There was scarcely a single person in the town, old or young, left unconcerned about the great things of the eternal world. Those who were wont to be the vainest and loosest, and those who had been disposed to think and speak lightly of vital and experimental religion, were now generally subject to great awakenings. And the work of conversion was carried on in a most astonishing manner, and increased more and more; souls did as it were come by flocks to Jesus Christ.
“The priests went into the inner part of the house of the LORD, to cleanse it, and brought out all the uncleanness that they found in the temple of the LORD into the court of the house of the LORD.” (2 Chron. 29:16-17, KJV)
As we look back upon the past and forward to the future, a multitude of thoughts naturally rush upon our minds. But there is one subject that may well supersede the consideration of every other: the welfare of the church of Jesus Christ. We have seen her desolation and felt her reproach, and something must be done for her deliverance and enlargement.
Our text may give us helpful direction for the state in which we now find ourselves. When Hezekiah came to the throne of Judah, he found religion in a low and languishing state. His father, Ahaz, was not only an idolatrous king but notorious for his impiety. The torrent of vice, irreligion, and idolatry had already swept away the ten tribes of Israel and threatened to destroy Judah and Benjamin.
With this state of things, the heart of pious Hezekiah was deeply affected. He could not bear to see the holy temple debased and the idols of the Gentiles exalted. Although he was but a youthful prince, he made a bold, persevering, and successful attempt to effect a revival. He destroyed the high places, cut down the groves, and broke the graven images. He commanded the doors of the Lord’s house to be opened and repaired. He exhorted the priests and Levites to purify the temple, to restore the morning and evening sacrifices, to reinstate the observation of the Passover, and to withhold no exertion to promote a radical reformation in the principles and habits of the people.
The humble man or woman of God will read the account of the benevolent efforts of Hezekiah and his associates with devout admiration. As he looks back, his heart will beat high with hope. Success is not restricted to the exertions of Hezekiah. A revival of religion is as within our reach as it was within his over twenty-five hundred years ago.
If we rise to the survey of the world—if ascending the lofty eminence which is occupied by the genius of history, we review the annals of our race; or setting out with the traveler, we bring the eye of observation to bear on the existing condition of mankind—what a mournful picture is presented to the reflecting mind! Over by far the larger portion of that wide expanse, what does either the past or the present exhibit, but” darkness covering the earth and gross darkness the people”? Millions upon millions of our fellow-creatures, possessed of the same rational, moral, and immortal nature with ourselves, sunk to the level of the beasts that perish; ignorant alike of their origin and of their end—”changing the glory of the incorruptible Jehovah into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds and four-footed beasts and creeping things.”
“It is transporting and astonishing, that after all the great and horrid provocations we have given the Most-High in this church and land, by growing deism and infidelity, carnality and profanity, formality and hypocrisy, our bitter envyings and unreasonable divisions, but most of all by a general rejecting of the blessed Son of God by unbelief, and using gospel ordinances contentedly without feeling the power of them, the Lord hath been so far from utterly forsaking us, and making our country desolate by some destroying judgment, that he is in ” wrath remembering mercy,” and beginning manifestly to revive his work, and help us in such a situation as was become hopeless and helpless by any human possible means.”
In this town there has always been a great deal of talk about conversion and spiritual experiences; and therefore people in general had formed a notion in their own minds what these things were. But when they come to be the subjects of them, they find themselves much confounded in their notions, and overthrown in many of their former conceits. And it has been very observable, that persons of the greatest understanding, and who had studied most about things of this nature, have been more confounded than others.
Introduction: the word Revival defined. The Connecticut Evangelical Magazine. The authors Heman Humphrey, Bennet Tyler, Ashbel Green, and other key pastors in this history. Authentic narratives from numerous first-hand accounts.
Hodge’s masterful analysis of the aberrations that happened during the Great Awakening. Agree with him or not, this is Hodge at his best and must be consulted by any serious historical student. “there must have been something very wrong in the revival itself. It may, however, be said, that the decay of religion through the land generally, is perfectly consistent with the purity of the revival and the flourishing state of those particular churches which had experienced its influence. The facts of the case, unfortunately, do not allow us the benefit of this assumption. It is no doubt true, that in some congregations… religion was in a very desirable state, in the midst of the general decline; but it is no less certain, that in many instances, in the very places where the revival was the most remarkable, the declension was the most serious.”
He was infinitely and insatiably greedy of the conversion of souls wherein he had no small success in the time of his ministry ; And to this end, he poured out his very heart in prayer and preaching ; he imparted not the gospel only, but his own soul. His supplications, and his exhortations, many times were so affectionate, so full of holy zeal, life, and vigour, that they quite overcame his hearers: he melted
over them, so that he thawed and mollified, and sometimes
dissolved the hardest hearts. But while he melted thus, he
wasted, and at last consumed himself. Thus he did wear himself away, and gave light and heat to others.
On this edition of the Polemics report, I discuss the history of true genuine revivals and introduce the listeners to those books that are most helpful on this subject. I also read excerpts from numerous historical accounts.
It is said of the righteous man, that he“bringeth forth his fruit in his season.” “Not so the ungodly, not so,”—they bring forth no fruit; or if there be here and there a shrivelled grape upon the vine, it is brought forth in the wrong season when the genial heat of the sun cannot ripen it, and therefore it is sear and worthless.
Now, how reasonable is it to suppose, that God, when he shall come and put an end to the present state of mankind, will in an open, public manner, the whole world being present, rectify all these disorders! And that he will bring all things to a trial by a general judgment, in order that those who have been oppressed may be delivered; that the righteous cause may be pleaded and vindicated, and wickedness, which has been approved, honored, and rewarded, may receive its due disgrace and punishment; that the proceedings of kings and earthly judges may be inquired into by him, whose eyes are as a flame of fire; and that the public actions of men may be publicly examined and recompensed according to their desert! How agreeable is it to divine wisdom thus to order things, and how worthy of the supreme governor of the world!