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Sunday, November 09, 2014

Lectures on Revivals of Religion, by Charles Grandison Finney, 8

1. Revivals were formerly regarded as miracles. And it has been so by some even in our day. And others have ideas on the subject so loose and unsatisfactory, that if they would only think, they would see their absurdity. For a long time, it was supposed by the church, that a revival was a miracle, an interposition of Divine power which they had nothing to do with, and which they had no more agency in producing, than they had in producing thunder, or a storm of hail, or an earthquake. It is only within a few years that ministers generally have supposed revivals were to be promoted, by the use of means designed and adapted specially to that object. Even in New England, it has been supposed that revivals came just as showers do, sometimes in one town, and sometimes in another, and that ministers and churches could do nothing more to produce them than they could to make showers of rain come on their own town, when they are falling on a neighboring town. 

It used to be supposed that a revival would come about once in fifteen years, and all would be converted that God intended to save, and then they must wait until another crop came forward on the stage of life. Finally, the time got shortened down to five years, and they supposed there might be a revival about as often as that. 

I have heard a fact in relation to one of these pastors, who supposed revivals might come about once in five years. There had been a revival in his congregation. The next year, there was a revival in a neighboring town, and he went there to preach, and staid several days, till he got his soul all engaged in the work. He returned home on Saturday, and went into his study to prepare for the Sabbath. And his soul was in an agony. He thought how many adult persons there were in his congregation at enmity with God—so many still unconverted—so many persons die yearly—such a portion of them unconverted—if a revival does not come under five years, so many adult heads of families will be in hell. He put down his calculations on paper, and embodied them in his sermon for the next day, with his heart bleeding at the dreadful picture. As I understood it, he did not do this with any expectation of a revival, but he felt deeply, and poured out his heart to his people. And that sermon awakened forty heads of families, and a powerful revival followed; and so his theory about a revival once in five years was all exploded. 

Thus God has overthrown, generally, the theory that revivals are miracles.

The previous post in this series is here. Charles Grandison Finneyʼs Lectures on Revivals of Religion is in the public domain, as I understand it. It is available here. Thanks for reading. Seek revival.


FancyHorse said...

Not having grown up in an evangelical church, I did not know what revivals were until I was an adult.

In the Southern Baptist church in the 1960s, they held "revivals" about twice a year, with a guest preacher and musician and meetings every night for a week.

It was only later, after I was saved and had matured some in my spiritual life, that I realized that a true revival comes from the Holy Spirit. It is not an event that is planned and organized by a church body.

Martin LaBar said...

Indeed. However, it would be possible for the Holy Spirit to use a scheduled meeting.


FancyHorse said...

Of course!

Martin LaBar said...

Yes, of course. Thanks.