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 Variety
The appearance of revivals owes nothing to chance; they are a witness to God's sovereignty. Used of God for the progress of the world, they revitalize men's and women's lives. They appear at intervals, and at points of crisis in individuals' lives. Although these cannot be delineated with precision, we are able to see a regularity in their appearance and, within certain limits, to anticipate their coming. Next we see that there is sufficient data to conclude that the laws which govern them are constant like any other of God's laws. First of all, we perceive that they come when preparations have been made, when the times are ripe. Next, their appearance is signaled by certain infallible signs, one of which is a growing discontentment in individuals' hearts with corruption and backsliding. With this, comes an intense craving for something better. A growing spirit of expectation that change is coming soon develops. At last, when contributing streams converge at a definite point, there suddenly appears the messenger who speaks for God, and whose voice people instantly recognize and obey.
Another similarity is what occurs when the revival movement is set in motion. When the voice of the leader is heard, vast forces, which seem to have been lying dormant, are awakened. The revival spreads like fire, and huge numbers of people are affected. Wherever it goes, and into whatever heart it enters, it creates an overwhelming realization of sin — then confession. With the forgiveness of sin comes a joy that expresses itself in song. The main effect of the revival is felt in the inner life. It awakens new spiritual emotions. It sharpens lives into subjection to the will of God. It brings the Church back to simplicity, sincerity, and a renewed spiritual vitality.
As in all of God's dealings with His creation, there are the elements of the mysterious. No two revivals are identical. While possessing common elements, every expression of each law contains unique characteristics. Each is adapted to the need of the times. It is modified first by the conditions of the age, secondly by nationality, and then by the individual characteristics of its leader. This outward variety is a necessity for success. Were all revivals identical, the majority of the people would remain unaffected. Variety is a source of life.
A revival which affects one nation or people may have little influence upon another. In many cases where the attempt was made to duplicate a revival's characteristics, the attempt not only failed, but also stirred up irritation and strife.
An illustration of this fact may be discovered in the history of the Reformation in the sixteenth century. That movement, which profoundly affected the Teutonic races, left the Latin races almost unaffected. Its geographical area was so pronounced that it still remains, and the chasm which it created still separates the Roman Catholics from the Protestants.
Another fact about revival movements is the variety in the character of their appeal. Sometimes that appeal moves in the realm of the affection. Emotional revivals are, of all revivals, the most immediately effective and the least enduring.
Sometimes a revival's chief characteristic is theological, emerging in the discovery of some new truth. Each adapts itself to the urgent need of the age, and thus produces the most permanent results. Each wins its way because of its adaptation to the needs of the times and to the temperament of the people. What is effective for one cannot be effective for all.
One other significant fact regarding the variety in revivals is that movement in one direction is often followed by a movement in an opposite one. In religion, as in politics, there are two distinct camps, liberal and conservative. The watchword of the one is Freedom, that of the other is Authority. The conflict between the I wo is constant, but each represents too deep a factor of human life to destroy the other. Thus, a revival which carries to one extreme will be followed by a countermovement in the other direction.
Striking as the similar points are in revivals, there are also as many illustrations of variety. The same laws are in each, but as with all the laws of God, there is adaptation and readjustment.