[Footnote A: It is very unfair to represent those clergy as opposed to revivals who may not have attended “revival meetings.” These meetings were often summoned and managed by self-appointed committees of laymen, whose names were unknown to the clergy, and no guarantee whatever was afforded as to who would address them, or how they would be conducted. Clergymen, therefore, were unwilling either to attend as mere spectators, or to appear on the platform, where they might be placed in the unpleasant position of either opposing or acquiescing in what was said or done. They, therefore, confined their labours to their own flock, thankfully acknowledging the good which may have been done by others in the way which seemed best to them; and also themselves finding, when sought, a portion of the blessing for their people.]
On the other hand, whatever form revivals may take, or have taken, in any country or district, whatever mistakes have been made, or whatever evils have accompanied them or been occasioned by them, yet we cannot admit that any objections can be valid which would hinder us from hoping for such wide-spread and rapid extension of the gospel as we have never yet seen, nor from believing that a very real and genuine revival has to a remarkable extent taken place, and is yet going on, throughout our country and the world.
But let us briefly state the ordinary objections against revivals:—
1. “We have no great faith in sudden conversions,” is a form of expression in which we hear revivals objected to, when the subject happens to be the topic of conversation in ordinary society.
Alas! how many have little faith in the necessity of any conversion! A want of hearty conviction regarding human sinfulness and guilt, and a tendency rather to flatter man’s character, worship his genius, and almost deify his powers, lies too much at the root of many of the views and feelings of our day about religion; and hence there is a corresponding want of faith in the necessity of that “new life” which some time or other every one must possess, or in the “supernatural” means required either for the removal of man’s guilt and his restoration to the Divine favour, or for the renewal of man’s nature and his restoration to the Divine image. There are, in short very inadequate convictions—if these are brought to a Scripture test—either as to the state out of which or into which every man must be brought before he can be saved. But, nevertheless, there are moral necessities grounded on the character of God as it is, and the character of man as it is and ought to be, which remain the same in every age and clime. Some of these necessities are expressed by such declarations as—“Ye must be born again.” “Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” “If any man is in Christ Jesus, he is a new creature.”