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auchers: but latterly this has not seemed strange, since * ';::ist has appeared to be the substance of the gospel, and the ky?!le in which the several lines of divine revelation meet.
bengb I am still sensible there are many things necessary si de spoken to persons under Pagan darkness, in order to Priative way for a proper introduction of the name of Christ, and brus undertaking in behalf of fallen man.
wrality, sobriety, and external duties, promoted by preaching
It is worthy of remark, secondly, that numbers of these pole are brought to a strict compliance with the rules of Dirility and sobriety, and to a conscientious performance of slip maternal duties of Christianity, by the internal power and i Hrence of divine truths-the peculiar doctrines of grace->p their minds; without their having these moral duties fre
valy repeated and inculcated upon them, and the contrary Basin particularly exposed and spoken against. What has been in general strain and drift of my preaching among these
siais; what were the truths I principally insisted upon, and En } was influenced and enabled to dwell from time to time $r; the peculiar doctrines of grace, I have already observed sisie preceding remarks. Those doctrines, which had the ni Jirect tendency to humble the fallen creature; to shew the misery of his natural state; to bring biin down to the sif sovereign mercy, and to exalt the great Redeemer
er his transcendent excellency and infinite preciousness, iso to recommend him to the sinner's acceptance were the is lei-matter of what was delivered in public and private to
, and from time to time repeated and inculcated upon
And God was pleased to give these divine truths such a prful influence upon the minds of these people, and so to as them for the effectual awakening of numbers of them,
their lives were quickly reformed, without my insisting : the precepts of morality, and spending time in repeated Minues upon external duties. There was indeed no room
ar kind of discourses but those that respected the essensys of religion, and the experimental knowledge of divine
s, whilst there were so many inquiring daily-not how they should regulate their external conduct, for that, persona who are honestly disposed to comply with duty, when know may, in ordinary cases, be easily satisfied about, butthey should escape from the wrath they feared, and felt in alles sert of, -obtain an effectual change of heart,-get an initiat in Christ, -and come to the enjoyment of eternal blessedist*»! So that my great work still was to lead them into a furtis. view of their utter undoreness in themselves, the total deptai and corruption of their hearts; that there was no manner vi goodness in them; no good dispositions nor desires ; no limit to God, nor delight in his commands : but, on the contiara hatred, enmity, and all manner of wickedness reigning in th 1,0 -And at the same time to open to them the glorious and casa plete remedy provided in Christ for helpless perishing sinitaire and offered freely to those who have no goodness of their online no “ works of righteousness which they have done,” commend them to God.
This was the continued strain of my preaching; this great concern and constant endeavour, so to enlighten th.com mind, as thereby duly to affect the heart, and, as far as pes
:sible, give persons a sense and feeling of these precious in. important doctrines of grace, at least, so far as means mig: conduce to it. And these were the doctrines ---this thesis thod of preaching, which were blessed of God for the awakei ing, and, I trust, the saving conversion of numbers of souls. -and which were made the means of producing a remarkan reformation among the hearers in general.
When these truths were felt at heart, there was not vice unreformed, no external duty neglected Drunkel ness, the darling vice, was broken off from, and scarce an i stance of it known among my hearers for months togeile The abusive practice of husbands and wives in putting a'467 each other, and taking others in their stead, was quickly rat formed; so that there are three or four couple who have a luntarily dismissed those they had wrongfully taken, and 11.2.1 live together again in love and peace. The same miglia said of all other vicious practices. The reformation ? general; and all springing from the internal influence of die vine traths upon their hearts ; and not from any external restraints, or because they had heard these vices particuları exposed, and repeatedly spoken against. Some of their never so much as mentioned; particularly, that of the partii of men and their wives, till some, having their consciedene awakened by God's word, came, and, of their own actuele
confessed themselves guilty in that respect. And when I did at any time mention their wicked practices, and the sins they were guilty of contrary to the light of nature, it was not with design, nor indeed with any hope, of working an effectual reformation in their external manners by this means, for ! knew, that while the tree remained corrupt, the fruit would saturally be so; but with design to lead them, by observing the wickedness of their lives, to a view of the corruption of their hearts, and so to convince them of the necessity of a renovation of nature, and to excite them with utmost diligence to seek after that great change, which, if once obtained, I was sensible, would of course produce a rcformation of external manners in every respect.
And as all vice was reformed upon their feeling the power of these truths upon their hearts, so the external duties of Christianity were complied with, and consciensiously performed from the same internal influence; family prayer set up, and constantly maintained, unless among some few more lately come, who had felt little of this divine influence. This duty was constantly performed, even in some families where there were none but females, and scarce a prayerless person to be found among near an hundred of them. The Lord's day was seriously and religiously observed, and care taken by parents to keep their children orderly upon that sacred day, &c. And this, not because I had driven them to the performance of these duties, by a frequent inculcating of them, but because they had felt the power of God's word upon their hearts,ếwere made sensible of their sin and misery, and thence could not but pray, and comply with every thing they knew was duty, from what they felt within themselves. When their hearts were touched with a sense of their eternal concerns, they could pray with great freedom, as well as fervency, without being at the troue ble first to learn set forms for that purpose. And some of them who were suddenly awakened at their first coming among us, were brought to pray and cry for mercy with utmost importunity, without ever being instructed in the duty of prayer, ar $0 much as once directed to a performance of it.
The happy effects of these pecưliar doctrines of grace, which I have so much insisted upon with this people, plainly discover, even to demonstration, that instead of their opening a door to liçentiousness, as many vainly imagine, and slanderously insinuate, they have a direct contrary tendency: so that a cluse application, a sense and feeling of them, svill bave the
most powerful influence toward the renovation, and effectual reformation both of heart and life.
And happy experience, as well as the word of God, and the example of Christ and hi, apostles, has taught me, that the very method of preaching which is best suited to awaken in mankind a sense and lively apprehension of their depravity and misery in a fallen state,--to excite them earnestly to seek after a change of heart, and to fly for refuge to free and sovereign grace in Christ, as the only hope set before them, is like to be most successful toward the reformation of their external conduct.-I have found that close addresses, and solemn applications of divine truth to the conscience, tend directly to strike death to the root of all vice; while smooth and plausible barangues upon moral virtues and external duties, at best are like to do no more than lop off the branches of corruption, while the root of all vice remains still untouched.
A view of the blessed effect of honest endeavours to bring home divine truths to the conscience, and duly to affect the heart with them, has often minded me of those words of our Lord, (which I have thought might be a proper exhortation for ministers in respect of their treating with others, as well as for persons in general with regard to themselves), “Cleanse first the inside of the cup and platter, that the outside may be clean also." Cleanse, says he, the inside, that the outside may be clean. As if he bad said, The only effectual way to have the outside clean, is to begin with what is within ; and if the fountain be purified, the streams will naturally be pure. And most certain it is, if we can awaken in sioners a lively sense of their inward pollution and depravity-their need of a change of heart and so engage them to seek after inward cleansing, their external defilement will naturally be cleansed, their vicious ways of course be reformed, and their conversation and behaviour become regular.
Now, although I cannot pretend that the reformation among my people, does, in every instance, spring from a saving change of heart; yet I may truly say, it flows from some heart-affecting view and sense of divine truths that all have had in a greater or less degree. I do not intend, by what I have observed here, to represent the preaching of morality and pressing persons to the external performance of duty, to be altogether unnecessary and useless at any time; and espe-. cially at times when there is less of divine power attending the means of grace;-when, for want of internal influences, there is need of external restraints. It is doubtless among the things
that " ought to be done,” while “others are not to be left undone." —But what I principally designed by this remark, was to discover plain matter of fact, viz. That the reformation, the sobriety, and external compliance with the rules and duties of Christianity, appearing among my people, are not the effect of any mere doctrinal instruction, or merely rational view of the beauty of morality, but from the internal power and influence that divine truths (the soul humbling doctrines of grace) have had upon their hearts.
Continuance, renewal, and quickness of the Work.
It is remarkable, thirdly, that God has so continued and renewed showers of his grace here :--so quickly set up his visible kingdom among these people; and so smiled upon them in relation to their acquirement of knowledge, both divine and human. It is now near a year since the beginning of this graci. ous outpouring of the divine Spirit among them: and although it has often seemed to decline and abate for some short space of time-as may be observed by several passages of my Journal, where I have endeavoured to note things just as they appeared to me--yet the shower has seemed to be renewed, and the work of grace revived again. So that a divine influence seems still apparently to attend the means of grace, in a greater or less degree, in most of our meetings for religious exercises; whereby religious persons are refreshed, strengthened, and established,---convictions revived and promoted in many instances ---and some few persons newly awakened from time to time. Although it must be acknowledged, that for some time past, there has, in the general, appeared a more manifest decline of this work, and the divine Spirit has seemed, in a considerable measure, withdrawn, especially in regard of his awakening influence---so that the strangers who come latterly, are not seized with concern as formerly; and some few who have been much affected with divine truths in time past, now appear less concerned.--- Yet, blessed be God, there is still an appearance of divine power and grace, a desirable degree of tenderness, religious affection, and devotion in our assemblies.
And as God has continued and renewed the showers of his grace among this people for some time; so he has with uncommon quickness set up his visible kingdom, and gathered himself