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church, though composed of only a few humble names.
We also believe that it is the nature of divine truth whenever preached to produce an immediate effect. “Is not my word like a fire and like the hammer to break the flinty rock in pieces?” It is quick, and powerful; and whenever, if declared in a proper manner, it does not accomplish its great design, it is in consequence of adverse influences. Amongst these without doubt is the chilling influence of a dead church. A stringed instrument carried into a damp atmosphere, losing the elasticity of its strings, gives no desirable music, and a congregation of sinners addressed with ever so much skill, and power, if surrounded by a prayerless, unconcerned, and worldly minded church, will not respond to the exhortations and entreaties of the minister of God. Each professor, with only a name to live, is to the mind of the sinner, a contradiction, of all the amazing truths which are sounded from the pulpit. Hence we see the necessity of a praying church in order to a revival of religion in the congregation. For the influence of prayer is not confined to a straight line ascending and descending between carth and heaven. Prayer in the souls of Christians has a radiating power, and spreads diffusively upon other souls. Let but one man be a man of prayer, a man who walks with God, and knows the hidden life of a Christian, and you cannot be with that man without feeling his sanctifying influence. There is no element or even sublimation in chemistry whose unseen virtue goes on in its mysterious, searching and all pervading power, that is more subtile, or more immediately efficacious than the influence of spirit on spirit. But when the spirit is highly spiritualized, it has received a quick, and irrepressible tendency; and this baptism from above is as perceptible to every one as though the Holy Spirit were seen descending upon it from heaven.
This spiritual influence cannot be imparted by words merely, or by good deeds, by alms-giving, or by contributions for the heathen. Yet without it, the kingdom of Christ, which is a spiritual kingdom, will never be established in the world. We look with amazement upon those who seem to feel that the Saviour's kingdom and the Millennium are to be advanced, merely by giving, and by planning and projecting; as if the command • Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,' would be fulfilled by laying out the tracks of benevolent enterprises, and grading their ways. When a powerful appeal is made to an assembly upon some benevolent object, and the hearers are constrained to set apart some of their property for this object, and feel their obligations to do more than they have done in the way of such communication, we have often
wished that an appeal as powerful and lasting in its effects could be inade to impress them with this thought, that it is as much a duty which they owe to the cause of Christ, and a more effectual means of building up his kingdom, to begin thenceforth to deny ungodliness and every worldly lust, and to live holy, soberly and rightcously in the world, as to give money for the spread of the gospel. Because this truth is not telt and practised upon by Christians at large, we are called to mourn over the suspension of divine influences upon the churches. Should every church understand and feel this truth, and every member, with fasting and weeping, and turning unto the Lord, begin to live and to pray as Christians will do in the Millennium, we should not long inquire why there are no revivals of religion. There would be a revival in every soul, in the whole church, and as they lay prostrate in prayer, the minister from his watch tower would cry, Get ye up, for there is a sound of abundance of rain. We have lately tried special efforts to bring the truths of the Bible near to the hearts of men; the results were great and good, but as the consequence of such uncommon efforts, a languor pervades the churches of our land. A further trial of such measures for the present, at least would not be advisable; because a second effort, unless it goes beyond the first, is likely to do injury, and by the loss of their novelty such would likely to be the effect of a repetition of these once powerful measures. We have tried external means of a public nature; perhaps God is about to lead his children to great conquests by a more simple, private and humbling way. It may be that we are now to learn the power of holy living and of prayer; the power of spirituality, a steady, burning and shining
; light, sending out its rays of mercy upon the dreadful darkness. We long to see the experiment tried. We should be glad if ininisters would enter into a concert of feeling upon this subject; for the sentiments which have been advanced are too obvious not to have occurred to them already, or not to have commended themselves oftentime, to their good judgment. Many of the servants of Christ seem to be hesitating what course it is best for the churches to pursue for the promotion of religion amongst us. Is there not great need that they should labor to raise the standard of Christian character,-of a holy life? This will be done before the coming of the latter-day glory, and will be a means, as well as a presage, of its advancement.
We can easily conceive of a time near at hand when the burden of preaching and exhortation will he, that Christians should "be holy, even as” Christ is "holy;" and as of late, immediate repentance has been enforced upon sinners, that
immediate, thorough and persevering efforts will be urged upon every Christian to become a vessel sanctified and fit for the Master's use. We all know what the effect has been when a great truth like that of the duty of immediate repentance las possessed the minds of ministers simultaneously, and each has gathered strength from his brethren to enforce it upon his own hearers. Suppose that the conviction of greater holiness in ministers and private Christians should enter and fill the minds of a large association or conference; that by prayer and supplication they should themselves receive an unction from the Holy One, and then begin to call their church members to repentance, and prayer, to the denial of every sin, to the abandonment of every evil way, to the entire dedication of themselves, and all that they have and are to God; that they should in a more heart-searching and trying manner point out the evidences of experimental piety, undeceive or at least alarm, or else make manifest, the hypocrite, and show each professor the wickedness of an undecided and negligent spirit ; and then by telling them that Christ IS IN THEM, except they be reprobates, and by setting before them the hope of their calling, and the exceeding honor and glory of being the sons of God, lead them on to the cultivation of a holy life, to fervent and more frequent prayer, and to earnest desires for the conversion of the world ! Soon would the churches rise in their beauty and strength; the world around them would feel the enlightening and purifying influence; sinners would flock to Christ as doves to their windows; the missionary spirit, the very spirit of true Christianity, would pervade all hearts, and we should soon feel that the day of the Lord was at hand. But it is well known that concert is a great means of individual and private benefit, and the simultaneous movement of ministers and Christians towards the attainment of a greater spirituality in the churches, and for the lifting up of a higher standard of Christian character, would be a powerful means of introducing measures for the general promotion of religion, which, to say the least, could not be rejected because they were new, nor yet fail to commend themselves to those who are seeking for new measures." We cannot imagine that any real Christian, however just his disapprobation of some of the means which have been resorted to for the furtherance of religion, can object to entering his closet, bewailing his private sins, and parting with them forever, and coming forth to spend a new life of spiritual and circumspect. walking with God. Are we not all as unprepared for the Millennium as we should be for the coming of the judgment ! If the latter-day glory is ever to rise upon the world, must there not be a different state of
things in our churches; must it not be a more difficult thing than at present to pass for a Christian without the power of godliness in the heart; must not Christians know more of the nature and efficacy, and also of the practice of intercessory prayer? Must not the time fast come when that obstinate spirit in which some professors resist every effort of their brethren to do good shall be made to czase by the exercise, at first, of long-suffering and kind expostulation, and then, if necessary, of a prompt discipline? How much longer shall churches live with members within them who have cherished old feuds for years, and have gone to the communion with feelings in their hearts towards each other, like splinters covered with festering and “proud flesh ?" How near to the Millennium shall we come while professors go about in a gossiping, tale-bearing spirit, speaking evil of one brother, an: reproachfully of another, and despitefully of all? Is it a fore-token of that approaching day, that some professors are so zealou3 for what is right, that they cannot meet for prayer with other professors, who in their opinion are guilty of things of which they have never been convinced, and respecting which others as holy as themselves are not prepared to say that they are sinful? Is it “ Millennial” to bite and devour each other?-or to be separated from offices of mutual good-will by prejudlice? What mockery must splendid offerings, made by such churches, appear in the sight of heaven! The gift of the Holy Ghost cannot be purchased for the heathen with money, while Christians are driving him out of their hearts and sanctuaries! It is wrong to suffer the consciousness of evil in our own hearts, or the contemplation of it in others; to damp our zeal, or hinder our efforts, but there are times, we know, when many seem to feel as Elijah did when he threw himself down under the juniper tree, and gave up his efforts in despair, because of abounding iniquity. This is exceedingly wrong; all impatience, or hasty words, or despairing thoughts at the wickedness of the wicked, or at the manifold imperfections and sins of professors, are a violation of the spirit of Christ. Still no one can avoid the reflection, that societies, and donations, and organized efforts are useless without sancti fication in the hearts of Christians. Taking even a mercenary view of the subject, we cannot see in what manner the opening fields of labor and the demands for increased supplies are to be met, without such a state of love to God and Christ, and the souls of men, as shall dispose the churches to greater sacrifices and efforts. But could this be effected while things remain as they now are, we should soon have Christianized heathen preachers and church members transported across the waters, to make us
ashamed ofthe superior manner in which they have learned Christ. We believe that no one will think that we are advocating the doctrines of the Perfectionists, wben we say these things, or that we are recommending asceticism or a seclusive religion. But we do think that the piety of Thomas A. Kempis and of William Law needs to be added to the characters of those who seem to make religion consist merely in the will, and holiness and devotedness to God to be matters of religious bustle. We also think that it is too easy a thing for half instructed and half converted professors to enter the church, and too easy to remain there, when it is made manifest that they are not of God. It is also acknowledged by many that there is a common rate piety which is prevalent in the world, that satisfies multitudes who do not think that the only true evidence of grace in the heart is its increase. There is also a feeling mis-named 'love of peace,
covers a multitude of sins." And to sum up all in a word, is it not true that piety must exert a more visible effect, and a more entire sway over the feelings and character, before we can hope for the Millennium ? When this is done, the noble array of enterprise brought forward in the book which we have considered, will be indeed the HARBINGER of the MilLENNIUM, for it will be carried forward with a spirit and energy almost adequate, as far as means are concerned, for the birth of a nation in a day !
It did not come within the purpose of the Author to enlarge upon any of these topics, any further than they are alluded to in his remarks on revivals of religion. In speaking of the book, so well calculated to direct and encourage the spirit of benevolent effort, we could not but wish that its readers would consider that the grand means of sustaining and of increasing these noble projects of benevolence, are to be found in the improvement of the private religious character of individual Christians and churches. Although there are times which are technically called Revivals, when God in an especial manner, makes truth to prevail against error in the hearts of men, and bows the proud sinner into the dust, and although these seasons are to be sought for with an importunity which knows not how to be denied, Christians should beware lest they consider the elevated feelings of such times as the only true measure and pattern of piety, and neglect the daily and uniform culture of holiness. Above all, they should remember that there are many things to be done by them as individuals and as members of the church preparatory both to Revivals and to the Millennium. T'he author of the book before us alludes to some of them in his answer to the question, “ When may a revival of religion be