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Look around I beseech you, and behold “iniquity coming in like a flood," nd threatening to overwhelm with its turbid waters, truth and righteousness. Vho shall oppose this desolating tide? I know “ the Spirit of the Lord shall ft up a standard against it," but where are the standard bearers? If they re left to faint and to famish unsustained by the church, how can they sucessfully fight the battles of the Lord? Again, look abroad upon the world and ehold the fields already white for harvest; but where are the reapers? If hose now in the field are driven from their work and compelled to minister to heir own temporal wants, who shall raise up a company of youthful, vigorous aborers, to thrust in the sickle and reap this golden harvest?
If, then, Christian friends, you regard your own spiritual interests; if you would promote the present and future welfare of your families; if you can feel che claims of patriotism and philanthropy; if you would yield to the dictates of humanity and common justice; if you would obey the positive commands of God, and the express injunction of Jesus Christ, enforced by the cogent arguments of an inspired apostle; if you would imitate the pious example of the primitive Christians; if you would listen to the voice of God's providence, speaking a language of loudest terror to the covetous, but of comfort and consolation to the liberal; if you would be moved by the piercing cries of a dying world, and would be instrumental in saving souls from death, encourage the heart and strengthen the hands of your minister, by promptly and cheerfully affording him a competent support.
PITTSBURGH, MARCH, 1837.
BY ELISHA P. SWIFT,
THE NATURE AND IMPORTANCE OF A REVIVAL OF RELIGION.
PSALM 68:28. Strengthen, O God, that which thou hast wrought
This Psalm contains internal evidence that it was originally composed for the occasion on which the ark of the covenant of the Lord was brought into the city of David. An uncommon sense of the divine presence appears to have pervaded the minds of the people on that interesting day, and the joys of the righteous and the notes of national thanksgiving and praise, attended the ascent of this halloweď symbol to its destined place, in the centre of the metropolis of the kingdom, and the high place of Zion. We are safe probably in numbering this among those happy seasons under the old dispensation when the solemn exercises of religion were attended with a gracious refreshing from the presence of the Lord.
This Psalm, as would be extremely natural on the occurrence of a great national festival, celebrates the past deliverances and the future glories of the church of God. It adverts to the signal mercies of former centuries, and with these are interspersed prophetical allusions to the expected advent of Messiah—the extraordinary effusions of the Holy Spirit, and the goings forth of God in his sanctuary. Thus, whether we consider David as intending in the text, in connection with this memorable acknowledgment of a nation's and a church's gratitude to the God of Abraham, to implore the special blessing of Heaven the Zion of his own times, or whether we regard him as prophetically adopting the language and feeling which would exist when the time drew near that “ Ethiopia should soon stretch out her hands unto God" (verse 31), and the kingdoms of the earth bring their presents unto Jerusalem (verse 29), and unite (verse 32) in the praises of her eternal King, the sentiment expressed must be in either case the same. The sentiment is this, that when mankind, considered as individuals, churches, and nations, and portions of the human race at large, have experienced great favors from God, and are laid under peculiar obligations to Him, and have a great work to achieve, it becomes them, in view of the fact that these are likely to be suitably sustained in no other event, earnestly to implore the special effusions of the Holy
Spirit; and the strengthening influence of revivals of religion. These were the circumstances of the Jewish people at the period at which this petition was offered. God had showered down upon them many blessings, and in their individual privileges and national and ecclesiastical pre-eminence, placed them in such a condition of great comfor and happiness, and possible usefulness to the world, as in a sort reduced them to the necessity, (in order to meet such a destiny,) of earnestly beseeching God to look in mercy upon those dangers in this respect to which they were exposed, and graciously to obviate them by powerfully strengthening that which he had already wrought for them. “ Thou hast”-as though he had said—“ thou hast done much for us, and much is now required of us, but our present situation and character is such as must lead us, (in despair of a hopeful issue in any other way,) to pray for the special dispensations of the Holy Spirit, to strengthen what thou hast wrought for us.” In the application of the text to ourselves and to our own times, Christian brethren, it leads us to consider three things, viz. 1. The necessity there would seem to be, in view of our great responsibilities and our present state, that we should experience a glorious revival of the work of God in this land: 2. The nature and genuine fruits of the blessing here indicated: And 3. The manner in which it is to be sought, and the essential pre-requisites to a sincere presentation of the appeal,“ Strengthen, God, that which thou hast wrought for us.”
I. AND, IN CONSIDERING THE FIRST OF THESE TOPICS, WE SHOULD,
(AS WE HAVE ALREADY SUGGESTED, AS TO THE JEWISH PEOPLE,) CONSIDER IT IN REFERENCE TO OURSELVES,
1. As individuals: And the inquiry, what hath God wrought for us? opens of itself a boundless field of meditation. Some things are common to all, while others apply to us either as -unconverted sin. ners or professing Christians. God has given us all an intelligent, an accountable, and an immortal existence; a nature capable of indefi. nite attainments in wisdom, knowledge, and felicity. We belong to a race, also, to which, in the ruins of its apostacy, he has opened the glorious scheme of redemption; and in his own word set life and death before us.
We exist at a period of the world, also, when the useful arts, the means of knowledge, and the facilities for individual comfort and social improvement, have made great advances. God has cast our lot in a Christian country, and in a Protestant land, where we have liberty to use his own word, and draw from its unerring pages a correct idea of the only way of salvation. He has, amidst the unnumbered blessings of a clear revelation, and of civil and religious freedom, given us the offer of his mercy; and added thereto the strivings of his Spirit. Now, if any of you to whom so rare a measure of worldly comfort, and prosperity, and perhaps affluence, is granted; and whom God has so highly favored as to the knowledge of his will and the means of salvation, are yet unreconciled to Him; though you know that to him unto whom much is given, of him the more will be required; and if you are hourly in danger of having all these blessings taken from you and of being irrecoverably lost, amidst şuch means of recovery; and if, with ten thousand motives to repentance, you have withstood all the
1 calls and strivings of departed years; is it not—if you are ever to be
saved—is it not time that .you should consider with what a deep re- sponsibility you are putting off the claims of God? If there are
many such neglecters in this gospel land, should not prayer be offered for a day of God's power, that sinners may not go down to death under so aggravated a condemnation?
Others of us, my brethren, have to add to the long catalogue of temporal blessings, greater than ancient Israel knew, the favor, perhaps, of an early consecration to God; and, at all events, of the actual commencement of a work of salvation in our hearts, and the possession of a good hope through grace, that God has reconciled us unto himself by the death of his Son. We have the word of God-our domestic altars-our social meetings and concerts--our quiet Sabbaths—and our stated communion seasons, to enjoy in peace, and with none to molest us.
Our children are early led to the Sabbath school and to the house of God, and he thus affords us every facility for training them
for heaven. Our opportunities for active usefulness are abundant, and all that mercy and loving-kindness can do to make us faithful to our Savior, is exerted upon us. Now, Christians, if we look
into the state of our own hearts-if we ask what does God most rea
sonably require of us? and what we, as individuals and as a congregation, are doing for him? will not these inquiries afford evidence that we need and should most earnestly pray for a revival of religion? But,
2. We must attend to the text in its application to the church at & large, or rather that branch of the visible church of Christ to which
we belong. In this Psalm it is clearly intimated that the Jewish church had incurred great obligations, and there was much danger of a cor. responding failure and criminality, unless God in mercy interposed. And is it not so of our's as well probably as some sister denominations?
To the Presbyterian church in this country God has given, in many respects, a most honorable, and interesting, and instructive history. It has always borne its testimony against public sin; the vices of the times; vain amusements, unchristian conduct, and all manner of unrighteousness; and it has, for upwards of fifty years, as the minutes of its General Assembly will show, given the weight of its influence in favor of sound doctrinc, real piety, active benevolence, and every form of public improvement; and, in promoting these objects, it has cheerfully acted with any and all who were willing to co-operate. Its policy has been liberal and disinterested; and in the early and middle parts of its history, to say nothing of later times, it was united and harmonious in itself; and it numbered in its ministry and in its communion many men who would have been an honor to any society, and a blessing to any age.
Nor can we refer these, or its great increase to any thing but the grace and goodness of God. Indeed it is refreshing to look back to the days of Finley, and Davis, and the Tennents, and to some years about the commencement of the present century, (when it was the privilege of the General Assembly to record numerous and powerful revivals of religion,) and see how God appears to have been loading it with the debt of gratitude; and preparing it to fulfil an important part in the upbuilding of his kingdom. But, my brethren, examine its present condition, and let the question be asked, what is to be the issue if the Holy Spirit does not return in power to its churches? We