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to hopeless abandonment, to be the prey of eternal sin, unless some power from above interposes to save it? There are in our families, our neighborhoods, our congregations, hundreds, in whose bosoms love for God as a controlling principle of action, has not found a place; but principles and passions which God pronounces to be sin, reign there, and hold entire control, though with greater or less degrees of restraint as to their outward exhibition. Now, are these individuals really helpless and hopeless victims to this slavery? Are the circumstances and condition of their hearts such that it is certain, that if left to themselves, they will still go on in sin, continuing for ever under its bondage, and suffering for ever its pains ?
“ The doctrine that man is not quite dead in sin is the most popular doctrine. We do not mean that any class of evangelical Christians really maintain such an opinion, but our hearts have all a constant tendency to sink insensibly into it. We lose sight of the truth, which, when our attention is really called to it, we are compelled to admit and believe. We are always willing to acknowledge that we are sinners, —and even that we are hardened, stupid sinners,—we will admit that we are asleep,—that we are in a lethargy, in a swoon,—anything but dead. Dead! It is an awful word when applied to the body, but there hangs over it a tenfold gloom when it is employed to describe the condition of the soul. We want to have the means of resuscitation and recovery within. We are willing to admit that we are in prison, no matter how dark and how gloomy is the dungeon, but we must keep the keys ourselves.
“ Yes, the human heart, especially if it feels that it is in danger, shrinks from the admission of its entire and helpless moral dependence upon
God. It wants to find some life in itself; or at least some spark of a living principle, which it can fan into life. If, then, the churches of our land expect to be revived, and refreshed, and multiplied, during the approaching winter, they must look to God for it ;-really and honestly look to God. Every Christian, whatever may be his theory, knows and feels his dependence on God as a fact. He is glad to be reminded of it; and if he seems broken-hearted and submissive to his Savior, seeking help from above, he is in the right frame to expect a blessing upon himself and others.
“ How then shall the members of a church obtain this spiritual blessing
during the coming season ? “1. The church which desires to be watered from above, ought to bring to an end all its contentions and quarrels. It is probable that the greatest of all the hindrances to the spread of religion in our land, is contention.
“ 2. Let every individual Christian explore and confess his sins, and renew the consecration of himself to God's service. Think what the real nature of God's service is, and what is the actual spirit which ought to regulate it. Let every Christian, then, who desires a revival of pure religion around him, look into his heart, scrutinize its principles of action, and bring himself to the right place before God, and to the right feelings in reference to man.
“3. The pastor of a church himself may often err in this respect. There are so many other inducements to lead him to wish for a revival of religion in his congregation, besides the simple desire to promote the holiness and happiness of the human soul, that his heart is exceedingly prone to go astray. “4. The work which is done, too, should be done in the right man
There are two very common errors which men fall into in their efforts to promote the salvation of others. One is, to imagine that the Spirit of God is to do all in the work of conversion, and to make accordingly little effort really to reach the intellect and conscience of the sinner, and to adapt, by ingenuity and skill and careful study of human nature, our efforts to his condition. A great many Sabbath School teachers err exactly in this way. They imagine that the Holy Spirit has the whole work to do, in the conversion of children; but as He works only through the truth, they employ themselves in bringing the truth to bear upon the soul, without much consideration as to the way of doing it. New affections and new acts will not come, unless the Holy Spirit supplies the spiritual life by which alone they can be performed. Hence, with all our ingenuity, and energy, and zeal, there must be entire and humble dependence on God; the spirit which would say, God grant repentance and salvation to these lost souls.
“5. This view of the subject is particularly worthy of the consideration of Christian parents, in their efforts to promote the religious welfare of their families. A vast proportion of Christian parents not only do not exercise much skill or dexterity, in endeavoring to awaken religious feeling in their children's hearts, but they do not seem even to imagine that there is room for any. They teach lessons, and impose restraints, and require external duties; and this is all. They think the Spirit must do the rest. Now this would be right if it were true that the first feeling of penitence and love were to be the penitence and love of the Spirit, and not of the child. But it is not so. That little child is to be led to be itself sorry for its sins ; it is itself to love its Maker, and to engage in his service. The spiritual life by which right feelings must be exercised, must be from above. Feel this. Let it humble your spirit while you are at work, and animate it while you are at prayer. It has often been remarked by a pastor who has spent a long life in the experience of the Christian service, that he has never once made the effort to awaken religious interest around him, in the right spirit, without success. Persons very often attempt this in the wrong spirit, and their efforts result in total failure ; but it may be doubted whether a Christian in any sphere of duty, whether the pastor or the humblest member of his flock,—teacher or pupil,-parent or child, if he shall really humble himself before God, confess his sins, return to his own individual duty, and then sincerely pray for a blessing upon others, and go forth to the work of doing what he can to promote the Savior's cause, will be allowed to labor without success."