It happens, too frequently, that the benefit of the intellectual labors of great and good men is almost lost to the world, either from too great diffidence of the individuals themselves or from the carelessness of those into whose hands their productions fall after their decease. And such had nearly been the fate of the discourses comprising this volume, with many others of equal value by the same author. The Editor, therefore, trusts that he renders good service to the great cause in which their author labored, by rescuing from oblivion a part of the sermons of the venerated M'Gready; and, he confidently hopes, that this belief will be fully sanctioned by the Christian community.
To a large number of persons, now resident in the valley of the Mississippi, where the author principally labored in the ministry, it is expected that these sermons will be recollected by thousands now living, that he was one of the most efficient instruments, in the hands of the great Head of the church, in advancing the Redeemer's kingdom through the vast western wilderness. He was an eminent revivalist, and particularly identified in what has been termed the great revival of 1800, which began and was, in a great measure, carried on through his instrumentality. It is not improbable, therefore, that many of the followers of the Lord Jesus Christ will recognize in one or another of these discourses the very arrow which pierced their hearts, and to which, under heaven, they are indebted for their salvation.
Most of the sermons, in this volume, were preached by the Author during the revival mentioned, although some of them were slightly altered by him, at a subsequent period, as may be observed from an allusion to natural events of a later date in that one entitled "The Character, History, and End of the Fool." As none of them were designed for publication, but simply for the Author's own use, it will be remarked that little attention has been paid by him to the mere ornament of expression. Yet the intelligent Christian reader will readily perceive that all his discourses are well calculated to convince the unregenerate of the evil nature of sin, and the awful consequences of living and dying under its dominion; to lead the heavy laden to the blood of sprinkling, and to administer encouragement and consolation to the hearts of God's people, the Lord Jesus Christ being the alpha and omega, the beginning and the end, the soul and substance of the whole.
Many of the sermons, even to the ordinary reader, will seem to close abruptly, owing to an omission of the author in writing out the applications-that being a part he almost uniformly delivered extemporaneously, and according to the circumstances of his audience. This omission is the more to be lamented as in his applications he is said to have been particularly interesting, forcing the truth home upon the consciences of his hearers with almost irresistible efficacy. The reader may infer something of his powers in this way, from the sermon, "On the superabounding Grace of God."
The biography of such a man as Mr. M'Gready could not but be interesting to the religious community; and it was much desired (with this volume) to have presented a general account of his life and labors. But, not having the advantage of a personal acquaintance, the Editor has to regret that, hitherto, he has been unable to procure the proper materials. However, he has lately been referred to persons in possession of the necessary information; and if the public should deem a second volume of these sermons worthy of patronage, he hopes to present a satisfactory memoir of their author. In the meanwhile, there are prefixed to the present volume some brief remarks on his character by the Rev. John Andrews, of Chillicothe; also some account of the revival of 1800, by Mr. M'Gready himself.
That these sermons may prove edifying and encouraging to the Christian reader-that they may be instrumental in bringing many souls to the Lord Jesus Christ, and that, thereby, much fruit may abound to the author at the great day of the Lord-such are the sincere prayers of the reader's obedient servant,
From the conduct and conversation of Mr. M'Gready, there is abundant evidence to believe that he was not only a subject of divine grace and unfeigned piety, but that he was favored with great nearness to God and intimate communion with him. Like Enoch, he walked with God; like Jacob, he wrestled with God, by fervent persevering supplication, for a blessing on himself and others, and prevailed; like Elijah, he was very jealous for the Lord God of hosts, and regarded his glory and the advancement of his kingdom as the great end of his existence on earth, to which all other designs ought to be subordinate; like Job, he deeply abhorred himself, repenting, as it were, in dust and ashes, when he was enabled to behold the purity of God and his own disconformity to his holy nature; like the apostle Paul, he counted all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Jesus Christ, his lord; and, like him, he felt great delight in preaching to his fellow men the unsearchable riches of Christ. He was remarkably plain in his dress and manners, but very familiar, communicative, and interesting in his conversation. He possessed sound understanding, and a moderate share of human learning. The style of his sermons was not polished, but perspicuous and pointed; and his manner of address was unusually solemn and impressive. As a preacher, he was highly esteemed by the humble followers of the Lamb, who relished the precious truths which he clearly exhibited to their view; but he was hated, and sometimes bitterly reproached and persecuted, not only by the openly vicious and profane, but by many nominal Christians, or formal professors, who could not bear his heart-searching and penetrating addresses, and the indignation of the Almighty against the ungodly, which, as a son on thunder, he clearly presented to the view of their guilty minds from the awful denunciations of the World of Truth. Although he did not fail to preach Jesus Christ, and him crucified, to laboring and heaven laden sinners, and to administer consolation which the gospel speaks to humble believers; yet he was more distinguished by a talent for depicting the guilty and deplorable situation of impenitent sinners, and the awful consequences of their rebellion against God, without speedy repentance unto life and a living faith in the blood of sprinkling. There is reason to believe that his faithful and indefatigable labors in the gospel of Christ were crowned with a great degree of success, and that he was honored as an instrument in the conviction and conversion of many sinners, and more especially in the commencement and progress of several powerful revivals of religion, in different places, during which he labored with distinguished zeal and activity.
We shall conclude our remarks by observing, that some of the traits in Mr. M'Gready's character as a private Christian, which are worthy of our imitation, were his fervent piety, his unaffected humility, his earnest, persevering supplications at the Throne of Grace, his resignation to the will of God under the afflictions, bereavements and poverty, with which he was tried in this world, his cheerful reliance on God's kind and watchful providence and confidence in his great and precious promises, and his contempt of the pomp and vanities of this world, to which he seemed to be, in a great degree, crucified. And, as a minister of the gospel, he ought to be imitated in his regard to the honor of God and the salvation of souls, his vigorous and zealous exertions to promote these grand objects, his fidelity in declaring the whole counsel of God, and his patience in bearing the revilings of the ungodly.
"Logan County, Kentucky,
October 23, 1801.
"But I promised to give you a short statement of our blessed revival; on which you will at once say, the Lord has done great things for us in the wilderness, and the solitary place has been made glad: the desert has rejoiced and blossomed as the rose.
"In the month of May, 1797, which was the spring after I came to this country, the Lord graciously visited Gasper River Congregation (an infant church then under my charge). The doctrines of Regeneration, Faith and Repentance, which I uniformly preached, seemed to call the attention of the people to a serious inquiry. During the winter the question was often proposed to me, Is Religion a sensible thing? If I were converted would I feel it, and know it? In May, as I said before, the work began.
"A woman, who had been a professor, in full communion with the church, found her old hope false and delusive-she was struck with deep conviction, and in a few days was filled with joy and peace in believing. She immediately visited her friends and relatives, from house to house, and warned them of their danger in a most solemn, faithful manner, and plead with them to repent and seek religion. This, as a mean, was accompanied with the divine blessing to the awakening of many. About this time the ears of all in that congregation seemed to be open to receive the word preached, and almost every sermon was accompanied with the power of God, to the awakening of sinners. During the summer about ten persons in the congregation were brought to Christ. In the fall of the year a general deadness seemed to creep on apace. Conviction and conversion work, in a great measure, ceased; and no visible alteration for the better took place, until the summer of 1798, at the administration of the sacrament of the supper, which was in July. On Monday the Lord graciously poured out his Spirit; a very general awakening took place-perhaps but few families in the congregation could be found who, less or more, were not struck with an awful sense of their lost estate. During the week following but few persons attended to worldly business, their attention to the business of their souls was so great. On the first Sabbath of September, the sacrament was administered at Muddy River (one of my congregations). At this meeting the Lord graciously poured forth his spirit, to the awakening of many careless sinners. Through these two congregations already mentioned, and through Red River, my other congregation, awakening work went on with power under every sermon. The people seemed to hear, as for eternity. In every house, and almost in every company, the whole conversation with people, was about the state of their souls. About this time the Rev. J.B. came here, and found a Mr. R. to join him. In a little time he involved our infant churches in confusion, disputation, &c. Opposed the doctrines preached here; ridiculed the whole work of the revival; formed a considerable party, &c. &c. In a few weeks this seemed to have put a final stop to the whole work, and our infant congregation remained in a state of deadness and darkness from the fall, through the winter, and until the month of July, 1799, at the administration of the sacrament at Red River. This was a very solemn time throughout. On Monday the power of God seemed to fill the congregation; the boldest, daring sinners in the country covered their faces and wept bitterly. After the congregation was dismissed, a large number of people stayed about the doors, unwilling to go away. Some of the ministers proposed to me to collect the people in the meeting-house again, and perform prayer with them; accordingly we went in, and joined in prayer and exhortation. The mighty power of God came amongst us like a shower from the everlasting hills-God's people were quickened and comforted; yea, some of them were filled with joy unspeakable, and full of glory. Sinners were powerfully alarmed, and some precious souls were brought to feel the pardoning love of Jesus.
"At Gasper river (at this time under the care of Mr. Rankin, a precious instrument in the hand of God) the sacrament was administered in August. This was one of the days of the Son of Man, indeed, especially on Monday. I preached a plain gospel sermon on Heb. 11 and 16. The better country. A great solemnity continued during the sermon. After sermon Mr. Rankin gave a solemn exhortation-the congregation was then dismissed; but the people all kept their seats for a considerable space, whilst awful solemnity appeared in the countenances of a large majority. Presently several persons under deep convictions broke forth into a loud outcry-many fell to the ground, lay powerless, groaning, praying and crying for mercy. As I passed through the multitude, a woman, lying in awful distress, called me to her. Said she, "I lived in your congregation in Carolina; I was a professor, and often went to the communion; but I was deceived; I have no religion; I am going to hell.: In another place an old, gray-headed man lay in an agony of distress, addressing his weeping wife and children in such language as this: "We are all going to hell together; we have lived prayerless, ungodly lives; the work of our souls is yet to begin; we must get religion, or we will all be damned." But time would fail me to mention every instance of this kind.
"At Muddy River the sacrament was administered in September. The powers of God was gloriously present on this occasion. The circumstances of it are equal, if not superior to those of Gasper River. Many souls were solemnly awakened; a number, we hope, converted-whilst the people of God feasted on the hidden manna, and, with propriety, might be said to sing the new song. But the year 1800 exceeds all that my eyes ever beheld upon earth. All that I have related is only, as it were, an introduction. Although many souls in these congregation, during the three preceding years, have been savingly converted, and now give living evidences of their union to Christ; yet all that work is only like a few drops before a mighty rain, when compared with the wonders of Almighty Grace, that took place in the year 1800.
"In June the sacrament was administered at Red River. This was the greatest time we had ever seen before. On Monday multitudes were struck down under awful conviction; the cries of the distressed filled the whole house. There you might see profane swearers, and sabbath-breakers pricked to the heart, and crying out, "what shall we do to be saved?" There frolickers and dancers crying for mercy. There you might see little children of 10, 11 and 12 years of age, praying and crying for redemption, in the blood of Jesus, in agonies of distress. During this sacrament, and until the Tuesday following, ten persons, we believe, were savingly brought home to Christ.
"In July the sacrament was administered in Gasper River Congregation. Here multitudes crowded from all parts of the country to see a strange work, from the distance of forth, fifty, and even a hundred miles; whole families came in their wagons; between twenty and thirty wagons were brought to the place, loaded with people, and their provisions, in order to encamp at the meeting-house. On Friday nothing more appeared, during the day, than a decent solemnity. On Saturday matters continued in the same way, until in the evening. Two pious women were sitting together, conversing about their exercises; which conversation seemed to affect some of the by-standers; instantly the divine flame spread through the whole multitude. Presently you might have seen sinners lying powerless in every part of the house, praying and crying for mercy. Ministers and private Christians were kept busy during the night conversing with the distressed. This night a goodly number of awakened souls were delivered by sweet believing views of the glory, fulness, and sufficiency of Christ, to save to the uttermost. Amongst these were some little children-a striking proof of the religion of Jesus. Of many instances to which I have been an eye-witness, I shall only mention one, viz. A little girl. I stood by her whilst she lay across her mother's lap almost in despair. I was conversing with her when the first gleam of light broke in upon her mind-She started to her feet, and in an ecstacy of joy, she cried out, "O he is willing, he is willing-he is come, he is come-O what a sweet Christ he is--O what a precious Christ he is-O what a fulness I see in him--O what a beauty I see in him--O why was it that I never could believe! That I never could come to Christ before, when Christ was so willing to save me?" Then turning round, she addressed sinners, and told them of the glory, willingness and preciousness of Christ, and plead with them to repent; and all this in language so heavenly, and, at the same time, so rational and scriptural, that I was filled with astonishment. But were I to write you every particular of this kind that I have been an eye and ear witness to, during the two past years, it would fill many sheets of paper.
"At this sacrament a great many people from Cumberland, particularly from Shiloh Congregation, came with great curiosity to see the work, yet prepossessed with strong prejudices against it; about five of whom, I trust, were savingly and powerfully converted before they left the place. A circumstance worthy of observation, they were sober professors in full communion. It was truly affecting to see them lying powerless, crying for mercy, and speaking to their friends and relations, in such language as this: "O, we despised the work that we heard of in Logan; but, O, we were deceived--I have no religion; I know now there is a reality in these things: three days ago I would have despised any person that would have behaved as I am doing now; but, O, I feel the very pains of hell in my soul." This was the language of a precious soul, just before the hour of deliverance came. When they went home, their conversation to their friends and neighbors, was the means of commencing a glorious work that has overspread all the Cumberland settlements to the conversion of hundreds of precious souls. The work continued night and day at this sacrament, whilst the vast multitude continued upon the ground until Tuesday morning. According to the best computation, we believe that forty-five souls were brought to Christ on this occasion.
"Muddy River Sacrament, in all its circumstances, was equal, and in some respects superior, to that at Gasper River. This sacrament was in August. We believe about fifty persons, at this time, obtained religion.
"At Ridge Sacrament, in Cumberland, the second Sabbath in September, about forty-five souls, we believe, obtained religion. At Shiloh Sacrament, the third Sabbath in September, about seventy persons. At Mr. Craighead's Sacrament, in October, about forty persons. At the Clay-Lick Sacrament, congregation, in Logan County, in October, eight persons. At Little Muddy-Creek Sacrament, in November, about twelve. At Montgomery's Meeting-house, in Cumberland, about forty. At Hopewell Sacrament, in Cumberland, in November, about twenty persons. To mention the circumstances of more private occasions, common-days preaching, and societies, would swell a letter to a volume.
"The present year has been a blessed season likewise; yet not equal to last year in conversion work. I shall just give you a list of our Sacraments, and the number, we believe, experienced religion at each, during the present year, 1801."
[My correspondent here mentions several different Sacraments, held at different places, and the number that he hopes obtained true religion, at these several solemnities, amounts in all to 144 persons.] He then proceeds:--
"I would just remark that, among the great numbers in our country that professed to obtain religion, I scarcely know an instance of any that gave a comfortable ground of hope to the people of God, that they had religion, and have been admitted to the privileges of the church, that have, in any degree, disgraced their profession, or given us any ground to doubt their religion.
"Were I to mention to you the rapid progress of this work, in vacant congregations, carried on by the means of a few supplies, and by praying societies-such as at Stone's-River, Cedar-Creek, Goose-Creek, the Red-Banks, the Forentain-Head, and many other places-it would be more than time, or the bounds of a letter would admit of. Mr. M'G. and myself administered the sacrament at the Red-Banks, on the Ohio, about a month ago-a vacant congregation, nearly a hundred miles distant from any regular organized society, formerly a place famed for wickedness, and a perfect synagogue of Satan. I visited them twice at an early period; Mr. R. twice, and Mr. H. once. These supplies the Lord blessed, as a means to start his work; and their praying societies were attended with the power of God, to the conversion of almost whole families. When we administered the sacrament amongst them, they appeared to be the most blessed little society I ever saw. I ordained ten elders among them, all precious Christians; three of which, two years ago, were professed deists, now living monuments of Almighty Grace."
The original is signed,
Character of the Author, vi.
Some Account of the Revival of 1800, ix.
I. The Divine Authority of the Christian Religion, 1
II. Jesus Christ a Mighty Conqueror, 27
III. The Nature and Consequences of Sin, 50
IV. Parable of the Dry Bones, 66
V. The Sure Foundation, 80
VI. Christ the Author and Finisher of the Life of Grace, 88
VII. The Excellencies of Christ as displayed in the Plan of Salvation, 103
VIII. The Believer embracing Christ, 124
IX. The Experience and Privileges of the True Believer, 138
X. No Room for Christ in the Hearts of Sinners, 160
XI. The Blinding Policies of Satan, 174
XII. The Danger of rejecting the Means of Salvation, 137
XIII. The General Judgment, 197
XIV. The Character, History and End of the Fool, 206
XV. The Sinner's Guide to Hell, 230
XVI. The Importance of Early Piety, 242
XVII. Christ has done all Things well, 256
XVIII. A Sacramental Meditation, 266
XIX. The Devices of Satan, 275
XX. The Superabounding Grace of God, 286
XXI. Qualifications and Duties of a Minister of the Gospel, 311
XXII. The Christian's Journey to the Heavenly Canaan, 325
A Treatise on Intemperance.
I. The work of the Spirit distinguished from that of the Devil, 1
II. The Hope of the Hypocrite, 30
III. The deceitfulness of the Human heart, 50
IV. The New Birth, 68
V. The New Birth, 96
VI. Terms of Discipleship, 119
VII. Nature and Necessity of Faith, 136
VII. Nature and Tendency of Unbelief, 150
IX. The Doom of the Impenitent, 166
X. The Saving Sight, 183
XI. The meeting of Christ and his Disciples, 200
XII. Christ Wonderful in his Person, Offices and Works, 227
XIII. Scriptural testimony of the Character and Works of Christ, 248
XIV. The Young invited to come to Christ, 262
XV. Funeral Sermon, 280
XVI. Fast Day Sermon, 314
XVII. The Believer's Espousals to Christ, 324
XVIII. Vindication of the Exercises in the Revival of 1800, 341
XIX. Hindrance of the Work of God, 357
XX. The Bible a Revelation from Heaven, 378
The very liberal patronage which has been afforded to the Ist volume of the Rev. James M'Gready's Sermons, and the solicitude expressed by many, to be put in possession of the 2d, together with some pleasing accounts of the conversion of several persons through the instrumentality of those already published, have influenced the Editor to send this volume of Sermons to the world under firm conviction that they are eminently calculated to subserve the interest of the Redeemer's Kingdom.
Some have objected to these Sermons being published by a Cumberland Presbyterian minister, because, in a few particulars, the doctrines exhibited, differ from those taught in the Confession of Faith of the church of which he is a member. But it should be remembered, that this work is not published by the Cumberland Presbyterian body, nor do they view it as giving an exposition of all the doctrines believed and inculated by them.
The Editor, who is a Cumberland Presbyterian in theory and practice published the work on his own responsibility from a sense of duty to God and to his fellow men; and being personally acquainted with hundreds who were converted by their instrumentality, when they flowed warm from the heart of the author, he firmly believes that these Sermons are calculated to be beneficial to the church of Christ; and he confidently expects, by the blessing of heaven, they will yet be instrumental in leading many souls to the Lamb of God who taketh away the sin of the world.
The Editor regrets that he has been disappointed in his expectations, of having it in his power to present in this volume, a satisfactory memoir of the author. That all who peruse these discourses, may experience the saving and sanctifying influences of the Gospel, is the sincere prayer of