Structures On Revivals Of Religion -- By: W. H. H. Marsh
BSac 19:134 (April 1877) p. 334
Structures On Revivals Of Religion
One of the prominent evangelical agencies of our time for the promotion of vital piety and the salvation of men is best defined by the current phrase which the agency has coined as descriptive of itself, “revival effort.” Such effort is now nearly universally accepted as indispensable to the growth of existing churches and the planting of new ones. So general is this recognition that to submit any criticisms on the theory or method of such efforts is to invoke on ourselves the severe censure of those who set themselves up as the special champions and promoters of religious awakenings. To do so often incurs the charge of frigid conservatism, or a want of zeal for the Lord, or a want of interest in the salvation of sinners. If pastors or churches raise any question as to the scripturalness, or even the expediency, of measures employed, they are assumed to have no sympathy with the thing itself. If they institute an earnest, scriptural inquiry into the theory and objects proposed by the special advocates of revivals and revival measures, they are assumed to be influenced more by excessive caution than by love for souls; more by indifference to the end sought than by sincere rev-
BSac 19:134 (April 1877) p. 335
erence for the biblical and evangelical character of the means employed. It seems never to be surmised by those who assert themselves the special advocates and promoters of revivals, that they are fallible; may possibly have more zeal than knowledge; or, that in the eagerness with which they press their “one idea “they become reckless respecting the means they employ, or virtually adopt the Jesuitical maxim, that” the end sanctifies the means.” Evangelists must not be criticized. Measures proposed must be neither questioned nor sifted. We must accept with subservient meekness, and without any doubt, as an ordained agency of God whatever labels itself evangelical effort, and avows as its object the promotion of revivals of religion, however sentimental or sensational it may be. It is necessarily wise, expedient and scriptural, because the end it proposes is in itself good. To examine into its nature or its essential tendencies or probable results is an impertinence; to object is a proof of want of sympathy with the thing itself; and to withhold co-operation is disobedience to the plain indications of Divine Providence.
But notwithstanding all this, there is a conviction, widespread and growing, among our wisest and most devoted pastors and our best churches, some of whom have reached their conclusions by the way of bitter experience in spurious revivals and reckless measures for their promotion, that there is something radically wrong in our theory of revivals and methods ...
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