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poses to self-deception, while yet the individual commits himself as truly as he could by any more public act, to cherish his serious impressions, and places himself in a condition in which the prayers of Christians, and scriptural instruction and counsel, are effectually secured to him. I do not say that some different course may not appeal more strongly to the passions ; but I confess that I know of none which seems to me better adapted to impress upon the conscience and heart, Bible truth; and thus subserve a genuine revival of religion.*
With two or three remarks, by way of inference, we shall conclude the discourse.
1. Our subject may assist us to form a correct judgment of any particular measures, which may be proposed in connection with a revival.
There may be danger on this subject of erring on the right hand, and on the left. It is wrong to decide against any particular measure merely because it is new; and it is equally wrong to adopt it merely because it is new. It would be strange when the invention of the church is so constantly in exercise,
there should not be some new things connected with religion which are good ; and it would be strange in view of the waywardness and extravagance that pertain to human nature, if there should not be others of evil tendency. Here, then, is an argument for
* From the experience I have had on this subject, I am inclined to think that this mode of treating inquirers is to be preferred to that which has been common, and which I have myself formerly adopted-of holding a meeting of a more public nature for the express purpose of inquiry. It is no doubt of great importance that an opportunity for inquiry should be given; but the more private, other things being equal, the better. In an extensive revival of religion, however, especially where the burden of conducting it devolves chiefly on a single individual, it may sometimes be a matter of necessity for him to meet a greater number of inquirers at a time than would otherwise be desirable.
our examining carefully every measure or course of measures that is proposed to us, and referring it to the proper standard. If it will abide that standard, it were an unworthy prejudice not to adopt it. If it will not abide that standard, to adopt it were at once a weakness and a sin. It were to refuse the privilege which God has given us of judging for ourselves what is right.
If you will know then whether it is safe and proper to adopt any particular measures in connection with revivals, which may be comparatively new in the church, bring them to the test which has been presented in the former part of this discourse. Are they characterized by seriousness; by the entire absence of every thing that approaches to levity? Are they marked by that order, and decorum, and reverence, which God requires in every thing connected with his worship? Is there the absence of all ostentation, of all pious fraud, of all unhallowed severity, and is there godly simplicity, and Christian honesty, and sincere affection ? If these be the characteristics of the measures proposed, then you may safely adopt them; but if any of these characteristics are wanting, they are not in accordance with the spirit of the gospel, and you cannot consistently, in any way, give them your sanction. But it
may be asked whether there is not a much better test than this, whether the effect produced by particular measures does not more clearly determine their character ? I answer, if the entire and ultimate effect be intended, the standard which it furnishes will always be in consistency with that to which we have just referred; though it must after all furnish an inadequate rule for judging; for in many cases at least, it is so general in its character, that it is not easy to be traced. If only the immediate and partial effect be intended, then I insist that this is no standard at all; for it admits not of question that there may be a violent reli
gious excitement which, at the moment, may seem to many to be doing good, which, nevertheless may pass over like a hurricane in the natural world, marking its course with the wrecks even of God's own institutions. Judge not then by this uncertain standard. If you are to judge of any great change by effects, you must wait till they are fully developed, till you can see not only the more immediate but the more remote effects; the latter of which are often the most important; and these are usually developed gradually. Hold fast then to the law and the testimony as your rule of judging; and as, in so doing, you will honor God most, so you will be most likely to be kept out of the mazes of error.
2. Our subject may assist us to discover the cause of the decline of a revival.
I admit that there is more or less of sovereignty here; and that the Spirit of God operates whenever and wherever, in infinite wisdom, he pleases. I acknowledge too that the strong excitement which often attends a revival cannot, so far as respects the same individuals, be kept up for a long time; nor is it at all essential, or even desirable, that it should be. But so far as a healthful and vigorous state of religious feeling is connected on the part of Christians, and I may add, in view of the promises of God to answer prayer, so far as the conversion of sinners is concerned, it is not irreverent to say, that while he is himself the great agent, he commits his work in an important sense, into the hands of his people'; and if it decline, there is blame resting upon them. It is because they have grown weary in their supplications, or because they have relaxed in the use of some other of the means which he has put within their reach. Let Christians then tremble in view of their responsibility; and when God is sending down his Spirit to work with them, let them take heed
that they render a hearty and persevering co-operation. Let them take heed that they grieve not this divine agent to depart either from their own souls, lest they should be given up to barrenness; or from the souls of inquiring sinners, lest there should fall upon them the curse of reprobation.
3. Once more: How great is the privilege and the honor which Christians enjoy, of being permitted to 'co-operate with God in carrying forward his work.
When you are laboring for the salvation of sinners around you, when you are using the various means which God has put into your hands to waken them to conviction and bring them to repentance, you are laboring in the very cause which is identified with the success and the glory of Christ's mediation. Nay, you are a fellow worker with the Holy Ghost; and while he honors your efforts with his saving blessing, they are set down to your account in the book of God's remembrance. Yes, Christians, all that you do in this cause brings glory to God in the highest, contributes to brighten your immortal crown, and subserves the great cause of man's salvation. What remains then but that you take these considerations to your heart as so many arguments, to labor in this holy cause with more untiring zeal, with more holy fidelity? Is it a cause that demands sacrifices ? You can well afford to make them, for it brings happiness, and glory, and honor in its train. Let it be seen on earth, and let the angels report it in heaven, that you are co-workers with God, in giving effect to the purposes of his grace, and in training up immortal souls for the glories of his kingdom.
TREATMENT DUE TO AWAKENED SINNERS.
ACTS iii. 19.
Repent ye therefore, and be converted.
There is scarcely a period of so much interest in the life of an individual, as that in which he is brought to earnest inquiry respecting the salvation of his soul. a state of mind which comes between the utter neglect of religion and the actual possession of it. The dream of thoughtlessness is disturbed, Conscience wakes to its office as an accuser. This world holds the soul with an enfeebled grasp, and the realities of another weigh upon it with deep and awful impression. But then, on the other hand, there is as yet no submission to the terms of the gospel; no melting down in penitence at the feet of mercy; no yielding up of the heart to God; no thankful, cordial acceptance of Christ and his salvation. But between these two states of mind there is no uniform connection; for though conviction is essential to conversion, yet the sinner who is only convinced, may, instead of being converted, return to the world, and thus his last state be worse than his first. It is reasonable to suppose, in any given case of conviction, that the sinner who is the subject of it, is on the eve of having his destiny decided for eternity : for if he press forward, he secures his salvation; but if he linger and fall back, there is, to say the least, an awful uncertainty whether he is ever again the subject of an awakening influence.