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“not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, were called;" but the poor did God choose to make rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom. This relation established by Christ, and continued by His apostles, continued for centuries, even after the Church had corrupted herself by the insane worship of wealth and nobility. There was always a friendlier tie, subsisting between her and the
poor than the rich-she avowed her mission as a mediatrix between the oppressor and the oppressed-she was the poor man's benefactor, counsellor, and friend; and every sanctuary she erected between the feudal castle of the lord and the humble cot of the serf, was a standing type of what she professed to be the representative of her Divine Master, who, as if to correct the spirit of caste, so dear to human nature, came, as the son of a carpenter, and lived without an income or a home. What does all this mean, if it is not to teach us that, while all men are welcome to Christian teaching and spiritual blessings, God has in religion, as in other matters, cared for the happiness of the greatest number? But how is it that the Church has lost her hold on the masses of our countrymen ? Why is it that the relation once sustained by the poor is now, nominally at least, sustained by the rich ? We have no desire to step beyond the requirements of truth; but we cannot shut our eyes to the fact, that a want of Christ-like sympathy for the poor-an over-conservatism on political mattersma craving for respectability in, as well as out of the Church, have largely contributed to effect this undesirable result; and if this be the case, do we not need reviving by being baptised afresh with the spirit of the meek and lowly Saviour ? We may seek to heal the breach by efforts which the world believes to be prompted rather by a sense of danger than from genuine sympathy ; but Ragged Schools, poor Men's Churches, City Missions, useful and nobly supported as they are, will never accomplish by themselves the work they aim at; they will merely play about the surface of the ulcer we have created, without going deep enough to effect a cure. No, dear brethren ; we must be revived again. We need to put on Him afresh, who, although rich, “yet for our sake's became poor."
5. The disparity between the results of Christian efforts and the instrumentalities employed, is another reason why we need a revival. This is an age of organised movement. In whatever department of activity men labour, they seek the achievement of great results by com bination-by bringing to a focus the powers of an almost preternaturally developed intellect and science, in order to bear on the evil they wish to remove, or to attain that which is the desideratum of their union. Nor has the Church been wanting in this particular. She is replete with instrumentalities, -organised movement is the law of her activity. Societies spring up within her with marvellous celerity. Never, never was there so much of machinery employed to accomplish the work which God has instrumentally committed to her. One feels as he reviews the ens of thousands of weekly religious services—the myriad copies of religious literature, pouring out periodically from the press and the all but innumerable societies, plying their labours in various directions, -as one does in passing through a monster factory where the eye is bewildered by the extent and complexity, and the ear is stunned by the ceaseless hum, of the vast machinery. The similarity of feeling, however, goes no further; for in gazing upon that machinery, whose only object is the physical comfort of man, we are astonished as much at the result which it produces, as at the thing itself. Where do you find machinery of this description wearing itself out by abortive movement? What manufacturer is there who would be satisfied with his machinery simply because it is so costly, so expressive of human ingenuity? Is it not the profitable result of the expense and skill it has occasioned which he aims at realising, and for which the whole apparatus was constructed ? And is it not a proof of something being wrong when Christian instrumentality not only produces small results, but that we too often look more at the machinery itself than for the result which it ought to secure? Where are the symptoms of the world's conversion ? What proportion is there between the instrumentality and the success ? How much more do we than keep up our numbers, lessened by occasional defections and ever-recurring deaths ? But man's depravity is the reason why those instrumentalities are not more successful. Man's depravity! has he not always been depraved? Is he worse now than in apostolic times ? And were not Christian movements successful then ? But there was a remarkable effusion of the Spirit then. Truly, there was, and ever must be, to secure success to Christian effort; that Spirit, however, has not severed Himself from the Church. Nowhere in the New Testament do we read of a period to arrive when, apart from the defection of the Church, that Spirit will cease to bless the labours of Christian men in their endeavour to save the world? Oh, let us not make the sovereignty of God a palliation of our guilt in this matter. Depend upon it, that if Christian instrumentality has any meaning,-if it is not a solemn mockery before God and man,—then I say that an instrumentality unblessed by God is merely the mechanical activity of a Church which
has lost its spiritual status, and needs to pray, “Wilt thou not revive us again.” And let none of us, dear brethren, cast the blame on his neighbour; it may be that each of us shares in the guilt. Have we walked before God in the warmth and integrity of our first love? Have we a name that we live while we are dead? Do we persist in singing the songs of Zion with unhallowed lips and unsanctified hearts? Are we holding back from our convictions, habitually grieving the Holy Spirit ? Then with our prayer for a revival must be blended, Daniel's confession, “Confusion of face belongeth unto us, to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and unto all Israel that are near, and that are afar off, because of the trespasses which they have trespassed against the God of Israel."
II. OUR HOPE OF A REVIVAL.
“Wilt thou not revive us again ?” This prayer is like the generality of David's—the prayer of faith and expectation. Some, in our day, imagining that the multiplicity of conversions would lessen their value by increasing their commonness, or supposing that God can only give His Spirit sovereignly by bestowing it parsimoniously, not only have no expectation of a revival, but feel no obligation to pray for it. Such is not our feeling regarding this matter. We are sincerely cherishing the hope that the Lord will indeed “revive us." Are we asked why that expectation is encouraged? We reply,
1. On the ground of the interest which we know God takes in His Church. God is the Founder, as He has been the Upholder, of the Church, and so far as it numbers among its members sincere believers in His Son, it is the Church "which He hath purchased with His own blood.” It is the object of His special interest. “He loveth the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob.” He that toucheth her, toucheth the apple of God's eye—that eye, which, in its watchings, never tires nor rests. Has he not promised to be with His people always, even unto the end of the world ? and can we believe Him to be indifferent to Zion's spiritual condition ? No, though she has fallen, that fall is not, will not be, total. Though, for our sins, He has in some measure left us to ourselves, we know the promise, “My lovingkindness I will not utterly take from thee." Were the Church a human institution, then, like all such, to retrograde would be to die out; for how rare are the cases in which a decaying human society becomes resuscitated. Men feel that the only course open on such occasions is to break up the system which is hastening to decay, and to reconcile themselves to the universal law which falls, sooner or later, on every human institution. Whoever
anticipates the revival of such a system as Mahommedanism? There is no divinity in it—it is of the earth, earthy, and having lost its primitive force, its followers recognise the fatality of its coming dissolution. Not so with us. The Church is God's, not man's. There is a divinity that stirs within it, prophetic of the glorious future, and that association between the Church and the living God becomes the basis of our hope respecting a revival. It is not on the intelligence, activity, and eloquence of our ministers; not on the wealth, number, and social influence of our members; not on any special efforts we may make to better our present state, but on the safest of all hopeful grounds,—the reality of the Divine interest in the Christian Church.
2. We hope for a revival because revivals are not uncommon events in the history of the Church. Had the law of the Church's movements been one of bare and gradual increase; had she always been creeping at the back of society with a tardy pace; had her greatest effort only been sufficient to keep up her numbers,—we might have been content to smother our hopes respecting a revival. But this has not been the case ; in expecting such an event to take place, we are resting our hopes on the experience of the past, for we have precedents to guide and encourage
If a revival be a miracle of grace, it is one which the Church and the world have been familiar with. The Church's extremity has ever proved to be God's opportunity. The history of the Jewish Church is replete with accounts of religious awakenings. It was not by gradual and silent growth that the Christian Church became in numbers and influence what it was in the early centuries, but, by a series of remarkable movements, forcing themselves on the attention, and contributing to the salvation of the world. She was ushered into existence by the most remarkable of all revivals, produced by the effusion of the Divine Spirit. Have not events similar in character, though perhaps less in extent, occurred in successive periods of her subsequent history? What quarter of the world is there where the Church has not at some period in her history experienced that which we are now hoping for? and just as our experience leads us to look beyond the midnight for the dawn of the coming day-even so, the preceding and succeeding condition of the Church in the days of Luther, Knox, Wesley, Edwards, and those more recent times when God has not allowed any human initials to blend with His own imprimatur, should lead us to expect the revival which we need as much, if not more, than they. But we have not experienced them. Truly, but our experience is not the measure of probability, nor should our want of experience respecting a revival make us conten. ted with our present condition. Contented we may be with what we are, if we do not believe in the probability of a better state, as a man who had never seen nature in her spring life and loveliness, walking in winter amid a vegetation denuded of its flower, fruits, and foliage. He might discover in such a scene much to admire. The graceful form of the trees; the golden-hued whiteness of the hills on which the sun shines, and over which the snow mantles; the picturesque appearance of the frozen torrent, jutting from the mountain side in the same shape as when its liquid leap was arrested by the congealing touch of winter,-all this might satisfy him, but if he had ever seen or believed in the power which a spring sun has to fill the circle of nature with forms of life and scenes of beauty, think you he would be satisfied in winter without hoping for a more genial sun ? It is just so, that from the experience of the past of what good revivals have effected, we are dissatisfied with the present state of the Church; and because God has graciously revived it in former times, we hope for revival in our own.
3. We hope for a revival because the present state of things appear symptomatic of its coming. So far as we can judge God never bestows an important blessing until He has prepared the way for its proper reception ; and that preparation seems universally to be a sense of want, so that when it is given it may be valued, and the goodness of the Donor appreciated. As the God of Providence, the Awakener of human thought, the Giver of human genius, the Director of social progress, why did He not bestow upon men in early periods those discoveries which in later times have contributed so much to social weal ? Why is it that the compass the press, and the discoveries of the true principles of science and the many inventions which have done man so much good, have been confined to the later period of human history? The only answer is, that the world was only prepared for them at the period when they were discovered : had they been known before, they would have been undervalued and wasted, but coming, as they did, so opportunely, just when the world needed them, we not only value them more, but are taught more impressively to recognise His hand in bestowing them. It is more truly so in spiritual matters; God only gives His grace as He prepares men to receive it; and what is that preparation but awakening us to a consciousness of how much we need it? And is not God forcing upon us the conviction that we require a revival to meet our present state? What means that cry which has been lifted up for months past, for an earnest ministry? Why is it that such singular attempts have been