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AWAKENINGS IN RELIGION.
[We have inserted with pleasure the preceding article from B. on
Religious Revivals,” and we rejoice in his promise of some future examples. We know that upon this subject he can speak from his own experience, and tell us something of what God has guided and enabled him to do. To the observations of B. we appropriately subjoin the following article from a valued Correspondent in Fogland. --Edr.]
TO THE EDITOR OF THE ORTHODOX PRESBYTERIAN. 1 SIR,
To the attentive observer of nature's works, how cheering are the revivals of spring! True it is that the glories of summer and the riches of autumn give in succession their appropriate joys; but, after the storms and deadness of winter have passed away, the genial rays of a vernal sun, the melody of the grove, and the whole re-animating appearance of nature, inspire the mind with peculiar delights. Incomparably more refreshing, however, are the joyful sensations of Christ's disciples, when awakenings of piety and Christian zeal occur in the moral world. When “times of refreshing come from the presence of the Lord," the emotions of joy which heaven's inhabitants experience, echo throughout the courts of the sanctuary below. Then the confidence in God's faithfulness and truth, which as. sures us that not one of his predictions respecting the future glory of the church, shall fail of its accomplishment, acquires unshaken stability in contemplating numbers of converts added daily to the ranks of genuine believers, and swelling the song of salvation to the Lamb that was slain.
The interest felt in the success of the Gospel, appears strongly marked in the avidity with which most persons receive intelligence from missionary stations—both home and foreign. Tidings of fresh inroads being made upon Satan's empire, revive the heart and impart an augmented impulse to the operations of societies and individuals. But the species of religious intelligence, to which this article refers, affords a rich treat for which the rare occur. rence of revivals of religion will not fully account. Novelty unquestionably has its charms, but the overwhelming de light occasioned by the spectacle of a multitude awakened at once to the concerns of eternity consists in this :—that the hordes of wickedness are diminished ; --that beings formed for immortality are admitted to liberty truly glorious, becomer engaged in employment distinguish ingly honourable, and care elevated to a hope unspeakably enlivening; and further it consists in this, that hy the si. multaneous conversion of a multitude of sinners, the Al. mighty Saviour's grace, and the Holy Spirit's quickening energies, are conspicuously displayed. Who does not read, with the most joyful emotions, of the success of the Apostle Peter's sermon upon the day of Pentecost, when THREE THOUSAND SOULS were pricked in their heart, repented of their sins, and obtained the baptism of the Holy Ghost? What Christian does not exult in perusing the authentic records of the powerful awakenings of former days, in Germany, in Holland, in Ireland, and in Scotland, and more recently in several Provinces of America ?
The archives of the Christian Church promise to be greatly enriched by the labours of "The Glasgow Evangelical Corresponding Society," whose object is to collect information concerning the spiritual success of the Gospel, and to publish such parts of their correspondence as shall appear likely, under the blessing of God, to for. ward the interests of His kingdom. The FIRST FRUITS of this Society appeared at the commencement of this year, in the form of " A Narrative of the Revival of Religion, within the Bounds of the Presbytery of Albany, in the State of New York, during 1819, 1820; originally pub. lished by order of the Presbytery."
The character of the whole work the Narrative thus describes (p. 48, 49):
" It was a deep heart-work; free from delusions, from dreams, from visions, and from new revelations. Sinners were brought to see themselves awfully ruined-going down to hell, unable to extricate themselves from their miseries-sinking under the penalty, and far from the purity of God's law; and thus viewing themselves as shut out from every other hope, they were shut up to the faith of the Gospel." They were led to see Jesus as the only way to God the Father-as an able Saviour-as a very willing Saviour_as a Saviour just at hand-promising, "Him that cometh unto me, I will in no wise cast out."
And now at the distance of almost a year, and out of a number not much less than two THOUSAND, who have been hopefully converted to God, and of whom nearly fourteen hundred have united themselves to the communion of the Presbyterian Church, 'not more than four or five are known to have given conclusive signs of apostacy.'
The whole of tlie details of the awakenings which the “Narrative” records, cannot be inserted in the pages of The Orthodox Presbyterian for want of room; but a few select
passages must be truly interesting. After noticing, that more ihan fifty, out of the small village of Saragota, were brought to rejoice in the hope of eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord; and that within the year, there were added to the church, at Malta, more than one hundred, and there were perhaps fisty others who cherished a hope of the forgiveness of sin; the Committee proceed in the next place to invite the attention of the Presbytery to Stillwater, where the Lord bath displayed the wonderful riches of his grace:
“If he smile on the wilderness, it is in a moment like the garden of God. The glad tidings of God's grace to the sinners of Pittstown-Hollow, had a very awakening influence on the people of God-in' Stillwater; where Minister and people gave themselves to prayer, publicly, privately, and secretly. A concert for secret prayer was held at sunrise on Sabbath mornings, and very generally observed. They cried unto the Lord, and he hearkened and heard them, and granted, in his own time, their whole de : sire. A deep solemnity spread over the whole community. Every meeting was crowded, and some very deeply impressed with a nse of sin, and fully convinced of their need of an interest in Christ. Sinners from a distance came to licar the Gospel, and hung on the lips of the preacher, as though they had been bearing for their lives. And again they returned to listen, with increased attention, to the glad tidings of' great joy of peace on earth, and of good will towards men.
“In the north part of Stillwater, where the means of grace were seldom enjoyed, the work of the Lord commenced and became very powerful. , Scarcely one family has been passed over. In a large district, though harassed by sectarian contentions, where praying families were very rarely found, there is now scarcely one house where prayer is not wont to be made; where sacrifice, and a pure offering, is pot daily offered up to God! Many whole families,-young and old, were bope, fully converted to Christ. But, in the village, God's power was most conspicuous. Many of the inbabitants were of the most hopeless kind. Boat-men, tipplers, tavern.haunters, gamblers, gain-sayers, infidels, and atheists, were mingled with the unholy multitude. The ways of Zion : languished and mourned, because few came to her solemn feasts. There : were many who lived in the village, pho scarcely ever attended in the bouse of God, or in any other visible way acknowledged his supremacy. i They were literally stout-hearted and far from righteousness, without God and without hope in the world; and yet, -we cannot refrain from ascribing glory to God in the highest,--this multitude, bad and as they were, felt the power of the Holy Ghost, and yielded to his influence, receiving the Gospel gladly, and submitting themselves to him whose right it is to reign, and in whom all the families of the earth are blessed. And to the glory of God's grace be it spoken; the most profligate were gene- : rally the most prompt in their submission to God. The lapguage of fact corresponds with the words of Christ, that publicans and barlots are first ia entering the kingdom of God. The converts were of all ages, from seventy-five down to twelve; and in the short space of six months, one hundred and ninety-four were added to the church, of whom one hundred and three were added in one day. There have been twenty
three added since, making the whole number two hundred and seventeen. There were ninety-four adults baptized. The whole number who'cherish a hope of the forgiveness of sin, is considerably above three hundred, within the townships some of whom have joined other churches, and some have not yet gained strength enough to confess Christ before men in any
church. “Several neighbourhoods in the township of Amsterdam were awakened at once. Cries for help came from every quarter ; and Minister and session soon found themselves in the very midst of God's wonderful workings. Their meetings, of every name, were full and crowded. The whole of every day in the week, and as much of the Sabbath as remained after the public services in God's house were over, were employed in visiting from house to hoyse. The evenings were spent in conference, or prayer, or anxious meetings. And although many whe attended those meetings were often heard, when at home, in their families, in their fields, and in their secret retirements, to groan out in agony, or to cry out aloud in anguish of heart, when pierced with the sword, or broken down under the influences of the Spirit, yet, in these meetings, there was no noise, no confusion, no disorder. Sometimes, indeed, the prayer for mercy was forced from the broken heart in a heavy whisper, or in a stifled agonizing groan. Sometimes, too, the dreadful struggle within was rendered visible, in the palsied frame, or writhing hands, or other symptoms of spiritual distress, deeply affecting all around; but nothing like rant, or confusion, or enthusiasm. Instead of this, an awe, a stillness, an oppressive silence, which exnnot be deseribed, pervaded the whole, and often rendered it difficult to breathe. It was the sinking of the wounded heart, the fainting which precedes the last agony of life. Rebellious hearts had received their mortal wounds, and were yielding beneath the power of - God. Many who visited these meetings, from motives of curiosity, and who were altogether careless, tolulding the mighty power of God, were terrified at their own hard and impenitent hearts; and awakened to a sense of the misery of their state, the madness and folly of their present course, and forced to inquire also, what they must do to be saved. On one evening,' set apart for lecture, and personal conversation, fifteen were powerfully awakened The awakening in Amsterdam had one very prominent feature, somewhat peculiar to itself, and which we deem worthy of notice. Sinners were, for the most part, very suddenly and alarmingly aroused; their convictions raised to the highest; extremely painful in their operations, and yet protracted beyond any thing witnessed in other places. Your committee would not dare to decide, whether this was owing to the constitutional habits of the subjects of the work, or whether it was exclusively oving to the sovereignty of God, who does as he pleases, and baffles' the feebleness of human reason.
The truths which bore most heavily on the minds of sinners, in this awakening, were the awful depravity of the heart, so manifest in its unreasonable and continued rebellion' against God; their own personal guilt and pollution; and their evident danger of eternal death. Every one thought his own heart the worst, and his own case peculiarly aggravated,
“Generally the first dawning of comfort in the soul, has been obtained through the application of precious Bible-truth, and that whilst the in. dividual was employed reading the Bible, or hearing it explained, or when in the act of secret prayer. The reality of the change, which so many profess to liave experienced, becomes every day more visible, by the love and unity, and growing holiness, and increasing light, and gospel-knowledge, of those who have named the name of Christe
Thus far, there have been no instances of backsliding or apostack. Every one who has turned toward Zion, is still making progress. This, your
committee regard, as satisfactorily proving that the work is of God of the operation of his Holy Spirit. In this there is a proof of the out, pouring of the Spirit, which neither the enemios of God, nor of revivals, can refute. Persons of every shade of colour and character, bave become subjects of this great work, and are made one in Christ Jesus.
“One hundred and sixty-three have professed the name of Christ, and been added to the church; forty-two of whom were baptized. A few have become connected, with other churches, and there are, perhaps, nearly fifty, who cherish the hope that they are new creatures, but have not ventured to make a public profession. They are still, however, praying, and looking, and waiting, for more satisfactory evidence of the certainty of their cbange."
(TO BE CONCLUDED IN OUR NEXT.]
(The following letter has been kindly handed to us by a respected and
zealous Minister of the Established Church. The writer was well known to him, and he vouches for the correctness of his statements. We thank our friend for the communication, and agree with him in believing that the publication of a simple and faithful record of conversion to God, and religious experience, may be useful to our readers.--Edit.]
DUBLIN, November, 1830. Rev. & DEAR SIR,
The communication now before you, will, no doubt, be cause of as much astonishment at its commencement, as of joy at its conclusion, and thanksgiving and praise to the “ Father of mercies. It has its origin from a report which has obtained amongst the people, and as a matter of course found its way to you with some degree of credence. (so I am informed.) And indeed, upon re flection, I cannot be surprized, as the unholy life I led whilst resident there is quite a sufficient guarrantee for the acceptation of any enormity respecting me. A sense of my duty to my God, however, so imperatively forces itself on me, that I cannot but speak out and tell what he hath done for my soul.
The circumstance above alluded to, is (to use their own language) that “I have become a confirmed Ariap.”. Now, although as regards me personally, I care not for the imputation, for I trust I know whom I have believed; yet I think it but my duty to proclaim the triumphs of the cross (the Lord being merciful unto me) against all the Arians in the universe.--This may seem strange language from one whom, no doubt, you set down in your