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been permitted to know of some most happy, and I trust saving influences on the minds of strangers resulting from their worshipping with us. But it is not unkindness to ask what would have been the effect on the multitudes which have been with us, had they witnessed here scenes like those on the day of Pentecost? (2.) Again, those strangers are usually men of influence, wealth, and power at home. They are the centres of opinion to large circles there. They control the habits, or the fashions, or the religious opinions of those by whom they are surrounded. A large portion of those to whom I preach in this manner are the respectable and influential merchants of the west; men who are doing as much as any others to form the habits of the mighty empire that is rising up beyond the mountains; men who are moulding that vast population that is soon to give to this nation its president, its great officers of government, and its laws; and men who in that vast region are either to stay the tide of infidelity and sin, or to urge it onward; for if we are ever to be a nation of slaves, the chain that is to bind us is to be forged beyond the mountains. They are the men who are to be the patrons of order and education, of common schools, of colleges, and of the institutions of religion ;-many of them are men who are pillars in those churches, and whose piety is to receive an impression that shall be lasting, even during a temporary sojourning with us. It is needless to ask what would be the influence on such men if they found this city and all these churches blessed with revivals of religion Jike rains and dews of heaven. (3.) Again. If I address one such stranger now, he will pardon me if I make a remark particularly applicable to himself; if I do not address such an one, the remark will be useful to others, as reminding them of what is the fact in regard to such strangers, and of the need of a pure, heavenly, christian influence in all our churches here. The remark is, that even christians are not always as consistent and circumspect when they are abroad as when they are at home. They are, or suppose they are, unobserved. They are away from the vigilant eye of a wife, a neighbor, a child. They feel that there is less depending on their example than when they are under the well-known eye of a vigilant public opinion. Members of the churches sometimes travel on the Sabbath when away from home, and when they suppose it possible they will not be known as professing christians. They sometimes attend church but a part of the day when in cities, and the remainder of the day is devoted to sight-seeing. It is an obvious plea with them, that they are engaged in business during the week, and that it cannot be very improper for them to visit public places once on the Sabbath when they are unknown. And it is not improbable that of a Sabbath afternoon, in the spring or summer, enough such professors might usually be found at the places of public resort to constitute a church respectable enough in numbers to celebrate the Lord's supper. They sometimes also visit
places of somewhat doubtful morality, and where, if at home, they never would be found. It is not impossible that christian ministers and other members of the churches sometimes visit the opera in Paris or in Italy, who would have many misgivings about recommending such a course to the more spiritual part of their flock or their brother christians at home, and who themselves, when there, are most conscientious in abstaining from such amusements. And I may ask, are professors of religion and officers of the churches from other parts of our land never found in the theatres of our cities? It is very doubtful whether a single theatre could be sustained for a month in this city if it were not for the patronage of strangers. But if this be the fact, then the importance of revivals here, of a healthful, constant, unceasing heavenly influence in all our churches, is apparent. To influence the stranger christian; to incline his heart more and more to the ways of God; to keep him from temptation when here; and to send him back to his home, blessed not only by our hospitality, but with more of the Spirit of his Master, we should pray unceasingly for the descending influences of the grace of God on all our churches and on all the population of this city. To save the stranger that comes among us from the dram-shop, the theatre, the house of infamy, we should beseech the God of heaven that he may be greeted when he comes here with the influence of religion; that every christian whom he may meet may show that his heart is deeply engaged in the work of the Lord, and feels a deep interest in the salvation of souls; and that throughout all our cities and towns there may be felt the power of the presence of the God OF REVIVALS.
BY REV. ALBERT BARNES.
No. 4. THE DESIRABLENESS OF REVIVALS.
"O Lord, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of
the years make known ; in wrath remember mercy.”—Hab. 3: 2.
The sentiment of this text, in the connection in which it stands, is, that a revival of pure religion was desirable; and particularly in view of the awful judgments of God, and the manifestations of his majesty and justice which the prophet saw in vision. God is seen by the prophet approaching amidst many terrors to take vengeance on the wicked. His glory covers the heavens, and the earth is full of his praise. His brightness is as the light; and there are bright beams (marg.) like playing
lightnings at his side. Before him goes the pestilence, and burning coals at his feet. The nations are driven asunder; and the everlasting mountains are scattered; the perpetual hills bow; and the deep lists up its voice. The sun and the moon stand still in their habitation; and the universe is in consternation at the awful presence of Jehovah. In view of these sublime and awful manifestations, the prophet pleads with God to revive his work, and to remember mercy in the midst of wrath. It was only by a revival of religion that his wrath could be averted; or that his people could be prepared for these sublime exhibitions of their God.
I shall take occasion from these words to address you on the desirableness of revivals of religion, particularly in cities; and shall endeavor to adhere so far, at least, to the sentiment of the text, as to keep before the eye the desirableness of such works of grace from the awful displays of Divine justice which the inhabitants of guilty cities have reason to apprehend. My last lecture on this general subject was on the importance of cities and large towns, particularly with reference to religion. My design in this discourse is to state some reasons why such works of grace as I have endeavored to describe as included under the word REVIVAls, are desirable in such places.
Who doubts this ? it may at once be asked; And what is the necessity of discoursing on so plain a topic to a christian people ? Are there any christians who doubt that a revival of pure religion in a city is desirable? And can there be a necessity to occupy the time of an entire service on a point where there can be but one opinion? These questions, I doubt not, would be asked by many, in a candid and not a captious spirit; and they demand an answer in the same spirit. In a word, then, I would reply, (1.) That men often admit that to be true in relation to which they have little feeling or emotion; and my wish in regard to a large portion of my hearers, is not so much to convince their understandings on so plain a point, as to enkindle in the heart an earnest desire for such works of mercy. It may be that the main point of my discourse would be at once admitted to be true without argument; but it may be, also, that its force may be more deeply felt by the contemplation of the views which I shall exhibit. (2.) To the candid questions which I have supposed to be submitted to me at the outset of my argument, I wish also to propose one or two in reply, in a spirit and manner as candid and as free from captiousness. Is it true, then, that all professed christians really desire a revival of religion of the kind which I have described ? Are there . none who start back at the word REVIVAL, and who feel an instinctive dislike to the name? Are there none in whose minds the word suggests the idea of mere excitement; of scenes of enthusiasm and disorder; of irregularity and wildfire ? Are there none who, when they pray, and with very honest intentions in the main,
for a revival, do it with many qualifications and mental reservations, and with an apprehension or fear that the prayer may be answered ;—who pray from the custom of using such language, rather than from any intelligent and sincere wish that such scenes as that on the day of Pentecost may be witnessed ? And I cannot but ask one more question. When prayers are offered for revivale, are there no prayers against them? While the fervent petitions of a portion of an assembled church ascend to heaven for the descent of the Holy Spirit like floods and showers, are there no prayers ascending to heaven, or no secret desires, that such influences may be restrained ? no counter petitions that cross and recross the prayers of those who love revivals, as they ascend up to God? It is not given to men to know the hearts, nor the real feelings and desires of the professed people of God; but if it could be ascertained, it would not be uninteresting to know what portion of professed christians, in deep and fervent sincerity, daily pray, “O Lord, revive thy work!"
I do not consider it, therefore, superfluous to state some reasons why revivals of religion are desirable.
But what would be the scene, should there be a revival of religion in a city like this? I have on a former occasion explained at length my views of the nature of a revival. To the success of my argument at this time, it is quite material that we have some distinct idea of what would actually occur in such a case.
IT WOULD NOT BE MERE EXCITEMENT. I have no fondness for mere excitement. I do not advocate it. Indeed a very large part of my ministerial labors is directed against excitement, and intended to allay and restrain its feverishness. I refer to the agitations produced by the love of gain, and those which are exhibited in the political world, and in the excited and excitable world of gayety and fashion. I have never uttered a word in favor of disorder, lawlessness, irregularity, eccentricity, or of any religious movement which would be a violation of decency and order. I am no advocate for suspending the proper business of life, or of breaking in upon regular employment in honest and honorable industry. I have no views of religion or of revivals which would not make men more sober, and honest, and industrious, and chastened in their lives. I have not one word to say in disregard of the urbanities and civilities of social life; of the respect due to rank and office; not one word to say in favor of what has sometimes been charged on the promoters of revivals-falsely in general—a contempt for the courtesies of life, and an outrage on the feelings of others. I hold no views of religion which would not make men more courteous, refined, and truly polite and respectful in revivals and at all times. I advocate no excitement but that which truth produces-and not half as much as prevails in the gay world; I advocate the necessity for no new doctrines to carry on such a
work—no doctrines but such as were preached by the Redeemer and his apostles; I advocate no means and measures but such as are best adapted to secure to the Gospel-the pure Gospelaccess to the human heart, and such as are in accordance with all the settled institutions of christianity; and I advocate no style of preaching that is vulgar in diction or action; that is offensive to good taste in tone and manner; that is not the result of careful preparation; and that is not characterized by the condensation of as much truth as can be made to reach the hearts of men; no preaching where the preacher is not much impressed, as conscious of his awful charge, and anxious mainly that the flock he feeds should feel it too.
What effects, then, should we anticipate from a general revival of religion in a city? There are in this city, for illustration, and its surrounding districts and liberties, somewhere about twenty-six thousand families. What is the character of a large portion of them, I need not now pause to say. Now the effect of a revival of religion that should pervade the whole population, would be seen at once in those families, and in all the influences that go from the family hearth and altar, and would be diffused from those centres over all the walks of life. Every family, if religion were to diffuse its influence there, would be a family of prayer. The morning and the evening sacrifice would ascend to God. Grateful praise would be poured on the ear of Jehovah in all these dwellings, as the beams of the new morning sun diffused their radiance over the world; and in the stillness of the evening, the works and duties of the day again performed, the interesting group would come around the altar again to render praise, and to commend themselves to the protecting care of Him who never slumbers nor sleeps. Each day they would
forth to its duties and trials consecrated by the morning offering of praise and prayer under the protection of the unslumbering eye of God, in each scene of sorrow or night of calamity they would bow submissively to his will. Children would be taught; taught in proper human learning; taught the Bible ; taught the ways of virtue, religion, temperance, purity, and industry; taught to fear the name of God, to hate a lie, to prepare for an honorable career in the various walks of life. The Sabbath would return to bless each household with its influences of mercy; and the sanctuary would deepen the lessons of family instruction; and the universal rest from toil would be a sweet type of the heavenly world. Temperance would be promoted; and the fountains of poison that now flow every where to corrupt and destroy, would be closed for ever. The houses of pollution and infamy would no more open to allure and decoy the young to death; and their inmates, made living and pure members of the body of Christ, would be preparing to walk before him in white robes in heaven. The theatre would no more open its doors to invite the young, the stranger, and the defenceless to forget a father's prayers and a mother's counsels, and to become the companion of the unprincipled and the vile. Sober in