Imágenes de páginas

tracted religious meetings are in themselves proper and vastly important. As far as we can perceive, no valid objection can be made against what are now called three or four days' meetings. The Divine Lawgiver commanded his ancient people to hold, annually, at least three public convocations of eight successive days each, in which religious solemnities were daily celebrated. Large convocations were frequently held for days together in the time of Christ. On two occasions, our blessed Saviour wrought miracles to feed the fasting multitudes, who had attended for several successive days at those meetings. Besides, it seems to us right, and calculated for great benefit, that God's people should occasionally set apart three or four days for coming together unitedly to entreat the special blessing of the Holy Spirit, and listen, with absorbing and undivided attention, to the precious truths of the gospel. If there be any objection it can only lie against the manner in which they are sometimes conducted. But this is only an objection against their abuse. We are fully aware that there is a tendency in our character, as a people, to extravagance in almost every thing, and on such occasions there is danger of its indulgence. Add to this the tendency, mentioned in our former No. to excess of speculation and self-confidence, and we shall perceive a danger, that is doubtless often realized. There is a liability on these occasions, therefore, to a great evil in the manner of conducting the exercises. It consists in cherishing a sentiment of man's ability to convert himself to God. We fear this is too often done, not only at such meetings, but in the ordinary instructions from the pulpit. We greatly fear the effect of such addresses as would teach sinners to place confidence in their own ability. It is dangerous in the extreme, for a sinner to imbibe false sentiments of his own power, because it tends to inflate him with pride, grieve the Spirit of God, and suggest peace when there is no peace. Much, very much importance should be attached to the manner in which means are employed. Extra meetings and religious services are demanded by the genius of the people, rendered necessary by the unrestrained and highly exciting efforts of the licentious to oppose truth and righteousness, and sanctioned by the special blessing of God. But they undoubtedly show the excitable character of the people, and tend to promote high and agitating excitement in religious revivals.

A question may now be asked, what is the proper estimate of such an age? In forming our estimate of any age, we take the prominent characteristics, inquire into their influence over present interests and future prospects, and especially their moral influence. Take the excitement of the present age, which certainly has a controlling influence in forming the whole character, giving efficiency to enterprize and improvement, spreading with great rapidity whatever principles with which it is associated, and we shall be led to attach high importance to it, and perceive that this age may form a crisis in the world's history. We cannot confidently say that the crisis is already come, but that the world is approximating a momentous crisis, we think is very evident. The present highly excited state of Europe, indicates a turning point greatly in favour, or against civil and religious liberty-for the establishment of Popery or its desolation-for the triumph of atheism and infidelity, or their prostration. Of prospective scenes we cannot speak definitively; but that great changes must follow such high excitement seems unavoidable. The result may not be so near as we apprehend, and it is impossible to decide whether calamity or glory be most probable. It is, however, a just estimate to say, that the excitements of this age are fraught with great danger to the best interests of man. We cannot here give any illustrations of prophecy, but we have no apprehension that we stand amid scenes introductory to the millennium. We do not believe that those bright spots in the political or ecclesiastical horizon, are occasioned by the millennial dawn.

To the Church of God in this land, the present excitements portend fearful or happy results beyond any thing before witnessed. Those religious revivals so frequently and extensively occurring, so generally cherished and earnestly sought, must have an unprecedented influence upon the interests of religion in the land. We fully believe that, under the continued influence of such high excitement, revivals are to be the salvation or prostration of Christianity for a long time to come. There is no standing still; the whole Church is in accelerated motion; if rightly directed, the result will be glorious and triumphant; but if otherwise, the result will be most fearful and disastrous. The influence of religious men, now exerted, will be felt with unabated force by ages to come. The next generation can bear no such proportion of good and evil as the past and present. We do not forget the consoling truth that the Lord reigns; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against his Church. But whether he will, in righteous judgment, suffer it to be corrupted, scourged, and diminished under the exciting influences of the present age, or whether he will gloriously enlarge and beautify it, we do not know: and we confess, our estimate of this age occasions no small degree of anxiety. To us, the signs of the times seem portentous of evil as well as of good.

A brief answer to one practical question is all that our limits permit in the conclusion of this article-How shall these high excitements be regulated and guided to a desirable consummation? There are doubtless some who would say, use all appropriate means to discourage and put down the excitements. But such a course would not accomplish the object, were it desirable. It is impossible to stop the current. Every obstacle cast in its way would only produce a temporary restraint, and then serve to increase the flood in the same or some other direction. With such a population as ours, excitement can be put down only by counter excitement, or by withdrawing from its influence. In one case, nothing valuable is gained, and in the other, a substitute will soon be found. Excitements we must have, and it is useless to spend time and efforts to prevent them. A far more grave question is how to direct their course and objects.

Heedless extravagance, under this influence, would be still worse. To fall into the current in such a manner, would increase their violence, without regard to the objects, or their manner and means of influence. Something may be done by wisely selecting the objects, encouraging attention to them, and associating the best means for their attainment. This suggests the amazing responsibility of those men, who, by their talents, intelligence, weight of character, or station, can exert a salutary influence. But after all, principle, enlightened, settled moral principle, must guide à people liable to such excitement. Public sentiment, based on moral principle, can sway us; and nothing without it, in the sphere of human agency, can guide and govern an excited free people.

We must go back to the education of children and youth for a solution of this question. The rising generation will soon be obliged to regulate excitements of a more agitating character, or be swept away as by a resistless tornado. The religious education of youth must be vigorously and thoroughly prosecuted, or our hopes expire. There is no sure foundation, no stable, settled principle of morals, except the Christian

VOL. IV. No. I.-R

religion. The Bible must be restored to the nursery, common schools, academies, and seminaries of education, from which it has been so long banished. It is matter of gratulation that the Sabbath school is labouring to produce this reform. This institution should be most assiduously cherished. Imbue the minds of the rising generation with religious principle, and the best interests of man and the interests of the Church are safe. Christian principle will secure them all, however

. strong and agitating the existing influences may become.

Just at this time it is a question of absorbing anxiety, how are religious excitements to be regulated and conducted to a happy result? To the various interests of our country, this is a question of unspeakable importance. If these revivals, which are now occurring with unexampled frequency, should continue, and be wisely directed, they will regenerate public sentiment, bring back the Bible to our schools, and raise up a generation under the influence of stable, correct moral principle. To secure, therefore, the proper regulation and judicious guidance of revivals, is immensely important. How is this to be done? Can it be done by philosophical speculations? Never. Can it be secured by teaching man's ability? Not at all. Can it be done by naked illustrations of cold orthodoxy? By no means. Several things must be combined. . There must be an intelligent, plain, affectionate, faithful exhibition of gospel truth-devout, earnest, unceasing prayer to God—and an humble, confident reliance upon the influence of the Holy Ghost. Preaching and conversation must be intel. ligent, exhibiting the great truths of the Gospel distinctly, distinguishing one from another, and at the same time showing the connexion, relations, and harmony of the whole. They must be plain, presenting the mind of the Spirit in the simplicity and excellence of the truth. They must be affectionate. Every thing harsh and provoking should be avoided, as ill comporting with the tender and persuasive kindness of the Saviour's love, and not calculated to subdue the heart. Even the terrors of the Lord should be urged with the kindest affection for the souls of men. They must be faithful. This intends a right and appropriate application of truth to the consciences of men. Appeals are not only to be made to the understanding, but to the heart, with earnestness and solemnity. It includes rightly dividing the word of truth, and giving to each his portion in season. It is not only important that the momentous truths of God's message be rightly divid

ed, but seasonably administered; adapted in solution and illustration to the state of the people.

We cannot too highly estimate, in this plan, the importance of earnest, united, unceasing prayer, for the Holy Spirit's influence. Without his agency, nothing can be accomplished. An humble, confident reliance on his blessed efficiency, unitedly expressed in fervent, persevering prayer, indicates our only hope. The most encouraging thought which associates with our prospect, is the connexion of these revivals with the widely extended observance of the monthly concert for prayer. These concert seasons seem to have excited a solemn earnestness of humble entreaty, which binds the interests of the Church and immortal souls to the intercession of Christ our advocate. Let every Christian who knows the way to the Mercy seat, there be often found; there plead for the influence of the Holy Ghost on the whole population of all lands; there pray that these reviving excitements may be conducted by the Holy Spirit's agency to the glorious consummation of converting from sin to God this nation, and the world.



I.-- The Book of the Priesthood: un Argument, in three parts. By Thomas Stratten, Sunderland. New York, Jonathan Leavitt. Boston, Crocker 8, Brewster. 12mo.

pp. 285.

This is a work of real talent, and of no small value. When we first glanced at its title in a bookseller's advertisement, we had no doubt that it announced a production of some hightoned and zealous advocate of prelacy. The perusal of a few

a lines of the preface, however, agreeably undeceived us. And we soon discovered that the writer, (who is an English Dissenter of no common power,) under cover of a title somewhat quaint, and, perhaps, not entirely judicious, has assailed the fundamental principles of the hierarchy, whether Popish or Protestant, with great force and effect.

In Part I. of his work, the author demonstrates that "the

« AnteriorContinuar »