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as in a Christless condition seemed to be awakened by it, with fear that God was about to withdraw from the land, and that we should be given up to heterodoxy, and corrupt principles ; and that then their opportunity for obtaining salvation would Be past ; and many who were brought a little to doubt about the truth of the doctrines they had hitherto been taught, seemed to have a kind of a trembling fear with their doubts, Iest they should be led into bypaths, to their eternal undoing: And they seemed with much concern and engagedness of mind to inquire what was indeed the way in which they must come to be accepted with God. There were then same things said publicly on that occasion, concerning justi fication by faith alone.
Although great fault was found with meddling with the controversy in the pulpit, by such a person, at that time, and though it was ridiculed by many elsewhere; yet it proved a word spoken in season here; and was most evidently attended with a very remarkable blessing of heaven to the souls of the people in this town. They received thence a general satisfaction with respect to the main thing in question, which they had in trembling doubts and concern about ; and their minds were engaged the more earnestly to seek that they might come to be accepted of God, and saved in the way
of the gospel, which had been made evident to them to be the true and only way. And then it was, in the latter part of December, that the spirit of God began extraordinarily to set in, and wonderfully to work amongst us; and there were, very suddenly, one after another, five or six persons, who were, to all appearance, savingly converted, and some of them wrought upon
in a very remarkable manner. Particularly, I was surprised with the relation of a young woman, who had been one of the greatest company keepers in the whole town : When she came to me, I had never heard that she was become in any wise serious, but by the conversation I then had with her, it appeared to me, that what she gave an account of, was a glorious work of God's infinite power and sovereign grace; and that God had given her a new heart, truly broken and sanctified. I could not then doubt of
it, and have seen much in my acquaintance with her since to confirma it.
Though the work was glorious, yet I was filled with concern about the effect it might have upon others : I was ready to conclude (though too rashly) that some would be hardened by it, in carelessness and looseness of life ; and would take occasion from it to open their mouths, in reproaches of religion. But the event was the reverse, to a wonderful degree ; God made it, I suppose, the greatest occasion of awakening to others, of any thing that ever came to pass in the town. I have had abundant opportunity to know the effect it had, by my private conversation with many. The news of it seemed to be almost like a flash of lightning, upon the hearts of young people, all over the town, and upon many others. Those persons amongst us, who used to be farthest from seriousness, and that I most feared would make an ill improvement of it, seemed greatly to be awakened with it; many went to talk with her, concerning what she had met with ; and what appeared in her seemed to be to the satisfaction of all that did so.
Presently upon this, a great and earnest concern about the great things of religion, and the eternal world, became universal in all parts of the town, and among persons of all degrees, and all ages; the noise amongst the dry bones waxed louder and louder: All other talk but about spiritual and eternal things was soon thrown by ; all the conversation in all companies, and upon all occasions, was upon these things only, unless so much as was necessary for people carrying on their ordinary secular business. Other discourse than of the things of religion, would scarcely be tolerated in any company. The minds of people were wonderfully taken off from the world ; it was treated amongst us as a thing of very little consequence: They seemed to follow their worldly business, more as a part of their duty, than from any disposition they liad to it; the temptation now seemed to lie on that hand, to neglect worldly affairs too much, and to spend too much time in the immediate exercise of religion : Which thing was exceedingly misrepresented by reports that were spread in distant parts of the land,
as though the people here had wholly thrown by all worldly business, and betook themselves entirely to reading and praying, and such like religious exercises.
But though the people did not ordinarily neglect their worldly business, yet there then was the reverse of what commonly is : Religion was with all sorts the great concern, and the world was a thing only by the bye. The only thing in their view was to get the kingdom of heaven, and every one appeared pressing into it: The engagedness of their hearts in this great concern could not be hid ; it appeared in their very countenances. It then was a dreadful thing amongst us to lie out of Christ, in danger every day of dropping into hell ; and what persons, minds were intent upon was to escape for their lives, and to fly from the wrath to come. All would eagerly lay hold of opportunities for their souls; and were wont very often to meet together in private houses for religious purposes: And such meetings, when appointed, were wont greatly to be thronged
There was scarcely a single person in the town, either old or young, that was left unconcerned about the great things of the eternal world. Those that were wont to be the vainest, and loosest, and those that had been most disposed to think and speak slightly of vital and experimental religion, were now generally subject to great awakenings. And the work of conversion was carried on in a most astonishing manner, and increased more and more ; souls did, as it were, come by flocks 10 Jesus Christ. From day to day, for many months together, might be seen evident instances of sinners brought out of darkness into marvellous light, and delivered out of an horrible pit, and from the miry clay, and set upon a rock with a new song of praise to God in their mouths.
This work of God, as it was carried on, and the number of true saints multiplied, soon made a glorious alteration in the town ; so that in the spring and summer following, Anno 1755, the town seemed to be full of the presence of God: It never was so full of love, nor so full of joy ; and yet so full of distress as it was then. There were remarkable tokens of God's presence in almost every house. It was a time of joy in families
on the account of salvation's being brought unto them ; parents rejoicing over their children as new born, and husbands over their wives, and wives overtheir husbands. The goings of God were then seen in his sanctuary, God's day was a delight, and his tabernacles were amiable. Our public assemblies were then beautiful; the congregation was alive in God's service, every one earnestly intent on the public worship, every hearer eager to drink in the words of the minister as they came from his mouth ; the assembly in general were, from time to time, in tears while the word was preached ; some weeping with sorrow and distress, others with joy and love, others with pity and concern for the souls of their neighbors.
Our public praises were then greatly enlivened ; God was then served in our psalmody, in some measure, in the beauty of holiness. It has been observable, that there has been scarce any part of divine worship, wherein good men amongst us bave had grace so drawn forth, and their hearts so lifted up in the ways of God, as in singing his praises : Our congregation excelled all that ever I knew in the external part of the duty before, the men generally carrying regularly, and well, three parts of music, and the women a part by themselves : But now they were evidently wont to sing with unusual elevation of heart and voice, which made the duty pleasant indeed.
In all companies, on other days, on whatever occasions persons met together, Christ was to be heard of, and seen in the midst of them. Our young people, when they met, were wont to spend the time in talking of the excellency and dying love of Jesus Christ, the gloriousness of the way of salvation, the wonderful, free, and sovereign grace of God, his glorious work in the conversion of a soul, the truth and certainty of the great things of God's word, the sweetness of the views of his perfections, &c. And even at weddings, which formerly were merely occasions of mirth and jollity, there was now no discourse of any thing but the things of religion, and no appearance of any but spiritual mirth.
Those amongst us that had been formerly converted, were greatly enlivened and renewed with fresh and extraordinary incomes of the spirit of God; though some much more than VOL. III.
others, according to the measure of the gift of Christ : Many that before had labored under difficulties about their own state, had now their doubts removed by more satisfying experience, and more clear discoveries of God's love.
When this work of God first appeared, and was so extraordinarily carried on amongst us in the winter, others round about us, seemed not to know what to make of it; and there were many that scoffed at, and ridiculed it; and some com. pared what we called conversion to certain distempers. But it was very observable of many; that occasionally came amongst us from abroad, with disregardful hearts, that what they saw here cured them of such a temper of mind : Strangers were generally surprised to find things so much beyond what they had heard, and were wont to tell others that the state of the town could not be conceived of by those that had not seen it. The notice that was taken of it by the people that came to town on occasion of the court, that sat here in the beginning of March, was very observable. And those that came from the neighborhood to our public lectures, were for the most part remarkably affected. Many that came to town, on one occasion or other, had their consciences smitten, and awakened, and went home with wounded hearts, and with those impressions that never wore off till they had hopefully a saving issue ; and those that before had serious thoughts, had their awakenings and convictions greatly increased. And there were many instances of persons that came from abroad, on visits, or on business, that had not been long here before, to all appearance, they were savingly wrought upon, and partook of that shower of divine blessing that God rained down here, and went home rejoicing; till at length the same work began evidently to appear and prevail in several other towns in the county.
In the month of March, the people in South Hadley began to be seized with deep concern about the things of religion ; which very soon became universal : And the work of God has been very wonderful there ; not much, if any thing, short of what it has been here, in proportion to the bigness of the place. About the same time it began to break forth in the