Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

the instrumentality of Divine truth. The work is very commonly preceded by a prevailing and affecting coldness on the subject of personal religion : such as leads Christians to feel the necessity of extraordinary prayer for themselves as well as others. In its progress, the thoughtless are alarmed ; convinced of their guilt ; inquire what they shall do ; receive Jesus as their Saviour ; rejoice in hope of future glory ; join themselves to the people of God; and, in important respects, pursue a new course of life.

Such, substantially, was the Revival on the day of Pentecost. With the history of that day before us, we see thousands assemble, with no special solicitude about their souls; and many

of them

very

decided in their opposition to Christiantiy. We see the same men, soon after, most deeply interested on the subject of salvation. We see them, in the anguish of awakened conscience, at the feet of despised apostles, inquiring what they must do. We see them resorting, with penitence and faith, to the mediation of Christ for pardon. We see them joining themselves to the little band of disciples ; and devoting their influence and possessions to the cause of the Gospel. We ascribe that memorable work to the special agency of God's Spirit; and denominate it a Revival of religion. And when, in these latter days, and these ends of the earth, we witness a work of similar character, we feel bound to ascribe it to the same Cause; and think it proper to give to it the same name. We can perceive no good reason, why the former should be regarded as the work of God, and the latter as the work exclusively of man.

Do you say, that the excitement, denominated a Revival of religion, occurs in connexion with the special efforts of Christians ? We answer, that the excitement on the day of Pentecost occurred in a similar connexion. When has a band of Christians been more united and fervent ? Or when has a minister of Christ pressed the subject of religion with more plainness, pungency, and zeal, than did Peter, and his brethren? And again we reply, that God's instituted mode of extending the blessings of salvation, is through the faithful efforts of his servants. If thou speakest not to warn the wicked of his way, he shall die in his iniquity, but his blood will I require at thine hand.

Do you say, that the divine influence to which we allude, as to the mode of its operation, is enveloped in the darkness of mystery? So it was on the day of Pentecost. So is the universal presence of the Supreme a mystery. And so does a cloud of impenetrable obscurity hang over the mode of all his operations. If mystery must produce skepticism, tells us, where will your doubtings end ?

Do you say, there is enthusiasm connected with the excitement, denominated a Revival of religion ? Enthusiasm there sometimes may

that no

have been. Fanaticism there my have been. But does such a fact prove the entire absence of genuine religion? Does it prove. Revival is a sober, rational work? Possibly, had you lived eighteen centuries ago, you might, in pity, have pronounced Peter an enthusiast ! and the events of the day of Pentecost a scene of wild phrenzy! But possibly, too, some centuries hereafter, you may mourn, too late, your own madness. Are not you the enthusiast, if you hope to enter heaven, despising the command of heaven's King !--Strive to enter in at the straight gate. The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence.

Do you say, that in a time of generalexcitement there will be instances of gross imposition on the Church ? So it was in the Pentecost revival ; when, in awful warning to hypocrites, Ananias and Sapphira fell down dead. But did their hypocrisy close the door of heaven against the thousands who sincerely repented? Or did it lessen their abhorrence of sin ? or their everlasting gratitude to Him who made them to differ? Do

you say, that the excitement, denominated a Revival of religion, is often succeeded by instances of apostacy? We answer, that apostacies have likewise occurred under other circumstances. Of them the Church was forewarned by its Head, when he declared, It must needs be that offences come. And from the little band, collected by Himself in person, there was an apostate as vile as the Church ever embosomed. But did the perfidy of Judas disprove the sincerity of the rest ? And if a Revival has been succeeded by defection, which evinces the hypocrisy or delusion of some, what does their fall prove, one way or the other, as to the religion of others?

In the progress of our experience, relating to such seasons of attention, we have seen circumstances which furnished overwhelming evidence of God's special presence. We have stood in awe of His majesty, in view of the general solemnity that reigned around us : a solemnity produced no visible cause, other than the ordinary means of grace. We have seen the tide of gaiety and folly at once arrested, the loftiest look brought low, and the stoutest heart melted in penitence. We have seen the man of morals-intrenched for more than half a century within his refuges of lies, and dreaming of no danger--suddenly waked from his delusion, and-fearfully alarmed at the insecurity of his hidingplace—finding no rest, day nor night, till in the Ark of Safety. We have seen the slave of appetite and lust raised up from the debasement of a ruined fortune and character, and rescued as from the very gate of hell! We have seen him, afterwards, shining in the beauty of holiness, regaining the full confidence of community, and elevating his affections to the throne of God! And when we have witnessed faets like these, and have been aware of no other visible cause, than a plain, but calm exhi- •

act

bition of Evangelical truth--we have instinctively exclaimed, The work, O Lord, is thine ; and it is marvellous in our eyes.

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

But, not only does the day of Pentecost evince the reality of Revivals of religion; it furnishes reason to calculate on their existence, in all ages. Commencing as they did with the very commencement of Christianity, there was reason to believe they would accompany her in her march over the world. On such displays of Divine grace were fixed the hopes of the apostles. Nor in their expectations were they disappointed. The very first serinon preached by Peter in a Gentile province, was attended with similar effects. The Holy Ghost came on all them that heard the word. In proclaiming the Gospel, the apostles urged, as a motive to repentance, the animating fact, that the times of refreshing had come from the presence of the Lord. And by such repeated displays of Divine grace were they sustained, and peculiarly encouraged in their holy enterprise.

Ours is likewise an age of religious revival. Each passing year gives to it this character in still more distinctive features. And doubtless as the period of Zion's universal triumph comes on, these showers of God's grace will exhibit still greater majesty and power. The victories of the Spirit will become more and more extended, as well as illustrious. All Christendom is yet to be overshadowed by one vast cloud of Divine influence. Lands, doomed for generations to a state of moral darkness and death, shall be watered and made fruitful, like the garden of God. And in the holy City itself, now trodden down of the Gentiles, shall be repeated those displays of power and grace, which attended the first preaching of the Cross.

The occurrences of the day of Pentecost exhibit likewise the importance of Revivals of religion. If they are actually of God, we know that their influence must be only salutary. Look back then to that memorable Revival, which ushered in the Christian ministry; and tell us if its influence was at all otherwise than salutary. On the very day of its commencement, about three thousand were turned from darkness to light: and, during its continuance, the Lord added to the Church daily such as should be saved. Were they less honest, sober, benevolent, than before their conversion. ? Or were they less qualified for the dread trial of the Last Day? In a single day, it gave to the Christian Church a weight of influence, more than a hundred fold greater than it had previously possessed. And whilst it gave new impulse to her efforts, it was the occasion of dismay to her opposers. The testimony it bore to the dignity of Jesus, and the truth of Christianity, will exert a blessed influence forever.

The happy influence of a Revival may be viewed, distinctly, in its effects, on individual happiness ; on the interests of the community; and on the general cause of religion.

It is important to individual happiness. Such religious character as it creates is the only safe pledge of a peaceful life.

You can spare

the aggrandizements of wealth, and the parade of earthly distinction. But, in this world of disease, disappointment, and death, you can not spare the consolations of a Christian hope. But a single glance into eternity stamps immeasureable value on the religious character which is originated in a season of Revival. Oh, beware of risking the trial of the Great Day, in any other character, than that which produced by the transforming Spirit. You may have passed through a season of religious attention, and in it become a happy subject of God's grace. Others may attach to it a trivial inportance; but by yourself it shall be recurred to with ecstacy, and with thanksgiving to God, when the heavens shall be no

more.

A religious Revival exerts a happy influence on the community at Large. The Gospel and the sanctifying Spirit, wherever they enter, enlighten, elevate, and purify. Their dominion over the heart secures a regularity of deportment, an industrious improvement of time, a scrupulous discharge of the varied duties of life. Often has a short period of the Spirit's gracious operation allayed the asperity of contention; calmed the tumult of a noisy rabble ; put an end to scenes of midnight wickedness; brought relief to dwellings of domestic want and wo; and greatly elevated the intellectual, as well as moral character of society.

On the general cause of religion the influence of a Revival is immense, as well as salutary. The happy influence is not circumscribed by the limits of the Spirit's immediate operation. It may reach to the ends of the earth—and onward through time. It may be the commencing link in a chain of operations, which shall issue in the rescue of millions from the agonies of the second death.

Revivals hasten the universal triumph of the Gospel. Let the Churches of Christendom be found, this year, with one accord pleading the Redeemer's great promise-Let every city and village be a theatre of Revivals, like thạt in which Peter and his associates were the visible agents, -and it would be the ushering in of millennial glory,

If then the work we are contemplating be indeed a work of God; and if such be its influence on individual happiness

on the interests of society --and on the general cause of religion,-0 give to it, Christian brethren, the full ardour of your affections and prayers. Go to the place of secret communion with God, to the domestic altar, to the social meeting, to the sanctuary of the Most High, with the effectual fervent petition,- Lord, revive thy work. Do you ask for encouragement? Know that He has declared himself more ready to grant the Holy Spirit, than parents are to give good gifts to their children. Do you need examples of devotedness? Fix your eye on those holy apostles—who, after having turned thousands to righteousness, were counted worthy to suffer martyrdom for the name of Christ. Ye have not yet resisted unto BLOOD, striving against sin. Do you lack motive ? Open your eye upon the scene that lies within the compass of your vision.-Perhaps religion is languishing. Perhaps the commandments of God are openly violated. Perhaps the world, in its varied forms of attraction, is the all-engrossing object. Perhaps the tide of population is pressing on in a direction ominous of a dreary eternity. Ascend some lofty eminence, and extend your view over the earth. Mark the territory enlightened by Revelation, and reclaimed from the destroyer ;-how small it is ! Leave for a moment this world, so soon to be wrapped in consuming fire, and approach the Celestial. Survey the glory, and hearken to the hosannas of the saved. Then look down on the awful contrast !-and onward beyond the Judgment scene! Under the influence of what you have discovered-go back to your devotions. And, like the weeping Prophet, who beheld these realities with more than mortal eye, in God's strength make your firm resolve,--that for Zion's sake you will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth. We

e are not so visionary as to expect an unusual success in the progress of religion, unless there are unusual omens. But, says one of the brightest spirits of England,“ A most emphatical spirit of prayer would be such an omen.

And the individual, who should solemnly determine to try its last possible efficacy, might probably find himself becoming a much more prevailing agent in his little sphere. And if the whole, or greater number, of the disciples of Christianity, were, with an earnest, unalterable resolution of each, to combine that Heaven should not withhold one single influence which the very utmost effort of conspiring and persevering supplication would obtain, it would be the sign that a revolution of the world was at hand.

Nor can I suppress the consideration, that, even now, there are signs, which seem to afford peculiar eencuragement to such special and united prayer for a universal Revival It was a striking proof of the determination of Heaven to spread the Gospel through the world, that Jerusalem should have been selected as the place, and the day of Pentecost as the season, for the first great out-pouring of the Spirit: because a blow then and there struck could not fail to tell with emphasis on all the surrounding nations. So, in our own day, it is a sig

« ElőzőTovább »