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spirit of revivals to be given to their churches, may confirm, we fear, the doubting, and hesitating, and therefore inefficient policy, which in general, they seem to have adopted in regard to them. To what extent these evils have prevailed we are not able to decide. We cannot doubt, however, that in some parts of our country they have been very great, and have placed the friends of good order and sober piety in the most trying situation. Still over the whole breadth of New England, we have supposed, that the revivals of the last two or three years, have been remarkably characterized by sobriety; and by the solemn, rational, and practical regard to the word and ordinances of God which have prevailed in them. Nor do we suppose, on the whole, that whoever should take the Appendix to this volume in his hand, and go to those parts of the Presbyterian church where revivals have existed, would find the evils depicted, so generally prevalent, and so characteristic of revivals there, as to justify the impressions which we fear will be made, at least by such passages as these, selected from three different letters.
“In the extraordinary meetings to which we have alluded, (lengthened religious meetings,) the preaching generally assumes the hortatory character. Undoubtedly it ought to embrace powerful appeals to the conscience and the heart. But this is not enough. We may not suffer sinners to forget their deep depravity ; their insufficiency; their dependence on sovereign mercy ; nor the necessity of divine influence to change their hearts. These things are regarded by many as over-statements of gospel doctrine ; points which the christian preacher is called, not so much to expound and enforce, as explain away.” “I have neither time nor inclination to specify the almost innumerable acts of imprudence in speech and action—the harsh language addressed to individuals, privately and publicly; the disregard of decorum, and the introduction of novel and ostentatious practices, in the sanctuary itself, which have characterized the advocates and leaders of new measures, in times of great religious excitement in our country.” “A revival has been represented and sought for as an article of manufacture, for which you have only to set the machinery and raise the steam of excitement, caring little with what fuel, and converts will be made at hand. Artifices to catch attention ; devices to entrap the careless; representations to create impression ; an exaggerated style of preaching to produce alarm, to shake suspicious hopes and raise a state of general excitement, no matter of what kind, so that it brings people to hear, have in some cases been put in requisition, over which truth, and reverence, and humility, and faith must weep, and which have done more to injure revivals in certain places, than all the direct opposition of coldness and unbelief."
Have the religious excitements in our churches been generally, or even extensively of this character? We think not: and every one of the writers in this volume, notwithstanding the impression which we fear the whole taken together will make, would join, we believe, in the remark of the writer whose language we last quoted, “ Blessed be God, these things are not characteristic of revivals of religion, but only of some minds associated with the name. In the great majority of what have been called by this name, they have not appeared, or have only been very partial exceptions to the general rule.” What we regret, therefore, is, that this exposure of real and great evils in particular places, may result in consequences very different from what the authors of the Letters intended.
Thirdly, the propriety of various measures in revivals, depends on peculiar circumstances, and must be left to the discretion of those who conduct them. For censoriousness there can be no apology; and happy would it be did the advocates of either old or new measures, universally avoid it. Of hasty admission to the church, we have given our sentiments on a former occasion. We should greatly deprecate it as a general practice. But how long the admission of hopeful converts, in particular cases should be delayed ; in what circumstances protracted religious meetings shall be held, or how long they shall be continued, or how often repeated; whether awakened sinners shall be detained for more particular advice, after the congregation have retired, or be addressed only as they set promiscuously in the assembly, or be invited to particular seats in the presence of the congregation, or be called together on a succeeding day or evening ; whether hopeful converts shall form a separate meeting, or how it shall be conducted, with various other particulars of this nature, which might be named, are things which can be decided by no general rule. Measures which one minister of the gospel may adopt with good effect, may be worse than useless in the hands of another. Measures that would be useful among the uncultivated inhabitants of the wilderness, might be revolting to the people of a city. And measures which it might be desirable every where to prevent, may have so strong a hold in some places upon public prejudice, that it may be less hurtful to tolerate, than violently suppress them. Many of the practices complained of are the Methodism, so to speak, of the Presbyterian church; and the only question is, shall the people in those places be Calvinistic or Arminian Methodists. In respect to “anxious seats” in particular, though we have neither been accustomed to them, nor wish to see them introduced into New England, yet when once a congregation has become familiar with them, we see not how the tendency can be greatly different from that of the meeting for inquiry. If the former is more public, the latter is so much so, that the attendance of the members is extensively known. If the former is designed especially to counteract that disposition to delay submission to God, by which so many un
der serious impressions are lost, this also is a principal design of the latter. If in urging the sinner to immediate repentance at the anxious seat, you expose him to take up with a false hope, the danger is the same under similar treatment, at the meeting for inquiry. In either case, the ministers of religion are under the most solemn obligation plainly and fully to explain the nature of that submission which they urge; but when this is done, we do not perceive that sinners are more exposed to self-deception in consequence of their being pressed to immediate compliance, than on being left to their unassisted reflections.
Finally all experience shows, that the existence, progress, and happy fruits of revivals, depend far more on the spirit with which they are sought, than the particular shape and form of the measures adopted. But we now gladly turn from this topic, that, in conclusion we may refer our readers to the bright and joyful prospect which the revivals of our day are opening to us. This is happily illustrated by Dr. Sprague in his concluding Lecture, entitled Results of revivals. These are presented as they are developed ; first in the present world, secondly in the world of glory. The grand result to which revivals are here tending, is the complete moral renovation of the world. This is to be accomplished by their direct influence in elevating the intellectual, spiritual, and social condition of men, and by enlarging the moral resourses, and quickening and directing the moral energies of the church. As it respects the world of glory, the result is a vast accession to the felicity of that world, ministering as they do directly to the joy, and increasing the number, of the heavenly inhabitants.
Pause now for a moment on the eminence to which we are brought, and so far as you can, let your eye take in at a glance the results of revivals, as they respect both worlds. Under their influence see the cause of moral renovation advancing, until this earth every where brightens into a field of millenial beauty. Behold also the inhabitants of heaven kindling with higher rapture in view of these wonderful works of God! Not only those who have been subjects of revivals, but those who have not, not only the ransomed of the Lord, but the principalities and powers in heavenly places, and even Jehovah who is over all blessed forever, rejoice, and will eternally rejoice, in these triumphs of redeeming grace. And this joy and glory is not only to be perpetual, but to be perpetually progressive. Say then whether such results will not justify the church even now in beginning her song of triumph. pp. 285, 286.
Art. III.-EFFICACY OF PRAYER EXEMPLIFIED IN THE CASE
OF A DECEASED LADY. Many who are entitled to the rich consolations of an established hope in Christ, go mourning all their days, and rarely if ever know any thing of real spiritual enjoyment. It is particularly for the benefit of such persons that the following narrative is given, for the accuracy of which the editor of this work has been enabled to become responsible to the public. The writer has attempted only to embody in this sketch, a few incidents in the life of a deceased friend, who, after a long period of unwonted trials from religious des pondency, closed her days through the efficacy of prayer, with an assured faith of her final acceptance with God; breathing forth in all her actions, the fragrance of a holy and heavenly devotedness to her Redeemer.
If this narrative shall prove instrumental in guiding one soul on the way to heaven, if it shall diffuse over the visage of the tempted and disconsolate christian one solitary ray of a brighter hour, and lead him to a more strenuous effort, to escape from thraldom and gloom, we shall not have labored in vain. If by pointing out the error, we should prevent a single individual from its repetition, it will ever be a matter of thankfulness to the writer that these facts have come to his knowledge, and that he has had the privilege of recording them. The subject of this sketch now sleeps in the burial ground of her native village, far away from the scene of her labors and her brightest joys; but her memory lives in the heart of many a christian friend, and of converts who have risen up to call her blessed. On the tablet which marks the spot where her body molders, are inscribed two passages, oft repeated by her, as summing up the ground of her trust, and the assurance of her felicity. “I know that my Redeemer liveth.”—“To die is gain.” Her spirit has entered, we trust, upon the full fruition of those brighter thoughts and purer joys, of which she was granted so large a foretaste here; and where, after passing through great tribulation, sanctified and blessed, she joins in the
“Worthy is the Lamb that was slain.”
From her earliest childhood, she was noticed for an uncommon loveliness of disposition, accompanied by great delicacy and feminine reserve. She had an intellect of a superior order, and a sensibility which fitted her to sympathize largely in the joys and sorrows of others, as well as most keenly to feel her own. Her youthful days were spent as usual, with persons of her rank, in adding to her natural accomplishments, those of literature, science, and the elegant arts. At the age of eighteen, she became anxious respecting the state of her soul; and her convictions of sin were, for a time, pungent and even overwhelming. At her first awakening,
which happened without the use of any extraordinary means, she was not aware of the real cause of her distress, attributing it to some change in her state of health. As she obtained clearer views of her character and condition by nature, she became more distressed, till she was reduced at times to a state of absolute despair. But her feelings, at this period, will be best learned from the description of her spiritual guide, as given in his own words. After - mentioning her anxiety on account of wicked and blasphemous thoughts, he proceeds, _“ She remained several days in this state of deep distress. I had never before seen, nor have I ever seen since, what appeared to me such deep, pungent, overwhelming conviction of sin, as she exhibited during that time. There seemed to be a bitterness and agony of spirit, beyond the power of language to express. I recollect once, while I was urging her to come to the Savior, she looked upon me with an earnestness of expression that I can never forget, and said, “How shall I come. 0! tell me how.' At length there seemed to be a change in her feelings, not a sudden transition to light, but a softening of heart, a yielding to the claims of the Savior, a calmness of spirit which indicated submission. Among the evidences of this, I recollect her saying that the penitential hymn beginning,
" () that my load of sin was gone,
O that I could at last submit,' etc. expressed better than she could do in her own language, what she felt. After this, as I saw her from day to day, she appeared to me to exhibit increasing evidence of having become a new creature in Christ Jesus. About this time her tenderness of conscience was such, that she requested some of the family to remove a novel, or book not of a religious character, which happened to lie upon the bible. When she rode out, she took Doddridge's Rise and Progress with her, as a sort of guard against the intrusions of the world. In conversation, she never expressed strong hope or confidence, that she was a christian ; but she seemed to me to give the most satisfactory evidence, that such was her character. During a journey, Mrs. remarked, and I fully concurred with her, that A- exhibited in a happy manner, the christian graces. She appeared calm, peaceful, and consistent. I knew her fine talents and her capacities of usefulness; and rejoiced over her in the anticipation that she would soon become a burning and shining light in the church."
These anticipations of her respected pastor, however, were not immediately realized. The placid calm was over, and she became the subject of settled despondency and even despair. Her hope was gone, or remained only as a flickering ray in the midst of darkness and gloom. This change, as will