APPENDIX A -
JONATHAN EDWARDS, DEFENSIVE ACTION, AND REVIVAL
Many consider Jonathan Edwards to be “The Theologian of Revival.” He was one of the principal figures in the first great awakening. Remarkable revival occurred under his ministry in Northampton, New England, in 1734-1735, and spread in an extraordinary manner to 27 nearby towns. A similar second revival began in Northampton, Boston, and many other places, in 1740, and to one degree or another, prevailed in more than 150 congregations in New England, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvanian, Virginia, and Maryland between 1740 and 1744.
These revivals were opposed by those who scorned vital Christian (not surprisingly). But those who most ardently supported this revival also did much to hinder it by falling into various errors and mistakes that led to confusion and disorder. In order to promote and bear witness to the validity of this revival, and to check the excesses that threatened it, Pastor Edwards published his Some Thoughts Concerning the Present Revival of Religion in New England, in 1740. This important work is currently kept in print by the Banner of Truth Trust and is contained in The Works of Jonathan Edwards.
As I read this remarkable treatise, I was enlightened about many important matters, and also convicted of having fallen into many of the same errors, in my zeal to promote the defense of the unborn, that appeared in some of the revivalist preachers. I commend Edwards’ entire treatise to the reader, and agree with all of it. I would, however (with the readers indulgence), like to present some of the highlights from Edwards’ treatise since they shed such important light on the current revival that has resulted from applying the defensive duties of the Moral Law to the abortion controversy.
Edwards held that Christian ministers should be well equipped and educated. He also counseled against unrestrained zeal, or anything that caused confusion and disorder. But he writes:
God in this work has begun at the lower end, and he has made use of the weak and foolish things of the world to carry it on. Some of the ministers chiefly employed have been mere babes in age and standing; and some of them not so high in reputation among their brethren as many others; and God has suffered their infirmities to appear in the sight of others, so as much to displease them; and at the same time it has pleased God greatly to succeed them, while he has not so succeeded others who are generally reputed vastly their superiors. Yea, there is reason to think that it has pleased God to make use of the infirmities of some, particularly their imprudent zeal, and censorious spirit, to chastise the deadness, negligence, earthly-mindedness, and vanity found among ministers in the late times of declension and deadness, wherein wise virgins and foolish, ministers and people, have sunk into a deep sleep. These things in ministers of the gospel, that go forth as ambassadors of Christ, and have the care of immortal souls, are extremely abominable to God; vastly more hately in his sight than all the imprudence and intemperate heats, wildness and distraction (as some call it) of these zealous preachers. A supine carelessness, and a vain, carnal, worldly spirit in a minister of the gospel is the worst madness and distraction in the sight of God. God may also make use at this day of the unchristian censoriousness of some preachers, the more to humble and purify some of his own children and true servants that have been wrongfully censured, to fit them for more eminent service and future honour (p. 366 & 367).
In SECT. III. of this work, under the sub-heading, We should distinguish the good from the bad, and not judge of the whole by apart, Edwards writes:
... How little do they consider human nature, who look upon it so insuperable a stumbling-block, when such multitudes of all kinds of capacities, natural tempers, educations, customs, and manners of life, are so greatly and variously affected, that imprudences and irregularities of conduct should abound; especially in a state of things so uncommon, and when the degree, extent, swiftness, and power of the operation is so very extraordinary, and so new, that there has not been time and experience enough to give birth to rules for people's conduct, and the writings of divines do not afford rules to direct us in such a stage of things!
A great deal of noise and tumult, confusion and uproar, darkness mixed with light, and evil with good, is always to be expected in the beginning of something very glorious in the state of things in human society, or the church of God...
The weakness of human nature has always appeared in times of great revival of religion, by a disposition to run to extremes, and get into confusion; and especially in these three things, enthusiasm, superstition, and intemperate zeal. So it appeared in the time of the reformation very remarkably, and even in the day of the apostles. Many were exceedingly disposed to lay weight on those things that were very chimerical, giving heed to fables (I Tim. i.4. and iv.7. 2 Tim ii.16 and ver. 23. and Tit. 1.14 and iii.9.) Many, as ecclesiastical history informs us, fell off into the most wild enthusiasm, and extravagant notions of spirituality, and extraordinary illumination from heaven beyond others; and many were prone to superstition, will-worship, and a voluntary humility, giving heed to the commandments of men, being fond of an unprofitable bodily exercise, as appears by many passages in the apostles’ writings. And what a proneness then appeared among professors to swerve from the path of duty, and the spirit of the gospel, in the exercises of a rash indiscreet zeal, censuring and condemning ministers and people; one saying, I am of Paul; another, I am of Apollos; another, I am of Cephas. . .The prevailing of such like disorders seems to have been the special occasion of writing many of their epistles. The church in that great effusion of the Spirit, and under strong impressions, had the care of infallible guides, that watched over them day and night, but yet, so prone were they, through the weakness and corruption of human nature, to get out of the way, that irregularity and confusion arose in some churches, where there was an extraordinary outpouring of the Spirit, to a very great height, even in the apostles’ lifetime, and under their eye (p. 371 & 372).
SECT. IV
The nature of the work in general
. . . I suppose there is scarcely a minister in this land, but from Sabbath to Sabbath is used to pray that God would pour out his Spirit, and work a reformation and revival of religion in the country, and turn us from our intemperance, profaneness, uncleanness, worldliness, and other sins; and we have kept from year to year, days of public fasting and prayer to God, to acknowledge our backslidings, and humble ourselves for our sins, and to seek of God forgiveness and reformation: and now when so great and extensive a reformation is so suddenly and wonderfully accomplished, in those very things that we have sought to God for, shall we not acknowledge it? or, do it with great coldness, caution, and reserve, and scarcely take any notice of it in our public prayers and praises, or mention it but slightly and cursorily, and in such a manner as carries an appearance as though we would contrive to say as little of it as ever we could, and were glad to pass from it? And that because the work is attended with a mixture of error, imprudences, darkness, and sin; because some persons are carried away with impressions, and are indiscreet, and too censorious with their zeal; and because there are high transports of religious affections; and some effects on their bodies of which we do not understand the reason.. .(p. 374 & 375).
After Edwards described, in detail, the remarkable effect the revival had on a particular person in SECT. V. of this work, he begins SECT. VI. This work is very glorious, with these words:
Now if such things are enthusiasm, and the fruits of a distempered brain, let my brain be evermore possessed of that happy distemper! If this be distraction, I pray God that the world of mankind may be all sized with this benign, meek, beneficent, beatifical, glorious distraction! (p. 378).
... There being a great many errors and sinful irregularities mixed with this work of God, arising from our weakness, darkness, and corruption, does not hinder this work of God’s power and grace from being very glorious. Our follies and sins in some respects manifest the glory of it. The glory of divine power and grace is set off with the greater lustre, by what appears at the same time of the weakness of the earthen vessel. It is God’s pleasure to manifest the weakness and unworthiness of the subject, at the same time that he displays the excellency of his power and the riches of his grace. And I doubt not but some of these things which make some of us here on earth to be out of humour, and to look on this work with a sour displeased countenance, heighten the songs of the angels, when they praise God and the Lamb for what they see of the glory of God’s all-sufficiency, and the efficacy of Christ's redemption. And how unreasonable is it that we should be backward to acknowledge the glory of what God has done, because the devil, and we in harkening to him, have done a great deal of mischief! (p. 380).
 
PART II.
SHOWING THE OBLIGATIONS THAT ALL ARE UNDER TO ACKNOWLEDGE, REJOICE IN, AND PROMOTE THIS WORK; AND THE GREAT DANGER OF THE CONTRARY.
SECT. I.
The danger of lying still, and keeping long silence, respecting any remarkable work of God.
There are many things in the word of God, showing that when God remarkably appears in any great work for his church, and against his enemies, it is a most dangerous thing, and highly provoking to God, to be slow and backward to acknowledge and honour God in the work. Christ's people are in Scripture represented as his army; he is the Lord of hosts, the Captain of the host of the Lord, as he called himself when he appeared to Joshua, with a sword drawn in his hand, Joshua v~ 13-15. The Captain of his people's salvation: and therefore it may well be highly resented, if they do not resort to him when he orders his banner to be displayed; or if they refuse to follow him when he blows the trumpet, and gloriously appears going forth against his enemies. God expects that every living soul should have his attention roused on such an occasion, and should most cheerfully yield to the call, and heedfully and diligently obey it. Isa. xviii. 3. “All ye inhabitants of the world, and dwellers on the earth; see ye when he lifteth up an ensign on the mountains; and when he bloweth the trumpet, hear ye.” Especially should all Israel be gathered after their Captain, as we read they were after Ehud, when he blew the trumpet in mount Ephraim, when he had slain Eglon the king of Moab, Judges iii. 27,28. How severe is the martial law in such a case, when any of the army refuses to obey the sound of the trumpet, and follow his general to the battle! God at such a time appears in peculiar manifestations of his glory; and therefore, not to be affected and animated, and to lie still, and refuse to follow God, will be resented as a high contempt of him...
At a time when God manifests himself in such a great work for his church, there is no such thing as being neuters; there is a necessity of being either for or against the king that then gloriously appears. When a king is crowned, and there are public manifestations of joy on that occasion, there is no such thing as standing by as an indifferent spectator; all must appear as loyal subjects, and express their joy on that occasion, or be accounted enemies... So in the day of battle, when two armies join, there is no such thing for any present as being of neither party, all must be on one side or the other; and they who are not found with the conqueror in such a case, must expect to have his weapons turned against them, and to fall with the rest of his enemies (p. 380).
 
SECT. III.
The danger of not acknowledging and encouraging, and especially of deriding, this work
That was a glorious work which God wrought for Israel, when he delivered them from the Canaanites, by the hand of Deborah and Barak. Almost every thing about it showed a remarkable hand of God... But what a dreadful curse from Christ did some of God’s professing people Israel bring upon themselves, by lying still at that time, and not putting to a helping hand! Judg. V. 23. “Curse ye Meroz, said the angel of the Lord, curse ye bitterly the inhabitants thereof: because they came not to the help of the Lord, to the help of the Lord against the mighty.” ... It seems the inhabitants of Meroz were unbelieving concerning this great work; they would not hearken to Deborah ‘s pretenses, nor did it enter into them that such a poor defenseless company should ever prevail against those that were so mighty. They did not acknowledge the hand of God, and therefore stood at a distance, and did nothing to promote the work; but what a bitter curse from God did they bring upon themselves by it! . . . (p. 384).
 
As persons will greatly expose themselves to the curse of God, by opposing, or standing at a distance, and keeping silence at such a time as this; so for persons to arise, and readily to acknowledge God, and honour him in such a work, and cheerfully and vigorously to exert themselves to promote it, will be to put themselves much in the way of the divine blessing. What a mark of honour does God put upon those in Israel, that willingly offered themselves, and came to the help of the Lord against the mighty, when the angel of the Lord led forth his armies, and they fought from heaven against Sisera! Judg. V. 2, 9, 14-18. And what a great blessing is pronounced on Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite, for her appearing on the Lord's side, and for what she did to promote that work! “Blessed above women shall Jael the wife of Heber the Kenite be, blessed shall she be above women in the tent.”... What a particular and honourable notice is taken in the records of God’s work, of those that arose and appeared as David's helpers, to introduce him into the kingdom of Israel! I Chron. xii. The host of those who thus came to the help of the Lord, in that glorious revolution in Israel, by which the kingdom of that great type of the Messiah was set up in Israel, is compared to the host of God (ver. 22.)” At that time, day by day, there came to David to help him, until it was a great host, like the host of God.”.. .(p. 386).
 
PART IV.
SHOWING WHAT THINGS ARE TO BE CORRECTED OR AVOIDED, IN PROMOTING THIS WORK, OR IN OUR BEHAVIOUR UNDER IT
... If we look back into the history of the church of God in past ages, we may observe that it has been a common device of the devil, to overset a revival of religion; when he finds he can keep men quiet and secure no longer, then he drives them to excesses and extravagances. He holds them back as long as he can; but when he can do it no longer, then he will push them on, and, if possible, run them upon their heads. And it has been by this means chiefly that he has been successful, in several instances, to overthrow most hopeful and promising beginnings. Yea, the principal means by which the devil was successful, by degrees, to overset the grand religious revival of the world, in the primitive ages of Christianity, and in a manner to overthrow the Christian church through the earth, and to make way for the great Antichristian apostasy, that masterpiece of all the devil's works, was to improve the indiscreet zeal of Christians, to drive them into those three extremes of enthusiasm, superstition, and severity towards oppressors; which should be enough for an everlasting warning to the Christian church...
 
Since therefore the errors of the friends and promoters of such a glorious work of God are of such dreadful consequence; and seeing the devil, being sensible of this, is so assiduous, watchful, and subtle in his attempts with them, and has thereby been so successful to overthrow religion heretofore; certainly such persons ought to be exceeding circumspect and vigilant, diffident, and jealous of themselves, and humbly dependent on the guidance of the good Shepherd. I Pet. iv. 7. “Be sober, and watch unto prayer.” And chap. v. 8. “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about.” For persons to go on resolutely, in a kind of heat and vehemence, despising admonition and correction, being confident that they must be in the right because they are full of the Spirit, is directly contrary to the import of these words, be sober, be vigilant.
It is a mistake I have observed in some, by which they have been greatly exposed to their wounding, that they think they are in no danger of going astray, or being misled by the devil, because they are near to God; and so have no jealous eye upon themselves, and neglect vigilance and circumspection, as needless in their case. They say, they do not think that God will leave them to dishonor him, and wound religion as long as they keep near to him. And I believe so too, as long as they keep near to God, so as to maintain an universal and diligent watch, and care to do their duty, avoid sin and snares with diffidence in themselves, and humble dependence and prayerfulness. But not merely because they are receiving blessed communications from God, in refreshing views of him; if at the same time they let down their watch, and are not jealous over their own hearts, by reason of its remaining blindness and corruption, and a subtle adversary.-It is a grand error for persons to think they are out of danger from the devil, and a corrupt, deceitful heart, even in their highest flights, and most raised frames of spiritual joy. For persons in such a confidence, to cease to be jealous of themselves, and to neglect watchfulness and care, is a presumption by which I have known my woefully insnared. However highly we may be favoured with divine discoveries and comforts, yet, as long as we are in the world, we are in the enemies’ country; and therefore that direction of Christ to his disciples is never out of date in this world, Luke xxi. 36. “Watch and pray always, that you may be accounted worthy to escape all these things, and to stand before the Son of Man.” (p. 397 & 398).
SECT. I.
One cause of errors attending a great revival of religion, is undiscerned spiritual pride
The first and the worst cause of errors, that prevail in such a state of things, is spiritual pride. This is the main door by which the devil comes into the hearts of those who are zealous for the advancement of religion. It is the chief inlet of smoke from the bottomless pit, to darken the mind and mislead the judgment. This is the main handle by which the devil has hold of religious persons, and the chief source of all the mischief that he introduces, to clog and hinder the word of God.-This cause of error is the main spring, or at least the main support, of all the rest. Till this disease is cured, medicines are in vain applied to heal other diseases. It is by this that the mind defends itself in other errors, and guards itself against light, by which it might be corrected and reclaimed. The spiritually proud man is full of light already, he does not need instruction, and is ready to despise the offer of it. But, if this disease be healed, other things are easily rectified. The humble person is like a little child, he easily receives instruction; he is jealous over himself, sensible how liable he is to go astray, and therefore, if it be suggested to him that he does so, he is ready most narrowly and impartially to inquire. Nothing sets a person so much out of the devil's reach as humility, and so prepares the mind for true divine light without darkness, and so clears the eye as to look on things as they truly are; Ps. xxv. 9. “The meek will he guide in judgment. And the meek will he teach his way.” Therefore we should fight, neither with small nor with great, but with the king of Israel. Our first care should be to rectify the heart, and pull the beam out of our eye, and then we shall see clearly...
The corruption of nature may all be resolved into two things, pride and worldly-mindedness, the devil and the beast, or self and the world. These are the two pillars of Dagon ‘s temple, on which the whole house leans. But the former of these is every way the worst part of the corruption of nature; it is the first-born son of the devil, and his image in the heart of man chiefly consists in it. It is the last thing in a sinner that is overborne by conviction, in order to conversion; and here is the saint's hardest conflict; the last thing over which he obtains a good degree of conquest, that which most directly militates against God, and is most contrary to the Spirit of the Lamb of God. It is most like the devil its father, in a serpentine deceitfulness and secrecy; it lies deepest, is most active, and is most ready secretly to mix itself with every thing.
And of all kinds of pride, spiritual pride is upon many accounts that most hateful, it is most like the devil; most like the sin he committed in a heaven of light and glory, where he was exalted high in divine knowledge, honour, beauty, and happiness. Pride is much more difficult to be discerned than any other corruption, because its nature very much consists in a person's having too high a thought of himself. No wonder that he who has too high a thought of himself, does not know it; for he necessarily thinks that the opinion he has of himself has just grounds, and therefore is not too high; if he thought such an opinion of himself was without just grounds, he would therein cease to have it. Those that are spiritually proud, have a high conceit of these two things, viz., their light, and their humility, both of which are a strong prejudice against a discovery of their pride. Being proud of their light, that makes them not jealous of themselves; he who thinks a clear light shines around him, is not suspicious of an enemy lurking near him unseen; and then, being proud of their humility, that makes them least of all jealous of themselves in that particular, viz., as being under the prevalence of pride. There are many sins of the heart that are very secret in their nature, and with difficult discerned. The psalmist says, Psal. xix. 12. “Who can understand his errors,? Cleanse thou met from secret faults.” But spiritual pride is the most secret of all sins. The heart is deceitful and unsearchable in nothing so much as in this matter; and there is no sin in the world, that men are so confident in. The very nature of it is to work self-confidence, and drive away jealousy of any evil of that kind. There is no sin so much like the devil as this for secrecy and subtlety, and appearing in a great many shapes undiscerned and unsuspected. It appears as an angel of light; takes occasion to arise from every thing; it perverts and abuses every thing, and even the exercises of real grace, and real humility, as an occasion to exert itself: it is a sin that has, as it were, many lives if you kill it, it will live still; if you mortify and suppress it in one shape, it rises in another; if you think it is all gone, yet it is there still. There are a great many kinds of it, that lie in different forms and shapes, one under another, and encompass the heart like the coats of an onion; if you pull off one, there is another underneath. We had need therefore to have the greatest watch imaginable over our hearts with respect to this matter, and to cry most earnestly to the great searcher of hearts for his help. He that trusts his own heart is a fool
(p. 398 & 399).
The eminently humble Christian is as it were clothed with lowliness, mildness, meekness, gentleness of spirit and behaviour, and with a soft, sweet, condescending, winning air and deportment; these things are just like garments to him, he is clothed all over with them. I Pet. v. 5. “And be clothed with humility.” Col. iii. 12. “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long-suffering.” Pure Christian humility has no such thing as roughness, or contempt, or fierceness, or bitterness in its nature it makes a person like a little child, harmless and innocent, that none need to be afraid of; or like a lamb, destitute of all bitterness, wrath, anger, and clamour; agreeable to Eph. iv. 31. With such a spirit as this ought especially zealous ministers of the gospel to be clothed, and those that God is pleased to employ as instruments in his hands of promoting his work. They ought indeed to be thorough in preaching the word of God, without mincing the matter at all; in handling the sword of the Spirit, as the ministers of the Lord of hosts, they ought not to be mild and gentle; they are not to be gentle and moderate in searching and awakening the conscience, but should be sons of thunder.
 
The word of God, which is in itself sharper than any two-edged sword, ought not to be sheathed by its ministers, but so used that its sharp edges may have their full effect, even to the dividing asunder soul and spirit, joints and marrow. Yet they should do it without judging particular persons, leaving it to conscience and the Spirit of God to make the particular application. But all their conversation should savour of nothing but lowliness and good-will, love and pity to all mankind; so that such a spirit should be like a sweet odour diffused around them wherever they go. They should be like lions to guilty consciences, but like lambs to men's persons. This would have no tendency to prevent the awakening of men's consciences, but on the contrary would have a very great tendency to awaken them. It would make way for the sharp sword to enter; it would remove the obstacles, and make a naked breast for the arrow.-Yea, the amiable Christ-like conversation of such ministers in itself; would terrify the consciences of men, as well as their terrible preaching; both would co-operate to subdue the hard, and bring down the proud heart. If there had been constantly and universally observable such a behaviour as this in itinerant preachers, ten times as much as all the invectives and the censorious talk there as been concerning particular persons for their opposition, hypocrisy, delusion, pharisaism, etc. These things in general have rather stupefied sinners’ consciences; they take them up, and make use of them as a shield, wherewith to defend themselves from the sharp arrows of the word that are shot by these preachers. The enemies of the present work have been glad of these things with all their hearts.-Many of the most bitter of them are probably such as in the beginning of this work had their consciences something galled and terrified with it; but these errors of awakening preachers are the things they chiefly make use of as plaisters to heal the sore that was made in their consciences.. .(p. 401).
SECT. II.
Another cause of errors in conduct attending a religious revival, is the adoption of wrong principles.
One erroneous principle, than which scarce any has proved more mischievous to the present glorious work of God, is a notion that it is God’s manner in these days, to guide his saints, at least some that are more eminent, by inspiration, or immediate revelation. They suppose he makes known to them what shall come to pass hereafter, or what it is his will that they should do, by impressions made upon their minds, either with or without texts of Scriptures; whereby something is made known to them, that is not taught in the Scripture. By such a notion the devil has a great door opened for him; and if once this opinion should come to be fully yielded to, and established in the church of God, Satan would have opportunity thereby to set up himself as the guide and oracle of God’s people, and so to lead them where he would, and to introduce what he pleased, and soon bring the Bible into neglect and contempt.-Late experience, in some instances, has shown that the tendency of this notion is to cause persons to esteem the Bible as in a great measure useless.
This error will defend and support errors. As long as a person has a notion that he is guided by immediate direction from heaven, it makes him incorrigible and impregnable in all his misconduct. For what signifies it, for poor blind worms of the dust, to go to argue with a man, and endeavour to convince him and correct him, that is guided by the immediate counsels and commands of the great JEHOVAH? This great work of God has been exceedingly hindered by this error; and, till we have quite taken this handle out of the devil's hands, the work of God will never go on without great clogs and hinderances.-Satan will always have a vast advantage in his hands against it, and as he has improved it hitherto, so he will do still. And it is evident, that the devil knows the vast advantage he has by it, that makes him exceedingly loth to let go his hold.
It is strange what a disposition there is in many well-disposed and religious persons to fall in with and hold fast this notion. It is enough to astonish one, that such multiplied, plain instances of the failing of such supposed revelations in the event, do not open every one's eyes. I have seen so many instances of the failing of such impressions, that would almost furnish a history. I have been acquainted with them when made under all kinds of circumstances, and have seen them fail in the event, when made with such circumstances as have been fairest and brightest, and most promising. They have been made upon the minds of apparently eminent saints, and with an excellent heavenly frame of spirit yet continued, and made with texts of Scripture that seemed exceeding opposite, yea, many texts following one another, extraordinarily and wonderfully brought to the mind, and the impressions repeated over and over; and yet all has most manifestly come to nothing, to the full conviction of the persons themselves. God has in many instances of late, ion his providence, covered such things with darkness, that one would think it should be enough quite to blank the expectations of those who have been ready to think highly of such things. It seems to be a testimony of God, that he has no design of reviving revelations in his church, and a rebuke from him to the groundless expectations of it...
And why cannot we be contented with the divine oracles, that holy, pure word of God, which we have in such abundance and clearness, now since the canon of Scripture is completed? Why should we desire to have any thing added to them by impulses from above? Why should we not rest in that standing rule that God has given to his church, which, the apostle teaches us, is surer than a voice from heaven? Any why should we desire to make the Scripture speak more to us than it does? Or why should any desire a higher kind of intercourse with haven, than by having the Holy Spirit given in his sanctifying influences, infusing and exciting grace and holiness, love and joy, which is the highest kind of intercourse that the saints and angels in heaven have with God, and the chief excellency of the glorified man Christ Jesus? (p. 404).
There are many ways by which persons may be misled and deluded. The ground on which some expect that they shall receive the thing they have asked for, is rather a strong imagination, than any true humble faith in the divine sufficiency. They have a strong persuasion that the thing asked shall be granted, (which they can give no reason for,) without any remarkable discovery of that glory and fullness of God and Christ, that is the ground of faith. And sometimes the confidence that their prayers shall be answered, is only a self-righteous confidence, and no true faith. They have a high conceit of themselves as eminent saints, and special favourites of God, and have also high conceit of the prayers they have made, because they were much enlarged and affected in them; and hence they are positive in it, that the thing will come to pass. And sometimes, when once they have conceived such a notion, they grow stronger and stronger in it; and this they think is from an immediate divine hand upon their minds to strengthen their confidence; whereas it is only by their dwelling in their minds on their own excellency, and high experiences, and great assistances, whereby they look brighter and brighter in their own eyes. Hence it is found by observation and experience, that nothing in the world exposes so much to enthusiasm and spiritual pride and self-righteousness.
In order to drawing a just inference from the supposed assistance we have had in prayer for a particular mercy, and judging of the probability of the bestowment of that individual mercy, many things must be considered. We must consider the importance of the mercy sought, and the principle whence we so eagerly desire it; how far it is good, and agreeable to the mind and will of God; the degree of love to God that we exercised in our prayer; the degree of discovery that is made of the divine sufficiency, and the degree in which our assistance is manifestly distinguishing with respect to that mercy.-And there is nothing of greater importance in the argument than the degree of humility, poverty of spirit, self-emptiness, and resignation to the holy will of God, exercised in seeking that mercy. Praying for a particular mercy with much of these things, I have often been blessed with a remarkable bestowment of the particular thing asked for. From what has been said, we may see which way God may, only by the ordinary gracious influences of his Spirit, sometimes give his saints special reason to hope for the bestowment of a particular mercy they prayed for, and which we may suppose he oftentimes gives eminent saints, who have great degrees of humility, and much communion with God... (p. 406).
Another erroneous principle that some have embraced and which has been a source of many errors in their conduct, is, that persons ought always to do whatsoever the Spirit of God (though but indirectly) includes them to. Indeed the Spirit of God is in itself infinitely perfect, and all his immediate actings, simply considered, are perfect, and there can be nothing wrong in them; and therefore all that the Spirit of God includes us to directly and immediately, without the intervention of any other cause that shall pervert and misimprove what is from him, ought to be done. But there may be many things, disposition to do which may indirectly be from the Spirit of God, that we ought not to do. The disposition in general may be good, and from the Spirit of God; but the particular determination of that disposition, as to particular actions, objects, and circumstances, may be from the intervention or interposition of some infirmity, blindness, inadvertence, deceit, or corruption of ours. So that although the disposition in general ought to be allowed and promoted, and all those actings of it that are simply from God’s Spirit, yet the particular ill direction or determination of that disposition, which is from some other cause, ought not to be followed.
As for instance, the Spirit of God may cause a person to have a dear love to another, and so a great desire of and delight in his comfort, east, and pleasure. This disposition in general is good, and ought to be followed; but yet through the intervention of indiscretion, or some other bad cause, it may be ill directed, and have a bad determination, as to particular acts; and the person indirectly, through that real love he has to his neighbour, may kill him with kindness; he may do that out of sincere goodwill to him, which may tend to ruin him.-A good disposition may, through some inadvertence or delusion, strongly incline a person to that which, if he saw all things as they are, would be most contrary to that disposition... (p.
406).
I make no doubt but that it is possible for a minister to have by the Spirit of God such a sense of the importance of eternal things, and of the misery of mankind-so many of whom are exposed to eternal destruction- together with such a love to souls, that he might find in himself a disposition to spend all his time, day and night, in warning, exhorting, and calling upon men; and so that he must be obliged as it were to do violence to himself ever to refrain, so as to give himself any opportunity to eat, drink, or sleep. And so I believe there may be a disposition, in like manner, indirectly excited in lay-persons, through the intervention of their infirmity, to do what only belongs to ministers; yea, to do those things that would not become either ministers or people. Through the influence of the Spirit of God, together with want of discretion, and some remaining who have great degrees of humility, and much communion with God... (p.
406).
Another erroneous principle that some have embraced and which has been a source of many errors in their conduct, is, that persons ought always to do whatsoever the Spirit of God (though but indirectly) includes them to. Indeed the Spirit of God is in itself infinitely perfect, and all his immediate actings, simply considered, are perfect, and there can be nothing wrong in them; and therefore all that the Spirit of God includes us to directly and immediately, without the intervention of any other cause that shall pervert and misimprove what is from him, ought to be done. But there may be many things, disposition to do which may indirectly be from the Spirit of God, that we ought not to do. The disposition in general may be good, and from the Spirit of God; but the particular determination of that disposition, as to particular actions, objects, and circumstances, may be from the intervention or interposition of some infirmity, blindness, inadvertence, deceit, or corruption of ours. So that although the disposition in general ought to be allowed and promoted, and all those actings of it that are simply from God’s Spirit, yet the particular ill direction or determination of that disposition, which is from some other cause, ought not to be followed.
As for instance, the Spirit of God may cause a person to have a dear love to another, and so a great desire of and delight in his comfort, east, and pleasure. This disposition in general is good, and ought to be followed; but yet through the intervention of indiscretion, or some other bad cause, it may be ill directed, and have a bad determination, as to particular acts; and the person indirectly, through that real love he has to his neighbour, may kill him with kindness; he may do that out of sincere goodwill to him, which may tend to ruin him.-A good disposition may, through some inadvertence or delusion, strongly incline a person to that which, if he saw all things as they are, would be most contrary to that disposition... (p.
406).
I make no doubt but that it is possible for a minister to have by the Spirit of God such a sense of the importance of eternal things, and of the misery of mankind-so many of whom are exposed to eternal destruction- together with such a love to souls, that he might find in himself a disposition to spend all his time, day and night, in warning, exhorting, and calling upon men; and so that he must be obliged as it were to do violence to himself ever to refrain, so as to give himself any opportunity to eat, drink, or sleep. And so I believe there may be a disposition, in like manner, indirectly excited in lay-persons, through the intervention of their infirmity, to do what only belongs to ministers; yea, to do those things that would not become either ministers or people. Through the influence of the Spirit of God, together with want of discretion, and some remaining corruption, women and children might feel themselves inclined to break forth aloud to great congregations, warning and exhorting the whole multitude; and to scream in the streets, or to leave their families, and go from house to house, earnestly exhorting others; but yet it would by no means follow that it was their duty to do these things, or that they would not have a tendency to do ten times as much hurt as good.
Another wrong principle, from whence have arisen errors in conduct, is, that whatsoever is found to be of present and immediate benefit may and ought to be practiced, without looking forward to future consequences.. .It is the duty of ministers especially to exercise this discretion. In things wherein they are not determined by an absolute rule, and not enjoined them by a wisdom superior to their own, Christ has left them to their own discretion, with that general rule, that they should exercise the utmost wisdom they can obtain, in pursuing that which, upon the best view of the consequences of things, will tend most to the advancement of his kingdom. This is implied in those words of Christ to his disciples, when he sent them forth to preach the gospel, Matt. x. 16. “Be ye wise as serpents.”
The Scripture always represents the work of a gospel minister by those employments that especially require a wise foresight of, and provision for, future events and consequences. So it is compared with the business of a steward, which in an eminent manner requires forecast; as, for instance, a wise laying in of provision for the supply of the needs of a family, according to its future necessities. So it is compared to the husbandman, that almost wholly consists in things done with a view to the future fruits and consequences of his labour... So the work of the ministry is compared to that of a wise builder or architect, who has a comprehensive view; and for whom it is necessary, that, when he begins a building he should have at once a view of the whole frame, and all the future parts of the structure, even to the pinnacle, that all may be fitly framed together...
And particularly, ministers ought not to be careless how much they discompose the minds of natural men, or how great an uproar they raise in the carnal world, and so lay blocks in the way of the propagation of religion. This certainly is not to follow the example of the zealous apostle Paul, who though he would not depart from his duty to please carnal men, yet, wherein he might with a good conscience, exceedingly laid out himself to please them. lie avoided raising in the multitude prejudices, oppositions, and tumults against the gospel; and looked upon it as of great consequence. I Cor. x. 32, 33. “Give none offense, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God: even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.” Yea, he declares that he laid himself out so much for this, that he made himself a kind of servant to all sort of men, conforming to their customs and various hurnours in every thing wherein he might, even in the things that were very burdensome to him, that he might not fright men away from Christianity, and cause them to stand as it were braced and armed against it, but to the contrary, if possible, might with condescension and friendship win and draw them to it; I Cor. ix. 19-23. . . (p. 407). And I also believe that if the rules of Christian charity, meekness, gentleness, and prudence had been duly observed by the generality of the zealous promoters of this work, it would have made three times the progress that it has; i.e. if it had pleased God in such a case to give a blessing to means in proportion as he had done.
Under this head of carelessness about future consequences, it may be proper to say something of introducing things new and strange, and that have tendency by their novelty to shock and surprise people. Nothing can be more evident from the New Testament, than that such things ought to be done with great caution and moderation, to avoid the offense that may be thereby given, and the prejudices that might be raised, to clog and hinder the progress of religion. Yea, it ought to be thus in things that are in themselves good and excellent, and of great weight, provided they are not things of absolute duty, which though they may appear to be innovations, yet cannot be neglected without immorality or disobedience to the commands of God. What great caution and moderation did the apostles use in introducing things that were new, and abolishing things that were old, in their day! How gradually were the ceremonial performances of the law of Moses removed and abolished among the Christian Jews! And how long did even the apostle Paul himself conform to those ceremonies which he calls weak and beggarly elements! Yea, even the rite of circumcision, (Acts xvi. 3.) that he might not prejudice the Jews against Christianity! . . . These things might be enough to convince any one, that does not think himself wiser than Christ and his apostles, that great prudence and caution should be used in introducing things into the church of God, that are very uncommon, though in themselves excellent, lest by our rashness and imprudent haste we hinder religion much more than we help it.
Persons influenced by indiscreet zeal are always in too much haste; they are impatient of delays, and therefore are for jumping to the uppermost step first, before they have taken the preceding steps; whereby they expose themselves to fall and break their bones. They are delighted to see the building rise, and all their endeavour and strength is employed in advancing its height, without taking care proportionably of the bottom; whereby the whole is in danger of coming to the ground. Or they are for putting on the cupola and pinnacle before the lower parts of the building are done; which tends at once to put a stop to the building, and hinder its ever being a complete structure. Many that are thus imprudent and hasty with their zeal, have a real eager appetite for that which is good; but like children, are impatient to wait for the fruit, and therefore snatch it before it. is ripe. Often in their haste they overshoot their mark, and frustrate their own end; they put that which they would obtain further out of reach than it was before, and establish and confirm that which they would remove. Things must have time to ripen. The prudent husbandman waits till the harvest is ripe, before he reaps. We are now just beginning to recover out of a dreadful disease; but to feed a man recovering from a fever with strong meat at once, is the ready way to kill him...
Another error, arising from an erroneous principle, is a wrong notion that they have an attestation of Divine Providence to persons, or things. We go too far, when we look upon the success that God gives to some persons, in making them the instruments of doing much good, as a testimony of God’s approbation of those persons and all the courses they take. It has been a main argument to defend the conduct of some ministers, who have been blamed as imprudent, and irregular, that God has blessed them, and given them great success; and that however men charge them as guilty of wrong things, yet that God is with them, and then who can be against them? And probably some of those ministers themselves, by this very means, have had their ears stop against all that has been said to convince them of their misconduct. But there are innumerable ways by which persons may be misled, in forming a judgment of the mind and will of God, from the events of providence. If a person's success be a reward of something in him that God approves, yet it is no argument that he approves of every thing in him... God was pleased in his sovereignty to give such success to Jacob in that which, from beginning to end, was a deceitful, lying contrivance and proceeding of his.. .And therefore we cannot safely take the events of his providence as a revelation of his mind concerning a person's conduct and behaviour; we have no warrant so to do. God has never appointed those things to be our rule. We have but one rule to go by, and that is his holy word; and when we join any thing else with it, as having the force of a rule, we are guilty of that which is strictly forbidden, Deut. iv. 2. Prov. xxx. 6. and Rev. xxii. 18. They who make what they imagine is pointed forth to them in providence, the rule of behaviour, do err, as well as those that follow impulses and impressions. We should put nothing in the room of the word of God. It is to be feared that some have been greatly confirmed and emboldened, by the great success that God has given them, in some things that have really been contrary to the rules of God’s holy word. If so, they have been guilty of presumption, and abusing God’s kindness to them, and the great honour he has put upon them. They have seen that God was with them, and made them victorious in their preaching; and this, it is to be feared, has been abused by some to a degree of self-confidence. This has much taken off all jealousy of themselves; they have been bold therefore to go great lengths, in a presumption that God was with them, and would defend them, and finally battle all that found fault with them.. .but finally all must be brought to one rule, viz., the word of God, and that must be regarded as our only rule
(p. 408-409).
 
SECT. III
 
A third cause of errors in conduct, is, being ignorant or unobservant of
some things, by which the devil has special advantage.

 
And here I would particularly notice some things with respect to the inward experiences of Christians themselves. And something with regard to the external effects of experiences.
Inward experiences. There are three things I would notice with regard to the experiences of Christians, by which the devil has many advantages against us.
1. The first thing is the mixture there oftentimes is in the experiences of true Christians; whereby when they have truly gracious experiences, and divine and spiritual discoveries and exercises, they have something else mixed with them, besides what is spiritual. There is a mixture of that which is natural, and that which is corrupt, with that which is divine. . .1 have often thought that the experiences of true Christians are very frequently as it is with some sorts of fruits, which are enveloped in several coverings of thick shells or pods, that are thrown away by him that gathers the fruit, and but a very small part of the whole bulk is the pure kernel that is good to eat.
The things, of all which there is frequently some mixture with gracious experiences, yea with very great and high experiences, are these three; human or natural affection and passions; impressions on the imagination; and a degree of self-righteous or spiritual pride. There is very often with that which is spiritual a great mixture of that affection or passion which arises from natural principles; so that nature has very great hand in those vehement motions and flights of the passions that appear. . . The novelty of things, or the sudden transition from an opposite extreme, and many other things that might be mentioned, greatly contribute to the raising of the passions. And sometimes there is not only a mixture of that which is common and natural with gracious experience, but even that which is animal, what is in a great measure from the body, and is properly the result of the animal frame... So, in the love true Christian have one to another, very often there is a great mixture of what arises from common and natural principles, with grace. Self-love has a great hand; the children of God are not loved purely for Christ's sake, but there may be a great mixture of that natural love which many sects of heretics have boasted of, who have been greatly united one to another, because they were of their company, on their side, against the rest of the world; yea, there may be a mixture of natural love to the opposite sex, with Christian and divine love. So there may be a great mixture in that sorrow for sin which the godly have, and also in their joys; natural principles may greatly contribute to what is felt, a great many ways, as might easily be shown. There is nothing that belongs to Christian experience more liable to a corrupt mixture than zeal. Though it be an excellent virtue, a heavenly flame, when it is pure; yet as it is exercised in those who are so little sanctified, and so little humbled, as we are in the present state, it is very apt to be mixed with human passion, yea with corrupt, hateful affections, pride and uncharitable bitterness, and other things that are not from heaven, but from hell.
Another thing often mixed with what is spiritual in the experiences of Christians, is an impression on the imagination; whereby godly persons, together with a spiritual understanding of divine things, and conviction of their reality and certainty, and a deep sense of their excellency or great importance upon their hearts, have strongly impressed on their minds external ideas or images of things. A degree of imagination in such a case, is unavoidable, and necessarily arises from human nature, as constituted in the present state; and often is of great benefit; but, when it is in too great a degree, it becomes an impure mixture that is prejudicial. This mixture very often arises from the constitution of the body. It commonly greatly contributes to the other kind of mixture mentioned before, viz., of natural affections and passions; it helps to raise them to a great height.
Another thing that is often mixed with the experiences of true Christians, which is the worst mixture of all, is a degree of self-righteousness or spiritual pride. This is often mixed with the joys of Christians. Their joy is not purely the joy of faith, or a rejoicing in Christ Jesus, but is partly a rejoicing in themselves. There is oftentimes in their elevations a looking upon themselves, and a viewing their own high attainments; they rejoice partly because they are taken with their own experiences and great discoveries, which makes them in their own apprehensions so to excel; and this heightens all their passions, and especially those effects that are more external. There is a much greater mixture of these things in the experiences of some Christians than others; in some the mixture is so great, as very much to obscure and hide the beauty of grace in them, like a thick smoke that hinders all the shining of the fire.
The things we ought to be well aware of, that we may not take all for gold that glistens, and that we may know what to countenance and encourage, and what to discourage; otherwise Satan will have a vast advantage against us, for he works in the corrupt mixture... (p. 411).
2. Another thing, by which the devil has great advantage, is the unheeded defects there sometimes are in the experiences of true Christians, connected with those high affections wherein there is much that is truly good...
For the better understanding of this matter, we may observe, that God, in the revelation that he has made of himself in the world by Jesus Christ, has taken care to give a proportionable manifestation of two kinds of excellencies or perfections of his nature, viz., those that especially tend to possess us with awe and reverence, and to search and humble us; and those that tend to win, to draw, and encourage us. By the one, he appears as an infinitely great, pure, holy, and heart-searching judge; by the other, as a gentle and gracious father and a loving friend... A defect on the one hand, viz. having a discovery of his love and grace, without a proportionable discovery of his awful majesty, his holy and searching purity, would tend to spiritual pride, carnal confidence, and presumption; and a defect on the other hand, viz., having a discovery of his holy majesty, without a proportionable discovery of his grace, tends to unbelief, a sinful fearfulness and spirit of bondage. And therefore therein chiefly consists that deficiency of experiences that I am now speaking of...
From these things we may learn how to judge of experiences, and to estimate their goodness. Those are not always the best which are attended with the most violent affections, and most vehement motions of the animal spirits, or have the greatest effects on the body. Nor are they always the best, that most dispose persons to abound in talk to others, and to speak in the most vehement manner, though these things often arise from the greatness of spiritual experiences. But those are the most excellent experiences that are qualified as follows: 1. That have the least mixture, or are the most purely spiritual. 2. That are the least deficient and partial, in which the diverse things that appertain to Christian experience are proportionable one to another. And, 3. That are raised to the highest degree. It is no matter how high they are raised if they are qualified as before mentioned, the higher the better.. Experiences, thus qualified, will be attended with the most amiable behaviour, will bring forth the most solid and sweet fruits, will be the most durable, and will have the greatest effect on the abiding temper of the soul.
If God is pleased to carry on this work, and it should prove to be the dawning of a general revival of the Christian church, it may be expected that the time will come before long, when the experiences of Christians shall be much more generally thus qualified. We must expect green fruits before we have ripe ones...
3. There is another thing concerning the experiences of Christians, of which it is of yet greater importance that we should be aware, than of the proceeding, and that is the degenerating of experience. What I mean is something diverse from the mere decay of experiences, or their gradually vanishing, by persons losing their sense of things; viz., experiences growing by degrees worse and worse in their kind, more and more partial and deficient; in which things are more out of due proportion, and also have more and more of a corrupt mixture; the spiritual part decreases, and the other useless and hurtful parts greatly increase. This I have seen in very many instances; and great are the mischiefs that have risen through want of being more aware of it.
There is commonly, as I observed before, in high experiences, besides that which is spiritual, a mixture of three things, viz. natural or common affections, workings of the imagination, and a degree of self-righteousness or spiritual pride. Now it often comes to pass, that through persons not distinguishing the wheat from the chaff, and for want of watchfulness and humble jealousy of themselves-and by laying great weight on the natural and imaginary part, yielding to it, and indulging it, whereby that part grows and increases, and the spiritual part decreases-the devil sets in, and works in the corrupt part, and cherishes it to his utmost. At length the experiences of some persons, who began well, come to little else but violent motions of carnal affections, with great heats of the imagination, a great degree of enthusiasm and swelling of spiritual pride: very much like some fruits which bud, blossom, and kernel well, but afterwards are blasted with an excess of moisture; so that though the bulk is monstrously great, yet there is little else in it but what is useless and unwholesome... Nothing in the world so much exposes to this, as an unheeded spiritual pride and self-confidence, and persons being conceited of their own stock, without an humble, daily, and continual dependence on God... (p.412&413).
SECT. VI.
Of errors connected with singing praises to God.
.The devil, in driving things to these ‘extreme, besides the present hinderance of the work of God, has, I believe, had in view a twofold mischief, in the issue of things; one, with respect to those that are cold in religion, to carry things to such an extreme in order that people in general, having their eyes opened by the great excess, might be tempted entirely to reject the whole work, as being all nothing but delusion and distraction. And another, with respect to those of God’s children who have been very warm and zealous out of the way, to sink them down in unbelief and darkness. The time is coming, I doubt not, when the greater part of them will be convinced of their errors; and then probably the devil will take advantage to lead them into a dreadful wilderness, to puzzle and confound them about their own experiences, and the experiences of others; and to make them to doubt of many things that they ought not, and even to tempt them with atheistical thoughts. I believe, if all True Christians over the land should now at once have their eyes opened fully to see all their errors, it would seem for the present to damp religion. The dark thoughts that it would at first occasion, and the inward doubts, difficulties, and conflicts that would rise in their souls, would deaden their lively affections and joys, and would cause an appearance of a present decay of religion. But yet it would do God’s saints great good in their latter end; it would fit them for more spiritual and excellent experiences, more humble and heavenly love, and unmixed joys, and would greatly tend to a more powerful, extensive, and durable prevalence of vital piety. I do not know but we shall be in danger, after our eyes are fully opened to see our errors, to go to contrary extremes. The devil has driven the pendulum far beyond its proper point of rest; and when he h as carried it to the utmost length that he can, and it begins by its own weight to swing back, he probably will set in, and drive it with the utmost fury the other way; and so give us no rest; and if possible prevent our settling in a proper medium. What a poor, blind, weak, and miserable creature is man, at his best estate! We are like poor helpless sheep; the devil is too subtle for us. What is our strength! What is our wisdom! How ready are we to go astray! How easily are we drawn aside into innumerable snares, while in the meantime we are bold and confident, and doubt not but we are right and safe! We are foolish sheep in the midst of subtle serpents and cruel wolves, and do not know it. Oh how unfit are we to be left to ourselves! And how much do we stand in need of the wisdom, the power, the condescension, patience, forgiveness, and gentleness of our good Shepherd! (p. 420).
PART V.
SHOWING POSITIVELY, WHAT OUGHT TO BE DONE TO
PROMOTE THIS WORK.
SECT. I.
We should endeavor to remove stumbling-blocks.
And, in order to this, there must be a great deal done at confessing of faults, on both sides. For undoubtedly many and great are the faults that have been committed, in the jangling and confusions, and mixtures of light and darkness, that have been of late. There is hardly any duty more contrary to our corrupt dispositions, and mortifYing to the pride of man; but it must be done... And if God does now loudly call upon us to repent, then he also calls upon us to make proper manifestations of our repentance. I am persuaded that those who have openly opposed this work, or have from time to time spoken lightly of it, cannot be excused in the sight of God, without openly confessing their fault therein; especially ministers. If they have any way, either directly or indirectly, opposed the work, or have so behaved, in their public performances or private conversation, as to prejudice the minds of their people, against the work; if hereafter they shall be convinced of the goodness and divinity of what they have opposed, they ought by no means to palliate the matter, or excuse themselves, and pretend that they always thought so, and that it was only such and such imprudences that they objected against. But they ought openly to declare their conviction, and condemn themselves for what they have done; for it is Christ that they have spoken against, in speaking lightly of and prejudicing others against this work; yea, it is The Holy Ghost. And though they have done it ignorantly and in unbelief, yet, when they find out who it is that they have opposed, undoubtedly God will hold them bound publicly to confess it.
And on the other side, if those who have been zealous to promote the work have in any of the fore-mentioned instances openly gone much out of the way, and done that which is contrary to Christian rules, whereby they have openly injured others, or greatly violated good order, and so done that which has wounded religion, they must publicly confess it, and humble themselves; as they would gather out the stones, and prepare the way of God’s people. They who have laid great stumbling-blocks in others’ way, by their open transgressions, are bound to remove them by their open repentance (p. 421).
 
I would like to interrupt these excerpts from Edwards’ work to openly confess my own public transgressions. On numerous occasions, both prior and subsequent to my arrest, I publicly gave vent to natural passion and inordinate degrees of intemperate zeal that were inappropriate, under the circumstances, and, at times, disrespectful to those I was addressing do heartily repent of these sinful and errant excesses, and am resolved to refrain from such imprudent behavior in the future. I do not want to encourage anyone, by my bad example, to act inappropriately, or to treat others with disrespect.
 
And as such an extraordinary time as this does especially require of us the exercise of great forbearance one towards another; so there is peculiarly requisite in God’s people the exercise of great patience, in waiting on God, under many special difficulties and disadvantages they may be under as to the means of grace. The beginning of a revival of religion will naturally and necessarily be attended with a great many difficulties of this nature; many parts of the reviving church will, for a while, be under great disadvantages, by reason of what remains of the old disease, of a gencial corruption of the visible church. We cannot expect that; after a long time of degeneracy and depravity in the state of things in the church, all should come to rights at once; it must be a work of time. And for God’s people to be over-hasty and violent, in such a case, being resolved to have every thing rectified at once, or else forcibly to deliver themselves by breaches and separations, is the way to hinder things coming to rights as they otherwise would. It is the way to keep them back, and to break all in pieces. Indeed the difficulty may be so intolerable as to allow of no delay, and God’s people cannot continue in the state wherein they were, without violations of God’s absolute commands: but otherwise, through the difficulty may be very great, another course should be taken. God’s people should have recourse directly to the throne of grace, to represent their difficulties before the great Shepherd of the sheep, who has the care of all the affairs of the church; and, when they have done, they should wait patiently upon him. If they do so, they may expect that in his time he will appear to their deliverance: but if, instead of that, they are impatient, and take the work into their own hands, they will betray their want of faith, will dishonour God, and have reason to fear that he will leave them to manage their affairs for themselves as well as they can. If they had waited on Christ patiently, continuing still instant in prayer, they might have had him appearing for them, much more effectually to deliver them. He that believeth shall not make haste. And it is for those that are found patiently waiting on the Lord, under difficulties, that he will especially appear, when he comes to do great things for his church; as is evident by Isa. xxx. 18. chap. xl. at the latter end, and xlix. 23. and Psal. xxxvii. 9. and many other places (p. 422).
 
SECT. II
 
What must be done more directly to advance this work
 
... We who are ministers, not only have need of some true experience of the saving influence of the Spirit of God upon our heart, but we need a double portion at such a time as this. We need to be as full of light as a glass that is hold out in the sun; and, with respect to love and zeal, we need to be like the angels, who are a flame of fire. The state of the times extremely requires a fullness of the divine spirit in ministers, and we ought to give ourselves no rest till we have obtained it. And in order to this, I should think ministers, above all persons, ought to be much in prayer and fasting, both in secret and one with another. It seems to me, that it would become the circumstances of the present day, if ministers in a neighbourhood would often meet together, and spend days in fasting and fervent prayer among themselves, earnestly seeking extraordinary supplies of divine grace from heaven...
Two things are exceeding needful in ministers, as they would do any great matters to advance the kingdom of Christ, are zeal and resolution. Their influence and power, to bring to pass great effects, is greater than can well be imagined. A man of but an ordinary capacity will do more with them, than one of ten times the parts and learning without them; more may be done with them in a few days, or at least weeks, than can be done without them in many years. Those who are possessed of these qualities commonly carry the day, in almost all affairs. Most of the great things that have been done in the world, the great revolutions that have been accomplished in the kingdoms and empires of the earth, have been chiefly owing to them. The very appearance of the thoroughly engaged spirit, together with a fearless courage and unyielding resolution, in any person that has undertaken the managing of any affair amongst mankind, goes a great way towards accomplishing the effect aimed at. It is evident that the appearance of these in Alexander did three times as much towards conquering the world, as all the blows that he struck. And how much were the great things that Oliver Cromwell did owing to these! And the great things that Mr. Whitfield has done, every where, as he has run through the British dominions, (so far as they are owing to means,) are very much owing to the appearance of these things which he is eminently possessed
of. When the people see these in a person, to a great degree, it awes them, and has a commanding influence upon their minds. It seems to them that they must yield; they naturally fall before them, without standing to contest or dispute the matter; they are conquered as it were by surprise. But while we are cold and heartless, and only go on in a dull manner, in an old formal round, we shall never do any great matters. Our attempts, with the appearance of such coldness and irresolution, will not so much as make persons think of yielding. They will hardly be sufficient to put it into their minds; and if it be put into their minds, the appearance of such indifference and cowardice does as it were call for and provoke opposition.-Our misery is want of zeal and courage; for not only through want of them does all fail that we seem to attempt, but it prevent sour attempting any thing very remarkable for the kingdom of Christ. Hence oftentimes, when any thing very considerable is proposed to be done for the advancement of religion or the public good, many difficulties are in the way, and a great many objections are started, and it may be it is put off from one to another; but nobody does any thing. And after this manner good designs or proposals have often failed, and have sunk as soon as proposed. Whereas, if we had but Mr. Whitfield’s zeal and courage, what could not we do, with such a blessing as we might expect.
Zeal and courage will do much in persons of but an ordinary capacity; but especially would they do great things; if joined with great abilities. If some great men who have appeared in our nation, had been as eminent in divinity as they were in philosophy, and had engaged in the Christian cause with as much zeal and fervour as some others have done, and with a proportional blessing of heaven, they would have conquered all Christendom, and turned the world upside down. We have many ministers in the land that do not want abilities, they are persons of bright parts and learning; they should consider how much is expected and will be required of them by their Lord and Master, how much they might do for Christ, and what great honour and glorious a reward they might receive, if they had in their hearts a heavenly warmth, and divine heat proportionable to their light (p. 422-424).
 
SECT. III
Of some particulars that concern all in general.
 
And here, the first thing I shall mention is fasting and prayer. It seems to me, that the circumstances of the present work loudly call upon God’s people to abound in this; whether they consider their own experience, or the riches of God’s grace...
So is God’s will, through his wonderful grace, that the prayers of his saints should be one great and principal means of carrying on the designs of Christ's kingdom in the world. When God has something very great to accomplish for his church, it is his will that there should precede it the extraordinary prayers of his people; as is manifest by Ezek. xxxvi. 37. “I will yet, for this, be inquired of by the house of Israel, to do it for them:” (see the context.) And it is revealed that, when God is about to accomplish great things for his church, he will begin by remarkably pouring out the spirit of grace and supplication, Zech. xii. 10. If we are not to expect that the devil should go out of a particular person, under a bodily possession, without extraordinary prayer, or prayer and fasting; how much less should we expect to have him cast out of the land, and the world, without it!
I am sensible that somewhat considerable has been done in duties of this nature in some places, but I do not think so much as God in the present dispensations of his providence calls for. I should think the people of God in this land, at such a time as this is, would be in the way of their duty while doing three times as much fasting and prayer as they do; not only, nor principally, for the pouring out of the Spirit on those places to which they belong; but that God would appear for his church, and, in mercy to miserable men, carry on his work in the land, and in the world, and fulfill the things he has spoken of in his word, that his church has been so long wishing, and hoping, and waiting for. “They that make mention of the Lord,” at this day, ought not to “keep silence,” and should “give God no rest, till he establish, and till he make Jerusalem a praise in the earth;” agreeable to Isa. lxii. 6, 7. Before the first great out-pouring of the Spirit of God on the Christian church, which began at Jerusalem, the disciples gave themselves to incessant prayer, Acts 1., 13, 14...
God seems at this very time to be waiting for this from us. When he is about to bestow some great blessing on his church, it is often his manner, in the first place, so to order things in his providence, as to show his church their great need of it, and to bring them into distress for want of it, and so put them upon crying earnestly to him for it.
There is no way that Christians in a private capacity can do so much to promote the work of God, and advance the kingdom of Christ, as by prayer... Let persons in other respects be never so weak, and never so mean, and under never so poor advantages to do much for Christ and the souls of men; yet, if they have much of the spirit of grace and supplication, in this way they may have power with him who is infinite in power, and has the government of the whole world. A poor man in his cottage may have a blessed influence all over the world. God is, if I may so say, at the command of the prayer of faith; and in this respect is, as it were, under the power of the people; as princes, they have power with God, and prevail. . . (p. 426).
But another thing I would mention, which is of much greater importance that we should attend to, and that is the duty incumbent upon God’s people at this day, to take heed, that while they abound in external duties of devotion, such as praying, hearing, singing, and attending religious meetings, these be a proportionable care to abound in moral duties, such as acts of righteousness; which are of much greater importance in the sight of God than all the externals of his worship. Our Saviour was particularly careful that men should be well ware of this, Matt. ix. 13. “But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice.” And chap. xii. 7. “But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless.”
The internal acts and principles of the worship of God, or the worship of the heart, in love and fear, trust in God, and resignation to him &c. are the most essential and important of all duties of religion whatsoever; for therein consists the essence of all religion. But of this inward religion there are two sorts of external manifestations or expressions. To one sort belong outward acts of worship, such as meeting in religious assemblies, attending sacraments and other outward institutions, honouring God with gestures, such as bowing, or kneeling before him, or with words, in speaking honourably of him in prayer, praise, or religious conference. To the other sort belong expressions of our love to God, by obeying his moral commands, self-denial, righteousness, meekness, and Christian love, in our behaviour among men. The latter are of vastly the greatest importance in the Christian life; God makes little account of the former, in comparison of them; they are abundantly more insisted on, by the prophets of the Old Testament, and Christ and his apostles in the New. When these two kinds of duties are spoken of together, the latter are evermore greatly preferred; as in Isa. i. 12-18. and Amos v. 21 &c. and Mic. vi. 7,8. and Isa. lviii.5, 6, 7. and Zeh. vii. ten first verses, and Jer. li. seven first verses, and Matt. xv.
3, &c. Often, when the times were very corrupt in Israel, the people abounded in the former kind of duties, but were at such times always notoriously deficient in the latter; as the prophets complain, Isa. lviii. Four first verses, Jer. vi. 13, compared with ver. 20. hypocrites and self-righteous persons do much more commonly abound in the former kind of duties than the latter; as Christ remarks of the Pharisees, Matt. xxiii. 14, 25-34. When the Scripture directs us to show our faith by our works, it is principally the latter sort are intended; as appears by Jam. li.from ver. 8, to the end, and I John 2d chap. ver. 3, 7-11. And we are to be judged, at the last day, especially by these latter sort of works; as is evident by the account we have of the day of judgment, in the 25 of Mtt. External acts of worship, in words and gestures, and outward forms, are of little use, but as signs of something else, or as they are ?a profession of inward worship... We cannot express our love to God by doing any thing that is profitable to him; God would therefore have us do it in those things that are profitable to our neighbours, whom he has constituted his receivers. Our goodness extends not to God, but to our fellow-Christians. The latter sort of duties put greater honour upon God, because there is greater self-denial in them. The external acts of worship, consisting in bodily gestures, words, and sounds, are the cheapest part of religion, and least[ contrary to our lusts. The difficulty of thorough, external religion, does not lie in the. Let wicked men enjoy their covetousness, their pride, their malice, envy, and revenge, their sensuality and voluptuousness, in their behaviour amongst men, and they will be willing to compound the matter with God, and submit to what forms of worship you please, and as many as you please. This was manifest in the Jews in the days of the prophets, the Pharisees in Christ's time, and the Papists and Mahometans at this day.
At a time when there is an apparent approach of any glorious revival of God’s church, he especially calls his professing people to the practice of moral duties, Isa. lvi. 1. “Thus saith the Lord, Keep ye judgment, and do justice; for my salvation is near to come, and my righteousness to be revealed.”.. .(p. 428).
God’s people at such time as this, ought especially to abound in deeds of charity, or alms-giving. We generally, in these days, seems to fall far below the true spirit and practice of Christianity with regard to this duty, and seem to have but little notion of it, so far as I can understand the New Testament.-At a time when God is so liberal of spiritual things, we ought not to be strait-handed towards him, and sparing of our temporal things. So far as I can judge by the Scripture, there is no external duty whatsoever, by which persons will be so much in the way, not only of receiving temporal benefits, but also spiritual blessings, the influences of God’s Holy Spirit in the heart, in divine discoveries and spiritual consolations.. .That this is one likely means to obtain assurance, is evident by I John iii. 18, 19. “My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue, but in deed, and in truth. And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him.”
If God’s people in this land were once brought to abound in such deeds of love, as much as in praying, hearing, singing, and religious meetings and conference, it would be a most blessed omen. Nothing would have a greater tendency to bring the God of love down from heaven to earth; so amiable would be the sight in the eyes of our loving and exalted Redeemer, that it would soon as it were fetch him down from his throne in heaven, to set up his tabernacle with men on the earth, and dwell with them. I do not remember ever to have read of any remarkable outpouring of the Spirit, that continued any long time, but what was attended with an abounding in this duty (p. 428 & 429).
Why this book is on line in it's unedited form by Don Spitz
Mix My Blood with the Blood of the Unborn
List of Appendices
APPENDIX A - JONATHAN EDWARDS, DEFENSIVE ACTION, AND REVIVAL
APPENDIX B - WHY SOUTHERN BAPTISTS ARE WRONG TO NEGLECT THE DEFENSE OF THE UNBORN
APPENDIX C - DOES THE PCA ENDORSE ANTI-ABORTION FORCE?
APPENDIX D - STANZAS ON FREEDOM
APPENDIX E - THE FINAL SOLUTION TO ABORTION
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