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most tender compassion to perishing sinners, and fervent love to their brethren ; occupied with realizing views of eternal things; prepared for perilous and self-denying services; and disposed cordially to unite with their fellow-labourers in promoting the common cause; without
without regard to competition, personal interest, or reputation.
Those who have preached the truths of the gospel, without application or animation, will then probably feel and insist upon their practical tendency, and manifest it in their own conduct. Some, who have been adverse to the truth, will be won over to preach the faith which once they opposed: loiterers and hirelings will be converted into faithful, diligent, able, and disinterested pastors: many labourers will be sent forth into the vineyard ; and every one who partakes of these fertilizing showers, will“ take heed to the mi
nistry which he hath received of the Lord, that he “ fulfil it."
The change which took place, even in the apostles themselves, after the descent of the Holy Ghost, with the conduct of the primitive ministers of the gospel, and the exhortations addressed to them in the New Testament, abundantly warrant these expectations.
If we next survey the mass of people called Christians, and observe their disposition and conduct: we shall readily understand what effects would be produced by the pouring out of the Spirit upon us. Let us, for instance, consider the inhabitants of this city, and their behaviour in respect of the Lord's day, the public worship, and the preaching of the gospel. We
shall in this review see cause to lament, that vast multitudes retire into the country for irreligious recreation, or employ the holy sabbath in travelling; that crowds assemble in places of intemperate indulgence, or frivolous amusement; and that many spend part of the day in adjusting some worldly business, and the residue in sloth or festivity. A few, compared with the whole immense number, attend at the seve. ral places of publick worship; the majority of whom, it is to be feared, having paid their weekly tribute, think no more about it; being “as a man who dream“eth that he eateth; but he awaketh, and his souị is "empty.” Others frequent the places where the word of God is preached, with considerable regularity; but continue hearers only, and not doers. In short, few comparatively scem to receive the "gospel, not as the “ word of man, but as the word of God, which ef“ fectually worketh in them that believe;” or “ to “worship him in spirit and truth :” and even these sce cause to lament their want of zeal and fervency ; and too often manifest a languor and a defect in earnestness and activity, where the glory of God, and the benefit of mankind are concerned.
But if “the Spirit were poured upon us from on
high :" the hearts of such persons would expand with holy affections, and be filled with divine consolations. They would become fervent in every reli. gious duty, and earnest in prayer for their ministers and brethren, and for a blessing on every attempt to propagate the gospel; they would bestow pains to impress the instructions of scripture on the minds of their children, relatives, ard servants; to recommend
the truth by their example, and to enforce it in their conversation : They would say to those, with whom they had any influence, “ Come ye, and let us go to " the house of God, and he will teach us of his way, " and we will walk in his paths. *" And, as Andrew brought Peter, and Philip Nathanael, to an acquaintance with Christ; they would endeavour by letters, books, and all other means in their power, to lead such as had been unacquainted with the gospel, to the knowledge of the truth as it is in Jesus, and into the way of life and salvation.
At such a scason formal worshippers would find their hearts engaged in a new manner, to attend on the ordinances of God: and many of them would become true believers. Those who had imbibed false doctrines, would perceive that God was of a truth present in our congregations, and be induced to join themselves to us : a general attention and enquiry would be raised; and “the Lord would daily add un"to the church such as should be saved.”
In this manner, it has frequently been known, that great multitudes, through large districts, have in a short time been brought to consider their ways: the reil that hides God and eternal things from men's minds, has been apparently rent ; and more done in bringing men to receive the gospel and to walk in newness of life, during a few months, than the very same ministers had been able to accomplish in the course of many preceding years. These effects are also proved to be genuine by their permanency, and by
* Isai. ii. 3.
the holy lives of numbers; after the first vehement affections, and the remarkable circumstances, of such revivals, have ceased. Thus the thousands that were converted, when the Spirit was poured out on the day of pentecost, “ continued stedfastly in the apostles' “doctrine and fellowship;" they “ were of one heart," they “ had all things in common,” and “ great grace
was upon them all.” But when a religious commotion arises from enthusiasm, false principles, and self‘ish affections; it often leaves men more immoral and ungodly than they were before.
Again, if we consider the more pious part of our congregations; how often have we reason to lament, there is no more union and affection among them! and that they are kept at so great a distance from each other, by their stations in life; their different employments, talents, and dispositions; or even by trivial resentments, suspicions, and prejudices! But the blessing, of which we speak, would deliver Christians from such contracted and selfish passions : and they would be ready, without hesitation, cordially to forgive all who had offended them, to make concessions and amends to those whom they had injured, and to seek reconciliation with every one, who had been in any respect alienated from them. An increase of divine illumination and brotherly love would terminate or moderate our differences of opinion; men would less regard the trivial disparity of outward rank, escept as it reminded them of their several duties: they would readily unite in social worship and profitable conversation : and in proportion as these sacred infiu ences rested on their souls, they would abound i: self-denying beneficence, and in active endeavours to supply the wants of the indigent, to sooth the anguish of the afflicted, and to alleviate the miseries of mankind. An attentive meditation on the apostolical exhortations, and the conduct of the primitive Christians, may suffice to convince us, that these must be the effects of the pouring out of the Spirit upon any congregation, city, or country : for indeed “the fruits “of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gen“tleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and tempe
Should we advert to the state of religion more at large; we should find, that the remnant which pro- . fesses the leading truths of Christianity, and appears to be influenced by them, is lamentably divided into parties, about subordinate points of doctrine, or matters of discipline and government. So that, if we could collect together the whole company of real believers; we should find them very discordant in their sentiments, and disposed to magnify the importance of their several particularities : and it would be extremely difficult, if not wholly impossible, to unite them in religious services, or in the same plan for promoting the common cause. On the contrary, it would hardly be practicable, to exclude subjects of doubtful disputation; or to prevent such contests and mutual censures, as only serve to furnish the enemies of the gospel with plausible objections. Alas, this is an evident proof, that, as the apostle expresses it, " we are yct
carnal, *" however orthodox our creed may be, or
* 1 Cor. iii. 3, 4.