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but little effect on the mind capable of impressing it with its important requirements, when the minister fails to exhibit an example of its heartfelt need, in not endeavouring to create that effect which extemporary praying, when bringing the whole soul before God, is intended to produce. Surely, when a faithful minister of God appears in the midst of his congregation, and before be discourses on the invaluable mercy of a Saviour crucified, is it not right that he should, in his pulpit station, beseech the Almighty, with all possible earnestness, to bless his own truth to the spiritual edification of many souls ? When people discover that the minister of religion is a praying man, it gives an additional weight to his preaching, and they are more likely to become inwardly convinced of the necessity of giving their serious attention to the subject of their souls'salvation, than by any other means. In every age of the world, God has abundantly blessed the mind, heart, and soul of prayer. All his ministering servants have ever prayed in public, as well as in private. The want of this praying frame, in the ministers of the Church of England, and an invariable exhibition of its exceeding value, in their public ministrations of the sanctuary, is one among many reasons why the Redeemer's cause has not more prospered in the Established Church of this nation. When people behold a minister, not praying in their presence out of his own heart, they are led to think very lightly of the exhortation which he attempts to enforce upon their attention. Besides, the Evangelical clergy pursue the very same course of addressing God in the pulpit as another class of divines, “who prophecy out of their own hearts saying peace, and there is no peace.” In this deportment of the two classes, ministering in holy things, there is no difference. Both in the pulpit are seen offering up the same form to the Deity Eternal, who cannot approve of such deficiency of true worship in his own servants. The God of our many mercies “ has given unto us exceeding great and precious promises,” by way of inducing us " always to pray, and not to faint,” in the momentary exercise. All ministers who can really say to their respective congregations, from the very bottom of their hearts, “ Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us : we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God," ought to show their sincerity and zeal in their Redeemer's cause, by pouring out their hearts before him in the pulpit. Pulpit prayers are well adapted to impress the mind, to lead the heart to God, and to cause the Spirit of all truth to work mightily in the soul, wben they are presented to the Almighty by a minister, who is warm in his cause. No place on the face of the whole earth can be found where prayer is so much needed, to be heard, felt, and enjoyed, as in the pulpit, and in no place has prayer answered such a truly blessed purpose, as in the pulpit. By it believers have been strengthened, and numerous souls have been converted. On account of it, God has appeared in the midst of his worshipping people, who have rejoiced in his presence, and have been abundantly satisfied with his loving kindness towards them. A divine power and a heavenly blessing, have, in numberless instances, attended the pulpit petitions of a praying minister of Christ, to the hearts and consciences of many souls. As extemporary praying in the pulpit is by far the best method of earnestly imploring the Lord to make more and more useful the solemn ordinances of his house in the true conversion of sinners, and building up his people in the faith of Christ ; every spiritual minister, who has the life of God in his soul, ougbt, by no means, to cease setting before his people this scriptural example of beseeching the Almighty to impart to us all the gracious consolations of “ believing that we have life through” the blood-shedding and allatoning sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ. Every means which can be devised should be incessantly adopted to awaken the unthinking, careless, and unholy portion of all congregations out of their slumbering transgressions, in order that they may be iminediately induced to " arise and call upon their God, if so be that God will think upon them, that they perish not." Now, pulpit-praying is an indispensable ineans under the Holy Spirit's divine influence, of drawing attention to the soul-rewarding and ever-satisfying advantages of a religious life, dependant upon “ the Son of God, who has loved us, and given himself for us.” When the umboly and profane thus hear a minister's earnestness in praying for their salvation, they are frequently moved to a serious consideration of their case before God, which oftentimes ends in real conversion. May the Almighty be pleased to put a praying heart into all his ministers, and ever dispose them to make their pulpits such places of prayer as may meet with his divine approval, and call down his spiritual blessings on the souls of his waiting people!
We wish this subject to be familiar to our readers, that it may have a place in their prayers; but as it has too frequently been presented witban unfavourable and forbidding aspect, we wish also that they may have correct views upon it. To the cold formalist, a revival of religion appears repulsive, as sectarian in its associations, and enthusiastic in its progress and results ; and to the ardent and inexperienced, though sincere followers of Christ, it often presents an appearance of excitement which it is undesirable to cherish. We have therefore great pleasure in inserting the following extracts from a small American work on · The Theory and Desirableness of Revivals, published in this country, with a judicious Preface by the Hon. and Rev. B. W. Noel.
The following things will express what is meant by a revival of religion ; or the following truths are essential elements in the theory of such a revival :
1. There may be a radical and permanent change in a man's mind on the subject of religion. This change it is customary to express by the word regeneration, or the new birth. It supposes, that before this, man is entirely alienated from God, and that he first begins to love him when he experiences this change. The previous state is one of sin; the subsequent is a state of holiness. The former is death ; the latter is life. The former is the agitation of a troubled sea, which cannot rest ; the latter calmness, peace, joy. This change is the most thorough through which the human mind ever passes. It effects a complete revolution in the inan, and his opposite states are characterized by words that express no other states in the human mind. This change is instantaneous. The exact moment may not be known, and the previous seriousness and anxiety may be of longer or shorter continuance; but there is a monient when the heart is changed, and when the man that was characteristically a sinner, becomes characteristically a Christian. This change is always attended with feeling. The man is awakened to a sense of his danger ; feels with more or less intensity that he is a sinner; resolves to abandon his sins and seek for pardon ; is agitated with conflicts of greater or less intensity on giving up his sins; finds greater or feebler obstacles in his way; and at last resolves to cast himself on the mercy of God in the Redeemer, and to become a Christian. The result is, in all cases, permanent peace and joy. It is the peace of the soul when pardon is pronounced on the guilty, and when the hope of immortal glory first dawns on a benighted mind. It may be beautifully illustrated by the loveliness of the landscape when the sun at evening breaks out after a tempest; or by the calmness of the ocean as it subsides after the storm. In the fact that such a change may occur, all Christians agree; in such a change is laid the whole theory of a revival of religion. Let many sinners simultaneously turn to God; let conversions to Christ, instead of being few and far between, become numerous, rapidly occurring, and decided in their character, and you have all that is usually meant when we speak of revivals, so far as conversions are concerned. Still these are all individual conversions, accomplished in each case by the Holy Spirit, and in exact accordance with the design of the gospel, and evincing its glory. Each one is converted in the same way, by the same truth, by the same great agent, the Holy Spirit, as though he were alone, and not another mind had been awakened or converted. It is the conversion of a number of individuals from sin to holiness, and from Satan unto God. Look on the heavens in a clear night, and you will have an illustration of what we mean. The stars that are set in that broad zone of light which stretches over the firmament—the milky way,—are single stars, each subject to its own laws, moving in its sphere, glorious, probably, in its own array of satellites; but their rays meet and mingle-not less beautiful because the light of millions is blended together. Alone, they all show God's power and wisdom ; blended, they evince the same power and wisdom when he groups all their beauties and wonders into one, So in conversion from sin to God. Take the case of a single true conversion to God—and extend to a community, to many individuals passing through that change, and you have all the theory of a revival of religion. It is bringing together many conversions ; arresting simultaneously many minds ; perhaps condensing into a single place, and into a few weeks, the ordinary work of many distant places and many years.
The essential fact is, that a sinner may be converted by the agency of the Spirit of God from his sins. The same power which changes him, may change others also. Let substantially the same views, and feelings, and changes, which exist in the case of the individual, exist
in the case of others ; let a deep seriousness pervade a community, and a spirit of prayer be diffused there ; let the ordinary haunts of pleasure and vice be forsaken for the places of devotion, and you have the theory, so far as I know, of a revival of religion.
2. The second fact is, that there may be times in the life of a Christian of unusual peace and joy. To whatever it may be owing, it will be assured as a fact-for the truth of what I now depend on, an appeal to the Christian's own feelings that there are times in his life of far more than usual elevation in piety ; times, when his “ peace is like a river,” and his love to God and man 66 like the waves of the sea." There are times when he feels an irresistible longing for communion with God; when the breath of praise is sweet; when every thing seems to be full of God; when all his feelings prompt him to devotion; and when he becomes so impressed with the great truths of Christianity, and filled with the hope of heaven, that he desires to live only for God and for the skies. Earthly objects lose their lustre in his view ; their brightest, gayest colours fade away; and an insatiable panting of soul leads him away from these to hold communion with the Redeemer. A light, pure, tranquil, constant, is shed on all the truths of religion, and the desire of the salvation of children, partners, parents, friends, of the church and of the world, enchains all the affections. Then to pray is easy, and to converse with Christians and with sinners is easy, and the prospect of boundless wealth and of the brightest honours would be gladly exchanged for the privilege of converting and saving a single soul.
When this occurs in a church, and these feelings pervade any considerable portion of the people of God, there is a revival of religion, so far as the church is concerned. Let Christians, as a body, live manifestly under the influence of their religion ; let a feeling of devotion pervade a whole church, such as you have felt in the favoured times of your piety, and there would be a revival of religion-a work of grace that would soon extend to other minds, and catch, like spreading fires, on the altars of other hearts. Let a Christian community feel on the great subject of religion what individual Christians sometimes feel, and should always feel, and, so far as the church is concerned, there would be all the phenomena that exist in a revival of religion. A revival in the church is a revival in individual hearts-and nothing more. It is when each individual Christian becomes more sensible of his obligations, more prayerful, more holy, and more anxious for the salvation of men. Let every professing Christian awake to what he should be, and come under the full influence of his religion, and in such a church there would be a revival. Such a sense of obligation, and such joy, and peace, and love, and zeal, in the individual members of a church would be a re. vival. But in the most earnest desires for your own salvation there is no violation of any of the proper laws of Christian action. In great, strenuous, and combined efforts for the salvation of others, in unceasing prayer for the redemption of all the world, there is no departure from the precepts of Christ, or from the Spirit which he manifested on earth.
3. The third feature that occurs in a revival of religion, to which it is proper to direct your attention, is, that an extensive influence goes over a community, and affects with seriousness many who are ultimately converted to God. Many individuals are usually made serious; many gay and worldly amusements are suspended ; many persons, not accustomed to go to the place of prayer, are led to the sanctuary; many formerly indifferent to religion, or opposed to it, are now willing to converse on it; many, perhaps, are led to pray in secret and to read the Bible, who before had wholly neglected the means of grace; many who never enter into the kingdom of God seem to be just on its borders, and besitate long whether they shall give up the world and become Christians, or whether they shall give up their serious impressions and return to their former indifference and sins. The subsiding of a revival, or the dying zeal of Christians, or some powerful temptation, or a strong returning tide of worldliness and vanity, leave many such persons still with the world, and their serious impressions vanish- perhaps to return no more. · 4. It remains only to be added as an essential feature in a revival, that it is produced by the power of the Holy Ghost. It is not the work of man, however human agency may be employed. Imperfections there may be, and things to regret there may be, as in all that man touches there is--but the phenomenon itself we regard as the work of the Holy Ghost, alike beyond human power to produce it and to control it. “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh or whither it goeth ; ” and such is the work of the Spirit, alike in an individual conversion or in a revival of religion. The wind, sometimes gentle, sometimes terrific, sometimes sufficient only to bend the heads of the field of wheat, or to shake the leaf of the aspen, sometimes sweeping in the fury of the storm over bills and vales, illustrates the way in which God's Spirit influences human hearts. You have seen the pliant osier bend gently before the zephyr, and the flowers and the fields of grain gently wave in a summer's eve : so gently does the Spirit of God breathe upon a church and a people; so calm, so lovely, so pure, are those influences which incline the mind to prayer, to thought, to Christ, to heaven. You have seen the clouds grow dark in the western sky: they roll upward and onward, infolding on themselves, and throwing their ample volumes over the heavens. The lightnings play, and the thunder rolls, and the tornado sweeps over hills and vales, and the proud oak crushes on the mountains. « The wind blows where it pleases ;” and thus, too, the Spirit of God passes with more than human power over a community, and many a stouthearted sinner, like the quivering elm or oak, trembles under the influences of truth. They see a dark cloud gathering in the sky; they hear the thunder of justice; they see the heavens flash along their guilty path; and they are prostrated before God, like the forest before the mighty tempest. The storm passes by, and the sun rides serene again in the heavens, and universal nature smiles - beautiful emblem of the effect of a revival of religion.