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tute another needle than that of the the evidence of increasing life. To truth as it is in Jesus.
stimulate this is as much to hinder A time of revival is necessarily grace, as if you should attempt to to some extent, a time of excite- make a dying man well, by filling ment. But excitement is of two him with alcohol. The fever may kinds. One is that of the soul re- look and act exceedingly like ceiving nourishment from the meat healthy religion—but it will either of the word, which quickens its mount at last to wild derangement, affections, strengthens its desires or pass off and leave the subjects after holiness, and promotes a more perfectly prostrate and helphealthy state of spiritual life. This less than ever. I conceive that is the genuine excitement of a re- clear conceptions of the nature and vival of religion. But there is ano- genuine means of real, spiritual ther resembling it very deceitfully excitement, as distinguished from in colour and temporary sensation, every counterfeit, are much needbut differing from it very widely ed, in order that revivals may be in permanent consequences. It is protected against the weakness of the fever of the mind, to which hu- the flesh, and the forgeries of man nature is exceedingly prone. Satan. Some of it is probably unavoidable Now let me again suppose a rein revivals, because revivals have vival in progress. In consequence to do with a diseased nature; as of the ignorance, inexperience, sinpowerful medicines, while work-fulness, indiscretion of the promising together for the good of the cuous mass of minds and hearts body, produce a feverish excite- concerned in it, we must expect ment, not by their own fault, but more or less of diseased excitethe morbid condition of the pa- ment, though the work be full of tient. But how unwisely would a holy fruits. The labour of the miphysician act, should he mistake nister is to protect the good work, the hectic of the fever for the glow as much as possible, from abuses of health, and endeavour to in- to which it is liable from this cause. crease it because accompanied with Let me therefore suggest, that a warmth and apparent strength! season of revival is one in which Delirium and prostration would special care should be had in the ensue. This is precisely the mis- regular keeping up of all the rules of take not unfrequently made by the church. Old modes of doing friends of revivals. It is extreme-- things are apt to seem worn out, ly dangerous. They mistake dis- and decrepid, and dry, to minds ease for health. They seek excite- under new excitement. A sudden ment. It is well. The dead heart flood in the river not unfrequently must be excited. But let them be opens new channels, but never withcautious. There is an excitement out desolation. Let the springs of which, like that of electricity upon the river of life be revived and a corpse, will open the eyes, but swollen with the rains of heaven; they will not see; stir the heart, but that the streams thereof may but it will not love; throw the make glad the city of God, let whole body into violent action, on them be kept within the banks ly to remain when the machinery which the ordinances of the gosis withdrawn, a more melancholy pel have established, and the wisspectacle of death than before.- dom of all ages has been content Excitement that does not proceed with. Let the novelty consist in from the influence of truth on the newness of life, in an unwonted heart, and lead towards the obe spirit of prayer, and faith, and love, ience of truth in the life, is the rather than in new devices and nover of a diseased soul, and not vel modes.
How far should meetings be mul- ings beyond the ability of the mitiplied during a revival?_This nister and his most experienced question must be answered accord. assistants to superintend them; so ing to circumstances, but requires as to call up persons having more much wisdom. The appetite of zeal than knowledge to the lead, excitement is for meetings. The sometimes to the misguiding of the tendency of an animated minister young, and the indiscreet offending is to feed it with meetings. How of many. far may he go? Not beyond his How should inquirers be treated? own strength in their vigilant su With light as well as heat; with perintendence. He must have meet- instruction as to the way; its cost; ings enough to be able to meet and its temptations, &c., as well as exfeed the people with as much bread hortation to walk therein. Bunyan as they can profitably receive; but put the wicket gate too far off, and the dangers to be guarded against made a Slough of Despond too are in the idea that the love of directly in the road. Many do meetings is religion; that the chief worse, saying nothing of any difelement and nutriment of religion ficulties to be avoided, and leavin the heart is the influence of ng out the entire dependance of meetings; that the frequent renew the sinner on the Spirit of God to al of their excitements may be sub. be able to reach the straight gate. stiluted for habitual watchfulness Let care be used as to who shall and diligence; that secret devotion be put to the work of conversing with and the study of the word are of inquirers. Every Christian is not comparatively little importance; fit for this work in a time of exthat when circumstances require citement. Especially new converts an abridgment of the number of are not fit. They have not learned the meetings, the revival is done, sufficiently to separate the wheat a season of coldness must ensue, from the chaff. They often conand the people may be content to found feelings with affections; fears wait in sloth and exhaustion, till with desires; and require an exthe next season of the outpouring perience like their own, rather than of the Spirit. Whoever has seen like the rule of the word. They much of man and of revivals, are apt to “compare themselves must know, that on these points, among themselves,” and encourage much wisdom and much firmness too soon, or expect too much; so are required.
that sometimes they break the Who shall officiate in the meet- bruised reed and quench the smoings?—Some seem to imagine that king flax. any body with a warm heart will Inquiry meetings have, I believe, do to speak and pray in public, been much perverted from their during a season of revival. On the original object. The great use of contrary, it is just the time when an inquiry meeting is to enable the the work of exhortation and lead- minister to converse with those ing in meetings for prayer should whom it would be better to see be confined to the steadiest heads. more privately, but who are too A raw hand may steer the ship numerous to allow his seeing all with a gentle, fair breeze, in open of them often enough at their sepasea; but when the wind is high, rate houses. It should be strictly and the channel narrow, and false an opportunity for him to inquire lights abound, and new lights are of them, and they of him. But this ever appearing, let experience alone important object is often nullified, be entrusted with the helm. Many and the meeting rendered an entire of the abuses of revivals have ari- misnomer, in consequence of numsen from a multiplication of meet- bers. It is so large that to make
any real inquiry into each case is Is there not much evil to be apimpossible, unless many agents are prehended from the plan of having employed, and then a painful and a meeting restricted to those who deleterious publicity is given to the have obtained a hope”-another for inquiry and the answer. An inqui. inquirers merely, so that as soon ry meeting should be a retired as one of the latter expresses a meeting, involving as little expo- hope that he has found peace, he sure to others besides the conduc- is passed into the company of the tor, and as little profession of reli. former, and is thenceforth numbergion as the object may allow; if ed with those who profess to be in the number desiring to attend be Christ? Does not ihe commonest greater than can be profitably and acquaintance with human nature, individually conversed with, there the well known infirmity of the inshould be more meetings than one. fant state of a new convert, and all The object should be to get as experience warn us, that by such much as possible of the individu- measures we are tempting the ality of a quiet conference from weakness of incipient seriousness house to house, and yet effect an to seek a hope for other motives, important saving of time and and cherish it on other grounds, strength. I much fear that instead than those of the Spirit of God? of this, there have been meetings The inquiry meeting is very natuunder this name, in which inquiry rally regarded as the lowest dewas a very secondary matter on the gree--the other a second and more part of the conductors, and the fan- honourable. A hope will elevate ning of excitement and the induc- the candidate from the noviciate ing of those who felt a little, to to the grade of the initiated. Vanicommit themselves, in other words, ty and love of distinction are not to make some profession, were the dead in the hearts of inquirers. engrossing objects.
How insidiously and easily may I have dreaded much from per- they animate the candidate, to think ceiving an inordinate disposition well of his evidences and blind his in some friends of revivals to get eyes to their suspicious aspects, inquirers to “entertain a hope," as that he may be said to entertain a if hope were always the offspring hope, and may be introduced among of a living faith. New minds very those who are rejoiced over as connaturally acquire the idea that if verts rejoicing in Christ. That they can only get comfort, they hope is often helped exceedingly shall do well. They thirst for hope by this address to human weakmore than holiness. The work ness, there is great reason to fear. seems done when consolation be But let it be considered that when gins. By and by when tribulation an inquirer is thus passed into the ariseth, they are offended. The company of those who prosess a phraseology of revivals needs re- hope of salvation; or when he is form. The tendency of much of induced to stand up in a more proit at present is to set the sinner to miscuous assembly as having found seeking hope and joy rather than peace through faith, it is on his faith and love. Deliberation with part a public profession of religion; hearts which by nature are “de- those who encourage him to do so ceitful above all things,” is of are regarded as having set their great moment at all times, and seal to his evidences and pronounced especially in a season when, how them good. It is nothing to say ever good the work, Satan finds that he has not yet approached the so many means of producing hur. Lord's Supper. There is more ry, and confusion, and presumptu- than one way of making a public ous hope.
profession of religion. Christians
and the world consider the indivi- called themselves Christians, and dual described as having openly on whom the judgment of expecalled himself a Christian. But is rienced Christians did once set the it not too soon for such a profes- seal of deliberate approbation. sion? Has he had sufficient time; Thus “it is impossible but that of. has he obtained sufficient know- fences come." But let us take ledge to search and try his heart? heed by whom or how they come. Is not the consideration that he is Some publicity to the fact that an regarded as having publickly pro- inquirer has been enabled to hope fessed a hope, a dangerous motive in Christ is unavoidable; when ju.. to go on in hope, without that cau- diciously managed, it is useful; tious self-examination which the but the individual should not be newness of his spiritual state de- the instrument of making his spimands? Is it not thus that too ritual state a matter of publicity, many, after having crossed the and should have his mind as free line of profession, and feeling as possible from the idea that he is themselves committed to the en- in any sense before the community, tertaining of hope, continue crying until he has had time to get somepeace, peace, after every thing but what beyond the extreme delicacy the form of godliness, and the me- of a babe in Christ. Religion, in lancholy features of spiritual pride, a sinner's heart, is like a tropical has passed away? But do we not plant amidst the snows of Siberia. bring the cause of religion and the Great protection and tenderness, character of revivals into great and a cautious attention to chedisrepute by such measures? rishing temperature, are of the last When a number of newly awaken- importance, till it is acclimated. ed persons rise up in a public as It may remain, but not grow. It sembly, or appear in a special may shoot oui a sudden growth of meeting as professing a hope of half formed leaves, while dying at being in Christ, they are noted as
the root. professors of religion by the world. These remarks apply with more We can neither correct the view force to the dangerous practice, (I taken by worldly people of this hope very limited in extent) of enpublic appearance, nor find fault couraging those who profess conwith it. But can it be expected version, to come forward, almost that some of these, so new, so un- immediately, to the table of the tried, will not fall back? Are we Lord. The ambition of numberprepared to set them out before ing the people; the desire of an the world as converts, to whose exciting spectacle may adopt this steadfastness we challenge the at plan. Shallow views of religion tention of the ungodly? On the and of human nature may approve contrary, we expect that some, by of it. Satan will subscribe to its and by, will be offended and go wisdom, in the signature'of an an. back, before they shall have come gel of light. The winnowing of to a meetness for the supper of the last day will show that a large the Lord. But when this takes portion of such ingatherings were place, it is necessarily regarded as fit only to be cast into the fire, to the backsliding, not of inquirers be burned. —not of persons merely under se I have already written so much rious impressions; (we cannot ex more than I anticipated, when I pect the world to distinguish care- began, that I have no room to fully between a profession of seri. dwell upon two points of great inous concern about religion and of terest in themselves, and rendered religion itself) but as the back. specially so by the present times. sliding of persons who have once One is the measure of prominence
and work that may safely and use. day of the Lord draws near. May fully be given to new converts. The the Lord bless us with it more other is the necessity of seeing to abundantly, and purely, and use them vigilantly,“ reproving, re- your work eminently in its promobuking, exhorting them," while as tion. . yet they are new, inexperienced, I remain, very truly and self-ignorant. As to the first, and affectionately, yours, &c. wisdom is greatly needed. We
CHARLES P. M'ILVAINE. ought not to take a green sapling Rev. W. B. SPRAGUE, D. D. and set it up for a pillar in the church. The weight would bend it down and make its branches
From " The Friend." grow into the earth. We ought not to take a new recruit, untried,
COWPER AND HIS BROTHER. undisciplined, however zealous and From my first acquaintance with brave, and set him to drill a com the writings of this amiable man, pany, or lead the advance, when and sweet poet, I have felt an inskill and coolness, as well as en describable interest in all that rethusiasm and courage, are the or- lated to him, and have gleaned up der of the day. By such measures with pleasure every little scrap of we may engender much boldness his private history. It was r.ot with great indiscretion, and show until recently that I was acquaintan undaunted front with a flank ed with the fact of his having exposed to all the fiery darts of the written an account of the last illwicked. How to give the new con ness of his brother, when I accivert enough exercise for his own dentally met with it; and the pleahealth and growth, without taking sure and profit with which I pehim too much from himseif, and rused it, have induced me to hope laying him too much upon his that the republication of some weakness, and exposing him too parts of it may be acceptable to much to the snares of vanity, spi- the readers of “ The Friend." It ritual pride, and censoriousness, is exhibits the poet in a new sphere a question which I hope your book of action, presents his Christian will well determine.
principles and feelings in strong I must now conclude. The dan- relief, evinces the fondness of his gers and cautions I have suggest attachment for his brother, the ed, arise out of the power and emi. anxious concern he felt for the nent value of the spirit of genuine welfare of his immortal part, and revivals. I owe too much of what sheds additional lustre on his own I hope for as a Christian, and amiable and excellent character. what I have been blessed with as a But it is not in this point of minister of the gospel, not to think view only that the narrative is va
most highly of the eminent impor- luable; it contains much religious - tance of promoting this spirit, and instruction, and exhibits the emp
consequently of guarding it against tiness and vanity of a mere proall abuses. Whatever I possess offession of Christianity. His broreligion began in a revival. The ther was a minister of the estabmost precious, steadfast, and vi- lished church, and had received a gorous fruits of my ministry have liberal education. Of strict mobeen the fruits of revivals. I be- ral habits, and regular in the oblieve that the spirit of revivals, in the servance of the external duties of true sense, was the simple spirit of religion, he imagined himself, and the religion of apostolic times, and was thought by others to be reliwill be, more and more, the cha- gious. He had little idea of regeracteristic of these times, as the neration, or of the sanctifying in