MANY earnest souls all over "Christendom" are asking this question and hoping that the answer in the affirmative may prove true. Conditions in Great Britain favor its spread. Experience shows that a time of adversity, when poverty humbles the hearts of the masses is more favorable to religious revivals than are prosperous times.
It is stated on good authority that a million and a quarter (1,250,000) of the British people are out of work and on the verge of starvation: times are depressed and there is no work for them, we are told. Collections for their aidto barely keep them aliveare being taken up in Great Britain and in Canada. People in that condition incline to look to the Creator. This, too, gives us the thought that the great "time of trouble such as was not since there was a nation" (in which this age will terminate and the Millennial age begin) will be the precursor of the mightiest and best revival that the world has ever known. As the Scriptures declare: "When the judgments of the Lord are abroad in the earth the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness."
The Welsh revival commenced in a little country church in Cardiganshire, and at once spread through the Glamorganshire coal fieldsa region noted we are told for its irreligion. Editor Stead thus describes it:
"The most remarkable thing about the meetings which I attended was the extent to which they were absolutely without any human direction or leadership. 'We must obey the Spirit,' is the watchword of Evan Roberts, and he is as obedient as the humblest of his followers. The meetings openafter any amount of preliminary singing, while the congregation is assemblingby the reading of a chapter or a psalm. Then it is go as you please for two hours or more.
"And the amazing thing is that it does go and does not get entangled in what might seem to be inevitable confusion. Three-fourths of the meeting consists of singing. No one uses a hymn book. No one gives out a hymn. The last person to control the meeting in any way is Mr. Evan Roberts. People pray and sing, and give testimony; exhort as the Spirit moves them. As a study of the psychology of crowds I have seen nothing like it. You feel that the thousand or fifteen hundred persons before you have become merged into one myriad-headed, but single-souled personality.
"Large numbers of 'sudden conversions' are reported, and men of careless or evil lives stand up and 'testify' to their faith in Christ. In some places the public houses are almost deserted, the police magistrates find their work materially reduced, and colliery managers are surprised at the steadier work and the absence of the accustomed blasphemies from the pit galliers. In not a few cases football matches, which in Wales not less than in many regions of England have been tainted by gambling and brutality, have been abandoned because the members of the teams were ashamed of their 'former conversation.' Even if we allowed for possible exaggeration by sensational journalists, and if we take into account the emotional nature which distinguishes the Welsh even more perhaps than the Celts of other lands, there can be no doubt that an extraordinary wave of religious enthusiasm is rushing over the principality and for the time, at all events, is changing the lives of thousands of its inhabitants."
Other accounts which reach us seem to indicate a considerable degree of fanaticism and hysterics associated with the movement, and the suggestion has even been offered that it is the work of the evil spirits operating as they have done in the "holy rollers" and others who in the name of religion and the holy Spirit have caricatured these. However, we have seen no accounts that would seem to justify the latter view. It will nevertheless be well for us to watch the movement and thus "try the spirits, whether they be of God." One of the favorable features is that it has but few marks of Babylon and is carried on by the laity, rather than by the clergy.
"My travels through the country, and my study of the trend of modern movements, show me that within the lifetime of the present younger generation three former dreams of mine will work into eventualities. World peace will shortly be realized, industrial education will rapidly develop, and the unification of religion is but a matter of time. The religion of Lyman Abbott will soon be general and attract the masses to worship."
Hear, O "Christendom," the voice of another of thy famous prophets!another of thy wise men! But [R3497 : page 36] know assuredly the word of the Lord, "The wisdom of thy wise men has perished, the understanding of thy prudent men vanished."Isa. 29:14.
The gentleman has dreamed of a "world peace" without the second coming of our Lord and the realization of his prayer"Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth even as it is done in heaven." His dream will never be realized, but the Lord's promise will be fulfilled.
He dreams of industrial education: that we are having and will have with very different results from what he dreams. The industrial classes are indeed being educated, but not in the school of Christ; and the Bible clearly shows that they will soon be learned in all the branches of self-defence and aggression which ere long will sweep peace from the earth and involve the world in social chaos.
He dreams of a unification of religion and may live to see a unification of sects "bound in bundles for the great day of trouble."Matt. 13:30.
He dreams of the atheistic or pantheistic views of Dr. Abbott attracting the masses, and will find that such a rejection of the Word of God has more attraction for the clergy than for the masses, who more generally will be repelled by such a cutting of all anchorage of faith within the vail.
Rev. Carter, not holding fast the Scriptures, has made shipwreck of his faith; but we are glad to see that his eyes are open to at least some of the inconsistencies of the creed he is still attached to. Indeed it evidently was these very errors that drove him to his present position. His wrong view of the Bible was induced by his faith that the Westminster Confession was a truthful representation of its teachings. This is the tendency of errors, and now God's people must be helped out of themto see the true teachings of God's Word.
"I was brought up to believe that all the heathen and, in fact, by far the greater portion of all the dead generations, were consigned to a little hell of fire and brimstone, and forever and ever. How any kindly disposed man could really believe that and have another happy moment I fail to see. If the consciousness that he had escaped himself would be any consolation, then I am sorry for him.
"The Westminster confession still remains the creed of the Presbyterian church. If an effort were made to depose it from its place there would be vigorous opposition. The men who oppose the revision would oppose the retiring of the creed. The confession remaining, with its remains this terrible teaching: That for the single sin of Adam the whole race of manremember, millions upon millions, countless millionswere condemned by God to eternal torment, and that he intervened by His election to save certain ones from this awful fate. I do not believe that this is a true statement of the facts. I think that men in general do not believe that this is a true statement of the facts. I think that nobody does, unless he has been screwed up to it, or down to it, by a stiff theological training. I have unbounded confidence in the greatness and goodness of God, but if any man could persuade me that this is the true statement of God's management of the human race I should lose my faith in God. I think such a statement makes atheists, and how delightful it is that no word of Christ's ever hints at any such terrible fact. If this be so, it is a monstrous blunder to put this as the very foundation teaching of Christianity.
"I hear men say that they are glad to live to-day because of the great modern improvements, schools, libraries, telegraphs and such like. I am glad to live to-day because our children are not taught this fire and brimstone teaching. The relief is incalculable. Neither does any sensible man believe that he can do wrong and escape the inevitable consequence. 'Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap,' is true forever. Such truths time has no effect upon. They belong to eternity. But we are practically held, in the Presbyterian church, to the endless torment theory, though the fire and brimstone part has been dropped out. If we are allowed in the Presbyterian church, to hold conditional immortality, or any other reasonable modification of the endless torment theory, then I wish some one would say so. No one has as yet, and I fear the man would find himself in trouble who would rise in presbytery and say so.
"A Presbyterian minister told me that some one put into [R3498 : page 36] the hands of the minister's daughter a catechism to learn. She came running to her father and flung the book upon the floor crying: 'I hate the wicked book.' 'Why, Susie, you don't hate the catechism?' 'Yes, I do. Hear what it says: "What are you by nature?" "I am an enemy of God, a child of Satan and an heir of hell," and it's a lie.' Fortunately the minister was a man before he was a minister. So he folded his arms and said: 'No, my daughter, you are not that.'"
"When Dr. Abbott was delivering his course of lectures on the Old Testament in Plymouth Church and printing them in "The Brooklyn Eagle," the late Bishop John F. Hurst paid the writer a visit. When asked what he thought of the lecturer and the lectures, the good Bishop said: 'What do I think of Dr. Abbott and his lectures? Why, who ever knew an Abbott that had any conception of logic or logical method, or of science or scientific method, or of anything but rhetoric? I have known Lyman Abbott many a time to become hypnotized by his own verbosity and to go kiting off into the regions of speculation and then enter his study and write it all down and send it out to the world as if it were God's truth!"Bible Student.