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the character of others, without some opportunity for the application of the rule of judgment, and the trial of character.
This principle, well fixed in the mind, would promote watchfulness, self-inquiry, prayer, and a diligent endeavor to know and do God's will, among those who are setting out in a religious course. It would make them jealous over one another, and especially over themselves, with a godly jealousy. It would fix in their minds the important sentiment, that religion is no sudden start, no excitement of animal feeling, no fire quickly kindled and quickly extinguished; but a sanctified disposition of heart, an active, holy, durable principle, influencing the life. And the natural consequence of this sentiment would be, that they would indulge and express no more confidence that they have religion, than they would be warranted to do by its fruits, appearing in their conduct. Making the word of God the only standard of religion, and of religious character, would be the direct way to detect hypocrisy, to prevent delusion, to discourage false, enthusiastic affections, and to preserve order and purity in the church. And it would have the peculiar effect to render Christians sensible of their insufficiency for the work to which they are called, and of their constant need of divine aid, and would produce in them a sincere reliance on the grace of God. If we set up a religion which varies essentially from the scripture rule,-a religion which consists in the stirring of the passions, or the efforts of mere self-love, and which comes within the reach of the unrenewed heart; we can indeed easily exercise such a religion, of ourselves. To this we are perfectly adequate, without any special divine help. For who needs special divine help to enable him to deceive himself
, and to indulge the hope of the hypocrite ? Who has occasion to rely upon the grace of God, in order to the exercise of a proud, selfish, false religion? But let a man
set up before him a religion which agrees with the word of God, particularly with the prominent passages quoted above; and let him make it the great object of his desires and efforts to cultivate such a religion, and to exhibit all its lovely fruits; and he will quickly learn that his strength is weakness. He will find that the practice of true religion is totally against the natural dispositions of his heart; that it requires constant self-denial; a constant struggle against the law in his members; a constant endeavor to subdue and mortify his corrupt heart; that it must involve him in an endless warfare against hostile powers without and within. The labor he undertakes is arduous. The travel is all the way up hill, and frequently up very steep ascents. Every one who truly enlists in this work, will quickly find, and will find more and more clearly as he proceeds, that he is exceedingly weak and insufficient, and that his help must come from the Lord who made heaven and earth.
Believing, as all Christians do, that the Scripture is the only safe and infallible rule, we ought so to regard it in our own practice. When we go to our places of retirement to commune with our own hearts, and to examine ourselves ; we have to do with nothing as a rule of judgment, but the word of God. Away, then, ye false imaginations, dreams, passionate excitements, mental convulsions. “To the law and to the testimony.” This is our standard. And the right application of this to our own case requires the tranquillity and stillness which we enjoy in retirement. Here the all-important question arises; are we Christians? We cannot safely trust to the opinion of our friends. They look only on the outward appearance. We go directly to our Statute Book, our sure guide. We open the sacred volume. We "ask for the old paths, where is the good way ?" We turn to one and another passage of holy writ; particularly to the passages which I have quoted, and
others of like kind; for it is best to have particular places before our eyes, at one time this, and at another time that. Then looking to God for the guidance of his Spirit, we inquire whether the traits of character thus presented to view, are If we can stand the trial of God's word, faithfully applied, we are heirs of eternal life. If not, we shall be cast away as dross. The word of God, which we receive as our rule, is immutable. Other things change and pass away; but this abideth for ever.
The world, especially at the present day, is full of inventions. The active, restless mind of man is ever seeking after something new. But there is no such thing as a new religion, or a new way to heaven. All that which deserves the name of religion, and which will be approved at the final judgment, agrees with the same standard. In this standard there can be no alteration ; and of course none in the religion which is conformed to it. All the true religion which will exist in our country, and in the world, the present year, and the present generation, whether commencing in revivals or not; -and all which will exist to the millenium, will be just such religion as is described by our Saviour in his sermon on the mount, and just such as Paul describes, when he tells us what are the fruits of the Spirit, and such as is described in the various passages above cited, and in other passages of scripture relating to the same subject. If we possess this religion, we are happy here and hereafter. If not, whatever our present appearances and hopes, we have no part or lot among the heirs of heaven.
The Lectures which follow, I have read with an uncommon degree of pleasure. I regard it as a circumstance highly auspicious to the cause of revivals, and to all the interests of religion, that the author has, through the grace of God, been enabled to write and preach a series of Lectures so judicious, candid, and impressive, and, what is still
more important, so scriptural ; and that he has consented to give them to the public. It is my earnest hope that they will be read with attention and profit by our religious community, far and near, and that their usefulness will extend to other nations. I would devoutly commend them, together with these prefatory remarks, to the blessing of God.
L E C T U R E S
REVIVALS OF RELIGION.
NATURE OF A REVIVAL.
ISAIAH xlv. 8.
Drop down, ye heavens, from above, and let the skies pour
dovon righteousness; let the earth open, and let them bring forth salvation, and let righteousness spring up together.
The final and complete triumph of the church was a theme at which the mind of this prophet was always ready to kindle. So infinitely superior did he regard it to any thing that respects merely the present world, that when his predictions relate immediately to temporal mercies, they often look farther to spiritual blessings; and sometimes we find him apparently forgetting himself for a moment, and passing abruptly, and almost imperceptibly, from some national deliverance to the salvation of the gospel. In the verses immediately preceding our text, there is a manifest reference to the deliverance of the Jews from their captivity in Babylon ; 'but in the text itself, there is a sudden transition to a subject of far higher import, even the blessings of Christ's salvation ; and this latter subject continues to engross the prophet's mind to the close of the chapter. " Drop down, ye heavens, from above, and let the skies