If we rise to the survey of the world—if ascending the lofty eminence which is occupied by the genius of history, we review the annals of our race; or setting out with the traveler, we bring the eye of observation to bear on the existing condition of mankind—what a mournful picture is presented to the reflecting mind! Over by far the larger portion of that wide expanse, what does either the past or the present exhibit, but” darkness covering the earth and gross darkness the people”? Millions upon millions of our fellow-creatures, possessed of the same rational, moral, and immortal nature with ourselves, sunk to the level of the beasts that perish; ignorant alike of their origin and of their end—”changing the glory of the incorruptible Jehovah into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds and four-footed beasts and creeping things.”
“It is transporting and astonishing, that after all the great and horrid provocations we have given the Most-High in this church and land, by growing deism and infidelity, carnality and profanity, formality and hypocrisy, our bitter envyings and unreasonable divisions, but most of all by a general rejecting of the blessed Son of God by unbelief, and using gospel ordinances contentedly without feeling the power of them, the Lord hath been so far from utterly forsaking us, and making our country desolate by some destroying judgment, that he is in ” wrath remembering mercy,” and beginning manifestly to revive his work, and help us in such a situation as was become hopeless and helpless by any human possible means.”
There was scarcely a single person in the town, old or young, left unconcerned about the great things of the eternal world. Those who were wont to be the vainest and loosest, and those who had been disposed to think and speak lightly of vital and experimental religion, were now generally subject to great awakenings. And the work of conversion was carried on in a most astonishing manner, and increased more and more; souls did as it were come by flocks to Jesus Christ.
In this town there has always been a great deal of talk about conversion and spiritual experiences; and therefore people in general had formed a notion in their own minds what these things were. But when they come to be the subjects of them, they find themselves much confounded in their notions, and overthrown in many of their former conceits. And it has been very observable, that persons of the greatest understanding, and who had studied most about things of this nature, have been more confounded than others.
Hodge’s masterful analysis of the aberrations that happened during the Great Awakening. Agree with him or not, this is Hodge at his best and must be consulted by any serious historical student. “there must have been something very wrong in the revival itself. It may, however, be said, that the decay of religion through the land generally, is perfectly consistent with the purity of the revival and the flourishing state of those particular churches which had experienced its influence. The facts of the case, unfortunately, do not allow us the benefit of this assumption. It is no doubt true, that in some congregations… religion was in a very desirable state, in the midst of the general decline; but it is no less certain, that in many instances, in the very places where the revival was the most remarkable, the declension was the most serious.”
What has more especially given offence to many, and raised a loud cry against some preachers, as though their conduct were intolerable, is their frightening poor innocent children with talk of hell-fire, and eternal damnation. But if those who complain so loudly of this, really believe what is the general profession of the country,viz. That all are by nature the children of wrath, and heirs of hell— and that every one that has not been born again, whether he be young or old, is exposed every moment to eternal destruction— then such a complaint and cry as this betrays a great deal of weakness and inconsideration. Innocent as children seem to us, yet,
if they are out of Christ, they are not so in the sight of God
n the year 1740, in the spring before Mr. Whitefield came to this town, there was a visible alteration: there was more seriousness and religious conversation, especially among young people; those things that were of ill tendency among them, were forborne; and it was a very frequent thing for persons to consult their minister upon the salvation of their souls; and in some particular persons there appeared a great attention, about that time.
In the year 1740, in the spring before Mr. Whitefield came to this town, there was a visible alteration: there was more seriousness and religious conversation, especially among young people; those things that were of ill tendency among them, were forborne; and it was a very frequent thing for persons to consult their minister upon the salvation of their souls; and in some particular persons there appeared a great attention, about that time.