« AnteriorContinuar »
bled at the time appointed, and it seemed that the Lord was present with them, and a blessing followed the Conference. The next week another church was visited in the neighborhood, and a similar blessing was granted. This took place, if I am rightly informed, in the month of March, and has been continued every week until the present time. In a few weeks it was unnecessary for the brethren from Berkshire to come down, as several of the churches in Litchfield county, which is the north-western county in Connecticut, having revivals of religion given them by the great Head of the Church, established a Conference for themselves, and they have continued these meetings until the present time, the middle of September. One of these Conferences I attended early in August. Before that time, so many churches were represented by their delegates, that it had become necessary for a second Conference to be organized. On the day I attended as a delegate, there were thirty-two churches represented in the western Conference, and I was informed there were thirty-four in the eastern.
At twelve o'clock on Wednesday the delegates assemble by themselves, and organize their body by choosing a Chairman and Secretary; a plan of their future business is also drawn up. At two o'clock a public meeting takes place in the meeting-house, at which the minister of the parish in all instances acts as moderator. The minister, the Chairman of the delegates, and the Secretary sit in the deacon's seat. After a prayer for the divine blessing, the first business is a relation of the state of religion in each church which is represented. This relation is given by the delegates in turn as they are called upon by the Chairman. At the time I attended, more than half of these accounts were acknowledgments of the goodness of God in pouring out his Spirit on the churches, and were rendered very interesting by narrations of many striking instances of conversion. The afternoon was spent in these narrations, until a little before sun-set, when the meeting was closed with prayer by one of the brethren. The delegates remained a short time after the audience departed, when the minister appointed district conferences in different parts of the parish, of which public notice had been given, and assigned two or more delegates to each. These were held on Wednesday evening, and at the same places, a prayer meeting was held the next morning at sun-rise. At the district conference which I attended, as many as two hundred persons were present, and a good degree of solemnity prevailed. The delegates assembled the next morning at 8 o'clock to finish their business. At this time they chose four members of the Conference, to make addresses, as I shall mention hereafter, and also fixed the place where they should assemble the next week. They then adjourned to a public meeting at the meeting-house.
That meeting took place at 9 o'clock on Thursday morning. It was opened with prayer, and those brethren' who had not on the preceding day an opportunity to give an account of the state of religion in the churches which they represented, were then called upon to do this service. After their narrations were completed, the minister of the place rose and mentioned, that there were many impenitent persons in his parish who were stupid and secure in sin, and he asked if there was not some member of the Con
had been appointed to this service, then stepped forward, and made a brief address to the impenitent. The minister again said, that there were many young people in his parish who were very careless and indifferent as to the salvation of their souls, and asked if there was any brother who would address them. An address to youth was then made by the person who had been appointed for the purpose, which was about twenty minutes in length. The minister rose again, and said, that there were a number of persons in the parish who formerly hoped that they had given their hearts to Christ, but who neither went forward and united with the church, nor went back to the world, but still rested on their former hope of pardon and forgiveness; and he asked if there was any member who would speak to them. A third address was made to this class of persons, of the same length as the former. The minister then rose the fourth time, and mentioned, that there were but seventy persons belonging to his church, twenty-three of them males, and the residue females; that he had been settled eighteen months over that church, and no accession had been made to it, by letter or by profession ; and he asked if there was any one of the Conference who would make an address to professing Christians. The Chairman of the Conference, who had been chosen for this service, then addressed the church for about half an hour, on their appropriate duties. These several addresses were all solemn, and were listened to with an interest altogether unusual by every individual in the house. The brethren and sisters of the church were then assembled in the middle aisle, and one of their deacons read a confesssion which had been agreed to by them at a former meeting. The members of the church then solemnly renewed their covenant with God, and with each other, and after this was done, before they went to their seats, the brother who had addressed the impenitent, made some further remarks to them on the separation which had now taken place between the church and the world—referring particularly to that great separation which will take place at the judgment-seat of Christ. The members of the church then retired to their seats, and a neighboring minister who had been appointed for this purpose, addressed the minister of the place on his want of faithfulness, diligence, and zeal in his pastoral duties. When this was done, the minister of the place rose and made a humble confession, that he had not done the work of the Lord with a single eye to his glory, as his duty required. This address to the pastor of the church, and his confession, were to my mind among the most interesting circumstances which I have ever witnessed, and excited an intense and almost breathless attention throughout the audience. The Christians present, particularly the brethren of the Conference, were then invited to continue seated, and spend a few minutes in silent prayer for a blessing on the labors of the meeting, and particularly for a revival of religion in that church and congregation. About eight minutes were passed in this manner, when the silence was broken by the minister commencing the last prayer, which was followed by the doxology in long meter, to the tune of Old Hundred, when the blessing was pronounced. The services this day were more than four hours in length—as the congregation was not dismissed until after one o'clock. I forgot to mention, that after the accounts of the state of religion in the churches were finished, the delegates were invited if they knew of any remarkable instances of conversion, to relate them. The time occupied in these accounts was nearly an hour, and one case was so interesting and instructive that I will mention it.