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days, consists of a considerate, knowing, and thinking people, mild and courteous, but bold, resolute, and firm; enlightened in truth and ardent in piety, before whom infidel sophistry, and lawless immorality tremble. They are not to be caught by the bait of a specious but a corrupt and blighting literature, to sell the truth and applaud licentiousness and scepticism. They cannot be carried away by a single gust of religious or popular fanaticism, as chaff before the wind, or be brought over to compromise the convictions of duty and the sacredness of Christian example, for purposes of lucrative gain or po. litical distinction. No; rely upon it, my brethren, the churches that God may be expected to signalize with his blessing must decidedly stand on the Lord's side; be true to his word and to his honor, pure in their princi. ples, and righteous in their lives.
Let the children of the kingdom, then, acquire a just sense of the evil of sin, and reflect on men's ingratitude to God, and the dishonor done to his injured law, until they can pray to him, in a feeling and conscientious manner, that the wickedness of the wicked may come to an en:l. Let them converse with each other, and unite their coun. sels and their prayers in behalf of every proper and just method to effect a reformation, and persevere in this, not in an ostentatious and unkind way, but with the meekness of wisdom, and the affection of evangelical fidelity, warning and admonishing cach other, if delinquency is found in the church. Where differences of opinion exist on the allabsorbing subjects of existing controversy, let Christians, in the spirit of moderation, unite in praying for better times. Let them consider how poor a compensation the cause of Christ will receive, if, in maintaining his truth, or repelling the wrongs of his law and kingdom, they lose his meek and heavenly spirit, and contribute to alienate the Holy Ghost from our church and land, at this most critical period in our history. Let them strive to give a new impulse to all the useful associations which exist among them, and revive such as have become extinct, especially restoring meetings for prayer and the means of Christian union and fellowship, and then they will have attained one important qualification to ask God's blessing.
2. If we would be prepared as a church to ask of God a revival of religion, we must individually humble ourselves before the Lord, and endeavor to return unto him ourselves. It is important for church members generally to examine and ascertain whether they have been truly made the subjects of a saving work of the Spirit of God, and whether their want of piety may not stand in the way of a revival. It is an awful thing to be a professing Christian, and yet not be prepared to take a lively interest in an event which is represented as filling angels and the saints above with unspeakable delight and joy; and yet many of us probably ought to examine ourselves whether this is not
If it is not, we shall certainly be willing to abandon all vain excuses, and set ourselves as Daniel did, to seek the face of the Lord God of Israel. We shall closely examine our past lives, and inquire into the present state of our minds, bringing both up to the test of God's word? Are our lives characterized by evangelical purity and a luminous consistency with our profession? 'Or, does formality and lukewarmness mark our intercourse with God, and coldness and un' brotherly feeling, that with our fellow Christians? Does parental kindness and affection constrain us tenderly to admonish our households, and pray earnestly for the salvation of our children? Do we love the sanctuary of the Lord and the house of prayer, and give a constant, and a devout, and collected attention to its duties? In a word, do we now possess the life and power of religion in our own hearts, or is the gold become dim, and the most fine gold changed? Are we, as min. isters of the gospel, and elders in the house of God, endeavoring, in season and out of season, faithfully to watch for the souls of our people! Do the public agents of the church-her beneficiaries, and missionaries, as well as Tract distributors, and Sabbath school teachers, all truly feel, in their respective departments of evangelical labor and responsibility, the necessity of turning unto the Lord, and thus obtaining the glorious presence and sanctifying power of God's Holy Spirit? Are our Foreign Missions, our Seminaries, and churches watered, as it were, with the tears of those who long for the outspreading of the Redeemer's kingdom? Now, if instead of this, our hope for and confidence in revivals is lost-if the public mind is carried away with other exciting topics, and the spirit of worldliness and slumber prevails, we must repent and turn to God, with weeping and mourning, and with all our heart. We may seek to devise a shorter and easier way, by which to secure the return of an absent Savior, but no other will be successful. Let us consider, then, to what an alarming condition the great interests of Christ's kingdom are to be reduced, if darker and sti!l darker clouds should skirt the moral heavens, and an offended God leaves our churches, and benevolent enterprises, and our nation, to the consequences of a departed Spirit? Let us repent and forsake our sins, and engage faithfully in every duty, and then we can list up our eyes to heaven with expectation and with joy.
Finally; if we would see a glorious day of strengthening from on high, we must become duly and deeply sensible that our only hope is in God, and carry this appeal to him by humble, believing, and persevering prayer We must cease to rely upon an arm of flesh, and to put off, on vain pretensions, the claims of duty. We must consider how great and precious the blessing is, and how important it is that it should be obtained.
It often happens that in one year, during the prevalence of pure and genuine revivals of religion, more persons are converted to God; and the piety, and life, and usefulness of churches, is more improved, than in several years in the ordinary way. The attention of the irreligious is arrested, and salvation carried into the most unlikely neighborhoods and families. Divine grace raises up active and useful teachers for Sabbath schools, and young men of promise are brought into the church and trained up for the service of Christ. The hearts of the people are opened to give freely and liberally for the promotion of religion; and Christians, seeing and feeling the blessed effects of the gospel, and being united in love to each other, are ready to unite in every useful enterprise; and what they undertake, at such tintes, they prosecute with zeal and spirit. In times of revival, the foundations of society are shaken-open wickedness is banished-morals are improved—the world is brought to its proper place—the pursuits and intercourse of society are chastened-religious dissentions allayed; and from difficulties which threatened long and distressing perplexity, a way of escape is pro
vided. Thus, God delights to pour out a blessing upon a grateful, devoted, and faithful people. To the obtaining of this mercy let us consider, that “the effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” And shall we think it hard, when so much is at stake, here and else. where, at home and abroad, to be called upon in our closets, our fami. lies, the social prayer meetings, and in the house of God, to take this appeal to him? You have read of, and I trust
have known by happy experience, the efficacy of such humble, believing, heart-felt appeals, as the text suggests. The Bible records many animating instances; and it is one of the most precious facts connected with revival seasons, that the church acquires new impressions of the duty and the power of prayer. We shall soon be called, fellow-disciples, to think of these things, and to review our own course in life with reference to them, upon a dying bed. How bitter will be our reflections, if, amidst such surpassing urgency as now exists, we shall have neglected to take warning, and slumbered away the only period of supplication. On the other hand, if we now individually and collectively give ourselves to prayer, and resolve to make full proof of the promises of God—if Christians “ take sweet counsel together,” to lament after the Lord God of Israel, “ until he return and pour out a blessing," what soul-refreshing seasons may succeed to the darkness and confusion which now prevails, as the morning dawn upon the mountains. Come, then, ye tempted, desponding, and declined saints, who have in times past knelt in secret wrestling with the Angel of the covenant, give up your delusive joys, your oppressive fears, and again present your intercessions to him who waits to grant a listening ear to your requests. May our gracious and sin-forgiving God, enable us who are officers in his church, and watchmen upon the walls of Zion, to stand between the porch and the altar, and cry aloud spare not, that Israel may be saved. To God's professing people of every station, we would ad. dress the apocalyptic exhortation of the great Master, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock”- _ be watchful and strengthen the things which remain and are ready to die, for I have not found thy works perfect before God.” Let aged believers speak to each other of the years of former times-let the mothers and the daughters of Jerusalem, whom, ever since the days of Hannah and Esther, and Mary and Lydias the Redeemer has honored with a distinguished instrumentality in the promoting of his cause, commingle their united intercessions for the revival of the work God-let the youthful members of the Chris. tian household, also, assemble together in the place of prayer, and encourage each other in looking for “the promise of the Father.” If thus united, penitent and importunate, trusting in Him alone, this and other churches of our Lord, thus come up to the throne of grace, need I announce the certain and joyful issue. And it shall come to pass, that before they call I will answer; and while they are yet speaking I will hear”-“ AND YE SHALL KNOW THAT I AM IN THE MIDST or ISRAEL, AND THAT I AM THE LORD YOUR GOD AND NONE ELSE."
PSALM 119:9. Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way?
by taking heed thereto according to thy word.
The course of life which a man follows, is, in the language of Scrip. ture, called his “ way.” To “cleanse” one's “ way,” is, plainly, to follow a virtuous course of life, all vice being pollution and impurity. The doctrine of the text is, therefore, this, that,
THE BEST AND, INDEED, THE ONLY WAY TO A VIRTUOUS LIFE, IS
CAREFULLY TO REGULATE ONE'S CONDUCT BY THE PRINCIPLES
This is the subject before us. But before we proceed to the con. sideration of it, let us ask, and answer the question, why the young should be especially regarded in this matter? It is surely not insinu. ated, that the middle-aged and such as are still further advanced in life are left to pursue their own course, as if they needed no further instruction, or it were a matter of no consequence whether they acted right or wrong. Not so: but the suggestion plainly is, that the young are especially in danger of falling into vice; and that, in the critical period of life which they are passing through, it is peculiarly important that they should adopt virtuous principles. Now these are highly important considerations, and exceedingly appropriate to the present occasion. Let your minds attentively dwell on them. And, to this end, suffer me to repeat them distinctly, that you may lay them up in your memory for future consideration.
1. Then observe, that the text suggests that the young are especial. ly in danger of falling into vice. Do you believe this! Are you sufficiently aware of its truth, in reference to yourselves? If not, you
are in a situation of extreme peril, like a man going unarmed into batJP tle, or putting out to sea in a vessel provided with neither helm por
compass. In youth, passion and appetite are strong; imagination
glows with intense fervor; and the controlling powers of reason and conscience are weakest. The truth of these remarks all experience testifies. Besides, it is often no casy matter, even for those who have some considerable experience in the affairs of human life, to discern, at first, to what any proposed course may tend in the issue. The differences of things are scarcely distinguishable in their beginning, The silk-worm, and the tree on whose leaf it feeds, strongly resemble each other in the germs which produce them. So do the serpent and the bird. The road may ultimately lead the traveler far astray, which, at the starting-place, diverges but a very little from the right direction. Streams that flow, in the first part of their course, in a direction nearly parallel, separate at length widely from each other, and, becoming mighty rivers, discharge their waters into different and far distant seas. So it is with virtue and vice. In their nature they are essentially distinct; and the issues in which they terminate are as different as light and darkness, happiness and misery, heaven and hell: yet, one often puts on the appearance of the other, especially in their commencement; and the only difference between them is in a point-a minute particu. lar—a single circumstance—or the modification of a single circumstance.
Experience, it is trne, will enable a man to detect this characteristic difference under the appearance of general similarity. But the young, they want this experience. What shall they do? The text answers.
In one important and remarkable particular, the Bible differs essen. tially from all other books: it magnifies to the view that one point in which, often consists, as I have just said, the sole difference between virtue and vice; or to speak more correctly, it throws upon it a full and strong light-not the taper-light of human philosophy—but day. light-sun-light-meridian sun-light; nay, more than this, allow me to call it light breaking out from its very source, emanating from its fountain—" dark with excessive bright”-above these dim spheresfrom God himself, who is light, “ and in him is no darkness at all." To speak, if I can, without a figure, the Bible calls us to the contemplation of virtue and vice in their principles, as they exist in the heart; and it calls us to the contemplation, with our minds impressed with those high and awful thoughts--a spiritual law-an inspecting Deitya coming judgment, and eternal retribution. Now, coming to view things under the influence of such impressions, we shall see many to be vices which otherwise we might have mistaken for virtues; and many to be crimes of the deepest malignity, which, otherwise, would have seemed mere peccadillos. By this means may the benefit of mature experience be anticipated in early life; and those who are young in years become old in wisdom.
The text suggests,
2. That it is peculiarly important, that virtuous principles be adopted in youth, because that, in this critical period, the characters of men are generally formed. The tendency of our nature to run into habits is strongest in youth; and by the time that youth passes into manhood,