We could mention other ancient cities as blessed with revivals. We could tell you of Athens, the eye and glory of Greece; of Philippi, the chief city of Macedonia; of Iconium, “where a great multitude, both of the Jews and also of the Greeks, believed;” of Rome too, and many others; but we forbear, since enough is already before you to illustrate the position, that cities were the theatres of the Holy Spirit’s first and most illustrious achievements. Indeed, what is the book of the Acts, but one continued history of revivals in cities and populous places?
Experienced Generals bend their most powerful forces against those positions most strongly intrenched; well knowing, that if these are subdued, the courage of the enemy is daunted, his plans marred, and that what remains may fall an easy conquest. Why then should Christians leave to Satan the quiet dominion of cities? He would rather give up a thousand inland posts, than these strong holds of his empire. But, Oh, could he be dislodged from these, how paralyzed would be his arm—how feeble his resistance—how lost his influence! Would you see the power of Satan in cities? Cast your eye back upon the past. What were Sodom and Gomorrah? What were Tyre, and Sidon, and Ninevah? What was Babylon? What was Jerusalem in its latter days, when given up accursed of God? What were they, but sinks of pollution and fountains of ruin? And could we draw aside the curtains of darkness, what might we see in modern cities! Oh, the pollution, and dark waters, that are open to the eye of God! Oh, the thousand lures to vice! Oh, the frauds, the oppressions, the numberless wrongs, which break down the integrity of the young; which harden the middle-aged, and cover gray hairs with shame, and wretchedness, and ruin! Oh, the dissipations, over which custom has thrown an influence well nigh omnipotent! Oh, the tauntings, and the high looks, the stiff neck, and the contemptuous sneer, with which wealth and station conduct themselves towards the lowliness of Christian meekness! Oh, the power that nerves itself against holiness! Wealth and imposing splendour, eloquence and numbers, are in its ranks. Perjury and cruel mockings are among its weapons. Oh, the chains of darkness and gates of death, with which the strong man armed here holds his prisoners! How loudly then do these demand the commiseration and special effort of those, who would proclaim liberty to the captives, and life to the dead! And for the encouragement of the faithful, we add,
God is wont to accompany the efforts of his people with special grace, whenever they are exposed to extraordinary hazards. So, where peculiar difficulties obstruct the advance of truth, there will also be found other circumstances, which, if properly seized, will greatly facilitate the work of reformation.