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tuaries? Why has the spirit of prayer come down on at least some of our churches ? Why has that great movement in America occurred just at the very time we needed a similar one? And is there no mean. ing in these things? Will God awaken a desire which He does not intend to satisfy ? Will He not "avenge his own elect, who cry day and night unto Him?” But these symptoms are not general! True, we admit and deplore the fact; but has God ever waited for all His people to ask Him for a general blessing ere He granted it? Has He not told us that the fervent, effectual prayer of one righteous man availeth much? How many disciples, think you, there were in that upper room at Jerusalem, praying day after day until the Spirit was poured out from on high ? Our hope rests, not on the fact of Christians generally praying for a revival, but on the sincerity of those who do thus pray; and though I believe that if the revival comes, Christians will be afraid to hold back in this matter, my hope of a revival rests on what is now going on on a small scale, and which seems to indicate the speedy answer of David's hopeful prayer,
“Wilt thou not revive us again.” III. THE VALUE OF A REVIVAL.
“ That thy people may rejoice in thee.” It is impossible for us to compute the true value of a general revival of religion. Men have been found capable of estimating the advantages resulting from that awakening of European intellect which occurred in the sixteenth century, when the human mind, dormant for ages, shook itself like Samson from the fetters by which priestcraft, despotism, and ignorance had bound it. We are referred to the liberal institutions, the spread of intelligence, and the scientific discoveries of the present day, as the sum-total of its value. But who can estimate the real worth of a religious revival, produced by the gracious presence of the Eternal Spirit ? its proper estimate is too high, we cannot attain unto it. Nevertheless we may speak of that which we believe constitutes a portion of its value.
1. A genuine revival increases the amount of Christian evidences. The experimental evidence of Christianity is admitted to be the strongest and most conclusive argument for its divinity. The man who feels “the powers of the world to come,” can very well do without “Butler's Analogy," “Watson's Apology," or "Paley's Evidences,” because he has “the witness in himself.” Now it is true that this evidence is only conclusive to him who experiences it, and that as he cannot transfer that experience, that which may be evidential of the Gospel's divinity to him, will be destitute of force to others. Still, as the experience of conversion in a man's inner nature will always give a
Christian character to his outer conduct, if men of the world cannot feel the change wrought in him, they cannot avoid seeing the external effects of that change; and those outward effects in a Christian's character and life are in themselves a strong confirmation of the divinity of Christianity. So that men who see the Church barely making its way through society by an occasional accession of members, and, looking at Christian character, discover in it little if any more than they themselves possess, are deprived of the most powerful argument in favour of the Divine origin of the Church, and learn to regard it as a mere human thing, instead of being introduced and sustained by the power of God. But what an impressive evidence of its divinity does a revival present! The sight of thousands of our fellow-creatures arrested in a career of materialism, licentiousness, or scepticism, and induced to become spiritual, holy, and believing! To see this work repeated in thousands of instances, as in America at the present time; to see it done without
at all adequats to the effect produced; to see it done, in many cases, by the instrumentality of the very means which men have for years either neglected or despised ; to stand in that hall in New York, surrounded by three thousand business men in the midst of a business day in the very centre of commercial activity; to stand amid the crowd assembled there, not to be thrilled by human oratory or excited by political animus, but to join in penitential prayer; to stand there where one said that the only suggestion of the scene was the Day of Judgment;—what is it but to feel that religion is not a thing of opinion merely, but one of Almighty Power? In a declining state of the Church, worldly men may manifest an indifference to religious subjects—nay, may imitate those who mocked the preachers of the day of Pentecost, saying " These men are filled with new wine;" but as that ridicule gave place to seriousness when they witnessed the conversion of three thousand men, " and fear came upon every soul,” even so the direct result of a general revival is to spread & universal seriousness and solemnity through the community, because it brings the world's conscience (for a time at least) in contact with a sense of the presence of God.
2. A genuine revival will deepen the piety and stimulate the liberality of the Church. It must be so, for what is it to be revived but to be restored to that state from whence we have fallen ? What is the reviviscency of nature which we have seen going on before our eyes, during the last few weeks? Has it not been the release of the soil from the cold embrace of the winter—the removal of the incumbrances which had kept the powers of vegetation in a state of inaction ? Spring confers no new power of growth on the soil, as link after link of the ice chain of winter melts away under the radiance of a genial sun.
Our eyes are gladdened, not by new forms of life and beauty, but by the restoration of the powers of life to their wonted play. Not startling us by strange sights of vegetable existence, but filling us with joy by the presence of the familiar flowers and verdure of the past. It is just so with a revival. It will bring no phenomena of a new creation, but restore to us the earnest piety and fraternal kindness which the early Church and every believer, at his conversion, experienced,-spiritual ardour, love to Christ, love to each other, love to all men. Oh, what days of grace when these things shall be brought within the general experience of our Churches! When our affection to the Saviour shall shape itself in self-denying obedience; when our liberality to His cause shall lose its proverbial stintedness; when the Bible shall have regained its power of charming us, and our sectarian prejudices shall have melted away by one mighty God-given, Christ-like, overpowering display of Christian love.
3. A genuine revival will augment the number of Christian converts. Though it begin in the Church, it will not end there. Like the Nile, whose course of a thousand miles contributes fertility as well as beauty to the country it traverses, the world's spiritual condition has been made dependent on that of the Church : and as that noble river, when fed by the melted snows and gushing springs of the mountains, rises in its bed, fringes its margin with verdure, and overspreads its banks with what to a parched soil is a water of life, even so a revived Church becomes a blessing to the world. We have never heard of a revival during which there were not “added to the Church such as should be saved;” and when it has been general, the numbers of the converted have been counted by tens, if not hundreds, of thousands. And shall we who profess to believe that the salvation of one soul is beyond all imaginable value—shall we, who believe that the salvation of that one soul awakens rapture in heaven—that it makes the Redeemer's diadem sparkle with a fresh gem,-shall we undervalue the revival we so much need, so pregnant with good to the world, and which, I believe, we have reason to expect ?
Beloved, let us give ourselves to the consideration of this subject, which demands, at the present time, the most earnest thought and effort on the part of Christian men. Nothing less than a wicked indifference can shut out the conviction that we need a revival. The only question that can possibly agitate our minds is, respecting the possibility of securing it, and that is settled for ever in the Bible, which reveals its Author as a prayer-hearing and prayer-answering Godwhich assures us of His continual interest in the welfare of His Churchand which proclaims His immutable purpose respecting her universal triumph in the future. Look at the world, lying in the arms of the wicked one-look at the unconverted families of Christian professorslook at the limited success of Christian institutions, and let that urge you to Christian duty. By the worth of immortal souls—by the fearful destiny of the lost, and the glorious future of the saved-by the condition of the world—by the state of the Church—and, above all, by the glory of the Saviour,—I beseech you to put away every evil thing, and so to pray as to "give Him no rest till He establish, and till He make Jerusalem a praise in the earth.”
“ All things are your's ; whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are your's."-1 Corinthians iii, 21, 32.
Passing from the general view of the subject, I shall now endeavour to illustrate the assertion, “all things are yours," by adverting to one or two of the special blessings here enumerated, as constituting parts of the Christian's universal inheritance. I shall take as specimens these three, -"The World,” “Life," "Death,”
1. In what sense, to take the first of these, may the Christian understand the announcement—"the World is yours ?" Not, obviously, in the literal sense of the words. This earth is not the exclusive property of the good. Christians are not, of necessity, lords of its soil or possessors of its wealth. It was not their Master, but another, who, displaying "all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them,” said, “ All these will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.” As often as otherwise the rich in faith are poor in this world's possessions. Many a one, " of whom the world was not worthy,” never owned a hand's-breadth of its soil, till he possessed that which to the veriest wretch is not denied a grave. Of the purest, noblest, best of the sons of men, it is written, that often “he had not where to lay his head;" and even that last resting-place to which his marred and bleeding form was borne, the hand of charity bestowed. No! not literally can it be said to Christ's followers on earth, “ The world is yours.”
But if not literally, yet in this sense may the world be said to belong to the Christian, that he only has a legitimate title to the benefits and blessings he enjoys in it. This earth was not meant to be the home of evil. The make and structure of the world is for good. Nothing in it, save by abuse, has any affinity with sin. Its foundations were not laid of old by Omnipotence, nor its wondrous laws contrived and ordered by Infinite Wisdom, nor its garniture of beauty spread over it by the loving
The above is a portion of a Sermon extracted from a Volume of Mr. Caird's, recently Published by Messrs, Black weod and Sons,