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Nature and Origin of Revivals.

Nature and Origin of Revivals.

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Published by glennpease
NATURE AND ORIGIN OF REVIVALS.

REV. E. BICKERSTETH, A. M.


" O Lord, revive thy work in the midst of the years." — Habakkuk, iii. 2.
NATURE AND ORIGIN OF REVIVALS.

REV. E. BICKERSTETH, A. M.


" O Lord, revive thy work in the midst of the years." — Habakkuk, iii. 2.

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Published by: glennpease on May 05, 2013
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01/11/2014

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ATURE AD ORIGI OF REVIVALS.REV. E. BICKERSTETH, A. M." O Lord, revive thy work in the midst of the years." — Habakkuk, iii. 2.This, my brethren, is our hearts' desire and prayer for you. What greaterwish can your present minister, or your former minister, have for the good of his congregation, than that there should be a blessed revival of the work of graceamong you ? And as it is the prayer of your minister, so, I doubt not, it is theprayer, the heart's desire, of very many before me. Long has tlie truth as itis in Jesus been preached in this congregation ; times of refreshing from thepresence of the Lord we have again and again had : what we want to see is, freshsupplies of grace imparted from season to season, and the work of tlie Lordcontinually growing and reviving among you. May these wishes, these prayers,be abundantly answered at this time.I purpose this evening to direct your attention to these four points : — first,the state calling for a revival: secondly, the nature of a revival of God's work;thirdly, the only source from which it can flow : and, fourtlil>', the time inwhich it should be sought. And O that while I am preaching upon the subject,the Spirit of our God itself may realize the truth in many a heart before me ;that it may indeed be a blessed beginning of a revival of the work of grace inour souls.First, I have to consider, the State calling for a Revival. A revivalis a return to life and vigour, from a state of languor and decay. A revivalsupposes a previous profession of the Gospel, and in its strictest sense, a previouspartaking of its life and power. But I will consider the state calling for arevival in a larger sense, as applying to the Churcli in general, and to us asindividuals.I will look at it, first, as it regards the Cliurch in general. The Church of Thrist needs revival. Though better than it once was, it is not, I apprehend,taking a large view of the whole Church of Christ, in a lively state as to deepand practical godliness. There are comparatively few flourishing Churches,wliere the congregations are manifestly prosperous to a large extent in theirsouls. Tliere is a vast increase of profession in our day, and with that, I doubtnot, an increase of real piety. But in the midst of that, there is much disunionamong different bodies of Christians; and there is among Christians themselvesbut a low standard of devotedness to Christ ; a low standard of doctrine, and of devotedness to liim. We ouglit as Christians, to have a lively and deep interestin tiie Church of Chriht- a lively and deep interest in the conversion of aliVOL, I, 2 K , •
 
498 ATURE AD ORIGI OP REVTVAL8.around us ; our family, our relatives, our friends, our neighbours, and ourcountry : we ought to have a deep and lively interest in the spread of the Gospel,both among Jews and among Gentiles, throughout the world, I bless Godthat there are good reasons to hope, the anniversaries of the different societieswill shew, that there h<is been a real and considerable increase in zeal and libe-rality for the diffusion of the Gospel. I'hat society in which fill along you havetaken so lively an interest — the Church Missionary Society, will considerablyenlarge its funds ; and the interest of the Jewish Society, and other religioussocieties, are prosperous : and I trust, as many of you as are able m ill attend theanniversaries and sermons that are to be preached for the various societies.But in looking more particularly at that Church to which we belong, withwhich we are more immediately connected, never was it more the object of attack and of enmity than it has been in the present day. This will only endearit to those M'ho, on conscientious principles, adiiere to our established Church,and feel that it has been greatly lionoured of God in promoting his spiritualkino^dom throughout our land. This attack not only comes from the open infidel,but from those from whom we least expected it — brethren in Christ of otherdenominations. The Lord give us grace to receive every such attack, not inthe spirit of anger, but in the spirit of meekness and gentleness; not returningrailino' for railing, but praying for them who oppose us, and return love andkindness, and good will for every such attack upon us. But all these things,I hope, will have an important effect in reviving the Church of England and theCliurch of Christ at large.Times of conflict and trial are doubtless before us ; but they are not times of evil to the Spiritual Church ; they are not times of evil to the ('hurcli of Christ.Blessed be God, whatever takes place all around us, the Church of Christ, builton a rock, can never be shaken, never be moved.This is the state of things calling for a revival in the Church generallv. ow.with regard to us, as individuals, look what God's word calls us to. " Ibeseech you that ye present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptableunto God, which is your reasonable service." "A living sacrifice!" "Takeup your cross daily ; deny yourself, and follow me." Daily self denial. " Livenot to yourselves, but to him who died for you." Devotedness to Clirist. Is thisour character, or anything like it? Is there not in us — what Ciiristian will notconfess it — a state of worldliness, a state of lukewarmness, a state of formality?Thus in a state of worldliness, we much need revival. When tlie cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things, enter in,they choke the word ; when the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and tl;epride of life, are in anv way indulged or yielded to, what a tendency all this
 
has to deaden all spiritual life. So in a state of lukewarmness : the state of Laodicea; " I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot ;" thou artlukewarm. " I would thou wert cold or hot. o zeal for God and his glory ;no ardour for the kingdom of Christ ; an indifference to the means of grace.This is a state manifestly calling for a revival. So those in a state oi formalityneed revival. The Apostle speaks in the latter day, of many having "the formof godliness, but denying the power thereof" You observe it is not the formof religion, it is not the form of profession, but it is the form of godliness.Tiiere may be all the appearance of godliness, that which the Morld denounces;♦.hat which the world scoffs at — godliness ; there may be a reception of doctrine;there may be a profession of these before men, there may be a liberal handATURE AD ORIGI OF REVIVALS. 4*J9there may be ai? attendunce upon the means of grace, and yet no work of God going on in the heart, and it may be all the work of the natural mind ;the form without the power ; the form of godliness, but denying in the life thepower of it. ow, my beloved brethren, in proportion as we have a cleardiscernment of our hearts and our lives, we shall see how much there is of allthis in our hearts and in our lives. Who does not feel it that knows what hisheart is by nature ? And who does not daily, if a Christian, groan under it, andcry out, " Oh! wretched man that 1 am, who shall deliver me from this bodyof sin and death ?" Hei-e is a state calling for a revival.ow let us look at the ature of the Revival of God's Work. Iwould show what is God's work in the soul, and wliat is the revival oi' that work.What is Go'Ts work in the heart of man ^ It is very different from man'swork: it is very different from the work of an individual, or a friend upon thatindividual ; of his own mind and thought ; of his parents, or of his minister.Man may do much that has a show of religion : there may be repentance likeAhab's; like Judas's repentance ; there may be knowledge, " so as to apprehendall mysteries ;" there may be faith, " so as to remove mountains ;" there may bealms-giving — " all our goods to feed the poor ;" there may be martyrdom — " ourbody to be burned ;" and yet it only be man's work. All the outward worksman may do ; all the intellectual understanding man may attain ; nay, all thegraces have their counterfeits and their resemblances, without the reality. God'swork is beyond all this; it is something superior to what man the creature canpossibly effect. It is marked by a new birth ; " born of the Spirit ;" having" a new heart, and a new spirit ;" " to as many as received Clirist, to them gavehe power to become the sons of God ; even to them that believe on his name."Why? " Who were born, not of blood" — not by natural descent from piousparents, " not by the will of man" — not by persuasion of those around them,whether of ministers or of Christian friends; "but who were born of God."Tliis is God's peculiar work in the new birth of the soul. It is marked by

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