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on some false foundation. The danger in question stands not alone. The opposite extreme is perhaps, to many, equally alluring and fatal; which is, to deny the necessity of human agency and of personal effort in the work of salvation. Hence it becomes the minister of the Gospel wisely to distinguish and guard against the errors of Arminianism on the one hand, and Antinomianism on the other. To do this successfully, he must have a mind well furnished with correct principles of intellectual philosophy, and be well grounded in the faith of the Gospel; and more than this, he must understand and preserve the symmetry of the Gospel system. As an example and illustration of what I mean, and which will at the same time show the reality of the danger in question, I would refer to the three grand divisions of the clergy, during the “great revival of religion in New England." In the first division, were Edwards, Bellamy, and many other distinguished men, who like them, were rich in theological learning, and with all their hearts devoted to the work. They preached the doctrines of the Bible, clearly and systematically; and no men, perhaps, ever more successfully secured the pre-eminent advantages of the essential union of divine sovereignty and free agency in the formation of moral and religious character. In the second division, were the Antinomians and the Arminians, both of which oppo-ed the revival. Though they did not harmonize in their religious sentiments, yet the extremes of their errors met, as to practical influence. While our evangelical churches rose from the first, or were strengthened by their labors, the various heresies of the present day had their origin in, or were handed down by, the second. In addition to these, there was, says an able writer, “a third class," " who rushed into the revival, as the horse rusheth into the battle, confident, zealous and reckless." “ Instead of trying the spirits, whether they were of God, they believed every spirit. Every thing which was found to attract attention and allect the minds of men, they regarded as good. Their object was to excite all the feeling possible. This led to the love of every thing which could produce excitement, and a determination to have it and this led to a preference of such measures and of such preachers as were found to produce excitement the most immediate and most violent;" and it is added, "these are the spiritual fathers of our moral leserts.” Edwards, Bellamy, and others of the class, to which they belonged, were distinguished for their literary and theological attainments. The second were somewhat elevated by fashionable literature, but extremely deficient in metaphysical science and correct theological learning; and the
third class, was crowded by those, who were generally without the ordinary attainments, which the public sentiment, even of that period, demanded for the Christian ministry. Their range was almost every where, their influence great and extensive; their errors of sentiment, and the extravagance of their measures, were permanent and destructive, furnishing ample occasion for the caviling and complaint of the sceptic, as well as for the grief of the pious. Hence we have Edwards “on the Revival,” and on the “Religious Affections,” both demanded by the circumstances of the age in which he lived, and two of the most splendid productions of intellectual and moral strength and acumen, and the richest legacies to the church, that any of her ministers have left. A volume, instead of a single paragraph, might be written on this subject, and before leaving it we cannot avoid suggesting the fact, that uneducated ministers, most often advance the opinion, that the doctrines of the Gospel are not to be preached, during revivals of religion, while such as more fully understand these doctrines and the nature of the human mind, find this the very time to preach them, and the grand security of substantial and Scriptural hope to the trembling sinner.
If the churches are not well instructed in the doctrines of the Gospel and wisely directed, as to the course of Christian duty, this age of religious revivals, will be followed by a cold and cheerless formality, and a lamentable dearth of the resources of Christian effort.
From the imperfection of our nature, it is not surprising, that errors should arise during revivals of religion. Much is yet to be learned respecting the best method of promoting them ; yet there are general principles respecting them, which are well established, and which cannot be changed, without destroying the work of grace or impairing its character. Whatever is new and untried, which is in accordance with these general principles, may be introduced with probable safety ; but whatever is in opposition to these principles, can never be admitted with safety or with divine approbation. These principles should be well understood and studied, that they may be safely and correctly applied at a time of such vast solemnity as the season of a revival of religion.
It is infinitely desirable, that the age of religious revivals should be perpetuated, until the predicted day of the Redeemer's glory shall come: and there is no room for doubt, that, as truth is the grand instrument by which the Holy Spirit carries forward revivals of religion, very much depends upon the manner in which the Gospel is preached. It is a question of
serious inquiry, whether the peculiar success which attended the preaching of the Apostles was not owing to the manner in which they presented divine truth. In this age of superior light, and with the same inspired truth to preach, our success is comparatively small. The Apostles were men taught, for at least three years, by Christ himself, and afterwards were under the infallible guidance of the Holy Spirit; and no doubt they preached the truth, more agreeable to the divine will, than is the preaching of the present day. They understood the doctrines of the Gospel and rightly divided to every man a portion in due season.
To secure the richest benefit from revivals of religion, there is required no ordinary degree of intellectual discernment and facility in adapting the peculiar truths of the Gospel, to the condition of the people, both to the public assembly and to the constantly changing state of individual feeling. If the doctrines of the Gospel are correctly understood and properly presented, this is the most favorable time to give an experimental knowledge of their truth and eflicacy, as well as to secure their permanent, practical benefits. The hopeful subjects of religious revivals, who are instructed to compare their own experience with the doctrines of the Gospel, and to discover the influence of particular truths upon their minds, are seldom found unstable in religious sentiment, nor easily led astray by erroneous opinions. I need not add, that almost every thing here, depends upon the preacher, in properly arranging and presenting the truth, so that the peculiar state of the mind may be met by truth corresponding to its immediate necessity. What would have been the result, if the uneducated clergy in the days of Edwards and Bellamy, had been thoroughly trained in the theological schools of those men? And what was the actual result of the lamentable want among them, of those correct and systematic views of truth, which Edwards and Bellamy embraced and preached? If the first had been the case, we see not why revivals of religion might not have been continued with purity and power in unbroken succession to the present time, and we now far advanced in the day of the millennium. Let the revivals of the present age be produced by the truth correctly understood and properly presented, and the noon-tide glory of that promised day will soon arrive.
It is found in the history of Providence, that the severest judgments have followed the richest seasons of divine refreshing. The Babylonish captivity succeeded the revivals in the days of Ilezekiah and Josiah, and “the pouring out of the Spirit in the days of the Apostles, was the precursor of the long
desolation of Judea." A protracted period of darkness and stupidity followed the revivals in the days of Edwards and of Whitefield. We would by no means attribute this succession of divine judgments, in all cases, or even generally, to the improper method of conducting the revivals; for there is no doubt, and perhaps independent of this, to be recognized in the economy of God's government, a most important principle in relation to this subject; which is, to visit his enemies with judgment when he remembers his friends in mercy; or we might say, that from the contrariety of moral character in man, that course of Providence which is most favorable to the pious, is most fatal to the enemies of righteousness: As saith the Lord, by his prophet, “the day of vengeance is in mine heart, and the year of niy redeemed is come.” “ Angels restrain the winds, till the elect are gathered in, and thus nations become fitted for judgment by the Gospel being faithfully preached, those who receive it being gathered into the ark of mercy, and those who reject it being ripe for immediate judgment.” How far human weakness, error and indiscretion may contribute to this result, it becomes every minister well to consider-that God acts in sovereignty, irrespective of all such weaknesses, errors and indiscretions, we have no authority to conclude.
We have before alluded to the fact, that there were general principles respecting the promotion of revivals of religion, which were well understood and established: and it is one of these principles, that men are to be converted through the truth and by the power of God: that truth is the instrument by which revivals of religion are to be promoted, as it is brought to bear upon the minds and consciences of men. In relation to the point now before us, vast injury is done in revivals of religion by uneducated and inexperienced men. Our argument is this. Truth is the instrument ; the human mind and the affections, in their diversified and ever changing character, are the subjects upon which this truth is to be made to operate ; God in his gracious sovereignty is to render it efficacious, while man in his freedom is to feel his obligation to yield his cheerful obedience. Here we may ask, How is it possible for an uneducated man, so to understand this truth, the sublime system of moral science, revealed to us in the Bible, and so to discover and unravel the secrets of the human heart, as to bring this truth to bear upon it, so that it may secure the end which God designed? We are not to presume that divine sovereignty will interpose and prevent or correct the evils which human igno rance and error may create. It seems preposterous to say that piety is all that is here demanded. We might as well say, that
piety is all that is required to navigate the sea, survey the heavens, measure the mountains and preside in the chair of mental and moral philosophy. The only difference which we can discover, is, that piety in one case, is absolutely essential, and in the other not so; yet in neither is piety sufficient to safe and successful effort.
The Scriptures uniformly ascribe to God the government of the moral world. They represent the hearts, the free exercises and actions of men as under the control of God, not less than the inighty movements of nature. God is said in the Scriptures to harden the hearts of men, to fashion their hearts,' and to turn their hearts. The host of the king of Assyria is as much in the hand of the Lord, as the axe is in the hand of the hewer, the saw in the hand of him that shaketh it, or as the rod and the staff are in the hands of those that lift them up. Is. x. 15. The house of Israel is in the hand of the Lord, as clay is in the potters' hand.' Jer. xviii. 6. "The king's heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water; he turneth it whithersoever he will.' Prov. xxi. 1.
Indeed, unless we suppose the government of God to extend to the moral world, he can hardly be said to have a government; since, in this case, he cannot accomplish his purposes, or fulfil his predictions, or answer the prayers of his people, but is liable to be continually thwarted and defeated by the capricious and independent agency of his creatures. It is a settled point, therefore, and with Calvinists (so far as I know) an undisputed point, that God governs the moral world. He directs and controls, according to his pleasure, the free exercises and actions of moral beings.
But how docs he do this? In what manner is his government over the hearts of men sustained and administered ?
* We depart in this instance from our common practice as io giving the names of contributors, by the request of Professor Pond, which we presume he wishes in consideration of the character of his communication.