A healthy and challenging self-examination in the searchlight of the past is taking place in many Christian quarters in Great Britain at the moment. There is a continuing renascence of interest in the Reformation, its principles, its doctrine, its outlook. Puritan studies are enjoying a considerable vogue. And there is a noticeable focus of attention upon the great revivals of Christian history, and especially, as might be expected in this country, on the Evangelical awakening of the eighteenth century. There was a time when it was imagined that sufficient research had been expended on this movement of the Spirit and that some other field might more profitably be explored. But at present there is more enlightened concern to trace the course of the eighteenth century revival than ever before. Many are beginning to recognize that it was not predominantly a Wesleyan or a Whitefieldian or an Evangelical Anglican affair. It was first and foremost a work of the Holy Spirit. The phenomenal occurrences of that remarkable period cannot be explained otherwise than as the evidence of another Pentecost. The human heroes are receding from the foreground and the Quickener himself is being seen in his rightful place of priority.
RECALLING THE PAST
As we stand on the brink of the sixties we are compelled to recall what was happening here 200 years ago. By 1760 the Awakening was well under way. God’s river was in full spate. The years of visitation had passed into the years of evangelization. The Wesleys were traveling the length and breadth of the land preaching the everlasting Gospel and harvesting souls in their hundreds and thousands. Whitefield lagged not one inch behind them and proved himself, as Dean Sykes describes him, “the fiery ...1
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