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 Recoil
Every revival has a time limit. It has its day, then it recedes. Luther set the limit to a revival at thirty years, Isaac Taylor at fifty. Rarely does it last beyond a generation. But in duration two revivals are rarely alike. Because of the variables and their different characters, the extent and duration are varied. The constant factor is that, whatever the size of the wave, it has its limits marked out for it.
Many people are swept into a revival's current by yielding to emotion, while their natures remain unchanged. They cool down and are swept back into the world again. Nothing can be said about the percentage who fall away. Revival movements differ in this also. In revivals where emotions are held in check and the appeal is made to the conscience, the effect is more permanent.
The good effect of a revival runs on long alter the surprise and emotion are gone. Yet there comes a time when this seems to end, and the movement falls into decay. It becomes not an influence for good, but for evil. Instead of liberating, it becomes an agent of oppression. Few things in life are more pathetic than how quickly the good gets tarnished or corrupted. Such was the case with the recoil that came after the days of Luther, with its bitterness and rivalries.
In all revival movements, this law of recoil must be recognized in order to be wisely and prayerfully anticipated. A wider knowledge of such movements will prepare the Church for this, and thus its dangers can be minimized. It is the ebb of the wave which falls back, only to gain strength to push further on. When each revival has made its original contribution to the wealth of human experience, it falls back to give place to something else. There is no need to mourn. As Tennyson truthfully said, "The old order changeth, yielding place to new, and God fulfills Himself in many ways, lest one good custom should corrupt the world."
This longing for a fresh movement from God was expressed most succinctly by the Psalmist: "Oh, revive us! Then your people can rejoice in you again" (Psalm 85:6, TLB). We echo that longing when we read of past revivals, then fall to our knees and cry, "Do it again, Lord. Do it again!"