“6. The occurrences of that day exhibit the REALITY and IMPORTANCE of REVIVALS of RELIGION.
By a revival of religion we understand, an uncommon and general interest in the subject of salvation, produced by the Holy Spirit, through the instrumentality of Divine truth. The work is very commonly preceded by a prevailing and affecting coldness on the subject of personal religion: such as leads Christians to feel the necessity of extraordinary prayer for themselves as well as others. In its progress, the thoughtless are alarmed; convinced by their guilt; inquire what they shall do; receive Jesus as their Savior; rejoice in hope of future glory; join themselves to the people of God; and, in important repects, pursue a new course of life.
Such, substantially, was the Revival on the day of Pentecost.
But, not only does the day of Pentecost evince the reality of Revivals of religion; it furnishes reason to calculate on their existence, in all ages. Commencing as they did with the very commencement of Christianity, there was reason to believe they would accompany her in her march over the world. On such displays of Divine grace were fixed the hopes of the apostles. Nor in their expectations were they disappointed. The very first sermon preached by Peter in a Gentile province, was attended by similar effects. The Holy Ghost came on all them that heard the word. In proclaiming the gospel, the apostles urged, as a motive to repentance, the animating fact, that the times of refreshing had come from the presence of the Lord. And by such repeated displays of Divine grace they were sustained, and peculiarly encouraged in their holy enterprise.
The occurrences of the day of Pentecost exhibit likewise the importance of Revivals of religion. If they are actually of God, we know that their influence must be only salutary. Look back then to that memorable Revival, which ushered in the Christian ministry; and tell us if its influence was at all otherwise than salutary. On the very day of its commencement, about three thousand souls were turned from darkness to light: and, during its continuance, the Lord added to the Church daily such as should be saved. Were they less honest, sober, benevolent, than before their conversion? Or were they less qualified for the dread trial of the Last Day? In a single day, it gave to the Christian Church a weight of influence, more than a hundred fold greater than it had previously possessed. And whilst it gave new impulses to her efforts, it was the occasion of dismay to her opposers. The testimony it bore to the dignity of Jesus, and the truth of Christianity, will exert a blessed influence forever.
The happy influence of a Revival may be viewed, distinctly, in its effects, on individual happiness; on the interests of the community; and on the general cause of religion.
It is important to individual happiness. Such religious character as it creates is the only safe pledge of a peaceful life. You can spare the aggrandizements of wealth, and the parade of earthly distinction. But in this world of disease, disappointment, and death, you cannot spare the consolations of a Christian hope. But a single glance into eternity stamps immeasurable value on the religious character which is originated in a season of Revival. Oh, beware of risking the trial of the Great Day, in any other character, than that which is produced by the transforming Spirit. You may have passed through a season of religious attention, and in it became a happy subject of God’s grace. Others may attach to it a trivial importance; but by yourself it shall be recurred to with ecstasy, and with thanksgiving to God, when the heavens shall be no more.
A religious Revival exerts a happy influence on the community at large. The Gospel and the sanctifying Spirit, wherever they enter, enlighten, elevate, and purify. Their dominion over the heart secures a regularity of deportment, an industrious improvement of time, a scrupulous discharge of the varied duties of life. Often has a short period of the Spirit’s gracious operation allayed the asperity of contention; calmed the tumult of a noisy rabble; put an end to scenes of midnight wickedness; brought relief to dwellings of domestic want and wo; and greatly elevated the intellectual, as well as moral character of society.
On the general cause of religion the influence of a Revival is immense, as well as salutary. The happy influence is not circumscribed by the limits of the Spirit’s immediate operation. It may reach to the ends of the earth-and onward through time. It may be the commencing link in a chain of operations, which shall issue in the rescue of millions from the agonies of the second death.
Revivals hasten the universal triumph of the Gospel. Let the churches of Christendom be found, this year, with one accord, pleading the Redeemer’s great promise-Let every city and village be a theatre of Revivals, like that in which Peter and his associates were the visible agents-and it would be the ushering in of millennial glory.
If then the work we are contemplating be indeed a work of God; and if such be its influence on individual happiness-on the interests of society-and on the general cause of religion,-O give to it, Christian brethren, the full ardor of your affections and prayers.”
-From a Sermon by Baxter Dickinson on Acts 2:1 from 1827 Taken from The National Preacher Revival Sermons from the Second Great Awakening Edited by Austin Dickinson Printed by Solid Ground Christian Books Alabama 2004 Pages 122-126