A Revived Church by Archibald G Brown

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Abeard

Puritan Board Freshman
A church that is all present and all agreed may expect anything, dare anything, accomplish anything, receive anything. Is it not the lack of this spirit of unity, that is the weakness of the churches of the present day? In putting my finger on this, do I not indicate the secret disease that preys on Zion? Is this not what robs her of her bloom — enervates her strength — gives paralysis to her arm — and worst of all, hinders the blessing from falling, and makes the sky above her head hot and as dry as brass?

It is sad beyond description, to see the paltry pride and miserable jealousies that find their way within the courts of the Lord's House. There are men who will be nothing, unless they are everything; and who will, without compunction, sacrifice a whole church's prosperity on the wretched little altar of their own unsanctified ambition! Instead of all being baptized into one spirit, it looks more as if every one had been baptized into a different spirit — and every spirit an evil one. Doubtless some of you may think this is rather an over-drawn picture. All I can say is "I would to God that it was," but we speak what we know, and testify of what we have seen. With all our heart we have pitied the pastor of these "units." We have felt he was engaged in a well-near hopeless struggle.

Oh beloved members of this church, let us see to it that we are more than ever of one accord. Thanks, ten thousand thanks, be to God, that for years we have been knit together, not as a society, but as a family. Never was there truer love or more determined unity in any church. Yet I cannot doubt that hidden away among nearly one thousand members, there are some evil feelings and unworthy bickerings. Is it so? Can it be, dear friend, that except for your lack of accord, the blessing would be even greater than it is? O, away with it!! In spirit let us now grasp hands and Pentecost shall come again.

A revived church will be certain to draw the multitude together. Let a revival but come and the dreary waste of empty pews to be seen in many a sanctuary will be gone. This is the secret of getting at the masses. Our churches do not need cleverer or better ministers — but revived ones. Our ministers do not need richer or more respectable churches — but revived ones. Have a revived pastor and a revived people — and no building will be too large for the congregation that will gather.

All instrumentality is nothing without the Holy Spirit; but the poorest instrumentality with the Spirit, is mighty enough to accomplish anything. Alas, what an amount of powerless machinery we have in the so-called "religious world." Powerless, because it has no unction. Powerless, because it is the work of man — not the working of God through the man. Powerless, because it is dry and artificial. Powerless, because it is done by men who have never "tarried until they were endued with power from on high." Instrumentality is almost worshiped — while the Holy Spirit is well-near ignored.

O sirs, the blessing is ours if we like to take it. It is only a matter of waiting. God cannot withhold from a seeking people. If we do not get it one day, let us pray the next, and the next, and the next — but get it. May this spirit of prayer — this pioneer of revival — be ours now and ever as a church.

Let everything else go rather than the meetings for pleading with God. Think! Might the blessing here not be tripled by more prayer? We have not yet had all our God can give us. He still waits with both hands full. Then pray — pray — pray.
 
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TheOldCourse

Puritan Board Sophomore
The last bit sounds a bit too ecclesiastical prosperity gospel for my taste--something those of a revivalist bent dally too closely with in my opinion. I wonder if he would have preached the same sermon had he pastored a small, rural Highlander church rather than one of the largest churches in Britain. Sometimes the blessings the Lord grants his church for faithfulness come in the form of trials and testings rather than filling auditoriums to the brim.
 

Abeard

Puritan Board Freshman
Sometimes the blessings the Lord grants his church for faithfulness come in the form of trials and testings rather than filling auditoriums to the brim.

Yes, I agree. What Blessing I think he is referring to is God’s people being blessed with a hungering and thirsting for God.
 

TheOldCourse

Puritan Board Sophomore
Yes, I agree. What Blessing I think he is referring to is God’s people being blessed with a hungering and thirsting for God.

If so then quite right. His fourth and last paragraphs make it sounds as if the blessing is larger congregations, however.
 

Stephen L Smith

Administrator
Staff member
The last bit sounds a bit too ecclesiastical prosperity gospel for my taste--something those of a revivalist bent dally too closely with in my opinion.
To put this in context, Brown had the same view of revival as Spurgeon, Jonathan Edwards and Dr Lloyd-Jones. Spurgeon and Brown witnessed the blessing to the churches of the 1859 revival in England. They believed, in the words of Edwards, that revival is a "suprising work of God" They clearly rejected the man centered view of revival that Finney held to.

Dr Lloyd-Jones carried on this tradition (I see Archibald Brown's ministry as fitting nicely between the powerful ministries of Spurgeon and Lloyd-Jones). For Lloyd-Jones powerful sermons (consistent with Spurgeon's and Brown's views) see https://www.mljtrust.org/free-sermons/revival/
 

TheOldCourse

Puritan Board Sophomore
To put this in context, Brown had the same view of revival as Spurgeon, Jonathan Edwards and Dr Lloyd-Jones. Spurgeon and Brown witnessed the blessing to the churches of the 1859 revival in England. They believed, in the words of Edwards, that revival is a "suprising work of God" They clearly rejected the man centered view of revival that Finney held to.

Dr Lloyd-Jones carried on this tradition (I see Archibald Brown's ministry as fitting nicely between the powerful ministries of Spurgeon and Lloyd-Jones). For Lloyd-Jones powerful sermons (consistent with Spurgeon's and Brown's views) see https://www.mljtrust.org/free-sermons/revival/

I am aware of this and I believe that it's problematic in their ministries as well (though Edwards less so--to my knowledge he tended to be a bit more careful). Not revival per se, but while they may call it a "surprising work of God," in many cases they wrote or preached as if it was an expected work of God, rather, provided that a church and minister are sufficiently faithful and zealous in their work. It's certainly not Finneyism in which revival was merely about applying the appropriate psychological measures to men and awaiting the geometrical and natural response, but they still tended towards a sort of Calvinistic Methodism where if you prayed and preached hard enough then revival--by the Spirit, certainly!-- is to be expected. It's not Arminian by any means, but I don't think that it's quite biblical either. Brown, of course, also lived to see the rather mixed fruit the 1859 revival bore.
 

Stephen L Smith

Administrator
Staff member
I am aware of this and I believe that it's problematic in their ministries as well (though Edwards less so--to my knowledge he tended to be a bit more careful). Not revival per se, but while they may call it a "surprising work of God," in many cases they wrote or preached as if it was an expected work of God, rather, provided that a church and minister are sufficiently faithful and zealous in their work.
But it would not be a suprising work of God if it was to be expected. In other words pray for revival but acknowledge God is sovereign.

"because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction." 1 Thess 1:5

Calvinistic Methodism where if you prayed and preached hard enough then revival--by the Spirit, certainly!-- is to be expected.
I love the Calvinistic Methodists so plead guilty to appreciating their emphasis. The new 2 volume work put out by Banner of Truth "The Calvinistic Methodist Fathers of Wales" is a valuable work In my humble opinion. But that has to be balanced again with Edwards words that revival is a "suprising work of God" God may or may not send revival.

Brown, of course, also lived to see the rather mixed fruit the 1859 revival bore.
Agreed. Edwards wrote Religious Affections because he saw spiritual dross in the revivals. In the fine biography on Brown I mentioned above, it has a chapter on being faithful when there was no revival. Brown knew that the church faced days of revival, she also faced days of spiritual poverty.
 

TheOldCourse

Puritan Board Sophomore
But it would not be a suprising work of God if it was to be expected. In other words pray for revival but acknowledge God is sovereign.

I agree. I just tend to think that in some of those of a Calvinistic Methodist bent they acknowledge that in theory but not always in practice. The quote at the top, for instance, seems to suggest that if the minister and congregation are revived (what does that mean, anyways? Born again presumably?), and they pray more, then massive congregations will gather. That doesn't sound like a surprising work of God, it sounds expected so long as certain human (though spiritual contra Finneyism) conditions are met.

Admittedly, I am no fan of Calvinistic Methodists myself and it colors my perceptions here. I can praise them for their Calvinism, but I think their Methodism undermines ordinary means of grace ecclesiology and piety. That said, I don't have any problem with Reformed revivalism so long as it does emphasize the freedom of God's work in it--the surprising part--rather than postmillennial enthusiasm and human instrumentality.
 
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