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Laughery Baptist Association (IN), 1862
By T. M. Erwin
"The Importance of Revival"
     DEAR BRETHREN: Permit us on this occasion to call your attention to a few thoughts on the importance of a revival of God's work in our midst. Nor can we conceive of a greater blessing that possibly could be vouchsafed at the present time than the return of the Holy Spirit with His hallowed and gracious influences.

     It is not our intention to discuss the causes which have led to the present low state of religious interest in our country, as indeed, the short limits of a circular letter would forbid the attempt. Yet, you will agree with us, that causes have been, and are still in operation, to distract the public mind, and draw off the thoughts from the Gospel and its claims upon us.

     Perhaps, never since the formation of the Government has the mind of the American people been subjected to such a degree of excitement as has been the case for the last eighteen months. The energies of the loyal people of the Northern States have been called forth to aid in putting down one of the most wicked and uncalled for rebellions the History of the World has ever recorded. But war under the most favorable circumstances, and in defense of the most sacred of causes, carries with it a more or less demoralizing influence; this you may not have failed to notice.

     It is impossible for human efforts or skill to arrest the tendency to skepticism and unbelief toward which the masses seem to be drifting, and correct the laxity and indifference of the hosts of Israel. Nothing, we are persuaded, but a revival of religion, the return of the Spirit's sanctifying influence, can check the tide of wickedness and infidelity so fearfully prevalent, and call back the troubled heart of Zion to her trust and rest in God. We need a revival of religion:

      1st. That Zion may awake from her slumbers, arise and prepare herself for the work of the Lord. "Walk about Zion:"
     Look upon her fallen walls! See her deserted towers! Behold her inhabitants as they now sit captives by the icy streams of Babylon, their harps hung upon the willows, their heads bowed in anguish while they remember from whence they are fallen, and the days when the candle of the Lord shone upon them. -- Should not each watchman as he hears the doom of captivity fall upon his ears, cry out as did the ancient prophet, "O Lord, I have heard thy speech, and was afraid: O Lord, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy." We need a revival of religion, that God's heritage may not becomes a prey to the spoiler.

     2d. We need a revival of religion, that the gospel among us may become the power of God unto salvation to dying sinners around us. Why that listless in attention to the message of mercy upon the part of the impenitent? Why the indifference of Christians to the salvation of souls?

     Brethren in the ministry, how is it with you? We try to prepare our sermons in eh best manner we can, the precious truths of a Saviour's dying love are spread out before the people, but with how little effect; we find our own hearts cold and unbelieving. We need a revival of religion that we may preach right, our brethren need it that they may hear right., and poor sinners nee it -- they will perish unless they are brought to Christ. The fact of the sensible absence of the Holy Spirit should fill us with alarm, it should awake within us the deepest solicitude an anxiety for His return. Without His presence and gracious influence Zion will continue to languish, and sinners will perish.

"O holy Dove, return,
Sweet messenger of rest;
I hate the sins that made thee mourn,
And drove thee from my breast."

     3d. We need a revival of religion, that as a people, as a nation, we may trust in God. If ever there was a time in our history as individual Christians, as churches, as a nation, when a revival of pure religion is imperatively needed, it seems to us the present is that time.

     We believe the hand of God is in some way connected with our present national struggle, and that He is carrying us forward to a point from whence we may contemplate the opening way for the rapid and glorious accomplishment of His purpose of mercy to our whole country, and the world. This we believe to be the secret conviction of every thinking mind. But how have we trusted Him? Have we not been placing our trust in an arm of flesh? In men, in armies, in numbers? In our wealth and resources as a nation? We have prided ourselves in the invincibility of our Constitution and free institutions, and we thought ere the reverberations of the first shot upon Sumpter ceased to tremble in the distant mountain valley, -- it was but necessary to unfurl the glorious banner of liberty to the breeze and the daring foe would quit before it! But facts have taught us to the contrary. And why these facts? Doubtless that we might learn, that it is "not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of Hosts." Our Government is in danger, and God is bringing us to that point where we must think. We need the power and teachings of God's Spirit, that as a people we may comprehend the magnitude of the guilt of this wicked rebellion, and on the other hand, the enormity of the sins we have been cherishing as a nation. Do we indeed appreciate what God is doing? Do we comprehend the meaning of that providence which so significantly surrounds us at this moment? Do we see the direction that providence indicates, and are we prepared to follow? Have we not reason to think, to fear?

     Nothing but speedy repentence [sic], and breaking off our sins by righteousness, can save us. God must and will be honored. But where must this work begin? "Judgment must begin at the house of God." Beloved brethren, if there ever was a time when deep, earnest, believing prayer should go up to God from every pious heart in behalf of our afflicted country, that time is now. We cannot at this hour of our country's danger, refrain and be guiltless. God 's strong arm can carry us safely through this fearful ordeal -- that arm is now stretched out inviting us onward -- let it not be withdrawn in wrath. May He pour out of His Spirit upon our churches, upon the whole people, and in His infinite mercy, through the merits of His dear Son, forgive our numerous transgressions, and so direct the affairs of our suffering country that war may ere long cease, and the song of peace, the jubilee of liberty and love, be heard to reverberate where now the clash of arms and the cannon's roar disturbs nature's fair repose. Amen.


[From Laughery Baptist Association Minutes, 1862, pp. 13-15. The title is added. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

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