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 It was inevitable that such a wave of superheated emotion should subside in a short time. In fact the enthusiasm had scarcely reached its height when it began to show signs of perversion and decay. Immediately after the story of the young convert Edwards notes that “the Spirit of God was gradually withdrawing” and “Satan seemed to be let loose and raged in a dreadful manner.” An epidemic of melancholy and suicidal mania swept over the community, and multitudes seemed to hear a voice saying to them: “Cut your own throat, now is a good opportunity.” Strange delusions arose and spread, until common sense once more got the upper hand. It was an old tale, told in New England with peculiar fury. The saddest thing in the whole affair is the part played by Edwards. Other leaders saw the danger from the first, or were soon awakened to it; but Edwards never, either at this time or later, wavered in his belief that the Awakening, though marred by the devil, was in itself the work of the Divine Spirit. His Thoughts on the revival of religion and his Marks of a work of the true spirit are both a thoroughgoing apology for the movement, as they are also an important document in his own psychology. The jangling and confusion he admits; he recognizes the elements of hysteria that were almost inextricably mixed up with the moral exaltation of conversion; but his defence is based frankly on the avowal that these things are the universal accompaniments of inspiration — they attended the founding of the church in the Apostolic age, they were to be expected at the instauration of religion. Often the reader of these treatises is struck by a curious, and by no means accidental, resemblance between the position of Edwards and the position of the apologists of the romantic movement in literature. There is the same directness of appeal to the emotions; the same laudation of sheer expansiveness, at the cost, if need be, of judgment or measure or any other restraint. Prudence and regularity may be desirable in the service of God, yet it is still true that “the cry of irregularity and imprudence” has been mainly in the mouths of those who are enemies to the main work of redemption. Perturbation, in truth, is not properly so called when it is the means of rousing the cold and indifferent from their lethargy; we are bound to
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