BY THE REV. JOHN G. LORIMER,
MINISTER OF ST. DAVID'S PARISH.
But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words: For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day. But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: -- Acts 2:14-18
WE have now arrived at a very interesting stage in the course of Lectures on the Revival of Religion. We have seen what a revival of religion really is -- what effects it is fitted to produce on the church and the world -- the connection which it holds with the entire work of the Son -- its relation also to the work of the Holy Spirit -- its origin in the sovereignty of the Father, and the vindication which the same sovereignty supplies against difficulties and objections. Descending from these higher and more sublime views, we have seen what are the means by which a revival of religion may be promoted among men: -- the faithful use of the word of God in all the forms in which it can be brought to bear upon different classes -- the not less faithful use of prayer in all the appropriate ways in which it can be offered up -- the holy lives of believers -- the scriptural exercise of church discipline.
These varied steps have brought us a considerable
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way in the course. Reviewing them as a whole, we are ready to say: "The revival of religion is a great scriptural work, most excellent and desirable; -- means should be employed with all diligence to awaken and extend it." But here the question presents itself, Is there anything in the word of God to encourage us to expect or pray or labour for a revival of religion? It is not enough to know that a particular object is laudable and good, and also to know the means by which it may be most successfully accomplished; -- such are the spiritual weakness and indisposition even of the people of God that they need motives to encourage. The mere excellence of the object itself will not suffice; there must be something more quickening and animating. Many will say: "Most desirable as revivals may be -- most appropriate their means, is there any hope -- any chance of their being vouchsafed? Look to the history of the church -- see how rare and short-lived they are; -- the result seems most uncertain, or rather success seems most improbable." It is plain that to men in this state of mind the effect, in point of practical working, is the same as if there were no possibility of such a thing as a revival of religion at all -- as if we knew nothing either of its nature or of its means. What is it to us that revivals of religion stand closely allied to the work of the Son of God both when upon earth and now that he is in heaven, and that they are inseparably connected with the agency of the Holy Spirit in every age -- what is it to us that there are ample, and suitable, and divinely appointed means for awakening and carrying them forward -- if we are not encouraged to make our knowledge available and employ the means which have been provided? We shall either not labour at all, or our labours will be cold, formal, transient. Hitherto then the course may be said to have been doctrinal and speculative -- now it becomes essentially practical. The question is asked: Is there anything to encourage Christians to expect and pray and labour for a revival of religion among their fellow-men? The answer is, that there is very much to encourage them -- that the department of motives is as large and clear and impressive as any other part of the course. I begin with the first
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and highest of all encouragements -- THE PROMISES AND PROPHECIES OF THE WORD OF GOD, I only regret that in so extensive a field I shall be compelled to content myself with little more than an outline. But may the Holy Spirit, who inspired the promises and prophecies of Scripture, and whose work we desire specially to honour in this course, bless even an outline, and so encourage us to pray and labour that the outline shall be enlarged and filled up in our own experience to a full and practical knowledge, -- a knowledge embracing others as well as ourselves in the blessing.
It is unnecessary to make or to attempt to keep up any formal distinctions between the promises and the predictions of Scripture in regard to revivals of religion. There is a distinction between a promise and a prophecy. A friend may promise us a good thing who cannot foresee what is to happen in the future, and who cannot be said to prophesy, and a man may predict some future good as he foretells the beneficial action of a machine which has been set in motion, without himself feeling any real interest in the good, and who therefore could not with propriety be said to promise it. But in the present case there is no room for such distinctions; the promises and the prophecies of Scripture in reference to revivals of religion are nearly identical. God's promise to revive his church is equivalent to a prophecy that his church shall be revived; and the prophecy of revival with one who is so powerful, and who takes so warm an interest in the work, is equivalent to a gracious promise. In these circumstances I shall in the following lecture use the promise and the prophecy indiscriminately. It is the same Ever-blessed Triune Jehovah who is the Author of both.
What then are the views which Scripture holds out in connection with revivals of religion -- present and future? Does it hold out any encouragement, or is it altogether silent? Some may think that there is no necessity for promises or prophecies on the subject -- that the Church of Christ, on the force of other considerations, may carry forward her work without their aid. But even were this possible, success would not be so satisfactory: It would not be the result of
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promise -- it might be interpreted as the effect of random influences. Besides, a promise from God is the expression of condescension and love: and as he does nothing in vain, so we may be persuaded that if he actually promise there is decided reason why he should do so. It is sad that there should be any need for a revival of religion -- that religion should not always and universally be so warm and flourishing as to require no revival. But since there is such necessity for it, what reason have we and the church for gratitude that the Persons of the adorable Godhead have all in the word of truth stooped to supply us with so many and so cheering encouragements. We might have hoped that, since they take so deep an interest in the conversion of souls, -- the Father devising the plan of redemption-the Son executing -- the Spirit applying it, -- since a general revival of religion in a country or congregation so illustriously honours their perfections -- the glory of the Father, the love of the Son, the power of the Spirit, -- that they would give forth some intimations and promises on the subject, and we are not disappointed.
1. The word of God teems with intimations, direct or indirect -- with statements or inferences -- with assurances and prophecies of a day of coming universal religious revival. It is difficult to arrange and condense material is so ample. The largest share of them is in the form of prophecy; and there is a peculiar propriety in this. The life which the Christian and the church are at present called upon to live is a life of faith; and no food is so appropriate for the exercise of faith as promises pointing to future blessings.
Unlike the false religions of men so prevalent in the world, which are contented to occupy the country where they happen to have obtained a footing without any desire for extension to other lands, true Christianity, -- in other words, the gospel of Christ, is not only indestructible in its nature, and so permanent to the end of time, it is essentially diffusive. it is fitted, as it is designed, to be a universal religion. It contemplates universality. There is nothing in it of a local or temporary character. Its ordinances are so few and
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simple that they admit of being observed in all countries-at the equator and at the pole. The gospel too can live and flourish, as the event has proved, under all forms of civil government -- popular and despotic. It is compared to light, and to salt, and to leaven -- to objects which diffuse themselves, and assimilate all which they touch to their own likeness. A true Christian cannot keep the gospel quietly in his own bosom as a thing of private gratification; -- no: he cannot help making it known to others: sympathy impels him. He feels that it is a common blessing -- a public trust. How different the feeling of the poor heathen. Hence there is a provision in the very nature of true Christianity for its universal propagation. Spread it from individual to individual -- from family to family, it will at length fill the world. Had it contained in it any principle or institution essentially local and antisocial, it is easy to see that its universality would have been impossible, and that all predictions to that effect would have been delusive and vain.
But we have much more than the diffusive nature of the gospel on which to proceed: we have the positive declarations of the word of God. These are presented in a great variety of loans. We can choose but a few. What is the meaning of the first promise, that the Seed of the woman is to crush the head of the Serpent, if not that Christ is to establish a triumphant kingdom in the earth? Would that promise and prophecy be fulfilled if the gospel were never even to make an approach to universality -- if it were always to be narrow, however excellent and beneficial within the limits which it occupied? To Abraham, standing at the head of the Jewish economy, essentially local in its nature, was it promised that in his Seed, namely Christ, all nations -- all the families of the earth should be blessed. A similar promise was repeated to succeeding patriarchs. And does it not distinctly point t. universality? What can be more comprehensive than all nations -- all the families of the earth? At a later day we have similar intimations; and the former are never repealed. While in the burning but unconsumed bush Moses had a striking emblem, in the desert
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of Arabia, of the indestructibility of the church of God amid the fiercest flames of persecution -- in the deliverance of Israel from Egypt -- their miraculous passage through the waters of the Red sea -- their not less miraculous crossing of the Jordan in flood -- their possession of Canaan under Joshua or Jesus, and the expulsion of the native inhabitants -- we have impressive types and representations of the coming universal triumphs of the Christian church. And even to his countrymen, all prejudiced as they were, and at a season when their prejudice might naturally be expected to be strongest, he intimated that a day was approaching in which their peculiar privileges would be extended to others. Fifteen hundred years before the coming of Christ, Jehovah said by Moses: "I will move them to jealousy with those which are not a people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation," -- a remarkable prophecy, which an apostle informs us was fulfilled in the calling of the Gentiles, and their participation in those spiritual blessings of which the Jews, by their perversity, had deprived them.
Descending the stream of time to the days of David, how many and delightful are the predictions of the universal glory of Christ which burst upon the eye. In the twenty-second Psalm in which the Saviour is not only spoken of but actually personated, apart from whom indeed the psalm is unintelligible, we read, "All the ends of the earth shall remember themselves and turn, unto the Lord, and all the kindreds of the nations shall. worship before him; for the kingdom is the Lord's, and he is the Governor among the nations." Nothing can be more comprehensive than this -- the very ends of the earth, without exception, and the very tribes and families of the nations, all are to worship Messiah; and a reason is assigned,. because the world is His, and He is entitled to the homage of all nations. If we turn to the seventy-second Psalm, which was written in the first instance with an eye to Solomon, but which evidently points to a greater than Solomon, we meet with such glorious prophecies as these: "He shall have dominion from sea to sea, and from the river
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to the ends of the earth; they that dwell in the wilderness" -- the most inaccessible and inhospitable quarters, "shall bow before him; and his enemies" -- the most powerful and obstinate, "shall lick the dust; the kings of Tarshish and the Isles shall bring presents; the kings of Sheba and Seba" -- the most distant and unlikely parties, "shall offer gifts; yea, all kings shall fall down. before him -- all nations shall serve him: Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel, who alone doth wondrous things." Under the review of the magnificent vision which passes before him, the Psalmist cannot restrain his gratitude and praise, and so he blesses the God of Israel, whose almighty power and grace alone can effect such changes as these. And then, turning anew to Messiah, he offers a similar ascription: "And blessed be His glorious name for ever, and let the whole earth be filled with His glory.". Amen and amen.
I might go on in this way and transcribe whole chapters from the prophecies of Isaiah and Jeremiah and Ezekiel, and no small portions from Daniel and Zechariah and other minor prophets, all substantially speaking the same language, but this is unnecessary, and would unduly protract this lecture. I cannot however altogether refrain from quoting a few passages and expressions: they may serve to recall your attention to larger portions, and the exercise is a pleasing one to my own mind. "Look unto me," says Messiah by his prophet Isaiah, "and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth, for I am God, and there is none else: I have sworn by myself-the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness and shall not return -- that unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue swear." Addressing the Gentile church the same prophet says, "Sing, O barren, thou that didst not bear; break forth into singing and cry aloud, thou that didst not travail with child; for more are the children of the desolate than of the married wife, saith the Lord:" that is, the Gentile church shall have a much greater number of members than the Jewish. "Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitations. Spare not: -- lengthen thy cords and strengthen thy stakes; for thou shall break
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forth on the right hand and on the left, and thy seed shall inherit the Gentiles, and make the desolate cities to be inhabited." Nor is this all -- a reason is assigned in the fifth verse, "For thy Maker is thy husband: the Lord of Hosts is his name, and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; -- the God of the whole earth shall he be called."
What can better describe universality unless it be the words of the same prophet, "Mine house," says God, "shall be called an house of prayer for all people;" or again, "The earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea"? How do the waters cover the bed of the sea? Is it not so perfectly -- so thoroughly that there is not a corner or a cavity to which they do not penetrate, and which they do not fill? Such shall be the completeness with which the knowledge of the true God shall pervade all the countries of the earth, however remote and inaccessible. To similar purpose, God says, "It shall come to pass that I will gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come, and see my glory. And I will set a sign among them, and I will send those that escape of them unto the nations, to Tarshish, Pul, and Lud, that draw the bow, to Tubal and Javan, to the isles afar off, that have not heard my fame, neither have seen my glory; and they shall declare my glory among the Gentiles." It appears then, that missionaries are to be sent forth to every country under heaven, preaching the gospel. There is strong reason to believe that, by Tarshish, we are to understand the western parts of Europe; by Pul and Lud, Ethiopia and the vast extent of Africa; by Tubal and Javan, the northern parts of Asia and Ancient Greece; and by the Isles afar off, the immense islands which lie embosomed in the ocean -- Australasia, and perhaps America. In other words, we are taught that the gospel is to be preached and obeyed throughout every quarter of the world: there is to be no exception to this blessed rule. Turning to a brother prophet, we hear Jeremiah say, that "All nations shall be gathered unto the name of the Lord at Jerusalem, and shall walk no more after the imagination of their evil heart: that
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all flesh shall come and worship before the Lord." That "in that day they shall no more teach every man his neighbour, saying, Know the Lord, for they shall all know me, from the least to the greatest of them, saith the Lord." And what is the testimony of Daniel? He tells us, though a succession of vast monarchies may have held the dominion of the earth, some of them for many centuries, that another -- a far more extensive monarchy -- is to be reared up and spread over the world, even the Kingdom of Christ. At first it appears as a stone cut out of the mountain without hands, -- in other words a spiritual power: but it becomes larger and larger till it passes into a great mountain and then fills the "whole earth;" breaking up and absorbing all other kingdoms. the same universal monarchy is pictured forth by the prophet in another vision, in which the Son of man is represented as coming to the Ancient of days, and receiving of him a dominion and glory and a kingdom, -- that "all people, and nations, and languages, should serve him." -- What a wonderful kingdom is this! Not a few universal monarchies have, age after age, been stretched across the world; but in the hands of man enlarged dominion has almost ever been prostituted to the purposes of despotism, ignorance, and slavery. Limited space and limited numbers are in this world grand securities for the peace, intelligence, and prosperity of nations. Far different is the universal monarchy of the Son of God. His kingdom is not only much more extensive than any which was ever reared; but, strictly speaking, it is the most perfect of governments. There is no will save of ONE PERSON, and he is Divine; and instead of diminishing human happiness with the enlargement of the kingdom, the wider it extends, the more subjects it includes, the more thoroughly it is obeyed, the purer and more glorious are its felicities; and need we wonder? No: for the King is Righteous, and the empire Salvation, and the people Redeemed.
There is no meaning in words if those of Daniel do not most carefully and anxiously set forth to us the ideas of universal extent and authority. You remember also how
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Haggai, under the inspiration of prophecy, foresaw the Desire -- not of some or many, but of all nations, coming to his temple, and filling his house with glory; and that Zechariah speaks of the time when "Holiness to the Lord" shall be written upon the very bells of the horses -- upon the ornaments of their harness, and when the smallest and most common things shall be consecrated to God; when, in short, true religion shall be all-pervading, and the Canaanite shall be no more found in the land. What too is the language of Micah? "In the last days, the days of Messiah, it shall come to pass that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established on the top of the mountains" -- prominent and conspicuous from afar; "and it shall be exalted above the hills, and people shall flow unto it;" the worshippers shall repair in crowds, like a full and fast-flowing river; and "many nations" -- Gentiles -- heathens, "shall come and say, Come let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob.; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths; for the law shall go forth from Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem;" a prediction remarkably accomplished after the resurrection of Christ.
And what says Malachi, who closes the Old Testament canon? He may deal in severe reproofs on the Jewish people; but he tells also of the time when from the rising of the sun until the going down of the same, the name of the Lord shall be great among the Gentiles, and when in every place incense shall be offered unto God's name and a pure offering. Indeed, the faithful people of God in Old Testament times were seldom involved in circumstances of trial and discouragement -- were almost never favoured with deliverance and restoration, but they were reminded of the more extensive and glorious salvation awaiting the church of God, and of the universal triumph of true Christianity. To this every image of grandeur and beauty was made subservient.
And if we pass from the Old Testament to the New, we meet with no change for the worse, -- no repeal: we are gladdened with the same glorious prospects under new forms of language and imagery. The
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Saviour himself informs us that the kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened: he declares that if he be lifted up from the earth, namely, upon the cross of crucifixion, he shall draw all men unto him. Many he has already drawn -- millions on millions; but he is destined to draw many more in the future -- such a multitude that he may be said to draw all. As he has been unspeakably dishonoured upon earth, it is befitting and proper that on the same earth he should be not less illustriously glorified; and such shall be the case. He shall, as a Conqueror, draw all men in his triumphant train. In perfect accordance with these things the apostle Paul, in the eleventh chapter of the Romans, speaks of the success of the gospel among Jews and Gentiles in the primitive times, though embracing a multitude of churches, as but the firstfruits -- the pledges and the earnest of a coming, a golden harvest; and he speaks also of the Jews being brought in with the fullness of the Gentiles; implying that there is a Gentile fullness yet to be gathered; and what is the testimony of John, the most aged and last of the apostles? His book of Revelation is, from beginning to end, not only a magnificent prophecy of the perpetuity of the church, in spite of the heresies, apostasies, and persecutions of many centuries, but also a prophecy of the ultimate and universal triumph of the kingdom of Christ. It contains a picture of the glory of true Christianity upon earth before passing into the ineffable glories and beatitudes of heaven. First, we have a description of the destruction of Antichrist -- of all the enemies of the Redeemer and his people; and what a destruction! -- The reaped harvest -- the gathered vintage -- the battle field, where the birds of the air are invited to come and devour the corpses of the slain, are all employed to shadow forth its completeness and irretrievableness. A millstone cast into the sea -- Satan shut up in the pit, and bound in chains, are added to deepen the awful idea; and in the meantime, what are the aspects of Christ? He is seen riding forth, with many crowns upon his head, with the titles -- "King of kings and Lord of lords" inscribed upon his thigh;
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and the angels of heaven are heard rejoicing over the fall of the foe, and exclaiming "The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our God and of his Christ, and he shall reign for ever and ever,"
2. Nor do the Scriptures only testify to the universality of Christ's kingdom, but also to ITS DURATION AND GLORY. Amazingly wide-spread as it might be were it transient -- doomed quickly to pass away, it would lose much of its interest and value; but it is destined to endure. There may be in some distant futurity a partial interruption of the blessings of its reign, but the prosperity is to be most protracted. It is only such a reign as this which is worthy of Christ, and a suitable reward for his toil, and the long reign of his adversary. The prophet speaks of the days of the church's mourning being ended -- of Jerusalem being the joy of many generations. the psalmist, in the seventy-second Psalm, speaking of Messiah, declares that "He shall live:" Solomon may die, but Christ shall live; He is the First and the Last, the Living One; "and to him shall be given of the gold of Sheba; prayer also shall be made to him continually, and daily shall he be praised; His name shall endure for ever; His name shall be continued as long as the sun," ay, longer than the sun and the whole frame of creation; "and men shall be blessed in him; all nations shall call him blessed." Ages after that luminary has ceased to shine, the Sun of Righteousness shall continue to illuminate the ransomed of the Lord in their heavenly abode. Their city has no need of the sun, neither of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God does lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof; and the nations of them who are saved shall walk in the light of it. Even in this world there shall be a lengthened reign: The Millennium shall have its thousand years of joy. Hitherto the reign of true Christianity has been very short; and the more lively and powerful it has always been the shorter; but it shall enjoy a long and continuous career; there shall be abundance of peace and spiritual prosperity as long as the moon endureth.
This brings me to remark that the reign of Christ shall not only be extensive and enduring, but most
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glorious. The worst evils shall disappear, and the most precious blessings shall be conferred and enjoyed. The glory of Jehovah, which was comparatively hidden under the Jewish, and has been but partially revealed under what has passed of the Christian dispensation, shall then shine forth; his saints shall see it, and that not occasionally, now and then, but continually, without intermission; and so full and radiant shall be the glory, that, to adopt the language of the prophet, "the moon shall be confounded and the sun ashamed when the Lord of Hosts shall reign in mount Zion and in Jerusalem before his ancients gloriously." All other glory, however excellent, shall be drowned and extinguished in the glory of the God of redemption.
There shall be the glory of knowledge. Every veil of ignorance and prejudice shall be taken away: even dimness of eye, imperfect hearing, the stammering tongue, shall be exchanged for their opposites; and comparing the church then with the church now or at any former period, "the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold, as the light of seven days." How glorious the radiance when the light of the sun shall be multiplied seven times, when the light of seven days shall be concentrated into one. How overpowering the glory!
There shall be the glory of holiness. Sin, in its multiplied and most offensive forms, shall in a great measure cease; idolatry, superstition, and crime, shall disappear; "The people shall be all righteous;" the very children shall rival the attainments of the most matured experience at present; the common affairs of life shall be marked with religious feeling and motive; "the pots in the Lord's house shall be like the bowls before the altar; yea, every pot in Jerusalem and in Judah shall be holy unto the Lord of Hosts."
There shall be the glory of union. Throughout the whole past history of the world there has been much strife among the men of the world -- much war among nations -- great divisions and dissensions in the Christian church; but in the days of universal Christianity there shall be wonderful harmony: the nations "shall beat
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their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks:" "The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid, and the lion and fatling together, and a little child shall lead them; and their young ones shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox; and the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand upon the cockatrice's den." What a beautiful picture of the world! and not less beautiful shall be the aspect of the church of Christ. In that day there shall be one Lord, and his name one; there shall be but one sheepfold for Jews and Gentiles, as there is but one Shepherd. All the divisions about non-essentials, by which the robe of the Saviour has been so miserably rent, and the world scandalized, shall be brought to an end; and the whole body of believers, forming the vast proportion of the people of the earth, shall be united together as one holy family, acknowledging God in Christ as their common Father, and living together as brothers and sisters -- heirs of the same privileges and hopes; then, indeed, shall the people of the Lord dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting-places.
There shall be the glory of joy. We have every reason to believe there will be a great and favourable change as regards a present world, -- that the earth, freed from many evils, shall be much more fruitful, and that human life and health shall be much longer, and more secure to enjoy its bounties. The inhabitant shall not say "I am sick, -- As the days of a tree so shall be the days of my people, saith the Lord." And spiritual blessings shall be as rich, yea inconceivably richer, -- the whole world shall resound with songs of joy; -- all nature shall break forth into singing -- the mountains and the hills, the forests and the fields, shall lift up their united and glad ascriptions. God shall prepare a feast upon his holy mountain, -- the marriage supper of the Lamb shall be celebrated. Not only the earth, but heaven shall be filled with exceeding joy: Angels and archangels -- redeemed prophets and apostles and martyrs, yea Christ the King shall rejoice -- the Lord thy God he will rejoice over thee with joy; he
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will rest in his love; he wall joy over thee with singing. The church on earth and the church in heaven shall blend their voices together, and with one heart exclaim: "Sing, 0 ye heavens, for the Lord hath done it; shout, ye lower parts of the earth; break forth into singing, ye mountains -- O forest and every tree therein; for the Lord hath redeemed Jacob, and glorified himself in Israel."
What glorious prospects are these! What Christian heart beats not with longing desire to see them realised -- to see the day when the kingdom of Satan, in its various forms of Paganism and Mahometanism and Popery and Judaism and Infidelity, and Prevailing Ungodliness, shall all be dissipated and destroyed, -- when the peace and love of the true God shall fill every heart -- daily worship ascend from every family -- the word of truth be translated into every tongue, and circulated in every country, -- when the holy law of the Sabbath shall be gladly and universally observed, and Christian worship, baptism, and the supper of the Lord, be co-extensive with the population of the world? Who longs not to see the day when "many and strong nations." shall unite themselves to the Lord, -- when all shall know God, from the least to the greatest, -- when children shall be remarkable for early piety, -- when even the most ignorant rustics shall be consecrated to Jehovah, -- when the poor shall be raised from the dust, and the beggar from the dunghill, and shall be set among princes, and made to inherit the throne of God's glory, -- and when kings and queens and princes, and persons of the most exalted station, who have too often been bitter enemies, shall become nursing-fathers and nursing-mothers of the church; -- in short, when no nation, or next to none, throughout all its ranks and classes, shall remain in a heathen or unconverted condition. Who longs not to see truth and knowledge and holiness and peace and joy, public order and prosperity, national happiness and honour universal?
O what a Contrast is true Christianity to all the systems of man -- intellectual or moral or religious, philosophical or superstitious! They can boast of no
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age of future glory; they have no hope with which to cheer the hearts of their adherents. They may talk of a return of the golden age; but they delude themselves with dreams: -- their age is an age of iron; and the longer they reign their darkness and tyranny are always the more despotic and hopeless. The gospel may be poor and unimposing in its outward aspects; its progress may be slow -- the field which it occupies narrow; -- it may often be thrown back and weakened by outward opposition and inward corruption; but when it does arise to its future triumphs, and when these are accomplished, how ample will be the compensation for all past tardiness and decay, -- how will every prayer be then seen to be more than answered -- every sacrifice more than repaid, -- how will friends rejoice and enemies tremble, and all confess that it is the wisdom and the power of God to salvation.
Nor have we the mere assurance, in prophetic forms the most varied and impressive, that the knowledge of Christ shall fill and pervade the earth. We cannot doubt the assurance for a moment; -- it is infallibly certain: But, as if to deepen our confidence the more, the very ground and foundation on which it proceeds is proclaimed to us. We are not only told that it shall be -- we are taught that it must be. The universal and final success of the gospel is mixed up with the glorious work of Emmanuel. It is part of His reward, and that reward is guaranteed to Him by a divine oath. He has, as Mediator, been appointed heir of the world, that he might receive the heathen for his inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for his possession. The Father hath said unto him, "Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever;" and moreover hath said, "I have sworn by myself -- the word hath gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return -- Unto thee every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall swear." What assurance can be stronger than this; -- yea, what assurance can be half so strong? The word -- the oath of Jehovah, fulfilling a most righteous covenant! all truth is as falsehood to this.
Let us all be well persuaded of the coming -- the universal glories of the cross. Let none imagine we
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have been merely contemplating figures of Eastern hyperbole, or that any past success of the Christian church explains all that has been promised. Let us remember that the Scriptures are a book of truth and soberness; and that our narrow hopes and still narrower experience form no safe measure of their revelations, or of God's gracious intentions. Let us remember that the words and the images descriptive of the future glory of the church are far too numerous and harmonious to be explained away as an exaggerated expression, -- that if Jehovah meant to declare the ultimate and universal triumphs of the gospel, he could not have employed more appropriate terms: And, upon an opposite supposition, he could not have used terms more fitted to mislead. And let us consider that all the success in primitive times, and at the era of the Reformation, and at the present day, extensive and most worthy of thankfulness as it is, is not once to be named with the magnitude and duration of the promise and the prophecy. What is the third part of the earth -- now reduced to a fifth -- much of it only nominal Christianity -- and what are ten or twenty years of outward peace and prosperity to a government of all nations -- to the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom, under the whole heaven, and to a duration which reaches as long as the sun and moon endure -- from generation to generation -- even for ever and ever? It is but in modern times that some quarters of the world have been discovered; millions of human beings are arising where not many years ago no form of man but a solitary savage of the wilderness was to be found. Is it to be imagined that the best promises of Scripture to the world were all fulfilled before immense portions of the world, destined to be most populous, were known at all? Surely not.
II. Having rapidly sketched the divine promises and predictions of the universal reign of the gospel of Christ, I come now to show THE BEARING WHICH THESE THINGS HAVE UPON THE REVIVAL OF RELIGION, -- in other words, to show the application of what I have been propounding to the course of lectures now on band. Aware, from the volume of inspiration, that
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one day the gospel is to be universally diffused in its knowledge and influence; and then contemplating the narrow limits within which it is at present contained, and within which it has ever been circumscribed; the obvious inference which every thoughtful mind draws is that there must be an immense revival of religion before the prophecy of the glory of the latter day can be fulfilled. And when one thinks of the prodigious difficulties which lie in the way, from the enmity of the carnal mind to the truth of God -- the prejudices of society, and the political arrangements of the world, -- all of which it would seriously disturb -- one must be not less satisfied that the work can be accomplished only by the almighty power of the Spirit of God.
But it is not enough to know that there must be an immense revival of religion, and that the Holy Ghost must be the Author: The question arises -- In what way is the revival to be carried on which is to issue in the glory of the latter days? Does Scripture, in the form of promise or of prophecy, throw any light upon the subject? It is possible to conceive that the gospel may be made universal by the slow process by which it is advancing at present. This indeed would require a vast multitude of ages: Still, at the rate and in the mode in which it is making progress -- leavening one individual and neighbourhood after another -- it would at length, especially if its forces became accelerated, fill the earth with true religion, supposing there to be no serious days of heresy and declension to retard its course. Now, is this the mode of propagating the gospel and making it universal which the word of God leads us to expect? No. It does speak of a gradual advancement: It speaks of leaven, and of the sown ear and the springing blade, and of the ear and the full ear; and it speaks of the water of the gospel river, which at first reaches to the ankles, then to the knees, and then to the neck, and ultimately becomes such a flood of waters as to over-spread the earth. And this accords with the gradual procedure of God in nature and in providence. But, happily. He does not limit himself to this course in the kingdom of grace: He cheers his people with a warmer encouragement. We are taught that while the, progress
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of the gospel is gradual within this gradual progress there are sudden and remarkable expansions of religion -- in other words, revivals, -- that as in nature, so in grace, there is variety in the midst of uniformity. Many men -- yea Christian churches generally have too often contented themselves with the belief as a whole that the gospel is one day to be all-pervading and universal. The church has not analysed the promises of God, and considered the mode in which the blessed consummation is to be brought about; and so a generality and vagueness have attached to her faith, not favourable to Fervent prayer or devoted labour. But the Scriptures seem to leave no room to doubt, that, while there is to be a gradual progress -- the result of the Divine blessing on suitable means faithfully and perseveringly applied -- there is also to be the occasional outbreakings of sudden and singular revivals, which shall embrace a large body of people -- it may be tribes and nations -- at the same moment. This is a most cheering doctrine, and relieves the mind from the feeling of weariness and hopelessness which slow and protracted labour is apt to inspire.
1. One of the forms in which prophecy speaks of the progress and triumphs of Christianity is the SUDDEN DESTRUCTION OF THE ENEMIES OF THE LORD. There are many such enemies -- many almost insuperable obstacles to the progress of the gospel. Till they are weakened, or taken out of the way, there is little hope of its advancement in many of the most important regions of the earth. What barriers to the diffused knowledge and influence of divine truth are the two great Antichrists of the East and the West -- Mahometanism and Popery. Now the promises and prophecies of Jehovah assure us that they are to be utterly destroyed; and, as the fruit of this, that the gospel is to be blessed with signal success. But how is this destruction to be accomplished? Is it to be the slow work of many centuries? Are Mahometanism and Popery to perish piecemeal -- so that when they actually die, their death shall scarcely be known? No. They are to be destroyed when giving manifestations of power, -- suddenly and unexpectedly. This is God's usual course: to make his own arm the more
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visible, and draw the attention of men more impressively, he strikes down the enemy when even his people are not looking for the blow. Thus it was, that Babylon, the grand type of all the enemies of the Lord, was destroyed. The Chaldeans were wrapt in security, -- eating and drinking and making merry; but that very night the gates were unbarred -- the river turned aside -- and the city taken by surprise: So wonderful was the deliverance thus afforded to the Jews, that they declare "we were like men who dreamed:" and not less wonderful, doubtless, was the overthrow to the Chaldeans; -- So it was with Jerusalem the great Jewish Antichrist. Whatever may have been her hazard at an earlier day, there was no prospect of unfavourable change at the time the destruction came. She seemed more likely to stand than she had done for many years; -- there was no slow consumption; -- she did not die of weakness. The assault of the Roman army was sudden and successful, and withal most terrible.
Thus also have we reason to believe will it be in the destruction of the existing Antichrist and enemies of the Lord. The awful picture of the seventh of Daniel, which some attribute to the day of judgment, so terrible is the scene, but which plainly belongs to the doom of Antichrist, does not indicate a slow and peaceful death: The thrones are set, and the Ancient of days, the unsearchable Jehovah, whose garment is white as snow, and whose hair is of pure wool, comes forth and sits down upon his throne with Christ as Assessor; -- his throne is like a triumphal chariot, whose wheels are of fire; -- myriads of angels stand ready to execute his orders; and ten thousand times ten thousand stand as prisoners before his bar: the judgment is set, and the books are opened; and the guilty are given over to the fiery flame. Here there is nothing gradual; -- there is the immediate and awful sentence of a judge, followed by an execution as signal and immediate. So it is in the prophetic visions of the book of Revelation. In the hour of doom Antichrist does not appear weak and emaciated like a skeleton -- ready to die: She appears in pomp and power, sitting as a queen. The vials of divine wrath are not as we are apt to imagine
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-- narrow-necked vessels, capable of inflicting judgment only in a gradual manner: they are wide, open-mouthed, capable of a full and immediate discharge of vengeance. The images too, under which the doom is pictured forth, do not indicate a slow and gradual process, -- they are the reaping of the harvest of the earth, -- the gathering of vintage of the grape, -- the plunge of the millstone into the sea: all are rapid. There may be much time occupied in ripening the two first -- much long-suffering, till the sins of men are fully ripe; but when they are once mature, the reaping is rapid, and completed in a moment. No one needs to be reminded, that the descent of a millstone into the sea is sudden, -- and as irretrievable as speedy: it is the doing of a moment, and yet is hopeless. It is worthy of notice too, from the eighteenth chapter of Revelation, that the plagues of Antichrist, her death and mourning and famine, are to come upon her "in one day." The spectators too of her doom, who stand afar off for the fear of her torment, exclaim, Alas, alas! that great city Babylon! that mighty city! "for in one hour is thy judgment come."
And lastly, the church of God is evidently not expecting the destruction, -- she is exhorted to watch the fall, just as Christ exhorted the disciples to watch and be prepared for the fall of Jerusalem. This intimates that there is nothing in the outward aspect of the enemy to warrant the idea of immediate doom, but the reverse. There would be no need to counsel the saints to watch, if the appearance of death were so visible and striking as to draw forth their attention without any warning.
It is plain then that Antichrist is to be destroyed suddenly: and what does this prove but that there will be a great and sudden manifestation of the power of the Holy Spirit? It is only His power which can quickly and at once overthrow adverse influences so deeply rooted. It is accordant with His procedure, as the Spirit of Revival, to effect grand and unlooked-for changes; and there is a loud call for the exercise of his might in the overthrow of enemies, in as much
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as the fall of Antichrist is immediately followed by a wide extension of the knowledge and influence of the gospel, -- in other words, by a great revival of religion. It is said that the judgment shall sit, and they shall take away the dominion of Antichrist, to consume and destroy it to the end. And what is the result? Is a foe simply extinguished, and does every thing stand as before? No. Immediately after the fall of the enemy, the kingdom, and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom, under the whole heavens, are given to the people of the saints of the Most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him. Similar is the picture in the book of Revelation: Immediately after the destruction of Antichrist, "The seventh angel sounded, and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever." We have every reason to think too, that the conversion of the Jews, in its fullness, will not take place till Babylon has fallen. It may and doubtless will be realized in some measure, but it is not till their great idolatrous persecutor -- Popery -- is removed out of the way, and the Euphrates of Mahometanism is dried up, that we can expect the way for "the kings of the East" to be adequately prepared. And I need not say what an outpouring of the Holy Spirit the conversion of Israel will indicate, and what means it will supply for immensely spreading the religious revival which it begins. The conversion of the Jews is acknowledged on all hands to be connected with the conversion of the world in a manner altogether and singular and preeminent.
2. But we can appeal to other evidence besides the sudden destruction of enemies, in proof of coming and extensive religious revivals. The speedy death of enemies would, indeed, both indicate and lead the way to a blessed revival. What a happy day will it be for the gospel when Popery shall be overthrown, and the power of the false prophet broken in pieces: It will be a very jubilee. But we have much more glorious prospects in the word of God: there are many promises, ample and delightful, assuring us of the effusion of the Holy Spirit,
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and teaching us to regard this is the way in which the glory of the latter days shall, in all probability, be brought about. These promises are to be met with in different books of Scripture -- in different ages of the church: they are more general and indefinite at first, but become more full and defined as time rolls on, and the history of the church is unfolded. It is well known, that one of the great Scripture emblems of the Holy Spirit is "water:" He is the Comforter and the Sanctifier, and water at once refreshes and cleanses. The Saviour assures us, that unless a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot see the kingdom of heaven the water of baptism is a sign of the necessity of the regeneration of the Holy Spirit. In the seventh of John, it is said, "In the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly (that is, his heart and soul) shall flow rivers of living water. But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive."
Keeping these things in mind, that water and rivers emblematically describe the Holy Spirit, let us attend to a few Scripture passages descriptive of the glory of the Church, and see whether we may not fairly infer that there shall be great, extensive, and unexpected revivals of religion in the future, and that thus in an important degree shall she be carried forward to her final and universal triumphs. David, speaking of the days of Messiah, says, "He shall come down like rain upon the mown (or pasture) grass -- as showers that water the earth." Do these images not well describe the gentle but abundant communications of the Spirit? How often does the rain fall unexpectedly on the mown grass! Long is the pasture withered and ready to die; but the shower descends, and forthwith the whole aspect of nature is changed. "There shall be a handful of corn in the earth, upon the top of the mountains, yet the fruit thereof shall shake like Lebanon, and they of the city shall flourish like grass of the earth." What is it which can make a mere handful of corn, scattered, not in a fertile field, but on the rough top of a mountain,
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grow at all, -- much more shake like the cedars of Lebanon, strong, stately, and secure, defying every storm? What is it which can raise up so magnificent a crop in circumstances so unfavourable? It is only the abundant rains and blessing of heaven. And what is it which can make the grass of the valley to grow in luxuriance thick and strong? It is only the dew and the rains of the same blessed Spirit. Would not an abundant growth on the tops of mountains indicate a peculiar communication of the influences of heaven -- of the sun and the shower? So shall the conversion of multitudes, in the most unpropitious circumstances, the regeneration of the Heathen and the Jew and the Infidel, argue the presence and power of the Holy Ghost. The same sacred writer, the inspired Psalmist, upon another and an earlier occasion, says, primarily in reference to himself and his deliverance from the hands of Saul, but doubtless also with a distinct reference to the Lord Jesus Christ, of whom he was a type, "Thou hast made me the Head of the Heathen; a people whom I have not known shall serve me; as soon as they hear of me they shall obey me; the strangers, (those who were alien,) shall submit themselves unto me: the strangers shall fade away like leaves on the approach of winter, and be afraid out of their close places." the points which are here particularly worthy of notice are, that some of the heathen, as soon as they hear of Christ, are to receive his gospel and serve him, and that the enemy are to fall away like autumn leaves. What images can better describe not slow and protracted, but rapid and victorious conversion: and what again can be the source of these but the special outpouring of the Holy Spirit?
Descending the stream of prophecy, we come to the age of Isaiah, seven hundred years before the coming of Christ: and what does he testify of the religious revivals of the latter days? In the thirty-fifth chapter, including the two last verses of the thirty-fourth, he gives us a brief but most beautiful picture of the church under a general revival. It is said "The wilderness and solitary place shall be glad for them, and
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the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose; it shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing: the glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, -- the excellency of Carmel and Sharon: they shall see the glory of the Lord and the excellency of our God." Then, changing the image, the prophet goes on to say, "The eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped; then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing." And how is this blessed consummation to be brought about? Is it by science or philosophy, or political schemes of government? No: the cause is described thus: "For in the wilderness shall waters (that is the Holy Spirit,) break forth, and streams in the desert, and the parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water: in the habitation of dragons, where each lay, shall be grass, with reeds and rushes." But this is only a single passage; and the book abounds with similar testimonies. The prophet on another occasion says, in much the same strain: "When the poor and needy seek water and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst, I the Lord will hear them; I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them; I will open rivers in high places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water; I will plant in the wilderness the cedar, the shittah tree, and the myrtle, and the oil tree; I will set in the desert the fir tree, and the pine, and the box tree together." This is a most beautiful prophecy of the abundant effusion of the Holy Spirit in answer to prayer, anti of the blessed and marvellous consequences with which the gift shall be attended. Instead of mere dew, or showers, however congenial or sweet, there are to be rivers and fountains; and in the most unlikely and necessitous quarters in the wilderness and dry land there are to be springs and pools of water. What images to a resident in the hot and parched countries of the East can convey ideas more grateful and refreshing: and what is to be the result of this divine gift of the Spirit? Instead of poor, withered shrubs, there are to be magnificent trees even in the
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desert, -- the fir tree, with its elevation of 150 feet, and the box, with its everlasting green; all nature is to be changed; there is to be a new vegetable world.
Take another passage from the same prophet, descriptive of the same glorious days: "I will pour water, says the Lord, upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground." Here we have the same promise of abundant effusion; and that there may be no misunderstanding of what is meant, the counterpart immediately follows: "I will pour my Spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring." And what is the fruit? Does the world remain as ignorant, idolatrous, and ungodly as before? No: "And they shall spring up as among the grass;" or rather, "They shall spring up as grass in the midst of waters, as willows by the water courses." How do grass and willows grow amid water in the sultry heat of Eastern climates? Most rapidly and luxuriantly. The course of rivers and streams may be traced from a distance by the line of vegetable green -- by the grass and the willow which grow on their banks. Adopting another image, the prophet goes on to say, "One shall say, I am the Lord's; and another shall call himself," or be called "by the name of Jacob." He is God's property, and shall like the slave bear the name of his Master. "And another shall subscribe with his hand," or rather shall write on his hand "unto the Lord, and surname himself by the name of Israel." The allusion is to idolators, who made marks upon their hands and arms, and different parts of the body, in token of respect for their idols, and to denote that they are their attached servants. So shall men in the revival days of the church mark themselves with the name and ensigns of the true God, the God of Israel, and shall declare themselves his devoted people.
And these events shall not be long and slow in their progress; they shall be brought about speedily. Another prophecy, speaking of Messiah, testifies: "Behold, I have given him for a witness to the people, a leader and commander to the people: Behold, thou shalt call a nation that thou knowest not; and nations
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that knew not thee shall run unto thee, because of the Lord thy God, and for the Holy One of Israel; for He hath glorified thee." Here we are taught that not merely individuals or families, but whole nations, who have hitherto been most ignorant and opposed, shall run quickly and cheerfully to Messiah, -- in other words, his gospel shall make great and rapid progress among them; and how, except through a sudden outpouring of the Spirit of God? The result does not seem to be the effect of a lengthened application of means, but of the speedy interposition of the Holy Ghost. Contemplating days, too, of darkness and opposition which lead to Messiah's final triumphs, it is declared for the encouragement of the church, that when the enemy shall come in like a flood, from many quarters at once, and with the overbearing power of a multitude of waters, that then the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him. Thus we are informed, that in seasons of great danger and corruption there shall be compensating revivals of religion on the other side. And what is the effect of this outpouring of the Spirit? "And the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and shall turn away iniquity from Jacob." "As for me, this is my covenant with them, saith the Lord, my Spirit, which is upon thee, and my words, which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed's seed, saith the Lord, from henceforth and for ever." So that here we have a promise of the perpetuity of the Spirit, and that in an abundant measure.
Turning, again, to the sixtieth chapter of Isaiah, how magnificent are the promise and the prophecy which run through the whole. Inspiration seems to be exhausted in finding images to picture forth the glorious and universal change. There is to be a prodigious assemblage: The sons of the Gentiles are to come from afar -- the daughters are to be carried on the side -- the camels and the dromedaries from distant lands, bearing presents, are to cover the whole face of the country -- the flocks are to offer themselves willingly upon the altar -- there is to be no hesitation or resistance -- they
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are to fly as a cloud of doves to their houses, obscuring the sun by their numbers -- the ships of Tarshish are to be among the first to bring God's people from distant lands. And what is to be the result? "The glory of Lebanon," says Jehovah, addressing his church, "shall come unto thee," -- that is, the cedar and the fir tree, the pine tree and the box together, to beautify the place of my sanctuary; "and I will make the place of my feet " -- that is, my temple, "glorious." What do these things describe if not general and rapid movements? How swift is a dove upon the wing, and here there are to be clouds of them hastening to their young. What a flight I O the blessed operation of the Spirit! The prophet concludes by saying, "A little one shall become a thousand, and a small one a strong nation. I the Lord will hasten it in his time." The work is not to be long and weary; it is to be speedy, and yet effectual. Work hastily executed is generally imperfect -- but here it is to be strong and abiding.
I might quote largely from the concluding chapters of this noble prophet. These present the glory of the latter day of the church not only in general outlines and in the grand result, but in the leading details -- with a minuteness and a beauty to which there is no parallel except in Scripture itself. This, however, would swell the present lecture beyond all reasonable bounds. But I cannot part with Isaiah without quoting one or two verses from his closing chapter. Speaking of the church, Jehovah says -- "Before she travailed she brought forth, before her pain came she was delivered of a man-child; who hath heard such a thing; who hath seen such thing -- shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day, or shall a nation be born at once? for as soon as Zion travailed she brought forth her children." "Rejoice ye with Jerusalem and be glad with her, all ye that love her." Can any images better show forth the marvellous and most unexpected rapidity with which Jehovah shall carry forward his cause in the appointed season? It shall exceed any thing which ever was known or heard of among men. All ordinary difficulties and trials shall disappear
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There shall be birth without pain, and the harvests of the earth shall be matured in a day, -- the day of sowing shall be the day of reaping. Nay, more, -- not individuals, or families, or communities merely, but nations shall be born at once -- shall cast off their superstition and idolatry and ungodliness, and embrace the truth and law of God, and stand forth in the light of regenerated people. What prodigious moral changes are these! How sudden and glorious! How shall they make up for past delay, swallow up all opposition, and array the world in new aspects -- in the smiles of moral loveliness. The conclusion is very beautiful: "And they shall bring all your brethren for an offering to the Lord; out of all nations -- upon horses and in chariots, -- (the cradle thrown across the back of the camel,) and in litters and upon mules, and upon swift beasts, to my holy mountain, Jerusalem." Here all sorts of conveyances are employed, such are the crowds repairing to Jerusalem, and yet the multitudes do not move as multitudes generally do -- slowly, leisurely. Though some are carried upon litters, there are swift beasts; all intimating that the movement is rapid as well as all-comprehensive. Nor is this all: The Lord informs us what will take place when all are thus brought to Jerusalem, as a clean vessel for the house of the Lord: and "I will also, says he, take of them for Priests and for Levites; for as the new heavens and the new earth which I will make shall remain before me, saith the Lord, so shall your seed and your name remain." He will make provision for permanent worship; his temple shall never be shut or decay; its officers shall ever be engaged in religious exercise.
Leaving the promises and prophecies of the book of Isaiah, let us turn to a contemporary -- a brother prophet, Joel: What does he testify regarding future revivals of religion, sudden and extensive? The prospects which he holds out are in perfect harmony with those of Isaiah; there is no jarring. The apostle Peter, in our text, distinctly points to the predictions of Joel: When many on the day of Pentecost were ready, like not a few in our day, to disparage the work of the Spirit, -- when they were daring enough to say it was the
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effect of intoxication, as not a few now say it is of mere animal enthusiasm and excitement; the apostle tells them that there is no need for wonder, and far less for such explanations, -- that Joel had prophesied many hundred years before, that there were to be such manifestations of the Spirit's power, and that now these were realised. To oppose or ridicule the work of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost was then only to expose their own ignorance and folly, Speaking by Joel, Jehovah says, "And it shall come to pass afterwards," or in the latter days, "that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions; and also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my Spirit." Whatever accomplishment there may have been of this prophecy on the day of Pentecost -- though we have reason to think that so far as miraculous power is concerned it was completed on that occasion; yet the terms seem too comprehensive to allow us to imagine that remarkable outpourings of the Holy Spirit are not still in reserve for the church. It is worthy of remark, that the Spirit is said to be poured out on all flesh without exception, and that the gracious influence is to extend to all ranks and degrees of men, -- to the man-servant and the maid-servant. Large as were the donations of Pentecost, they can scarcely be said to have come up to these promises. And hence, we are permitted still to look forward to effusions of the Spirit not less illustrious than those of Pentecost, to effusions as sudden and unexpected, and far wider and more glorious. -- Who rejoices not in the anticipation? -- who would not sing for joy were the days of Pentecost to be restored? Blessed are the hopes which Joel inspires: he winds up his brief book of prophecy with the delightful words which surely intimate more than a Pentecostal blessing: "And it shall come to pass in that day, that the mountains shall drop down new wine, and the hills shall flow with milk, and all the rivers of Judah shall flow with waters, and a fountain shall come forth of the house of the Lord, and shall water the valley of
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Shittim," or the valley of thorns, the land of briers and thistles. The Holy Spirit shall regenerate the most ferocious natures; where there was no water there shall be rivers; and where there was nothing but the transient mountain stream there shall be an overflowing of milk and wine.
Descending above two hundred years from the days of Isaiah and Joel, to the days of Ezekiel, what do we find, -- do we meet with any prophecies of revival and of the Spirit? There are many. Take one or two specimens. Speaking of the restoration and conversion of the Jews, the Lord says, "And they shall come thither, and they shall take away all the detestable things thereof, and all the abominations thereof, from thence. And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh." What can more truly or impressively describe the spiritual state of the Jews than to say that they have hearts of stone? -- and what can better describe their conversion than to say that God will give them a new heart even the Holy Spirit? And if Jehovah thus revive the Jew, the most adamantine and unlikely, will he fail to revive the Gentile by the same blessed agency? There is a prophecy to the same effect in the thirty-sixth chapter. Referring to the latter days of the church, God says to Israel: "Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you; and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh, and I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them." The prophecy of the next, the thirty-seventh chapter, may be peculiar to the Jews, and of the same import with those already quoted, though still more striking. The "Wind" we know, from the third chapter of John, is one of the Scripture emblems of the Spirit, and here in answer to the prayer: "Come forth from the four winds, O Breath, and breathe upon the
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dry bones." We are taught that the Breath or Wind did come forth and breathe upon them, and they lived and stood upon their feet, and became an exceeding great army; doubtless an army of the faith -- an army of apostles -- to carry forward the triumphs of the cross.
But if the present, the thirty-seventh chapter, speaks of a great revival among the Jews, the fruit of the effusion of the Holy Spirit, the forty-seventh not less plainly speaks of a great revival among the Gentiles, the consequence of the operation of the same blessed Spirit. Here the Spirit's familiar image of water is employed anew; and as he breathed upon the dry bones as the Spirit of life, so he flows forth from the sanctuary as a Spirit of revival and refreshing; and extending as he proceeds, from small beginnings till he fills the whole vision with a sea of waters. Wherever his gracious influence penetrates He heals -- the dead he makes alive, and the result of the whole is that there is "a very great multitude of fish," and that the converts are "exceeding many." Do not these images intimate a very large effusion of the Holy Spirit, followed by fruits not less abundant?
Passing from the prophecy of Ezekiel, and turning to those of Zechariah, seventy years later, do we find any abatement in the promises of the Spirit in the latter days of the church? No: though the book of Zechariah extends to but a few pages, it is full of reference to the work of the Spirit in its most glorious forms. In allusion to the building of the second temple, which was carried forward amid unparalleled difficulties, the prophet says: "This is the word of the Lord unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts. Who art thou, O great mountain? before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a. plain: and He shall bring forth the head-stone thereof with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace, unto it." Here we are taught that the erection of the second temple, in other words, the .progress of true religion in the earth, is not owing to the learning of the wise, or the power of princes, however important in their own place, as subordinate instruments; that the agency of the Holy
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Spirit is indispensable and supreme; that thus the most formidable mountains of opposition shall be levelled; and when the whole work is completed, the undivided glory shall be ascribed to the free grace and goodness of God. This is a strong general testimony to the success which is awaiting the cause of God in the earth and to the Holy Spirit as the grand, the appointed author. But if we turn to another passage, we shall find the same event described more in detail: "Thus saith the Lord of hosts, It shall yet come to pass, that there shall come people, and the inhabitants of many cities and the inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying, Let us go speedily to pray before the Lord, and to seek the Lord of hosts; I will go also: yea, many people and strong nations shall come to seek the Lord of hosts in Jerusalem, and to pray before the Lord. What do these verses show if not that in the latter days there shall be a great visible extensive concert of prayer among the people of God in different places and countries; that they shall come speedily, and pray earnestly for the Holy Spirit, not for their own salvation, for that is already secured, but for the salvation of others, and so for the glory and honour of their King; and what shall be the effect of this? A wide-spread revival of religion. It is immediately added: "In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold, out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you; for we have heard that God is with you." Men who are anticipating a great and unexpected good eagerly seize on any one whom they imagine can aid them in obtaining it: And who are the parties who are expecting spiritual blessing on the present occasion? They are men of all the languages of the nations. Few descriptions can be more comprehensive.
How glorious and delightful is another prediction of the same prophet: "I will pour out," says Messiah, "upon the house of David, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and supplication; and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced; and they shall mourn for Him as one mourneth for an only son;
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and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for a first born: in that day there shall be a great mourning in Jerusalem, as the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the valley of Megiddon, and the land shall mourn, every family apart," &e. The Holy Spirit, who is the author of acceptable prayer, is to be poured out. In consequence of his grace and power, there shall be conviction of sin, and repentance universal as the grief for the death of Josiah; and so intense that the dearest relatives shall be unable to communicate it to each other. What follows? We are informed -- blessed be God -- that the sufferers are not to remain in this state of dreadful anguish without the hope of relief. No: there shall be a fountain opened in the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for uncleanness; in other words, the gospel of salvation shall be proclaimed to them, and proclaimed with effect; for it is immediately added: "The names of the idols shall be cut off out of the land, and the false prophets and the unclean spirits shall disappear:" that is, the whole country shall become Christian; all hostility shall be overthrown. See then the glorious result of the outpouring of the Spirit: there is deep conviction; a cordial reception of the gospel, and the universal diffusion of Christianity.
And now, taking leave of the Old Testament and passing to the New, what prophetic intimations do we meet with of religious revivals as the fruit of the Spirit's operation? Our Lord, exhorting his disciples to prayer, says: "If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him." This not only teaches that the Spirit is supremely important and indispensably necessary alike to saints and to sinners, but also that there is no gift which we have greater reason to ask, or which God is more forward and delighted to bestow; and surely then He will not withhold the Spirit from the church or the world under the New Testament dispensation. Turn to the fourteenth chapter of John -- what says our Lord? "I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever, even the Spirit of Truth."
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Here is a gracious promise of the perpetual presence of the Spirit in the church. Christ himself may remove, but the Spirit remains. And what is the first fruits of his manifestation? Let Pentecost testify: Multitudes are brought under the deepest convictions; and of these three thousand are savingly converted on one occasion, and five thousand on another. We all know that it is only the Spirit who can make the preaching of the word effectual, -- that Paul may plant and Apollos water, but that God alone can give the increase; and surely then, when we read in the book of prophecy of the wide-spread and successful preaching of the gospel, and of the blessed results with which it is attended, we are entitled to hold that the Holy Spirit is the author of the whole, and to render to him the unreserved glory. In the fourteenth chapter of the book of Revelation we read that an angel flew in the midst of heaven, -- that is, throughout the visible church, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and "to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, saying, with aloud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made the heaven and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of water." This is a call to all nations to abandon their idolatry and to serve the one living and true God; and what is the result of the diffusion of the gospel? "And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen." Hence it appears that the efficacious preaching of the everlasting gospel is to have a considerable influence in overthrowing the great Antichristian apostasy, and preparing for the glory of the latter days. And how is it, again, that the gospel is to be diffused and made successful? The answer is, Only by the effusion of the Holy Spirit of God. This is quite in harmony with the types of the Old Testament. The jubilee of deliverance from bondage, and of reinstatement in liberty and lost possessions, is to be preceded -- by what? By the blowing of the gospel trumpet: and who is it that gives skill and strength to the trumpeter but the Spirit of the Lord, before whose blast the walls of Jericho fell? We see then from the revelation of the New Testament, as well as of the Old, that the Holy Spirit is to be imparted
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suddenly and largely in the future. The angel flies: and all nations are to share in the blessing. Pentecost, too, was sudden and far beyond the expectations of the hundred and twenty disciples. We have every reason to believe that it is the power and magnitude of the Spirit's work which will provoke Satan to gather his host together, and fight his last battle with the armies of the living God at Armagedelon. The madness and desperation of his struggle are no mean proof of the liberality and abundance with which the Spirit shall have been communicated. Indeed, when one remembers that the Old Testament dispensation might be said to be the dispensation of the Son, he being the great promised object of the patriarchs and prophets of old; so that the present is peculiarly the dispensation of the Holy Spirit, he being the leading promised object of the gospel age, under which we live; -- when these things are considered, we need not wonder that the Spirit should be largely given to the church under the New Testament; even though we should not be able to point to promises of his effusion in as many words. After the abundant revelation of the former dispensation of his coming, and the actual communication of the Spirit's grace in the gospel dispensation, it was not necessary to be repeating formal promises of days of revival. These were taken for granted as a matter of course. Hence the allusions are only incidental; but they are not on that account the less sure. Let me refer only to one: In the eleventh chapter of the book of Revelation we are informed of the sad history of the church of God under the image of two witnesses who prophesy in sackcloth for 1260 years, and who are slain, and their bodies left unburied, while their enemies rejoice with unbounded joy over their mortal remains. The interesting point to notice is that, in a very short time -- three years and a half -- "The Spirit of life from God" enters into them, and they arise and stand on their feet, and are called up to heaven, and their enemies are confounded, and the gospel is universally diffused, so that the kingdoms of the world become the kingdoms of God and of his Christ. I humbly apprehend that by "the Spirit of life from God" we
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are to understand the Holy Spirit of God; and how impressively then are we reminded, under the New Testament dispensation, that the Holy Spirit is in the latter days to be richly communicated to the church and the world, and that a glorious revival is to be the result.
3. And now we have completed our sketch of the leading Scripture promises and prophecies bearing upon a revival of religion. We have seen from a multitude of passages, not only that one day the gospel shall be universal and triumphant over the world -- from which we have drawn the inference that the Holy Spirit must previously be largely imparted -- but we have seen that sudden and large effusions of the Spirit, leading to extensive religious revivals, are matter of direct promise and prediction. We are entitled then to look for religious revivals in the future days of the church. They are essential to the fulfilment of prophecy. If there be no revivals the prophecy fails, and with its failure the evidence of Christianity is compromised. Has there then been any accomplishment of the prophecies of revivals which we have been surveying? Though as yet there had been none, we could not have inferred that the prediction was false, -- they might be still future. It is it, the future that we are taught to look for them in a large degree. It may be expected that as the church approaches the great and universal revival of the millennium, there shall be frequent and decided indications of the blessed work which terminates in the millennial glory; but happily we are not left altogether to the future: we can appeal to past and present proofs that the promised work of the Spirit of God is in course of fulfilment.
Here I am aware I am treading on the borders of a subject allotted to the brother who succeeds me, and I am unwilling to anticipate; but let me ask whether there was not a remarkable revival of true religion among the Jews in the Maccabean period, under the persecutions of Antiochus, and whether the successful propagation
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of the gospel in primitive times may not be considered as a great revival? Did not the planting of so many churches in so brief a space of time, and the endurance to the death of so many martyrs, hundreds and thousands, and tens of thousands, indicate an accomplishment of the promise that God would pour out his Spirit? Was there not also a great revival of true religion at the period of the Reformation from Popery? Most rapid and extensive was the work. Edwards, in one of his standard books, says, "Many of the princes of Germany soon fell in with the Reformed religion; and many other states and kingdoms in Europe, as England, Scotland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, great part of France, Poland, Lithuania, Switzerland, and the Low Countries, so that it is thought that heretofore about half Christendom were of the Protestant religion; though since, the Papists" (lie might have added rather -- the Infidels) "have gained ground, so that the Protestants now have not so great a proportion." This good work was not slow or protracted in its movement, -- it was swift as well as general. I have given some attention to the history of the Protestant church of France, and few things have surprised me more in the course of my investigations than the rapidity with which the gospel advanced. This was strikingly true of the provinces of Navarre and Bearn; and taking the church generally, we have the testimony of Theodore Beza, that he could count above two thousand churches -- many of them large, with colegiate ministers -- in the course of a few years, from twelve to twenty years, after the Reformation. Similar was the history of our beloved Scotland, so distinguished above many lands for the number and power of its religious revivals. By a comparison of Antiquarian documents, inaccessible to the general reader, I have recently ascertained that in seven short years, from the calling or the first General Assembly in 1560 to 1567, and these years of remarkable civil dissension and war, not less than eight hundred and seventy-four moral and religious agents were raised up for the spiritual instruction of her parishes -- Ministers, Exhorters, and Scripture
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Readers. Not a few of them may have been very humble; but here we have a labourer for almost every parish in Scotland in seven years: and what is remarkable, they penetrated to the inhospitable shores of Argyle, of Orkney, and Shetland. What can explain this marvellous fact but an unusual outpouring of the Holy Spirit? -- and what but the same cause can explain the striking testimony, "that within ten years after Popery was discharged in Scotland, there was not in all the country ten persons of quality to be found who did not profess the true reformed religion: and so it was among the commons in proportion?"
How rapid was the change in several of our Scottish parishes in the religious revivals of the middle of the 17th and 18th centuries, at Shotts and Kilsyth and Cambuslang, in other days. Nor has the Spirit ceased to be given, in fulfilment of the promise, in the age in which we live. Not to speak of recent doings in our own vicinity, every one who has read Williams's most interesting narrative of the progress of Christian missions in the South Seas must have been struck with the rapidity with which great religious changes were effected -- on hundreds and thousands of individuals -- sometimes over whole islands -- in the course of a few weeks or months, by very humble agents. In some cases, the people seemed to be waiting for Christian teachers, and had thrown away their idols before they appeared. In one case, the chapel was actually built before any missionary planted his foot on the shore. Tidings of change, like a fiery cross, spread from island to island, and wherever a few of the leading chiefs abandoned their superstition, the body of the people followed their example. In very many instances of course this was no more than the renunciation of open idolatry, -- it did not imply a genuine reception of Christianity: still the change even in these cases was very remarkable -- reminding us of the prophecy that nations shall be born in a day, and intimating a large effusion of the Holy Spirit of God. And if the Spirit has thus been imparted in former and in present times, what reason have we to doubt whether the prophecy shall continue
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to be fulfilled in the future? So far from doubting, we have every reason to believe that the word of God regarding religious revivals shall be more and more fully accomplished till the whole world participates in the blessing, -- and every enemy removed, the millennium shall begin its protracted reign. Viewing the Scriptures aright -- recollecting their unchanging faithfulness, the wonder is not that there are revivals of religion, the fruits of the Spirit's power; the wonder would have been had there been no revivals -- no progress except what is slow -- the result of a painful and progressive labour.
IV. And now, let us ask what is the PRACTICAL INFERENCE to be derived from all this? Is it not that the church should be encouraged to look for revivals? Much does she need encouragement. Many, insidious, and powerful are her enemies; very various too are the untoward and adverse influences with which she has to contend. The truly good are comparatively few; and, with honourable exceptions, they are timid and divided -- the worldly, the erroneous; the wicked are bold and well-combined. It is to be feared that Popery and Infidelity and general Ungodliness are on the increase. It is certain that most pernicious principles, seriously affecting practice in different ranks of society, are spreading. All this is discouraging. It is fitted to damp the spirits, to hinder prayer, to relax exertion. No doubt there are bright spots in the picture, for which it becomes us to be devoutly thankful. Still there is much to sink and dishearten: Six millions of Jews -- 600 million of Heathen! And what in these circumstances so well fitted to cheer as the hope of a great universal revival? This is just what is needed. It would at once meet and overcome all our difficulties and discouragements, and it would put us in possession of the moral and religious results -- the improvement and the excellence and the moral glory for which we so greatly long. Many men -- ministers, -- yea, the Christian church generally have not been expecting religious revivals. They have not been looking for uncommon manifestations of the Spirit's power. They have taken for granted that, some how or other, in some way or other, the gospel
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shall one day be universal. This is all that they know and care about. Comparatively speaking, such an idea is cold, distant, discouraging. It wants life and energy. Men must be encouraged to look for revivals near -- large -- sudden -- abiding; and this will cheer and rejoice. the heart, and send new life and power through the entire man.
Surely after the promises and prophecies of revivals which have been unfolded, and the partial fulfilment which we have seen them to receive, it is altogether unnecessary for me to urge any reasons why you should be encouraged to expect and pray and labour for a revival You have the word of God to direct and sustain you, and on what stronger foundation can your faith and hope rest? Men may deceive or be mistaken, but Jehovah is unchangeable. His promises are all yea and amen. His people have in every age experienced of His faithfulness. You believe the word of men, the word of children, and will you not believe the word of God, and upon a subject too where his own glory and the glory of his church are so deeply involved? If you were labouring under personal affliction, would you not search the Scriptures for promises of support under its pressure, and should you not seek as earnestly for consolation and encouragement under the afflictions of the church of Christ in the same quarter? If there were promises of earthly blessings, of peace and prosperity, in which you might share, would you not believe them, -- would not your mind be often running forward on the pleasing anticipation, and should you not believe, or should you believe coldly and indistinctly the promises of the unchangeable Jehovah regarding the spiritual health and riches of the church of the redeemed? Should you not rather receive them with the warmest assurance of mind, and realise them with hope and joy? Ah! what a pity that treasures of promise and of prophecy should be lying open in our bibles from year to year -- should be vouchsafed for the express purpose of encouraging us, and that through our coldness and half believing, we should derive as little real comfort from them as if they had never been given, or as if they did not apply to us.
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Think not only of the promises of God, -- so many, so rich, so beautiful, -- so finely adapted to the taste and likings of his people, -- extending over such vast spaces of time, -- repeated by so various prophets, -- and yet all harmonious and one. Think of the spirit and example of good men in trying times. How were they supported? It was by believing the promises and predictions of the word of God respecting the church. When the faithful Jews were captives in Babylon how did they feel in reference to the cause of God? Did they surrender themselves to discouragement and despair? No: they remembered the promises of the Lord. They studied the book of prophecy; they hoped for deliverance, and were at length set free even beyond their expectations. How were the Reformers from Popery cheered in their arduous work? Did they trust to their own sagacity, or the native power of truth, or the aid of powerful friends? No! they searched the prophecies; -- the book of Revelation was one of their unwearied themes; therein they saw clearly the doom of Antichrist and the blessed revival which follows. They pressed these views upon their hearers. They thought of, and prayed for the Holy Spirit, not as a mere abstraction, but as a divine Person whose power was absolutely indispensable. And thus, believing the promises and the prophecies of God, they were enabled to make a thousand sacrifices, to rise superior to a thousand discouragements, and to carry forward the work of Jehovah. With cheerfulness and joy, they themselves
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laboured under the impulse of a revival, and they looked for revivals still larger and more glorious in the future. Thus were they sustained. Thus let us and the Christian church now be sustained. The promises where believed and realised are as efficacious as ever. Why should believers of other days appropriate the entire benefit of them? They are as open to us as to them -- as really intended for our consolation as theirs; and the very number of religions revivals which have taken place since their day, interpreted as fulfilments of Scripture prediction, should quicken our confidence in the Divine faithfulness the more, and induce us to pray and to labour for revivals the more. Is it to be credited that Heathenism is stronger now than in primitive times -- that Popery is stronger now than in the days of the Reformation -- that the Holy Spirit has become weak with the progress of years? And why then do we not plead the promises and predictions of the word of God?
Is it asked, in the way of objection, why revivals are few in number -- narrow in range -- short-lived in duration, while the promises are so many and exuberant? Is this supposed to shake and invalidate the prophecy? First of all let us remember that there have been a considerable number of revivals, -- perhaps a greater number than those who plead the objection are aware of. Independently of what was vouchsafed to the churches of the Reformation in their early days, and what has been enjoyed by our own country, so eminent for its revivals, not only at that period but in subsequent days, pleasing proofs could be referred to in the history of more modern times, that the Spirit of God has not been altogether wanting to the Protestant churches of Germany and France and Holland, Denmark and Sweden; and above all, -- the Christian churches of the United States of America. In all these quarters there have been sound religious revivals more or less extensive. But throwing these out of account,
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we have to remember that the Sovereignty of God is to be taken into consideration in explaining the comparatively small number of religious revivals. -- Revivals are intended, as they are fitted in a conspicuous way, to show forth the Divine Sovereignty, in choosing some and passing by others. There may be no revivals in a particular place and at a particular time, because there are no souls to be saved at that time or place, just as the appearance of a work of the Spirit of the Lord may be an intimation that then and there the good Shepherd has sheep to gather into the fold. Apart, however, from this ultimate reason, we may safely say that the grand proximate cause why revivals are brief and few is because there is so little faith and expectation and prayer for them on the part of the people of God. Christians are contented with cold, vague, and general views of the coming of Christ's kingdom. They do not really expect revivals. They are willing to go on, as they have been doing, without any greater progress or more visible success. This is dishonouring to God and injurious to his cause. It is a state of lively and unwearied faith, -- it is expecting much and thinking well and generously of God which is pleasing to him, and draws down his blessing. -- When is it that revivals appear? Generally after much prayer and earnest expectation. Even in the recent case of Kilsyth, good men prayed and died in the belief that the revival was coming years before it appeared. And what does this show but that living faith -- full confidence in the promises of God is the high road to success? Indeed, what is the use of a promise -- how can it be of any service, except as it is held and pleaded in prayer? We would not have presumed to ask God for great revivals of religion had he not condescended to promise: but having promised what is our duty but to believe his word, and to live in the lively expectation that the prediction shall be accomplished? It is thus that we honour God and obtain the thing promised. As there is nothing which honours Him more than fully, cheerfully, unreservedly believing his word; so there is nothing in return which He more honours than this believing. He blesses it with success. One reason of the greater number and power of revivals
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in Scotland than in many other countries may just be, that one revival leads to more faith and expectation and prayer for other revivals. Thus revivals may be said to perpetuate themselves -- they draw forth the disposition of soul which God has promised to acknowledge and reward. Since the religious movement in this vicinity, there have been far more faith and expectation of a revival -- much more belief of the promises and prophecies; consequently much more prayer for the blessing. In all probability this shall be ere long rewarded, if it be not already in the course of reward, by a larger number of revivals: and these still more conspicuous in their character. O how delightful will be the day when revivals, by exciting faith and expectation and prayer, in connection with the promises and prophecies of God's word, shall awaken other revivals, and these shall move on like enlarging circles on the waters, giving birth to other and more comprehensive movements, till the sacred influence shall reach the very circumference of the lake and cover the whole surface with the indications of the presence of the Spirit who stirreth the waters. How delightful when not a part, a single parish or congregation of the church, here and there, shall receive a few drops of the shower; but when the whole church shall obtain the plenteous rain, and when the more that she receives she shall be stirred up but to expect and believe and pray for the more, till the whole world shall share in the blessings of the church and the knowledge of the Lord shall cover the earth as the waters cover the channel of the deep.
Since then it is want of faith on the part of believers which is one of the grand obstacles to the general revival of religion; -- since it is the Church herself who makes revivals few and partial and short-lived, let us all be awoke to the faith; and not to any sort of faith, but to strong and lively and persevering faith in the promises of God regarding the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Let us study the promises and the predictions or the word of Jehovah; let us be familiar with them; let us be fully persuaded of their infallible truth; let us be ever confidently looking for their fulfilment; where there is delay, let us be wearying for its end, and enquiring into
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the causes of postponement; and the fewer and more abridged revivals have been in the past, let that just be an additional reason why we should be all the more earnest in our hopes and expectations of the future. Let us beware of unbelief, or of a cold, indolent, unexpectant faith. This is but to invite delay; it is to court failure. What was the reason that so many of the Israelites who stood victorious and rejoicing on the shores on the Red sea did not enter the promised land, and did not take possession of Canaan in the name of the Lord? It was their want of faith. They went on a similar errand to that on which we and the Christian church are called upon to go. Commanded by divine authority -- cheered by divine promise -- they were required to go forth, -- to overthrow the kingdom of' idolatry, superstition, and crime, -- to plant throughout the length and breadth of Canaan the knowledge of the one living and true God: But their faith was weak; they were terrified by difficulties; they refused to apply all their energies in the service of Jehovah. The result was, what might have been expected -- the idolatry of the Canaanites continued. the vast body of the Israelites perished in the wilderness; only two of them were privileged to enter the promised land. If, with our higher advantages, going forth, to take possession of countries -- not for ourselves, but for our Master -- using not the temporal sword against the lives of the heathen, but the sword of the Spirit, even the word of the Lord, for the salvation of their souls, and animated by the promises and prophecies of Jehovah, we yet fail through unbelief or weakness of faith, will it be wonderful that the result in our case should be equally fruitless and disgraceful? While unbelief is so disastrous, how noble, how successful is strong faith. What was it which subdued kingdoms, and wrought righteousness, and obtained promises, and stopped the mouths of lions, and quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness was made strong, waxed valiant in fight, put to flight the armies of the aliens, and sustained the martyrs in their unparalleled struggles, even unto death? It was strong faith -- full confidence in the promises of God, and in the prospects
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which He held forth of the future success and triumph of his cause.
Let us then be strong in faith, and so give glory to God. Conscious of our own weakness, let our prayer be, "Lord, increase our faith." This was a prayer which was preferred by the disciples when they were called to the discharge of a difficult duty, the continued forgiveness of provoking injury. Let us present the same petition when called, as we now are, to carry forward the kingdom of Christ amid almost in surmountable obstacles and obstructions; when called to believe God's word in circumstances highly unpropitious to faith. Let us be expecting revivals, and large ones; let us be looking out for the streaks of dawn upon the horizon, and anticipating the coming day. How happy for the wearied traveller, after toiling through a long and arid waste, on reaching the top of a mountain ridge, suddenly to behold a vast expanse of nature's richest scenery spread out before him; the green fields and the waving forests, and the village or the city glistening in the sunshine! Would not his heart beat with joy on reaching such an oasis as this? Should the Christian's joy be less when, after the long weary wilderness condition of the church, advancing where there is progress but by slow degrees -- scanty tufts of verdure here and there -- his eye unexpectedly falls upon successive and ever enlarging fields of living verdure-water springing up to everlasting life -- trees of righteousness, the planting of Jehovah -- all giving indication of an immortal youth -- of an eternal summer?
In conclusion, let me exhort Christians to be comforted and animated. None can enjoy greater sources of satisfaction and hope; other causes may fail -- theirs is sure of ultimate triumph; come what will of present difficulty or trial, they are on the winning side: let them be persuaded of this, and exercise lively faith in the promises of God. Such faith will impart cheerfulness and joy to all their prayers and labours. Instead of being cold and contracted and discouraged in their obedience, like the sell-righteous sinner, they shall, like the reconciled and confiding believer, live in perpetual sunshine. They will be ever expecting good, and good
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will ever be flowing in upon them. Not that they are to reason with themselves in this manner: 'Revivals, and ultimate and universal success are promised; they shall come of themselves; let us resign ourselves to the ease of a dreaming expectation.' No: this would be a gross perversion of the Scripture doctrine of promises and predictions -- of the same character with a prostitution of the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints. Promises are not intended to supersede prayer or labour, but to give cheerfulness and support under the discharge of their duties. Such perversions would unfit for present obedience, and would even prevent Christians availing themselves of the advantages of revivals when they came.
Let me exhort formalists to arise to serious sell-consideration and to diligence. They have been taught how glorious are the days of revival which await the church -- what care and zeal will be one day entertained and cherished regarding the one thing needful by multitudes now thoughtless and unconvinced. Can they be then any longer careless? When they see what earnest promises and predictions regard the conversion of others, can they be cold and indifferent about their own, or can they account the dry formalities of a mere external service a good enough religion -- all that is required? Will they not rather feel themselves rebuked by the manifest warmth and zeal of the promised revivals, and stimulated to seek and possess a religion in better accordance with that which the Spirit of the Lord proclaims to be genuine and divine? Can they object to revivals now, and look upon them with suspicion and disdain, when they are found to occupy so large a part of the prophetic Scriptures, and when under God they supply the readiest means of overcoming all the present evils of society and of the world, and of rendering Christianity, with all its blessings, universal and all-pervading?
Lastly, let me exhort the open enemy of the gospel, whether a professed infidel or an abandoned, ungodly sinner, to draw a lesson of solemn warning from the subject which we have been considering. If the promises and prophecies of the universal triumphs of the truth through the medium of successive revivals be so
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many and strong and sure, how vain is all his opposition to them. He may hurt himself; he cannot prevent or even arrest the cause of the Redeemer. It shall advance and prevail in spite of him. It has already overcome far more formidable hostility than any which he can hope to muster; the Devil has nothing new to offer; and the promise of Jehovah standeth sure for ever. He is pledged to see to the triumph of his truth and people. Instead of indulging in fruitless opposition, let the sinner now be wise and instructed; let him serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling; let him kiss the Son ere he be angry, and he perish from the way. Let him remember that when the wrath, of the Lamb is kindled but a little, blessed -- happy indeed are all they who have put their trust in him.