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The Revival of Religion 


Excerpts from John Lorimer's lecture "Encouragements to Expect, Pray and Labour for the Revival of Religion - Encouragements from the Promises and Prophecies of Scripture" 


John 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. 


ACTS 2:14-18

And 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.  

Surely 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 the church of Christ 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.   

Think 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 Babylon 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?



"The Revival of Religion: Addresses by Scottish Evangelical Leaders delivered in Glasgow in 1840". Banner of Truth, 1984. pp224-227.