|« Prev||SECTION VI. The work glorious.||Next »|
This work is very glorious.
Now if such things are enthusiasm, and the fruits of a distempered brain, let my brain be evermore possessed of that happy distemper! If this be distraction, I pray God that the world of mankind may be all seized with this benign, meek, beneficent, beatifical, glorious distraction! If agitations of body were found in the French prophets, and ten thousand prophets more, it is little to their purpose who bring it as an objection against such a work as this, unless their purpose be to disprove the whole of the Christian religion. The great affections and high transports, that others have lately been under, are in general of the same kind with those in the instance that has been given, though not to so high a degree, and many of them not so pure and unmixed, and so well regulated. I have had opportunity to observe many instances here and elsewhere; and though there are some instances of great affections in which there has been a great mixture of nature with grace, and, in some, a sad degenerating of religious affections; yet there is that uniformity observable, which makes it easy to be seen, that in general it is the same spirit from whence the work in all parts of the land has originated. And what notions have they of religion, that reject what has been described, as not true religion! What shall we find to answer those expressions in Scripture, “The peace of God that passeth all understanding; rejoicing with joy unspeakable and full of glory, in believing in and loving an unseen Saviour;—All joy and peace in believing; God’s shining into our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in the face of Jesus Christ; With open face, beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, and being changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord;—Having the love of God shed abroad in our hearts, by the Holy Ghost given to us;—Having the Spirit of God and of glory rest upon us;—A being called out of darkness into marvellous light; and having the day-star arise in our hearts:”—I say, if those things which have been mentioned, do not answer these expressions, what else can we find out that does answer them? Those that do not think such things as these to be the fruits of the true Spirit, would do well to consider what kind of spirit they are waiting and praying for, and what sort of fruits they expect he should produce when he comes. I suppose it will generally be allowed, that there is such a thing as a glorious outpouring of the Spirit of God to be expected, to introduce very joyful and glorious times upon religious accounts; times wherein holy love and joy will be raised to a great height in true Christians: but, if those things be rejected, what is left that we can find wherewith to patch up a notion, or form and idea, of the high, blessed, joyful religion of these times? What is there sweet, excellent, and joyful, of a religious nature, that is entirely of a different nature from these things? 379
Those who are waiting for the fruits, in order to determine whether this be the work of God or no, would do well to consider, what they are waiting for; whether it be not to have this wonderful religious influence subside, and then to see how they will behave themselves? That is, to have grace subside, and the actings of it in a great measure to cease, and to have persons grow cold and dead; and then to see whether, after that, they will behave themselves with that exactness and brightness of conversation, that is to be expected of lively Christians, or those that are in the vigorous exercises of grace. There are many that will not be satisfied with any exactness of laboriousness in religion now, while persons have their minds much moved, and their affections are high; for they lay it to their flash of affection, and heat of zeal, as they call it; they are waiting to see whether they will carry themselves as well when these affections are over; that is, they are waiting to have persons sicken and lose their strength, that they may see whether they will then behave themselves like healthy strong men. I would desire that they would also consider, whether they be not waiting for more than is reasonably to be expected, supposing this to be really a great work of God, and much more than has been found in former great outpourings of the Spirit of God, that have been universally acknowledged in the Christian church? Do not they expect fewer instances of apostasy and evidences of hypocrisy in professors, than were after that great outpouring of the Spirit in the apostles’ days, or that which was in the time of the reformation? And do not they stand prepared to make a mighty argument of it against this work, if there should be half so many? And, they would do well to consider how long they will wait to see the good fruit of this work, before they will determine in favour of it. Is not their waiting unlimited? The visible fruit that is to be expected of a pouring out of the Spirit of God on a country, is a visible reformation in that country. What reformation has lately been brought to pass in New England, by this work, has been before observed. And has it not continued long enough already, to give reasonable satisfaction? If God cannot work on the hearts of a people after such a manner, as reasonably to expect it should be acknowledged in a year and a half, or two years’ time; yet surely it is unreasonable that our expectations and demands should be unlimited, and our waiting without any bounds.
As there is the clearest evidence, from what has been observed, that this is the work of God; so it is evident that it is a very great and wonderful and exceeding glorious work.—This is certain, that it is a great and wonderful event, a strange revolution, an unexpected, surprising overturning of things, suddenly brought to pass; such as never has been seen in New England, and scarce ever has been heard of in any land. Who that saw the state of things in New England a few years ago, would have thought that in so short time there would be such a change? This is undoubtedly either a very great work of God, or a great work of the devil, as to the main substance of it. For though, undoubtedly, God and the devil may work together at the same time, and in the same land; and Satan will do his utmost endeavour to intrude, and, by intermingling his work, to darken and hinder God’s work; yet God and the devil do not work together in producing the same event, and in effecting the same change in the hearts and lives of men. But it is apparent that as to some things wherein the main substance of this work consists, there is a likeness and agreement every where: now this is either a wonderful work of God, or a mighty work of the devil; and so is either a most happy event, greatly to be admired and rejoiced in, or a most awful calamity. Therefore, if what has been said before be sufficient to determine it to be, as to the main, the work of God, then it must be acknowledged to be a very wonderful and glorious work of God.
Such a work is, in its nature and kind, the most glorious of any work of God whatsoever, and is always so spoken of in Scripture. It is the work of redemption (the great end of all the other works of God, and of which the work of creation was but a shadow) in the event, success, and end of it: it is the work of new creation, which is infinitely more glorious than the old. I am bold to say, that the work of God in the conversion of one soul, considered together with the source, foundation, and purchase of it, and also the benefit, end, and eternal issue of it, is a more glorious work of God than the creation of the whole material universe. It is the most glorious of God’s works, as it above all others manifests the glory of God; it is spoken of in Scripture, as that which shows the exceeding greatness of God’s power, and the glory and riches of divine grace, and wherein Christ has the most glorious triumph over his enemies, and wherein God is mightily exalted. And it is a work above all others glorious, as it concerns the happiness of mankind; more happiness, and a greater benefit to man, is the fruit of each single drop of such a shower, than all the temporal good of the most happy revolution, or all that a people could gain by the conquest of the world.
This work is very glorious both in its nature, and in its degree and circumstances. It will appear very glorious, if we consider the unworthiness of the people who are the subjects of it; what obligations God has laid us under by the special privileges we have enjoyed for our souls’ good, and the great things God did for us at our first settlement in the land; how he has followed us with his goodness to this day, and how we have abused his goodness; how long we have been revolting more and more, (as all confess,) and how very corrupt we were become at last; in how great a degree we had forsaken the fountain of living waters; how obstinate we have been under all manner of means that God has used to reclaim us; how often we have mocked God with hypocritical pretences of humiliation, as in our annual days of public fasting, and other things, while, instead of reforming, we only grew worse and worse; and how dead a time it was every where before this work began. If we consider these things, we shall be most stupidly ungrateful, if we do not acknowledge God’s visiting us as he has done, as an instance of the glorious triumph of free and sovereign grace.
The work is very glorious, if we consider the extent of it; being in this respect vastly beyond any that ever was known in New England. There has formerly sometimes been a remarkable awakening and success of the means of grace, in some particular congregations; and this used to be much noticed, and acknowledged to be glorious, though but now God has brought to pass a new thing, he has wrought a great work, which has extended from one end of the land to the other, besides what has been wrought in other British colonies in America.
The work is very glorious in the great members that have, to appearance, been turned from sin to God, and so, delivered from a wretched captivity to sin and Satan, saved from everlasting burnings, and made heirs of eternal glory. How high an honour and great a reward of their labours, have some eminent persons of note in the church of God signified that they should esteem it, if they should be made the instruments of the conversion and eternal salvation of but one soul! And no greater event than that, is thought worthy of great notice in haven among the hosts of glorious angels, who rejoice and sing on such an occasion. Now, when there are many thousands of souls thus converted and saved, shall it be esteemed worth but little notice, and be mentioned with coldness and indifference here on earth, by those among whom such a work is wrought.
The work has been very glorious and wonderful in many circumstances and events of it, wherein God has in an uncommon manner made his hand visible and his power conspicuous; as in the extraordinary degrees of awakening, and the suddenness of conversions in innumerable instances. How common a thing has it been for a great part of a congregation to be at once moved by a mighty invisible power! And for six, eight, or ten souls to be converted to God (to all appearance) in an exercise, in whom the visible change still continues! How great an alteration has been made in some towns, yea, some populous towns, the change still abiding! And how many very vicious persons have been wrought upon, so as to become visibly new creatures! God has also made his hand very visible, and his work glorious, in the multitudes of little children that have been wrought upon. I suppose there have been some hundreds of instances of this nature of late, any one 379 of which formerly would have been looked upon so remarkable, as to be worthy to be recorded, and published through the land. The work is very glorious in its influences and effects on many who have been very ignorant and barbarous, as I before observed of the Indians and Negroes.
The work is also exceeding glorious in the high attainments of Christians, in the extraordinary degrees of light, love, and spiritual joy that God has bestowed upon great multitudes. In this respect also, the land in all parts has abounded with such instances, any one of which, if they had happened formerly, would have been thought worthy to be noticed by God’s people throughout the British dominions. The New Jerusalem in this respect has begun to come down from heaven, and perhaps never were more of the prelibations of heaven’s glory given upon earth.
There being a great many errors and sinful irregularities mixed with this work of God, arising from our weakness, darkness, and corruption, does not hinder this work of God’s power and grace from being very glorious. Our follies and sins in some respects manifest the glory of it. The glory of divine power and grace is set off with the greater lustre, by what appears at the same time of the weakness of the earthen vessel. It is God’s pleasure to manifest the weakness and unworthiness of the subject, at the same time that he displays the excellency of his power and the riches of his grace. And I doubt not but some of these things which make some of us here on earth to be out of humour, and to look on this work with a sour displeased countenance, heighten the songs of the angels, when they praise God and the Lamb for what they see of the glory of God’s all-sufficiency, and the efficacy of Christ’s redemption. And how unreasonable is it that we should be backward to acknowledge the glory of what God has done, because the devil, and we in hearkening to him, has done a great deal of mischief!
|« Prev||SECTION VI. The work glorious.||Next »|
►Proofing disabled for this book
► Printer-friendly version