« 前へ次へ »
a selection. This is indeed the less necessary, because most readers, into whose hands these observations are likely to fall, are already acquainted with a large portion of the details. Dr. Reed's pamphlet is now published in a form which places it within the reach of every member of our churches, and the recent revival at Kilsyth has become a matter of notoriety throughout the Christian world. In relation to the latter, the remarks of the infidel portion of the public press have been just of that order which, in case of a genuine work of God, might have been expected; similar abuse would have greeted the scenes of Pentecost, had such a press existed then. The observations, too, of certain presbyters in the northern establishment, have been precisely of the kind put forth by certain elders of another church, when, according to their notions, the apostles were turning the world upside down, or Christ was deceiving the people. It awakens no surprise that unconverted men should revile a work of which they are profoundly ignorant. On the same grounds, and with the same arguments, they would assail experimental Christianity in any form, and especially the true doctrine of regeneration. The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God. A faithful narration of the circumstances attending an ordinary case of conversion, (to say nothing of revivals) to a man in that condition of mind, might appear absurd and ridiculous. To the judgment of such persons, on such a subject, it would be of no use to appeal : as well might we consult a committee of worldly men as to the admission of candidates to the fellowship of our churches ! What would such persons make of the evidences of conversion! But since a revival, if genuine, is only conversion on a large scale, the men who are incompetent to decide in the one case, are incompetent in the other. From such a quarter, censure is probably the highest praise. Seeing that nothing has hitherto transpired to shake the confidence of Christians as to the recent awakening at Kilsyth, it is a matter of regret if any thing has occured there, to induce Dr. Brown to express himself with so much caution and reserve on the subject. He says, (page 8,)
"A studied silence respecting certain very interesting movements of a religious kind, in various parts of our country, has been observed. That silence does not flow from apathy or hostility; but the author did not feel himself qualified to pronounce
IV. Revival at Wailuku, in the Sandwich Islands.
V. Special Religious Services Improved and Vindicated. By the Rev. Thomas Milner, A.M., minister of King-street Chapel, Northampton.
VI. The Revival of Religion ; a Narrative of the State of Religion at Wycliffe Chapel during the year 1839. By Andrew Reed, D.D.
VII. The Day of Pentecost. By the same Author.
VIII. On the Means and Manifestations of a genuine Revival of Religion : an Address delivered before the United Associate Presbytery of Edinburgh, in Rose-street Church, Edinburgh, on November 19, 1839. By John Brown, D.D.
IX. Lectures on Revivals of Religion. By W. B. Sprague, D.D.; with a Preliminary Essay on the Psychology of Religious Revivals, by a Scottish Minister.
an enlightened, discriminative judgment on their character and results, and he would equally deprecate giving sanction to delusion, and casting suspicion on the work of God. The Master's command seemed to be, “ Judge nothing before the time.”
But it may be asked, What time can be better for forming a judgment concerning facts, than when those facts can be brought under actual observation ? We certainly have criteria which will enable us to decide as to the conversion of individuals, without waiting for final perseverance to set its seal to their Christian character, otherwise our churches must either be repaired with untried materials, or left to decay. We pretend to no supernatural power of discerning spirits, but we certainly do conceive that young Christians are quite capable of proving the genuineness of their conversion; and that, in common with their elder brethren, they may rightfully be expected to give a reason, to every one that asketh, concerning the hope that is in them, with meekness and fear. And if it be possible to form a satisfactory judgment concerning individual piety, in the first stages of its history, it would not seem a task of much greater difficulty to ascertain, during the progress of a revival, its real character. To persons who have been accustomed to mark the operations of divine influence on the human mind, it seems no impossible case, from the very commencement of deep religious impressions, to augur their probable, it may almost be said, their certain issue. On this subject, the following remarks, by the Rev. A. M. Stuart, of Edinburgh, are very striking :
“ Some men indeed say, they will acknowledge a work of the Spirit when they see its fruits. When? in a month ?-in a year?-in a life-time? But there is no better time for beholding the work of the Spirit than when his power is put forth, for there is something peculiarly glorious in the first creation of the soul unto righteousness. The angels in heaven tarry not, but rejoice over the sinner that repenteth, seizing the first moment of his return, When Immanuel is born in Bethlehem, a helpless infant, the hosts of light commence their song, the shepherds repair to the manger, the wise men adore. They wait not till they see him in his manhood, walking on the stormy sea, and stilling the waves by his word. Had they tarried, they could never have so seen him again. He was perfect in his infancy, and perfect in his manhood, but each period was distinguished by its own peculiar beauty; the loveliness of the infant was one, and the glory of the man was another. Ten years hence, in the parishes at present revived, you may see another sight, but you cannot see what you will see now. We trust there will be a progress in grace, but these men may be scattered, they may be tried in a fiery furnace, and separated for the cause of Christ. After the Spirit was given at Jerusalem, the disciples were dispersed every where, and there was many a noble sight, but it was not Pentecost. And if men will not see the work of the Holy Ghost now, they may never so see it again,-not from the Spirit withdrawing himself, but from his working in a different way."-(Lectures, &c. p. 81.)
It seems indeed most likely, that Dr. Brown's extreme caution arose rather from some untoward circumstances, connected with the recent awakening, which had come to his knowledge, than from a persuasion that delay is in such cases essential to a satisfactory conclusion. Of something of that kind, there is a hint in the following passage :
" Any thing wearing the appearance of a revival of religion may well be regarded with suspicion, if the affection by which it is characterised is confined to individuals of a particular sect; and especially if it allow those, under its influence, to cling, in the closest ecclesiastical relations, to men obviously worldly and wicked, while it leads them to regard with coldness, it may be with dislike, men bearing the image and breathing the spirit of our common Lord, merely because they follow not with them.”-p. 35.
Is it true, then, that even at Kilsyth the disciples of Christ have fallen out by the way? If so, Lord, what is man! One thing, however, is cheering. The second edition of Dr. Brown's address bears date, December 7, 1839, and it is confessedly the testimony of one who had not had opportunity of pronouncing “an enlightened, discriminative judgment” on the case in hand, and he appears to have formed his opinion rather from the testimony of others, than from personal observation, whereas more recent communications seem to prove, that in this spiritual harvest, the chaff has borne but a small proportion to the wheat. The following is an extract from a recent sermon by the Rev. W. Burns, the honoured individual in connexion with whose ministry these mighty signs and wonders have taken place. The italics are his own :
“ The attempt has been repeatedly made in Kilsyth, by certain of the American Baptists (query, Campbellites ?) who, by the way, are very unsound in their creed in essential points, while the Particular Baptists have not been amenable to the censure of bringing forward their peculiar views, but, as far as known to us, have rejoiced in the work of grace, and wished us success. We have much reason to be thankful that the class I have referred to above, have been hitherto defeated entirely, and that their attempts to distract prayer-meetings, by introducing their favourite subjects, have been most strenuously and harmoniously resisted. The attempts of the Roman Catholics, and of Socinians, and the teachers of universal pardon have been equally unsuc
* We have heard rumours of some extravagant proceedings on the part of this gentleman that may appear to justify Dr. Brown's caution. Indeed all parties interested in revivals, or seeking to promote them, have need to recollect the following just observations of Dr. John Owen in his great work on the Holy Spirit.
“ The more eminent in any season are the real effusions of the Holy Spirit upon the ministers of the Gospel and disciples of Christ, the more diligence and watchfulness against these delusions are necessary. For on such opportunities it is, when the use and reputation of spiritual gifts is eminent, that Satan doth lay hold to intrude under the colour of them his own deceitful suggestions. In the dark times of the Papacy all stories are full of Satanical delusions, in fantastical apparitions, horrors, spectrums, and the like effects of darkness. It was seldom or never that any falsely pretended to the gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit: for these things were then of little use or request im the world. But when God was pleased to renew really a fresh communication of spiritual gifts and graces unto men in and upon the Reformation, the old dreads and terrors, nightly appearances tending unto deeds of darkness vanished, and every where, by Satan's instigation, arose false pretenders to the Spirit of God; in which way of delusion he will still be more active and industrious, as God shall increase the gifts and graces of his Spirit in his churches, though as yet in these latter ages he hath not attained what he was arrived unto in the primitive times of the Gospel."-Book I. chap. i. sec. 22.
cessful. I am happy to say that our people cannot endure unsound doctrine; and that when they hear the word, as they have heard it, from a great number of ministers, from various places of the church, they have shown the opposite of a captious spirit, and have, we know, been much delighted and edified with the uniformity of scriptural doctrine with which they have been so highly favoured. The sheep of Christ hear his voice, and a stranger will they not follow. Yet we are justly jealous of such strangers making entry, and of grievous wolves not sparing the flock.”
There is nothing in this paragraph savouring of party spirit; and it seems to show, that Christians, agreeing on grand principles, but differing on some minor points, have on this occasion maintained the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. If, however, it has not been so, and even in that locality, the charity which thinketh no evil, has been more lightly esteemed than a certain “ Confession," of man's device, that circumstance will go to prove, not that the revival alleged is unreal, but simply that a church established by act of parliament is always sectarian, so much so, that even when divine influences come “ as the whirlwinds of the south” they fail to dissolve the icy ramparts with which the rulers of the world, in alliance with “ the prince of the power of the air," have contrived to surround the members of some powerful sect, and so to cut them off from all fraternal intercourse with Christians of other denominations.
The work at the head of the list already given, forms an interesting volume. As, however, the fourteen lectures which it contains are by as many lecturers, it has more tlre character of a common-place book than of a continuous essay. This is certainly a defect, but a defect against which, in such an arrangement, it is impossible to provide. Variety of preachers sometimes fails to secure variety of subjects. It may answer well in some cases, as in a course of lectures on the evidences, or facts, or doctrines of Christianity, where each preacher may have his separate department, may confine his observations to that portion of the subject which has engaged his especial attention, and be in no danger of intruding on another man's line of things made ready to his hand. Such, however, is not the case with the question before us. It is one which scarcely admits of division : each department requires to be handled by a man perfectly conversant with the whole subject. In this volume that is hardly the case. At any rate we feel conscious of a painful transition when from the glowing pages of one who has mingled in all the scenes which he attempts to describe, we come to the cold and calculating representations of another who has never seen the subject but in his study, and by his own fire-side. To mention instances would be invidious ; but it seems impossible for an intelligent reader to overlook the difference, as to the mental and spiritual temperament, of the various lecturers whose names and labours are here associated. Unless we are greatly mistaken the following extract is from an eye-witness. The only thing which would engender a doubt as to that matter, is the first sentence, which either displays a marvellous ignorance of the condition
of piety in “ the land of the covenant,” or fully accounts for all the wonders which are said to have recently taken place there.
"Perhaps there was no Christian family and no Christian church in the land, in which there was not constant prayer made that the Lord would · visit and refresh his heritage, which was weary.' But, like Peter on the mount of transfiguration, we knew not well what we said ; and when, by fearful things in righteousness, the Lord answers our prayers, we are afraid at his tokens. The time prayed for has begun to appear, the day longed for has broken, the windows of heaven have rained at least on some fleeces long spread in dryness; and many are surprised. Like the disciples of old, when Jesus stood in the midst of them, we know not that this is He, and are affrighted as if we had seen a spirit. Like the church at Jerusalem, when prayer was made without ceasing for the imprisoned apostle, we cannot believe that the fetters of iron are broken, that the prison doors are open, that the great iron gate has been rolled back, and that the answerer of our prayers standeth at the door. Our eye has been so dimmed with decay, and worn out with the false glare of deathly times, that now, when realities burst upon us, they seem as if they were the shadows. It is, as when we first look on the face of the dead, so different from all we could ever have conceived it to be before,-or rather, it is as if we had been permitted to look on the reality of the valley of vision while the bones gathered one to another, and the sinews of the flesh crept upon them; and at length the wind blew where it listed, and we heard the sound thereof, but knew not whence it came or whither it went, but saw the dead arise a living host, and stand up an exceeding great army of God. The veil has been suddenly withdrawn from the awful state of dead souls, the quickening power of the Spirit has suddenly passed over them; the dew of those who had dwelt in the dust, which had so long slept on them cold and chill, has become the dew of herbs;' the breath divine has breathed on them; and while we yet looked on the cold face of death, the motions of spiritual life have sprung into being."
Long as is this extract, we cannot withhold another from the same sermon.
“Yes! in all times of the church, precious flowers are brought out of the wilderness, and planted in the Lord's vineyard; but in times of refreshing some portion of the wilderness itself blossoms as the rose. In all times, another and another is arrested by the arrow of conviction, and separated, like the • stricken deer,' sits alone, and is silent, in deep concern for his soul; but in times of refreshing the flock seek to the Shepherd, as gathered together by his hand. Always there are trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord; but in these times they spring up quickly, graciously, spreadingly, as willows by the water-courses. In the worst times there are yet souls escaping from the storm and tempest, and hiding in the cleft of the Rock of ages; but in these times the words of the prophet are fulfilled, · Who are these that fly as a cloud-as doves to their windows?' So it was at Pentecost, when the three thousand received the word gladly, and were added to the church. So it was at Samaria, when Philip preached Christ unto them; many believed, and there was great joy in that city.' So it was when the glad tidings of the Gospel reached each dark and distant land by its first heralds. So it was at the Reformation, when such glorious accessions were made to the kingdom of Christ. So in our own land-(one of the fairest daughters of the Reformation, alas ! how marred in her visage now!)—when a nation was born in a day. And so, in every subsequent revival of the Lord's work, the same glorious truth has been made to produce the same glorious results.”
With all its imperfection of style, this is the language of a man who evidently speaks under the powerful influence of that which he endea