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hundred and eighty. It was during this revival that you visited this place, and spent some time with us while a student in Princeton Seminary.
About the close of the year 1819, it pleased a gracious God to grant to this church another season of special refreshing. This was not so general through the congregation as the former ; but was confined to particular neighborhoods. Christians did not appear to be specially awake to the subject, either before it commenced or during its progress. The subjects were generally from among the most unlikely families and characters; from the highways and hedges; while the children of the kingdom were generally passed by. The special attention continued about a year; and the number added to the communion of the church as its fruits, was about sixty.
In the early part of the year 1824, there was a considerable increase of attention to the subject of religion, which continued through the year 1825. About sixty were added to the communion of the church during this time, as the fruits of this special influence. But the work did not terminate with this ingathering. These were but as drops before a mighty shower. • About the beginning of December, 1825, the work was greatly increased. It commenced visibly on a day of fasting and prayer, appointed by the synod of New Jersey, on account of the absence of divine influences from their churches generally. Within a few weeks many were awakened and brought to seek the Lord. This revival, with few exceptions, was not marked by deep distress, and the subjects of it, generally, soon professed to hope in Christ. It continued through the year 1826, during which time about one hundred and thirty were added to the communion of this church, as its fruits.
In the winter and spring of 1829, a partial season of refreshing was again experienced, and about twenty-five were added to our communion. Again it pleased a gracious God specially to visit some neighborhoods of the congregation, through the winter and spring of 1831. The fruits of this visitation, which have been gathered in through the year past, amount to about forty.
In 1820, a second Presbyterian church was organized in the town; and in the revivals which we have experienced since that congregation was formed, a similar gracious influence has been enjoyed among them.
Thus I have given you a brief statement of facts respecting what the Lord has done among the people of my charge. Allow me now to close the narrative with a few remarks. Between these seasons of
special refreshing we have constantly had additions to the church. As to the genuineness of the work, I have had time to form a judgment, especially with respect to the revivals in the earlier part of my ministry; and I can testify that the subjects of them have generally manifested that they had experienced a true work of grace in their hearts. Very few apostacies have occurred among those who have been added to the church in revivals ; quite as few in proportion to their numbers, as among those who have been brought in, when there was no special attention ; and the former have generally been as steadfast, and adorned their profession quite as well as the latter. Of the subjects of the revivals which have occurred under my ministry, a number have become ministers of the gospel. In looking over the list, I find the names of twelve who have since entered the ministry, several of whom are now usefully occupying important stations in the church, and some have gone to their gracious reward. Nine more are now in the different stages of education preparatory to the gospel ministry.
Another remark I would make, is, that we have carefully guarded against a speedy admission to the privileges of the church. Seldom in times of revival have we admitted persons to the communion in less than six months after they first became serious. Again I would remark, that from what I have seen, I have drawn the conclusion, that it is wrong to prescribe any particular manner for the Spirit's operations. There has been a difference in this respect in almost every revival which I have witnessed. There have been diversities of operations; but time has shown that it was the same Spirit. The subjects of these revivals and additions to the church, have, the great majority of them, been in the morning of life, and many while yet children have been impressed; but we have very seldom received any very young persons to communion. The means which have been constantly employed during my ministry, and which God has blessed, beside the preaching of the word on the Sabbath, and frequently on other days of the week in different neighborhoods of the congregation, have been catechetical and Bible-class instruction, and family visiting; and to these may be added meetings for social prayer.
In conclusion I would add, that appearances among my people at present are very favorable. There is much increase of attention to the means, and of solemnity in attending upon them. Many Christians appear to be much quickened in duty, and to be earnestly praying that the Lord would appear again in his glory in the midst of us, to build up Zion; and a number have recently been awakened to serious
concern about their soul's salvation. We are anxiously looking for a time of general revival, but what will be the result time must show. With sincere and fraternal respect, I am,
Dear Sir, yours,
JOHN M’DOWELL, Rev. W. B. SPRAGUE, D. D.
LET TER VIII.
FROM THE REVEREND NOAH PORTER, D. D.
Pastor of a Congregational church in Farmington, Connecticut.
Farmington, March 12, 1832. DEAR SIR,
Revivals of religion, considered as the effects of a divine influence prevailing throughout a whole congregation at the same time, have not been as frequent in this town, as in many places around us. In different sections of the town, at different times, they have not, for a few of the last years, been unfrequent; but often, when we have hoped for a general revival, we have been disappointed. Perhaps, this may in part be ascribed to our circumstances. About one half of the inhabitants belong to the central village, and the other half to, surrounding neighborhoods, distant from the centre, two, three, and four miles. The latter, on account of their relative situation, have no free and easy intercourse with the rest of the town; and the former, for the last half century, have been divided, by adventitious circumstances, into distinct classes, whose intimacies have been very much confined to their respective limits. Hence it has been difficult to diffuse a common sentiment and feeling, on almost all subjects, and on the subject of religion, as on others.
The era of modern revivals, in this country, is reckoned, I believe, from the year 1792. In the autumn of 1793, there appeared, in this place, a spirit of unusual seriousness and inquiry, on the concerns of salvation. It was under the preaching of Dr. Griffin. He was then
a licentiate; and with all the ardor of his youth, together with the freshness of his “first love,” he preached here the same system of truth, which he has continued so powerfully and successfully to inculcate. It was not another system than had been preached in this town from the time of its first organization; but there were certain leading topics, such as the radical defect of the best doings of the impenitent, the duty of immediate repentance, the freene
of evangelical offers, and the natural ability of men to accept them, and the consistency of all these with the purposes of God, the election of the heirs of life, and the grace of God in their regeneration, which he presented with a clearness and a force that were new.
There was also a simplicity, a vividness, and an affection in his manner, which gave the truth access to the mind. The careless were obliged to hear, and the young and the ignorant could understand. What number of conversions took place under his preaching, I cannot say; but the spirit of religious inquiry silently increased, and under the labors of Rev. Mr. Washburn, who was installed as pastor of the church in 1795, the influences of grace came down“as the rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass.” The work was noiseless, and, in the common intercourse of life, an ordinary observer would scarcely perceive it; but for a whole year it was apparent in the prayerfulness, union, and fidelity of the church, in the solemnity of religious assemblies, and in the conversion of sinners. Fifty-five, as fruits of the revival, were admitted to the communion of the church, in the course of that year, and the succeeding one; only two of whom have since given us any reason to distrust their sincerity.
In the year 1799, there was a revival in at least fifty adjoining congregations in this state ; the character of which, in them all, was remarkably similar, and, I think I may say, remarkably happy. In some of these congregations, it commenced in the fall of 1798. In this town it began in February, 1799, and first appeared in the solicitude of Christians for the restored presence of God. Hearing of the goings of their King around them, humbled with the sense of their backsliding, and anxious, though not disheartened, in view of forbidding circumstances in the state of the people, a number of them, after mutual consultation, solemnly agreed to devote themselves to renewed prayerfulness and diligence, casting themselves on the sovereign will of God. On the Sabbath after their conference, the pastor addressed the congregation on the subject of a revival, and appointed public lectures to be attended, on the next day and evening, at the meeting
house. At the lectures two neighboring ministers were present, the sermons were followed by plain and pungent addresses-the assemblies were large, and the impression was general and solemn, so that from about that time, the commencement of a revival was manifest. Beside the customary services of the Sabbath, a weekly lecture was delivered-in the meeting-house ; a meeting for the young was held on Monday evenings at the house of the pastor; and, as frequently as his other duties would allow, lectures were preached at the school-houses in the extreme neighborhoods; all of which were attended fully and eagerly. Persons of both sexes, and almost every age, and many from a distance of four and five miles, were seen, pressing through storms, and making their way over heavy roads, to hear the word of God;' and the house of the pastor was almost daily the resort of the anxious. Besides these means, and such as naturally resulted from the feelings of the pious, in the ordinary intercourse of life, no others were employed. No meetings were publicly appointed for the anxious ;no invitation was given to them, or to new converts, in promiscuous assemblies, to relate their experience, or to address the people ; no attempts of any kind were made to excite feeling or move sympathy, beside a plain exhibition and a close application of the truth of God. The work continued in progress seven or eight months. About one hundred persons were considered serious inquirers, of whom about seventy were reckoned subjects of deep conviction, and the same number, including a few who dated their conversion from the preceding revival, and were now established in hope, were gathered into the church. These were received, at different times, from August of the same year, till nearly the close of the year following. With a few exceptions, they have adorned their profession ; many of them have been distinguished for their intelligence, stability, and substantial fruits of holiness.
After this revival, for more than twenty years, conversions were comparatively unfrequent. There were seasons of increased attention to religion, and with no long intervals there were instances of hopeful conversion; but the general tone of evangelical feeling gradually declined, and the whole number added to the church, both by letter and by original profession, but little exceeded two hundred, or about ten in a year—a number not equal to that of removals from the church, nor half the number of deaths in the parish. God, at the same time, rebuked our hardness of heart, by terrible dispensations; commissioning a fatal epidemic to enter our houses, and people our grave-yards. Scarcely a family was exempt; and yet our families were generally