« AnteriorContinuar »
BY THE BOSTON MINISTERS.
WHEN the disciples of our glorious Lord were filled with sorrow upon the heavy tidings of his departure from them, he cheered their drooping spirits with that good word, "Nevertheless, I tell you the truth it is expedient for you that I go away for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you." And after his ascension, he fulfilled this great and precious promise by the extraordinary effusion of his Spirit, under whose conduct and influence the "apostles went forth and preached every where, the Lord working with them :" so that when we read the Acts of the Apostles, we must say; "Not by might, nor by power, but by the Spirit of the Lord of hosts." And though, soon after the first days of Christianity, there was a dreadful apostasy, yet God did not wholly take his Spirit from his peeple; but raised up faithful witnesses, to testify against the heresies and corruptions of the times wherein they lived. And since Antichrist, that wicked one, has been revealed, our Lord, according to his word, has been gradually consuming him with the spirit of his mouth, in the reformation.
Nor have we in these remote corners of the earth, where Satan had his seat from time immemorial, been left without a witness of the divine power and grace. Very remarkable was the work of God's Spirit, stirring up our forefathers to leave a pleasant land, and transport themselves over a vast ocean into this then howling wilderness, that they might enjoy communion with Christ in the purity of his ordinances, and leave their children in the quiet possession of the blessings of his kingdom. And God was eminently present with them by his word and Spirit.
Yea, we need look no higher than our own times, to find abundant occasion to celebrate the wonderful works of God. Thus when God
arose and shook the earth,* his loud call to us in that amazing providence was followed, so far as man can judge, with the still voice of his Spirit, in which he was present to awaken many, and bring them to say trembling, "What must we do to be saved?" Yea, as we hope, to turn not a few from sin to God in a thorough conversion. But wheu the bitterness of death was past, much the greater part of those whom God's terrors affrighted, gave sad occasion to remember those words, Psalm lxxviii. 34, 36., "When he slew them, then they sought him and they returned and inquired early after God. And they remembered that God was their Rock, and the high God their Redeemer. Nevertheless, they did flatter him with their mouth, and they lied unto him with their tongue." And there has since been great reason to complain of our speedy return to our former sins, notwithstanding some hopes given of a more general reformation. Yea, when more lately, it pleased God to visit many of our towns with a very mortal distemper, to that time in a manner unknown; whereby great numbers of our hopeful children and youth have been cut off, many very suddenly, and with circumstances exceedingly distressing and awful; yet, alas! we have not generally seen nor duly considered God's hand stretched out against us; but have given him reason to complain, as of his ancient people, "Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more." And accordingly his anger is not turned away; but his hand is stretched out still. A plain proof of this awful truth, that the most awakening dispen-` sations can no farther humble and do us good, than as it pleaseth God to accompany them with his Spirit, and so command his blessing upon them. But when the Almighty will work by such means, or without them, who can hinder him? He acts with sovereign liberty and irresistible power. "The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit." John iii. 8. Such was his wonderful work at Northampton, and the neighboring towns in the county of Hampshire, and some other places. The Holy Spirit was in a plentiful and extraordinary manner poured out on persons of every age and condition, without such remarkable providences going before to awaken them; as the dew falls in the night, and yet the effects appeared as the light which goeth forth. So that we might well admiring say, what has God wrought! Great was the number of them who published the wonders of the divine power and grace; declaring with humility what God
*The Earthquake of October 29, Anno 1727.
had done for their souls. And others who went among them acknowledged that the work exceeded the fame of it.
Now the Psalmist observes that God has made his wonderful works to be remembered. We therefore hend that our Rev. brother has done well to record and publish this surprising work of God; and the fidelity of his account would not have been at all doubted of by us, though there had not been the concurrent testimony of others to it. It is also a pleasure to us to hear what acceptance the following narrative has found in the other England, where it has had two impressions already, and been honored with a recommendatory preface by two divines of eminent note in London, viz. the Rev. Dr. Watts and Dr. Guyse: after whom it may seem presumption in us to attempt any thing of this kind. But it having been thought proper to reprint this letter here, and disperse it among our our people, we thankfully embrace this opportunity to praise the Most High for the exceeding riches of his grace, and earnestly to recommend this epistle to the diligent reading and attentive consideration of all into whose hands these shall come. "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches." And indeed, the particular and distinct account which the author has given of God's dealings with the souls of men, at this remarkable season, in the variety of cases then set before him, and in many of his observations thereupon, we apprehend are written with that judgment and skill in divine things as declare him to be a scribe well instructed unto the kingdom of heaven; and we judge may be very useful to ministers in leading weary souls to Christ for rest, and for the direction and encouragement of all under the like operations of the Holy Spirit. Yea, as the author observes, "There is no one thing I know of, that God has made such a means of promoting his work among us, as the news of others' conversion." We hope that the further spreading of this narrative may, by the divine blessing, still promote the conversion of souls, and quicken God's children to labor after the clearer evidences of their adoption, and to bring forth fruits meet for repentAnd as this wonderful work may be considered as an earnest of what God will do towards the close of the gospel day, it affords great encouragement to our faith and prayer in pleading those promises which relate to the glorious extent and flourishing of the kingdom of Christ upon earth, and that have not yet had their full and final accomplishment. And surely the very threatening degeneracy of our times calls aloud to us all, to be earnest in prayer for this most needed blessing, the plentiful effusion of the Spirit of truth and holiness. Nor ought the sense of our own unworthiness discourage us, when we go to our heavenly Father in the name of his dear Son,
who has purchased and received this great gift for his people, and says to us, "Ask, and it shall be given you. If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him." Luke xi. 9-13.
But we must draw to a close. May the worthy author be restored to health, and long continue to be a rich blessing to his people! May he still see the pleasure of the Lord prospering in his hand; and in particular, may the Spirit of grace accompany this pious endeavor to spread the savor of the knowledge of Christ, for the everlasting advantage of many! May it please God to revive his work throughout this land; and may all the ends of the earth see his salvation! Boston, November 4th, 1738.
Minister of Old South Church.
Minister of Old South Church.
Minister of New North Church. WILLIAM COOPER,
Minister of Brattle street Church.
P. S. Since the writing this Preface, one of us has received a letter from a Reverend and very worthy minister in Glasgow, in which is the following passage:
"The friends of serious religion here were much refreshed with a printed account of the extraordinary success of the gospel, of late, in some parts of New England. If you can favor me with more particular accounts of those joyful events, when you have opportunity of writing to me, it will much oblige me."
REV. BENJAMIN COLMAN, D. D.
PASTOR OF A CHURCH IN BOSTON.
Westfield, October 11, 1738.
In your letter of August 19, you inform us that the Rev. Dr. Watts and Dr. Guyse desire that some other ministers, who were eye and ear witnesses to some of those numerous conversions in the other towns about Northampton, would attest unto what the Rev. Mr. Edwards has written of them.
We take this opportunity to assure you, that the account Mr. Edwards has given in his narrative of our several towns or parishes is true; and that much more of the like nature might have been added with respect to some of them.
We are, Rev. Sir, your brethren and servants,
66 of Suffield.
WILLIAM WILLIAMS, Pastor of Hatfield.
"of Long Meadow.