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tians were praying together at a late hour of the night, a wicked man who had retired to bed was so troubled in his conscience that he could not sleep. He arose and found his way to the prayer meeting, where he soon surrendered himself to God.
A pious father and mother in Philadelphia were distressed by the conduct of a daughter who was devoted to worldly vanities, and who, in opposition to their wishes, had gone twenty miles into the country for the purpose of attending a ball. They determined to spend that night in praying for her. After returning to her lodgings from the ball, she laid herself down to sleep, and dreamed that she was sinking into hell! She awoke much agitated. Falling to sleep again, she dreamed the same thing a second time, and awoke still more alarmed. She went to sleep the third time, and again she dreamed that she was actually sinking into hell! She could sleep no more. Strong conviction of sin now succeeded to thoughtless gaiety, and early in the morning she took the stage and returned home, where she soon experienced a happy change, and united with her parents in praising the Lord for redeeming mercy. This account the writer received from her pastor.
From the Boston Christian Herald, we extract the following narrative. A gentleman in that city had an impenitent son in Vermont, for whose salvation he felt extremely anxious, and calling on some brethren of the church, made known to them his feelings, and requested them to go with him and pray that his son might be converted to God. Not long after this the son knocked at his father's door in Boston: the father opened the door, and the son on seeing him exclaimed weeping, "I have come to see you, that you might rejoice with me for what the Lord has done for my soul." His father inquired at what time his mind was first arrested? He replied, on such an evening about eight o'clock. His father remembered, that it was the same time at which he and his brethren engaged in prayer for his son. Similar facts may be seen in Gillies' Historical Collections.
A writer in the Albany Journal and Telegraph states the following fact. Six pious young men engaged to offer united prayer in behalf of six of their impenitent friends. The latter often gave and received the counsel of the ungodly, and sometimes were seen occupying the seat of the scornful. The six pious young men met statedly to pray, and each had one of the other six assigned him as a subject of private prayer and of direct personal influence. In the course of a few weeks five out of the six impenitent young men became hopefully pious.
In a Presbyterian church in the District of Columbia, at a small prayer meeting composed of some of the male members who met once a week, about twenty individuals were named as subjects of VOL. IV.
special prayer; all of whom, with one or two exceptions, have since made a profession of religion. In a neighboring town a similar fact occurred in a revival still more recently. Facts of this nature might be multiplied to almost any extent, and they all go to establish the doctrine maintained in the preceding pages.
4. We see the reason why the prayers of the impenitent are not availing. In the first place, they have not the character of those to whom alone the promises are made. It is the prayer of the righteous man that availeth much. But they are impenitent, disobedient, rebellious. Every conscience will respond to the correctness of the sentiment expressed in the words "If I regard iniquity in my heart the Lord will not hear me." Surely then those whose hearts are "full of iniquity," ought not to be heard. Most persons of this description do not pretend to pray. There are some however who do, and many, under the pressure of conviction and distress, will pray very earnestly. But for what do they pray? And what is the character of their prayers? We speak not of such a case as that of the publican who stood afar off, and smote upon his breast, saving, "God, be merciful to me a sinner." If he had never repented and confessed his sins before, he did it in the very act of uttering these words; and from that moment he was willing to submit to God, and to accept of mercy on God's own terms. His language implies this. But according to the supposition, the persons of whom we speak, are impenitent. Of course their hearts are opposed to God and their duty, and they are still inclined to sin, and to seek their happiness in sinning, if they could do so with impunity; and any distress they feel arises mainly from the fear of punishment. Such a state of mind is the reverse of that which dictates acceptable prayer. It has not one of those qualities or characteristics which have been enumerated; no, not one. Is it then wrong to require so much? Examine again, and see whether any of the particulars mentioned, could have been omitted, without leaving such a defect in prayer, as would render it improper for God to answer it. Some are inclined to ask, why is so much required in the Divine Law? The answer is obvious. Nothing less could be required, consistently with the Divine character, and with our relations and obligations, and we may add, consistently with our happiness. The same may be said with regard to prayer. If the impenitent sinner alledge, that this view of the subject places him in a dilemma, seeing that it leaves him no encouragement to pray: The answer is, that he has all the encouragement he could desire, if he will pray aright. Christians have no more. If he will pray as the publican did, he will meet with equal success. This is the way to get out of his dilemma. It requires only one simple, indivisible act, and can never
Occupy more than a moment of time. It is an act which he is bound by every possible obligation to perform immediately; and to make the point as clear as possible, we will add, that it is that act in which a sinner ceases from his rebellion, and accepts of mercy and salvation on God's terms.
5. Let christians now reflect for a moment on their responsibility with respect to intercessory prayer; and also with respect to those other duties which are necessary to render their prayers consistent and efficacious. Think what interests were depending while Moses was interceding for the Israelites, and while Daniel prayed for the restoration of the captives in Babylon. Then think of a dying world to be converted and saved in answer to the prayers of christians, and by their instrumentality; and that God is waiting to be gracious, and is ready to pour out his Spirit to the full extent of his promises, whenever that blessing is sought in the right way.
Consider how much is lost every day and every hour that christians neglect to do their duty. Confine your view first to the congregation to which you belong. Think how many who are now in their sins, exerting a bad influence upon others, and ruining their own souls, and who may soon be removed beyond the reach of human sympathy or divine mercy, might according to the ordinary course of events in a revival of religion, be made in a few days, the subjects of a change which would give joy to angels, and be the commencement of a career of usefulness and happiness which would never end! The history of revivals proves that such effects follow the waking up of christians to the spirit of prayer, and to the faithful performance of duty, as certainly as light follows the rising of the sun. Experience and scripture also decide that no movement on the part of the impenitent to secure salvation, can ordinarily be expected, while christians with whom they are connected in society remain in the slumbers of lukewarmness. If this is so, then what words can express the responsibility of churches in reference to the unconverted around them!— But a general acknowledgment of responsibility, if it goes no further, will result in nothing but increasing guilt. The easy and careless admission of the truth, "We are to blame," when no individual feels, that he is to blame, never leads to any change for the better. It is a conviction of personal deficiency and of personal responsibility, that marks the first step in the progress of revivals. In proportion to the extent of this conviction upon the minds of christians, will those efforts be made for the conversion of sinners upon which, according to the divine arrangement, their salvation is suspended. Brethren beloved in the Lord! After looking at this subject on a small scale, then look at it on a
large scale, and see the salvation not only of some scores or hun-
The importance of this subject is increasing with the frequency of special efforts to promote revivals of religion. On all such occasions, when the spirit of prayer prevails, God is glorified, and his cause triumphs. But in the absence of this spirit, such efforts are uniformly abortive. Thus God is dishonored, and much occasion is furnished for scoffing, skepticism, and infidelity. What can we say when Israel thus turn their backs before their enemies? And how can we meet the cutting interrogatory, "Where is your God?"
6. Finally, if these inferences are legitimate, they furnish a strong presumptive proof, that the views from which they are drawn are correct. Their tendency, at all events, is according to the will of God; "for this is the will of God, even your sanctification ;" and "He will have all men to be saved and come to the
knowledge of the truth;" and we are equally certain that it is His will that christians should be the light of the world and the salt of the earth.
By requiring all that has been stated, and by connecting with his promises such conditions as have been specified, God has placed before us the strongest motives to cherish those feelings and to pursue that course of conduct, which is best adapted to secure our own happiness and the happiness of others. If any are lost in consequence of the neglect of christians, he is certainly not to be blamed for that neglect; and no one who sees the wisdom and benevolence of his plan, will wish it to be altered, because many are unwilling to perform the reasonable duties which it devolves upon them. If it were altered so as to gratify the perverseness and to indulge the indolence, covetousness, and selfishness of men, such alteration would not only spoil it of its excellence, but defeat its design. Every wise and holy being will say-No! Let it remain as it is: and while the wicked cavil, and wonder, and perish, a great multitude which no man can number will be saved, and God will be eternally glorified.
ART. VI.-ON THE OBSTACLES TO REVIVALS OF RELIGION.
"Ir may be observed," says President Edwards, "that from the fall of man to our day, the work of Redemption in its effect, has mainly been carried on by remarkable communications of the Spirit of God. Though there be a more constant influence of God's Spirit always in some degree attending his ordinances, yet the way in which the greatest things have been done, has always been, by remarkable effusions at special seasons of mercy." Was that the way in which the greatest things had been done, from the fall of man to the day of Edwards? And would a christian philosopher hence infer,that remarkable effusions of the Spirit, at special seasons of mercy, would cease to be the chief means of promoting the work of Redemption; and the future be, in this respect, wholly different from the past? This inference, as applied to the period from Edwards until now, would to all observation be contradicted by fact. It has been since the time of Edwards, as it was before; and why should we expect it will be otherwise in time to come? Rather, should we not expect that "special seasons of mercy," times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord, which have been so greatly multiplied in our age, will become yet more and more frequent, until there shall cease to be intervals between them, and they shall run into one another, and flow together, in one long and still spreading revival, which shall result in the conversion of the world. "It has been inquired," says an