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travagantly frantic, but the Congregationists and Presbyterians in the United States have gone far a-head of them, and the Methodist church in America has become to a degree Episcopal, and softened down into, perhaps, the most pure, most mild, and most simple of all the creeds professed.
I have said that in these two churches the religious feeling was that of excitement: I believe it to be more or less the case in all religion in America; for the Americans are a people who are prone to excitement, not only from their climate but constitutionally, and it is the caviare of their existence. If it were not so, why is it necessary that revivals should be so continually called forth—a species of stimulus, common, I believe, to almost every sect and creed, promoted and practised in all their colleges, and considered as most important and salutary in their results. .Let it not be supposed that I am depreciating that which is to be understood by a
revival in the true sense of the word; not those revivals which were formerly held for the benefit of all and for the salvation of many: I am raising my voice against the modern system, which has been so universally substituted for the reality; such as has been so fully exposed by Bishop Hopkins, of Vermont, and by Mr. Colton, who says—
“ Religious excitements, called revivals of religion, have been a prominent feature in the history of this country from its earliest periods, more particularly within a hundred years; and the agency of man has always had more or less to do in their management, or in their origination, or in both. Formerly in theory (for man is naturally a philosopher, and will always have his theory for every event and every fact), they were regarded as Pentecostal seasons, as showers from heaven, with which this world below had nothing to do but to receive and be refreshed by them as they came. A whole community, or the great majority of
them, absorbed in serious thoughts about eter
nal things, inquiring the way to heaven, and seeming intent on the attainment of that high and glorious condition, presents a spectacle as solemn as it is interesting to contemplate. Such, doubtless, has been the condition of many communities in the early and later history of American revivals; and it is no less true that the fruits have been the turning of many to God and his ways.
“ The revivals of the present day are of a very different nature.* There are but two ways by
which the mind of man can be brought to a pro
" The American clergymen are supported in their opinion on the present revivals and their consequences by Doctors Reid and Matheson,who, otherwise favourable to them, observe, “These revival preachers have denounced pastors with whom they could not compare, as ‘ dumb dogs, hypocrites, and formalists, leading their people to hell.’ The consequences have been most disastrous. Churches have become the sport of derision, distraction, and disorder. Pastors have been made unhappy in their dearest connections. So extensive has been this evil that, in one presbytery of nineteen churches, there were only three who had settled pastors; and in one synod, in 1832, of a hundred and three churches, only fiftytwo had pastors.”
per sense of religion—one is by love, and the other by fear; and it is by the latter only that modern revivals become at all efl'ective. Bishop Hopkins says, very truly,—“ Have we any example in the preaching of Christ and his apos. tles of the use of strong individual denunciation?” Is there one sentence in the word of inspiration to justify the attempt to excite the feelings of a public assembly, until every restraint of order is forgotten, and confusion becomes identified with the word of God.”* Yet such are the revivals of the present day as practised in America. Mr. Colton calls them—“ Those startling and astounding shocks which are constantly invented, artfully and habitually applied, under all the power of sympathy, and of 9. studied and enthusiastic elocution, by a large class of preachers among us. To startle and to shock is their great secret—their power.” The same author then proceeds :—
~# “The Primitive Church Compared, &c.” by the Bishop of Vermont;
“Religion is a dread and awful theme in itself. That is, as all must concede, there are revealed truths belonging to the category. To invest these truths with terrors that do not belong to them, by bringing them out in distorted shapes and unnatural forms; to surprise a tender and unfortified mind by one of awful import, without exhibiting the corresponding relief which Christianity has provided; to frighten, shock, and paralyze the mind with alternations and scenes Of horror, carefully concealing the ground Of encouragement and hope, till reason is shaken and hurled from its throne, for the sake of gaining a convert, and in making a convert to make a maniac (as doubtless sometimes occurs under this mode of preaching, for we have the proof of it), involves a fearful responsibility. I have just heard of an interesting girl thus driven to distraction, in the city of New York, at the tender age of fourteen, by being approached by the preacher after a ser
mon of this kind, with a secretary by his side