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The following recommendations have been politely furnished by gentlemen, whose opinions, we doubt not, are in unison with the body of evangelical clergy in the United States.
From the President and Professors at Princeton, N. J.
We know of no works on the subject of Revivals of Religion, at once so scriptural, discriminating, and instructive, as those of the late illustrious President EDWARDS. At the present day, when this subject so justly engages a large share of the attention of the religious public, we should be glad if a copy of the volume proposed to be republished by Dunning and Spalding, could be placed in every dwelling in the United States. It exhibits the nature of genuine revivals of religion, the best means of promoting them, the abuses and dangers to which they are liable, and the duty of guarding against these abuses and dangers, with a degree of spiritual discernment and practical wisdom, which have commanded the approbation of the friends of Zion for the greater part of a century.
Princeton, September 21, 1831.
From the President and Professors at New Brunswick, N. J.
Much conversation is had at the present day on the subject of revivals of religion in our country.
That there is a difference of opinion among professing Christians, as to their reality, their nature, and the modes of action to be adopted in promoting and conducting them, is also very apparent.
If by a revival of religion we understand that operation of the Spirit of God, which, through the instrumentality of his word, produces conviction, agitation, and conversion, in hitherto careless and impenitent sinners-or excitement, connected with increase of faith, love, zeal, and holy action, in the people of God, whether it be exhibited on a smaller or larger scale-in the case of individuals, families, churches, districts of country, or whole nations—it is strange that the possibility or reality of such a work should be called in question by those who are familiar with their Bibles, are acquainted with church history, or have any correct knowledge whatever either of the ordinary or extraordinary operations of the Holy Spirit upon the souls of men. In such revivals it is true that there is in some instances only a temporary excitement of the passions, without a renewal of the heart, and in others a human co-operation which will neither bear the test of enlightened reason or of the word of God. These circumstances, however, are precisely what (from human weakness, and the artifice of Satan to bring the whole work into disrepute) we have a right to expect. Any judicious publication on revivals, and especially that written many years ago by the pious and discrimi
serve to be perused and studied by all who feel a concern for the prosperity of the church, and who would become acquainted with the various ways in which the God of grace is pleased to approach the soul with the blessings of his salvation.
At the present time, when the divine influence is in a remarkable manner manifesting itself far and wide, it seems to be particularly desirable that the work should be given to the public in a detached form, so as to be accessible to all, JOHN KNOX.
New York, August, 1831.
I am pleased to find that it is proposed to republish the work of President Edwards on Revivals. The character of the author for intellect and piety, has its praise in all the churches, and needs no commendation. The work proposed to be republished, as well as the treatise on the affections by the same author, contain a clear, discriminating, and searching delineation of evangelical and vital religion. At its first publication it was highly useful, during a period of extensive revivals, in promoting the work of God, and in preventing and removing incident evils. It is hoped that at this period its republication will be greatly beneficial. THOMAS DE WITT.
New York, August, 6, 1831.
What President Edwards has written on Revivals, I consider a full and thorough discussion of the whole subject. If ministers of the gospel would read it once a year, it seems to me that all controversy among the orthodox with respect to the truths which are to be mainly insisted on, and the means to be used for giving such truths a free access to men's minds, would come to an end. If it were circulated among Christians where there is no revival, it would tend strongly to arouse the church to a sense of the importance of such a blessing, and lead them to seek successfully to promote the quickening of God's people, and the conversion of sinners. If read in a time of revival, it might be expected to give increased tone and energy to the revival feeling, and at the same time to regulate that feeling when excited. If read by minister and people in the decline of a revival, it might be expected, under God, to stop the ebbings of spiritual feeling, and bring back a heavier and richer tide of mercy. I rejoice in its republication, and recommend it to the careful perusal of all who love the salvation of sinners.
New York, September, 1831.
Dear Sir-I consider the proposed publication of Edwards' work on Revivals of Religion, as highly important, and, in the present times, specially appropriate. The work is full of valuable truth, instructive experience, and discriminating observation, well calculated to guard against pernicious perversion, that characteristic spirit of these days, which Satan would so gladly delude into extravagance and heresy. The publication will richly merit the patronage of a Christian public. Yours, &c.
CHAS. P. McILVAINE.
Brooklyn, September 23, 1831.
I concur in the foregoing recommendations.
New York, 1831.
REVIVAL OF RELIGION is a subject of great interest and importance) The phrase has, by common consent, been appropriated to denote a work of the Spirit of God, turning the attention of considerable numbers in a place to the things of eternity, and bringing many, in a short time, to a saving knowledge of Christ. It is merely the success of the gospel, unusually increased. It is the conversion of numbers of sinners in a short space of time. Whatever interest is attached to the institutions of religion, whatever pleasure is felt in the success of a preached gospel, or whatever emotions arise, on earth or in heaven, at seeing one sinner repent and believe in Christ, all these must be heightened and enhanced abundantly at the multiplication of such results, which constitutes a revival of religion. The Savior himself sees the travail of his soul, and is satisfied, when converts are multiplied, as trophies of his grace. It is only through mistake or misinformation, that any who love our Lord Jesus Christ are grieved or alarmed at a revival of religion.
These seasons are as important as they are interesting. They constitute not only the glory and the rejoicing of the church, but her safety and life. In the darkest periods, the church has been saved from utter extinction by revivals. The first preaching of the gospel was attended with powerful revivals. The book of Acts is a history of revivals. The reformation from popery was almost everywhere accompanied with revivals. There were extensive revivals in the times of the Puritans in England. The early churches in New England had numerous revivals Powerful seasons of the same kind were experienced in Scotland and Ireland, in the former part of the last century. At a later period, extensive revivals took place in England, under the preaching of Wesley and Whitefield. The revivals which occurred in America, under the ministrations of President Edwards and his cotemporaries, were distinguished for striking manifestations of divine power and grace Numerous revivals in the United States marked the close of the last and beginning of the present century, both in the east and the west. And from that time they have been regularly growing more frequent, more numerous, more powerful and rapid, all over our country, to the present time. The last year was undoubtedly distinguished, above all that have preceded it, since the formation of the Christian church. Never before has the Holy Spirit been poured out in so many places at once; never before has the Lord Jesus gathered so many into his churches, in the same space of time, "of such as shall be saved."
which extended over our whole country during a space of twenty years. The "Thoughts concerning the Revival," which occupy the principal part of the book, is a more labored work. It was written in 1742, during the progress of a very extensive revival, which commenced in Connecticut and Massachusetts, and continued for several years. This is what is generally known by the name of “the great revival." I gather from Trumbull's History, that it began in Connecticut, early in the year 1740. Its rise in Massachusetts is traced to the first visit of Mr. Whitefield, who reached Boston in September of that year. The Boston ministers seem to have entered zealously into the work, with the exception of Dr. Chauncey, who afterwards wrote a book against it.* Rev. Gilbert Tennent, a preacher of great eloquence and remarkable success, also visited New England soon after Mr. Whitefield, and spent upwards of two months in Boston. He likewise labored in Connecticut. The work was more powerful in the years 1740, 1741, and 1742, in Connecticut than in Massachusetts. The ministers who labored with most extensive effect were Messrs. Mills, Pomeroy, Wheelock, and Bellamy, who preached in all parts of the colony, and in Massachusetts, wherever their brethren would admit them. Some of the leading ministers, however, were bitter enemies of the revival; and about the time that this book was written, 1742, their hostility had reached its height. Dr. Trumbull says, it was the "plan of the old lights, or Arminians, both among the clergy and civilians, to suppress, as far as possible, all the zealous and Calvinistic preachers." The most severe laws were passed against them, and rigorously executed. As the consequence of this withdrawment of so many leading ministers, and the opposition which was made to the work, the zeal of many degenerated to enthusiasm, discord and fanaticism crept in, and in the subsequent years, many grievous separations and other evils took place in the churches. Still, however, the work of genuine revival seems to have gone steadily forward, notwithstanding these mixtures of human infirmity, so that by the year 1748, the balance of public opinion was entirely changed, the oppressive laws were repealed, and the ministers who had been punished for laboring in revivals, were restored to their rights. Much has been said about the disorders which attended these revivals; but Dr. Trumbull says, "Of these, in most of the churches, there was little or nothing; and perhaps they were not greater in any, than were found in the church at Corinth, even in the apostolic age." "It was estimated that in two or three years of the revival, thirty or forty thousand souls were born into the family of heaven, in New England, besides great numbers in New York and New Jersey, and in the more southern provinces."†
President Edwards wrote his "Thoughts on the Revival," in 1742, the most critical period of this interesting history, when the work seemed to be balancing, as it were, between the deadly opposition of some, and the extravagancies of others. And how admirably calculated was this man,
He subsequently avowed himself a believer in universalism.