It was Jonathan Edwards who first capitalized on the capabilities of the publishing world, as it existed in New England in the mid-1700’s, to let the rest of the world in on the outpouring of the Spirit in his church in Northampton, Massachusetts.
Some of those published accounts made it all the way to England, and raised the level of expectancy and a sense of urgency in the hearts of John Wesley, George Whitefield, and Daniel Rowlands for the Lord to do a similar work in Great Britain in their day.
We can’t lose touch with those stories.
It doesn’t mean that God is obliged to work in our day, in exactly the same way He did in the Great Awakening, but the stories do an important work:
1. Their description of the dark days of spiritual apathy and the corruption of the Church, preceding their revival, keep us from utter despair at similar conditions we are seeing in our day.
2. Their description of the sense of holy dissatisfaction that stirred a remnant in their day to a protracted ministry of prayer for revival, stirs something similar in us.
3. The stories they publish of the sudden and remarkable things God accomplished reviving the love of God in the hearts of believers stirs a profound hunger in us and gives us hope and even expectancy for our churches today.
4. The stories of well-stewarded historical revivals also provide tracks for stewarding the next move of God will hopefully see in our day. Revivals can so easily devolve into weirdness and the historical accounts can help prevent the excesses that have killed revivals before.
All of which leads me to my story for this blog.
I am sitting in the antique bookstore of Richard Owen Roberts, in Wheaton, Illinois.
In my opinion, Richard Owen Roberts and Henry Blackaby are probably the two remaining scholars of revival in the U.S.
Over the years, Richard Owen Roberts has amassed a significant library on the subject of revival. Most of the books on revival in my personal library have come from his bookstore.
Today, I had the privilege of setting up a meeting between Richard Owen Roberts and a representative of Asbury Seminary to explore the possibility of Asbury adding a research section on revival to their library from Richard Owen Roberts’ collection.
Sitting in his bookstore I just picked up “Lectures on Revival” by a group of Scottish ministers, published in 1840.
One contributor writes concerning the things that led up to revival of the church in his day:
- The attention of the church was earnestly called to the subject of revival by public discourses (sermons).
- The records (stories) of what glorious things the Lord had wrought amongst us, which our fathers had told us of, were recovered from neglect, and sent through the length and breadth of the land.
- The people were stirred up to private, to family, and to public prayer for revival. And perhaps there was no Christian church in the land in which there was not a constant prayer made that the Lord would “visit and refresh His heritage, which was weary.”
You can imagine my excitement when I turned the page of this revival account to read…
“The time prayed for has begun to appear. The day longed for has broken. The windows of heaven have rained at least on some fleeces long spread in dryness; and many are surprised.”
So, while I am here in Wheaton doing all I can to ensure the preservation of a revival library for future generations, let me encourage you to get hold of some old books on revival and start having your faith stirred for revival in our day.
(Check out some titles on Church Awakening store @ https://churchawakening.com/shop/)