The Laws of Revival - James Burns
CONTENTSFOREWORD AND INTRODUCTION
1. LAW OF PROGRESS
2. LAW OF SPIRITUAL GROWTH
3. LAW OF PERIODICITY
4. LAW OF EBBING TIDE
5. LAW OF THE FULLNESS OF TIME
6. LAW OF ADVENT OF THE PROPHET
7. LAW OF AWAKENING
8. LAW OF VARIETY
9. LAW OF RECOIL
10. LAW OF THE THEOLOGY OF
11. LAW OF THE COMING MOVEMENT
Revivals, the Law of the Fullness of Time
The next fact which the study of revival discloses is that this time of spiritual deadness has its definite limits. The wave of spiritual progress recedes, but even in receding it is gathering in power and volume to return, and to rush further in. God has set a limit to the defection of His Church. When the night is at its darkest, the dawn is on the way. This next period is characterized by a dissatisfaction in many hearts. A period of gloom nets in; a weariness and exhaustion invades the heart. The pleasures of the world no longer satisfy. Thus, men and women turn to God. They realize that, in exchanging heavenly for earthly joys, they have encountered immense loss. Slowly this aching grows, the hearts of people begin to cry out to God. From a faint desire, this multiplies until it becomes a vast human need, until, in its urgency, it seems to beat at the very gates of heaven.
Within the Church, not all have fallen away. Some have mourned its loss of spiritual power and have never stopped earnestly praying for revival. Their prayer seems to go unanswered. It appears as if God has forgotten to be gracious. Gradually, the number of people praying increases. Prayer becomes more urgent and more confident. The condition of the Church becomes apparent. The need increasingly weighs upon the hearts of the devout. The longing for better things becomes an intense pain. People form into prayer groups. They do not cease imploring God to visit the souls of men and women. In many different places, unconnected with each other, this spirit of intercession awakens. With it comes an expectation that will not be denied, a premonition that there are better days ahead.
Times of awakening in the individual mostly occur at times of transition, especially from one stage of development to another. Spiritual awakenings coincide with profound change in the social or political life of the people. The value of this is apparent, since new energies are conserved, and directed into channels which will lead to true progress.
The twelfth century saw Europe passing out of the Middle Ages. The feudal system was breaking up, and people were gathering in cities. A new sense of corporate life was emerging. Individuals were grouping themselves in wider combinations. Papal absolutism, which had held individuals' minds in subjection, was beginning to lose its grip. It was losing its power because of the growing independence of secular authorities and the irritation growing from newly awakened intelligence. At this time, universities began to spring up. There was a widening of sympathies, due to the Crusades and the ferment of new ideas, thus marking the close of one stage of human development and the beginning of another.
When we come to the next great movement, we stand again at a crisis in human affairs. Europe, which had in the previous period passed from childhood into youth, was in the sixteenth century passing from youth to maturity. Loyalty to the city was giving way to loyalty to the state. Europe was rearranging ilself under modern geographical and national divisions. It was the time of the awakening of learning and art. Here again we see one stage of growth completed and a fresh stage beginning. After the sixteenth century, revivals shifted to the national level, since each nation differed in its stage of development. Also at this time, the Reformation had destroyed the unity and the control of Rome. Still, in these more limited movements, revival synchronizes with crises in development.
Thus, we see how at times all things seem to unite and cry out for a revival. The waters are far withdrawn and heaped up, foaming behind the barricade. The times are ripe. The soul of humankind cries out for God. A spirit of intense expectation is present. Once more the long bitter night has ended; the dawn is at hand.