A Brief Narrative of the Revival of Religion in Virginia, Part 3
THE ARMINIAN MAGAZINE. Issue 1. Spring 2014. Volume 32.
Date Posted May 28, 2014
When the love feast was ended, the doors were opened. Many who had stayed without then came in; and beholding the anguish of some, and the rejoicing of others, were filled with astonishment, and not long after with trembling apprehensions of their own danger. Several of them prostrating themselves before God, cried aloud for mercy. And the convictions which then began in many, have terminated in a happy and lasting change.
The multitudes that attended on this occasion, returning home all alive to God, spread the flame through their respective neighborhoods, which ran from family to family: so that scarce any conversation was to be heard throughout the circuit, but concerning the things of God: either the complaining of the prisoners, groaning under the spirit of bondage unto fear; or the rejoicing of those whom the Spirit of adoption taught to cry, "Abba, Father."
One of the doctrines, as you know, which we particularly insist upon, is that of a present salvation; a salvation not only from the guilt and power, but also from the root of sin; a cleansing from all filthiness of flesh and spirit, that we may perfect holiness in the fear of God; a going on to perfection, which we sometimes define by loving God with all our hearts. Several who had believed were deeply sensible of their want of this. I have seen both men and women, who had long been happy in a sense of God's pardoning love, as much convicted on account of the remains of sin their hearts, and as much distressed for a total deliverance from them, as ever I saw any for justification.
And I have been present when they believe that God answered this prayer, and bestowed this blessing upon them. I have conversed with them several times since, and have found them thoroughly devoted to God. They all testify, that they have received the gift instantaneously, and by simply faith. We have sundry witnesses of this perfect love who are above all suspicion.
It has been frequently observed, that there never was any remarkable revival of religion, but some degree of enthusiasm was mingled with it - some wildfire mixed with the sacred flame. It may be doubted whether this is not unavoidable in the nature of things. And notwithstanding all the care we have taken, this work has not been quite free from it; but it never rose to any considerable height, neither was of long continuance. Where the greatest work was - where the greatest number of souls have been convinced and converted to God, there have been the most outcries, trembling, convulsions, and all sorts of external signs. I took all the pains I could that these might be kept within bounds, that our good might not be evil spoken of.
A great part of Virginia is still in a very dark and deplorable condition. The late work has reached only seven or eight counties. Nor has it been universal even in these, but chiefly in the circuit which is regularly visited by the preachers. In this alone very many hundreds have in a few months been added to the Lord. And some are adding still. May He continue to pour out his Spirit upon us, and increase the number of the faithful every day!
The full account of this revival is found in the Journal of Francis Asbury, 1:207-224.