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often find the churches empty, the liquor shops are crowded every Sabbath afternoon and evening. I am sure the saloon-keepers are glad if they can have a revival in their business; they do not object to sell more whisky and beer. Then surely every true Christian ought to desire that men who are in danger of perishing eternally should be saved and rescued.
Some people seem to think that "Revivals" are a modern invention that they have only been known within the last few years. But they are nothing new. If there is not Scriptural authority for revivals, then I cannot understand my Bible.
For the first 2,000 years of the world's history they had no revival that we know of; probably, if they had, there would have been no Flood. The first real awakening, of which we read in the Old Testament, was when Moses was sent down to Egypt to bring his brethren out of the house of bondage. When Moses went down to Goshen, there must have been a great commotion there; many things were done out of the usual order. When three millions of Hebrews were put behind the Blood of the Slain Lamb, that was nothing but God reviving His work among them.
Under Joshua there was a great revival; and again under the Judges. God was constantly reviving the Jewish nation in those olden times. Samuel brought the people to Mizpah, and told them to put away their strange gods. Then the Israelites went out and defeated the Philistines, so that they never came back in his day. Dr. Bonar says it may be that David and Jonathan were converted under that revival in the time of Samuel.
What was it but a great revival in the days of Elijah? The people had turned away to idolatry, and the prophet summoned them to Mount Carmel. As the multitude stood there on the mountain, God answered by fire; the people fell on their faces and cried, "The Lord, He is the God." That was the nation turning back to God. No doubt there were men talking against the work, and saying it would not last. That is the cry of many to-day, and has been the cry for 4,000 years. Some old Carmelite very probably said in the days of Elijah: "This will not be permanent." So there are not a few in these days shaking their wise heads and saying the work will not last.
When we come to New Testament times, we have the wonderful revival under John the Baptist. Was there ever a man who accomplished so much in a few months, except the Master Himself? The preaching of John was like the breath of spring after a long and dreary winter. For 400 long years there had been no prophet, and darkness had settled down on the nation. John's advent was like the flashing of a brilliant meteor that heralded the coming day. It was not in the temple or in any synagogue that he preached, but on the banks of the Jordan. Men, women, and children flocked to hear him. Almost any one can get an audience in a crowded city, but this was away out in the desert. No doubt there was great excitement. I suppose the towns and villages were nearly depopulated, as they flocked out to hear the preaching of John.
People are so afraid of excitement. When I went over to England in 1867, I was asked to go and preach at the Derby race-course. I saw more excitement
there in one day than I have seen at all the religious meetings I ever attended in my life put together. And yet I heard no one complaining of too much excitement. I heard of a minister, not long ago, who was present at a public dance till after five o'clock in the morning. The next Sabbath he preached against the excitement of revivals-the late hours, and so on. Very consistent kind of reasoning, was it not?
Then look at Pentecost. The apostles preached, and you know what the result was. I suppose the worldly men of that day said it would all die away. Although they brought about the martyrdom of Stephen and of James, other men rose up to take possession of the field. From the very place where Stephen was slain, Saul took up the work, and it has been going on ever since.
There are many professed Christians who are all the time finding fault and criticising. They criticise the preaching, or the singing. The prayers will be either too long or too short, too loud, or not loud enough. They will find fault with the reading of the Word of God, or will say it was not the right portion. They will criticise the preacher. "I do not like his style," they say. If you doubt what I say, listen to the people as they go out of a revival meeting, or any other religious gathering.
"What did you think of the preacher ?" says one. "Well, I must confess I was disappointed. I did not like his manner. He was not graceful in his actions." Another will say: "He was not logical; I like logic." Or another: "He did not preach enough about repentance." If a preacher does not go over every
doctrine in every sermon people begin to find fault. They say: "There was too much repentance, and no Gospel; or, it was all Gospel, and no repentance." 'He spoke a great deal about justification, but he said nothing about sanctification." So if a man does not go right through the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, in one sermon, they at once proceed to citicise and find fault.
"The fact is," says some one of this class, "the man did not touch my heart at all." Some one else will say,
"He was all heart and no head. I like a man to preach to my intellect." Or, "He appeals too much to the will; he does not give enough prominence to the doctrine of election." Or, again, "There is no backbone in his preaching; he does not lay sufficient stress on doctrine." Or, "He is not eloquent;" and so on, and so on.
You may find hundreds of such fault-finders among professed Christians; but all their criticism will not lead one solitary soul to Christ. I never preached a sermon yet that I could not pick to pieces and find fault with. I feel that Jesus Christ ought to have a far better representative than I am. But I have lived long enough to discover that there is nothing perfect in this world. If you are to wait until you can find a perfect preacher, or perfect meetings, I am afraid you will have to wait till the millenium arrives. What we want is to be looking right up to Him. Let us get done with faultfinding. When I hear people talk in the way I have described, I say to them, "Come and do better yourself. Step up here and try what you can do." My friends, it is so easy to find fault; it takes neither brains nor heart.
Some years ago, a pastor of a little Church in a small town became exceedingly discouraged, and brooded over his trials to such an extent that he became an inveterate grumbler. He found fault with his brethren because he imagined they did not treat him well. A brother minister was invited to assist him a few days in a special service. At the close of the Sabbath morning service our unhappy brother invited the minister to his house to dinner. While they were waiting alone in the parlor, he began his doleful story by saying: My brother, you have no idea of my troubles; and one of the greatest is, my brethren in the Church treat me very badly." The other propounded the following questions : "Did they ever spit in your face?" "No; they haven't come to that.” "Did they ever smite you?" "No."
"Did they ever crown you with thorns?"
This last question he could not answer, but bowed his head thoughtfully. His brother replied : "Your Master and mine was thus treated, and all His disciples fled and left Him in the hands of the wicked. Yet He opened not His mouth." The effect of this conversation was wonderful. Both ministers bowed in prayer and earnestly sought to possess the mind which was in Christ Jesus. During the ten days' meetings the discontented pastor became wonderfully changed. He labored and prayed with his friend, and many souls were brought to Christ. Some weeks after, a deacon of the church wrote and said: "Your late visit and conversation with our pastor have had a wonderful influence for good. We never hear him complain