This 136th episode of CS is titled, Yet Again.
Before we dive in, I want to give a hearty thanks to all those of you who nominated CS for the 2016 Podcast Awards. As I record this, I’m not sure where we came in, in the nomination process & whether or not we’ll be included in the general voting this year. They’ve changed the rules a bit this year & I’m not certain how things will sort out. If CS makes the final cut, I’ll let you know here on the podcast, the sanctorum.us site and the FB page.
The 2nd piece of business is that we now have air costs for the Reformation Tour next year. The dates are March 6-19, 2017. The Land only portion for those who want to meet us at the start in Prague is $____________. If you want to start the journey with us in Los Angeles, CA, the total cost including airfare is $_______________. Please visit the sanctorum.us site or the CS FB page for contact information. It’s crucial if you intend to go that you sign up right away. We need to meet a minimum of 20.
In the last episode we considered the Second Great Awakening and ended with this . . .
Fast-forward 50 years & it seemed the tide had gone out again. By the 1850’s the country was thriving, largely because of the benefits brought by the SGA. The Mid-west was being developed & the economy was booming. People were making 18% interest on their investments. But as is so often the case, economic prosperity turned into a neglect of the Spirit. The pursuit of pleasure replaced the pursuit of God. The nation was politically divided over the issue of slavery. And it wasn’t just the States that were divided. Churches & denominations split over it.
Into this national argument that ended up tearing the country in two was added a dose of religious turmoil.
A veteran & farmer named William Miller rediscovered the doctrine of the 2nd Coming. For generations most of the Church considered Bible prophecy a closed book. Miller began teaching on the Return of Christ. But he made the mistake many have & said Christ would return in 1844. About a million people followed his views. When it didn’t happen, they were bitterly disillusioned because they’d sold their homes, businesses, & farms. Skeptics piled on the fanaticism of the Millerites & fired up a new round of mocking faith. Then, in 1857, things began to change.
Revival began as a movement of prayer. It was leaderless, though it produced several notable leaders.
In Sept. 1857, a businessman named Jeremiah Lanphier printed up a leaflet on the importance of prayer. It announced there would be a weekly prayer meeting at Noon, in the upper room of the North Dutch Reformed Church in Manhattan. When time for the 1st meeting came, only Lanphier was there. He prayed anyway & at 12:35, 6 more businessmen on their lunch break came up the stairs. They prayed till 1. As they broke up to return to work, they agreed they’d been so moved, they’d meet the following week at the same time & place.
The next week, their number doubled to 14. This time they sensed something special was about to happen & agreed to meet every day, Monday-Saturday in that room at Noon. A few weeks later the room overflowed & they filled the basement, then the main sanctuary. A nearby Methodist Church opened its doors for noontime prayer. When it filled, Trinity Episcopal Church opened. Then church after church filled w/people praying at noon, Monday-Saturday; mostly businessmen on their lunch-break.
Throughout the remainder of 1857 prayer meetings spread throughout the States. In Feb. 1858, NY newspaper editor Horace Greeley sent a reporter out to cover the story of the growing prayer movement. The reporter went by horse & buggy & was able to make a dozen stops during the noon hour. He estimated there were 6100 businessmen praying at those stops. Greeley was so surprised he made the story the next day’s headline. Other papers didn’t want to be outdone, so they began to report on the revival.
The publicity further fanned the flames & more began showing up. Soon every auditorium & hall in downtown NY was filled. The theaters filled.
We might wonder what were these prayer meetings like. They were run by laymen, not professional clergy. Pastors were often present but did not conduct the meetings. They might be asked to open in pray or read a scripture, but then the meeting was turned over to 50 minutes or more of prayer.
There was a remarkable sense of unity that marked these meetings. Those who attended came from different churches but were cautious about debating doctrines. There was more a concern to focus on the things they agreed on. They were there to pray & that’s what they did.
At one prayer meeting in Michigan led by a layman, he said, “I see my pastor & the Methodist minister are here. Will one of you read a scripture & the other pray, then we’ll get started.” They did, then the laymen said, “I’m not used to this kind of public & impromptu prayer so we’ll follow the example we’ve read about in the NY papers. We have so many here today please write your request down then pass them to the front. We’ll read them one at a time, & pray over each one.”
The first request said, “A praying wife asks the prayers of this company for the conversion of her husband who’s far from God.” (That’s certainly a common request.) But immediately a blacksmith stood up & said, “My wife prays for me. I must be that man. I need to be converted, Would you please pray for me?” A lawyer said, “ I think my wife wrote that note because I know I’m far from God.” 5 men all claimed the request was surely for them. All were converted in a few minutes.
This was common at the beginning of the revival. People were converted during the prayer meetings. They’d simply express their need for salvation then would be prayed for by the rest.
One minister stood up & said he’d stayed till 3 PM the day before answering the questions of those who wanted Christ. He announced his church would be open each evening from then on for the preaching of the Gospel. Soon, every church was holding similar meetings.
As the revival spread across the States, 10,000 were being converted each week. In Newark, NJ, of a population of 70,000; 2,785 were brought to faith in 2 mos. At Princeton University, almost half the students came to Christ & half of those entered the ministry.
The revival swept the colleges of the nation.
On Feb. 3rd, 1858 in Philadelphia, a dozen men moved their daily prayer meeting from the outskirts of the city to downtown. They met at the James Theater, the largest in Phil. A couple weeks later 60 were attending the meeting. By the end of March, 6,000 were literally crammed in.
That Summer, churches united to hold mass services. They erected big-top tents & conducted evangelistic meetings that thousands flocked to. In Ohio, 200 towns reported 12,000 converts in 2 months. In Indiana, 150 small towns saw 4,500 come to Christ.
In 2 years, of a national population of 30 million, 2 million made a profession of faith.
- Edwin Orr remarks that this points up the difference between Evangelism & Revival. In evangelism, the evangelist seeks the sinner. In revival, sinners come running to God.
It was during this Revival that a young shoe salesman went to the S/S Director of the Congregational Church in Chicago & said he wanted to teach a class. He was turned down because there were 16 ahead of him waiting to teach. They put him on the waiting list. He told the director, “I want to do something NOW.”
The director said, “Okay – start a class.” He asked, “How?”
He was told to “Go get boys off the street, take them to the country & teach them how to behave, then bring them in.”
He went out to the alleys, gathered up a dozen street urchins & took them to the beach of Lake Michigan. He taught them Bible games & the Scriptures. Then brought them to the church where he was given a closet to hold his class. That was the beginning of the ministry of DL Moody who went on to preach all over the US & England & led tens of thousands to Christ.
Today, we’re accustomed to the secular press giving a cold shoulder to the things of God. That’s not new; it’s usually that way. Even during times of revival, the world tends to stand back and wait for it to pass. They may give grudging acknowledgement of the good fruit revival brings, but they always dig up some critic who dismisses it as religious fanaticism & emotionalism. So the Revival of 1857-8 stands out because the secular press received it w/enthusiasm. Maybe because it was a movement that began in the sophisticated urban centers of the nation & spread their first. It was called The Businessman’s Revival. These weren’t backwoods, country hicks who were “getting religion.” They were educated, literate, successful people being profoundly changed for the better. In a day when nearly everyone read the newspaper, they were familiar w/the revival because it consistently made headlines. There was near universal approval of it.
Yes, it had a few critics, but their objections were dismissed as the grousing of unreasonable skeptics & the envious. The Anglicans were at first against it, until their churches began filling w/seekers; then they approved of it as they saw its glorious effect. The same happened among the Lutherans.
The prayer meetings were marked by order. And the conversions were as frequent among the older & more mature members of a community as the younger.
It quickly spread up into Canada, then across the Atlantic to Ireland, Scotland, & England where conservative estimates say 10% of the population was brought to faith in Christ. In London, every theater & auditorium was filled for prayer. It was during this time Charles Spurgeon built the Metropolitan Tabernacle & Hudson Taylor started the China Inland Mission. Just a mile from where Taylor started, William Booth formed the Salvation Army.
All of these came out of the Revival of 1857-9. The revival spilled over into Europe & down into India. The Dutch Reformed Church of South Africa still celebrates the revival for the huge impact it had on them. Jamaica was covered as were numerous other cities & nations.
What I’d like to note as we end this episode is the date of this revival. It’s peak was from 1857-60. A few years later the US was torn in two by the Civil War; a bloody chapter in my nation’s history. Many of those who died in the war were saved in the Revival.
This seems to be a consistent pattern of revival; that it takes place just prior to a major war. Edwin Orr says that this has been a consistent pattern throughout our nation’s history.
The FGA occurred before the Revolutionary War. The SGA before the War of 1812. The Revival of 1857-8 before the Civil War. The Welsh Revival that so effected Great Britain, Europe & the US came right before WWI. It’s as though God pours out His Spirit to reap a harvest before evil falls & there’s a great loss of life.