulness, that religion is not the parent of gloom; and that those who come under its influence, enter a path which is in the best sense“ pleasantness and peace.' If irreligious persons are liable to be confirmed in their irreligion by the careless and trifling deportment of professed christians, they are not less exposed to the same evil by seeing a christian profession constantly associated with a morose and forbidding gloom. Let religion be exhibited in all its cheerful attractions, while yet it retains its appropriate seriousness and dig. nity, and it cannot fail to commend itself to the judgment, and
pp. 17, 18.
believe in Christ, as he is set forth in the gospel? Is he precious to us? Is the same mind in us which was in him? Do we deny ourselves daily? Have we been convinced of sin by the Holy Spirit? Have we the fruit of the Spirit, described by the Apostle ; and the marks of discipleship, described by our Savior? Are we poor in spirit? Do we mourn with the mourning of penitents ? Are we meek and merciful ? Do we hunger and thirst after righteousness? Are we peacemakers ? Are we pure in heart? Do our prayers answer to the pattern which Christ Do we forgive and love our enemies, and do them good, and pray for them? Do we show our love to Christ by keeping his commandments?
These questions bring into view the principal evidences of piety, the principal rule by which we are to try ourselves. When the judgment day comes, we shall stand or fall as we are conformed or not to this rule.
This view of the evidence of piety has an importance which many do not understand. In the general estimate of christian character, practical holiness, in comparison with “ frames and feelings," is underrated. More especially is this the fact in regard to social duties. Devotional feelings, and religious zeal, and the expressions of love which are directed more immediately to God, and the objects of the invisible world, are considered as they certainly ought to be, indispensible to the character of a christian; but then a meek endurance of injuries; an active love to enemies; a strict government of the tongue; an exact performance of engagements; and a conscientious observance of the golden rule of reciprocity in commercial and other social transactions, are too often regarded as of minor consequence. Yet it is remarkable that in the scriptures, whenever the character of the accepted worshipers of God is professedly drawn, its lineaments are taken chiefly from the latter class of duties. We would refer our readers to Psalm xv. Isaiah lvü. and Matthew xxv. Nor is the reason doubtful. A strict and uniform discharge of these duties in the true spirit of them, requires more self-denial, and consequently in connection with a christian profession, is more indicative of holy principle, than any course of religious observances can ordinarily be. It is also more honorable to God; and this, not only because it is more decisive evidence of a divine principle, but also because it more powerfully commends the gospel to the consciences of men. Did the body of the christian professors live as they ought in respect to this class of duties, what infinite scandals would be prevented ! how incontrovertibly divine would they demonstrate their religion to be! and, in comparison with it, how meager, unprincipled, and worthless, would the world's morality appear! With boldness might we then say,
“ Talk they of morals? O thou bleeding love,
“The grand inorality, is love of thee.” The Lectures of Dr. Sprague are nine in number on the Na
ture, Defense, Obstacles, Divine Origin and General Means of Revivals ; The Treatment due to Awakened Sinners and to Young Converts, The Evils to be avoided in Revivals, and their Results. They are all in the author's usual style-methodical, clear, neat, copious, and often elegant in illustration, and powerful in appeal.
The Letters are twenty, and form an appendix of one hundred and sixty five pages. Of these, some are in the form of discussion, and others of historical illustration. Some are a simple statement of facts; and others, together with such statements, suggest practical results as derived from them.
We hope to subserve the great cause to which the volume is devoted, by presenting to our readers the outlines, and some detached passages, of these Lectures, together with such extracts from the Letiers as may occur to us in illustration of the topics in hand, and as our designed limits may allow; reserving to ourselves as we proceed, the common liberty of reviewers;—that of giving our own opinion.
In the first Lecture, after some pertinent remarks commending the general subject to the special attention of christians, the author explains the nature of a genuine revival, as distinguished from a false excitement. It is no other than an increase of that scriptural knowledge, that vital piety, that practical obedience, which belongs to the nature of true religion. Wherever you see religion rising up from a state of comparative oppression to a tone of increased vigor and strength; wherever you see professing christians becoming more faithful to their obligations, and behold the strength of the church increased by fresh accessions of piety from the world, there is a state of things which you need not hesitate to denominate a revival of religion. Such a work is described more fully by Dr. Sprague under the particulars of an increase of zeal and devotedness on the part of God's people ;-the alarm and conviction of those who have hitherto been careless ;—and the hope indulged by numbers that they are reconciled to God and born of the Spirit. It is, however, no certain indication of a genuine revival that there is a great excitement, nor that large numbers profess to be converted, nor that there is violent opposition. The evidence of a genuine revival is rather to be sought in the scriptural character of the means employed, the due proportion of reflection and feeling which exists, and principally in the substantial and abiding fruit which results. We give only an outline of Dr. Sprague's thoughts on this point that we may afford our readers the same satisfaction as we ourselves have experienced in marking the perfect harmony of his correspondents of different denominations, respecting it.
The following is from the letter of Dr. Alexander.
and affect many minds, when the producing cause is not the Spirit of God; and when the truth of God is not the means of the awakening This we must believe, unless we adopt the opinion that the Holy Spirit accompanies error by his operations as well as truth, which would be blasphemous. Religious excitements have been common among Pagans, Mohammedans, heretics and Papists. And in our time there have been great religious excitements among those who reject the fundamental doctrines of the gospel; as for example, among the Christ-ians, who are Unitarians, and the New-lights or Schismatics of the west, and the Campbellites, who deny the proper divinity of our Lord, and the scriptural doctrine of atonement. The whole religion of the Shakers also, consists in enthusiastic excitement. Hence it is evident, that revivals ought to be distinguished into such as are genuine and such as are spurious. And the distinction should depend on the doctrines inculcated, on the measures adopted, and the fruits produced. “Belored,” says the apostle John, “ believe not every spirit, but try the spirits, whether they are of God.”
Again, a revival or religious excitement may take place when a few persons only are under the saving operations of the Holy Spirit: but when many are affected by sympathy, and by the application of extraordinary means of awakening the feelings, I have seen a powerful religious impression pervade a large congregation at once, so that very few remained unaffected; and most expressed their feelings by the strongest signs; and yet, as it afterwards appeared, very few of them became permanently serious.
But I come now to speak of genuine revivals, where the gospel is preached in its purity, and where the people have been well instructed in the doctrines of christianity. In a revival
, it makes the greatest difference in the world whether the people have been carefully taught by catechising, and where they are ignorant of the truths of the bible. În some cases revivals are so remarkably, pure, that nothing occurs with which any pious man can find fault. There is not only no wildness and extravagance, but very little strong commotion of the animal feelings. The word of God distils upon the mind like the gentle rain, and the Holy Spirit comes down like the dew, diffusing a blessed influence on all around. Such a revival affords the most beautiful sight ever seen
Its aspect gives us a lively idea of what will be the general state of things IN THE LATTER-DAY GLORY, and some faint image of the heavenly state. The impressions on the minds of the people in such a work are the exact counterpart of the truth ; just as the impression on the wax corresponds to the seal. In such revivals there is great solemnity and silence. The convictions of sin are deep and humbling: the justice of God in the condemnation of the sinner is felt and acknowledged; every other refuge but Christ is abandoned; the heart at first is made to feel its own impenetrable hardness; but when least expected, it dissolves under a grateful sense of God's goodness, and Christ's love; light breaks in upon the soul either by a gradual dawning, or by a sudden flash; Christ is revealed through the gospel, and a firm and often a joyful confidence of salvation through him is pro
duced: a benevolent, forgiving, meek, humble and contrite spirit predominates the love of God is shed abroad—and with some, joy unspeakable and full of glory, fills the soul. A spirit of devotion is enkindled. The word of God becomes exceedingly precious. Prayer is the exercise in which the soul seems to be in its proper element, because by it, God is approached, and his presence felt, and beauty seen: and the new-born soul lives by breathing after the knowledge of God, after communion with God, and after conformity to his will. Now also springs up in the soul an inextinguishable desire to promote the glory of God, and to bring all men to the knowledge of the truth, and by that means to the possession of eternal life. The sincere language of the heart is, “ Lord what wouldst thou have me to do?" That God may send upon his church many such revivals, is my daily prayer: and many such have been experienced in our country, and I trust are still going forward in our churches. App. pp. 1-5.
Corresponding with the above are the views of Dr. Wayland.
I believe in the existence of revivals of religion, as much as I believe in any other fact, either physical or moral. By revivals of religion I mean special seasons in which the minds of men, within a certain district, or in a certain congregation, are more than usually susceptible of impression from the exhibition of moral truth. The effects of this special influence are manifest on ministers and hearers, both converted and unconverted. Ministers are more than usually desirous of the conversion of men. They possess, habitually, an unusual power of presenting the simple truths of the gospel directly to the consciences of their hearers, and feel a peculiar consciousness of their own weakness and insufficiency, and at the same time a perfect reliance upon the efficacy of the gospel, through the agency of the Spirit, to convert men. Every minister of the gospel has, I presume, enjoyed this feeling occasionally in his addresses to his fellow men, and every one has, I fear, felt that to possess it habitually is one of his most difficult attempts. Christians, during periods of revival, are characterized by an unusual spirit of penitence, of confession of sin, and of prayer, by a desire for more holiness, and specially by a tender concern for the salvation of souls. Unconverted persons are more desirous to hear the gospel and particularly the plainest and simplest exhibitions of it ; they readily listen to conversation on the subject, and seem to expect it. Truths which they have frequently heard with total unconcern they now hear with solemn and fixed attention; and in many cases, for days together, scarcely a sermon will be preached, or an exhortation offered, which is not made effectual to the conviction or conversion of one or more souls.
Seasons of this sort commence in various ways. Sometimes a whole congregation is simultaneously impressed with the importance of religion. At other times a single striking conversion spreads its effect gradually over the whole. Sometimes the unconverted are awakened while the church yet slumbers. But more frequently christians become convinced of their lukewarmness, and return to God by penitence, and through VOL y.