Before service on Sunday morning, Clayton Pyche came into my office bearing a gift. It was a very old edition of Jonathan Edwards’ Thoughts on the Revival of Religion in New England. The book was first published in 1740. This edition has no date, but the penciled note in the front says, “My mother’s gift, 1849.” The covers are thick brown board, the pages are stiff and stained, and the seams are sewn with thin string. It is a precious treasure for an “Edwardsophile” like me. (I just made that word up.)
That same afternoon Noël and I had lunch with a new friend from Illinois. To my surprise, he gave me a brand new (1987) copy of a collection of sermons called Revival by Martin Lloyd-Jones, who died in 1981. The sermons were first given in 1959 on the 100th anniversary of the Welsh revival. The paper cover is deep blue with sharp white print. The book’s pages are clean and flexible. The book is very handsome.
This is remarkable that I should receive two books on revival in one day. But even more remarkable is that men of Edwards’ and Lloyd-Jones’ stature wrote and spoke so extensively on this subject. They were giants in their day. Edwards is literally the intellectual Paul Bunyan of American religious history. He has no peer. Lloyd-Jones was great, but mainly because he stood on the shoulders of the likes of Edwards. They are men to be read and read and read again.
And maybe we should begin to read what they had to say about revival. J.I. Packer says of Lloyd-Jones’ book: “I do not think that our age has seen any more powerful or profound treatment of revival than this book.” He says that,
Revival for “the Doctor” meant more than evangelism that brings in converts, and more than cheerfulness, enthusiasm, and a balanced budget in the local church. What he was after was the new quality of spiritual life that comes through knowing the greatness and nearness of our holy, gracious Creator—something that … usually starts with a deepened sense of the power and authority of God in the preaching of the Biblical message.
May this great Creator that visited New England in the 1740’s and that Martin Lloyd-Jones displayed so forcefully in his preaching at Westminster Chapel bare his reviving arm at Bethlehem! Let the words of William Cowper come to pass:
Oh rend the heavens, come quickly down,
And make a thousand hearts thine own.
And let us press our case in heaven according to the confidence of John Newton:
Thou art coming to a King;
Large petitions with thee bring;
For His grace and power are such
None can ever ask too much.
Praying with you,