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the cause and the better for us. The whole dispute, then, will soon turn upon one single pivot, as it now does in Germany. And then our ground of contest will be clear, and we shall no longer combat with such as assail us from behind the trees, the bushes, the fences, and from cavities in the earth, so that we scarcely know which way to turn, in order to make the most effectual defence.
We congratulate our readers, and the church of God in this country who are contending for evangelical truth, on the prospect that the question is here soon to be, Whether the Bible is indeed an inspired book, and its decisions final and authoritative in the Christian church? The time has been, when a suggestion of this nature would have brought down a storm of obloquy upon the man, who dared to venture on making it. The time now is, when some of the younger, bolder, more thorough-going, more openhearted young men, and a few of the older ones, do not hesitate, when among the initiated, to answer the question above in the negative; nor do some of them hesitate even to preach what implies a negative, although they are somewhat guarded in their assertions, on account of the yet remaining prejudices, (as they style them,) of their hearers, or at least of a portion of their hearers. These open-hearted men, (whose sincerity we do not feel at all disposed to question, and whom we, on every account, respect far more than we can those who are not bold and honest enough to make an open profession of their belief,) only need a little more of a common centre around which they may rally, some able, and learned, and fearless defender of their cause, to come out with an entirely open face, and avow substantially the Naturalism, which Dr. Wegscheider now teaches at Halle-Wittenberg. Some of the opponents of evangelical truth may strenuously deny this ; they may even raise a hue and cry against us, as slanderers of great and good men. But we have measured our ground here. We know where we stand, what we speak, and whereof we affirm. The journals and periodicals of the day, devoted to pulling down the edifice of evangelical belief, may make an outcry, as they have learned abundantly to do, of late. But we give them a word of caution on this subject; which is, that it is not expedient for them, at least for some of theirs, that we should be obliged to verify what we have said above, by appeal to individual facts. This, they well know, we can do; and we assure them, we shall not fail to do it, in due
As to ourselves, we thank God for the hope, that the church in our country is not to go through with the dreadful struggle which she has had in Germany. There are in this region, where error substantially the same with that of the German Neologists has so long prevailed, many redeeming and encouraging circum
stances. The existence of a work like the present, called forth not by disputants among the clergy, but by the spontaneous voice of the laity—imperiously called forth, is not the least encouraging circumstance which may lead us to hope, that the flood tide of opposition to the doctrines of the Reformation has reached its height among us, and that it is beginning to ebb. Some few years since, there was only one Congregational church in Boston, that retained the sentiments of the Pilgrims. Now we number eight. Our orthodox brethren, too, of the Episcopal, the Baptist, and the Methodist denominations, have been increased and strengthened. We have other signs of the times, also, which are hopeful. The opponents of evangelical sentiment, in their periodicals, their journals, and their private soirees, are beginning to pour forth, in torrents, the language of contumely and indignation. Nothing exhibits so well the apprehensions which they entertain, as this. We do hope and trust, that these apprehensions are well founded. As immortal beings, and accountable to Him who redeemed us by his blood, we cannot look on with indifference, when the question is pending, Whether his Gospel is to be received or rejected.
Such a question we do, from our inmost hearts, believe to be pending. The opponents of the doctrines which we, who profess to be the strenuous advocates of liberty of conscience, feel bound to defend, will surely not blame us, in the moments of cooler reflection, for standing forth, in defence of all that we hold dear, before God and the world. For them, we cherish no disrespect, no feelings of enmity. As men, as citizens, as men of learning, as ornaments of our country in a civil and social respect, we pay them all that regard which they could wish from us. But when the question is one which concerns our immortal well being, one which essentially respects it ; then, we cannot hesitate how to act. We take our stand, fearless of consequences, and commit the issue to Him, by whose blood we have been redeemed.
Our friends, we trust, will all rejoice, that powerful coadjutors are raised up, in the native land of the Reformation, to the great cause which we have espoused. Sympathy with them we cannot help cherishing. We are embarked in the same cause. We are, in very many respects, placed in the like circumstances. We have the spirit of unbelief to contend with, although it is, as yet, less open. We feel encouraged by their example; and we doubt not we shall have their sympathies. Let us strive to keep pace with them, in the arduous contest. And if, after all, neither we nor they live to see all the fruits of our toils, and struggles, and sufferings, we shall at least indulge the hope, that our successors, of whose triumph we entertain no doubt, will say of us, when they visit our graves, and call to mind our history, É magnis exciderunt ausis.
THOUGHTS ON REVIVALS OF RELIGION.
To the Editor of the Spirit of the Pilgrims :-Sir,
Lest it should be supposed that your work is intended to be exclusively controversial, which, to some extent, it certainly ought to be, I shall, with your permission, communicate, from time to time, through the medium of your pages, a few reflections under the general title of “ Thoughts on Revivals of Religion.” I do not propose to write in numbers, nor with any reference to system. But, having been favored with some opportunity for observation, I am disposed to employ such intervals of leisure as I may be able to command, in placing upon record such reflections and results of experience as might otherwise be lost.
It is a matter of no small importance that young Christians should understand early the nature and evidences of true religion. Like children, they receive deep and abiding impressions early, which give a complexion to their character and conduct through life. Habitual cheerfulness, without levity, is a source of great personal enjoyment, and an efficient auxiliary to truth in the conversion of men; as a melancholy temperament is one of the greatest calamities, and a fruitful occasion of prejudice and unbelief. Often the abiding temperament of the Christian, as cheerful or otherwise, is determined early, and by the force of circumstances, over which deliberate attention and judicious instruction exerted but little control. A vast amount of suffering may be avoided, and an equal amount of enjoyment and vigorous action may be secured, by just views of Christian character, and of its attendant evidences, in the early stages of the divine life.
On no subject, however, are erroneous opinions more common. There is, from some cause, a general expectation, that religion, at its first commencement in the soul, will be indicated by a degree and distinctness of feeling altogether above what will ordinarily be experienced. It is expected that some things will pass away, which never will pass away; and that some new things will appear, which will never be realized.
It is important, therefore, that young Christians should understand correctly what religion does not do, and what it does accomplish, on finding a place in the soul.
1. Religion accomplishes no change in respect to natural faculties or personal identity.
Something almost like this is often expected. And, when a change is experienced, which cometh not with observation, and whose reality and greatness is evinced by silent tranquility, and humble love, and cheerful resignation, and implicit reliance on the Saviour, and a spirit of new obedience, it is something so different from what was anticipated by the subjects of the change, that their very tranquility alarms them, and the impossibility of exciting fear, makes them afraid. It does not, at first, occur to them, that this is religion; for they are the same unworthy creatures who trembled and wept. The same intellect, and conscience, and hopes, and fears, with all the unchanged tokens of identity, remain. They resist, therefore, these indications of a spiritual life, and go in quest of new alarms, as the means of a conversion whose characteristics shall correspond with their unfounded expectations.
The enemies of revivals fall into the same mistake. A late writer adduces, as presumptive evidence that revivals are not the work of God, the fact that the supposed converts seem to be the same persons, affording not the least evidence of the creation of any new powers and faculties. But the necessity of such a change is no where taught in the Bible, or ever realized in Christian experience. It is a new creation; but it consists in new affections, produced by the influence of truth, and of the Holy Spirit.
2. Religion does not change the natural temperament.
If a man was ardent before his conversion, he will be so afterward; and if he was phlegmatic, though religion may add a powerful stimulus, it will never make him quick and ardent. The characteristic of temperament will remain, modified, but not obliterated, by religion.
3. No change is accomplished by religion in the instincts, passions and appetites, excepting that which is indirect, and which consists in their subjugation to the laws of evangelical temperance.
Nor does that inordinate power of appetite or passion, which is the result of habit, cease of course, without watchfulness, selfdenial and prayer. Religion in the soul is not an instantaneous omnipotence, putting down, in a moment, all insurrection in the heart, and suspending, in a moment, the bias of every passion which may have become inordinate by indulgence. It comes to aid the man enslaved by sin, in regaining his liberty, but not to give it to him without prayer and energetic efforts. It is, of course, no evidence that a man is not a new creature in Christ Jesus, that his old habits are sometimes the occasion of temptation to him, as it certainly would be, should he make no resistance, and fall again under their uninterrupted dominion. Faith conquers, but not without a conflict.
4. The commencement of religion does not extirpate entirely from the soul any one sinful passion or affection which belongs to our common depraved nature.
It impairs the power of every one, but expels wholly not one. The Canaanite still dwells in the land, and is driven out only by little and little. The power of sin, though impaired, is still great. A new empire is set up in the soul, but it is in the presence of a long established and vigorous opposition. To sin a deadly wound is given; but it is given to a giant, in whom a fearful vitality yet remains, and whó terrifies the victor with frequently renewed and powerful onsets. Religion has conquered, but it holds its dominion over captives impatient of subjection, and ready every moment to mutiny and throw off the yoke. It is a war which the Christian is destined to maintain for life, in which there is neither sleep, nor truce, nor rest. For though benevolence sways the sceptre, selfishness, with evil eye, watches every moment to usurp the throne, and gains too often a temporary victory. Though humility keeps the door, pride besets it also, with sleepless vigilance, to rush in at the first unguarded moment, and finds, alas! too many opportunities. These onsets of remaining sin are unanticipated, and greatly alarming to the young Christian, who sometimes gives up his hope entirely, and often, through fear of death, is subject to bondage. That very conflict which is the result of grace, alarms him, and he is needlessly troubled by some of his best evidences.
5. The commencement of religion in the soul does not cause the subject of it to appear to himself to be growing better.
In the sight of God he has become better, and is destined to advance in sanctification, until he shall, at length, be made meet for the inheritance of the saints. But the effect of sanctification is never the increase of self-complacency, but rather of self-abasement. Religion includes both a new moral sensibility to evil, and a new illumination to disclose its existence. The law of God becomes the rule of feeling and motive and action; and every approximation to this law in holy feeling, serves only to make every relative defect appear more plain, and more exceedingly sinful, insomuch, that though the real process of the believer is from strength to strength in holiness, bis path shining more and more to the perfect day; the real effect on himself is, deeper views of the deceitfulness and wickedness of his heart, an increasing sense of the burden of his sin, deeper humiliation before God, stronger desires to be delivered from sin, a more vigorous resistance of it by self-denial and prayer, and a more grateful sense of the goodness of God in sending his Son to make atonement for sin and give his people the victory over it.
But when these developements of remaining sin begin to be made, they are so unexpected as always, at first, to excite serious alarm; and unless timely explanation and advice are given, they produce a fear which obliterates hope, and protracts darkness and despondency, sometimes for years, and even through life. There is no subject on which misapprehension is productive of so much practical evil,—where hope expires, and health fails, and nervous disease invades, as on the subject of the apparent effects of sanctification,—the views and feelings in respect to himself, which religion