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somewhat inclining to Arminian principles, seriously to weigh the matter with respect to this work, and consider, whether, if the scriptures are the word of God, the work that has been described in the first part of this treatise must not be, as to the substance of it, the work of God, and the flourishing of that religion which is taught by Christ and his apostles. Can any good medium be found, where a man can rest with any stability, between owning this work, and being a deist? If indeed this be the work of God, does it not entirely overthrow their scheme of religion; and does it not infinitely concern them, as they would be partakers of eternal salvation, to relinquish their scheme? Now is a good time for Arminians to change their principles. I would now, as one of the friends of this work, humbly invite them to come and join with us, and be on our side; and, if I had the authority of Moses, I would say to them as he did to Hobab, Numb. x. 29. "We are journeying unto the place, of which the Lord said, I will give it you; come thou with us, and we will do thee good: for the Lord hath spoken good concerning Israel."
As the benefit and advantage of the good improvement of such a season is very great, so the danger of neglecting and misimproving it is proportionably great. It is abundantly evident by the scripture, that as a time of great out-pouring of the Spirit is a time of great favour to those who are partakers of the blessing, so it is always a time of remarkable vengeance to others. So in Isa. lxi. 2. what is called, "the acceptable year of the Lord," is also called "the day of vengeance of our God." So it was amongst the Jews, in the apostles' days. The apostle in 2 Cor. vi. 2. says of that time, that it was "the accepted time and day of salvation ;" and Christ says of the same time, Luke xxi. 22. "These are the days of vengeance." While the blessings of the kingdom of heaven were given to some, there was an axe laid at the root of the trees, that those that did not bear fruit, might be hewn down, and cast into the fire," Matt. iii. 9-11. Then was glorified both the goodness and severity of God, in a remarkable manner, Rom. xi. 22. The harvest and the vintage go together: at the same time that the earth is reaped, and God's elect are gathered into his garner, "the angel that has power over fire, thrust in his sickle, and gathers the cluster of the vine of the earth, and casts it into the great winepress of the wrath of God," Rev. xiv. So it is foretold, in reference to the beginning of the glorious times of the Christian church, that as "the hand of the Lord is known towards his servants, so shall his indignation be towards his enemies," Isa. lxvi. 14. So when that glorious morning shall appear, wherein "the sun of righteousness shall arise to the elect, with healing in his wings, the day shall burn as an oven to the wicked,
Mal. iv. 1-3. There is no time like it for the increase of guilt, and treasuring up wrath, and desperate hardening of the heart, if men stand it out; which is the most awful judgment and fruit of divine wrath, that can be inflicted on any mortal. So that a time of great grace, and the fruits of divine mercy, is evermore also a time of divine vengeance, on those that neglect and misimprove such a season.
The state of the present revival of religion has an awful aspect upon those that are advanced in years. The work has been chiefly amongst the young; and comparatively but few others have been made partakers of it. And indeed it has commonly been so, when God has begun any great work for the revival of his church; he has taken the young people, and has cast off the old and stiff-necked generation. There was a remarkable out-pouring of the Spirit of God on the children of Israel in the wilderness, but chiefly on the younger generation, "their littles ones, that they said should be a prey," the generation that entered into Canaan with Joshua. That generation seems to have been the most excellent that ever was in the church of Israel. There is no generation, of which there is so much good, and so little evil spoken in scripture, as might be shewn. In that generation, such as were under twenty years when they went out of Egypt, was that "kindness of youth," and "love of espousals," spoken of, Jer. ii. 2, 3. But the old generation were passed by; they remained obstinate and stiff-necked, were always murmuring, and would not be convinced by all God's wondrous works that they beheld.God by his awful judgments executed in the wilderness, and the affliction which the people suffered there, convinced and humbled the younger generation, and fitted them for great mercy; as is evident by Deut. ii. 16. but he destroyed the old generation; " he swore in his wrath that they should not enter into his rest, and their carcasses fell in the wilderness." When it was a time of great mercy, and of God's Spirit on their children, it was remarkably a day of vengeance unto them; as appears by the 90th Psalm. Let the old generation. in this land take warning from hence, and take heed that they do not refuse to be convinced by all God's wonders that he works before their eyes, and that they do not continue for ever objecting, murmuring, and cavilling against the work of God, lest, while he is bringing their children into a land flowing with milk and honey, he should swear in his wrath concerning them, that their carcasses shall fall in the wilderness.
So when God had a design of great mercy to the Jews, in bringing them out of the Babylonish captivity, and returning them to their own land, there was a blessed out-pouring of the Spirit upon them in Babylon, to bring them to deep
conviction and repentance, and to cry earnestly to God for mercy; which is often spoken of by the prophets. But it was not upon the old generation, that were carried captive. The captivity continued just long enough for that perverse generation to waste away and die in their captivity, at least those of them that were adult persons when carried captive. The heads of families were exceeding obstinate, and would not hearken to the earnest repeated warnings of the prophet Jeremiah; but he had greater success among the young people; as appears by Jer. vi. 10, 11. "To whom shall I speak and give warning, that they may hear? Behold, their ear is uncircumcised, and they cannot hearken: Behold, the word of the Lord is unto them a reproach; they have no delight in it. Therefore I am full of the fury of the Lord; I am weary with holding in: I will pour it out upon the children abroad, and upon the assembly of the young men together: For even the husband with the wife (i. e. the heads of families, and parents of these children,) shall be taken, the aged with him that is full of days." Blessed be God! there are some of the elder people that have been made partakers of this work. And those that are most awakened by these warnings of God's word, and the awful frowns of his providence, will be most likely to be made partakers hereafter. It infinitely concerns them to take heed to themselves, that they may be partakers of it; for how dreadful will it be to go to hell, after having spent so many years in doing nothing but treasuring up wrath!
But above all others does it concern us who are ministers to see to it that we have experience of the saving operations of the same spirit that is now poured out on the land. How sorrowful and melancholy is the case, when it is otherwise! For one to stand at the head of a congregation of God's people, as representing Christ and speaking in his stead; and to act the part of a shepherd and guide to a people in such a state of things, when many are under great awakenings, many are converted, and many of God's saints are filled with divine light, love, and joy: to undertake to instruct and lead them all under these various circumstances; to be put to it continually to play the hypocrite, and force the airs of a saint in preaching; and from time to time in private conversation, and particular dealing with souls, to undertake to judge of their circumstances: to try to talk with persons of experience, as if he knew how to converse with them, and had experience as well as they; to make others believe that he rejoices when others are converted; and to force a pleased and joyful countenance and manner of speech, when there is nothing in the heart: What sorrowful work is here! Oh how miserable must such a person feel! What a
wretched bondage and slavery is this! What pains, and how much art must such a minister use to conceal himself! And how weak are his hands! What infinite provocation of the most high God, and displeasure of his Lord and Master he incurs, by continuing a secret enemy to him in his heart, in such circumstances. I think there is a great deal of reason from the scripture to conclude, that no sort of men in the world will be so low in hell as ungodly ministers. Every thing spoken of in scripture, as that which aggravates guilt, and heightens divine wrath, meets in them. And what great disadvantages are unconverted ministers under, to oppose any irregularities, imprudences, or intemperate zeal, which they may see in those who are the children of God, when they are conscious to themselves that they have no zeal at all! If enthusiasm and wildness come in like a flood, what poor weak instruments are such ministers to withstand it! With what courage can they open their mouths, when they look inward, and consider how it is with them!
We who are ministers, not only have need of some true experience of the saving influence of the Spirit of God upon our heart, but we need a double portion at such a time as this. We need to be as full of light as a glass that is held out in the sun; and, with respect to love and zeal, we need to be like the angels, who are a flame of fire. The state of the times extremely requires a fulness of the divine Spirit in ministers, and we ought to give ourselves no rest till we have obtained it. And, in order to this, I should think ministers, above all persons, ought to be much in prayer and fasting, both in secret and one with another. It seems to me, that it would become the circumstances of the present day, if ministers in a neighbourhood would often meet together, and spend days in fasting and fervent prayer among themselves, earnestly seeking extraordinary supplies of divine grace from heaven. And how desirable that, on their occasional visits one to another, instead of spending away their time in sitting and smoking, in diverting, or worldly, unprofitable conversation-telling news, and making their remarks on this and the other trifling subject-they would spend their time in praying together, singing praises, and religious conference. How much do many of the common people shame many of us who are in the work of the ministry in these respects? Surely we do not behave ourselves so much like Christian ministers, and the disciples and ambassadors of Christ, as we ought to do. And, while we condemn zealous persons for censuring ministers at this day, it ought not to be without deep reflections upon, and great condemnation of ourselves; for indeed we do very much to provoke censoriousness, and lay a great temptation before others to the sin of judging.
And if we can prove that those who are guilty of it transgress the scripture rule, our indignation should be chiefly against ourselves.
Ministers, at this day in a special manner, should act as fellow-helpers in their great work. It should be seen that they are animated and engaged, that they exert themselves with one heart and soul, and with united strength, to promote the present glorious revival of religion; and to that end should often meet together, and act in concert. And if it were a common thing in the country, for ministers to join in public exercises, and second one another in their preaching, I believe it would be of great service. I mean that ministers, having consulted one another as to their subjects before they go to the house of God, should there (two or three of them) in short discourses earnestly enforce each other's warnings and counsels. Such appearance of united zeal in ministers would have a great tendency to awaken attention, and to impress and animate the hearers; as has been found by experience in some parts of the country.— Ministers should carefully avoid weakening one another's hands and therefore every thing should be avoided, by which their interest with the people might be diminished, or their union with them broken. Therefore, if ministers have not forfeited their acceptance in that character in the visible church, by their doctrine or behaviour, their brethren the ministry ought studiously to endeavour to heighten the esteem and affection of their people towards them, that they may have no temptation to repent their admitting other ministers to preach in their pulpits.
Two things exceeding needful in ministers, as they would do any great matters to advance the kingdom of Christ, are zeal and resolution. Their influence and power, to bring to pass great effects, is greater than can well be imagined. A man of but an ordinary capacity will do more with them, than one of ten times the parts and learning without them; more may be done with them in a few days, or at least weeks, than can be done without them in many years. Those who are possessed of these qualities commonly carry the day, in almost all affairs. Most of the great things that have been done in the world, the great revolutions that have been accomplished in the kingdoms and empires of the earth have been chiefly owing to them. The very appearance of a thoroughly engaged spirit, together with a fearless courage and unyielding resolution, in any person that has undertaken the managing of any affair amongst mankind, goes a great way, towards accomplishing the effect aimed at. It is evident that the appearance of these in Alexander did three times as much towards his conquering the world, as all the blows