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THE REVIVAL OF RELIGION
IN NEW ENGLAND,
THE WAY IN WHICH IT OUGHT TO BE ACKNOWLEDGED
IN FIVE PARTS.
BY JONATHAN EDWARDS, A. M.
PASTOR OF THE CHURCH OF CHRIST, AT NORTHAMPTON.
Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for
In the ensuing treatise, I condemn ministers assuming, or taking too much upon them, and appearing as though they supposed that they were the persons to whom it especially belonged to dictate, direct, and determine; but perhaps shall be thought to be very guilty of it myself: and some, when they read this treatise, may be ready to say that I condemn this in others, that I may have the monopoly of it. I confess that I have taken a great deal of liberty freely to express my thoughts concerning almost every thing appertaining to the wonderful work of God that has of late been carried on in the land, and to declare what has appeared to me to be the mind of God, concerning the duty and obligations of all sorts of persons, and even those that are my superiors and fathers, ministers of the gospel and civil rulers: but yet I hope the liberty I have taken is not greater than can be justified. In a free nation, such liberty of the press is allowed, that every author takes leave without offense, freely to speak his opinion concerning the management of public affairs, and the duty of the legislature, and those that are at the head of the administration, though vastly his superiors : as now at this day, private subjects offer their sentiments to the public, from the press, concerning the management of the war with Spain; freely declaring what they think to be the duty of parliament, and the principal ministers of state, &c. We in New England are at this day engaged in a more important war: and I am sure if we consider the sad jangling and confusion that has attended it, we shall confess that it is highly requisite that somebody should speak his mind concerning the way in which it ought to be managed and that not only a few of the many particulars, that are the matter of strife in the land, should be debated on the one side and the other in pamphlets; (as has of late been done with heat and fierceness enough;) which does not tend to bring the contention in general to
an end, but rather to inflame it, and increase the uproar: but that something should be published to bring the affair in general, and the many things that attend it that are the subjects of debate, under a particular consideration. And certainly it is high time that this was done. If private persons may speak their minds without arrogance, much more may a minister of the kingdom of Christ speak freely about things of this nature which do so nearly concern the interest of the kingdom of his Lord and Master, at so important a juncture. If some elder minister had undertaken this, I acknowledge it would have been more proper; but I have heard of no such thing a doing, or like to be done. I hope therefore I shall be excused for undertaking such a piece of work. I think that nothing that I have said can justly be interpreted, as though I would impose my thoughts upon any, or did not suppose that others have equal right to think for themselves, with myself. We are not accountable one to another for our thoughts; but we must all give an account to Him who searches our hearts, and has doubtless his eye especially upon us at such an extraordinary season as this. If I have well confirmed my opinion concerning this work, and the way in which it should be acknowledged and promoted, with scripture and reason, I hope others that read it will receive it as a manifestation of the mind and will of God. If others would hold forth further light to me in any of these particulars, I hope I should thankfully receive it. I think I have been made in some measure sensible, and much more of late than formerly, of my need of more wisdom than I have. I make it my rule to lay hold of light and embrace it wherever I see it, though held forth by a child or an enemy. If I have assumed too much in the following discourse, and have spoken in a manner that savors of a spirit of pride, no wonder that others can better discern it than I myself. If it be so, I ask pardon, and beg the prayers of every Christian reader, that I may have more light, humility, and zeal; and that I may be favored with such measures of the divine Spirit, as a minister of the gospel stands in need of at such an extraordinary season.
THOUGHTS ON THE REVIVAL, &c.
SHOWING THAT THE EXTRAORDINARY WORK THAT HAS OF LATE BEEN GOING ON IN THIS LAND, IS A GLORIOUS WORK OF GOD.
THE error of those who have had ill thoughts of the great religious operation on the minds of men, that has been carried on of late in New England (so far as the ground of such an error has been in the understanding, and not in the disposition) seems fundamentally to lie in three things:
First, In judging of this work à priori.
Secondly, In not taking the holy scriptures as a whole rule whereby to judge of such operations.
Thirdly, In not justly separating and distinguishing the good from the bad.
We should not judge of this work à priori, but by its effects.
They have greatly erred in the way in which they have gone about to try this work, whether it be a work of the Spirit of God or no, viz. in judging of it à priori; from the way that it began, the instruments that have been employed, the means that have been made use of, and the methods