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alike set at defiance. Such scenes occur peculiarly in cities and large towns. Rarely is it here that one form of iniquity stands by itself: it is interlocked with others. Such combinations of evil can be met only by the power that goes forth in a revival of religion. To meet it and overcome it is beyond the power of man, and beyond the ordinary influences even of the Spirit of God.' The only resource of the church, then, is in the right arm of the Most High, and in the power which God displays when hundreds are made to bow simultaneously to the Son of God.
Thus it has usually been in the world. When some chieftain of wickedness has collected a clan of evil-doers; when infidelity has marshaled its forces; when vice and crime triumph in a community, then the church has lifted its voice of prayer, and God has heard its supplications, and has poured down righteousness like the rain, and the desolate world has been made to smile under the influence of truth and salvation. The Gospel of Christ is fitted to meet all those combined evils; and is invested with a power that can disarm every chieftain of wickedness, and break up every combination of evil, and convert the gay and thoughtless multitudes to God. But it is the Gospel only when it puts forth its most mighty energies. It is the power of God evinced when the church is roused, and when combined efforts to save souls are opposed to combined energies of evil; when the church rises in its strength, and with one voice calls upon God, and with one heart engages in the work of the salvation of men. And it is a truth which cannot be too deeply impressed on the heart of each christian--a truth, alas! too often forgotten—that the only power in the wide universe which can meet and overcome such combined evil, is the power of the Spirit of God. There are evils of alliance and confederation in every city, which can never be met but by a general revival of religion. There are evils in all our churches which can never be removed but by such a work of grace. There are thousands of the young of both sexes to whom we have no access, and who can never be reached but by the Spirit of God descending on them with almighty power-a power that goes forth only when the church is greatly impressed with a sense of existing evils, and when it comes with fervent entreaty to a throne of grace to ask the interposition of the Almighty arm. In ordinary times, the world, especially in cities, presents such scenes as these. None pursues a solitary, scarcely any one an independent course of evil. One form of sin is interwoven with another; one countenances another; one leads on another; and all stand opposed with solid front to the Gospel of Christ. The world is arrayed in hostility against God; and not even on the flanks of the immense army can an impression be made; scarce a straggler can be found who can be brought under the influence of the Gospel. Meantime the church slumbers; the mass of professing christians feel no concern; and if here and there an active christian is seen, his efforts are solitary and unaided; he is without counsel or concert with others; and he makes no impression on the combined evil around him. In such scenes we are not to wonder that sin triumphs, and that the world moves on undisturbed to death.
Thus far the argument has been to show that revivals of religion are not inconsistent with the laws of the social organization and of the human mind. I shall now change the course of the argument, and adduce illustrations from other sources.
IV. I make my appeal, in the fourth place, to that argument with which, perhaps, 1 should have commenced—the testimony of the Bible. The question is, whether the Scriptures speak of such scenes as are known in modern revivals of religion as to be expected under the influence of the Gospel of Christ. I cannot go at length into this part of the argnment; but I will group together, first, a collection of passages of Scripture chiefly from one prophet, to show how he felt on the subject, and what were the views which he entertained of the effects of the true religion when the Messiah should have come. I refer to Isaiah. “Drop down, ye heavens, from above, and let the skies pour down righteousness : let the earth open, and let them bring forth salvation, and let righteousness spring up together.” So the effect of such a work of grace is described in a song of praise in the mouth of the church. "I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels. For as the earth bringeth forth her bud, and as the garden causeth the things that are sown in it to spring forth ; so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations." Ch. 61: 10, 11. Who hath not seen the beautiful effect on the dry and parched earth of refreshing summer showers ? Such effects, the prophet said, would be witnessed under the Gospel ; such effects have been witnessed in hundreds of the towns and villages of our own land. Listen to another description of such a work of grace-a description which seems to be a beautiful prophetic record of what has occurred often even in our own times. It is the language of God himself. “I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground : I will pour my Spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring : and they shall spring up as among the grass, as willows by the watercourses. One shall say, I am the Lord's; and another shall call himself by the name of Jacob; and another shall subscribe with his hand unto the Lord, and surname himself by the name of Israel." Ch. 44: 3–5. “For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater : so shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth.” 55 : 10, 11. Such descriptions were the prophetic visions of future times; descriptions of what has since occurred as unerring as were those which foretold the doom of Babylon,
of Tyre, of Idumea, from the lips of the same prophet. And as the words of that singularly endowed and favored prophet are now the best possible to describe the condition of Babylon and Idumea, so they are still the best which can be selected to describe a revival of religion.
But it was not in general language, or by one prophet only that such scenes were foretold. There was one prophet in general much less favored with a view of future times than Isaiah, that was sig. nally favored in regard to the scenes evinced in a revival of religion. I allude to the prophet Joel. In the following glowing language he describes what we know on the best authority was designed to be a description of the work of the Holy Ghost simultaneously affecting the hearts of many sinners. “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: and also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my Spirit. And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the Lord come. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered : for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the Lord hath said, and in the remnant whom the Lord shall call." Joel, 2 : 28–32. This description is expressly applied by an apostle to the first great revival of religion that occurred after the ascension of the Saviour on the day of Pentecost. Acts, 2. On that memorable day, and in that memorable place, was the prototype and the exemplar of all true revivals of religion. I am aware that some have supposed that that whole scene was miraculous, and that it cannot be expected again to occur, since the days of miracles have ceased. But I am ignorant of the arguments which demonstrate that there was aught of miracle in this, except in the power of speaking in foreign languages, conferred on the apostles -a power which of itself converted no one of the three thousand who on that day gave their hearts to the Saviour. The power of speaking foreign languages had but two effects, one was, to furnish evidence that the religion was from God; the other, to enable them to make known its truths in the ears of the multitude assembled from different parts of the world. It was by the proper influence of TRUTH that the multitudes were alarmed and awakened; and why should not the same truth produce the same effect now? It was indeed by the power of God. But that same power is exerted in the conversion of every sinner; and why may it not now be employed in converting many simultaneously? It was indeed by the Holy Ghost; but no sinner is awakened or converted now without his power; and why may not that be exerted still on many as well as on one? The great fact in the case was, that several thousands were converted under the preaching of the truth by the influence of the Holy Ghost. Miracles changed no one. The laws of mind were violated in the case of no one. No effect was produced which the truth was not adapted to produce. And why should not the same effect be again produced by the preaching of the same truth, and by the power of the same sacred Spirit ?
Remember, also, that on scenes like this the heart of the Saviour was intently fixed. To prepare the way for this; to furnish truth that might be presented in times like this, he preached and toiled; to make it possible that scenes like this should be witnessed among men, he died; to secure the presence of the Holy Ghost in this manner, he ascended to heaven. “It is expedient for you,” said he, “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 when he is come, he will reprove, i. e. convince, the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment." John, 16:7, 8. The Saviour did depart. He ascended to his native skies. His disciples waited for the promised blessing, at once the source of comfort to their disconsolate hearts, and the pledge that their Lord and Master had reached the courts of heaven. Fifty days after his resurrection—ten days only after his ascension, lo! the promised Spirit descended, and the conversion of three thousand in a single day, on the very spot where the hands of men had been just imbrued in the blood of the Lamb of God, and a part of whom had been concerned, doubtless, in enacting that horrid tragedy, showed that the human heart was under his control, and that the most wicked men, in one of the most guilty cities on the earth, might be simultaneously swayed and changed in a revival of religion.
Were there time, we might follow the apostles as they went forth from that place fresh from the presence of God, after having thus had a living demonstration of what the truth was fitted to effect on masses of mind. Let any one look at the record made respecting Samaria, Antioch, Ephesus, Corinth, Philippi, and he will see that the Gospel was propagated there amidst scenes that resemble, in all their essential features, modern revivals of religion. Indeed, there was no other way in which it cou be done. The apostles never contemplated the conversion of solitary, isolated individuals. They expected to move masses of mind, interlocked and confederated communities of sin ; AND IT WAS DONE.
V. I have reserved for a fifth argument or illustration, the state of things in our own country, to show by an appeal to facts here, the desirableness and the genuineness of such a work as I am endeavoring to describe. The question is, has the history of religion in our own land shed any light on the inquiry whether such effects are to be expected to attend the preaching of the Gospel, or whether it is desirable that christians should labor and pray that revivals may be witnessed in the cities, towns, villages,
, and hamlets of our republic? To us, and to the world at large, this is a deeply interesting question; for the fame of American revivals has crossed the ocean and reached the ears of our christian brethren beyond the waters, and their plans and labors are receiving direction from what their own travellers and our books report to them as the mode of maintaining religion here. And it is not too much to say, that on the purity of revivals here will depend the efforts of no small part of the protestant world, and that their influence will be felt at every missionary station on the globe. No one, therefore, can over-estimate the importance of just sentiments on this subject here.
For another reason it is important to know what is taught about the value of revivals in the history of our own country. In every thing pertaining to the welfare of man, other nations are looking with deep interest to our institutions. Statesmen are taking lessons from our history; the friends of freedom are exchanging congratulations on our prosperity; and the world stands in admiration of the vigor of our movements. Religion, too, has assumed new relations to the state. It is dissevered from civil institutions, and suffered to move by itself. On this our greatest, and in the eyes of other nations, our most hazardous experiment, that of committing religion to the blessing and patronage of its God and Saviour, the eye of the world is intently fixed. Hence foreigners speak with great interest of all things connected with religion here; and they speak of revivals as almost peculiar to our republic. Some have thought and spoken candidly of these scenes ; but the great mass have ridiculed and caricatured them—“understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm.” Most foreign travellers have been as little qualified to speak of our religion as they have of our civil institutions. Most of them have never witnessed a revival of religion. Almost all have received their impressions from the enemies of revivals, and have characterized them as gross fanaticism and wildfire. They have gone and reported to the world abuses and disorders as the ordinary characteristics of such scenes; and the world has received its impression from such reports. Unhappily, it is one of the characteristics of our people to look to foreigners for an account of our own institutions, and many an American deems the record of such impartial foreigners of much more value than the testimony of his own eyes about what is occurring at his very door. Books distinguished for gross abuse of our religion and our country at large; books made to produce an impression across the ocean, and designedly filled with calumny, are here caught up, republished, placed in Athenæums, and on centre-tables, and become the authority for what exists in our own land and under our own eye. And I should not be surprised if a large part of the fashionable reading world—and in that appellation I include the fashionable reading christians of our cities and large towns-had formed their opinions of revivals in their own country from the testimony of such impartial and candid witnesses as the Trollopes, and the Fidlers, and the Martineaus of the old world; persons having as few qualifications for being correct reporters of revivals of religion as could be found in the wide world. Perhaps many