Lorenzo Dow.

The dealings of God, man, and the devil : as exemplified in the life, experience, and travels of Lorenzo Dow, in a period of over half a century: together with his polemic and miscellaneous writings, complete online

. (page 109 of 126)
Online LibraryLorenzo DowThe dealings of God, man, and the devil : as exemplified in the life, experience, and travels of Lorenzo Dow, in a period of over half a century: together with his polemic and miscellaneous writings, complete → online text (page 109 of 126)
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I am bound to answer, that in the sight of
God there is no respect of persons. With him
the righteous are noble, however poor and de-
spised in the world, whilst the wicked, though
laden with wealth and surrounded with earthly
grandeur arc mean and vile. Yes, thou purse-
proud, self-exalted opposer of all that is good.
The Go I of Israel will exalt the upright beg-
gar when he will sink thee down into the pit
of hell !

"You may support your distinction and
feed your pride, but in a religious point of
view all men are on a level, and the good man
feels it so. The very fact, your aversion to
worship your Creator with the poor and de-
spised, proves to me that you have neither
part nor lot in the matter. That you know
not God nor his worship, and that to follow
your advice would be the sure road to perdi-
tion. The Lord hath declared his intention
and purpose to exalt the humble, whilst he
will pull down high looks.

"Ye men of self-importance, who are ready
to suppose us desirous to borrow distinctions
by gaining your approbation and fellowship, be
it known unto you, that so long as you sup-
pose you have dignity to lend, we want none
of your caresses! Except the Lord lay to
his mighty hand, and let you see that you are
little and vile and less than the least of his
saints ; instead of an honor, you would be a
disgrace to the cause of religion. It is a so-
lemn truth, and a truth which I expect you
bitterly hate, that if you with all your state-
liness, ever obtain the religion of Jesus Christ,
you must obtain it on the same common prin-
ciples with publicans and harlots. You must
see and feel that it is heaven's highes*, best
gift, and that merit in every sense is excluded
where ' by grace ye are saved through faith,
and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.'

" Your objection as it concerns the Ladies,
is the fruit of the same tree. That pride
which will effect your ruin, would lead you
to carry with you your female friends. But I
would ask, in what respect can a woman be
injured by attending unto Camp-Meetings'?
Is it probable that any indecent address would
be made to her there, sooner than at another
place ? You would apprehend no danger in
sending her to a ball or barbecue, where every
engagement is calculated to influence the pas-
]sions and excite unlawful desires; but at a



Camp-Meeting, where hundreds are employed
in the most vehement manner to pull down
the strong holds of sin and lust ; where as
many instances of the most bitter lamentations
on account of sin, are calculated to excite a
holy dread of vice: at such a place your wife
or daughter ought not be trusted ! Had you
stated vour objection in its proper shape, it
would have stood thus : ' It is a disgraceful
business for ladies of distinction to be engaged
in religion. It will seclude them from society.'

"Objection 6th. The exercises and engage-
ments of the people at such times and places
are absurd. Their opinions are enthusiastic,
and their practices disgusting. In a word the
whole business is intolerable.

" Answer. Any difference which can be dis-
tinguished between a Methodist meeting and
that of other denominations, must be the result
of the following sentiments, which I suppose
you call enthusiastic in this lumping objection.

"1st. The Methodists suppose it to be a
correct practice to be bold and open in their
profession of religion.

"2d. They lay great stress on the use of
the means of grace in the successful seeking
of religion. And

" 3dly. They suppose every Christian bound
to use his utmost influence to spread religion.

"Wherever .these opinions have consider-
able influence, we are accustomed to see fre-
quent instances of extraordinary and audible
lamentations for sin : and of loud and raptur-
ous expressions of joy upon a professed know-
ledge of sins forgiven.

" Let us examine your objection as it ap-
plies to these considerations. In the first
place, I run at liberty to suppose it to be your
opinion in opposition to the manner of the
Methodists, that men may have all neces-
sary religion in secret. That it is improper to
make any proclamation of its attainment, and
that all external show of it is hypocrisy. Un-
der the influence of this opinion you had
rather be considered irreligious than be class-
ed with any people who make a noise about
religion. I assert then that your silence and
your contempt of others is not conformable
to the doctrines of the gospel.

"Our Lord Jesus Christ has commanded his
followers to act as 'the light of the world ; '
and ' to let their light so shine before men that
Others seeing their good works may glorify
their father which is in heaven.' He has
furthermore said, ' if any man will be my
disciple, let him deny himself and take up
his cross and follow me.' And again, speak-
ing to his disciples, 'behold I send you forth
as Iambs among wolves. If the world hate
you, ye know it hated me before it hated
yrju,' &c. To apply these quotations, I ob-
servj that men always act agreeably to their



prevailing opinions, and we are at liberty to
judge of men's opinions by their general con-
duct. Now I would ask how is it possible
that any man should perform works in their
nature praise worthy, and intend that they
should reflect honor upon the religion of Jesus
Christ, and never declare himself an advocate
of the Christian religion? I would also ask
what cross can be in the way of a Christian
if he may in all respects walk as do other
men 1 And would in the last place ask, how
the world could despise any man as a Chris-
tian, who never made pretensions to that cha-
racter ? It is very evident that the gospel
contemplates its followers or adherents as be-
ing men ' bold to take up, firm to sustain the
consecrated cross.' They are men not ashamed
of the Gospel. True ministers will boldly
preach Christ and him crucified, and the friends
of Christ will universally acknowledge him to
be their Prince and their Saviour.

" In the second place, I may consider it to
be your opinion, that religion needs no exter-
nal or ceremonial aid. Under the influence
of this dangerous idea, you are led to neglect
the use of those means which most effectually
conduce to the attainment of true religion.
' If you love me, says our Lord, keep my
commandments.' We are commanded then to
deny ourselves, ungodliness and worldly lusts,
and to live soberly, righteously, and godly in
this present world. For ability so to do, we
are commanded to ask that we may receive, to
seek that we may find, to knock that it may be
opened unto us. These requisitions surely
imply that some external aid is conducive to
religion. But if these be not conclusive, and
you still insist that merely mental energy is
sufficient in carrying on this great work, 1
will request you to account for the prayers of
our Lord Jesus Christ. In the case of Laza-
rus he prayed audibly, he spake with a loud
voice. In the garden of Gethsemene he pray-
ed : yea he continued al j night in prayer ;
he prostrated himself on the earth! Why
all this external work in his devout engage-
ments! Surely he too was an enthusiast !

"Even admitting that some highly exalted
minds can succeed in cultivating devout emo-
tions, without the concurrence of bodily exer-
tion, yet it must be granted that a majority of
men could not succeed at all. But if univer-
sal success were possible, yet such a mode of
worship would not accord with the general
conduct of mankind.

•'When the greatest men contemplate the
effulgence of majestic dignity, they feel not
only a disposition to indulge a .-tnise of rever-
ence, but also to express it, in some external
form. They feel similar emotions when high
favors are conferred upon them. Not content-
ed with indulging a sense of gratitude, they



DEFENCE OF CAMP MEETINGS.



261



impatiently wait for an opportunity to mani-
fest it by some adequate external expression.
And when they behold eminent goodness it is
not uncommon for them to burst forth in ex-
clamations of joy and approbation. Under
impressions and consequent emotions like
these, John was led to exclaim, ' Behold the
lamb of God which taketh away the sins of
the world.'

"On the whole. I must venture to assert,
that some external appearance of religion is
necessary to its very existence, and that any
man who can at all times conceal its opera-
tions is a stranger to these emotions which
constitute true Christianity. 'He is still in
nature's darkness,' in the gall of bitterness
and the bonds of iniquity. If this conclusion
be not correctly drawn the ceremonies of the
tabernacle were vain and ostentatious. The
grandeur of the temple, the effort of pompous
pride, and all the ordinances received and ac-
knowledged by most Christian societies are
frivolous and unmeaning.

"In the third place 1 consider your objec-
tion to imply that no co-operation of men is
necessary for spreading the gospel. And I
answer in my turn that this objection would
go to the utter subversion of all religion.

" Whatever is revealed and recorded, from
the time such record is made, it becomes a
matter of instruction to those for whose benefit
it was intended. If Abram had not made known
to his domestics, his confidence in, and his ap-
probation of the promise which God had made
and confined to him, with his life the whole
business must have ended. But saith the
Lord, ' I know Abram that he will command
his house.' It was intended from the begin-
ning that Abram and his faithful children, to
the latest generation, should continue to bear
testimony of the truth. Hence all the solemn
instructions and warnings of Moses, and the
prophets of Christ and hjs apostles. — Hence
the preaching of the gospel, and hence the
disposition of true Christians to tell to all
around the great goodness and mercy of God
through Christ Jesus.

"I perceive you begin to reject all of the
three modifications which I have given to your
objection.— You agree with us, that some cer-
emony is proper, and that a decent elegance
of expression is essential to the existence and
continuance of religion. It is against extra-
vagance only you would object. You grant
then that religion imp'ies some degree of sol-
emn and sublime feeling, corresponding to a
just perception of the wisdom, power, and
mercy of God. And as a sinner, you must
also grant the necessity of some sensations,
adequate to a correct perception of the holi-
ness of that God against whom you have sin-
ned. You will furthermore grant that some



decent and suitable expression of these feel-
ings is proper and necessary. So far well.
Now I would know how deep and interesting
can these feelings be, and be consistent with
reason and scripture 1 Can they never be
more strong and extatic than those you have
felt 1 Or might they not in some cases amount
to the measure of them felt by the three thou-
sand on the day of Pentecost'? I think sir,
you must grant that some men may act ration-
ally, and make more ado about religion than
is your custom. If not then, you must arro-
gantly make your sensibility the universal
standard. But you have granted that, reli-
gion necessarily implies devout emotions, and
that such emotions seek for a corresponding
degree of expression. Now, let it be supposed
that, an irreligious person, through the sym-
pathy of a Camp-Meeting, is suddenly brought
to a solemn pause. He considers, he per-
ceives the sanctity of God"s law. He finds
himself to be a miserable and undone sinner.
His emotions of guilt are so strong that, in the
anguish of his soul he cries out, 'God be mer-
ciful to me a sinner.' He repeats his suppli-
cation — He earnestly cries, 'Jesus, thou Son
of David, have mercy on me.' Now this is
rational, if the gospel doctrine of sin be true.

But to proceed by the grace of God through
the instrumentality of the word, and by the
effectual operations of the spirit of truth,
while yet in the midst of his agony, he dis-
covers the merciful interposition of the blessed
Jesus. He contemplates the glory of God as
shining forth respendently in the face of Jesus
Christ. He is changed into the same image. —
Being justified by faitk, he has peace with
God. In the transport of his soul his glad
heart leaps for joy, and with extacy he cries,
'Glory to God in the highest.' I have found
him of whom Moses and the prophets did
write. Jesus Christ is my Prophet, Priest,
and King. I am saved of the Lord. Glory,
Hallelujah ! This also is rational conduct, or
the scripture doctrine of the forgiveness of
sins is illusive and vain.

" The conclusion therefore seems to be, that
after having done your objections all the jus-
tice which candor can require, the conduct of
the Methodists at their Camp-Meetings is
more easily opposed with ridicule than with
solid argument. It might not be amiss to state
at the close of this work the following consid-
erations :

"By turning to Leviticus xxiii chap. 39 and
40 verses, and to the end of the chapter, we
find that the God of Israel commanded his peo-
ple to build them booths of the boughs of trees
of different kinds, and dwell in them seven
days. And that this was to be done annually,
immediately after gathering in the fruits of the
land.



262



DEFENCE OF CAMP MEETINGS.



"And again in Nebemiah viii chap, from
13th verse to the close, we find that Israel had
for a time lost sight of this command, but on
reviving the reading and exposition of the law,
they also renewed this custom in the city, and
devoted seven days to [well in booths and at-
tend to the reading of the law, confession of
sin, &c, &c.

" Now it strikes me thus, that God in his
wisdom, knowing how difficult it is to retain a
sense of his presence, power and goodness,
while engaged in the bustle of the world, in-
stituted this custom at a season of the year,
and under such circumstances as are well cal-
culated to prepare men for reflection.

" By drawing them off in this manner, and
for such length of time, it would seem to have
been the design of the Almighty to produce an
effect which was necessary, and yet impracti-
cable under any other circumstances. Viz.
A solemn devotion, abstract from business,
sublime and spiritual !

"This, then, is also the design of our Camp-
Meetings. Having found how difficultly men
can be brought to disengage themselves from
the world on any plan heretofore devised ; and
having, as if by accident, discovered the pow-
erful influence of long continued and indepen-
dent meetings, we have repeated them with
the happiest effects. And we are prepared to
state it as a fact that at meetings of the

kind in the state of we have had

instances of professed conversion.*



* Note. — True Religion is the exercise and
enjoyment of certain affections. The whole
may be comprised in the comprehensive idea,
" The Love of God." This Love of God may
be defined "a feeling of complacency while
the perfection of deity are contemplated." —
And particularly the moral perfections of Gon,
emphatically called his Holiness, is perceived
with joyful approbation. It implies also the
hatred of evil. When the mind delights in
this perception of excellence, and in the indul-
gence of the sublime emotion attendant on
such perception, it must feel proportionate op-
position to every species of vice.

"When a sinner is called to salvation, this
Love of God and hatred of evil are offered him
as his spiritual portion.

"Most professing Christians agree in urging
the necessity of a regeneration of the heart for
the attainment of this salvation.

"Except a man be born again he cannot see
the kingdom of Gon; and this kingdom con-
sists of Righteousness. Peace, and Joy in the
Holy Ghost. For if any man be in Christ he
i- a new creature ; having beheld the glory of
God in the face of Jesus Christ, he is changed
into the same image .



" This important change is effected through
faith. 'Faith comes by hearing: hearing by
the word of God ; and we cannot hear with-
out a preacher.'

" By the faithful preaching of the word,
those who here are persuaded to believe the
gospel of God — the glad tidings of peace to a
rebellious world.

" Trusting the record which God has given
of his Son Jesus Christ, true believers have
their consciences purged from guilt and dead
works. Of course they come boldly to the
throne of grace, and in the enjoyment of the
spirit of adoption they cry, ' Abba — Father,
and feel themselves the sons of God.''

"By this preparation, and this only, men
are brought cordially to delight in the 'perfec-
tions of deity, and sincerity to hate evil, or the
indulgence of unlawful passions.

" It this be the correct process for effecting
reformation, then the most earnest rather than
the most elegant preaching of the word will
be most effectual. 'The wisdom of men is
foolishness with God.' And a man may have
bi- head stored with much theological truth,
and still be utterly destitute of true religion.

" The most learned lectures may be deliv-
ered to any man, or set of men, for years to-
gether, and yet if that kind of energy which
urges to immediate practice be wanting, all
will be vain.

" The tenor of the gospel is ' now is the ac- !
cepted time, now is the day of salvation.'
And the minister of the gospel, to be success-
ful, must show by every word and every ges-
ture that he feels it so. He must ' know the
tenor of the Lord,' and act consistently with
the deepest sense of it, or he will never effectu-
ally persuade men.

"This opinion is firmly supported by innu-
merable facts ; and especially by facts which
invariably present themselves at Camp-Meet-
ings. Our Methodist preachers excel in this
kind of earnestness or Godly vehemence, and
the most astonishing effects follow their labors
on these occasions, so favorable to their man-
ner of preaching.

" Instance the following statement.

"1. A Camp-Meeting was held at Reho-
both Chapel, in Warren County, Georgia, from
the 8th to the 12th October, 1802, under the
direction of the Rev. Hope Hull, Stitb Mead,
and others. The result was, that one hundred
souls professed to be brought into the sweet
and peaceful love of God, through the belief
of the gospel. This was not fox fi re, as some
by derision call it, captivating the ignorant
and the weak only: Doctor Roberts, captain
Joseph Bryant, and the worthy lady of judge
Stith, with many other respectable and in-
telligent persons, were among the subjects of
this work. Glorious manifestation of the



DEFENCE OF CAMP MEETINGS.



263



power of God to save " even now" all them
that believe.

"Query. Will any Christian uare to say
that the Lord Jehovah was not here ?

" 2. Ai a similar meeting in Oglethorpe
county, near Lexington, conducted by Rev.
Hope Hull, a Methodist, and Rev. Robert Cun-
ningham, a Presbyterian ; it was supposed
that no less than one hundred and fifty pro-
fessed the forgiveness of their sins, through the
belief of the record which God has given con-
cerning his Son. Here also persons of infor-
mation and distinction came under the influ-
ence of the spirit of reformation.

" 3. At Ebenezer Meeting-house, in Hancock
county, from the 11th to 1 5th February, in
bad weather, under the direction of Rev Stith
Mead, fifteen were found declaring the know-
ledge of God, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Of this number were judge Stitli himself and
two young ladies of his family.

" 4. At Smyrna, near Washington, in Wilks
county, a joint Camp-Meeting was again held
by Messrs. Cunningham and Hull, from 28th
July to 1st August, about one hundred pro-
fessed conversion from the error of their ways
to the service of God.

"5. At Harris' Meeting-house, Washington,
from 8th to 11th July, 1803, one hundred
were supposed to obtain saving religion.

"6. At Mapp*s Spring, in Green county,
from 7th to 10th October, 1803, about forty,
some said fifty, declared they had found the
Lord.

"7. At Liberty Chapel, on Spirit Creek,
near the city of Augusta, from 14th to 17th
October, 1803, fifteen acknowledged the good-
ness of God in their salvation.

"8. At Stenchcomb's Meeting-house, in El-
bert county, from 16th to 19th Sept., 1803,
thirty were thought to have tasted the love of
God.

"9. At Rehoboth, a second meeting at this
place, from 18th to 22d Nov., 1803, thirty re-
joiced in that they had found him of whom
Moses and the Prophets did write.

" 10. In Bedford county, Virginia, a Camp-
Meeting was held under the management of
LORENZO DOW and STITH MEAD, from
23d to 27th March, 1804, and here fifty were
supposed to have obtained the forgiveness of
their sins.

"11. At Tabernacle Meeting-house, Bed-
ford, Virginia, from 17th to 21st May, 1804,
it is believed that one hundred and fifty ob-
tained a saving knowledge of God and of Je-
sus Christ his son. n. b. Of my own know-
ledge, I can assert that the most amazing ref-
ormation has followed those meeting which
were held within the bounds of my acquaint-
ance.

"12. At Charity Chapel, Powhatan county,



from 8th to 12th June, 1804, one hundred said
to be converted.

"13. At Leptwich Chapel, Bedford, from
20th to 24th July, 1804, one hundred were
found praising God for his redeeming love.

" 14. At Depews, in Bottetourt county, Vir-
ginia, from 3d to 7th August, 1804, fifty pro-
fessed to be brought from darkness to light —
from the bondage of sin and death, to the lib-
erty of the children of God.

" 15. At Ebenezer Chapel, (alias Board's
Meeting-house) from 17th to 21st August,
1804, about fifty supposed to be converted.

••16. At Brown Chapel, Campbell county,
from 21st to 25th Sept., 1805, although bad
weather, thirty stood forth as witnesses for
the cleansing power of the Lord Jesus Christ.

" 17. At Ayres' Meeting-house, Bedford,
from 19th to 25th July, 1805, it was thought
that fifty found peace through believing.

" 18." At the Double Springs Meeting-house,
Buckingham county, from 6th to 10th Sep-
tember, 1805, one hundred professed to believe
in the Lord Jesus for their salvation.

"19. At the Quarry Branch in Campbell
county, from the 13th to 17th Sept., 1805, fifty
were found ready to profess themselves to be
lovers of the Lord Jesus. Some suppose there
must have been many more.

"20. At Kingwood Meeting-house in Am-
herst, from 1st to 5th Nov., 1805, sixty be-
came the subjects of the work of grace.

'• These are a few of many similar instan-
ces, in which ' the Lord Jehovah has made
bare his mighty arm' 1 at Methodist Camp-
Meetings, and ' out of weakness has brought
forth strength.' And what shall we say to
these things ? Shall all these facts be set
aside, because it may be said, that some of
these converts have miscarried 1 I think not.
For when it is considered that many and
great reformations are effected, and a very con-
siderable number too, that have, for years,
stood the test of ridicule, opposition, and every
other species of modern trial, we must con-
clude that some at least, are genuine. For
my own part I have no doubt of the sincerity
of many.

" In addition to what has been said on the
subject, it might not be amiss to drop a reflec-
tion or two, on the following clauses of Scrip-
ture.

" Matthew xiv. 13th to 21st verse. Here
we find, that a great multitude of men, women,
and children collected together out of the
cities, &c, into the desert place where Jesus
was, and that they continued with him until
the evening, and were fed by his immediate in-
terposition. Our Lord then was not displeased
with such large and promiscuous collections
of people.

•• In the next chapter, viz., Matt. xv. 29th



264



DEFENCE OF CAMP MEETINGS.



to 38th verse, we read thus, ' And Jesus de-
parted from thence, and came nigh unto the
sea of Galilee, and went up into a mountain,
and sat down there. And great multitudes
came unto him, &c. Then Jesus called his
disciples unto him, and said, I have compas-
sion on the multitude, because they continue
with me now three days, and have nothing
to eat, &c, &c. And they that did eat were
four thousand.' In Mark vi. chapter, 39th
and 40th verses, and John vi. chapter. 1st to
14th verses, we have the same facts again re-
corded. It would seem, therefore, that our
Lord himself, on finding the multitude willing
to receive instruction in the ways of salvation,
had no objection to continue with them in
the mountain or desert even three days to-
gether. If then in modern times the people
show a disposition to relinquish worldly
engagements for a season, that they may



Online LibraryLorenzo DowThe dealings of God, man, and the devil : as exemplified in the life, experience, and travels of Lorenzo Dow, in a period of over half a century: together with his polemic and miscellaneous writings, complete → online text (page 109 of 126)