Account of a Revival of Religion in Harwington, CT in 1799

This continues the account from here.

These exercises were attended with immediate relief from her anxiety, and issued in the possession of a calm and peaceful state of mind, rejoicing, yet trembling, in the thought that God could and would do his own pleasure; but would do nothing wrong, or contrary to the general good. This was her support. This calmness in the same views lasted three or four days, without much sensible joy in the expectation of eternal blessedness. The God of hope had not yet made her to abound in hope through the power of the Holy Ghost; nay, she seemed not to have the faintest idea that what she had experienced, was conversion. But on the fourth day, as she was listening to a sermon from these words, “Go into Galilee, there shall ye see him,” in which the seeing of Jesus was described, the Lord was pleased to afford her such views and enjoyments, as she said exceeded all the joys that she ever had before. And Jesus, as the glory of God, and the Savior of sinners, was the subject of her thoughts, her joys and her love, from that time till her dying hour, with very little interruption. Now she found one in whom she might fully confide to accomplish all things, not for her alone, but for the whole universe, in the best manner—one that united, harmonized, and illustrated all the perfections of the divine character in himself, while he was a suitable, a gracious and all-sufficient Savior, just such an one as she needed.

These views and feelings were attended with an ardent and most affectionate consecration of herself, time, talents, and all things to the glory of the sacred Trinity, choosing to be his at all times, in all circumstances, and under every trial, and to be disposed of, as he might think proper.

These views gave energy to her desires that the glorious work among us might be carried on, and spread more and more. ’Twas her delight to hear of one and another brought under powerful convictions, and hopefully reconciled to God.

In her last sickness, the God of grace supported her amidst the excruciating pains which she endured without a murmur. I do not recollect that I ever saw greater resignation, calmness and rest in God, than appeared on her death-bed.

In one of my visits, she told me of the views she had just then had of the sufferings of Christ, and their effects upon her in producing calmness, self-loathing, cordial sorrow for sin, and adoration of his infinite condescension, such as the people of God frequently have at his table. These exercises, mixed with great love to the divine character, attended her, in a peculiar manner, through almost all her sickness. Once she found that her beloved Jesus had forsaken her. When she was supposed to be dying, and under this idea enjoyed the calmness of hope, and seemed to sink away, so that her father and all the attendants supposed her dead, it pleased the Lord to revive her, so that she lived a week longer. Upon reviving, she immediately thought that it was probable that she was reserved for further agonies, and felt a degree of unsubmissiveness. And the Lord withheld his shining countenance. She remained in darkness an hour or two—and then the Lord blest his Word for her relief, so that she exclaimed as well as her disorder would permit, “those precious words, I cannot repeat them, but they are delightful. I am relieved.” And this was her apparent frame of mind to the last.

A few minutes before she left the body, she uttered some of the most ardent petitions that this peculiar work which she had felt, might take hold of every heart in this place, spread more and more in the neighboring towns, through our land, and through the world. This work was peculiarly precious to her. She was afraid that many poor souls might be deluded with a morality like her own, and think that they had religion when they were in the gall of bitterness. On this account she could not praise the Lord enough for enlightening her eyes, nor could she cease to be jealous lest many like her, should be deceived with the form of religion without the power.

This, except what relates to her sickness and death, is the general complexion of the work among us. Three or four others were relieved the same week that she was, and although they had no opportunity of conversing together, or with any one that could inform them, yet they gave proof of the same work in each, attended only with a shade of difference as to manner and degree.

But lest it should be thought, that in this tender state of mind, they would be ready to receive any thing as truth which was said to them, and take any impressions that were wished, I must ask liberty to mention another instance. This was of a woman with whom I had no conversation from the time of her awakening, till she had experienced these very things. She was an active woman thirty-three years of age, always free to express her mind on religious topics, a resolute opposer of the doctrines of grace, and a person of good natural abilities. In her sentiments she was supported by her husband, who has now hopefully become a subject of this work, and who feels as though the doctrines which he opposed, are the only doctrines consistent with true peace of mind. I scarcely ever saw her, but she would introduce something in opposition to the distinguishing doctrines of the gospel. Our disputes were friendly, but I could never convince her of the truth.

She was somewhat unwell at the commencement of the revival; and as she lived about four miles from the place of public worship, she did not attend for several Sabbaths. One Sabbath in March as she was riding to meeting, she recollected that she had heard that there was a great stir among the people in other parts of the town, and she resolved to watch, and see if she could discover anything uncommon. During the exercises of the forenoon, she discovered nothing new, except that the congregation was very still and solemn. There was no noise, nor confusion, which, according to her mistaken notions of an awakening, she expected to see. But at noon, she saw a number of young people coming to my house. She thought now she should discover all that she wished. She therefore followed them.

When she came in, I was discoursing with the young people, and they gave manifest signs of alarm in view of their Christless, sinful and undone condition. At first she was struck with a sort of astonishment. But having reason to think that they really felt as they appeared to feel, she said to herself, “You poor sinner, see these young people, some of them not half so old as you. They have done nothing to what you have against God and his laws, and yet how distressed they are for their souls. And why am not I concerned? I have more reason than they. I know I am a sinner, and must perish if I remain so, but I have no feeling about it. Am I not left? O, these will go to heaven, and I shall go to hell. Lord, have mercy on me. What shall I do? I am undone forever.” By this time she had forgotten to attend to what she could see in others. Her own concerns were enough. The great things of eternity engrossed her mind. The afternoon services were attended differently from any that she had ever attended before; and she was serious from this time till her dying hour, which was in October following. About three weeks after her first impressions, having heard of her distress, I visited the house. I found she had been relieved a day or two before. While she was talking and telling me how she was awakened, and what had been her feelings, I was almost amazed and transported. To hear her describe the whole from first to last—what were her first impressions—her subsequent convictions—her endeavors to help herself, and patch up a righteousness of her own—how she was irresistibly convinced that she was perfectly helpless, sinful and wretched—to hear her so heartily approve of those doctrines which she had before so strenuously opposed, saying, they must be true—she knew some of them by experience, and others were absolutely necessary for the recovery of the soul;—and at the same time, knowing that she had no one particularly to instruct her on these points, were circumstances as wonderful as ever I had seen or heard. Such confirmation of what I believed to be the doctrines of the gospel, and poured into her mind with such marks of omnipotent mercy;—made me rejoice, and tremble too. Could I doubt of the work, or who was the author? I should as soon doubt who made the sun and planets.

This, and a number of other similar cases, induced me to cry out to myself, “Stand still and see the salvation of God.”

This account will continue next week…