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ence during the twenty tedious years that followed the revival in 1999, more than two-thirds of which were subsequent to my ordination, might have been different. Those doctrines which exhibit God as the sovereign cause,-decrees, election, &c., had, for a series of years, been leading topics of preaching in this town; and by means of them, many self-dependant bopes had been destroyed, many hearts of enmity against God unveiled, and many souls converted and saved. But many also remained unconverted; and the time at length arrived, when this kind of preaching had produced its full effect upon them. They either would not listen to it, or they made it a pretext for abandoning all serious attention to their salvation. Now, dear sir, never for a moment have I doubted the importance of an undisguised declaration of the whole counsel of God, and particularly of those doctrines which exhibit the dependence of fallen man on the sovereign grace of God; but if experience and observation have taught me any thing, it is, that there is a way of discụssing these subjects most logically in the pulpit, which does little good ; that there are theories sometimes connected with them which are productive of great evil; and that even when preached as they lie in the sacred volume, if the hearers are not also taught their relations to God, às accountable subjects of his government, and capable heirs of salvation, and if the obligations and encouragements which belong to these relations, are not carried home to their hearts, a general recklessness as to the concerns of salvation may be expected to prevail. If they are not in fact, made to feel that they are their own destroyers, that fallen, dependent and lost as they are, salvation is most freely and sincerely offered to them, and that if they perish, the blame must forever rest upon themselves ; no wonder if hard thoughts of God, and a heartless, discouraged and obdurate spirit of self-justification be the general result. That preaching no doubt is the best, which is most conformed to the example of Him who was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision, but showed first to them at Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that men should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.
I'am, dear sir, most affectionately,
Your fellow servant
LETTER I X.*.
Pastor of a Congregational church, in Portland, Maine.
Portland, May 29, 1821. DEAR BROTHER,
I have just received the “ Narrative, &c,”ł which you were so kind as to send me, and for which I return you many thanks. It was indeed highly acceptable, and I wish it was in my power to write some. thing which would be equally acceptable to you. But I am just recovering from a long and severe illness, and am still too feeble to make much use of a pen ; and were I in usual health I could write nothing which would be of any service to you. I will, however, in compliance with your request, state a few facts relative to my ministry. I have been connected with this society about thirteen years.
We have had no general revival, but there has been some religious attention during the whole period of my ministry. The smallest number which has been added to the church in any one year, is eighteen; the largest, eighty-four; annual average, about forty. established inquiring (or, as they are called in the Narrative, anxious) meetings soon after I came here, and have continued them without interruption, (except on account of ill health for a few weeks,) unto the present time. We conduct them precisely as they are conducted with you, and have, found them exceedingly useful. The number of inquirers has often been small, but we have always had some, and the number has increased or diminished, as the church has been more or less engaged in prayer. We have found no means so much blessed to keep religion alive in the church as fasting and prayer. Ever since my settlement, the church has set apart one day quarterly for this purpose. On these occasions, our first great object is to obtain just
* This letter was obligingly furnished me by an esteemed clerical brother, to whom it was addressed.
† Narrative of the extensive revival of religion which occurred about this time within the ilmits of the Albany Presbytery.
views of our sins. With this view, the several beings with whom we are connected are mentioned ; the duties we owe to each are pointed out, and the inquiry, “ how far have you performed these duties during the last three months,” is pressed upon the consciences of all present. Every other means which we can devise to set our sins fully before us, and to excite deep repentance is also employed. Then, as the Jewish high priest was directed to lay his hand on the head of the scape goat, and confess over it all the iniquities of the children of Israel, so we attempt, in the exercise of faith, to bring all our sins to Christ, and confess them as at the foot of the cross, pleading that pardon may be granted and sealed to us afresh for his sake. We then proceed to a solemn renewal of our covenant with God, after which, in a number of prayers, we plead for all the blessings of the covenant. Days thus spent have been exceedingly profitable. But my weakness forbids me to say more. Indeed, I have written thus far rather to show my readiness to comply with your request, than with a hope that any thing which I can write will be profitable. I rejoice in God's goodness to you, and should my life be spared shall be glad to hear from you often.
That God may continue to bless your labors, and make you far more faithful than I have been, is the prayer of
Your friend and brother,
L ETTER X.
FROM THE REVEREND ALEXANDER PROUDFIT, D. D.
Pastor of an Associate Reformed church, in Salem, New York.
Salem, April 4, 1832. My EsteeMED FRIEND,
I received your letter, and agreeably to your request, venture to communicate my views on the natur of revivals of religion—a subject which so deeply involves the peace and prosperity of the American churches,
This is the thirty-eighth year of my ministerial labors in Salem. We have uniformly been in the habit of dispensing the ordinance of the Supper four times in the year, and so far as I recollect, have never had a sacramental occasion without some accession to our numbers. But during this long period we have enjoyed, at different intervals, what would now be pronounced “a revival of religion.” The refreshing influences of divine grace descended silently and softly upon the heritage of the Lord, like the showers of spring after the dreariness and barrenness of winter. A genial warmth appeared to pervade the whole church, to the joy of the generation of the righteous, and at the same time, multitudes were added to the Lord by an external profession of his name. One of these occasions occurred in the year 1796, when a very unusual influence apparently accompanied the outward dispensation of the word, sealing it upon the souls both of sinners and saints. A similar season occurred about six years afterwards; and another and still more memorable visitation of the Spirit was enjoyed in the year 1815. During all these seasons of enlargement to myself, and of spiritual joy to the children of adoption, under my immediate care, and the “espousals of others to Jesus as their husband," no extra efforts were used; no brethren from other towns were called in to our aid, but the work advanced silently and regularly, promoted exclusively under the divine blessing by the ordinary administration of ordinances, private and public. Yet, during the whole course of my ministry, I have never been favored with sea
sons more delightful in their recollection; none the results of which I anticipate with more joy on that day when the final account of my stewardship will be required. Contemplated in a moral or spiritual light, the work on those occasions might be compared to that gradual yet perceptible reanimation, which pervades the vegetable world amidst the vernal showers, and the refreshing influences of the returning sun, when the face of nature is clothed with fresh verdure, and the trees which had stood barren, are adorned with blossoms and fruit. These might emphatically be called "times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord;" and yet I know of no particular cause, except on the last occasion, the revival of the Lord's work appeared to come as an answer to extraordinary importunity in prayer. Few churches during this period, perhaps, have been more honored for raising up young men to adorn the ministerial office ;-men full of the "Holy Ghost and of faith,” who now appear as “burning and shining lights" in various parts of our country. On one occasion in the autumn of 1815, six youths took their seats together at the sacramental table, who are now exercising the ministry of reconciliation, and some of them with more than ordinary success. These facts I feel constrained particularly to notice, for the purpose of correcting that novel and prevailing opinion, that religion cannot flourish without some special and unusual effort. 4
In the year 1824, a revival of a different character from those I have already mentioned, appeared. Several persons residing in different parts of our town, were suddenly and almost simultaneously struck with deep convictions of sin. This arrested the attention of the friends of religion ; meetings for prayer and conference were held almost every day in the week, and generally crowded to overflowing. These meetings were usually attended by the Rev. Mr. Tomb or myself, with private members of the church, who assisted in the religious services: ministers and private Christians from other towns were called in, and afforded their aid. So far as I recollect, there was rarely any instance of disorder, although I have seen multitudes melted in tears, and during the year great numbers were added to the fellowship of the two churches.
In May, 1831, during my absence, a protracted meeting, as it is generally termed, was held in Mr. Tomb’s society, which was attended by a variety of ministers from different parts of the country. A great excitement was produced in almost every part of the town, which has resulted in the addition of a large number to our churches.
With respect to the fruits of these revivals, on which you desire