Orwell Bible Church

An account of a Revival of Religion in Lenox, Mass., in the year 1799

This is a selection from New England Revivals As They Existed at the Close of the Eighteenth, and the Beginning of the Nineteenth Centuriescompiled by Bennet Tyler in 1846. This relates various instances from the Second Great Awakening, recorded in the Connecticut Evangelical Magazine. It is shared to encourage believers to pray for a similar great work of God’s grace, to learn what characterized genuine conversions, and how pastors guided such individuals.

This account was written by the Rev. Samuel Shepard.

I CANNOT learn from any of the first settlers that there has ever been any remarkable revival of religion in this town, until the month of June, 1799. It appears that the greatest number added to this church in the course of one year, was about eleven. This, if I am rightly informed, was the year 1783. At the time of my ordination, which was April, 1795, the situation of this church called for the earnest prayers of all who had a heart to pray. The number of its members then was not much greater than it had been for twenty-five years before; and almost the whole of them were bowing under the infirmities of age. No person, who was in early life, was a member of this church. Not a single young person had been received into it, in the course of sixteen years. To see the youth, all as one, wasting away their best moments in stupidity—to view them as accountable creatures, and yet living apparently without a hope—“without a wish beyond the grave”—and to see a few gray-headed persons compose almost the whole number of communicants at the sacramental table—must, to one just entering on the work of the ministry, awaken feelings which cannot be easily described. Well might this church, like God’s ancient covenant people, when they sat in captivity by the waters of Babylon, hang its harps upon the willows; for it seemed, indeed, that when the few who were rapidly hastening down the vale of time, should be borne to the grave, and delivered from the evil to come, the name of Jesus, in the holy ordinance of the supper, would, among us, be scarcely had in remembrance.

Such were the melancholy prospects of this church until the spring of the year 1799. While showers of divine grace were falling on other parts of Zion, and God, by his Spirit, was visiting one place and another, and quickening multitudes for his name’s sake, we seemed to be solemnly warned in the words recorded. Rev 2:5, “Remember, therefore, from whence thou art fallen, and repent, or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place.” But the Lord hath said, “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy;” and glory be to his name. With him is the residue of the Spirit, and he can pour it out, when, and where, and on whom he pleaseth. He hath made it, therefore, a day of his power, and caused even in the midst of us, a shaking among the dry bones.

In the month of April, 1799, several members of the church manifested great anxiety about the state of religion among us, and expressed a desire that meetings might be appointed for religious conference and special prayer for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. This request was afterwards made known to the church as a body. They unanimously approved of it, and a conference meeting was accordingly appointed. This meeting was attended by as many people, as previous appearances warranted us to expect. A sermon was preached at this meeting, and the audience was very attentive. At the next conference, we conversed upon a particular passage of Scripture, which led to a consideration of the being and perfections of God. Several persons at this meeting appeared unusually solemn. About this time, two or three young persons were brought under deep conviction, and found earnestly inquiring what they should do to be saved. At the third conference meeting, were to be seen persons from every part of the town. The divine authority of the Scriptures was made the subject of conversation, and the appearance of the assembly was truly affecting. They seemed now to consider the holy Bible to be the very voice of God to a guilty world; and the religion of Jesus, a solemn reality. Sinners were brought to tremble in view of eternity, and professors of religion were animated and rendered fervent in prayer. From that time, the work became more general—religious conferences were multiplied—the house of God was thronged upon the Sabbath—and multitudes seemed to spare no pains in obtaining religious instruction. Several persons, in attempting upon a particular Sabbath, to sing the judgment anthem, appeared to be greatly distressed. A sermon, the design of which was to enforce the leading ideas contained in the anthem, was afterwards delivered from Acts 1:11—“This same Jesus which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.” A divine blessing seemed, in some measure, to attend the discourse ; and while those who entertained a hope of a personal interest in Christ, seemed to be wrapped up in the contemplation of that glory and majesty of Zion’s King which will be displayed in that all-important day to which reference is had in the anthem, some of the opposite character were apparently filled with awful apprehensions on account of their ill desert, and seemed to look forward to the day of judgment, as a time when their hearts must die within them. From that solemn season, there was an increasing attention to things of a serious nature, among young and old, for several months. While we heard of some from time to time, who were brought to a sense of their guilt and danger, others, having seen the impending storm of divine vengeance, and fled to one false refuge after another, till all were tried in vain, were hopefully brought to the foot of divine Sovereignty—to see the moral beauty, and transcendent amiableness and worth of the divine Savior—to embrace him on gospel terms, and to find by experience that wisdom’s ways are pleasantness.

On the twentieth of October, twenty-four persons were received into the church. This was with us a memorable day. But a small part of the congregation had ever before seen a young person publicly engage in the Christian warfare. From the same youthful circle—from the same family, some were taken, while others were left. While some parents were so happy as to see their children following them in the Christian profession, others, who were conscious bf being still heirs of that kingdom which is doomed to destruction, saw their offspring fleeing for refuge to the wounds of a bleeding Savior. Husbands and wives—parents and children—brothers and sisters, were separated by that line of distinction which is formed by a religious profession. In this, the divine Sovereignty was obvious. “The Lord reigneth, let the earth rejoice.” Having taken upon themselves the bonds of the Christian covenant, and heard a particular address to the church and them dictated by the interesting occasion, those who in this public manner had united with the visible church of Christ, sang a hymn which concluded thus:

“Saints by the power of God are kept,
Till full salvation come;
We walk by faith, as strangers here,
Till Christ shall call us home.”

The language to the spectators, in the scene then passing before them, was, “We are journeying to the place, of which the Lord said, I will give it you; come thou with us, and we will do thee good; for the Lord hath spoken good concerning Israel.” A solemn silence was observed during the whole service. No appearance of levity was discovered, for a moment, in a single countenance. The infidel and abandoned man stood appalled—and, to the friends of Zion, the season afforded a prelibation of heavenly joys. The old and the young who were present, seemed ready to adopt the language of Jacob, when he awoke from a dream at Bethel, “How dreadful is this place!

This is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.”

It was not till several months after this precious season that the attention began to abate. The whole number of those who have been received into the church since the work began, is fifty-three. Almost two-thirds are females. Many are in early life. Nearly all of them continue to give satisfactory evidence that Christ is, in reality, formed in them, the hope of glory.

In a time of ingathering like this, however, it is to be expected that some chaff will remain with the wheat. “Let not him that girdeth on his harness, boast himself as he that putteth it off.” It becomes all those who engage in the Christian warfare, to remember that the promise of salvation is to him that endureth to the end; and that the same grace which at first called them, is requisite to their perseverance. “The fruit of the Spirit,” says the apostle, “is in all goodness, and righteousness, and truth;” and “every man who hath” the Christian “hope in him purifieth himself even as he” who is the author of it “is pure.”

The conduct of those who attended religious conferences and lectures, and for a time appeared to be seriously impressed, but afterwards returned to their former stupidity, forcibly reminds me of the case of one mentioned in Matt. 12: 45—“The last state of that man,” said the Savior, “is worse than the first.”

The condition of those who remained uniformly careless and inattentive, while the goings of God were so visible among us, appears to be still more dangerous and deplorable.

I will close this general account with a few particular remarks.

1. This revival was evidently the work of God. To prove this, the very sudden change in the appearance and pursuits of the people, is instead of a thousand arguments.

2. This revival began in the church; and I believe it will be found to be true, that in almost every instance of religious attention, it makes its first appearance in the church of Christ. When God is about to bestow spiritual blessings upon a people, it is his usual method, first to awake his professed friends out of sleep.

3. Such a revival of religion most strikingly evinces the importance of all the means of grace, which God hath instituted. When once the attention of a people is called up to the concerns of the soul, how precious, in their view, are seasons for prayer. How precious is God’s holy Sabbath—how instantly do they fly to the Bible—how highly do they prize every opportunity to get religious instruction, and to associate with the people of God for serious conversation. God works by means in the moral, as well as the natural world. They are necessarily connected with the end. Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.

4. The appearance of the people in this place at the time of the late awakening, will enable me to add to the testimony of others respecting the work in general, that it has been attended with remarkable regularity. God was emphatically in the still small voice. Nothing was said, in particular, about dreams and visions—hearing unusual voices, and seeing uncommon sights. No extravagance, either in gestures or outcries, appeared. No wild enthusiasm attended the revival in any stage of it.

5. Among those in this town who have been awakened to attend to religious truths, a remarkable uniformity has occurred relative to the doctrines which have been embraced. These are such as are usually termed Calvinistic. Such truths as the total and awful depravity of the human heart—the necessity of regeneration ; or a change of heart as a preparation for the enjoyment of a holy heaven—the equity of the divine law in its penalty as well as precept—the divine sovereignty in the salvation of sinners, as the only possible ground of hope in the case of a guilty offender—the necessity of gospel morality, as an evidence of justifying faith—and all the doctrines essentially connected with these, were readily received by all with one consent.

6. It is worthy of notice that the revival of religion in this town, has proved to be almost a death-wound to the vain amusements of the young people. An attempt to establish a dancing school among us in the time of the late special attention, was rendered nearly abortive; and the youth in general are still remarkable for their sobriety.

7. One distinguishing feature of this work as it appeared among us, and elsewhere, according to the narrations which have been published, was humility. The subjects of the revival, who have obtained a Christian hope, have very uniformly appeared to be humble, and to walk softly before their Maker. In view of the divine perfections and requirements, they have, at times, expressed great self-abhorrence. This has been one striking effect of the genuine operation of the divine Spirit on the hearts of sinners in every age.

May a holy God, in infinite mercy, continue to make manifest the glory of his power, and the glory of his grace, in building up Zion ; for in no other way can we rationally hope to see happy individuals—happy families—happy neighborhoods—happy societies—happy towns—happy states—happy kingdoms—and a happy world.

An account of a Revival of Religion in Goshen, Conn., in the year 1799

This is a selection from New England Revivals As They Existed at the Close of the Eighteenth, and the Beginning of the Nineteenth Centuriescompiled by Bennet Tyler in 1846. This relates various instances from the Second Great Awakening, recorded in the Connecticut Evangelical Magazine. It is shared to encourage believers to pray for a similar great work of God’s grace, to learn what characterized genuine conversions, and how pastors guided such individuals.

This account was written by the Rev. Asahel Hooker.

Sundry persons, whose knowledge of the subject is correct, have informed me, that previous to my settlement in this place, there never was any remarkable and extensive revival of religion among the people. There were, however, some signal instances of the power of divine grace. Since my fixed residence here, which is almost nine years, things have remained in the most unpromising state, as to the interests of religion, with a little exception, till about the middle of February, 1799. That period, however, was rendered memorable by the commencement of a work, the happy traits of which are still apparent, and which I trust will be lasting as eternity. From small beginnings, it made such progress in a few weeks, as to have arrested general attention; while great numbers were under the most serious and impressive sense of their forlorn state as sinners. Public worship on the Sabbath, and all other meetings appointed for religious purposes, were unusually attended, both as to numbers and seriousness. Many seemed anxious, and in great earnest to know what they should do to be saved. It was not long before sundry persons manifested a hope of having passed from death unto life. In the compass of a few months their number became considerable, and continued still increasing. In the month of September, twenty-five persons were admitted to the church; in November, forty-eight; and in January, four; making in the whole seventy-seven. A considerable number remain still, who exhibit the usual evidence of a new heart, who have not made a public profession of their faith. The visible change which has been wrought in many, is great and wonderful. Those who gave precious evidence of friendship to the Redeemer and his cause, seemed to say, with one voice and ineffable joy,—“This is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes.”

After this brief statement, the following remarks will exhibit the distinguishing features of this work, and enable the candid and impartial to judge for themselves, whether it be indeed the Lord’s work, and worthy of its reputed author.

1. It is worthy of notice, that numbers were deeply impressed before they were apprised that any others were in like circumstances. Impressions did not seem to be generally imparted from one to another. Frequently, without the intervention of any means which could be distinctly recollected, the truth and reality of eternal things, were brought home and fastened on their minds with a sort of irresistible and impressive weight, pointing them to the vast importance of fleeing from the wrath to come. This evidently was not the work of enthusiasm, nor but slightly, if at all, tinctured with it.

2. The first impressions on the minds of those who were the subjects of the work, did not, in common, consist chiefly of fears, excited by the dreadful forebodings of future punishment. It was apparent that their most deep and painful impressions arose especially from convictions of sin, by which they were set at variance with themselves, and their past conduct as sinners; and by which it was awfully realized to them that “there is no peace to the wicked.” It is worthy of particular mention, that those who became eventually reconciled to the truth, and found a comfortable hope of their good estate, were led to such an acquaintance with the plague of their own hearts, as served to subvert all hope, arising from themselves and their own doings. They were thence shown that if saved, it must be, not by works of righteousness which they had done, or could do, but “by the washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost.”

3. Where the foregoing convictions were brought to a happy issue, relief and comfort were found, in some sort, very differently from what was expected. The comfort and joy of the subjects seemed not to arise primarily from an apprehension that they were brought into a safe and happy state, but from new and delightful views of God, of the Redeemer, and the great truths which pertain to his kingdom. It is hence remarkable, that frequently the subjects of the work seemed to be brought out of darkness into marvelous light, and to experience the sublime joys of religion, before they conceived any distinct hope of having become new creatures. It was hence rendered hopeful, that this joy was not selfish and delusive, as it could not have arisen primarily or chiefly from an apprehension of their own good estate. They, therefore, seemed frequently to lose sight of themselves, and their own particular interest, while contemplating the glory of God, as exhibited in the face of Jesus Christ. It is worthy of particular notice, as a distinguishing feature of the late work in this place, that those who have been the hopeful subjects of it in its saving effects, notwithstanding their foregoing prejudices and opposition, have come uniformly and with one consent, into the scheme of doctrines understood by the general term Calvinism. These are the doctrines which seem to have been specially owned and blessed by the Holy Spirit, and thence made the wisdom of God and the power of God, to the salvation of sinners.

4. The subjects of this work were, in some respects, exceedingly various, as to their previous character and circumstances. A large proportion of the whole number were those who had been educated in habits of general respect for religion, for the Sabbath, and public worship. Of these, some were evidently going about to establish their own righteousness, not regarding the necessity of a new heart, and of being clothed with the righteousness which is of God, by faith. In a few instances, those who had made a public profession of religion, were convinced that they were still in the gall of bitterness, and in the event, hopefully established in holiness. Others had been, for several years, if not always, in the habit of paying little respect to religion in any form. A considerable number, were more or less immoral and irreligious in their visible conduct. Several, who were scoffers at the serious and universal strictness of true religion, and who made light of the attention on its first appearance, were afterwards among the hopeful subjects of genuine conviction, and of saving mercy. A few, who had endeavored to fortify themselves against the fears of the wrath to come, in the belief of universal salvation, were convinced that they had made lies their refuge. Several, on whom the work was productive of the most evident, and apparently, most salutary and abiding effects, had been skeptical, and much inclined to infidelity. If we take for granted, that the work which has been so far described, is a work of the Holy- Spirit, one remark which naturally occurs, is the evident design of Providence to confound all attempts which should be made by philosophy and human reason, at accounting for the effects wrought, without ascribing them to God, as the marvelous work of his Spirit and grace.

5. It is not common for those who manifest a hope for themselves, to be very confident of their title to salvation. There are few, if any, but seem at times in much doubt whether their names are written in heaven. One reason of this, is plain. It is not usual for those who are hopeful subjects of mercy, to seem wise in their own conceits, or to have high thoughts of their own experiences, and attainments in religion; but in lowliness of mind, to esteem others better than themselves.

6. The subjects of this work are apparently disposed to persevere,—to run with patience the race set before them, and to give evidence of their union to Christ, by keeping his commandments.

How the things above stated will appear, when examined by the light and evidence of future days, and whether the hopes of Christians wall be fully realized in the precious and abiding fruits of the wonderful things which they have seen and heard, must be left to future decision. Whether all those who appear to have set out, and to run well for the present, will hold on their way, and obtain the prize of their high calling, must be finally known by the event. The idea is cherished, with animated hope, that they will be to His praise in the earth, and the happy instruments of extending His kingdom among men. Of him, and through him, and to him, are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.

Upcoming Sunday Messages

Sunday, August 18–“What is Heaven?” John 13:36-14:4
Sunday August 25–“How do I get to Heaven?” John 14:5-7

Heaven

Resources for August 12-18

Here are a few things to help you grow in Christ this week–

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…

Prominent Characteristics Of Harlan Page’s Efforts For The Salvation Of Men

The following is a summary of the life of Harlan Page (1791-18) from Memoirs of Harlan Page: The Power of Prayer and Personal Effort for the Souls of Individuals. I would greatly encourage you to read this book–it is a real encouragement in the Lord’s work. You can get a free PDF here or buy a copy here.

It may not be unimportant to bring together some of the characteristics of his efforts to honor Christ in the salvation of individuals, as illustrated in the preceding history.

It was the burden of his heart, and the purpose of his life. When engaged in his usual business, the religious welfare of persons with whose state he had become acquainted, was generally pressing on his mind; and it is now known, that for several years before he died he almost always had by him a memorandum of the names and residence of a few individuals with whom he was to converse. On these he would call, as he went to and from his office, or religious meetings; and if no names were on this list, he felt that he was doing little good. He also uniformly had in his hat more or less awakening tracts, that he might present as he should judge them adapted to the state of those he met. Not unfrequently he would seize a few moments from his usual occupation, to go out and address some individual; and when the business of the day was closed, he hastened to some meeting or other religious engagement for the evening. It is believed that an entire month has frequently elapsed, during which he did not sit down for an hour, even in the bosom of his own family, to relax his mind, or rest. Every evidence of good accomplished gave him new joy; and every opening for usefulness added a new impulse to his efforts. He felt that, under God, the eternal joy or woe of immortal souls depended on his fidelity. Each evening and each hour brought its duties, which he felt could not be neglected or postponed. The present duty was still before him; and though “faint,” he was still “pursuing.” His labors on the Sabbath were not less exhausting than on other days; and he doubtless thus failed of obtaining that “compensation for toil,” which the animal constitution requires, and which is essential to a long life.

When urged, at the close of a day of fatigue, to spare himself and spend the evening at home, he would say, “Don’t attempt to persuade me away from duty. I have motive enough within myself to tempt me to enjoy repose with my family; but that will not save souls.” A little previous to his last sickness, as he returned from church coughing, he was asked if he had not spoken too much in, the Sabbath school: “perhaps I have,” he replied; “but how could I help it, when all eyes were fixed, and the children seemed to devour every word I said ?”

It was not uncommon, at different periods of his life, for him in sleep to imagine himself addressing the impenitent; and to wake in a high state of excitement and in tears, occasioned by the deep sympathy he felt for their perishing condition. It is also known, that, when he saw no manifestations of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, he would be, at times, in deep distress; would wrestle more abundantly in prayer, renew his efforts to arouse Christians to duty and awaken the impenitent; and more or less conversions were almost always the result.

In short, it was not the great object of his spiritual life, himself to be happy in religion; but rather by persevering labors and holy self-denial—like the Apostle who testified that he died daily—to glorify God in winning souls to him. He ardently desired lo devote the whole undivided efforts of his life to this work, and nothing but the duty of providing for the support of his family prevented it.

He had the most clear view of the necessity to every man of being born again. As soon as an individual came into his presence, it seemed to be the first question of his mind, “Is this a friend or an enemy of God?” The next thing was, if impenitent, to do something for his conversion; or if a Christian, to encourage him in duty. Whatever else he saw in an individual, he felt that it availed him nothing unless he had received Christ to his heart by a living faith. This he felt and urged to be the sinner’s first, great, and only duty in which he could be acceptable to God. This was exemplified at a meeting of his Sabbath school teachers, when he called on each to know whether he thought he had a well grounded hope in Christ, or not; and recorded their several replies. Among them was an amiable young merchant, whom he highly respected, and who seemed not far from the kingdom of God.

“Have you a hope ?” he tenderly inquired.

“No, Sir,” was the reply.

“Then I’m to put down your name as having no hope?”

“Yes, Sir.”

“Well, I write down your name as having no hope.”

The young man pondered on this decision and record of his spiritual state; was troubled, and soon came to our brother, saying, “ I told you to put me down as having no hope; but I can’t say that.” He is now a member of the church, and a decided supporter of all her institutions.

He brought his efforts to bear upon individuals, and followed up impressions made. All the triumphs of the Gospel, he knew, consist in the conversion and sanctification of individuals; and he was not satisfied with merely praying and contributing for the salvation of the world as a whole; or having a general impression made on the minds of a congregation. His intense desire was that individuals should be turned from sin to God. Not unfrequently he would observe in the congregation a person unknown to him, who seemed to give solemn attention to divine truth; ascertain who he was, and seek a personal interview; and in all cases, if he left an individual to-day in an interesting state of mind, he would endeavor to see him again to-morrow; and follow up the impression at brief intervals, till there was no longer encouragement, or he had evidence of true conversion.

He had a clear sense of obligation, both in the sinner to repent, and in the Christian to devote all his powers to God. He felt, and labored to make others feel, that if any one neglected duty, the guilt was all his own; that God was ever ready to receive the returning prodigal; and that if any withheld their hearts, or aught they possessed from him, in the day of judgment they would be speechless. This sense of obligation he urged with unabating fervor. His heart was intent that it should be felt, and immediately carried out in an entire consecration to God.

“Brother,” said he to a lovely Christian who watched with him, “when you meet impenitent shiners, don’t merely say calmly: ‘Friend, you are in danger;’ but approach them with a holy violence, and labor to ‘pull them out of the fire.’ They are going to perdition. There is a heaven and a hell.”

As a brother from Boston to whom several of his letters were addressed, had called for a few moments, and was about taking leave, he asked the dying man if he had any particular thought on his mind to express as he bade him farewell. “Ah, I can say nothing,” he replied, “but what has been repeated over and over; but could I raise my voice to reach a congregation of sinners, I would tell them ‘their feet shall slide in due time’—they ‘shall slide’—there is no escape but by believing in Christ.”

He not only endeavored to alarm impenitent men, but to bring them to a decision that they will be the Lord’s.

While in his native place, he was absent one evening till so late an hour, that his wife remonstrated with him for unreasonably tasking his own health, and separating himself from home. “I have spent this time,” said he, “in trying to persuade your poor impenitent brother to give his heart to Christ.” That impenitent brother was soon brought to accept of mercy; pursued a course of theological study, and is now serving God in the ministry.

On another occasion, while residing in the city of New-York, he had gone to a religious meeting, and returned late in the evening, when he was reminded of the danger that his protracted efforts might be more than he could ultimately sustain. “I have been standing this hour,” was his reply, “at the corner of the street, laboring with Mr. H, (one of the teahchers of his Sabbath school,) and trying to persuade him to submit to God.” Within a few hours the young man found peace; soon resumed his studies which he had been pursuing for other ends; and he is now a devoted minister of Christ, gathering a flourishing church in one of the principal cities of the West. A letter from this young clergyman, received as these sheets were going to press, thus confirms this brief statement.

‘‘The name of brother Page will ever be associated in my mind with all that is worthy of imitation in the Christian character. By the persuasions of an acquaintance, I was induced to engage as teacher in his Sabbath school; and though I was then destitute of faith, he welcomed me, and won my confidence and love. Very soon he began to address me with the utmost apparent tenderness and anxiety in reference to my own salvation. His words sunk deep into my heart. They were strange words; for though I had lived among professors of religion, he was the first who for nine or ten years had taken me by the hand, and kindly asked, ‘Are you a Christian?’ ‘Do you intend to be a Christian?’ ‘Why not now?’ Each succeeding Sabbath brought him to me with anxious inquiries after my soul’s health. On the third or fourth Sabbath, he gave me the Tract ‘Way to be Saved,’ which deepened my impressions. At his request, I also attended a teacher’s prayer meeting conducted by him, where my soul was bowed down and groaned under the load of my guilt. At the close of the meeting, Mr. Page took my arm as we proceeded on our way to our respective homes, and urged upon me the duty and privilege of an, immediate surrender of my heart to Christ As we were about to part, he held my hand, and at the corner of the street, in a wintry night, stood pleading with me to repent of sin and submit to God. I returned to my home, and for the first time in many years bowed my knees in my chamber before God; and entered into a solemn covenant to serve him henceforth in and through the Gospel of his Son. God was pleased, I trust, by his Holy Spirit, to seal my vows. If I have since had any Christian joy, or done anything to advance the cause of Christ, it is to be attributed to the Divine blessing on the faithfulness of brother Page.”

He expected success from God, through the blessing of the Holy Spirit in answer to prayer. He felt that humble, self-denying effort, made in God’s strength, he would own and bless; but that for this he would be “inquired of” by his people. He Loved Prayer. Besides prayers at social meetings, with the families and individuals he visited; and on special occasions, frequently recurring, he, regularly, not only conducted family worship, accompanied by singing, but every morning and evening prayed with his companion as they retired and rose, and also poured out his heart to God alone in the closet. For the latter duty, when in his native place, he often retired to a consecrated spot in a grove near his father’s house. If one of the household were about to take a journey, the family assembled and commended each other to God, which was frequently done on other occasions of special interest.

His prayers were usually short and fervent, and confined mainly to those topics which pressed with special force upon his mind. At all times, prayer seemed to be a privilege, and the throne of grace a resting-place, and a solace to his heart. There is no doubt that it was by continual and fervent prayer, that he imbibed that glowing sense of eternal things, that love to souls, and that heavenly unction, which were at once the spring of his fidelity, and, under God, the ground of his success.

So anxious was he that there should be more prayer in the churches; and such were his hopes, that, if the duty were properly presented, it would be felt and practiced, that he united with a brother whose means were as limited as his own, in paying fifty dollars [$1300 in 2013!] as a premium for a tract on prayer— himself drawing out minutely various hints to guide those who might write; and it was by this means that the excellent Tract, (No. 271,) on the obligations, nature, benefits, and occasions of prayer, was procured.

In his mind there was no jarring conflict between perfect obligation on the part of man, and perfect dependence in his relations to God. He knew both were revealed, momentous, eternal truths; and left all embarrassing questions of their consistency to be settled by God himself. It was enough, to hear God speak, and to obey. He prayed as if all the efficiency and praise were God’s, and labored as if duty were all his own. His sense of dependence threw him on his knees, and his sense of duty summoned him to effort; and prayer and effort, and effort and prayer were the business of his life. Blessed day to the church, when this endless source of contention and controversy shall thus be settled in every Christian’s heart!

He was uniform and unwearied. I know not who has made or heard the charge of inconsistency in his Christian character. Those who knew him best, best knew how supreme in his heart was the business of glorifying God in the salvation of men. I have well considered the assertion when I say, that, during nine years in which we were associated in labors, I do not know that I ever passed an interview with him long enough to have any interchange of thought and feeling, in which I did not receive from him an impulse heavenward—an impulse onward in duty to God and the souls of men. No assembly, even of professed Christians, from which the spirituality of religion was excluded, whether met for social enjoyment, or in furtherance of some benevolent design, received his countenance; nor was he satisfied with what too justly seemed the strange anomaly of excluding Christ from the hours of social intercourse, and then, as it were atoning for the sin, by closing the interview with prayer.

The only remaining particular which it seems important now to mention, is his fruitfulness in devising expedients for doing good. Of this point the history of his life is but an exemplification.

            As the father of a family, he labored for the spiritual welfare of all his household, especially for the early conversion of his children. Of thirteen individuals, who resided in his family at different times in the city of New-York, twelve became deeply anxious for their salvation. One of these was at Roman Catholic, whose attention to family worship was forbidden by her priest; one, who was hopefully reclaimed from her backsliding, has since died; and six others gave, and, so far as known, still give evidence of saving conversion to God. Of his fidelity to his children, the testimony contained in the following expression of filial gratitude from his son, in transmitting, by request, the letters he had received from his father, will be excused.

“In reviewing the letters I received from my father,” he says, “I see everywhere an expression of the tenderest solicitude both for my temporal and eternal welfare; and O for some of that ardent desire for the salvation of souls to bear me forward in duty, which impelled him onward, till he ceased his toils on earth, and entered on, his rest in heaven.

“I cannot refrain from bearing testimony to my father’s fidelity to my own soul. Well do I remember his endeavors in my early childhood to lead me to the Savior—his prayers—his entreaties—and the anxiety with which he followed me year after year, while under the paternal roof and when away, till he could speak to me no more. His kind voice I shall no longer hear. His affectionate smile of approval, or tears shed over my waywardness, I shall no more see. His kind intercourse with the members of his family, we shall no more share. He will no more call us around the hallowed family altar, lead us in the hymn of praise and in pouring out the soul to God. He is in a more endeared, a happier and holier sphere, enjoying the smiles and presence of his God and Redeemer. Pray for me that I may have grace to follow his example as he followed Christ, and at last to unite in his songs.”

The above pages have sufficiently shown in what varied forms he rendered himself useful, as the teacher of a day school; in the relations he sustained to the Sabbath school cause, and to the Tract cause; in Bible classes, and in religious meetings; to families and to individuals. The variety of efforts he made with his pen is equally striking. Not only did he address moving appeals to individuals; but if a thought occurred which he judged to be of general interest, he embodied it in a few paragraphs and sent it for insertion in some religious paper; and even if he inserted a scrap in an album, he improved the opportunity to direct the reader’s mind to Christ.

In the Temperance cause he enlisted with a whole heart as early as 1823; rejecting all that could intoxicate, including tobacco in all its forms, and throwing an influence in a thousand ways to extend the Temperance reformation.

Many pious young men were by him sought out and directed towards the Ministry.

To the cause of Missions, both in our own and pagan lands, he was steadfastly devoted. He not only turned his eye away from the accumulation of property as the object of his life; but felt the duty and claimed the blessedness to his own soul, of imparting for the cause of Christ a portion of what he had. On his dying bed, he mentioned to Mrs. Page, that five dollars [$135 in 2013], which before his sickness he had subscribed to a benevolent object, remained unpaid. “We have consecrated it to God,” said he, “and I had rather it would be paid. You had better pay it, and trust him.”

His familiarity with the character and religious bearing of all the Society’s publications, and with the general state and wants of the community, rendered him skillful in selecting publications appropriate to the different fields and circumstances for which they were designed; and also in giving an impulse and a wise direction to the feelings and efforts of Christians who were continually calling for the transaction of business.

And in all, it abundantly appears that he felt that the efficiency was alone with God; and mingled continual prayer for the gift of gifts—the accompanying influences of the Holy Spirit.

Is it wonderful that God should bless his efforts? That, in each church with which he stood connected, individuals, when relating their religious experience, should be heard referring to his faithful endeavors as the means of bringing them to Christ? That a revenue of souls should have been gathered from the place of his nativity; thirty-two teachers be brought publicly to profess Christ, from one of his Sabbath schools, and nine of them have set their faces toward the Ministry? That thirty-four souls should hopefully have been gathered by him and his fellow-laborers from one ward of the city; and fifty-eight, in connection with his efforts and those of a few endeared associates, have been brought to join themselves to the people of God, from the Tract and Bible houses? That individuals should come to his dying bed, and thank him with tears for his fidelity to their own souls? Is it wonderful, that, in speaking to her who is now his widow, of his early departure, and looking back on his work on earth as ended, he should, with the solemnity of eternity on his countenance, say: “I know it is all of God’s grace, and nothing that I have done; but I think I have had evidence that more than one hundred souls have been converted to God through my own direct and personal instrumentality.”

Look at the influence of such a Christian life on a large scale. Suppose every Christian labored, I do not say with such talents, but with such a heart to the work. Suppose there were ten such Christians in every evangelical church throughout our land, and God should equally bless their labors. How would they rouse their fellow Christians to duty. How would they search the highways and hedges, and by God’s grace compel the ungodly to come in. How would they instruct the rising age. How would they hold up the hands of faithful ministers. How would the Holy Spirit be shed down in answer to their prayers. How would their influence penetrate through every vein of this great community; and how soon would living piety here pour its influence on every benighted land. Such a light as would then shine could not be hid. It would illumine the world, and Christ would come and possess the nations.

An account of a Revival of Religion in Harwinton, Conn., in the year 1799

This is a selection from New England Revivals As They Existed at the Close of the Eighteenth, and the Beginning of the Nineteenth Centuriescompiled by Bennet Tyler in 1846. This relates various instances from the Second Great Awakening, recorded in the Connecticut Evangelical Magazine. It is shared to encourage believers to pray for a similar great work of God’s grace, to learn what characterized genuine conversions, and how pastors guided such individuals.

This account was written by the Rev. Joshua Williams.

In the latter part of January and beginning of February, 1799, our meetings for public worship were very full, and more solemn than I had ever seen upon any occasion before. In the second week of February, I attended several meetings in neighboring societies, in company with a number of ministers. The Lord appeared to be present in a remarkable manner. On Friday I returned home, with two or three of my brethren. A lecture had been previously appointed. The congregation was very large, and the effects of the Word were very visible. In the evening, another sermon was preached, and some exhortations given. The effects were still more visible. It is believed that on this, and the two succeeding days, more than a hundred persons received deep impressions of their miserable state; and many of them were feelingly convicted of their total depravity of heart, and absolute helplessness. In the two following weeks, the solemnity, concern and conviction evidently increased. Many were brought to see that a selfish religion, such as theirs was, was unsafe; and that they must have a principle, higher than the fear of hell or desire of happiness, to prompt them in the path of life. Read More

Resources for July 8-14, 2013

This week’s bulletin is available here, our daily devotional here, and our doctrinal study on God’s self-existence here.

Account of A Revival of Religion in Plymouth, Connecticut, in the year 1799

This is a selection from New England Revivals As They Existed at the Close of the Eighteenth, and the Beginning of the Nineteenth Centuriescompiled by Bennet Tyler in 1846. This relates various instances from the Second Great Awakening, recorded in the Connecticut Evangelical Magazine.

Towards the end of the year 1798, there was an appearance of more attention to religion than had been common among us, although it was not noticed at the time. Our assemblies on the Sabbath were more full, and the attention of the congregation to the Word preached, and other parts of social worship, more fixed than had been usual. Nothing farther very specially appeared, until the month of February, 1799, when the Spirit came like a mighty rushing wind, and seemed to breathe on many at one and the same time.

The first visible indication of this, was on a lecture day, previous to the Lord’s Supper. These lectures had heretofore usually been attended but by few, besides professors, and too many of these were negligent in their attendance. But at this time there were, probably, three, if not four times the number which had ordinarily attended on such occasions, especially of the young people, and the countenances of many indicated sadness of heart. Indeed the whole congregation appeared solemn; but some in different parts of the house, by their tears which they could not conceal, manifested that their minds were tenderly, impressed.

At the close of this meeting in the daytime, an evening lecture was appointed, which, it is believed, was the first evening religious meeting which had ever been publicly notified, or attended, in the town. At this meeting, a much greater number attended than in the daytime. A brother in the ministry being present, preached from these words—“He flattereth himself in his own eyes, until his iniquity be found to be hateful.” The assembly was solemn, the hearers attentive, and the Word preached seemed to be accompanied with divine power.

A religious meeting was now appointed on the Wednesday evening of the next week; and although the season, and the traveling, were both uncomfortable, many came from almost every quarter; and it seemed as if God was present of a truth, speaking to sinners in a still small voice, and saying what have you been doing? And where are you going? Consider what you do, and what your end is like to be. After praying and singing, the people were addressed from these words—“Escape for thy life; look not behind thee; neither stay thou in all the plain; escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed.” A solemn silence reigned among the hearers, who appeared to hear as for their lives; and many were to be seen in various parts of the house, weeping and trembling under a sense of their guilt and danger; and saying to themselves, “What must I do to be saved?” For at this time, but few spake out the feelings and exercises of their hearts; but at the close of the meeting, they returned to their homes, in pensive sadness.

From that time to the present, there have been almost every week from two to five, and sometimes six religious meetings, beside the two upon the Sabbath; as I have invariably attended them myself, I can witness to the order and decency, the silence and solemnity, with which, and the numbers by which, these meetings have been attended. The silence observed among those who were going to, or returning from these meetings, was very impressive, and frequently noticed with surprise and pleasure. Little or no tumult or noise, and the appearance of most, much as if they had been going to, or were returning from the funeral of some near relative or friend. And while in the house, nothing was said but by the minister; for so little disposed were the people to take an active part in any religious exercise, except singing, that it was difficult to get one publicly to propose or ask a question. Many were swift to hear, but all slow to speak.

In this time of God’s pouring out of his Spirit and reviving his work among us, sixty-one have been added to the church, and baptism administered to about one hundred. Among the baptized are sixteen households or families.

At one time, a number of households, containing about twenty souls, were baptized.

Those who have, in this time of awakening, joined the church, are most, if not all of them, between fourteen and forty years of age. The greatest number have been from the class of married people. Of the unmarried, twenty-one are females.

I shall now give some further particulars relating to this revival of religion.

About four or five months after the attention began, two lads or young men, who lived near each other, having finished their daily labor in the field, met in a school-house nearby, and spent the evening in religious conversation. They had not spent more than two evenings in this manner, before their being together, and the design thereof, was known to some in the neighborhood, who, the next time they met, joined their company.

About this time I heard of their meeting, although it was not generally known. A doubt, at once, arose with respect to the propriety of encouraging so young a class, of the different sexes, meeting by themselves, for religious purposes, without some one of more age and experience, to superintend their meetings, and preserve regularity among them, as also to instruct them in things pertaining to the kingdom of God, and their own salvation.

At their next meeting, I went among them, and found nearly forty males and females, from about eight to eighteen years of age, convened for the purpose of praying together, reading, singing psalms, and talking upon religious subjects. Being now desired by them, I met with them weekly for several months. The second time I met with them, there were about double the number there were the first time; and the third time, there were, I judged, about one hundred and forty. Although it was now the busiest season of the year with farmers, being about harvest time, and the evenings short, young men and women and children came from a distance of several miles; and much the greatest part appeared to have their minds impressed with seriousness; for in every part of the house, tears were seen, and sighs and sobs heard; although endeavors were used to suppress the one, and to conceal the other.

These meetings of young people and children were kept up for several months, and until more elderly people, who wished to participate with them in their devotional exercises, came in among them, and so rendered them common for those of every age. But it is hoped that the religious impressions made, at this time, upon the young and tender minds of a number, will never be wholly effaced, but will remain through time, and be like a well of water, springing up into everlasting life.

Resources for Week of June 23, 2013

Here are some helpful resources for learning from and laboring for Jesus Christ:

Today we celebrated our fourth anniversary! Pastor Larry Hobbes preached an excellent message from 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10. That message is available here.

Here is this week’s bulletin. Please note that our prayer meeting this Wednesday will be at the Rome Township pavilion. Join us as we look into God’s Word and pray for souls in this area.

You can download our Daily Devotional here. Each day a separate post on a Bible chapter will be published here.