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blessed omen. Nothing would have a greater tendency to bring the God of love down from heaven to earth: so amiable would be the sight in the eyes of our loving and exalted Redeemer, that it would soon as it were fetch him down from his throne in heaven, to set up his tabernacle with men on the earth, and dwell with them. I do not remember ever to have read of any remarkable outpouring of the Spirit, that continued any long time, but what was attended with an abounding in this duty. We know it was so with that great effusion of the Spirit which began at Jerusalem in the apostles' days. And so it was in the late remarkable revival of religion in Saxony, which began by the labours of the famous professor Franck, and has now been carried on for above thirty years, and has spread its happy influences into many parts of the world ; it was begun, and has been carried on, by a wonderful practice in this duty. And the remarkable blessing that God has given Mr. Whitfield, and the great success with which he has crown. ed him, may well be thought to be very much owing to his laying out himself so abundantly in charitable designs. And it is foretold, that God's people shall abound in this duty at the time of the great outpouring of the Spirit that shall be in the latter days, Isa. xxxii. 5, 8. "The vile person shall no more be called liberal, nor the churl said to be bountiful—But the liberal de. viseth liberal things, and by liberal things shall he stand.”
To promote a reformation, with respect to all sorts of duties among a professing people, one proper means, and that which is recommended by frequent scripture-examples, is their solemn, public renewing of their covenant with God. -And doubtless it would greatly tend to promote this work in the land, if the congregations of God's people could generally be brought to this. Suppose a draught of a covenant be made by their ministers, wherein there should be an express mention of those particular duties that the people of the respective congregations have been observed to be most prone to neglect, those particular sins into which they have heretofore especially fallen, or of which it may be apprehended they are especially in danger, whereby they may prevent or resist the motions of God's Spirit
. Suppose the matter be fully proposed and explained to the people, and, after sufficient opportunity for consideration, they be led, all that are capable of understanding, particularly to subscribe the covenant. Suppose also all appear together on a day of prayer and fasting, publicly to own it before God in his house, as their vow to the Lord; hereby congregations of Christians would do what would be beautiful in itself, what would put honour upon God, and be very profitable to themselves.
Such a thing was attended with a very wonderful blessing in Scotland, and followed with a great increase of the blessed tokens of the presence of God, and remarkable outpourings of his Spirit; as the author of the Fulfilling of the Scripture informs, p. 186, 5th edition.— A people must be taken when they are in a good mood, when considerable religious impressions prevail among them; otherwise innumerable will be their objections and cavils against it.
One thing more I would mention, which, if God should still carry on this work, would tend much to promote it; and that is, That a history should be published once a month, or once a fortnight, of its progress, by one of the ministers of Boston, who are near the press, and are most conveniently situated to receive accounts from all parts. It has been found by experience, that the tidings of remarkable effects of the power and grace of God in any place, tend greatly to awaken and engage the minds of persons in other places. It is a great pity, therefore, but that some means should be used for the most speedy, most extensive, and certain information of such things; that the country be not left to the slow, partial, and doubtful information, and false representations of common report.
Thus I have (I hope by the help of God) finished what I proposed. I have taken the more pains in it, because it appears to me that now God is giving us the most happy season to attempt an universal reformation that ever was given in New England. And it is a thousand pities, that we should fail of that which would be so glorious, for want of being sensible of our opportunity of being aware of those things that tend to hinder it, of taking improper courses to obtain it, or of not being sensible in what way God expects we should seek it. If it should please God to bless any means for convincing the country of his hand in this work, for bringing them fully and freely to acknowledge his glorious power and grace in it; and for bringing them to engage with one heart and soul, and by due methods, to endeavour to promote it, it would be a dispensation of divine providence that would have a most glorious aspect, happily signifying the approach of great and glorious things to the church of God, and justly causing us to hope that Christ would speedily come to set up his kingdom of light, holiness, peace and joy on earth, as is foretold in his word. Amen; even so come, Lord Jesus !
RULES OF THE WORD OF GOD,
REQUISITE TO A
COMPLETE STANDING AND FULL COMMUNION
VISIBLE CHRISTIAN CHURCH.
Behold now I have opened my mouth :—My words shall be of the uprightness
of my heart.-Job xxxii. 2, 3.
Confitebatur [Lutherus) dolorem suum, quod ab ipsis reflorescentis
Evangelii Primordiis, quosvis absque Discrimine ad Cænam Dominicam admisisset, quodque Disciplinam, Fratrum Disciplinæ similem, apud suos non constituisset. Quia objiciebatur, Fra. tres non habere Ecclesiam apertam ;-Responsum fuit, Sancta dare non Sanctis prohibuisse Christum :-Errorem [in Papatu] corrigi non posse aliter quam ut certa Probatione, nec illa subi. tanen, Cordium Arcana revelunter, Novitiique diu et caute tum informentur, tum explorentur.
Ratio Discipl. Fratr. Bohem.
My appearing in this public manner on that side of the question, which is defended in the following sheets, will probably be surprising to many ; as it is well known, that Mr. STODDARD, so great and emi. nent a divine, and my venerable predecessor in the pastoral office over the church in Northampton, as well as my own grandfather, publicly and strenuously appeared in opposition to the doctrine here maintained.
However, I hope it will be not taken amiss, that I think as I do, merely because I herein differ from him, though so much my supe. rior, and one whose name and memory I am under distinguishing obli.. gations, on every account, to treat with great respect and honour. Especially may I justly expect, that it will not be charged on me as a crime, that I do not think in every thing just as he did, since none more than he himself asserted this Scriptural and Protestant maxim, that we ought to call no man on earth Master, or make the authority of the greatest and holiest of mere men the ground of our belief of any doctrine in religion. Certainly we are not obliged to think any man infallible, who himself utterly disclaims infallibility. Very justly Mr. Stoddard observes in his Appeal to the Learned, p. 97. "All Protestants agree, that there is no infallibility at Rome ; and I know no body else pretends to any, since the apostles' days.' And he insists, in his preface to his sermon on the same subject, - That it argues no want of a due respect in us to our forefathers, for us to examine their opinions. Some of his words in that preface contain a good apology for me, and are worthy to be repeated on this occasion. They are as follows :
" It may possibly be a fault (says Mr. STODDARD) to depart from the
ways of our fathers : But it may also be a virtue, and an eminent act of obedience, to depart from them in some things. Men are wont to make a great noise, that we are bringing in innovations, and depart from the old way: But it is beyond me, to find out wherein the iniquity does lie. We may see cause to alter some practices of our fathers, without despising them, without priding ourselves in our wisdom, without apostacy, without abusing the advantages God has given us, without a spirit of compliance with corrupt men, without inclinations to superstition, without making disturbance in the church of God: And there is no reason, that it should be turned as a reproach upon us Surely it is commendable for us to examine the practices of