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drought and general stupidity, and commence and continue without any extraordinary efforts whatever; and where, with the exception of those warm and active exertions, which ministers and private Christians will continually put forth in various ways when their minds become deeply interested, nothing but the plain and faithful preaching of the gospel in the ordinary way, and occasional conversation with the awakened and inquiring, occurs, there is no just ground, on any view of the philosophy of our nature, to suspect the genuineness of the work.

Facts abundantly show us, however, that when the great objects of religion are sought to be attained, by operating upon large masses of society at once, or even on an ordinary assembly, in a novel and extraordinary way, and by means which are reputed to possess a mysterious, divine efficacy, and when the people are taught to believe that there is a sort of indefinite divine energy operating upon them, the public mind may be brought into great excitement, where there is little or no heavenly influence. Let a mass of people be persuaded that their minds are so brought into near and powerful contact with God and other invisible existences, as brings their eternal destiny to an im. mediate crisis, and if the becalming, and sobering, and regulating influence of divine truth, is exchanged for passionate appeals, and extravagant and fanciful representations, and exhortations on pain of death and eternal reprobation, to do certain outward acts of compliance, it is impossible to say what sympathetic agitations and sudden transports of mind may be produced. Instead of the meekness, and humility, and solemn, pensive thoughtfulness, which becomes a deep-felt sense of the divine presence, these occasions exhibit the rash and extravagant conduct and expressions of some—the light and irreverent devo. tions and behavior of others—the zeal, and censoriousness, and spiritual pride, and forwardness of those, who conceive themselves to be highly honored and influenced from above, and the frenzy and outcries of such as apprehend that they are passed by. The main fact, however, which this admission implies, is that the human mind may be more or less excited on the subject of religion where there is no special agency of God; and that, therefore, instead of resorting to plans and measures calculated to do this, it is our solemn duty to guard against it, and put forward the marks of a divine operation, as that alone which we are authorized to encourage. And in doing this, every righteous man ought solemnly to consider what immense damage is done, if the prevalence of mere excitements tends to diminish the confidence of God's people in the reality and importance of those visitations of the Holy Ghost, which, in all ages, have been the glory of Zion. We have, for example, met in an inquiry room from thirty to fifty persons, who were suddenly brought together, as they verily be, lieved at the moment, as subjects of special awakening, among whom there was not half a dozen who appeared, amidst much visible emotion, to possess any real conviction of sin, or any just idea of their true situation as lost sinners; while, at another time, we have met, under simi. lar circumstances, a company of inquirers, among whom, with here and there an exception, one could trace, from day to day and week to week, the application of God's truth to the heart and conscience by the Holy Spirit, with as much distinctness and apparent certainty as a

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physician would mark the progress of disease in the animal economy. Now, it appears to us plain, my brethren, that when stript of human extravagance-of fine wrought theories, as to the manner of originating and conducting revivals of religion, the whole subject is extremely plain and simple. We have in the Bible and in the history of the church, clearly laid down the doctrine of special and extraordinary visitations of the Holy Spirit, and it comprises a blessing which the children of God are to expect, and hope, and pray for, until the gospel of the kingdom becomes universal. We are taught, further, that there are periods when a common necessity may exist throughout the church, and when all eyes should be lifted to God, and all hearts prostrated before him, in trembling anxiety for the ark of the Lord. We have further the data by which, as honest men, we may distinguish between real and apparent revivals of religion, and our duty is to seek the blessing and reject its counterfeits.

The question, then, what are the marks of a genuine work of divine grace! must be answered substantially in the same way as we would reply to the inquiry, how are we to distinguish renewed from unrenewed applicants for church privileges? The operations of the Holy Spirit on the hearts, both of saints and sinners, in the conviction of sin, the production of spiritual life; and the maturing of the graces and fruits of holiness, are in their own nature and in their essential effects, the same in all cases and in all ages, and where these appear

with unusual strength, and in a number of separate instances, at the same time, we call it a revival of religion. When God returns to pour out his Spirit upon a congregation, it not unfrequently happens, that, while some have been weeping in secret places, and mourning over the de. pressions of Zion, the time, and manner, and circumstances, in which “the Messenger of the covenant suddenly comes to his temple,” are such as evidently to show the hand of God, and strike his own people with surprise and astonishment. The pious seem at once to recognize the voice of their Shepherd, and many perhaps feel unprepared to greet the heavenly visit. Hence, if there have been variances, or alienations, among the members of the church, they make mutual concessions and seek reconciliation. If professors have been remiss in their attendance upon family, or social duties, they immediately reform, and the place of prayer is crowded with attentive and solemn worshipers. Professing Christians, each one, and without any sort of concert, begin to search their hearts and try their ways; and, after deep humiliation, and often after great distress, successively come forth to the help of the Lord, with new light, and joy, and power. Their lips are opened to speak for God, and with animated hope and holy joy, they love to testify for Christ and proclaim the wonders of his grace. They feel ready to take up every cross, and go forward in every duty with à meek sincerity and an humble boldness. Enlargement and prevalence in prayer, and a consciousness that God's word is quick and powerful, gives them a firm expectation that He has now appeared to build up Zion, and will surely hear and answer his people in behalf of unconverted sinners. Hence they go to a throne of grace and to the sanctuary of God, expecting to feel his presence and to behold“ his stately steppings.

In these fresh anointings from on high, ministers of the gospel also share, and thence, they will have become more conscious of their own weakness and inefficiency, and more desirous that God himself should undertake for their perishing hearers. They will press the truth upon their people with more simplicity and earnestness, and in their prayers, and preaching, and intercourse, show a growing preparation for the day of the Lord. Sinners are awakened from the sleep of many years, and the word of God takes hold of their consciences. The guilt, and misery, and ruin of their situation, becomes to their minds a painful reality; and while they abandon their evil courses, and give close and earnest attention to the means of grace, they truly discover the enmity of their hearts to God, and become sensible that, without a change in the temper of their minds, they never can be happy. They become, as it were, experimentally convinced that they can do nothing to effect their own salvation, and they find rest and peace only when, as a last resort, and in a kind of despair of relief, they throw themselves into the arms of divine mercy. Then they are enabled to recognize the merits of Christ as the only and all sufficient ground of justification and acceptance, the Holy Spirit as the author of sanctification, and God himself as the blessed object of their heart-felt complaisancy.

Thus, without any visible, adequate cause, meetings become crowded, solemn, and impressive. Mountains of oppression are rolled away, and backsliders and wandering professors return to God. Christians are warm, fervent, and happy. The tongue of clamor is silent, and the countenance of levity begins to wear the aspect of concern.

The moralist begins to examine the foundation of his trust, while the blasphemer, instead of uttering in profane mockery the name of God, now lifts his weeping and anxious eyes to Heaven and asks if there can be forgiveness for him. The current of iniquity is stayed, division ceases, and God's people take sweet counsel together; while mourning souls begin to sing for joy.

That which the eternal Spirit employs instrumentally to produce these effects is the truth of God most appropriately used, not by studied singularity of form or utterance, or in harsh and menacing language, but with heart-felt carnestness, and plain, direct, and pungent appeals to the conscience. The total depravity and corruption of the heart—the guilt and inexcusableness of continuing in an impenitent and Christless state; the work and offices of the Redeemer as consti-, tuting the only hope, and affording the only refuge for ruined man; and the sovereign, renewing operation of the Spirit, as that which alone can obviate the fatal effects of the moral blindness and blame-worthy impotence of lost sinners, and present any hope of their salvation, are among those doctrines which God has, at such seasons especially, owned and blessed. When the wakening up of believers has been sought, or new converts brought to the test of truth, the nature and evidences of faith, and regeneration, and evangelical repentance, and self-dedication, have been

investigated; the tokens of delusion and false peace, and self-deception pointed out; and the duties, and exercises, and motives, and obligations, of those who profess to come out from the world and dedicate themselves to God, have been stated; and both actual and intended professors exhorted to make their calling and election

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sure, and warned against inconsideration and insincerity in their solemn transactions with God.

Thus, we have seen that God's plan has ever been, to meet and provide for the cxigencies of great and eventful occasions like the present, by the special out-pourings of his Spirit, and that these may be so sought as to be certainly obtained, and so distinguished that there need be no mistake. That our social nature is suited to this plan, and our best system of securing the effusion itself, and of dealing with its subjects, is that found in the Bible. Let us, then, as we proceed, attentively consider how important the blessing is. Clear discoveries of divine things, strong faith, decided improvement in holiness, and a possession of the spirit of prayer among Christians, as well as the increased number of conversions in our churches, and the clearness of their evidences, and the decision of their Christian stand and character, not less than the subversion of immorality and licentiousness, and the maintenance, in their life and vigor, of all benevolent enterprises, must stand in intimate connection with the prevalence of revivals.

III. LET US NOW PROCEED, THIRDLY, TO CONSIDER THE MANNER

IN WHICH THE REVIVING AND STRENGTHENING POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT IS TO BE OBTAINED.

The text, you perceive, contemplates a solemn appeal to God, for help to withstand the influx of iniquity, and to sustain and carry forward his cause on earth. It implies, of course, that while we are doing, or are ready to do, all in our power, to maintain the purity, and growth, and honor of his kingdom, we believe the time has come, when we may properly ask and expect him, visibly to make bare his mighty arm, and pour out his Spirit upon his churches, with such marks of grace and energy in the suppression of iniquity, the reformation of morals, the fresh anointing of his people, and the ingathering of souls, as shall convince all that this is the work of God. Now, the simple statement of the case is enough to show, that when the people of a district, or congregation, suddenly pause in the heat and hurry of the world, and, without any previous heart-felt acts of repentance and reformation, and any sincere and strenuous efforts, faithfully and unitedly to carry forward the whole work of God among them, enter upon a series of protracted meetings, in which the neglects of years. are attempted to be amended, and the duties of months to be thrown into the services of a few brief days, they do not present a fit occasion for the true and reverent presentation of such an appeal to God; and if he were to consider it in that light, soon would the glory of Israel be changed. God, it is true, is sovereign and unsearchable in his counsels, and he can, and sometimes does, pour out his Spirit where the divinely appointed method of preparing the way of the Lord, and seeking, through the medium of believing prayer, for spiritual blessings, is not employed; but when he has expressly informed us on what principles he will invariably return to his churches, with reviving grace and power, how inconsistent is it for us to neglect these, and yet make the appeal as though we were wholly engaged, and truly sincere? and expect a blessing, simply because such a thing has sometimes happened; and become discouraged if it does not come! It were just

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as proper for sinners to ask and expect to be saved in their sins, as for churches to ask and expect revivals apart from the holy and sanc. tifying influences which they are intended to exert.

To open such meetings, therefore, with all the established forms of a revival season; or, to carry the idea that when a certain regular course of exercises, or discourses, have been gone through, God will come down in power upon, a church, which has, it may be, slept in worldly conformity all the rest of the year, and because he has pro, mised to hear and answer the prayer of faith, is calculated to foster and establish an illusion, and to bring down that high and holy standard which God has established. Real good may no doubt be done to individuals by such meetings, even where there is no general awakening, but the mistake is, that they are sought to be carried forward and urged under the idea that a special out-pouring of the Spirit exists, or is to be expected. But, my brethren, if to shun all this, and to avoid the abuse of the doctrine of special divine influences, we settle down into a state of cold inaction, to wait for an unsought revival; if, in dread of being burntover, we are frozen up, the sin and the calamity in this case is more fearful than in the other. Fanaticism and extravagance are calamitous indeed; yet, in the midst of them, God may bring some to a knowledge of the truth; but, where the wise and foolish virgins all slumber together, and a lifeless formality presides over the established means of grace, there is deadness and gloom, without even an illusion to variegate the scene. How can God's people in either case make this solemn appeal to him, who hath said, “ Turn ye, even to me, with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning”6 Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the Lord of hosts,if they have not sought to follow the prescribed course of duty?

Nor should ecclesiastical vigilance, in maintaining the doctrines and the order of the gospel, however useful and necessary, any more than the provision and support of institutions for the increase of the ministry and the spread of the gospel, be relied upon as that which will of itself insure the special dispensation of the Spirit, or in any measure supersede the necessity of close self-examination, a sincere repentance,. and thorough reformation, and a return with all the heart, by earnest prayer, to him from whom we have departed. At the same time, it may be mentioned,

1. That if a people, would be enabled to offer this petition without hypocrisy and with good hopes of success, they must engage heartily and actively in resisting the progress of iniquity. It is a trite remark, that God helps those who helps themselves. If immorality aboundsif the Sabbath is desecrated--if church discipline is neglected—if social and family prayer is omitted by professing Christians, and the spirit of the world prevails, and God's people lay it not to heart, and do not unitedly strive to accomplish a reformation, with what confidence can they address God on the subject, just as though they possessed real concern themselves, and were honestly trying to sustain his interests? Would they dare to appeal to him in behalf of their own sincerity, or could they possess any animating hope of being heard? The same remark applies to the cultivation of religious knowledge, and the careful instruction of the youth of the church in the principles of sound doctrine. The flower of the Redeemer's army, in its best

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