By the Rev. Ammi R. Robbins
Continued from last week
As there were now numbers who had for several months entertained hopes that they were reconciled to God, and friends to the Lord Jesus Christ, and being desirous to appear openly, if it might be, to espouse the cause, by making a public profession of religion, and observing all the ordinances of the gospel, it was thought best to give them opportunity. And this not only on their account, but as a means of the awakening and conviction of others. And here it must be observed, that numbers who had as yet remained unmoved, when they came to witness the solemn scene—when they beheld many of their intimate companions—a husband—a wife—a brother—a sister—a parent—a child—a near friend—a late jovial companion, with sweet serenity, solemnly giving up themselves to the Lord—publicly enlisting under the banner of Jesus, and engaging forever to renounce the ways of sin, and the corrupt practices of the world, and cleave to the Lord—and beholding one and another, at the same time, baptized in his name—they were pierced through, as it were, with a dart. They often went home full of distress, and could never find rest or ease, until they had submitted to a sovereign God, and placed their hope and confidence on Jesus Christ.
After due examination, they were admitted to full communion with the visible church. Aug. 11th, sixteen were admitted; Aug. 25, twenty-four; Oct. 6, twenty-three; Oct. 27, twenty-two; Dec. 15, ten; Jan. 19, 1800, fourteen; Feb. 2, three; March 16, eight; June 29, three, and Aug. 31, eighteen. Of these fifty-nine were males, and ninety-four females. Several others who entertain hopes respecting themselves, may probably soon be added.
Having given a brief sketch of the wonderful work of God among us, my feelings dictate that some remarks concerning it may be useful to comfort God’s people, and to animate them in praying and laboring for the promotion of Christ’s kingdom.
1. It is of unspeakable importance that the means of grace be used with impenitent sinners. Jericho’s walls must tumble down in consequence of the blowing of the ram’s horns. Naaman must wash seven times in the waters of Jordan, that he may be cured of his leprosy. We have found by experience that not only the preaching of the Word, but religious conferences and social prayer-meetings, at which Christless sinners were present, have been abundantly blessed for the continuance of serious impressions on their minds, and increasing conviction of their heart-wickedness, and total insufficiency to help themselves.
2. Those doctrines which the world call hard sayings, are the most powerful means in the hands of the blessed Spirit to pull down and destroy Satan’s strong-holds in the hearts of sinners. No preaching and conversation seems so effectual to drive them from their hiding places and refuges of lies, as to tell them plainly that they are eternally undone, if the unpromised mercy of God is not displayed in their favor—that they have not the least claim on
God, and if he does not have mercy, they are gone forever—that all which they do short of real submission to God, is wholly selfish—that they may as well despair of ever helping themselves first as last, and that the reason why they do not find relief is merely because they will not yield and bow to a holy sovereign God. I am sensible that some will be greatly irritated at these naked truths, and will not hear them. But those whose eyes are open to see and realize eternal things, will be silent; and although they do not love these doctrines, they fear they are true, and appear to be cut to the heart.
3. When the subjects of this work were hopefully renewed, they were not usually sensible of it at the time—many of them not till some days afterwards. They perceived indeed an alteration in their feelings and views, but they did not entertain a thought that it was conversion. More generally they feared that God had left them, and that they had lost their conviction. Yet they have found upon reflection that God was right, and that they were wrong. They have agreed in this, that it would be just in God to cast them off, whatever he should do with others. A very sensible man, of middle age, told me with the greatest apparent sincerity, that it appeared to him, that for such a wretch as he, who had rebelled against, and insulted so great, so holy a God all his days, hell was the proper place—and that he did not see how God could do any other than send him there, and that he felt, that if he might love and praise him, he should be willing to be separated from that holy world where such wretches as he ought not to come. It has been common for them to feel entirely submissive to God, and pleased with his administrations, while they did not imagine that they were interested in the atonement of Christ, or view themselves forgiven and accepted of God.
4. Before I close, it may be proper to make some observations respecting the fruits of this glorious work of God among us, as it is now almost two years since it began. The hopeful converts have generally appeared as well as could be expected. A spirit of love and union seems to prevail, as yet, among them. It is hoped that their religion will not be as the morning cloud and early dew which soon passeth away.
But after all, it is by no means designed by these communications, to represent, or to have it understood, that in such a glorious harvest there is not chaff among the wheat. It is greatly to be feared and expected that all will not persevere—that some will be found with the lamp of profession, but no oil in their lamp.
I will only add that there are a few instances of awakening now with us; and a number who are bowed down, and appear to be “weary and heavy laden.”
One man nearly fifty years of age, who has been a member of the church for many years, more than a year ago gave up his hope entirely, viewed himself in an undone state—concluded there was no mercy for him, dared not come to the Lord’s table, and was often filled with such agony, that he could hardly attend to the ordinary concerns of his family. Now it is hoped that his captivity is turned. He thinks he has entirely different views of God and the Redeemer from what he ever had before, and at times is filled with joy.
I hope and trust that thousands and thousands in heaven and earth, are, and will be employed in thanksgivings and praises to the triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, for the marvelous displays of his infinitely free, rich and sovereign grace among us here, as well as in many parts of our sinful land and world. And oh, let all that love our Lord Jesus and his cause, join as he has taught us, and with unceasing importunity devoutly and humbly pray, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”