Imágenes de páginas

natural effects of our own negligence. The coldness, formality, apathy, and barrenness, of our churches should no more be ascribed to arbitrary withdrawment of Divine influences, than are our waste lands and forest-grounds, whose enclosure and cultivation we either voluntarily neglect or deliberately oppose.

When the influences of the Holy Spirit do not make themselves manifest in holy and spiritual phenomena, the church must be in a wrong state. It is a state with which Divine influences will not combine, or into which they will not enter. The church must honestly inquire into the frame and position that would put it into fit and direct communication with the influences of the Holy Spirit. 1. There must be serious alarm at the symptoms and evidences of their interrupted operations. These plague-spots are the want of progressive and eminent holiness in the members of the church; the rarity and painful fewness of conversions to the gospel ; defective, partial, and neutralizing exhibitions, of evangelical doctrines ; the indulgence and toleration of unhallowed tempers, such as worldliness, pride, contention, and implacable dispositions ; truckling to the behests of fashion and formality in religious exercises ; and the clammy lukewarmness of dead devotion. 2. There must be pungent convictions of the immense value and importance of Divine influences. They must be esteemed as better than all temporal mercies and earthly blessings. All other mercies are nothing but what these influences of the Holy Spirit make them. We are never at pains to detain a fellowship that we do not value: pressing a friend to stay shows that we value communion with him. It is a cardinal rule in the administrations of the Spirit to bestow favors, only where they are most profoundly estimated and prized. 3. There must be grief and sadness of heart at the probability of their suppression. 6 Our sins testify against us.” The way to prevent such a severe judgment is to acknowledge that we deserve it. We can have no hope of remission by extenuating our guiltiness. “ Godly sorrow worketh, and it must work in us, until we feel contrition for our sin, justify the Holy Spirit in the suspension of his operations, and dread the wretched consequences of our departure from the Spirit. 4. There must be fervent pleadings that this suspension may not continue. We must show that we are afraid of parting with the Holy Spirit, and that nothing is more desired thạn his return. All the splendid promises of Divine influences exhibited by Ezekiel to the languishing church of his day, are clinched with this provision—“ Yet for all this I will be inquired of by the house of Israel to do it for them.” Our prayers must be the expressions of full and firm resolvedness to part with everything in us incompatible with the operations of the Holy Spirit. We must say, like Jacob, “ We will not let thee go.” We will avail ourselves of all means and seasons of intercourse with him ; we will resign everything that has offended him, we will renounce all rivals to his claims; we will entertain him like God; we will wait on him with our “loins girt about,” ready to obey every suggestion; we will keep his temple undefiled, and keep alive the holy fire on his altar; and we will say, “O the hope of Israel, the Saviour thereof in time of trouble—thou, O Lord, art in the midst of us, and we are called by thy name, LEAVE US NOT.”




A RELIGIOUS revival operates on the interests of devotion, in the same manner as the revival of literature has influenced the interests of philosophy and science, and as a revival of trade affects the commercial interests of a country.

Revival in religion is that process by which there is in the minds of men throughout a church, or a district, a return from a religious languor, or recovery from moral apathy, to a universal and general sensitiveness to the influences of the Holy Spirit operating by religious truths and ordinances. Sometimes a whole church is simultaneously awakened to the vast importance of religion. All the members feel and mourn their languor and their lukewarmness. A deep and unusual confession of sin gives a powerful tone to all their devotional exercises. All their sympathies quiver with lively anxiety for the conversion of sinners, especially of their relatives, connexions, and neighbours, and even of all nations. Their minds are duly and properly excited by the magnitude, the

force, and the beauty, of religious truths. An excited mind is always calculated to excite other minds; and the Holy Spirit makes use of these relations and dependences of psychological sympathies, to awaken a general concern for salvation, in a district that previously resembled a valley of dry bones, and gives to religion a revival and a resurrection, where it was likely to meet a grave.

A revival is the Spring of religion, the renovation of life and gladness. It is the season in which young converts burst into existence and beautiful activity. The church resumes her toil and labor and care, with freshness and energy. The air all around is balmy and diffusing the sweetest odors. The whole landscape teems with living promises of an abundant harvest of righteousness and peace. It is the jubilee of holiness. A genial warmth pervades and refreshes the whole church. Showers of “vernal delight and joy” descend gently and copiously. Delightful influences are wafted by every breeze. Where the dead leaves of winter still linger, the primrose and the daisy spring up in modest loveliness. Trees long barren put forth buds of beauty and power. The whole valley is crowned with fragrant and varied blossoms. Forms of beauty bloom on every side, and Zion is the joy of the whole earth. If the spirit that renews the face of the earth is a spirit of beauty, in the elegance of the germs, the tints of the buds, the verdure of the foliage, the splendor of the blossoms, and the witching glories of the matured fruits of nature, “how great is his beauty,” when acting out his lovely and holy perfections in revivals of religion. “In that day shall the Lord of hosts be for a crown of glory, and for a diadem of BEAUTY unto the residue of his people.” This is his promise concerning these seasons of refreshing from his presence: “I will be as the dew unto Israel: he shall grow as the lily, and cast forth his roots as Lebanon. His branches shall spread, and his beauty shall be as the olive-tree, and his smell as Lebanon. They that dwell under his shadow shall return, they shall REVIVE as the corn, and grow as the vine ; the scent thereof shall be as the wine of Lebanon.” These passages are redolent with the influences of the Reviving spirit. They make the reader feel himself in the midst of their fragrant odors and beautiful glories.

Such a season to the church of Christ was the day of Pentecost. Since that day, the church has been favored with many days of kindred glory and similar results. When it is

asserted that there is analogy between the results of the effusion of the Holy Spirit in the present day, and those produced on the day of Pentecost, the miraculous gifts are excepted, as being only necessary for that occasion, and as being an accident, rather then an essential part, of that spiritual phenomenon. By modern revivals I understand such seasons as have been produced in the sixteenth century by the Reformation in Europe ; in the seventeenth by the ministry of the Puritans in England; in the eighteenth by the labors of WHITEFIELD and WESLEY in England, by President EdWARDS and BELLAMY and the TENNENTS in America, and by the ERSKINES and the noble band of the Seceders in Scotland and in the nineteenth century by the religious societies and institutions of England, and especially by the faithful preaching of the gospel in the Welsh and American churches. The Acts of the apostles supplies us with a permanent and sure test, by which we can try and prove the genuineness or the spuriousness of modern revivals. The revival of the day of Pentecost was indisputably a genuine production of the Holy Spirit. If we reject any modern revivals for any developements which appeared in the revival of Pentecost, we reject a true and real work of the Holy Spirit. If any element mingle with a modern revival, which was not an ingredient in the pentecostal renovation, it is so far to be rejected. In tracing the analogy between the early and modern revivals, it is not intended that their character is identical, but similar.

I. They both originate in a spirit of humble, united, and expectant prayer. The revivals of modern days have generally sprung from a painful sense of worldliness, apathy, and indifference, an earnest longing for a better state of things, a holy separation from every thing injurious to devotion, a solemn renewal of covenant consecration to God, a serious concern for wholesome doctrine and salutary discipline, and a believing prayer for the influences of the Holy Spirit. Such was the origin of the Pentecostal revival. After Jesus ascended, the disciples retired for devotion. They went up into an upper room, and all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, and a season was set apart for special devotion. In this posture of ardent devotion and intense concern, they disowned Judas, and chose a new laborer to “take part in the ministry and the apostleship.” They continued in these protracted exercises of devotion for ten days “waiting for the promise of the Father.” And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place, or about one thing, still maintaining, united, expectant, and believing prayer. They were all members one of another, and prayer was their warm, vigorous, circulating tide of life. Prayer recognized the promise of the Spirit, avowed the necessity of his interposition, and depended on his energy. The object for which they prayed was defined in their mind, and stood out in distinct view ; and that was the Holy Spirit. They did not ask amiss ; their prayer did not swerve from the right mark for by-ends or low aims. It is the prayer that is concerned for the Spirit, that will be answered by the Spirit.

II. Both commence with the ministers of Christ.

The unction descends first on the head of the priest. The sun shines first on the mountain tops of Zion. The watchmen are the first to be concerned for the city. The shepherd of the flock is the first to discover the rich and green pasture. Ministers themselves begin to burn with an intense desire for the salvation of men; and this kindles with a fervor and energy that consumes all their ease and indolence, their plans of study and literary speculations, and their formal habits, and even tenor of their reputation. They see farther into the vast amplitude of their ministry, have a humbling consciousness of their inadequacy to fill up its outlines, and feel a vital sensibleness of their entire dependence on the sufficiency of the Holy Spirit, the alpha and the omega of their efficiency. They call upon their souls, and summon all that is within them, to act for the glory of Christ, and for the conversion of the world. Wishing to destroy the cold and the chill that has frozen up their powers, they stir up the gifts within them, into glowing compassion for the souls of men, and into kindling zeal for their salvation. They acquire an uncommon and unusual energy of devout character, and of religious effectiveness, in aptness and force, for grappling with the rebellious conscience, and in graceful gentleness for binding the bruised reed.

On the day of Pentecost the apostles were the first to receive the baptism of fire. “There appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.” Never were men more thoroughly altered and changed, than under this transforming baptism, were the apostles themselves. Ex

« AnteriorContinuar »