THE following is the original title more at large; which the editors are disposed to preserve, as it contains a more particular exhibition of the nature and design of the work. How suitable the work itself is, in reference to the present state of things, we leave to the reader's own reflection.
"An HUMBLE ATTEMPT to promote an explicit agreement and visible union of God's people through the world, in extraordinary PRAYER, for the REVIVAL of religion, and the advancement of Christ's kingdom on earth, pursuant to scripture promises and prophecies concerning the last time,
By a late MEMORIAL published by a number of ministers in Scotland, and sent over to America; giving an account of a certain CONCERT for prayer, which has already been come into by many ministers and others in Great Britain and some other parts, and in which they desire the general concurrence of their christian brethren every where.
A copy of the said memorial with a more particular view of the affair it relates to; a variety of arguments and persuasive to comply with the motion therein made, for united and extraordinary prayer; and answers to some objections.
Seasonable considerations on the aspects of providence in many late wonderful dispensations, and the present state of things in the church and moral world; pointing out the fulfilling of the Scriptures, and the voice of God to his people, in these events."
IF any inquire why the ensuing work is re-published, I would beg leave to lay before them the following intelligence.
At an association of the ministers and messengers of the Baptist Churches in the counties of Northampton, Leicester etc. held at Nottingham, in the year 1784, a resolution was formed to establish through the association, a meeting of prayer for the general revival and spread of religion. This was to be observed the first Monday evening in every calendar month, by all the churches. It still continues.-In 1786, another Baptist association commonly called the Midland, held that year at Aulcester, in the county of Warwick, entered into the same resolution. Many other churches, particularly in Yorkshire, have adopted, and now follow, the above practice. We have the pleasure also to find, that several Paedobaptist churches statedly meet on those evenings for the same purpose.
The re-publication of the following work is with the avowed design of promoting the above agreement and practice. Those concerned in its first institution, never intended it should be confined to any peculiar connexion, or particular denomination. Rather they ardently wished it might become general among the real friends of truth and holiness. The advocates of error are indefatigable in their endeavours to overthrow the distinguishing and interesting doctrines of Christianity; those doctrines which are the grounds of our hope, and sources of our joy. Surely it becomes the followers of Christ, to use every effort, in order to strengthen the things, which remain. By re-publishing the following work, I do not consider myself as becoming answerable for every sentiment it contains. An author and an editor are very distinct characters. Should any entertain different views respecting some of the prophecies in the inspired page, from those that are here advances, yet such may, and I hope will, approve of the general design.
In the present imperfect state, we may reasonably expect a diversity of sentiments upon religious matters. Each ought to think for himself; and every one has a right, on proper occasions, to show his opinion. Yet all should remember, that there are but two parties in the world, each engaged in opposite causes; the cause of God and of Satan; of holiness and sin, of heaven and hell. The advancement of the one, and the downfall of the other, must appear exceedingly desirable to every real friend of God and man. If such in some respects entertain different sentiments, and practice distinguishing modes of worship, surely they may unite in the above business. O for thousands upon thousands divided into small bands in their respective cities, towns, villages, and neighbourhood, all met at the same time, and in pursuit of one end, offering up their united prayers, like so many ascending clouds of incense before the Most High!- May he shower down blessings on all the scattered tribes of Zion! Grace, great grace be with all them that love the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity! Amen!
Olney, May 4th, 1789.
THE ruin of Satan's miserable kingdom, and the advancement of the universal and happy reign of Christ on the earth, were included, and hinted at, in the sentence denounced on the serpent, that the seed of the woman should bruise his head. What was a terrible threatening to Satan, in the surprised ears of our first guilty parents, implied a joyful prophecy, to keep them from despair, and enliven their hopes, for themselves and their descendants, of obtaining by this seed of hers an eternal triumph over him who had so sadly foiled them. And it is likely, that their hope and faith immediately arose laid hold on the reviving prophecy, earnestly desired its happy accomplishment, and transmitted it to their posterity.
But though this prophecy was at first only delivered in the form of a threatening to Satan, it was afterwards directly given in the form of a promise to Abraham, though still in general terms, that in his seed should all the nation of the earth he blessed. Yet this general promise was more clearly by degrees explained in the following ages, to mean a DIVINE KING, no other than the SON OF GOD assuming human nature of the seed of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and David that should be born of a virgin in Bethlehem of Judah, and at first despised, abused, rejected, and put to death; but should rise to immortal life, ascend to heaven, and thence extend his blessed kingdom over all nations, not by outward force but inward overcoming influence, by his word and Spirit making them his willing people in the day of his power, and reigning in glorious light and holiness, love and peace, for ever: and the advancement of this universal and happy reign has been the earnest desire and prayer of the saints in all ages to the present day.
But how great the honour, and how lively the encouragement, given in Scripture to those their prayers, by representing them as offered by CHRIST himself with the fragrant incense of his own merits and intercession, on the golden altar before the throne, and ascending together in one grateful perfume to GOD! And how cheering to every saint is that promise, from the rising of the sun, even to the going down of the same, my name shall be great among the Gentiles, and in every place incense shall be offered unto my name, and a pure offering! How pleasing to GOD and all the heavenly hosts to see, as the sun goes round the globe; this grateful incense rising from every part on high! and the more extensive and incessant are these prayers, ascending from the circle of the earth, the more does this blessed promise go into its desired fulfillment, and the holy GOD is more pleased and glorified. To promote the increase and constancy of these acceptable prayers, is the great intention both of the pious memorial of our reverend and dear brethren, in Scotland, and of the worthy author of this exciting essay. And this design we cannot but recommend to all who desire the coming of this blissful kingdom in its promised extent and glory, in this wretched world.
As to the authors ingenious observation on the prophecies, we entirely leave them to the reader's judgment; with only observing, though it is the apprehension of many learned men, that their is to be a very general slaughter of the witnesses of CHRIST, when about finishing their testimony to the pure worship and truths of the gospel, about three or four years before the seventh angel sounds his trumpet for the ruin of antichrist;-yet we cannot see that this is any just objection against our joint and earnest prayers for the glorious ages succeeding, or for the hastening of it.
For if such a terrible time is coming in Europe, which we in depending America are likely to share in; the more need we have of joining in earnest and constant prayers for extraordinary suffering graces for ourselves and others. And that such a time is coming on the members of CHRIST, is no more an objection against their prayers for the hastening of the following glory, than it was before the incarnation of him their head, that his most bitter sufferings were to precede the spreading of this joyous kingdom among nations. And the nearer the day approaches, the more need we have to be awakened to continual watchfulness and prayer.
May GOD pour out on all his people abundantly the Spirit of grace and supplications, and prepare them for the amazing changes hastening on the earth, both for previous trials and for following glories.
Boston, New England, January 12th, 1748.