Images de page

"led by the Holy Spirit." And if they follow the individuals who are said to have been converted at revivals, by the special influence of the Holy Spirit, and find them, though moral and respectable people, to be no better in any respect than other moral and respectable men, and still exhibiting the same desire for wealth, office and worldly distinction, that others do who do not profess to have undergone any change, and as they themselves did previous to their conversion, they may not fully believe a change of disposition has been experienced, which nothing but the Spirit of God could effect, and in consequence of which "the soul which had hitherto loved and chose sin, now loves and chooses holiness."

Again-all revivalists admit that many who appear to be converted at revivals, are not. Such instances are quite numerous and deserve much attention. It would throw much light on the subject we are considering, if we could have full and accurate details of such cases, and ascertain what it was that caused for a time feelings and conduct such as are said to be caused by the special influence of the Holy Spirit. May it not be that the same cause, no matter what it is, which for a time produced the feelings alluded to, produces those feelings, and leads to that course of conduct through life in others, which is regarded as not incompatible with the nature of this great change. Generally those who are supposed to be converted at revivals, in a few days or months make a public profession of religion, and are admitted as church members; and every one knows that the rules of church discipline are not so severe as to require any different conduct of its members, than the

customs of society require of all men who claim to be moral and respectable inhabitants.

That these converts at revivals soon "grow cold and stupid towards divine things," seems to be an admitted fact, for the works of revivalists abound with lamentations respecting the coldness and lukewarmness of the church, and want of religious zeal in church members. I therefore think it not unreasonable to suppose that those who "join the church," during or soon after these awakenings, have not met with any remarkable change, not greater perhaps, than in the instances, now happily numerous, of men who on reflection, conclude to use or vend no more alcoholic drink,--but that the natural wish to appear consistent, and often a habit, leads them so to conduct as to be considered by the church to which they belong, as having once experienced that very remarkable change which nothing but the special influence of the Spirit of God could produce.

V. Do the lives of those men of past ages,--men illustrious for their piety,--men who have been the firmest and ablest advocates of Christianity---men who have been the bulwark of the Protestant religion, teach us that they were thus affected and converted? Were the views of modern revivalists taught by them? On this subject let others examine and determine for themselves. I have examined it to a considerable extent, and am compelled to say they were Paley, an able advocate for the fluence of the Spirit, says "I do the doctrine of spiritual influence carries the agency of the Deity much farther than the doctrine of Providence carries it, or farther than the doctrine of prayer carries it;


doctrine of the innot apprehend that

for all prayer supposes the Deity to be intimate with our minds." In this view of the subject I concur; and also agree with him that "the agency of the Holy Spirit in our souls, distinctly perceived, is, properly speaking, a miracle, but that we are not at present under a miraculous dispensation." (a)

Many other objections to modern revivals present themselves, especially-why, if they are caused by the special influence of the Holy Spirit, are means not sanctioned by Scripture resorted to, during these supposed outpourings ?-means of themselves calculated to produce all the outward signs, the anxiety, &c. Why multiply and prolong meetings at such times, unless it be to produce an excitement of mind and body, incompatible with the calm exercise of the reasoning powers? But I leave to others the task of bringing forward the other objections. I have already extended my remarks beyond what I had intended; but the vast importance of the subject, and the full belief that modern revivals are injurious to health, together with the conviction that whatever has been enjoined by Christ is not so; has led me to attempt to show, in this and the succeeding

(a) Paley's doctrine of conversion is also consistent and scriptural. This great and good divine, says, "It has been usual to divide all mankind into two classes, the converted and unconverted: and by so dividing them, to infer the necessity of conversion to every person whatever. In proposing the subject under this form, we state the distinction, in my opinion, too absolutely, and draw from it a conclusion too universal: because there is a class and description of Christians, who having been previously educated, and having persevered in those pious courses into which they were first brought, are not conscious to themselves of ever having been without the influence of religion, of ever having lost lost sight of its sanctions, of ever having renounced them."-See his Sermon on the Doctrine of Conversion.

chapter, the incorrectness of the opinion, that they are owing to the special influence of the Holy Spirit; and that this opinion has heretofore and is still likely to produce fanatical conduct injurious to the health and physical welfare of the inhabitants of this country.





An intimate connexion between the mind and the body has always been admitted; though metaphysicians and physiologists have disagreed respecting the particular organs by which the mind acts, or in which it is seated. There seems, however, now to be no question but that the nervous system is more particularly than any other, concerned in all the mental operations, and is the medium of communication between the intellectual and corporeal powers. We are, however, as yet, very far from understanding thoroughly, this intimate connexion and sympathy, though from modern researches, and the accumulations of physiological and pathological observations, we now know much more respecting it than was known fifty years since, or in the time of Wesley and Edwards. The following appear now to be well established truths on this subject :-

« PrécédentContinuer »