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amidst deep excitement, of directing the thoughts to eternity. To me it seems there is a peculiar loveliness in the spread of religion in this way; and I love to contemplate christianity calling to its aid whatever of tenderness, kindness, and love there may be existing in the bosom of fallen and erring man. These sympathies are the precious remains of the joys of paradise lost; they may be made invaluable aids in the work of securing paradise again. They serve to distinguish man, though fallen, from the dissocial and unsympathising apostacy of beings of pure malignancy in hell, and their existence in man may have been one of the reasons why he was selected for redemption, while fallen angels were passed by in their sins. On no subject have we so many common interests at stake as in religion. I look upon a family circle. What tender feelings ! What mutual love! What common joys! What united sorrows! The blow that strikes one member strikes all. The joy that lights up one countenance, diffuses its smiles over all. Together they kneel by the side of the one that is sick; together they rejoice at his recovery; or they bow their heads and weep when he dies, and put on the same sad habiliments of grief and walk to his grave. Nor are these all their common joys and woes. They are plunged into the same guilt and danger. They are together under the fearful visitations of that curse which has travelled down from the first apostacy of man. They are going to a common abode beneath the ground. And that guilty and suffering circle, too, may be, irradiated with the same beams of hope, and the same balm of Gilead, and the same great Physician, may impart healing there. Now we ask why may they not become christians together ? Sunk in the same woes, why may they not rise to the same immortal hope? When one member is awakened, why should not the same feeling run through the united group? When one is impressed with the great thoughts of immortality, why should not the same thoughts weigh on each spirit? And when the eyes of one kindle with the hope of eternal life, why should not every eye catch the immortal radiance, and every heart be filled with the hope of heaven? And why may we not appeal to them by all the hopes of sitting down together in a world of bliss, and by all the fears of being separated to different destinies in an eternal heaven or hell? And yet let this feeling go through this family, and produce its appropriate results, and there would be a revival of religion.
The truth is, there are no sympathies so deep on any other subject as on the subject of religion. The sympathies of the human heart are never met and satisfied, till they are met by reli gion. The hopes, the fears, the joys of man never find a corresponding object till he looks away from time and is filled with the hope of heaven. That aged man, once full of hope in the cheerful visions of early life, now sits down and weeps, that in all life's ambition, its honors, and its joys, he has never realized what he anticipated. The big tear rolls down his cheek, worn with age and care, when he remembers how the world has flattered and betrayed him; and there he sits at the close of life on the borders of a boundless ocean, waiting to be borne to some land of bliss which he has never yet found. He has had sympathies, hopes, fears, anticipations, which have never been satisfied by this world, which nothing now can satisfy, until the eye is fixed on immortality, and he can look to a heaven of boundless glory as his home. That family so tender, so amiable, so lovely, so united in sorrows and in joys, has sympathetic emotions which can never be met but by the united hope of heaven. Never will they know the richness of pure attachment to each other until they are united in the service of God, and can look forward to the same heaven as their home. Never will their sorrows produce what they should produce, or their joys be followed with the blessings which they should convey, until all their sympathies are sanctified by the Gospel of peace, and parents and children alike hope to strike together the harp of praise in heaven. So society every where is full of anticipations, sympathies, and hopes, that are never fully met until a tide of religious feeling flows over the community, uniting many hearts simultaneously in the hope of heaven.
In conclusion I would observe, that if the views which have now been presented are correct, you will accord with me in the sentiment, that such a work should be an object of the fervent prayer of every friend of the Saviour. If, then, you have ever felt in your own hearts the power of divine grace ; if you have ever felt the worth of the soul; if you have felt that you are soon to meet your fellow-mortals at the judgment-seat; if you have any love for your children and friends, for the church and the world, for the thoughtless multitudes amidst whom we dwell, let me entreat you to cry unto God without ceasing FOR A REVIVAL OF PURE RELIGION.
BY REV. ALBERT BARNES.
No. 2. VINDICATION OF REVIVALS, AND THEIR INFLUENCE ON
Drop doron, ye heavens, from above, and let the skies pour doron righteousness : let the earth open, and let them bring forth salvation, and let righteousness spring up together.”—Isaiah, 45 : 8.
In resuming the subject discussed in my last discourse, I propose to submit some additional considerations, adapted to show the nature of revivals of religion, and to vindicate them from objections.
My general aim will be to show that they are the regular and proper result of the means which God is employing ; that they are promised in the Bible as invaluable blessings; and that their value has been evinced by their effects in the history of the church, and especially by the history of our own country. This will be attempted in a series of propositions, which will be intended as a continuance of those which were offered in my last discourse.
I. My first remark is, that the dealings of God in his providence are fitted to produce revivals of religion. The phenomenon which I am endeavoring to describe, you will recollect, is the simultaneous conversion of many souls to Christ, and a rapid advance in promoting the purity and zeal of christians. The question now is, whether there is any thing in the dealings of Providence which is fitted, if a proper impression were made, to produce this result.
Let me for one moment refer you to facts which are constantly passing before your eyes. Here falls, struck down by the hand of an unseen God, some endeared member of a family-a father, a brother, a sister, or a mother. What is the effect? There is a common lamentation around the dying bed of the friend, and a united, sad, and slow procession to the tomb. There is a sundering at once of many ties; a common feeling in view of a common loss; and together they bow the head and weep. The attention of the whole group is turned away from scenes of vanity, gain, and ambition; a palsying blow is laid on half the comforts of life, and the weeping group sit down in sackcloth and ashes. The theatre, the ball-room, and the splendid party are forsaken ; and gloom is spread over the counting-room, and the man leaves the scene of his domestic grief reluctantly to go there. He has no heart now for amusement or pleasure, or even for the usual muchloved scenes of his business and ambition. God has for a time sundered the tie which bound the united group to the living world, and has made an awful chasm in their circle.
Does this affect a solitary individual ? No. It affects a community. Is it designed to be the whole effect of this affliction to produce grief? Too well we know the purposes of that benevolent Father who has caused these tears, to believe this. It is to arrest the attention, and direct it to better things—to God, to Christ, to heaven. It is to lead to reflection on sin, and death, and the judgment, and eternity. It is to admonish all the weeping group to prepare to die. The scene is fitted to lead to a serious life, to religion, to God. But is it fitted to make one only a christian-is it an appeal to solitary, independent emotions ? No. It extends to the total group. And if a suitable impression were made by it on all, it would lead them together to the Saviour. Yet here would be all the elements of a revival of religion ; and here is an event fitted to lead a community up to God.
So, when pestilence spreads among a people, and thousands die ; so, when famine is abroad on the earth, there is an appeal made to communities; and the thoughts of men, if any suitable im
pression were made, would be directed to God and to a better world. So—to change the theme—the earth renewed in springtime; the fresh proofs of the goodness of God; the bounties of his hand--new every morning, repeated every evening--all are fitted to lead men to God, and are an appeal to them as communities. And there is neither a judgment of the Almighty, nor a blessing that comes from our great Father's hand, that is not fitted to impress communities with the importance of religion, and to lead alienated, social man, back to God. Thus, threatened ruin roused Nineveh to repentance; and thus God visits the earth alike with judgment and mercy, to rouse the attention of communities, and direct their thoughts to eternity and to heaven.
II. But whatever may be said of providential dealings, one thing is clear--the truth of God is adapted to promote revivals of religion. That great system of glorious doctrines which constitutes « the everlasting Gospel,” is adapted to produce every where such works of grace among men. It began its career in a glorious revival of religion on the day of Pentecost. It showed its power of moving communities, and especially the communities made up of cities and large towns, in Jerusalem, in Samaria, in Antioch, in Ephesus, in Corinth, in Rome. The Gospel was propagated at first by a succession of most signal works of grace, carried on alike among the most degraded and the most refined portions of mankind; and it has continued, as we shall yet see, to extend its power and influence mainly in this manner.
Even now, if the truths of the Bible were applied by the Spirit of God to the hearts of the people in this house, the scenes of the day of Pentecost would be renewed here. If that same truth were applied, as it might be, to the inhabitants of our great cities, the interesting, though deeply agitating scenes which occurred in Jerusalem and in Ephesus, would be renewed in Philadelphia, in New York, in Boston, in New Orleans. Should the great truths affecting your welfare, my hearers, now put forth their power; should every one here feel as he should feel in view of the reality of his situation, a deep solemnity would come over this house, and there would be a simultaneous rushing to the cross; a burst of feeling in every part of this house, like that which agitated the bosom of the jailer at Philippi, when he said, "What must I do to be saved ?” Recall a few of those truths. You are sinners-sinners deeply depraved, and under the condemning sentence of a most holy but violated law. What if every man, and woman, and child here should feel this. What deep emotion would agitate their bosoms! What anxiety would be depicted on every countenance ! How would the now roving eye be fixed in solemn thought, and the now gay and thoughtless heart prompt the deep inquiry, What is to be my doom? Yet this is just such a scene as occurs in a revival of religion.
Again: You will die--all, all die. You will die soon. You have but few more plans to form and execute, or more probably to leave half-executed or but just commenced--before you will dieinevitably die. Were this truth felt by all, what emotion would there be in this room! What bosom but would swell with the anxious inquiry, what is it to die ; and what must I do to be prepared for death? Yet here would be such a scene as occurs in a revival of religion. Another truth. You will go to another world. You will stand at the bar of God. You will give a solemn account for all the deeds done in the body. You will bow with willing or constrained submission to the eternal doom pronounced on men by Jesus Christ. You will go from that tribunal to heaven or to hell
. Perhaps in a week, a day, an hour, you may know fully what is meant by those mysterious and awful words, death, judgment, eternity-what it is to die, and to stand before God. And can any one doubt that if all here felt the force of these truths, there would be a simultaneous impression on the subject of religion, and hundreds of voices here crying out,“ What must we do to be saved ?" These truths are in their nature fitted not to impress one, but all; not to lead one only to prepare to meet God, bui to conduct all at the same time to the throne of mercy. Yet here would be a revival of religion. And why should it not be so ? What law of our nature, or of christianity, is violated when such scenes occur? We have sinned together; and why should we not arise together and seek forgiveness? We are travelling together to the grave and to the judgment-bar ; why should we not resolve to go together to heaven ? The same Redeemer has died for us all, and why should we not together seek for pardon through his blood ? We shall lie in a common grave, mingle with the same dust of the valley, hear the sound of the same trumpet of the archangel in the day of judgment; and why should we not feel a common interest in such scenes now, and gather around the same cross, and lay hold together on eternal life? If it be reasonable for an individual to do it, why not for many—for all ? Why should not the common feeling go from heart to heart, and all resolve by, the grace of God to secure the salvation of the soul? What law of our nature would be violated should this be done? Yet here would be all the phenomena of a revival of religion.
III. In the third place, there are evils of sin in all communities which can be overcome only by such influences as attend a revival of religion. I refer to evils of alliance; of compact; of confederation; the sins of association and of common pursuit, where one man keeps another in countenance, or one man leads on the many to transgression. Sin is never, perhaps, solitary. One sin is interlocked with others, and is sustained by others. This is especially the case when the world becomes gay and giddy; when the ordinary means of grace fail to make an impression; when luxury spreads its temptations over a community; when the public mind becomes intent on gain; when political strife rages throughout a community; or when some bold and daring allurement of vice engrosses the public mind, and the laws of God and man are