Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

been wonderfully altered, and have relinquished these vanities, and are becomes erious, mortified, and humble in their conversation. It is astonishing to see the alteration that is in some towns, where before was but little appearance of religion, or any thing but vice and vanity : and so remote was all that was to be seen or heard amongst them from any thing that favored of vital piety or serious religion, or that liad any relation to it, that one would have thought, if they had judged only by what appeared in them, that they had been some other species from the serious and religious, which had no concern with another world, and whose natures were not made capable of those things that appertain to Christian experience, and pious conversation ; especially was it thus among young persons: and now they are transformed into another sort of people ; their former vain, worldly, and vicious conversation and dispositions seem to be forsaken, and they are, as it were, gone over to a new world : their thoughts, and their talk, and their concern, affections and inquiries, are now about the favor of God, an interest in Christ, a renewed, sanctified heart, and a spiritual blessedness, and acceptance and happiness in a future world. And through the greater part of New England, the Holy Bible is in much greater esteem and use than it used to be ; the great things that are contained in it are much more regarded, as things of the greatest consequence, and are much more the subjects of meditation and conversation ; and other books of piety that have long been of established reputation, as the most excellent and most tending to promote true godliness, have been abundantly more in use; the Lord's day is more religiously and strictly observed ; and abundance has been lately done at making up differences, and confessing faults one to another, and making restitution ; probably more within these two years, than was done in thirty years before : it has been so undoubtedly in many places. And surprising has been the power of that Spirit that has been poured out on the land, in many instances, to destroy old grudges, and make up long continued breaches, and to bring those that seemed to be in a confirmed irreconcilable alienation, to embrace each other in a sincere and entire amity. Great numbers under this influence have been brought to a deep sense of their own sinfulness and vileness; the sinfulness of their lives, the heinousness of their disregard of the authority of the great God, and the heinousness of their living in contempt of a Savior : they have lamented their former- negligence of their souls, and neglecting and losing precious time. Their sins of life have been extraordinarily set before them; and they have also had a great sense of their sins of heart; their hardness of heart, and enmity against that which is good, and proneness to all evil; and also of the worthlessness of their own religious performances, how unworthy their prayers, praises, and all that they did in religion, was to be regarded of God : and it has been a common thing that persons have had such a sense of their own sinfulness, that they have thought themselves to be the worst of all, and that none ever was so vile as they: and many seem to have been greatly convinced that they were utterly unworthy of any mercy at the hands of God, however miserable they were, and though they stood in extreme necessity of mercy, and that they deserved nothing but eternal burnings; and have been sensible that God would be altogether just and righteous in inflicting endless damnation upon them, at the same time that they have had an exceeding affecting sense of the dreadfulness of such endless torments, and have apprehended themselves to be greatly in danger of it. And many have been deeply affected with a sense of their own ignorance and blindness, and exceeding helplessness, and so of their extreme need of the divine pity and help. And so far as we are worthy to be credited one by another, in what we say, (and persons of good understanding and sound mind, and known and experienced probity, have a right to be believed by their neighbors when they speak of things that fall under their observation and experience, multitudes in New England have lately been brought to a new and great conviction of the truth and certainty of the things of the gospel ; to a firm persuasion that Christ Jesus is the Son of God, and the great and only Savior of the world ; and that the great doctrines of the gospel touching reconciliation by his blood, and acceptance in his righteousness, and eternal life and salvation through him, are matters of undoubted truth, together with a most affecting sense of the excellency and sufficiency of this Savior, and the glorious wisdom and grace of God shining in this way of salvation ; and of the wonders of Christ's dying love, and the sincerity of Christ in the invitations of the gospel, and a consequent affiance and sweet rest of soul in Christ, as a glorious Savior, a strong rock and high tower, accompanied with an admiring and exalting apprehension of the glory of the divine perfections, God's majesty, holíness, sovereign grace, &c. ; with a sensible; strong, and sweet love to God, and delight in him, far surpassing all temporal delights, or earthly pleasures; and a rest of soul in him as a portion and the fountain of all good, attended with an abhorrence of sin, and self-loathing for it, and earnest longings of soul after more holiness and conformity to God, with a sense of the great need of God's help in order to holiness of life ; together with a most dear love to all that are supposed to be the children of God, and a love toʻmankind in general, and a most sensible and tender compassion for the souls of sinners, and earnest desires of the advancement of Christ's kingdom in the world. And these things have appeared to be in many of them abiding now for many months, yèa, more than a year and half; with an abiding concern to live a holy life, and great complaints of remaining corruption, longing to be more free from the body of sin and death. And not only do these effects appear in new converts, but great numbers of those that were formerly esteemed the most sober and pious people, have, under the influence of this work, been greatly quickened, and their hearts renewed with greater degrees of light, re

newed repentance and humiliation, and more lively exercises of faith, love, and joy in the Lord. Many, as I am well knowing, have of late been remarkably engaged to watch, and strive, and fight against sin, and cast out every idol, and sell all for Christ, and give up themselves entirely to God, and make a sacrifice of every worldly and carnal thing to the welfare and prosperity of their souls. And there has of late appeared in some places an unusual disposition to bind themselves to it in a solemn covenant with God. And now instead of meeting at taverns and drinking houses, and meetings of young people in frolics and vain company, the country is full of meetings of all sorts and ages of persons, young and old, men, women, and little children, to read and pray, and sing praises, and to converse of the things of God and another world. In very many places the main of the conversation in all companies turns on religion, and things of a spiritual nature. Instead of vain mirth amongst young people, there is now either mourning under a sense of the guilt of sin, or holy “rejoicing in Christ Jesus ; and instead of their lewd songs, are now to be heard from them songs of praise to God, and the Lamb that was slain to redeem them by his blood. And there has been this alteration abiding on multitudes all over the land, for a year and half, without any appearance of a disposition to return to former vice and vanity. And under the influences of this work, there have been many of the remains of those wretched people and dregs of mankind, the poor Indians, that seemed to be next to a state of brutality, and with whom, till now, it seemed to be to little more purpose to use endeavors for their instruction and awakening, than with the beasts; whose minds have now been strangely opened to receive instruction, and have been deeply affected with the concerns of their precious souls, and have reformed their lives and forsaken their former stupid, barbarous, and brutish way of living—and particularly that sin to which they have been so exceedingly addicted, their drunkenness--and are become devout and

serious persons; and many of them to appearance brought truly and greatly to delight in the things of God, and to have their souls very much engaged and entertained with the great things of the gospel. And many of the poor negroes also have been in like manner wrought upon and changed. And the souls of very many little children have been remarkably enlightened, and their hearts wonderfully affected and enlarged, and their mouths opened, expressing themselves in a manner far beyond their years, and to the just astonishment of those that have heard them; and some of them from time to time, for many months, greatly and delightfully affected with the glory of divine things, and the excellency and love of the Redeemer, with their hearts greatly filled with love to and joy in him, and have continued to be serious and pious in their behavior.

The divine power of this work has marvelously appeared in some instances I have been acquainted with, in supporting and fortifying the heart under great trials, such as the death of children, and extreme pain of body ; wonderfully maintaining the serenity, calmness, and joy of the soul, in an immovable rest in God, and sweet resignation to him. There also have been instances of some that have been the subjects of this work, that under the blessed influences of it have, in such a calm, bright, and joyful frame of mind, been carried through the valley of the shadow of death.

And now let us consider : is it not strange that in a Christian, orthodox country, and such a land of light as this is, there should be mạny at a loss whose work this is, whether the work of God, or the work of the devil ? Is it not a shame to New England that such a work should be much doubted of here? Need we look over the histories of all past times, to see if there be not some circumstances and external appearances that attend this work, that have been formerly found amongst enthusiasts ? Whether the Montanists had not great transports of joy, and whether the French prophets had not agitations of body? Blessed be God! He does not put us to the toil of such inquiries. We need not say, Who

« AnteriorContinuar »