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ampton, Massachusetts, under the preach- of renewing grace. More than 300 were ing of Jonathan Edwards, mentioned above. added to the Church as the fruits of this The town, at an earlier period, had enjoy- revival, making the whole number of comed five awakenings; but at this time reli- municants about 620, being nearly the engion had suffered a very great decline, not tire adult population of the town, which only in Northampton, but in New-England consisted of 200 families. I will only add, at large. A pernicious practice had been that Mr. Edwards's well-known principles gradually introduced of admitting persons on the subject led him to guard his peoto full communion in the Church on the ple, throughout the revival, with the most ground of a blameless external deportment, watchful care, against hasty and delusive without strict inquiry into their religious hopes of having experienced renewing experience, or decisive evidence of renew- grace. He conversed with each individual ing grace. The disastrous consequences separately, not only while under conviction were soon felt. The tone of spiritual feel- of sin, but in repeated instances after the ing was lowered in the churches by the supposed change of heart took place; admission of many who had a name to pointing out the evidences and nature of live, but were dead.” Prayer and effort for true piety; warning them against self-dethe salvation of the impenitent had greatly ception, and leading them to the strictest decreased ; and, as a natural consequence, examination into their spiritual state. Such there had been for more than thirty years has been the course pursued in the Newa very marked suspension of divine influ- England churches generally, down to the ence throughout New England.
present day; and the consequence has The preaching of Mr. Edwards which been, that neither in that revival, nor in gave rise to this revival, like all preaching most of our well-conducted revivals, has which prepares the way for extensive ref- there been reason to suppose that more ormations, was doctrinal in its character. persons were self-deceived than in the He dwelt with great force of argument and ordinary accessions to the Church at times closeness of application on the leading of no prevailing religious concern. doctrines of grace-which had begun to The scenes presented in this work of lose their power in the prevailing declen- grace were so striking and wonderful as to sion-justification by faith alone, the neces- awaken the liveliest interest in the whole sity of the Spirit's influences, and kindred country round. Many flocked to Northtopics.
ampton from the impulse of curiosity, or Under such preaching, in connexion with even worse motives; not a few of whom, a sudden and alarming providence, in the struck with the order, solemnity, and beginning of 1735, a solemn, and very soon strength of feeling which they everywhere an overwhelming interest in religious truth, witnessed, and cut to the heart by the pervaded the whole town. For the space powerful appeals of Mr. Edwards in the of six months, the revival went on with a meetings they attended, were themselves power and extent never before known. brought under conviction of sin. Many of Hardly a family could be found in the place these gave evidence of genuine repentance in which there were not one or more under after they returned home, and did much to conviction of sin, or rejoicing in hope. So extend the work into the places where entire was the absorption in the interests they belonged. Members of the neighbourof the soul, that a report went abroad that ing churches, also, and ministers of the the people of Northampton had abandoned Gospel from parts more remote, resorted all worldly employments, and given them- thither to witness the triumphs of redeemselves wholly up to the pursuit of eternal ing grace; to catch the spirit of the revival, life; and though this was an exaggeration, and bear it--a spirit of hope, and prayer, it is true that Mr. Edwards found it neces- and fervent effort to the towns where sary to remind some of his flock that their they resided. The blessing of God, in many secular duties were not to be neglected. instances, went with them; the work The enlightened character of the popula- spread from place to place, until, in less tion, all of whom were well educated (all, than a year, ten of the adjacent towns in even the poorest, being taught in the same Massachusetts, and seventeen in Connecschools at the public expense), guarded ticut, lying directly south of them, were them effectually against fanaticism ; while, favoured with an outpouring of the Holy at the same time, the strength of emotion Spirit; and some remote places were viswhich prevailed, the distress under a sense ited in other states, where settlements had of sin, and the joy in giving the heart to been made by emigrants from New-EngGod, were, in most cases, far greater than land, or by the Scottish Presbyterians spoin the early awakenings. The work was ken of above. Many thousands gave eviconfined to no class or age. Ten persons dence in their subsequent lives of having above ninety, and more than fifty above experienced a genuine conversion in this forty years of age ; nearly thirty between work of grace. ten and fourteen, and one of only four, be- In 1740, revivals commenced anew at came, in the view of Mr. Edwards, subjects Northampton, Boston, and many other places, very nearly at the same time, and warmth and unction with which he transspread within eighteen months throughout lated Mr. Brainard's discourses, struck the all the English colonies. For some time, Indians with surprise, and arrested their this appears to have been, to an unusual attention. “ On the eighth of August," degree, a silent, powerful, and glorious says Mr. Brainard in his journal (which I work of the Spirit of God. An eyewitness slightly abridge), “I preached to the Indistates, under date of May, 1741, that from ans, now about sixty-five in number. There Philadelphia to the remotest settlements was much visible concern among them beyond Boston, a distance of nearly 500 when I discoursed publicly; but afterward, miles, there was in most places more or when I spoke to one and another particuless concern for the soul. “ Whole col- larly, the power of God seemed to descend leges are under conviction, and many sa upon them like 'a mighty rushing wind.' vingly converted. Our minister (Mr. Pem- Almost all persons, of all ages, were bowed berton, of New York), being sent for to down with concern together, and were Yale College on account of the many dis- scarcely able to withstand the shock. Old tressed persons there, in his going and men and women, who had been drunken coming preached twice a day on the road, wretches for many years, and some chiland even children followed him to his dren, appeared in distress for their souls. lodgings, weeping and anxiously concerned One who had been a murderer, a powow or about the salvation of their souls.” At a conjurer, and a notorious drunkard, was later period, however, some were unhap- brought to cry for mercy with many tears. pily betrayed into intemperate zeal, which A young Indian woman, who, I believe, called forth opposition, and produced great never before knew that she had a soul, excitement and contention. Mr. Edwards had come to see what was the matter. She came forward with his usual ability to de- called on me on her way, and when I told .fend the work, and, at the same time, re- her that I meant presently to preach to the press undue excesses. One hundred and Indians, she laughed, and seemed to mock. sixty of the most respectable ministers of I had not proceeded far in my public disNew-England, New-York, and New-jer- course when she felt effectually that she sey, joined in a public attestation to its had a soul; and before the discourse closed, genuineness and purity in most places, was so distressed with concern for her while they united with Mr. Edwards in soul's salvation, that she seemed like one condemning the improprieties which had pierced through with a dart.” Such scenes occurred in too many instances. But a were repeated in a number of instances spirit of jealousy and strife was engen- during the following eight weeks. Some dered, which is always fatal to the progress months after, in reviewing the events of of a revival. It therefore terminated in this revival, he says, “This surprising the year 1743. Notwithstanding these un- concern was never excited by any hafortunate admixtures of human imperfec- rangues of terror, but always appeared most tion, the work, as a whole, was most evi- remarkable when I insisted on the comdently shown by its results to have been passion of a dying Saviour, the plentiful of God. Those who had the best means provisions of the Gospel, and the free offer of judging, estimated the number of true of divine grace to needy sinners. The efconverts, as proved by their subsequent fects have been very remarkable. I doubt lives, at 30,000 in New-England alone, at a not that many of these people have gained time when the whole population was but more doctrinal knowledge of divine truth 300,000 ; besides many thousands more since I visited them in June last, than among the Presbyterians of New York, could have been instilled into their minds New-Jersey, Pennsylvania, and the more by the most diligent use of proper and insouthern settlements.
structive means for whole years together It will interest the reader to know, that without such a divine influence. They about this time there was an outpouring of seem generally divorced from their drunkthe Spirit upon one of our Indian tribes, enness, which is the sin that easily besets corresponding exactly in its character and them. A principle of honesty and justice effects to the widely-extended work of appears among them, and they seem congrace among the whites.
cerned to discharge their old debts, which In June, 1745, DAVID BRAINARD, who has they have neglected, and, perhaps, scarcely been so extensively known for his piety thought of for years. Love seems to reign and missionary zeal, began to labour among among them, especially those who have a small collection of Indians in New-jer- given evidence of having passed through a sey. For the first six weeks, they mani- saving change. Their consolations do not fested such entire indifference and stupid incline them to lightness, but, on the conunconcern, that he was about to leave trary, are attended with solemnity, and them, in despair, when he was somewhat often with tears and apparent brokenness encouraged by the conversion of his inter- of heart.” After some months of probapreter. The interest with which this man tion, he baptized forty-seven out of less now entered into the subject, and the than 100, who composed the settlement.
Surely we may unite with him in saying, from which emigrants by tens of thousands “I think there are here all the evidences were going forth every year, entered into of a remarkable work of grace among the this cause with the liveliest interest. Large Indians which can reasonably be expect- contributions were made from time to time ed.”
by the churches; and as regular missions The fifty years that followed were years aries could not be procured in sufficient of war and civil commotion ; first in a con- numbers, many of the settled clergy were flict of nearly twenty years between the induced, by the exigency of the case, to English and French for ascendency in leave their flocks under the care of the North America, and afterward in a strug: neighbouring pastors, and perform long gle of the colonies for independence, and tours of missionary labour in the new the formation of a Federal Government. states. During this long period the country was The spirit thus awakened of more ferkept in a state of perpetual agitation, under vent prayer to God, and more active zeal the influence of passions hostile to the prog- in his service, was followed by the divine ress of spiritual religion in any form, and blessing. A number of churches in the inpeculiarly hostile to the prevalence of any terior of Connecticut and Massachusetts extended work of grace. Revivals, how- were favoured, in 1797, with an outpouring ever, did not wholly cease, as might rea of the Holy Spirit, which gradually spread sonably have been expected. On the con- into many of the neighbouring towns. The trary, I have been struck with surprise, in utmost care was taken to guard, from the looking over the accounts of that wide- first, against any recurrence of that spirit spread work of grace which soon after of intemperate zeal which had brought recommenced, to see in how many instances proach, to some extent, on the revival of they point back to some preceding season 1740. These efforts, most happily, were of spiritual refreshing during those fifty attended with complete success. Rarely, years of war and civil strife.
if ever, has there been a series of revivals The period just referred to, of increased in our country more calm, more pure, influence from on high, commenced at the more lasting and salutary in their effects. close of the last century, and has often As one means of extending the work, been styled the era of modern revivals. Ow- ministers who had enjoyed the presence ing to its importance in this character, I of God among their own people, were seshall dwell upon it somewhat more fully, lected by some ecclesiastical body, and and shall then turn to other topics which sent forth, generally two together, on demand our attention. It was preceded preaching tours among the neighbouring by a spirit of fervent prayer and deep so- churches. The expectation of their comlicitude among Christians, on account of ing drew large audiences wherever they the growing tendency in our country to in- preached. They came with that fervour fidel principles. For this a preparation of spirit, and that close and direct dealing had been made by the crimes and vices of with the consciences of men, which a a long-protracted war; and the breaking preacher gains during the progress of a reout of the French Revolution had given to vival, and which he rarely gains to an equal the enemies of religion the most confident degree under any other circumstances. expectations of a speedy triumph. The The churches which they visited being, in minds of multitudes had become unsettled. most cases, prepared to receive them by a Wild and vague expectations were every- previous season of fasting and prayer, and where entertained, especially among the animated by their presence and labours to young, of a new order of things about to redoubled fervour of supplication, were, in commence, in which Christianity would be many cases, favoured with an immediate laid aside as an obsolete system. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit. . Under people of God, under these circumstances, these and similar influences, the work of were driven to the throne of grace with God spread into more than one hundred redoubled fervour of supplication, that towns in Massachusetts and Connecticut, while the enemy came in like a flood, the and into a still greater number of places Spirit of the Lord would lift up a standard in the new settlements of Vermont, Newagainst him. Another subject of solici- Hampshire, Maine, and New-York, which tude was the religious wants of our new had but recently formed a wide-spread field settlements, which began at this time to of missionary labour. spread abroad in the wilderness, to an un- In the mean time, our Presbyterian brethparalleled extent. There was every reason ren, already mentioned, entered into the to fear that, if left to themselves, in the work with equal zeal and effect, and carried rapidity of their progress, they would leave the spirit of revivals west of the Alleghany behind them the institutions of the Gospel. Mountains. In Kentucky, lying in the This gave rise to a missionary spirit in the centre of these new states of the West, a older states, which has been the salvation revival commenced in the year 1801, which of that growing part of our country. Mas- spread over the whole state, and within sachusetts and Connecticut, especially, the two following years extended to the
During the forty years which have since had a longer experience on this subject elapsed, there have been fifteen similar than any other; they have enjoyed more works of grace in the institution, one of revivals in proportion to their numbers ; them more extensive, and the others less and, what I deem of the highest imporso, than the one here described. At a later tance is, that they have uniformly kept them period, Princeton College, which belongs under the guidance and control of a learnto the Presbyterians, was favoured with ed ministry, whose habits and principles one of the most extraordinary effusions of led them to repress all undue excitement, the Holy Spirit ever experienced by any to check everything extravagant, coarse, or of our seats of learning. The younger col- disorderly, and to guard the supposed subleges have also shared richly in these vis-jects of the work, by the severest tests, itations of divine grace. The consequence against self-deception. Nearly all the obhas been, that the number of pious students jections against revivals, which have any has been very greatly increased. In Yale show of reason, have been occasioned by College, not long before the revival of 1802, a want of caution in these respects. The there were only four members of the church things to which they apply are mere adamong the under-graduates; for some years juncts, and excrescences, forming no part past they have exceeded 200, being more of a genuine revival. They are passing than half the entire number. In other col-away just in proportion as the ministry leges there has been a correspondent in- where they exist become more thoroughly crease; though in all these cases it is to educated, which, I rejoice to say, is conbe ascribed, in no small degree, to the gen- tinually more and more the case. eral advance of spiritual religion in our The view of revivals which we have now churches.
taken, limited and imperfect as it is, sugFrom the period we have now reached gests many interesting topics of inquiry it is unnecessary, and, indeed, impossible, and remark. I have time, however, to to trace distinctly the progress of our re- touch on only two. First, What mode of vivals. They have become, if I may so presenting truth, in these seasons of relispeak, a constituent part of the religious gious interest, has been found most effectsystem of our country. Not a year has ual to the conviction and conversion of passed without numerous instances of their sinners ? Secondly, What is the advantage occurrence, though at some periods they of such seasons ? What is there in the fact have been more powerful and prevalent that many are awakened at once, and are than at others. They have the entire con- pressing together into the kingdom of God, fidence of the great body of evangelical which is peculiarly adapted (under the diChristians throughout our country. There vine blessing) to secure the desired result? exists, indeed, a diversity of opinion as In entering upon the first of these subto the proper means of promoting them, jects, I would remark, that the ordinary some regarding one set of measures, and strain of preaching in the Congregational some another, as best adapted to this end. churches of New-England, where revivals But, while these differences exist as to have prevailed with great frequency, is, what constitutes a well-conducted revival, to an uncommon degree, doctrinal in its all, or nearly all, agree that such a revival character. A preparation is thus made to is an inestimable blessing : so that he who give the Gospel its full effect whenever a should oppose himself to revivals, as such, season of religious interest arrives. The would be regarded by most of our evangel- mind is preoccupied with clear and discrimical Christians as, ipso facto, an enemy to inating views of divine truth. The arguspiritual religion itself.
ment, upon every point, has been gone over In the foregoing sketch of the rise and again and again in its full extent. Those progress of our revivals, I have confined humbling doctrines, especially, which men myself chiefly to the Congregational and so love to misrepresent and abuse, are Presbyterian churches (which are substan- dwelt upon much, explained fully, and tially one), and have described these works argued out at large; and great pains are of grace, particularly as they exist in New- taken so to state them as to show their England. I have done so because, having perfect consistency with the dictates of their origin in those churches, it was prop- right reason and the consciousness of ever to trace them forward in the line where ery honest mind. In seasons of revival, they commenced; and because I was best the most effective preaching is of the same acquainted with their history, and the char- general character, though, of course, more acter they assumed, in the communion to fervid and urgent. It does not consist, to which I belong. It is of such revivals that any great extent, in exhortation, in any I shall continue to speak, and, without dis- appeals, however forcible or just, to mere paragement to others, I may be permitted excited sensibility or feeling. Its object to express my preference for that mode of still is to pour truth upon the sinner's mind; conducting revivals which has generally to make him see, under his new circumprevailed in the Congregational churches stances of awakened interest, the evidence of New-England. These churches have of those doctrines which he has admitted,