Page images

tition. But the whole letter is ex. then to be purified from all leaven cellent. We had proposed at first of human infirmity, error, and deluto publish only some extracts; but sion. It is mainly because we fondly when we came to mark them, we cherish the hope that God is about found it difficult to make a selection to visit our land with revivals, more -One part appeared as good as aro- general and extensive than any which ther, and we resolved to take the have yet appeared, that we have dewhole. The temper and manner of termined to republish this pastoral the letter we also approve, as much as letter: so that if our hopes should be the matter which it contains. It is realized, the people of God may, written with a true Christian spirit, from the very first, determinately and in a plain and remarkably per- set themselves against every thing spicuous style.

which may bring reproach on reviWe beg that a very particular at- vals, and render them far less protention may be paid to the first part ductive of sound conversions than of the letter-to “indifference on the they will be, if they are not conductsubject of revivals.” It is on this ed with Christian prudence as well point, that many congregations and as with holy zeal-conducted in the churches require to be specially and genuine spirit, and according to the solemnly admonished. They are sober maxims of inspiration, and not still slumbering in the lethargy of by the intemperate feelings and pasformality; and have much more need sions of men honest, it may be-but of something to arouse them, than of yet unquestionably mistaken and inany thing to guard them against in- discreet. temperate zeal. Nor let them seek to quiet themselves in a state of stu- Pastoral Letter of the Ministers of pidity and carelessness, by observing the Oneida Association, to the the extravagance which too often ap Churches under their care, on the pears in revivals of religion. Let subject of Revivals of Religion. them remember that extravagance appeared in the primitive church;* The Ministers of the Oneida Asappeared even in the abuse of mira- sociation, having had opportunity for culous gifts. Let them remember mutual consultation, agreed to adthat while this extravagance takes dress the churches under their care place, many souls are savingly con- on the subject of some dangers in verted; and that this is a state of relation to Revivals of Religion, things infinitely more desirable than which appear to them to exist at the that in which hundreds and thou- present time; and having unanimoussands are going quietly down to per- ly adopted the following, directed dition; and in which the wise vir- it to be signed in their behalf by the gins are slumbering and sleeping Moderator and Scribe, and authorwith the foolish. On the other hand, ized them to publish the same in let the friends of revivals learn from such manner as they shall deem prothe example of the Apostle, to which per. we have referred, that those are not

John D. PEIRCE, Register. enemies to revivals who seek to pre- April 10, 1827. serve, or to rescue them, from abuse; and to free them from every thing

The Ministers of the Oneida As. that is really objectiopable. Paul sociation to the Churcbes under their surely was not an enemy to revivals; care, wish grace, mercy and peace, nor is the Association that publish- from God the Father, and from our ed this letter to be so accounted; nor Lord Jesus Christ. are we who republish it. The best It has been an ancient custom, for friends of revivals are those who wish ministers associated together, to ad

dress, on special occasions, those • See 1 Cor. xiv. chapter throughout. under their care, by way of a Pasto

ral Letter. As it is the official biste tude requires. Most of God's chilness and indispensable duty of every dren appear to be brought in, during individual ministot, as a faithful these seasons of special revival. And watchman, to warn the people of his if these are of short continuance, charge against the dangers to which and far between, and but partial in he sees them exposed, so there seems their extent, as is usually the case, to be a peculiar propriety, in times is it not a matter which seriously of common danger, that the watch- concerns every Christian to know men should unite their voice and what he can do to advance the work, combine their counsels, to give the and to be ready to do it? Can any greater effect to the word of admoni- look on with indifference, at such a tion, caution, and reproof.

time, when many around him are The past year has been one of pe- making their decisive choice, and culiar interest to this region. It has when the part which he acts is likely been a time of unusual excitement to have an important influence in on the subject of religion. In most fixing others in a world of blessedof our congregations, there have ness, or a world of wo? Say not, it been, as we trust, instances more or is the work of God, and needs not less numerous, of souls converted to any assistance of human instrumenGod, and brought to the saving tality. It is the work of God; but knowledge of the truth. And we it is a work which he performs by the desire to call upon ourselves, and use of means. And every Christian upon all under our care, to rejoice will be found at last to have held a in the grace of God which is mani. station and performed a part of fested in the outpourings of his Spi- amazing responsibility.

And let rit, wherever enjoyed, and to render none excuse themselves by the conunto him that praise and thanks- duct of others. Backsliding and giving which his wonderful works lukewarmness are matters of individemand.

dual concern; and the scriptures Revivals of Religion are events of most decidedly condemn every degreat importance to the church, to gree of it, in every individual, as crithe cause of religion in the world, minal and inexcusable in the sight of and to individual Christians and a holy God. others. Seasons of Revival bring 2. Neglect to discriminate betheir appropriate duties, and their tween true religion and false. We peculiar dangers. The necessary speak to those who admit that there brevity of such an address as the is a true and a false, in matters of present, will not allow us to touch religious experience: to those who upon every topic connected with the do not believe that all affections subject. We wish to call your at- which relate to the subject of religion tention to a few of those things which are of course right affections, and appear to us to be evils in them- acceptable to God; to those who selves, or more or less connected believe that Satan often transformos with danger, at the present time. himself into an angel of light, and

1. Indifference on the subject of that it is his character to lie in wait Revivals." We address those who to deceive. It is dangerous to be believe with us that Revivals of Rc- ignorant of his devices, or to neglect ligion are a divine and glorious rea to guard against them. And what lity, the special work of the Holy can be better adapted to give him an Spirit; and who acknowledge them advantage, than to refuse to discrias such in their prayers, by asking minate? In every real Christian God to pour out his Spirit and revive there is no doubt an intermixture of his work. We fear that many such that which is false with that which persons have not a sufficient sense is genuine. And there is special of the importance of the subject, and danger of its being so, in a time of do not lay it to heart as its magni- uncommon excitement. The mere

animal passions will be affected, and to guard against them, by taking selfish affections will be excited. every means to awaken the attention And if the subject of them can be of the people, and excite their feelmade to look upon these as a part of ings as much as possible. But we true religion, and the most important think, that while these dangers are part too, it will give the enemy great not to be overlooked, there are danadvantage. While he cultivates gers also on the other side. We

these, and takes every pains to in- think it quite possible for Satan to :crease them, he will overlook and wish to excite the passions of men,

neglect those which are right, and in some cases, in favour of religion, they will be greatly diminished. when he can direct them to the acAnd he will then think himself to be complishment of his own purposes, most engaged in religion, and most and that he may readily contribute filled with the Spirit, when in reality his influence to do it. 'It was a rehe has the least of true religion, and mark of President Edwards, that, in is most under the influence of the a time of revival, the chief exertions great deceiver. And making this of the great adversary would be likemistake with respect to himself, will ly to be made with the friends and lead him to make the same with re- promoters of the work, to drive them spect to others. And his efforts to into such excesses and extravagances promote religion in others, will, in as should ruin its credit, and ultithe same manner, be directed to pro- mately bring all religion into dismote that in them which is not true grace. And in this, his success religion. And the same mistake would be rendered the more probathat is made in cases of individual ble, if he could first persuade such experience, will be extended to revi- persons, that they were in no danger vals of religion; and the con on that side. It was while men sequence will be, that, with a view slept, that the enemy came and sowed to promote a revival of religion, that tares among the wheat. Not while will be most diligently promoted, in they were in a state of indifference, which the substance of true religion but while they were not watching is not to be found. When the great against his devices. It is not while adversary can accomplish this, he men in general are in a state of insecures a double advantage. While difference, that the false conversions, the counterfeit maintains its credit, represented by the tares, are brought it is destroying the souls of men, and in; but while men are asleep in a far sinking true religion into contempt. different sense, wbile their passions And when the counterfeit loses its are in such a state of excitement as credit, and is found out to be of no blinds their minds to danger. Then value, those who have been made to the great deceiver can work to the think that all religion is alike, are best advantage, both in promoting prepared to reject it all, and to throw false conversions, and in leading into away the good with the bad.

dangerous extremes those who are s. Insensibility to danger. Some zealous promoters of the work. Let appear to take it for granted that the Christians beware, then, of falling principal efforts of the great advere into this snare, of supposing they are sary, to injure the cause of religion, awake, in the scripture sense of the will be employed in endeavouring to word, merely because their feelings divert the attention of the people are strongly excited on the subject from the subject of religion, and to of religion. Let them be really keep them careless and indifferent; awake, and guard against all the or, when they cannot be kept in a wiles of the devil. state of indifference, in rousing them 4. Condemning in the gross, or to open and violent opposition to the approving in the gross. No man work. Ou this side, therefore, they ought to be condemned because he look out for dangers, and endeavour has some imperfections. There is no


[ocr errors]


man that liveth and sinneth not. it as a dark sign, when Christians Neither ought a man to be account- think they know enough, and have ed faultless because he has some good no need to be taught. We tremble qualities. The sins of David and for the consequences, when instruci Peter, and other scripture saints, are tion is thought to be unnecessary for all not excused nor palliated, because awakened sinners, or the newly confound in such men. So also with re- verted. And we cannot but feel codvivals of religion. If a revival is at- cerned for the safety of the church, tended with faults and blemishes, it when feeling is substituted for is not certain that there is no good in thought, when addresses to the pas in it. Nor if it is admitted to be a re- sions are required instead of the ap- en vival of true religion, is it certain that plication of truth to the understand til no faults have attended it. And as ing and conscience, and when the init would be wrong to refuse to see structive method of preaching and the good because there are some conversing with people is condemteam evils, so it is doubtless wrong to shut ed as cold, and dry, and unprofitable

, mar our eyes upon the evils that exist, and is stigmatised as "preaching fu because there is some good. It is souls to hell.” the policy of the enemy to condemn 6. Calling men hard names. the good with the bad; and it is help- think it important that the truth ing them to do it, for the friends of should be preached plainly, the religion to attempt to justify the bad whole of it. 'We would have men na with the good. The true policy of taught their true character, as the Christians, is, to hold fast the truth, scriptures reveal it, and made to set and judge righteous judgment; to ap- the depravity of their hearts, without prove what the scriptures approve, disguise. It is desirable they should and to condemn what they condemn. know the worst of their case; and in We are not required, indeed, to order to it, that they should see

the trumpet abroad every fault we see; true character of God, the extent and and where no injury will result from purity of his law, the justice of its concealment, there doubtless we awful penalty, and the aggravated ought to be silent. But where such guilt with which they are chargeable faults accompany a revival, as are in slighting the grace of the gospel

. known to the public, such as are like That preaching which makes them ly to operate to the injury of souls, see this, is plain preaching. But

, and the disgrace of religion, there calling men hard names, and addresssilence would be criminal and conni- ing them with provoking epithets, we vance a partaking in the guilt. think is not adapted to make them

5. Indifference to instruction. see this, but rather to prevent it. Truth is the great means of the con- There is a wide difference between version of sinners, and of the growth addressing men in the style of provoin grace of Christians. It was the cation and insult, or calling them prayer of Christ that his disciples vipers, serpents, and devils, and admight be sanctified through the truth. dressing them in the language of beAnd it is plain that none can benevolence, and mildly endeavouring sanctified through that truth of which to make them see what they are. they are ignorant. It is the work of And the less there is in the manner the Spirit

to sanctify: but it is pre- that is overbearing, provoking, and sumption to expect he will do it, with- irritating, the more hope we think out his own appointed means. It is there ordinarily is, that the matter characteristic of babes in Christ, that may be pressed home upon they desire the sincere milk of the science, and produce a salutary imword. It was one of the fruits of the pression. It is true, that on extraorrevival on the day of Pentecost, that dinary occasions inspired men somethe subjects of it continued steadfast times addressed particular indiviin the apostles' doctrine. We regard duals, in language which is pleaded as

the con

an example, and the import of which think it of great importance to relanguage it is important men should member the directions of our Saviour, see was according to truth. But in the 6th of Matthew, not to sound while no direction is found for us to a trumpet before us. Every appear

address men in the same style, a di- ance of doing any thing to be seen of 23 rection is found, which we fear is men, that we may have glory from

forgotten by some, that“ the servant them, every indication of a high opiof the Lord must not strive, but be nion of ourselves, talking of the great

gentle unto all men, in meekness in- things we have done, telling how 30structing those that oppose them- much we pray, and how efficacious

selves, if God peradventure will give our prayers have proved, and every

them repentance to the acknowledg- appearance of a wish to attract the 2. ing of the truth.”

admiration of others, is most unhap7. Making too much of any fa py. Our Lord did not cry, nor lift se' vourable appearances. Some ap up, nor cause his voice to be heard

pear to think, that when there are in the streets. Though the fact of any appearances of a revival, it is his retiring for secret prayer, and in best to make the most of them, and an instance or two of bis spending to publish them far and wide. We the whole night in that exercise, is think many evils result from this put on record, it is not recorded that practice. Persons of an ardent tem- he ever told of these things himself;

perament are liable to have their much less, that, in his closet devoper judgment very much biassed by their tions he prayed so loud as to be heard

feelings, and to think much more of by all in the house, and even by passthe same appearances than others do. er's by, in the streets. When his And if they adopt the maxim of try. kinsinen urged him to exhibit himing to make the most of what there self to the admiring multitudes, he is, they will be likely to put reports refused; and though he went about in circulation which subsequent facts doing good, he straightly charged will by no means justify

to the minds those whom he healed that they should of the public at large. To this cause not make him known. A noisy and we are disposed to ascribe it, that we ostentatious revival is deservedly have so often heard of the commence- suspected, on that very account. ment of a “great and powerful “The kingdom of God cometh not revival,” in one place and another, with observation.” And though Eliwhich has afterwards come to but jah witnessed the earthquake, and little or nothing; and that individu- the fire, and the strong wind which als have been often reported to be rent the mountains, it was in the under “deep and pungent convic. still small voice only that the Lord tions,” who have afterwards appear was peculiarly present. ed to have had little or no serious 9. Going to particular places to ness of mind; and that great num- obtain the Spirit, or to be converted. bers have been told of, as hopefully We doubt not that it is often useful converted, at one place and another, for Christians to visit places where a where it afterwards appears that very revival is in progress, and that many few such instances had occurred. have found a blessing to their own Such exaggerated reports are adapt. souls by so doing, and that it has ed to have a very unfavourable influ- been the means of the greater extenence upon the persons concerned, sion of the work. And we doubt and on the public at large. They not that impenitent sinners, who are extremely injurious to the credit have visited such places, have someof revivals; and expose the friends times been savingly wrought upon. of the work to many unpleasant and And we would by no means discouunfavourable imputations.

rage the practice, when it can be 8. Ostentation and noise. In every done with proper feelings. What thing that pertains to a revival, we we wish, is, to point out some danVol. V. Ch. Adı.


« PreviousContinue »