網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

important trust, with reference to the world. His command is that she take the gospel and evangelize the nations. Eighteen centuries have rolled away and the work is not done; at the present time it moves onward slowly, and with great difficulty; and why? Is it for the want of numbers ? No. She has sons and daughters enough to preach the gospel to every creature. Is it for the want of means? No. She has means sufficient-I had almost said without the practice of any self-denial, to furnish every nation, tribe, and family with the preached gospel. But the church has but little faith in God, and little love for souls; and therefore the work lingers. When in a state of declension, christians have but little desire to glorify God and save men. They are selfish and groveling, and have no heart to this appropriate work. But when filled with the spirit of a genuine revival, they have jealousy for God and sympathy for men. Then they can feel and

pray and act. They wish to save souls whether near or remote. For this they are willing to employ all the talents they possess.

Suppose the whole Protestant Church now in a revival state ; do you think there would be any want of means to carry forward our Missionary enterprises at home and abroad? The treasury of the Lord would be filled at once to overflowing. Suppose this revival should be perpetuated; how long do you think it would be before it would be sung in every dark corner of the earth,—“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion—thy God reigneth.” With such a church praying and laboring, the Lord would make a short work in the earth—a nation would be born at once, and Jesus would see of the travail of his soul and be satisfied. Nothing but the spirit of a perpetual revival is adequate to meet the wants of the worldto meet the calls of divine Providence. 'How desirable then that the church should speedily come into this state of holy consecration. And where shall the example first be set ? Where may it be reasonably expected, if not in that section of the church that has been most highly favored by the outpourings of the Holy Spirit. In New England, revivals of religion have been so frequent and powerful as to awaken joyful surprise throughout all Protestant Christendom.

And now it should be our aim, not merely to enjoy revivals-nor to enjoy them frequently, but to live on from year to year in a perpetual revival. Let us live so as not to be surprised if we witness conversions every week. Let us live so near to God—be so filled with faith and hope that we shall be greatly disappointed if souls are not continually coming into the kingdom of the Redeemer. Let one church occupy this high ground, and she will stand as a city on a hill, which cannot be hid. Other churches will see her light and rejoice in it. The idea of a perpetual revival will be entertained and acted upon. Then the churches, instead of sitting in sack-cloth, and mourning over their darkness and leanness the most of the time, as

they now do, will arise and put on their beautiful garments—they will shine forth fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners.

II. Having considered the desirableness of a perpetual revival, the inquiry naturally arises, in the SECOND place, Is God WILLING to grant this blessing to his people? If it will not be for his glory, or the highest good of his church; or, if for any other reason God is unwilling to pour out his Spirit continually upon his people, then we should not labor and pray for this blessing with any expectation of receiving it.

But what say the Scriptures on this subject? The text contains an encouraging assurance,-" The Lord is with you while ye be with him: if ye seek him, he will be found of you ; but if ye forsake him, he will forsake you.”

." The presence of God which is here promised, secures all that we mean by a perpetual revival of religion. As it secured to King Asa the victory over the Ethiopians, so it will now give to christians the victory over their enemies, and success in all their labors. It is the Divine presence that makes a genuine revival, and this, according to the text, may be enjoyed as long as we wish. Of the same import are many other portions of the revealed will of God. “ He that asketh receiveth, and he that seeketh findeth, and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened.” “If ye then being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him.” “Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.” Again, speaking of his people whom he hath consecrated as a temple for himself, God says" I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”

These, and similar passages which abound in this holy book, express not only a willingness on the part of God to be with his people, but the most unequivocal promises and assurances that he will do so. Christ promised that he and his father would take up their abode with his disciples; and, again, that the Holy Spirit should abide with them forever. A realization of these precious truths is all that we mean by a perpetual revival. Let us then engrave it upon our hearts as a truth never to be effaced or forgotten, that God is willing to bestow upon us the richest blessings we can seek,-nay more, that he is willing to do for us exceeding abundantly above all that we can ask, or even think.

And while He is willing, there is nothing in his nature or condition to prevent the accomplishment of his pleasure. There is no necessity for God's leaving his people when he is visiting them by his Spirit. He does not become weary, nor do his resources fail. thou not known, hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? There is no searching of his understanding. He giveth

“ Hast

power to the faint ; and to them who have no might, he increaseth strength. Even the youth shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fail. But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary ; they shall walk and not faint.” The Lord's arm is not shortened that it cannot save, neither is his ear heavy that it cannot hear. Giving doth not impoverish him; nor doth withholding enrich him. The waters of salvation do not come from a broken cistern, but from an overflowing fountain that never fails, nor is ever diminished.

It is not necessary for God to leave a people that he visits in order to grant others a refreshing from his presence. Were it so— were it impossible for God to manifest the tokens of his presence to more than one community at the same time, then we could not hope for a perpetual revival. All his children are dear to him as the apple of his eye, and we should expect that our Heavenly Father would be passing around from one loved church to another-leaving some to mourn the hidings of his face, while others are rejoicing in his smiles. But the Lord is not thus shut up to space like one of us. He can be with every church, and every member, and every minister. Hear his glorious promises,—“ Thus saith the Lord, Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool.” “Lo! I am with you always, even to the end of the world.” A kindred promise is made to all his disciples, —“Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” His promise too respecting revivals of religion, seems to respect not local churches, but the whole family of man,—“I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh.” God's Spirit is a free Spirit

, and it may be freely given to the world. It will extend its saving operations till, like the atmosphere, it will cover the whole earth, imparting life and salvation to all the inhabitants thereof.

The good of God's people does not render it necessary that He should withdraw his reviving Spirit from them. There are two heretical impressions extensively prevailing in the church :-one is, that a high degree of piety cannot consist with a proper attention to worldly business ;-the other, that eminently holy persons cannot live long here on earth. But is it so?. Cannot christians enjoy the presence of God, and prosecute their worldly avocations ? Then the Christian religion is not adapted to man in his circumstances here below. Who will thus arraign the wisdom of God in the plan of salvation, and charge him with a grand failure? God hath declared, (Deut. xii. 7.) that his people may rejoice before him in all that they put their hands unto. On this passage the excellent John Rogers remarks,—“ Surely this is a great liberty, but I fear enjoyed by very few. Doubtless many of our sorrows come through our own default, which we might avoid. And as for godly sorrow, that would be consistent with this rejoicing; if, therefore, we are allowed in all things to rejoice, then may we do so from one thing to another ; from our waking to our sleeping. First, in our first thoughts of God in

the morning; then in our prayer ; after that in our calling, and while we are about our daily business; then at our meals; and in company, and alone; both at home and abroad ; in prosperity and adversity; in meditation; in our dealings; and in all our affairs; and lastly, in closing the day in examination, and viewing it over. And what hinders, if we are resolved to do the will of God,

throughout the day, but that we may indeed rejoice before him in all that we put our hand unto ?” And have there not been some that have carried this spirit of piety into all the duties of life? Did not Enoch and David and Daniel ; Hannah and Lois and Eunice; Leighton and Harlan Page, live and act on this principle of serving the Lord in all things ? Let us dismiss, then, forever the thought that religion cannot be carried into the common walks of life. Let us embrace it as a principle, and reduce it to practice in all things, so that whether we eat or drink, or whatsoever we do, we may do all to the glory of God.

Christians are not better fitted for the duties of life by grieving away the Holy Spirit. In so doing they wrong their own souls, they injure all their interests; for “ godliness is profitable unto all things, having the promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.” God does not withdraw from his people while they be with him. He has no good to confer by his absence. In the language of Dr. Owen :-" There may be a season, indeed, when God will seem to hide himself from believers in their prayers, so as they shall neither find that life in themselves which they have done formerly, nor be sensible of any gracious communications from him ; but this is done only for a time, and principally to stir them up to such fervency and perseverance in prayer, as may recover them into their former, or a better estate than yet they have attained to. The like may be said of all other duties of religion, or ordinances of divine worship.”

As for the sentiment that eminent holiness cannot remain long on the earth, I know not whence it sprang. Sure I am it is not authorized in the Word of God. Men are prone to observe a few particular cases, and from these, hastily draw general conclusions. How many mistakes have been made in this way, both in philosophy and religion. In this way, perhaps, originated the sentiment we are considering. Some few young men, distinguished for piety, have been mysteriously cut down in the morning of their usefulness. Brainard and Martyn, and James Brainard Taylor were early removed; and from this, the sentiment may have arisen, that uncommon piety must soon leave the world. How erroneous the inference! It has no foundation in reason or Scripture; nor is it well sustained by observation. Must we be groveling, worldly, and sinful, in a considerable degree, in order to prolong life here below? What is there so conservative in sin that it must be cherished in order to keep soul and body together? The Bible teaches us that weakness, sickness, pain, and death, are the fruit of sin. From this we should infer that piety,

which brings us to obey the laws of our being, as well as those of revelation, would serve to improve our systems and prolong our days on the earth.

Cannot eminent piety live here? What says the history of the church on this subject?' Did not Abraham and Job and Paul and Hooker and Davenport live to a good old age, and, for many years, bring forth the ripest fruits of piety? Their religion did not kill them. Christians must walk with God, and that too more closely than the church is now accustomed to do, or a perpetual revival can never be enjoyed. But this thought is worthy of more particular consideration. The conclusion from this branch of the subject is this—God is willing to abide with his people by his reviving Spirit, and there is nothing in his nature or condition, or in the circumstances of his people to render it necessary that he should leave them.

III. But there are some conditions which we must notice, in the third place, on which a perpetual revival may be enjoyed. These are referred to in the text_ã The Lord is with you while ye be with him." Christians are with God in a season of revival, and they must continue with him if they would have such a season perpetuated.

They must be with him in communion. Those christians whom the Lord employs as the instruments of promoting his work of grace have fellowship with him. They have fellow feelings and fellow principles with God. They come to his mercy seat and lay hold of his omnipotent arm. In the closet, at the communion table, and in all the services of religion they have true enjoyment. This arises, not from animal excitement, which, like the flood-strear, will soon be lost, but from a hearty agreement with God about the principles of sin and holiness. No one can live in the indulgence of sin and be useful in a revival. Secret as well as open transgression creates an insuperable obstacle to communion with God. “If I regard imiquity in my heart,” says David, “ the Lord will not hear me." There is no such thing as praying and sinning together. And if one attempts to call upon God while in a course of sinful indulgence, he mocks God, and will be treated as a mocker. God will not be gracious to him; He will not incline his ear to his cry; He will not lift upon him the light of his countenance, but leave his soul in horrible darkness. “What communion hath light with darkness ? and what concord hath Christ with Belial ?" To walk in darkness, i. e. in the ways of sin, renders communion with God impossible, for “if we say we have fellowship with Him and walk in darkness, we lie and do not the truth.” When laboring successfully in the work of the Lord, christians walk in the light, i. e. in the paths of truth and holy living, and in this way have true fellowship with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.

A perpetual revival depends on this continued communion with God. His people must not rest satisfied with such tokens of his favor as they have received; but strive to grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. They should not content

« 上一頁繼續 »