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genuine converts may be marred by the poisonous atmosphere which they first breathe. The predominant truths preached, the manner and relations in which they are preached, and the varied means employed in originating and carrying forward such seasons of reviving, very much determine their character; and thus indirectly the character of those who are truly born of God through their agency.
All of a philosophical turn who desire to estimate fairly the long career of Dr. Woodbridge as a herald of the gospel and a Christian writer, will be interested to learn the specific character of that wonderful outpouring of the Spirit, in which, if not converted, he first experienced those profound convictions of sin and conscious need of divine interposition, which, after a few months of conflicting thought and anxious inquiry, resulted in a settled hope of acceptance. It is sometimes said, “ It is of no consequence how one is converted, provided the change is radical and entire." This is true, but not unqualifiedly true.
God determines what the man is to be and what he is to do, not less by his second birth than by his first. Both are equally the product of the divine hand ; and the specific sphere he is tu fill, the part he is to perform in erecting the mighty temple which the great Sovereign over all is constructing out of the ruins of a fallen world “ to the praise of the glory of his grace," are perhaps equally decided by both. The last complements the first. Nature lays in cvery man's moral constitution a foundation of character. The IIoly Ghost in regeneration lays another. The last controls the first, but the first modifies the last ; together they constitute the fire and water which propel the engine. While God in his sovereignty may sometimes employ wicked men to further his cause, this is not the divine rule. Those specially employed in the promotion of holiness have usually received a special fitness for the work. His choicest instruments, like Paul, are first made pre-eminently like himself.
REV. VINSON GOULD.
The truths furnishing food for thought, and bearing on the heart and conscience at this turning-point, will give tone to one's religious experience and cast to his religious character. If he become a minister, they will modify, more or less, his whole ministerial and pastoral service. pel influences producing conviction of sin and pressing upon one during its continuance and at the time of regeneration, are by no means matters of indifference. They will be almost sure to exert a life-long control. True, God's work on the soul cannot be destroyed by man ; but its direction may be varied and its beauty tarnished. The germ of the Christian life may be dwarfed and its inature growth distorted by its first surroundings, as the sapling oak may be twisted into almost any shape by hin who trains it. The church, before she rises in power to cover the earth with her glory, will be more thoughtful respecting the birth of her children. The influences which attend their ushering into being, the gospel realities which meet their view on entering into the kingdom of their adoption, will be considered of the highest moment, even essential to the most efficient Christian activity. The maxim, " It is no matter how one is converted ” will be laid aside, and remembered only as one of those sad mistakes, which have obstructed the redemptive scheme in its progress over the world. The character of religious revivals will be deemed of determinative importance, and sedulously guarded as such.
Rev. Vinson Gould was settled as pastor over the church in Southampton, Aug., 1801. He graduated at Williams College, performed for a time the duties of tutor in the same, and pursued his preparatory studies for the ministry with Dr. Charles Backus, of Somers, Conn., a noted theological teacher of the period. He belonged to the school of Connecticut divines of whom Bellamy, Smalley, Dwight, Strong, and Hooker, were eminent adherents ; who made God great, and his holy government such as his infinite nature demands, unlimited and immutable; while they
placed man, a free, accountable being, ruined by sin, on his footstool. Dr. Backus preached the ordination sermon of his pupil, and died two years afterwards. His last words in harmony with the leading doctrines of his theological system, and indeed of the gospel, were, “ Glory to God in the highest."
Mr. Gould was a decided Hopkinsian, but rather after the fashion of his teacher than of the type of Emmons, whọ was then swaying his theological sceptre over south-eastern Massachusetts; and who afterwards loomed up still higher into theological notoriety, becoming himself the founder of a school. The pastor of Southampton was a stirring, energetic man, of clear thought, of vigorous imagination, though rather fertile than ästhetic; of considerable scholarship, particularly in the classics ; of great quickness of apprehension and warm sympathies. He entered upon his work with zeal, and drew his people around him. His preaching was simple and direct, often abounding with
apt ” and striking illustrations which sent the truth like an arrow to the heart. He never affected eloquence ; nor was he perhaps capable of its higher forms; a slight stammer or hesitancy preventing an easy flow of utterance. He was satisfied with what is far better - plain scriptural instruction, and, through such instruction, hallowed impressions. IIe dwelt much on the cardinal doctrines of the gospel. The divine character and perfections, the divine law and its solemn sanctions; the divine sovereignty and decrees ; man's entire depravity, his moral helplessness in connection with his personal freedom and full responsibility; the glories of Christ as the divine human Mediator ; the allsufficiency of his atonement ; his infinite willingness to save; the preciousness of justification by faith alone; the necessity of regeneration by the Holy Ghost; the duties of immediate repentance and submission ; the solemnities of the judgment and the retributions of eternity, — were frequent themes of discussion both on the Sabbath and
THE GREAT REVIVAL.
other occasions. One sermon on the text, " Ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building,” in which the sovereignty of grace was powerfully enforced, was long remembered as peculiarly convincing and impressive. By the constant pressure of these vital truths thought was awakened, discussion promoted, hostility aroused, objections raised. But the more people complained, argued, discussed, reflected, and examined the scriptures to see if these things were so, the more they felt. Thought and feeling on the part of the church were soon turned to self-examination and prayer ; on the part of the impenitent, to thoughtfulness, uneasiness, solemnity; in some instances, to anxiety and conviction. In the first year of Mr. Gould's ministry, some few indulged hope of pardon, but the freshening verdure soon , faded. The soil was not sufficiently prepared. Four years of diligent tillage and seed-sowing were needed in the view of Him who lays deep his counsels for the furtherance of his kingdom. As the clouds which distil the most refreshing rain are often long in gathering, so it is not unfrequently with clouds of mercy. Profound religious thought had been awakened ; but it must be deepened and become still more pervading. Prayer had been offered, but it must rise from hearts still more humbled. The faithful pastor with unabated earnestness continued to press the truth of God.
The Spirit attended. The hearts of some were broken, and importunate prayer began to rise. Some sought their closets with Jacob's intensity of purpose.
A band of Christian women, sometimes numbering thirty or forty, of whom Mrs. Woodbridge, the mother of the subject of our sketch, was one, and always present, met weekly to implore the descent of the Spirit. Ere long the searching doctrines of the Bible had become firmly rooted. The Sabbath services became increasingly impressive. The silent tear sometimes glistened in the eye of the anxious or joyful listener. The more deeply truth sunk into the heart, the more searching self-examination became. People sought the social meeting
in greater numbers and with more interest. At length the gathering cloud broke. Meetings were thronged and hushed to stillness with the conscious presence of a supernatural agency. Open hostility ceased. Eternal concerns occupied the thoughts of all classes. The cry, “What shall we do ?” arose on all sides. Souls were weekly, almost daily, born of God. The harvest was ripening faster than the youthful pastor could gather it. Other ministers of kindred spirit came to his help ; and in connection with him went from house to house, and from neighborhood to neighborhood, proclaiming the vital peculiarities of the gospel Crowds left their week-day avocations and gathered in private dwellings or school-houses, eager to hear the character and government of God; their own lost condition, and the only way of salvation by the atonement of Christ; the solemnity of the judgment, and the awful wocs of the finally impenitent, urged on their attention. It was a powerful movement, not less of thought than of emotion. The same great truths being continually pressed, not only in the pulpit, but in the conference room and in the family circle, men thought while they wept ; they thought while they prayed ; and with thought, perhaps often angry thought, and bitter upbraidings of heart, they were borne on by the all-subduing Spirit to the point of individual submission, and laid down their burdens and their weapons alike at the foot of the cross.
Mr. Woodbridge, with his keen, questioning mind, always seeking for the reasons of things, now energized by a course of collegiate discipline, especially sharpened by a year of legal studies and of intercourse with legal gentlemen, and at an age when men are peculiarly prone to be positive in their opinions, entered into those solemn and stirring scenes. That praying mother must have felt unwonted satisfaction, blended with deepest solicitude, as she saw the son of her many anxieties, with disciplined mind and matured powers, intellectually prepared to engage in the activities of life, but, unreconciled to God, put himself under the influence of this