The weakest Christian has but one answer to give to such a question. He may be pained by anticipating the contrast which he thinks is not unlikely to be presented between himself and others more holy; or he may fear that what is false and fleeting, but more attractive, may, in a time of excitement, usurp the place of what is real and permanent, though less obtrusive; but he cannot but desire with his whole heart that he himself and all men may become more and more awake to the realities of truth, and be revived as by the breath of a new spring, so as to grow more in grace, and bring forth more fruit to the glory of God.
For, given that a revival is possible,—that a wide-spread interest in the will of God towards men, with a corresponding power vouchsafed to know it and do it, may be suddenly produced and permanently sustained in the minds of men,—we ask, Is not this the one grand blessing from God which we require? To the question, “What wilt thou that I should do unto thee?” which we may conceive our loving Lord putting to His blind, deaf, lame, even dead brethren of mankind, does not the response come from individuals and congregations, from solitary mourners, and from unhappy hearts, from the weary, the hopeless, the despairing, the labourers at home and abroad—“Life, Lord! We need life in our souls, life in our duties, life in our minds, life in our families, life in our teaching and hearing, in our working and praying, life in all and for all!”
All our clergy constantly need a revival of genuine life,—life which no parishioner might be able to define, but which, if there, every one would soon perceive. It would be felt in every home like the breath of spring, experienced beside every sick-bed like a touch of healing, and be heard in every sermon like a voice from heaven. Oh, what a heavenly gift to himself and others would this be, and what a time of refreshing from the Lord! And how many would share the blessing, now hindered, perhaps, by his own unbelief and satisfaction with indifference. For though “dead” ministers may in some rare cases have succeeded in saving souls, we never heard of living ones who had in every case failed. God has ordained that a living ministry—the preaching of those who utter what they themselves know from personal experience to be true—shall be His most powerful instrumentality for converting the world. We believe, accordingly, that every minister, whose own soul became alive, would soon find that his life was contagious, and that his living spirit would tell upon other spirits in a way never before realised by him. That indescribable impression made by a genuine Christian character, which never can be successfully imitated, would exercise a marvellous influence upon all with whom he came in contact; and if he had one sorrow for life, it would be the remembrance of the dark and horrible time when he was a mere formalist, dead to the eternal interests of his own soul and the souls of others.