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bility for the prosperity of his kingdom. He is teaching them to rely more upon the regular institutions of the Gospel, upon the Sabbath and the stated ministry, the prayer meeting and the conference ;-upon personal exertion in the family and the neighbor. hood to bring men to Christ. These things appear to us in contrast with the revival system of late years, with all the freshness of “new measures.”. The most striking feature perhaps in the revivals of 1843 was, that religious meetings were so generally conducted by the pastors and brethren of the churches, without extraneous aid.
In saying that we must rely more and more upon the stated ministry of the word, I do not mean that we must use no other instrumentality. Certainly I do not mean, that the brethren of our churches are to be inactive, and to leave the whole labor of building up the kingdom of Christ to their pastors. Congregationalism does not teach the laity, that they have no part in ecclesiastical concerns, and then call upon them to thank God that he has committed the management of those concerns to more competent hands; it does not teach them that their great duty is that of obedience to ecclesiastical superiors; but it assigns to them that important part in the economy of the church which belongs to the citizen in a pure democracy; the part which was sustained by them in the early Christian churches, and which by making every Christian a virtual missionary, conta ibuted
more than any other single cause to the rapid spread of the Redeemer's kingdom.
The great problem to be solved by the pastors of our Congregational churches, is not—“ how can we best control the laity, and restrict their influence?”— but, “how can we bring every individual member of our churches to feel the deepest personal concern for their prosperity, and to do the most to promote it ?" “How shall we fully employ the moral power of every man, woman and child who bears the name of Christ?” The moral power of individual churches and individual Christians has never yet been felt as it should be, or as it must be before the world is brought to the knowledge of Christ. Here, for example, is a church of a hundred members, in a population of a thousand souls. Is the power of such a church commonly felt to its full extent in restraining wickedness and upholding truth? If one hundred closets were daily occupied by praying souls, if one hundred bright examples of piety were daily shining in all the walks of life, would not the effects be always visible in the community around? Would not the kingdom of Christ continually gain upon the kingdom of Satan? I had almost said that scarce a tenth part of the moral power actually within the compass of our churches, the power of prayer and holy living, is ordinarily brought to bear upon an ungodly world. In many places, were all the professors of religion to "shine as lights in the world, holding forth
the word of life,” there would be no spot so dark that iniquity could lurk in it unseen, or vice appear with an unblushing front. In future revivals of religion, and above all, in the work of evangelizing the world, the great problem will be, "how to arouse the energies of each individual Christian and bring out and apply the now latent power of the church."
It is but just to say, that while Mr. Dwight sanctioned the labors of evangelists, as did most good men until some of this class abused their confidence, he always preferred that course of action in a revival which would most fully engage individual Christians in the work. Some remarks upon this subject, appended to his biographical sketch of Mr. Williams, are so replete with good sense, that I will insert them at length.
" It is evident to the most superficial observer, that the revival of religion lately enjoyed by the people of this city has been of very short continuance, compared with that of 1820 and '21, of which I have given an account. The wonderful display of Divine love and compassion through which we have just passed, although it commenced a few months earlier than the four days' meeting, yet did not become powerful until the week in which that meeting was held. The impressions made during that memorable period in the three Congregational Societies, and I do not profess to be acquainted with the facts which took place among other sects of Christians, were of a
wonderful, an astonishing character. The number of those who were brought into a state of awakening was unprecedented. Probably a large portion of the whole number among us who have become converted to God, up to the present day, received their first impressions during the week I have mentioned. But the season of awakening has already passed; it remains now only to gather in the harvest. Why is this? why was the revival of 1820–21, eighteen months or two years in its progress, while the present continued but a few weeks? This is an important question, and I will give it that answer, which, after a careful examination, appears to me to be the correct one. In the revival which took place ten years since, the Christian brethren labored much; they labored long; they labored prayerfully; they labored with the expectation of the Divine blessing, and they received it. By preparing themselves for the work, by going out into the field and exerting themselves with vigor, their hearts were kept warm, their faith was strengthened. Can the same things be said with respect to the revival of the present year? Far otherwise. The efforts of the Christian brethren have been few and feeble. So much of the time has been engrossed by public meetings, that there has been very little opportunity for personal conversation or for neighborly conferences. And in the villages, from one cause or another, very few religious meetings have taken place ; few when compared with the former period.
“Moreover, most of the instruction and advice giv. en to inquirers and young converts, has been in the way of public addresses; addresses made to large masses of people,—from three to eight hundred. Now it is a well ascertained fact, that general addresses do not fasten on the mind, do not remove difficulties, do not arouse the conscience, to the same degree with those which are particular and personal. In the former revival, the same classes of persons were instructed in a different, and in my view, far happier manner. In addition to public exhortations, which were sufficiently numerous, there were very many small circles of individuals, called for the purpose of familiar conversation, for the purpose of removing doubts, and elucidating difficult doctrines. This course of procedure was attended with great success. Most of those who associated in these inquiring circles, became disciples of Christ, as their subsequent lives have attested. The attention to religion was kept up with interest, and the revival continued for a long period.
" It has been objected,—it was at that time, that private Christians took too much upon themselves; that they were righteous overmuch. In reply to this charge,—which doubtless originated in the mind of some one whose love had become cold and whose services were formal, I have two remarks to make. One