One Antidote For Many Ills
“Turn us again, O Lord God of Hosts, cause Your face to shine; and we shall be saved.”
THIS seems to be the only prayer the Psalmist puts up in this Psalm, as being of itself sufficient for the removal of all the ills over which he mourned. Though he sighs over the strife of neighbors and the ridicule of foes, and laments the ill condition of the goodly vine, though he deplores its broken hedges and complains of the wild beasts that waste and devour it–yet he does not petition the Most High against these evils in detail. But gathering up all his wishes into this one prayer, he reiterates it over and over–“Turn us again, O Lord God of Hosts, cause Your face to shine. And we shall be saved.” The reason is obvious. He had traced all the calamities to one source, “O Lord God, how long will You be angry?”
And now he seeks refreshing from one fountain. Let Your face no longer frown, but let it beam upon us with a smile and all shall then be well. This is a select lesson for the Church of Christ. In your troubles, trials and adversities, seek first, chiefly, and above everything else, to have a revival of religion in your own breast–the presence of God in your own heart. Having that, you have scarcely anything beside to pray for. Whatever else may befall you shall work for your good. All that seems to impede your course shall really prove to be a prosperous gale–to waft you to your desired haven–only, take care that you seek God. Be sure that you are turned again unto Him and that He would give you the light of His countenance–and so shall you be saved.
This morning’s sermon, then, will be especially addressed to my own Church on the absolute necessity of true religion in our midst and of revival from all apathy and indifference. We may ask of God multitudes of other things, but among them all, let this be our chief prayer–“Lord, revive us. Lord, revive us!” We have uttered it in song. Let me stir up your pure minds, by way of remembrance, to utter it in your secret prayers and make it the daily aspiration of your souls. I feel, Beloved, that notwithstanding all opposition, God will help us to be “more than conquerors, through Him that loved us,” if we are true to ourselves and true to Him. But though all things should go smoothly and the sun should always shine upon our heads, we should have no prosperity if our own godliness failed–if we only maintained the form of religion, instead of having the very power of the Holy Spirit manifested in our midst.
I shall endeavor to urge upon you this morning, first of all, the benefits of revival, as we shall find some of them suggested in this Psalm. And secondly, the means of revival–“Turn us again, O Lord God of Hosts.” Thirdly I shall exhort you to use these means, that you may acquire these benefits.
- THE BENEFITS OF REVIVAL TO ANY CHURCH IN THE WORLD will be a lasting blessing. I do not mean that false and spurious kind of revival which was so common a few years ago. I do not mean all that excitement attendant upon religion, which has brought men into a kind of spasmodic godliness and translated them from sensible beings, into such as could only rave about a religion they did not understand. I do not think that is a real and true revival. God’s revivals, while they are attended with a great heat and warmth of piety, yet have with them knowledge as well as life, understanding as well as power. The revivals that we may consider to have been genuine were such as those worked by the instrumentality of such men as Jonathan Edwards in America and Whitfield in this country, who preached a Free Grace Gospel in all its fullness.
Such revivals I consider to be genuine and such revivals, I repeat again, would be a benefit to any Church under Heaven. There is no Church, however good it is, which might not be better. And there are many Churches sunken so low, that they have abundant need–if they would prevent spiritual death–to cry aloud, “Lord, revive us.”
Among the blessings of the revival of Christians, we commence, by noticing the salvation of sinners. When God is pleased to pour out His Spirit upon a Church in a larger measure than usual, it is always accompanied by the salvation of souls. And oh, this is a weighty matter, to have souls saved. Some laugh and think the salvation of the soul is nothing, but I trust, Beloved, you know so much of the value of souls that you will ever think it to be worth the laying down of your lives, if you might but be the means of the saving of one single soul from death.
The saving of souls, if a man has once gained love to perishing sinners and love to his blessed Master, will be an allabsorbing passion to him. It will so carry him away, that he will almost forget himself in the saving of others. He will be like the stout, brave fireman, who cares not for the scorch or for the heat, so that he may rescue the poor creature on whom true humanity has set his heart. He must, he will pluck such a one from the burning, at any cost and expense to himself.
Oh the zeal of such a man as that Whitfield to whom I have alluded! He says in one of his sermons, “My God, I groan day-by-day over the salvation of souls. Sometimes,” he says, “I think I could stand on the top of every hackney-coach in the streets of London, to preach God’s Word. It is not enough that I can do it night and day, laboring incessantly by writing and by preaching–I would that I were multiplied a thousand-fold–that I might have a thousand tongues to preach this Gospel of my blessed Redeemer.”
Ah, you find, too, many Christians who do not care about sinners being saved. The minister may preach, but what heed they the results? So long as he has a respectable congregation and a quiet people, it is enough. I trust, my Friends, we shall never sink to so low a state as to carry on our services without the salvation of souls. I have prayed to my God many a time and I hope to repeat the prayer, that when I have no more souls to save for Him, no more of His elect to be gathered home, He may allow me to be taken to Himself, that I may not stand as cumber ground in His vineyard, useless, seeing there is no more fruit to be brought forth.
I know you long for souls to be converted. I have seen your glad eyes when, at the Church meetings, night after night, sinners have told us what the Lord has done for them. I have marked your great joy when drunkards, blasphemers, and all kinds of careless persons have turned with full purpose of heart unto God and led a new life. Now, mark you, if these things are to be continued, and above all, if they are to be multiplied–we must have again a revival in our midst. For this we must and will cry, “O Lord our God, visit Your plantation and pour out again upon us Your mighty Spirit.”
Another effect of a revival in a Church is generally the promotion of true love and unanimity in its midst. I will show you the most quarrelsome Churches in England, if you will show me the most lazy Churches. It has actually become a proverb nowadays. People say, when persons are sound asleep, “He is as sound asleep as a Church”–as if they really thought the Church was the soundest asleep of anything that exists! Alas that there should be so much truth in the proverb. Where a firm, established for business would have all its eyes open–where a company, that had for its object the accumulation of wealth, would be ever on the watch–Churches, for the most part–seem to neglect the means of doing good and fritter away holy opportunities of advancing their Master’s cause. And for this reason, many of us are split in sunder.
There are heart-burnings, aching, rankling of soul, quarrellings among each other. An active Church will be a united Church. A slumbering Church will be sure to be a quarrelsome one. If any minister desires to heal the wounds of a Church and bring the members into unanimity, let him ask God to give them all enough to fill their hands and when their hands are full of their Master’s work and their mouths are full of His praise, they will have no time for devouring one another, or filling their mouths with slander and reproach. Oh, if God gives us revival, we shall have perfect unanimity!
Blessed be God, we have much of it. But oh for more of it that our hearts may be knit together as the heart of one man–that we, being one army of the Living God, may none of us have any anger or ill-will towards each other, but being–as I trust we all are–Brothers and Sisters in Christ Jesus, we may live as becomes such. Oh that Christ would give us that spirit that loves all, hopes for all and will bear burdens for all–passing by little things and differences of judgment and opinion–that so we may be united with a three-fold cord that cannot be broken. A revival, I think, is necessary for the unanimity of the Church.
A revival is also necessary in order that the mouths of the enemy of the Truth of God may be stopped. Do they not open wide their mouths against us? Have they not spoken hard things against us? Yes, and not only against us, but against the Truth of God we preach and against the God we honor. How shall their mouths be stopped? By our replying to them? No–foul scorn we think it to utter one single word in our own defense. If our conduct is not sufficiently upright to commend itself, we will not utter words in order to commend it. But the way we can shut our adversaries' mouths is this–by seeking a revival in our midst. What? Do they rail against our ministry? If more souls are saved, can they rail against that? Yes, let them, if they will.
Do they speak against the doctrines? Let them. But let our lives be so holy that they must lie against us when they dare to say that our doctrines lead any into sin. Let us seek of God that we may be so earnest, so eminently holy, so Godlike and so Christ-like, that to all they say their own consciences may tell them, “You utter a falsehood while you speak against him.” This was the glory of the Puritans–they preached doctrines which laid them open to reproach. I am bold to say I have preached the doctrine of the Puritans and I am bold to say, moreover, that those parts which have been most objected to in my discourses, have frequently been quotations from ancient fathers, or from some of the Puritans. I have often smiled when I have seen them condemned and said, “There now, Sir, you have condemned Charnock, or Bunyan, or Howe, or Doddridge,” or some other saint of God whom it so happened I quoted at the time.
The word condemned was theirs and therefore it did not so much affect me. They were held up to reproach when they were alive and how did they answer their calumniators? By a blameless and holy life. They, like Enoch, walked with God. And let the world say what they would of them, they only sought to keep their families the most rigidly pious and themselves the most strictly upright in the world. So that while it was said of their enemies, “They talk of good works,” it was said of the Puritans, that “They did them.” And while the Arminians, for such they were in those days, were living in sin, he who was called Calvinist and laughed at, was living in righteousness and the doctrine that was said to be the promoter of sin was found afterwards to be the promoter of holiness.
We defy the world to find a holier people than those who have espoused the doctrines of Free Grace, from the first moment until now. They have been distinguished in every history, even by their enemies, as having been the most devotedly pious and as having given themselves especially to the reading of God’s Word and the practice of His Law. And while they said they were justified by faith alone, through the blood of Christ–none were found, so much as they–seeking to honor God in all the exercises of godliness, being “a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” Let us follow their faith, and let us emulate their charity.
Let us seek a revival here. And so our enemies' mouths, if not entirely shut, shall be so far stopped that their consciences shall speak against them while they rail against us. We want no eminent reply to silence their calumny–no learned articles brought out in our vindication–no voice lifted up in our favor. I thank my Friends for all they do. But I thank them little for the true effect it produces. Let us live straight on. Let us work straight on. Let us preach straight on and serve our God better than before. Then let Hell roar and earth resound with tumult–the conscious integrity of our own spirit shall preserve us from alarm and the Most High Himself shall protect us from their fury. We need a revival, then, for these three reasons, each of which is great in itself.
Yet, above all, we want a revival, if we would promote the glory of God. The proper object of a Christian’s life is God’s glory. The Church was made on purpose to glorify God. But it is only a revived Church that brings glory to His name. Think you that all the Churches honor God? I tell you, no. There are some that dishonor Him–not because of their erroneous doctrines, nor perhaps because of any defect in their formalities–but because of the want of life in their religion. There is a meeting for prayer–six people assemble besides the minister. Does that proclaim your homage to God? Does that do honor to Christianity? Go to the homes of these people–see what is their conversation when they are alone. Mark how they walk before God. Go to their sanctuaries and hear their hymns, there is the beauty of music, but where is the life of the people? Listen to the sermon–it is elaborate, polished, complete–a masterpiece of oratory.
But ask yourselves, “Could a soul be saved under it, except by a miracle? Was there anything in it adapted to stir men up to goodness? It pleased their ears. It instructed them in some degree, perhaps, but what was there in it to teach their hearts?” Ah, God knows there are many such preachers. Notwithstanding their learning and their opulence, they do not preach the Gospel in its simplicity and they draw not near to God our Father. If we would honor God by the Church, we must have a warm Church, a burning Church, loving the truths it holds and carrying them out in life. Oh that God would give us life from on high, lest we should be like that Church of old of whom it was said, “You have a name to live and are dead.” These are some of the benefits of revivals.
II. WHAT ARE THE MEANS OF REVIVAL? They are two-fold. One is, “Turn us again, O Lord God of Hosts,” and the other is, “Cause Your face to shine.” There can be no revival without both of these. Allow me, my dear Hearers, to address you one by one, in different classes, in order that I may apply the former of these means to you.
“Turn us again, O Lord God of Hosts.” Your minister feels that he needs to be turned more thoroughly to the Lord his God. His prayer shall be, God helping him, that he may be more fearless and faithful than ever. That he may never for one moment think what any of you will say with regard to what he utters, but that he may only think what God his Master would say concerning him–that he may come into the pulpit with this resolve–that he cares no more for your opinion with regard to the Truth of God than if you were all stones, only resolving this much–come loss or come gain by it–whatsoever the Lord God says unto him, that he must speak.
And he desires to ask his Master that he may come here with more prayer, himself, than before, that whatever he preaches may be so burnt into his own soul that you may all know, even if you do not think it true yourselves, that at any rate he believes it and believes it with his inmost soul. And I will ask of God that I may so preach to you that my words may be attended with a mighty and a Divine power. I do forswear all pretense to ability in this work. I forswear the least idea that I have anything about me that can save souls–or anything which could draw men by the attractions of my speech. I feel that if you have been profited by my preaching, it must have been the work of God, and God alone, and I pray to Him that I may be taught to know more my own weakness. Wherein my enemies say anything against me, may I believe what they say, but yet exclaim–
“Weak though I am,
Yet through His might,
I all things can perform.”
Will you ask such things for me–that I may be more and more turned to God–and that so your spiritual health may be promoted?
But there are some of you who are workers in the Church. Large numbers are actively engaged for Christ. In the Sabbath-School, in the distribution of tracts, in preaching the Word in the villages and in some parts of this great city–many of you are striving to serve God. Now what I ask and exhort you to is this–cry unto God–“Turn us again, O God.” You want, my dear working Friends, more of the Spirit of God in all your labors. I am afraid we forget Him too much, we want to have a greater remembrance of Him. Sunday-School teachers, cry unto God that you may attend your classes with a sincere desire to promote God’s glory, leaning wholly on His strength. Do not be content with the ordinary routine, gathering your children there and sending them home again–but cry, “Lord, give us the agony which a teacher ought to feel for his child’s soul.” Ask that you may go to the school with deep feelings, with throes of love over the children’s hearts, that you may teach them with tearful eyes, groaning before Heaven that you may be the means of their salvation and deliverance from death.
And you, who in other ways, serve God, I beseech you do not be content with doing it as you have done. You may have done it well enough to gain some approval of your fellows–do it better, as in the sight of the Lord. I do not mean better as to the outward form, but better as to the inward grace that goes with it. Oh, seek from God that your works may be done from pure motives, with more simple faith in Christ, more firm reliance on Him and with greater prayer for your success. “Turn us again,” is the cry of all, I hope, who are doing anything for Jesus.
Others of you are intercessors. And here I hope I have taken in all who love the Lord in this place. Oh, how much the strength of a Church depends upon these intercessors! I almost said we could do better without the workers than the intercessors. We want in every Church, if it is to be successful, intercessors with God–men who know how to plead with Him and to prevail. Beloved, I must stir you up again on this point. If you would see great things done in this place, or in any other place, in the salvation of souls–you must intercede more earnestly than you have done. I thank God our Prayer Meetings are always full.
But there are some of you whom I do not see so often as I would desire. There are some of you business-men who are accustomed to come in for the last half-hour and I have seen you and called on you to pray. For six months I have not seen some of you at all. There are others whom I know to be as much engaged as you are, who somehow or other manage to be always here. Why is it not so with you? If you do not love prayer, then I wish you not to come until you do. But I do ask of God to bring you into such a state of mind that your soul may be more thoroughly with the Lord’s Church and you may be more thoroughly devoted to His service. Our Prayer Meeting is well attended and is full, but it shall be better attended yet, and we shall have the men among us coming up, “to the help of the Lord against the mighty.”
We do want more prayer. Your prayers, I am sure, have been more earnest at home than ever they were, during the last three weeks. Let them be more earnest still. It is by prayer we must lean on God. It is by prayer that God strengthens us. I beseech you, wrestle with God, my dear Friends. I know your love to one another and to His Truth. Wrestle with God, in secret and in public, that He would yet open the windows of Heaven and pour out a blessing upon us–such as we shall not have room enough to receive. There must be a turning again to God of the intercessors in prayer.
Again–we want a turning again to God of all of you who have been accustomed to hold communion with Jesus, but who have in the least degree broken off that holy and heavenly habit. Beloved, are there not some of you who were accustomed to walks with God each day? Your morn was sanctified with prayer and your eventide was closed in with the voice of praise. You walked with Jesus in your daily business. You were real Enochs, you were Johns–you did lay your head on the bosom of your Lord. But ah, have not some of you known suspended communion of late? Let us speak of ourselves personally, instead of addressing you–have not we ourselves held less communion with Jesus? Have not our prayers been fewer to Him and His revelations less bright to us? Have we not been content to live without Emmanuel in our hearts?
How long is it with some of us since our morsel was dipped in the honey of fellowship? With some of you it is weeks and months, since you had your love visit from Jesus. Oh, Beloved, let me beseech you, cry unto God, “Turn us again.” It will never do for us to live without communion. We cannot, we must not, we dare not live without constant hourly fellowship with Jesus. I would stir you up in this matter. Seek of God that you may return and experience the loveliness of Jesus in your eyes–that you may know more and more of your loveliness in His eyes.
And once more, Beloved, “Turn us again,” must be the prayer of all you, not only in your religious labors, but in your daily lives. Oh, how I do groan over each one of you, especially those of you who are my children in Christ–whom God has granted me to be the means of bringing from nature’s darkness into marvelous light–that your lives may be an honor to your profession. Oh, my dear Hearers, may none among you who make a profession, be found liars to God and man. There are many who have been baptized, who have been baptized into the waters of deception–there are some who put the sacramental wine between their lips, who are a dishonor and a disgrace to the Church in which they assemble.
Some who sing praises with us here can go and sing the songs of Satan elsewhere. Yes, are there not some among you, whom I cannot detect, whom the deacons cannot, nor your fellow members either–but whose consciences tell you, you are not fit to be members of a Church? You have crept into our number, you have deceived us and there you are–like a cancer in our midst. God forgive you and change your hearts. God turn you to Himself!
And oh, my Brethren, one and all of us, though we hope we have the root of the matter in us, yet how much room there is for improvement and amendment! How are your families conducted? Is there as much of that true and earnest prayerfulness for your children as we could desire? How is your business conducted? Are you above the tricks of the trade? Do you know how to stand aloof from the common customs of other men and say, “If all do wrong it is no reason why I should–I must, I will do right”? Do you know how to talk? Have you caught the brogue of Heaven? Can you eschew all foolishness, all filthy conversation and seek to bear the image of Jesus Christ in the world? I do not ask you whether you use the “thou” and “thee,” and the outward formalities of ostentatious humility–but I ask you whether you know how to regulate your speech by the Word of God. I trust, in some degree, that you all do but not as we could desire.
Cry out, then, you Christians, “Turn us again, O God!” If others sin, I beseech you, do not you sin, remember how God is dishonored by it. What? Will you bring shame on Christ and on the doctrines we profess? There is enough said against them without our giving cause of offense. Lies enough are made up, without our giving any reason that men should truthfully speak ill of us. Oh, if I thought it would avail, methinks I would go down upon my knees, my Brothers and Sisters in Christ Jesus, to beg of you, as for my very life, that you would live close to Jesus. I do pray the Holy Spirit that He may so rest on you in every place, that your conversation may be “such as becomes the Gospel of Christ.” And that in every act, great or small–and in every word of every sort, there may be the influence from on near–molding you to the right, keeping you to the right–and in everything bidding you to become more and more patterns of godliness and reflections of the image of Jesus Christ.
Dear Friends, to be personal with each other again–are we where we want to be just now, many of us? Can we put our hands to our hearts and say, “O Lord, I am, in spiritual things just where I desire to be”? No, I don’t think there is one of us that could say that. Are we now what we should desire to be if we were to die in our pews? Come now, have we so lived during the past week, that we could wish this week to be a specimen-week of our whole lives? I fear not. Brethren, how are your evidences? Are they bright for Heaven? How is your heart? Is it wholly set on Jesus? How is your faith? Does it dwell on God alone? Is your soul sick, or is it healthy?
Are you sending forth blossoms and bearing fruit, or do you feel dry and barren? Remember, blessed is the man who is planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth his fruit in his season. But how about yourselves? Are not some of you so cold and languid in prayer, that prayer is a burden to you? How about your trials? Do they not break your heart more, almost, than ever they did? That is because you have forgotten how to cast your burden on the Lord. How about your daily life? Have you not cause to grieve over it, as not being all you could desire it? Ah, Beloved, do not reckon it a light matter to be going backwards–do not consider it a small thing to be less zealous than you used to be. Ah, it is a sad thing to begin to decline. But how many of you have done so! Let our prayer be now–“Lord, revive us, Lord, revive us, all our help must come from You.”
Do, I beseech you, I entreat you–in the name of God our Father and Jesus Christ our Brother–search your hearts, examine yourselves and put up this prayer, “Lord, wherein I am right, keep me so, against all opposition and conflict. But wherein I am wrong, Lord make me right, for Jesus' sake.” We must have this turning again unto God, if we would have a revival in our breast. Every unholy life, every cold heart, everyone who is not entirely devoted to God, keeps us back from having a revival. When once we have all our souls fully turned unto the Lord, then, I say, but not till then, He will give us to see the travail of the Redeemer’s soul and, “God, even our own God shall bless us and all the ends of the world shall fear Him.”
The other means of revival is a precious one–“cause Your face to shine.” Ah, Beloved, we might ask of God that we might all be devoted–all His servants, all prayerful and all what we want to be. But it would never come without this second prayer being answered. And even if it did come without this, where would be the blessing? It is the causing of His face to shine on His Church that makes a Church flourish. Do you suppose that, if to our number there were added a thousand of the most wealthy and wise of the land, we should really prosper any the more without the light of God’s countenance? Ah, no, Beloved, give us our God and we could do without them, but they would be a curse to us without Him.
Do you imagine that the increase of our numbers is a blessing, unless we have an increase of grace? No, it is not. It is the crowding of a boat until it sinks, without putting in any more provision, for the food of those who are in it. The more we have in numbers, the more we need have of grace. It is just this we want every day–“Cause Your face to shine.” Oh, there have been times in this House of Prayer, when God’s face has shone upon us! I can remember seasons, when everyone of us wept, from the minister down almost to the child. There have been times when we have reckoned the converts under one sermon by scores. Where is the blessedness we once spoke of? Where is the joy we once had in this house?
Brethren, it is not all gone. There are many still brought to know the Lord. But oh, I want to see those times again, when first the refreshing showers came down from Heaven. Have you ever heard that under one of Whitfield’s sermons there have been as many as two thousand saved? He was a great man. But God can use the little, as well as the great to produce the same effect. And why should there not be souls saved here, beyond all our dreams? Yes, why not? We answer–there is no reason why not–if God does but cause His face to shine. Give us the shining of God’s face–man’s face may be covered with frowns and his heart may be black with malice–but if the Lord our God does shine, it is enough–
“If He makes bare His arm,
Who can His cause withstand?
When He His people’s cause defends
Who, who can stay His hand?”
It is His good hand with us we want. I think there is an opportunity for the display of God’s hand at this particular era, such as has not been for many years before. Certainly, if He does anything, the crown must be put on His head and on His head, alone. We are a feeble people–what shall we do? But if He does anything, He shall have the crown and the that we might turn unto Him and that His face may shine! Children of God, I need not enlarge on the meaning of this. You know what the shining of God’s face means–you know it means a clear light of knowledge, a warming light of comfort, a living light poured into the darkness of your soul, an honorable light, which shall make you appear like Moses, when he came from the mountain–so bright, that men will scarce dare to look upon you. “Cause Your face to shine.”
Shall we not make this our prayer, dearly Beloved? Have I one of my Brethren in the faith, who will not this day go home to cry out aloud unto his God, “Cause Your face to shine”? A black cloud has swept over us–all we want is that the sun should come and it shall sweep that cloud away. There have been direful things. But what of them, if God, our God, shall appear? Let this be our cry, “Cause Your face to shine.” Beloved, let us give no rest unto our God, until he hears this our prayer, “Turn us again, O Lord God of Hosts, cause Your face to shine. And we shall be saved.”
III. Come, now, let me stir you all up, all of you who love the Savior, to seek after this revival. Some of you, perhaps, are now resolving in your hearts that you will at once, when you reach your homes, prostrate yourselves before your God and cry out to Him that He would bless His Church. And oh, do so, I beseech you. It is common with us under a sermon to resolve, though after the sermon we are slow to perform. You have often said, when you left the House of God, “I will carry out that injunction of my pastor and will be much in prayer.” You thought to do it so soon as you arrived at home, but you did not, and so there was an untimely end of the matter–it accomplished not what was designed.
But this time, I beseech you, while you resolve, be resolute. Instead of saying within yourselves, “Now I will devote myself more to God and seek to honor Him more,” anticipate the resolution by the result. You can do more in the strength of God than you can think or propose to yourselves in the utmost might of man. Resolves may pacify the conscience very frequently for a while, without really benefiting it. You say you will do it, conscience therefore does not reproach you with a disobedience to the command, but you do it not, after all, and so the effect has passed away. Let any holy and pious resolution you now form be this instant turned into prayer. Instead of saying, “I will do it,” put up the prayer, “Lord enable me to do it–Lord, grant me grace to do it.” One prayer is worth ten thousand resolutions. Pray to God that you, as a soldier of the Cross, may never disgrace the banner under which you fight.
Ask of Him that you may not be like the children of Ephraim, who turned back in the day of battle, but that you may stand fast in all weathers, even as good old Jacob, when “in the day the drought consumed him and the frost by night”–so may you serve that God who has galled you with so high a calling. Perhaps others of you think there is no need of a revival, that your own hearts are quite good enough. I hope but few of you think so. But if you do think so, my Hearer, I warn you–you fancy you are right and in it you prove that you are wrong. He who says within himself, “I am rich and increased with goods,” let him know that he is, “poor, and naked, and miserable.” He who says he needs no revival knows not what he says.
Beloved, you shall find that those who are noted as best among God’s people are sometimes not. And those who fancy all goes well in their hearts oftentimes little know that an under-current of evil is really bearing them away as with a tide where they would not wish to go–while they fancy they are going on to peace and prosperity. Oh, Beloved, carry into effect the advice I have just given. I know I have spoken feebly. It is the best I can do just now, I have only stirred you up by way of remembrance. Think not my desires are as feeble as my words–imagine not that my anxiety for you is or can be represented by my speech.
Ask, I beseech you, ask of God, that to everyone of you Brothers and Sisters, the simple exhortation of one who loves you as his own soul, may be blessed. God is my witness, that for Him I seek to live–no other motive have I in this world, God knows, but His glory. Therefore do I bid and exhort you, knowing that you love the same God and seek to serve the same Christ–do not now, in this hour of peril, give the least cause to the enemy to blaspheme. Oh, I entreat you for His sake who hung upon the tree and who is now exalted in Heaven–by His bloody sacrifice offered for your redemption–by the everlasting love of God, whereby you are kept, I exhort, I beseech, I entreat you, as your Brother in Christ Jesus and such an one as your pastor–be in nothing moved by your adversaries. “Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, when they shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for our Savior’s sake.” Pray that your life and conversation may be an honor to your Lord and Master. In nothing give occasion for the enemy to malign our sacred cause–in everything may your course be “like the shining light, which shines more and more unto the perfect day.”
But oh, you who come here and approve the Truth of God with your judgment but yet have never felt its power in your hearts or its influence in your lives, for you we sigh and groan. For your sake I have stirred up the saints among us to pray. Oh how many of you there are that have been pricked in your consciences and hearts many a time. You have wept, yes, and have so wept that you have thought with yourselves, “Never souls wept as we have done!” But you have gone back again. After all the solemn warnings you have heard and after all the wooing of Calvary, you have gone back again to your sins.
Sinner! You who heed little for yourself, just hear how much we think of you. Little do you know how much we groan over your soul. Man! You think your soul worthless, yet morning, noon and night we are groaning over that precious immortal thing which you despise. You think it little to lose your soul, to perish, or perhaps to be damned. Do you account us fools that we should cry over you? Do you suppose we are bereft of reason that we should think your soul of so much concern, while you have so little concern for it?
Here are God’s people–they are crying after your soul. They are laboring with God to save you. Do you think so little of it yourself, that you would fool away your soul for a paltry pleasure, or would procrastinate your soul’s welfare beyond the limited domain of hope? Oh, Sinner, Sinner, if you love yourself, I beseech you, pause and think that what God’s people love must be worth something. That what we labor for and strive for must be worth something. That what was reckoned worth a ransom so priceless as Jesus paid must have its sterling value in the sight of Heaven.
Do I beseech you? Pause! Think of the value of your soul. Think how dreadful it will be if it is lost. Think of the extent of eternity. Think of your own frailty. Consider your own sin and of what you deserve. May God give you grace to forsake your wicked ways! Turn unto Him and live, for He “has no pleasure in the death of him that dies, but rather that he should turn unto Him and live!” Therefore, says He, “Turn you, turn you, why will you die?”
And now, O Lord God of Hosts, hear our ardent appeal to Your throne. “Turn us again.” Lighten our path with the guidance of Your eye, cheer our hearts with the smiles of Your face. O God of Armies, let every regiment and rank of Your militant Church be of perfect heart, undivided in Your service. Let great grace rest upon all Your children. Let great fear come upon all the people. Let many reluctant hearts be turned to the Lord. Let there now be times of refreshing from Your Presence. To Your own name shall be all the glory, “O You that are more glorious and excellent then the mountains of prey!” Amen.