“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his favors.”
“‘Tis he forgives thy sins,
‘Tis he relieves thy pain,
‘Tis he that heals thy sickness,
And gives thee health again.”
An narrating the following I cannot in truth follow the popular track, and say, I began to preach at ______, and at such a time; the church had long been in a languid state, and every thing (but myself) was so cold and dead that the visibility of religion could hardly be discovered. But soon after I commenced preaching there appeared some signs of life, and we set up prayer meetings, and revived the Sunday School which long been neglected, &c &c. And suddenly there was a shaking among the dry bones; and bone came to his bone, and when I beheld, lo, the sinners were awakened, and flesh came upon them, and skin covered them, (or a profession of religion,) and we have now a glorious work in progress among us, &c. No, I have not such a tale to write: nor do I think that br. Rowland would thank me for setting for his preaching, or his influence as to the cause of what I am about to relate; and I am satisfied that should I attribute the precious work to br. Rowland or to myself, I should rob God of the praise which is his due.
On the 3d Lord’s day inst., I had the happiness to see br. H. Rowland baptize two person in the river Susquechannah. On the day preceding we had a meeting in the neighborhood where he lives. Some of the scattered sheep, (such we really hope they were,) were, or had been searched out by the great Shepherd in the day that he was among his sheep, and some rejoiced in again having the privilege of dwelling in a fold with kindred spirits. We rejoiced together, and would unite to praise the Lord, that he has once more appeared in mercy to revive the thirsty spirits of his people, after he had preserved them so long in a land of drought. And now we know that they are blessed who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for we have had a taste which was sweet, if we are not yet filled. So we fain would trust in the Lord to gather his dispersed.
Respecting the relation of the experience of one of the candidates, I will just observe, I thought there was real material difference in the communication, from any of the experiences which I have heard from any among the operations of the anxious bench system.
To show the distinguishing marks of difference, let me just in short give the leading ideas of both. The one may feel under powerful preaching that he (or she, as the case may be) is a sinner, and is terribly afraid of going to hell, feels very bad, and is in distress for want of religion to save from endless ruin. Asks, seeks, knocks, strives, prays, begs, and agonizes, and perhaps finds no relief as yet; but believes he has a work to do to get religion. He must not give up, if he does God will leave him, and he will never call him again: so he continues to strive, beg, plead, and pray, or perhaps obtains the help of others, whose prayers are more availing than his own, at protracted meetings or elsewhere, and finally feels better; his load of sin has gone from his mind, he rejoices that after suffering so much and so long, and having done his part, given himself up, he has got religion.
The other feels solemn, is afflicted, thinks about dying, has no idea but he is good enough to be accepted before a God of mercy to be eternally happy. And as life is yet prolonged, to behave well, do a few good things, and not much evil, was all that was necessary to be done to fill up the measure of life, and prepare for a world to come. But all is not easy within. Some failures attend, unwelcome thoughts intrude, and his conduct is not all as it should be. As light enters the mind, sin appears, corruption is felt, and distress increases: and notwithstanding all the energies of the soul are summoned to exertion for relief, nothing that soul and body can do will remove the cause. Sin is an intolerable burden; a mountain of guilt ready to crush the worm to death appears in view. The law is holy, and repairs for transgressions are not to be made by such feeble exertions, and God would be perfectly just in vindicating his right of government, in executing its sentence on such guilty rebels. God’s justice shines so bright in his law, and his government is so lovely, that no way appears by which mercy can consistently be extended to such a guilty creature until Jesus Christ appears, and shows that mercy can flow through him, which being witnessed by the Holy Ghost to the soul, it cries, ‘Tis not by works of righteousness which I have done, but according to his mercy he hath saved me by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost, which he hath shed on me abundantly, through Jesus Christ my Saviour. My former fancied goodness was but filthy rags, my prayers, cries, and tears availed nothing to my relief, God’s law was so holy I could never perform one act of obedience thereto – God’s justice shone so bright I could not help but love it though it condemned me, and all that I had done.
And Jesus now so lovely, as my Saviour and my King,
In him I’ll trust forever, his praise I’ll try to sing.
To the praise of God’s sovereign grace be it recorded, that he has showed us a cloud from which some mercy drops have fallen on this part of his thirsty Zion’s hill. A few hearts have been comforted, that once were well nigh despairing of ever enjoying another time of visible refreshing from the presence of the Lord, while they sojourned in this vale of tears, or at least in the manner the Lord has of late appeared among us. We boast not in numbers, we prophesy not of things that are beyond our views: we say not what God will do either with or for us in relation to present appearances. But what has been enjoyed has been sweet, and has proved our enemies in their vaunting over us in the day of our calamity to be liars, and we still wish to trust in the Lord.
I am unworthy of the least of all mercies, yet blessed with great comforts.
I remain yours in christian fellowship, and in the enlivening hope of joy beyond the grave,
Signs of the Times
Volume 11, No. 19
October 1, 1843