Will you not revive us again: that your people may rejoice in you?
Each of the last four centuries, to go no farther back, has been distinguished by a great revival of religion. In the sixteenth century there came what we may call the Protestant revival, in the seventeenth century the Puritan revival, in the eighteenth century the Evangelical revival; and during the nineteenth century we have witnessed a revival which it is more difficult to characterize, but which has been as real and will probably prove as fruitful as any of the former. It has manifested itself in various ways, by high ritualism on the one hand and by much earnest evangelism on the other. Probably its most distinguishing characteristic is that it has inspired Christian people with a strong desire to reach the whole population of the land, to uplift socially and morally the most degraded, and so perhaps it might be called the Democratic revival. It is certain that neither this nor any other of the religious movements I have named has boon unmixed good or evil. Like all things on earth, they have bison imperfect in character and results. But in each case there has been a vast preponderance of good, and all of them have helped to hasten on the age of universal righteousness. And the history of these four centuries seems to render infinitely probable a great revival in the twentieth century Another fact which makes us confident that we shall shortly witness a great revival is the manifest need of it. The coldness and deadness of many of our churches, the utter indifference of the masses, the neglect of public worship, the practical infidelity which is so common in all ranks of society, the hopeless misery of the "submerged tenth," the comparative failure of the churches to rescue the very classes in which Jesus showed the greatest interest and amongst which He gained His chief success, all these things prove that a revival is necessary. Now, we find that when the need is greatest the help is nearest. It is the way of the Lord to display His grace and power in the day of His people's extremity. The coming revival will be an intellectual movement. It will very largely consist in the awakening of the mind. Of course, every revival is in some degree an intellectual movement. Conversion implies the opening of the eyes and the turning from darkness to light. But in former revivals the intellectual element has not been the most prominent. A century ago, and even later, religion was chiefly emotional. The majority of the people in this country were uneducated, many of them were grossly ignorant. They were incapable of understanding an argument or of appreciating a spiritual idea. And so the preachers of the evangelical movement appealed to the fears of men. In the coming revival men will be brought to God, not by craven terror, not by coercion of any kind, but by persuasion, by conviction, by recognition of the truth. The religious movement of the twentieth century will be the triumphal progress of reason. But the chief glory of the coming revival will be its ethical character. It will bring about a great moral reformation. The weak point in former revivals has been in the development of character. We find Martin Luther complaining that the Protestants were no better in moral character than the Catholics. produced many eminent saints, yet it also produced some notable hypocrites. The Puritan theology did not give to morality the high place to which it was entitled; and, indeed, in some respects it tended rather to depress the importance of moral character. In the coming revival high and pure morality will be accorded its sacred rights. It will be a revival of righteousness; it will fill men with an enthusiasm for goodness. It will be inspired by the practical theology of Jesus Christ; not by the theology of Luther, or Calvin, or Augustine, or even of Paul, so much as by that of the Great Master. And so it will produce in Christian men a character more true and manly, more Christlike, and more Divine. And on this account the coming revival will be more extensive and more permanent in its results than any that have preceded it. The great sign and evidence of the revival, when it comes, will be its manifesting power, its power of discrimination and discovery. Men are separated by great lines of moral demarcation, but generally these lines are visible only to Omniscience. When the revival comes they will show up clearly and with astonishing vividness. There are those who are saved and know they are saved: they will be the chief instruments of the revival. There are those who are not saved and know they are not; they will be the objects upon which the revival will exert its convincing and converting power. But there are also those who think they are saved and are not, good, easy people, self-complacent and censorious, to them the revival will bring a rude awakening. There is yet another class — those who are saved and do not know it — a much more numerous class than is generally supposed. With the great revival there will come to them a clearer vision. Receiving the Spirit of adoption, they will thenceforth serve the Lord with gladness. Doubt and weakness will give place to confidence and strength.
(S. T. Bosworth, B. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Wilt thou not revive us again: that thy people may rejoice in thee?