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reign. So it was in that great outpouring of the Spirit upon the Jews that was in the days of John the Baptist; as appears by the great apostacy of that people so soon after so general an awakening, and the temporary religious comforts and joys of many : John v. 35, “ Ye were willing for a season to rejoice in his light." So it was in those great commotions that were among the multitude, occasioned by the preaching of Jesus Christ; of the many that were then called, but few were chosen; of the multitude that were roused and affected by His preaching, and at one time or other appeared mightily engaged, full of admiration of Christ, and elevated with joy, but few were true disciples, that stood the shock of the great trials that came afterwards, and endured to the end. Many were like the stony ground or thorny ground, and but few comparatively like the good ground. Of the whole heap that was gathered great part was chaff, that the wind afterwards drove away; and the heap of wheat that was left was comparatively small, as appears abundantly by the history of the New Testament. So it was in that great outpouring of the Spirit that was in the apostles' days; as appears by Matt. xxiv. 10–13; Gal. iii. 1, and iv. 11, 15 ; Phil. ii. 21, and iii. 18, 19; and the two epistles to the Corinthians, and many other parts of the New Testament. And so it was in the great reformation from Popery. It appears plainly to have been in the visible church of God, in times of great reviving of religion, from time to time, as it is with the fruit-trees in the spring; there are a multitude of blossoms, all of which appear fair and beautiful, and there is a promising appearance of young fruits; but many of them are but of short continuance, they soon fall off, and never come to maturity.
Not that it is to be supposed that it will always be so; for though there never will, in this world, be an entire purity, either in particular saints, in a perfect freedom from mixtures of corruption, or in the church of God, without any mixture of hypocrites with saints, and counterfeit religion and false appearances of grace with true religion and real holiness, yet it is evident that there will come a time of much greater purity in the church of God than has been in ages past; it is plain by these texts of Scripture : Isa. lii. 1; Ezek. xliv. 6, 7; Joel iii. 17 ; Zech. xiv. 21; Psa. lxix. 32, 35, 36; Isa. XXXV. 8, 10, and iv. 3, 4; Ezek. xx. 38; Psa. xxxvii. 9, 10, 21, 29. And one great reason of it will be that at that time God will give much greater light to His people, to distinguish between true religion and its counterfeits. Mal. iii. 3, “ And He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver : and He shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer to the Lord an offering in righteousness.” With ver. 18, which is a continuation of the prophecy of the same happy times: “ Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked; between him that serveth God, and him that serveth Him not."
It is by the mixture of counterfeit religion with true, not discerned and distinguished, that the devil has had his greatest advantage against the cause and kingdom of Christ, all along hitherto. It is by this means, principally, that he has prevailed against all revivings of religion that ever have been since the first founding of the Christian church. By this he hurt the cause of Christianity, in and after the apostolic age, much more than by all the persecutions of both Jews and heathens. The apostles, in all their epistles, show themselves much more concerned at the former mischief than the latter. By this Satan prevailed against the reformation began by Luther, Zuinglius, &c., to put a stop to its progress, and bring it into disgrace, ten times more than by all those bloody, cruel, and before unheard-of persecutions of the Church of Rome. By this, principally, has
he prevailed against revivals of religion that have been in our nation since the reformation. By this he prevailed against New England, to quench the love and spoil the joy of her espousals, about a hundred years ago. And I think I have had opportunity enough to see plainly that by this the devil has prevailed against the late great revival of religion in New England, so happy and promising in its beginning. Here, most evidently, has been the main advantage Satan has had against us; by this he has foiled us. It is by this means that the daughter of Zion in this land now lies on the ground, in such piteous circumstances as we now behold her, with her garments rent, her face disfigured, her nakedness exposed, her limbs broken, and weltering in the blood of her own wounds, and in no wise able to arise ; and this so quickly after her late great joys and hopes. Lam. i. 17 : “ Zion spreadeth forth her hands, and there is none to comfort her: the Lord hath commanded concerning Jacob, that his adversaries shall be round about him : Jerusalem is as a menstruous woman among them.” I have seen the devil prevail the same way against two great revivings of religion in this country. Satan goes on with mankind as he began with them. He prevailed against our first parents, and cast them out of Paradise, and suddenly brought all their happiness and glory to an end, by appearing to be a friend to their happy Paradisaic state, and pretending to advance it to higher degrees. So the same cunning serpent, that beguiled Eve through his subtilty, by perverting us from the simplicity that is in Christ, hath suddenly prevailed to deprive us of that fair prospect we had a little while ago, of a kind of Paradisaic state of the church of God in New England.
After religion has revived in the church of God, and enemies appear, people that are engaged to defend its cause are commonly most exposed where they are least sensible of danger. While they are wholly intent upon the opposition that appears openly before them, to make head against that, and do neglect carefully to look all around them, the devil comes behind them, and gives a fatal stab unseen; and has opportunity to give a more home stroke, and wound the deeper, because he strikes at his leisure, and according to his pleasure, being obstructed by no guard or resistance.
And so it is ever likely to be in the church, whenever religion revives remarkably, till we have learned well to distinguish between true and false religion, between saving affections and experiences and those manifold fair shows and glistering appearances by which they are counterfeited ; the consequences of which, when they are not distinguished, are often inexpressibly dreadful. By this means the devil gratifies himself, by bringing it to pass that that should be offered to God by multitudes, under a notion of a pleasing, acceptable service to Him, that is indeed above all things abominable to Him. By this means he deceives great multitudes about the state of their souls, making them think they are something when they are nothing, and so eternally undoes them, and not only so, but establishes many in a strong confidence of their eminent holiness who are in God's sight some of the vilest of hypocrites. By this means he many ways damps and wounds religion in the hearts of the saints, obscures and deforms it by corrupt mixtures, causes their religious affections wofully to degenerate, and sometimes, for a considerable time, to be like the manna that bred worms and stank, and dreadfully ensnares and confounds the minds of others of the saints, and brings them into great difficulties and temptation, and entangles them in a wilderness, out of which they can by no means extricate themselves. By this means Satan mightily encourages
the hearts of open enemies of religion, and strengthens their hands, and fills them with weapons, and makes strong their fortresses; when, at the same time, religion and the church of God lie exposed to them, as a city without walls. By this means he brings it to pass that men work wickedness under a notion of doing God service, and so sin without restraint, yea, with earnest forwardness and zeal, and with all their might. By this means he brings in even the friends of religion, insensibly to themselves, to do the work of enemies, by destroying religion in a far more effectual manner than open enemies can do, under a notion of advancing it. By this means the devil scatters the flock of Christ, and sets them one against another, and that with great heat of spirit, under a notion of zeal for God; and religion, by degrees, degenerates into vain jangling, and during the strife Satan leads both parties far out of the right way, driving each to great extremes, one on the right hand and the other on the left, according as he finds they are most inclined, or most easily moved. and swayed, till the right path in the middle is almost wholly neglected. And in the midst of this confusion the devil has great opportunity to advance his own interest, and make it strong in ways innumerable, and get the government of all into his own hands, and work his own will. And by what is seen of the terrible consequences of this counterfeit religion, when not distinguished from true religion, God's people in general have their minds unhinged and unsettled in things of religion, and know not where to set their foot, or what to think or do; and many are brought into doubts whether there be anything in religion, and heresy, and infidelity, and atheism greatly prevail.
Therefore it greatly concerns us to use our utmost endeavours clearly to discern, and have it well settled and established, wherein true religion does consist. Till this be done, it may be expected that great revivings of religion will be but of short continuance ; till this be done, there is but little good to be expected of all our warm debates, in conversation and from the press, not knowing clearly and distinctly what we ought to contend for.
REVIVALS IN BELFAST.
of the decided change which has been This place of worship has been vir wrought in their character and whole tually the centre of the present religious feelings. On Thursday evening, another movement, and of the excitement con meeting was held in Berry-street Church, sequent upon it, in Belfast. On Wed which was so largely attended that nesday evening a meeting was held by many hundreds were unable to gain ada number of gentlemen who had been mittance; indeed, the doors had to be deeply impressed by the spirit of the shut to prevent the enormous pressure present awakening; and one of the from without the building. As on the brethren from Ballymena, who has been previous evening, the meeting was conlargely blessed by being made the in ducted by a brother from Ballymena, strument of the awakening of many with one of those, we believe, affected souls in his own town and neighbour on the previous evening, one or two hood. At this meeting a very decided clergymen, and others. The manifesmanifestation, such as that observed in tations at this meeting were somewhat other parts of the country, was visible. the same as on Wednesday evening, exOne female, unable to restrain her feel cept that the number of those awakened ings, screamed out, and, shortly after- was much larger. At one time, the wards, several people, men and women, shrieks from both males and females were similarly affected — say, to the were so great that the person offering number of twenty. These people were | up prayer had to cease, and give out a all visited on the following day by many psalm, which, to some extent, allayed clergymen and others, all of whom speak excitement. Several of those affected
were taken home, while others were so enfeebled by their mental agony as to be unfit to be removed till a late hour of the night. We have heard of a number of females who had attended the Wednesday evening meeting having become affected on the next day during their working hours. Friday evening, the excitement, and the anxiety to be present during the religious exercises, were almost indescribable. Half-past seven was the hour appointed for the opening of the church, but long before that time the entire neighbourhood was so densely thronged, that the streets became almost impassable. The building would not have contained one-fifth of the number who sought admittance ; and when it was completely filled, it was necessary, for purposes of safety alone, to close the doors. A strong body of the local police were stationed in the vicinity, to prevent disorder and annoyance, but very little occurred of this sort. Many of the persons who waited in the streets had come there without going home after leaving off work. On the shutting of the doors, the crowd divided into three sections, determined to hold meetings in other churches, which they were well satisfied in being able to do in those of May-street and Eglinton-street, and in the Wesleyan Chapel, Donegal-place. The religious services in Berry-street were conducted by the Rev. Hugh Hanna, Rev. James Wilson (Lecumpher), and several lay brethren. While they were proceeding, a large number were struck prostrate, while a great many others were manifestly labouring under a strong convic. tion of sin. It is worthy of special remark, that a majority of those who have been thus impressed since the commencement of these meetings have found hope and peace in Christ, and are now devoting themselves with extraordinary zeal to the exhortation of their friends and neighbours to flee to the Saviour; many of them depicting, in language remarkable for its appropriateness, the evil and danger of sin, as well as the preciousness of Christ, and the attractions and glory of heaven. On each evening the people manifested a strong desire to remain after the services had concluded, and could scarcely be got to separate even at a late hour. When the congregation had been dismissed, numbers of them still continued praying on the stairs and in the grounds. Not a few who attended the meetings were
overtaken by conviction in their homes and their employments on the following day. Some of the persons who became affected in the church were carried into the sexton's house, and to the adjacent grounds, where parties affectionately prayed over them. After the termination of the meeting on Friday night, the Rev. Messrs. Hanna and Wilson proceeded to visit some of the cases at Ewart's.row and other localities. Mr. Hanna considers that a work, equal in importance to that of the sanctuary, remains to be done in the homes of the people; as an instance of which he mentions that, while he was praying for one, another was struck down. These events have originated a general feeling of solemnity among the mass of the Protestant people of Belfast, and a belief that we are on the eve of a great outpouring of the Spirit.
In this place of worship the excitement and attraction continue to increase day after day. Were the building thrice as capacious as it is in its enlarged dimensions, it could not contain the crowds who present themselves for admission whenever its doors are opened. On Saturday evening there was an im. mense attendance of the working orders, who flocked to it from every quarter. Not one-half of them could be accommodated. The Rev. Mr. Hanna and two lay brethren conducted the services, during which, several of the auditors, both male and female, became so seriously affected, that it was necessary to assist them out of the church. A number who were present upon the occasion have since manifested at their own homes the full symptoms of the visitation of the quickening Spirit. On Sabbath forenoon there was again a most crowded meeting. Hundreds who could not gain admittance were obliged to seek it in other churches. The number of manifestations was fully as great as upon any previous occasion-probably upwards of twenty. At the evening service a remarkable case of conviction occurred, and created a strong sensation. It was that of a seaman, who had been over half the globe, and encountered many perils, and yet, after having seen the wonders of God on the great waters, remained hardened in heart. When, hoivever, on this evening, the conviction of sin came home to him, he publicly confessed that he had come there praying for a blessing, and had, happily, found one. Another striking case was
that of a respectable young man who , and companions their prayers are fervent had, as he admitted, come to the place and incessant. Some of them now ento scoff, but whose mind was brought to joy perfect peace of mind, and are indea very different state in the course of a fatigable in their efforts to awaken or prayer meeting which was held in the console others. An entire change seems library after the regular service, and to have taken place, not only in the who afterwards returned home rejoicing.
hearts of many who are affected, but The cases of public manifestation were also in the enlargement of their intelagain numerous, and very serious in lectual powers, and their capacity for their character. So great was the mul clothing their thoughts and wishes in titude at the doors, that it was necessary language which surprises themselves as to shut them at seven o'clock.
well as their hearers. We learn that The work has not been manifested the females who have been the subjects only in places of Worship, but in fac of this wonderful visitation have been tories and workshops it has produced
treated with the kindest consideration the most marked results.
by the proprietors and managers of the
establishment in which they are emTHE CRUMLIN-ROAD.
ployed, and that, when some of those An intense and very general excite who were most powerfully stricken were ment has prevailed in the factory of removed to their homes, others united Messrs. Ewart and Son, Crumlin in prayer for them. road, and the streets in its immediate We learn that at least one case of vicinity, in which many of the workers decided and solemn awakening has oc. reside, in consequence of a number of curred in another mill on the Crumlinthe females employed in the mill hav road-that of Messrs. Johnston and ing exhibited sudden religious impres Carlisle. sions, quite as strong and unequivocal At a late hour on Friday night, after as those manifested at any of the meet the services in Berry-street were closed, ings where “awakenings" have occurred. the Rev. H. Hanna, and Rev. J. Wilson We are informed, and have no reason to (Lecumpher), paid a visit to Ewart'sdoubt, that more than twenty cases of row. They entered at least twenty of this description-several of them of the the houses, and found that in each of a most marked character-have already number of them, ten or twelve persons taken place. The particulars of some had been engaged in praise and prayer of these have been detailed to us, and before their arrival. On an average, are, in almost every respect, similar to besides, two individuals in each were those of other instances of deep and under the influence of deep religious absorbing spiritual impression which impressions-one, in most cases, rejoicwe have witnessed, heard, or read of. | ing in peace, and the other manifesting On some occasions the persons affected solemn conviction. The first case of have become utterly prostrated under almost immediate impression which octhe visitation, and so incapacitated for curred at last night's meeting in Berrythe slightest physical exertion, that they street, was that of a young female from required to be conveyed to their homes, this quarter, whose contempt for religion and placed under medical treatment. had previously been notorious. From this state most of them recovered The case of another young woman-a within a few hours, but still retain a Roman Catholic-has come to our knowdeep conviction of the urgent necessity ledge, which is not less striking. She of saving grace. Others have been was not in the habit of attending any enabled to rejoice in the presence of a place of worship; but having been inrevealed Saviour; and one prominent duced to go to one of those meetings, she and general feature in the condition of was so forcibly impressed with a sense these is their ardent affection for those of her spiritual condition, that she fell impressed, or whom they desire to be down almost in a fainting fit, and was impressed, in the same inanner. This removed. She is now, happily, in a feeling is frequently expressed in the very different frame of mind, and openly most impulsive manner, both by words declares that her hope is not in the and gestures-those affected rush into | Virgin Mary, but in Christ alone, and one another's arms with mutual ejacu that she will seek the truth, not in a lations of endearment, and mutual as prayer book, but in the Bible. pirations for Divipe mercy and guidance. In the quarter known as Ewart's-row, For the conversion of their relatives there are cases of spiritual enlighten