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those who still dream that they can be made to accomplish what all experience has pronounced to be impossible.
The second remark which I would make, as the result of the whole is, that, as we may confidently take for granted that enlightened and stable. Christians will not be shaken, either in their faith or hope, by the occasional and even prominent exhibition of these disorders in connection with revivals of religion; so it is important to put inquirers on their guard against "stumbling at this stumbling stone.” Some, when they see what claims to be religion, and even a genuine and precious revival of religion, tarnished by management, or extravagances which they cannot approve, are apt hastily to conclude, that vital piety, and revivals of religion are all a dream. I fear that this fatal delusion is often adopted; and cannot but also fear that the disorders which often attend revivals frequently minister to it. But it is a delusion. The very existence of counterfeits, shows that there is true coin. In every department of affairs, temporal or spiritual, in which men are called to act, they discover their imperfections. The bible teaches us to expect this. And if we did not find it so, the bible representation of human nature would not be verified. When, therefore, any are tempted to doubt the reality or the importance of what are called by intelligent Christians, revivals of religion, because they have been often tarnished by unhappy admixtures or accompaniments ; they adopt a conclusion which does as little credit to their scriptural knowledge, and their historical reading, as it does to their Christian experience. The work of the Holy Spirit, in renovating and sanctifying the heart, is the glory and hope of the church. That there should be seasons in which this work is made to appear with peculiar lustre and power, so entirely falls in with all the works and ways of God, that the only wonder is, that any one who reads the New Testament, or looks abroad on the face of Christian society, should cherish a remaining doubt. And although the Spirit is a divine Person, and all his influences infinitely pure and holy; yet, when we recollect that its subjects are sinful
who remain, after they become the subjects of his power, but imperfectly sanctified ; and that those who preside over the dispensation of the various means of grace, are also sinful, fallible men ;--though we may mourn and weep, we certainly cannot wonder, that marks-sad marks of our weakness and fallibility should appear in our most precious seasons, and in our holiest services.
The last remark with which I would trouble you, is, that we ought to guard against undertaking to condemn, as of course lacking picty,
those who favor some or all of the disorders to which reference has been made. We have seen that one of the characteristics which seldom fail to mark those brethren, is a disposition to anathematize as unfaithful or graceless, all who cannot adopt their views, and pursue their plans. It is important that we guard against imitating this unworthy example. While we avoid, with sacred care, all participation in their faults; while we bear testimony faithfully and openly against whatever we deem unfriendly to the cause of genuine religion; let us remember that some zealous and active servants of Jesus Christ; brethren whose piety we cannot doubt, and whose usefulness we can have no disposition to undervalae or abridge ;-have appeared, for a time, as the patrons of these mistakes. Let us honor their piety, rejoice in their usefulness, forgive their mistakes, and
that tiey may be brought to more correct views.
That you and I, my dear friend, may have grace given us to love and promote, with our whole hearts, genuine revivals of religion, and to guard against every thing which tends to impede or mar them; and that we may speedily enjoy the unspeakable pleasure of seeing the power of the gospel in its choicest influences pervade our land, and the world ;—is the unfeigned prayer of your affectionate brother in Christ.
SAMUEL MILLER. Rev. W. B. SPRAGUE, D. D.
Princeton, March 8, 1832.
L È T TER V.
FROM THE REVEREND ALVAN HYDE, D. D.
Pastor of a Congregational church in Leo, Massachusetts.
Lee, March 220, 1832. DEAR BROTHER,
In compliance with your particular request, I now commence a concise narrative of the work of God's Holy Spirit, in reviving religion, at several periods, among the people of my pastoral charge. Conscious of the many defects which have been attached to my ministry, I engage in this service with diffidence, and yet I humbly hope, with a sincere desire, that the great Head of the church may thereby be glorified. What I shall communicate, will be a simple and unvarnished statement of facts, which my own eyes have seen and my own ears have heard, taken from minutes which I made, at the time they occurred. These facts will develope the astonishing mercy of God to a guilty people, and to the unworthy instrument, who has stood for so many years as their spiritual teacher and guide. It will be seen, as I proceed in the narrative, what doctrines were preached, and what means and measures were adopted, both before these revivals commenced, and while they were in progress.
The first season of "refreshing from the presence of the Lord,” which this people enjoyed, commenced in June 1792, a few days after the event of my ordination. There was, at this time, no religious excitement in this region of country, nor had I knowledge of there being a special work of God's grace in any part of the land. The church here was small and feeble, having only twenty-one male members belonging to it. It was, however, a little praying band, and they were often together, like the primitive Christians, continuing with one accord in prayer. Immediately on being stationed here, as a watchman, I instituted a weekly religious conference, to be holden on each Wednesday, and, in succession, at the various school houses in the town. These were well attended in every district, and furnished me with favorable opportunities to instruct the people, and to
present the truths of the gospel to the old and young in the most plain and familiar manner. This weekly meeting has been sustained to the present time, without losing any of its interest; and when I have been at home, has carried me around the town, as regularly as the weeks have returned.
With a view to form a still more particular acquaintance with the people committed to my charge, I early began to make family visits in different sections of the town. These visits, of which I made a number in the course of a week, were improved wholly in conversing on the great subject of religion, and in obtaining, with as much correctness as I could, a knowledge of their spiritual state, that my instructions on the Sabbath, and at the weekly meetings, might be better adapted to their case. This people had been for nine years without a pastor, and were unhappily divided in their religious opinions. Some were Calvinists, and favored the church, but the largest proportion were Arminians. And as they had been in the habit of maintaining warm disputes with each other on the doctrines of the Bible, I calculated on having to encounter many trials. Contrary to my expectations, I found, on my first visits, many persons of different ages, under serious and very deep impressions, each one supposing his own burdens and distresses of mind, on account of his sins, to be singular, not having the least knowledge that any others were awakened. It was evident, that the Lord had come into the midst of us in the greatness of his power, producing here and there, and among the young and old, deep conviction of sin, and yet it was a still small voice. A marvellous work was begun, and it bore the most decisive marks of being God's work. So great was the excitement, though not yet known abroad, that into whatever section of the town I now went, the people in that immediate neighborhood, would leave their worldly employments, at any hour of the day, and soon fill a large room. Before I was aware, and without any previous appointment, I found myself, on these occasions, in the midst of a solemn and anxious assembly. Many were in tears, and bowed down under the weight of their sins, and some began to rejoice in hope. These seasons were spent in prayer and exhortation, and in conversing with the anxious, and with such as had found relief, by submitting themselves to God, adapting my instruction to their respective cases. This was done in the hearing of all who were present. Being then a youth, who had seen but twenty-four years, and inexperienced, I felt weak indeed ; and was often ready to sink under this vast weight of responsibility. But the Lord carried me along from one interesting
scene to another. I was governed, in my movements, by what appeared to me to be the exigencies of the people.
As yet there had been no public religious meeting, excepting on the Sabbath. A weekly lecture, at the meeting house, was now appointed, to be on Thursday; and though it was in the most busy season of the year, the house was filled. This lecture was continued for more than six months, without any abatement of attention ; in sustaining which, I was aided by neighboring ministers, and by numbers from a distance, who came to witness this display of sovereign grace. The former disputes of the people, respecting religious sentiments, in a great measure, subsided, their consciences seeming to testify in favor of the truth. The work spread into every part of the town, and what was worthy of special notice, it was entirely confined within the limits of the town, excepting in the case of a few families, which usually attended public worship with us, from the borders of the adjacent towns. Especially powerful was the work among those, who had taken their stand in opposition to the small church, and the distinguishing doctrines of grace. Many of this class were convinced, that they had always lived in error and darkness, and in a state of total alienation from God. They were compelled, notwithstanding their former hatred of the prominent truths of the gospel, to make the interesting inquiry, what shall we do to be saved ?
The truths which I exhibited in my public discourses, and in the many meetings between the Sabbaths, were in substance the following:—the holiness and immutability of God; the purity and perfection
his law; the entire depravity of the heart, consisting in voluntary opposition to God and holiness; the fulness and all-sufficiency of the atonement made by Christ; the freeness of the offer of pardon, made to all, on condition of repentance; the necessity of a change of heart, by the Holy Spirit, arising from the deep-rooted depravity of men, which no created arm could remove; the utter inexcusableness of sinners, in rejecting the kind overtures of mercy, as they acted freely and voluntarily in doing it; and the duty and reasonableness of immediate submission to God. These are some of the truths, which God appeared to own and bless, and which, through the agency of the Spirit, were made “quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword.”
AB our religious meetings were very much thronged, and yet were never noisy or irregular, nor continued to a late hour. They were characterized with a stillness and solemnity, which, I believe, have