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scriptural or rational grounds, doubt the reality or the decidedly happy tendency of such a work.
3. It is pre-eminently important, that the preaching, during a revival of religion, should be clear, discriminating, instructive,-addressed to the understanding and conscience, rather than to the feelings and passions.
4. It is a great error to admit converts to the church before time has been allowed to try the sincerity of their hope. This is an error into which I was betrayed during the first revival among my people, and it has cost me bitter repentance. And yet none were admitted to the church under two months after they had indulged a hope.
5. It is of great importance, that young converts, immediately after conversion, should be collected into a class by themselves and brought under the direct and frequent instruction of the pastor. I have pursued this plan for several years past, and with the happiest effect. Never are so great facilities afforded for pouring instruction into the minds of young converts, and forming them for a high standard of Christian character, as during the time that intervenes between their conversion and admission to the church; and if they are continued from four to six months, in a course of judicious instruction and then admitted to the church, there is very little danger that they will afterwards fall away, or that they will not continue to shine as lights in the world till the end of life.
6. It is very important also, that young converts should early be trained to habits of Christian activity ;-they should be drawn out and encouraged in the way of doing good; and from the first, a deep and thorough impression should be made on their minds, that their great business in the world is to live and labor for Christ and his cause. The tone of piety and of action, which a young convert adopts during the first few months of his course usually goes with him through life.
7. A sinner may be converted at too great an expense. I mean, that measures may be adopted, that shall issue in the conversion of a sinner, which measures may, at the same time, hy exciting prejudice and enmity, be the occasion of a vast deal more evil than good.
8. It should be the great aim both of ministers and Christians, in a time of revival, so to conduct the work, both in affectionate zeal, and in sound Christian wisdom and prudence, that the effect may be to prolong the season of mercy; to prepare the way for a return of it;
and to cause all the true friends of Christ to regard revivals as the most precious blessings that God bestows upon a guilty world.
It would be easy to enlarge, but I forbear. May the blessing of the God of revivals attend the volume you propose to publish with a view to promote them, and hasten the day when he shall pour his spirit upon all flesh, and fill the whole earth with his praise. I dear brother, very truly and
J. HAWES. Rev. W. B. SPRAGUE, D. D.
FROM THE REVEREND JOHN M’DOWELL, D. D.
Pastor of the first Presbyterian Church, Elizabethtown, New Jersey.
Elizabethtown, March 5, 1832. REVEREND AND DEAR BROTHER,
Agreeably to your request, I will endeavor to give you a brief account of the revivals of religion, with which it has pleased a sovereign and gracious God to favor the church of which I am pastor. Of the early history of this church, I have been able to discover very little. It is an ancient church, having been founded about 160 years since. Whether it was visited with revivals, during nearly the former half of the period of its existence, I have not been able to ascertain. The first revival of which any account has been transmitted to us, was in the latter part of the ministry of that eminent servant of God, the Rev. Jonathan Dickinson, author of " the Five Points,” and of many other valuable works.
Of this revival, a particular and very interesting account was given by Mr. Dickinson, in a letter to the Rev. Mr. Foxcroft, of Boston, which letter is in print. From this it appears, that this special work visibly commenced in June, 1740, under a sermon addressed to the youth. “The inward distress and concern of the audience,” (Mr. Dickinson observes,)“ discovered itself by their tears, and by an au
dible sobbing and sighing in almost all parts of the assembly.” On the character and effects of this revival, he goes on to remark“Meetings for sinful amusements were abandoned by the youth, and meetings for religious exercises substituted in their place. Numbers daily flocked to their pastòr for advice in their eternal concerns. More came to see him on this errand in three months, than in thirty years before. The subjects of the work were chiefly youth. A deep sense of sin, guilt, danger, and despair of help from themselves, preceded a hope in Christ. All the converts were for a considerable time under a law work, before they had satisfying views of their interest in Christ. The number of those who were savingly the subjects of this work was about sixty.”
In 1772, this church was again blessed with a considerable revival of religion, under the ministry of the Rev. James Caldwell.
In 1784, this church was again visited in a special manner with the influences of the Holy Ghost. This was just after the close of the revolutionary war; and the people were without a house of worship, and without a pastor ; the church having been burned and the pastor slain near the close of the war. This revival continued about two years; and time has abundantly proved that it was a genuine and glorious work of God. A number of the subjects are still living, and are truly fathers and mothers in Israel. Nearly all the session, and almost half the members of the church, when the writer settled here, were the fruits of this revival ; and he has had an opportunity of knowing them by their fruits; he has been with many of them when about to pass over Jordan, and from their triumphant death as well as exemplary life, he can testify to the genuineness of the work.
From the time of this revival to the settlement of the writer, there were two seasons of more than ordinary interest, when the number of additions to the communion of the church was considerably increased.
The subscriber was settled as pastor of this congregation December 1804. In August 1807, a powerful and extensive revival commenced. The first decisive evidence of the special presence and power of the Holy Spirit, was on the Sabbath, under a powerful sermon on prayer, by the Rev. Dr. Gideon Blackburn. A number were awakened that day; and new cases of conviction, and hopeful conversion, were for a considerable time occurring at almost every religious meeting. The special attention continued for about eighteen months, and the number added to the communion of the church, as the fruits of this gracious work, was about 120. The subjects of it were generally deeply exercised ; and most of them continued for a considerable
time in a state of distress, before they enjoyed the comforts of the hope of the gospel. This revival was the first I had ever seen ; and it was a solemn situation, for a young man, totally inexperienced in such scenes. It was general through the congregation, and in a few weeks extended into neighboring congregations, and passed from one to another, until in the course of the year, almost every congregation in what was then the Presbytery of Jersey, was visited.
The next revival with which the Lord favored my ministry, visibly commenced in December 1812. It was on a communion Sabbath. There was nothing peculiarly arousing in the preaching. I was not expecting such an event; neither as far as I have ever discovered, was there any peculiar engagedness, in prayer, or special desire or expectation on the part of Christians. I saw nothing unusual in the appearance of the congregation; and it was not until after the services of the day were ended, when several called in deep distress to ask me what they should do to be saved, that I knew that the Lord was specially in this place. This was a day of such power, (though I knew it not at the time,) that as many as thirty who afterwards joined the church, were then first awakened. And it is a remarkable circumstance that the same powerful influence was experienced, on the same day, in both of the Presbyterian churches in the neighboring town of Newark. It was also communion seasons in both those churches. This revival continued about a year; and the number of persons added to the communion of this church as its fruits was about one hundred and ten. The subjects of this revival generally were deeply and long distressed, and in many instances, their distress affected their bodily frames. Frequently, sobbing aloud was heard in our meetings, and in some instances, there was a universal trembling, and in others a privation of bodily strength, so that the subjects were not able to get home without help. In this respect this revival was different from any others which I have witnessed. I never dared to speak against this bodily agitation, lest I should be found speaking against the Holy Ghost; but I never did any thing to encourage it. It may be proper here to relate one case of a young man, who was then a graduate of one of our colleges, and is now a very respectable and useful minister of Christ. Near the commencement of the revival he was led for the first time, reluctantly, and out of complaisance to his sisters, tó a meeting in a private house. I was present, and spoke two or three times between prayers in which some of my people led. The audience was solemn, but perfectly still. I commenced leading in the concluding prayer. A suppressed sob reached my ear: it
continued and increased : I brought the prayer speedily to a close, and cast my eyes over the audience, when behold, it was this careless proud young man, who was standing near me, leaning on his chair sobbing, and trembling in every part like the Philippian jailer. He raised his eyes towards me, and then tottered forward, threw his arms on my shoulders, and cried out, “what shall I do to be saved ?” A scene ensued, the like of which I never witnessed. The house was full, and there was immediately, by the power of sympathy I suppose, a universal sobbing through the assembly. He repeatedly begged me to pray for him. I felt so overcome with the solemnity of the scene, and fearful of the disorder which might ensue in the excited state of feeling, that I held this trembling young man for half an hour, without speaking a word. I then persuaded him to go home with me, and the audience to retire. His strength was so weakened that he bad to be supported. From that hour he appeared to give his whole soul to the subject of religion. He continued in a state of deep anxiety and distress for nearly two months, when he settled down in a peaceful state of mind, hoping in the Saviour.
About the beginning of February, 1817, this church was again visited with a great revival of religion. It commenced most signally, as an immediate answer to the united prayers of God's people. The session, impressed with a sense of the comparatively low state of religion among us, agreed to spend an afternoon together in prayer. The congregation were informed of this on the Sabbath, and a request made that Christians would at the same time retire to their closets, and spend a season in prayer for the influences of the Spirit to descend
The season appointed was the next afternoon; and that evening was the monthly concert of prayer, which was unusually full and solemn; and before the week was out, it was manifest that the Lord was in the midst of us, in a very special manner. Many cases of awakening came to my knowledge; and the work soon spread throughout the congregation. This revival was marked, not by the deep distress of the preceding, but by a general weeping in religious meetings. There was doubtless much of sympathy. A larger proportion than usual of the subjects were young, and many of them children. Some were long in darkness; but most of them, much sooner than in either of the former revivals of my ministry, professed to have embraced the Saviour. The number in the congregation who professed to be seriously impressed, amounted to several hundreds. The special attention continued about a year; and the number added to the communion of the church during that time was about one