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GREAT REVIVAL IN HADLEY.
the glory,' was beginning to make bare his arm for our salvation. From that day the work spread with amazing rapidity. Instances of conviction and conversion frequently occurred. For more than three months, accessions to the number of from ten to twenty persons in each week were hopefully made to the spiritual Zion of God. Religion now seemed to engross the time and thoughts of all ; it mingled with the first salutations of the morning ; it was the parting theme of the social evening. Opposers were confounded, and, with scarcely an exception, obliged, however reluctantly, to own the hand of the Almighty.
“ At the beginning, most of the subjects of the work were men; and of these, a large proportion were heads of families. Several were aged ; and numbers had formerly been ranked among the most thoughtless and irreligious. Out of no class, perhaps, did God, in his adorable wisdom and sovereignty, select more, proportionally, to be vessels of his mercy, than from the class of scoffers and open opposers of the truth. The saving influence of the Spirit, however, extended, at length, to persons of almost every age and condition. Many females, young people, and little children, have been, it is believed, made obedient to the faith. Not far from two hundred and fifty are the hopeful subjects of this glorious work. One hundred and fifty-eight have been admitted to our communion, of whom two were received on their recommendation from sister churches. Of these ninety-five are males and sixty-three females. To thirtyeight, baptism was administered on the day of their admission.
“The season of conviction has often been short, but in nearly all cases the impressions have been just and deeply solemn. They have not originated in dreams of terror, conjured up by a disturbed imagination, but in a clear perception of truth, accompanied with a consciousness of utter sinfulness, moral impotence, and ill desert.
“A passage in the last very interesting report of the • General Association of Connecticut,' describing the character of the late revivals in that State, is perfectly applicable to the awakening among us. In few instances have the subjects of this glorious work expressed any great fears of future punishment. The general impression has been in
very first stage of conviction. "O how have we sinned against a God of infinite holiness and goodness! It is sin, it is ingratitude to God which bears us down.' Little dependence has been placed on sudden ruptures of the mind from the beginning of the revival to this time, and none at all on dreams, and visions, and new revelations. Our assemblies have been uniformly still and solemn. Much has been attempted to illustrate the nature of true religion, as distinguished from all counterfeits. The several graces of the Spirit have been often portrayed with an accuracy and fidelity limited only by the ability of the preacher; the most searching treatises on practical theology have been recommended to the perusal of young converts, and the necessity of solicitude, caution, and self-inspection, in laying the foundation of a superstructure for eternity, has been constantly enforced.
“ The truths which have been particularly blessed, and which have been urged without respect to consequences, are those that in these latter days have acquired the distinctive appellation of doctrines of grace. The strictness and spirituality of the moral law; the total depravity of the unredeemed heart, and its entire enmity to God; the consequent necessity of regeneration, and its fruits, holy submission, faith and repentance, justification wholly through the merits of the Divine Redeemer, and not by any works of the creature, either previous or subsequent to the new birth ; the indispensable need of the special influence of the Spirit in the renovation of the heart, the saints' perseverance, the divine sovereignty, particular election and decrees, and other doctrines connected with these, have formed the grand subjects on which have been employed the labors of the pulpit, the instructions of the conference room, and the private addresses of the fireside. Here I must take the liberty to remark, since different opinions, in regard to the proper mode of dealing with awakened sinners, are adopted by men whose sentiments are, in general, Calvinistic, that the only method which has been employed among us, is the same which is recommended by the example of the apostles, who went out and preached that men should repent. This consistent and scriptural mode, steadily pursued and contravened by no directions more simple or more
GREAT REVIVAL IN HADLEY.
wise than those contained in the Bible, though it has sometimes been represented as encouraging the stupid inactivity of sinners, or impelling them to seek refuge in despair, has, through the blessing of God, proved the means, more, perhaps, than anything beside, of alarming the secure, increasing conviction where it had already commenced, and tearing away speedily those supports of self-dependence which ultimately must crumble, in all instances, where mercy is designed.
“ The effects of the revival have been most happy, and such as many, even of the enemies of the Cross, allow to be good. It has produced among the people a spirit of union and peace. Ancient jealousies and disputes bave, in very many instances, ceased, and have given place to meekness, mutual forgiveness, and all the offices of friendship. Intemperance has received a powerful check, and I am persuaded that less than one fourth of the ardent spirits which used to be thought necessary, is now consumed by the inhabitants of the town. Liberality in the distribution of property is another fruit of this revival.
“ The people here have never, to my knowledge, been particularly deficient in the exercise of this virtue, but, on the contrary, have been somewhat distinguished for their generosity in affording patronage to missionary societies and other benevolent institutions. It is, however, no small gratification to observe that the showers of divine grace, falling copiously, have not all been absorbed in the bosom of the earth, but have served to multiply and swell the streams of their charity. As proof of their liberal spirit, it may be stated that they long employed, and paid by subscription, two assistants to their pastor. And their unsolicited kindness, through his fatiguing though pleasant labors, cannot soon, he trusts, be erased from his grateful remembrance.
“In a word, the effects of this awakening have been such as cannot but force from the lips of piety the thankful acknowledgment, 'This is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes. The work is indeed divine ; and to God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, be all the glory forever.
“ Appearances at present are less favorable than they have been ; numbers, however, are yet solemn, and among
the people of God there are, I hope, not a few to whom is still granted the spirit of prayer. How soon the blessed Comforter may be grieved from us by our stupidity and ingratitude, we cannot tell ; but we certainly need the prayers of all who have an interest at the Throne of Grace. “Let Christians be animated to diligence in their Master's
The day in which they live is a day of wonders, and woe to those who, at such a period, can be at ease in Zion. • Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel, who only doeth wondrous things, and blessed be his glorious name forever, and let the whole earth be filled with his glory. Amen and amen.' “I am, sir, very respectfully yours,
" John WOODBRIDGE. “ HADLEY, Mass., July 17, 1816.”
This revival was very clearly the work of the Spirit. Its great power demonstrates its superhuman origin. As one of its instrumental causes had been the clear elucidation and earnest enforcement of “the doctrines of grace
in connection with searching exhibitions of the Divine law; and as the people had been thus roused to profound thought on their momentous relations, when “the baptism of fire ” was received, religion, salvation by grace, fleeing from the wrath to come, became the engrossing themes.
All classes were so eager to hear the way of life unfolded, that preaching was comparatively an easy task. Rev. Sylvester Woodbridge, brother of the pastor, assisted in gathering the harvest. He once remarked that “he and his horse were about equally useful; for his horse carried him, and he carried the gospel.” The church was strengthened by the addition of one hundred and eighty-seven members. Many old professors were awakened to “newness of life.” The reigning formality and laxness in doctrine were arrested. The design of organizing a Unitarian church was defeated. Opposition to the self-crucifying doctrines of the gospel in other minds than those of Unitarian preferences, was hushed; and almost the entire community, the church especially,
RESULTS OF THE REVIVAL.
were brought into harmony with the doctrinal views customarily proclaimed from the desk ; indicating that the teachings of the Holy Ghost were in essential agreement with the preaching of the pastor. It set the church forward in spirituality, and gave it an impulse in every variety of holy efficiency, which most of those then connected with it carried with them to a higher sphere. It was recently said by one of its ancient members, “ The revival of 1816 saved the town." Dr. Woodbridge often remarked in his closing years that he “never witnessed so powerful a revival before or since."
He was then young and ardent, and he entered into the work with the earnestness of his fervent nature. Dr. Joseph Lyman, always a warm friend of the pastor of IIadley, who surveyed the work from across the river; and who, while a man of marked ability and an able preacher, was never blessed with what may be properly termed a revival through his long ministry, thought “ Brother Woodbridge was making converts a little too fast.” The records of the church, indeed, show, that while the great majority of admissions at that time remained steadfast, there were several cases of defection and excommunication; a fact which, if it indicates that Mr. Woodbridge, in his youthful zeal, “was a little too fast,” equally proves that he was afterwards faithful in discipline.