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all gone into confusion and taken up an eternal wailing; when she is herself glorified and enthroned on the fields of immortality, and privileged to walk in the full vision of God; when the complete triumph of redemption, shall every where be acknowledged, and shall awaken joy or agony that is to endure forever. From the most distant point in eternity which an angel's mind can reach, let the church, when she remembers these scenes of mercy through which she is now passing, still shout forth her high praises in the same noble song; and let seraphim and cherubim, and the whole angelic choir of the third heavens, join to increase the melody "Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb, forever and ever, Amen !"
A P P E N D I X.
FROM THE REVEREND ARCHIBALD ALEXANDER, D. D.
Professor of Theology in the Theological Seminary, Princeton, N. J.
Princeton, March 9, 1832. REVEREND AND DEAR SIR,
In compliance with your request, I send you a few thoughts on revivals. I am gratified to learn that you are about to publish some Lectures on this interesting subject. I hope they will be extensively useful ; and if you should judge that any thing which I may write would subserve a valuable purpose, you are at liberty to make use of this letter as you may think best.
1. A revival or religious excitement may exist and be very powerful
, and affect many minds, when the producing cause is not the Spirit of God; and when the truth of God is not the means of the awakening. This we must believe, unless we adopt the opinion that the Holy Spirit accompanies error by his operations as well as truth, which would be blasphemous. Religious excitements have been common among Pagans, Mohammedans, heretics and Papists. And in our own time there have been great religious excitements among those who reject the fundamental doctrines of the gospel, as for example, among the Christ-ians, who are Unitarians, and the Newlights or Schismatics of the west, and the Campbellites, who deny the proper divinity of our Lord, and the scriptural doctrine of atonement. The whole religion of the Shakers also, consists in enthusiastie excitement. Hence it is evident, that revivals ought to be distinguished into such as are genuine, and such as are spurious. And the distinction should depend on the doctrines inculcated, on the measures adopted, and the fruits produced. “Beloved,” says the Apostle John, believe not every spirit
, but try the spirits, whether they are of God.”
2. Again, a revival or religious excitement may take place when a few persons only are under the saving operations of the Holy Spirit: but when many are affected by sympathy, and by the application of extraordinary means of awakening the feelings. I have seen a powerful religious impression pervade a large congregation at once, so that very few remained unaffected; and most expressed their feelings by the strongest signs; and yet, as it afterwards appeared, very few of them became permanently serious. Besides, when the spirit operates savingly on some, there is reason to think that his common operations are experienced by many. The minds of the people generally become more serious and tender ; and many are deeply convinced of the necessity of religion, and engage earnestly in prayer, and in attendance on other means of grace. Now while so many are affected, but few may be truly converted; and no human wisdom is adequate to discern between those who are sayingly wrought upon, and those who are only the subjects of the common operations of the Holy Spirit. The tree which is covered with blossoms often produces little fruit. The wind which agitates the whole forest, may tear up but few trees by the roots. Thus there may be great and promising appearances, and yet very little fruit. Temporary believers may use the same language, and exhibit to others precisely the same appearance as true converts. This consideration should be sufficient to prevent the practice lately introduced, of admitting persons to the communion of the church at the very meeting at which they were first awakened. There may be cases in which well instructed persons of known good character, may be received to the Lord's table, as soon as they profess a hope of acceptance with God, but these should be considered exceptions to the general rule. Often the impressions produced at a public meeting, where strong excitements are applied to awaken the feelings, are as evanescent as the morning cloud or early dew, And many of those who become truly pious, entertain for a while, hopes, which they afterwards are convinced to be unfounded; and to pronounce such persons converted at once, and hurry their admission to the Lord's table, would be the most effectual method of preventing their saving conversion. There may be an error on the other side, of too long a delay, and of discouraging real believers from approaching the table of their Lord; but the error is on the safest side." As to apostolical precedent, it is just as strong for a community of goods; and after all, there is no undoubted case of any convert being immediately received to the Lord's supper. They were baptized instantly on their profession, but this in our view
is a different thing; for we admit infants to baptism, but not to the other sacrament. And the fact is, that in every part of the world, the plan of placing young converts in the class of catechumens, to be instructed even prior to their baptism, was adopted. God often leaves his servants to find out by experience what is most expedient; and does not teach every thing by inspiration ; as in the case of Moses in judging the people of Israel. And if experience has uttered her monitory voice clearly on any point, I think she has in regard to this ; and I have no doubt that future experience will fully corroborate the lessons of the past.
3. A real work of the spirit may be mingled with much enthusiasm and disorder ; but its beauty will be marred, and its progress retarded by every such spurious mixture. Thus also, individuals who are the subjects of special grace, may for a while, be carried away with erroneous notions and extravagant feelings. We must not, therefore, condemn all as deluded souls, who manifest some signs of enthusiasm. But under the same revival or general excitement, while some are renewed and ingrafted into Christ, others may be entirely under the influence of error, spiritual pride, and delusion. When the son of man sows good seed, in his field, will not the enemy be busy in sowing tares ? And doubtless it often happens, that by the rashness, fanaticism, and extravagance of a few persons, especially if they be leaders, an ill report, may be brought up against a work, in which the Spirit of God has been powerfully operating The opinion that it is dangerous to oppose fanaticism, lest we hinder the work of God, is most unfounded. We cannot more effectually promote genuine revivals, than by detecting and suppressing fanaticism; which is their counterfeit, and injures their reputation among intelligent men, more than all other causes.
4. Often also, there may be much error mingled with the evangelical truth which is preached in times of revival ; and while God blesses his own truth to the conversion of men, the baleful effects of the error which accompanies it will be sure to be manifest. It may be compared to the case, where some poisonous ingredient is mingled with wholesome food. I might here, perhaps, refer to some sections of our own church, where the truth is not clearly inculcated ; and it might be shown that there is danger of error on both extremes. But I choose rather to refer to those churches, which we all think to be erroneous in certain points. No denomination among us has had more frequent and extensive revivals than the Methodists, and we have no doubt that multitudes have been truly converted under their ministry; but the