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Powell, Professor, &c. in the University of Oxford.
Art. I.—Revivals : or the Appropriate Means of Promo
ting True Religion. A Sermon preached in the South Congregational Church in Bridgeport, Conn., on the Lord's day morning, June 20, 1841. By John Woodbridge, D.D. Published by request.
WHATEVER diversity of sentiment may prevail in regard to the subject handled in this discourse, there can be but one opinion respecting its vast importance. All who believe in the reality of true religion must be agreed, that it is of the highest moment to understand what are the true and legitimate means of reviving its power and furthering its progress. The views advanced by Dr. Woodbridge in this discourse are judicious, scriptural and timely. Although it was not prepared for the press, the fact that a congregation not his own, on hearing it, requested its publication, because they thought it adapted to subserve the cause of Christ, is an encouraging symptom of a good state of opinion in Christian communities.
Dr. Woodbridge shows first what are not, and secondly what are “the appropriate means of promoting true religion.” Among the first class he places “ a bitter and censorious spirit in opposing wickedness; a neglect or superficial notice of the distinguishing doctrines of the gospel; enVOL. XIV. NO. I.
couraging innovations in the form of sound words, or the introduction of doctrines unknown to men of former generations; the introduction of a new philosophy into religion, or connecting an old erroneous theory of the divine government and human liberty with Christian doctrines; joining with those who would merge all denominational differences in the general name of Christian ; giving special countenance to those who are accounted peculiarly revival preachers, whose business it is not to labour as missionaries in waste places, or among the heathen; nor to take the pastoral oversight of churches at home, but to aid settled ministers in preaching, visiting and other means of awakening and saving their people; the introduction of new measures not inculcated in the scriptures; encouraging young converts to great forwardness in religious meetings, and in public efforts to alarm the careless; projects of reform calculated to divide rather than unite those who sincerely love the truth as it is in Jesus, and which imply no change in the principles and morals of those with whom we are immediately associated.”
These points are enforced by our author by cogent arguments. Whenever it is requisite he interposes sufficient guards and qualifications,to avoid those rash and indiscriminate assertions which would expose him to the assaults of antagonists. Among the appropriate means of promoting religion he mentions “the faithful and frequent preaching of the gospel; the faithful instruction and government of families; the maintenance of kindred faithful discipline in the church; a knowledge of the truth, and unflinching zeal in its defence and propagation; corresponding spiritual affections, as ardent love to God, penitence, humility, faith in the Redeemer, and disinterested, active benevolence towards men; earnest attention to the duties of the closet; a suitable religious demeanor and conversation in the family; a strict attendance on the public ordinances of religion, and frequent meetings for exhortation and prayer; abstinence from every known sin, and the performance of every known duty; a consistent example ; lustly, direct personal efforts by the devotement of time and property, by counsel, warning, and entreaty, to promote the conversion and salvation of men.”
We presume that these views will meet the concurrence of the great mass of intelligent and spiritual Christians. And the more numerous the experiments made in the way