Revival of Religion
John Lorimer's lecture "Encouragements to Expect, Pray and Labour for the
Revival of Religion - Encouragements from the Promises and Prophecies of
Lorimer (born 1804) was a preacher of the Gospel in 19th century
Scotland. Originally a pastor of the (Presbyterian) Church of Scotland, he and
his Glasgow congregation went into the Free Church of Scotland at the
Disruption of 1843.
now, let us ask what is the practical
inference to be derived from all this? Is
it not that the church should be encouraged to look for revivals?
Much does she need encouragement. Many,
insidious, and powerful are her enemies; very various too are the untoward and
adverse influences with which she has to contend.
The truly good are comparatively few; and, with honourable exceptions,
they are timid and divided – the worldly, the erroneous; the wicked are bold
and well-combined. It is to be
feared that Popery and Infidelity and general Ungodliness are on the increase.
It is certain that most pernicious principles, seriously affecting
practice in different ranks of society, are spreading.
All this is discouraging. It
is fitted to damp the spirits, to hinder prayer, to relax exertion.
No doubt there are bright spots in the picture, for which it becomes us
to be devoutly thankful. Still
there is much to sink and dishearten: Six millions of Jews – 600 million of
Heathen! And what in these
circumstances so well fitted to cheer as the hope of a great universal
revival? This is just what is
needed. It would at once meet and
overcome all our difficulties and discouragements, and it would put us in
possession of the moral and religious results – the improvement and the
excellence and the moral glory for which we so greatly long.
Many men – ministers, – yea, the Christian church generally have
not been expecting religious
revivals. They have not been
looking for uncommon manifestations of the Spirit’s power.
They have taken for granted that, some how or other, in some way or
other, the gospel shall one day be universal.
This is all that they know and care about.
Comparatively speaking, such an idea is cold, distant, discouraging.
It wants life and energy. Men
must be encouraged to look for revivals near – large – sudden – abiding;
and this will cheer and rejoice the heart, and send new life and power through
the entire man.
after the promises and prophecies of revivals which have been unfolded, and
the partial fulfilment which we have seen them to receive, it is altogether
unnecessary for me to urge any reasons why you should be encouraged to expect
and pray and labour for a revival. You
have the word of God to direct and sustain you, and on what stronger
foundation can your faith and hope rest? Men
may deceive or be mistaken, but Jehovah is unchangeable.
His promises are all yea and amen.
His people have in every age experienced of His faithfulness.
You believe the word of men, the word of children, and will you not
believe the word of God, and upon a subject too where his own glory and the
glory of his church are so deeply involved?
If you were labouring under personal affliction, would you not search
the Scriptures for promises of support under its pressure, and should you not
seek as earnestly for consolation and encouragement under the afflictions of
in the same quarter?
If there were promises of earthly blessings, of peace and prosperity,
in which you might share, would you not believe them, – would not your mind
be often running forward on the pleasing anticipation, and should you not
believe, or should you believe coldly and indistinctly the promises of the
unchangeable Jehovah regarding the spiritual health and riches of the church
of the redeemed? Should you not
rather receive them with the warmest assurance of mind, and realise them with
hope and joy? Ah! what a pity that
treasures of promise and of prophecy should be lying open in our bibles from
year to year – should be vouchsafed for the express purpose of encouraging
us, and that through our coldness and half believing, we should derive as
little real comfort from them as if they had never been given, or as if they
did not apply to us.
not only of the promises of God, – so many, so rich, so beautiful, – so
finely adapted to the taste and likings of his people, – extending over such
vast spaces of time, – repeated by so various prophets, – and yet all
harmonious and one. Think of the
spirit and example of good men in trying times.
How were they supported? It
was by believing the promises and predictions of the word of God respecting
the church. When the faithful Jews
were captives in
how did they feel in reference to the cause of God?
Did they surrender themselves to discouragement and despair?
No: they remembered the promises of the Lord.
They studied the book of prophecy; they hoped for deliverance, and were
at length set free even beyond their expectations.
How were the Reformers from Popery cheered in their arduous work?
Did they trust to their own sagacity, or the native power of truth, or
the aid of powerful friends? No!
they searched the prophecies; – the book of Revelation was one of their
unwearied themes; therein they saw clearly the doom of Antichrist and the
blessed revival which follows. They
pressed these views upon their hearers. They
thought of, and prayed for the Holy Spirit, not as a mere abstraction, but as
a divine Person whose power was absolutely indispensable.
And thus, believing the promises and the prophecies of God, they were
enabled to make a thousand sacrifices, to rise superior to a thousand
discouragements, and to carry forward the work of Jehovah.
With cheerfulness and joy, they themselves laboured under the impulse
of a revival, and they looked for revivals still larger and more glorious in
the future. Thus were they
sustained. Thus let us and the
Christian church now be sustained. The
promises where believed and realised are as efficacious as ever.
Why should believers of other days appropriate the entire benefit of
them? They are as open to us as to
them – as really intended for our consolation as theirs; and the very number
of religious revivals which have taken place since their day, interpreted as
fulfilments of Scripture prediction, should quicken our confidence in the
Divine faithfulness the more, and induce us to pray and to labour for revivals
the more. Is it to be credited
that Heathenism is stronger now than in primitive times – that Popery is
stronger now than in the days of the Reformation – that the Holy Spirit has
become weak with the progress of years? And
why then do we not plead the promises and predictions of the word of God?
Revival of Religion: Addresses by Scottish Evangelical Leaders delivered in
Glasgow in 1840". Banner of Truth, 1984. pp224-227.