Transcript from show #267, February 19, 2023
Continuing on the keeping with Timing Revelation, end times and prophecies, this article is Part 2 of the series about why is there no revival today as there were in previous times. This article is the continuation of a transcript from one of my radio shows from a couple of years ago on this very topic.
As I said in part 1, I want to go now to the great revival that took place here in Canada in the late 1800’s – in Hamilton, Ontario to be precise.
Most Hamiltonians are unaware that the city’s name is a household word among Christian Historians throughout the whole world – at least it used to be.
People talk about the great awakenings in American religious history, that came in three or four waves of increased enthusiasm occurring between the early 1700’s the late 1800’s… which were referred to as the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Awakening.
But the 4th is still being debated as to whether or not this was a real, authentic revival which took place in the 60’s and 70’s. There is no consensus on this apparently to this day.
Each of these three earlier waves was characterized by widespread revivals led by evangelical protestant ministers..There was a general sharp increase of interest in religion, a profound sense of conviction as we saw in part 1, and a redemptive response on the part of those affected.
This brought about an increase in evangelical church membership, and the formation of new religious movements and denominations throughout the areas affected.
The great Hamilton revival of 1857
Now, getting back to the Canadian side of what is called “the Great Hamilton revival of 1857”, it is actually referred to as the “Second Great Awakening” by J. Edwin Orr, a specialist in religious revivals, in his book by the same name.
He writes: “The first unusual stream of blessing arose not in New York as commonly supposed, but in the City of Hamilton.”
Whether or not that is the case, it is clear that there was also what was called a 2nd Awakening in the United States which began earlier… that obviously caught up to Canada, and which carried on the same name reference.
In one article from the wikipedia.org web site on “great-awakening”, it is reported that “this awakening in the U.S. was unique in that it moved beyond the educated elite of New England to those that were less wealthy and less educated. The epicentre of revivalism was the so-called Burned-over district in western New York., named for its overabundance of hellfire-and-damnation preaching, the region produced dozens of new denominations, communal societies, and reform.”
Then on the 2nd Awakening taking place in Canada, the report continues: “for a hundred years it was generally believed that the Second Great Evangelical Awakening began in new York where some ten thousand Christians packed out the downtown churches for the now famous noon hour prayer meetings…
These unusual prayer meetings were mostly attended by businessmen and shopkeepers who took time from their employment to spend the time in prayer for a spiritual awakening.
Now you see this is what it takes to get revival… are we seeing this happening today? May be we will see it come out of the current Asbury University as reported in the media these days. Did people there really experience a conviction of sin? Did they turn their lives over to Christ. Or was it just a temporary emotional surge? We shall see in time.
Back to 1858, the fire spread and it is reported that one million people throughout the United States professed Christianity and joined the Nation’s churches.
What triggered these unusual prayer meetings is reported to have been a revival that took place in Hamilton, Ontario which was briefly covered by a newspaper in New York called “the Christian Advocate”, in their November 5, 1857 issue. It was reported that there were “men, women and children humbly kneeling together pleading for grace”.
In the meantime in that city, there were revivals going on where it was being reported by the local papers that folks by the hundreds were being saved by grace through a work that continued “in unabated interest and power”.
I remember when I published a Christian newspaper back in Ontario in the late 80’s – early 90’s (1900’s that is), my husband and I used to deliver the paper, once a month. It was a monthly newspaper, and we delivered it throughout Southern Ontario. We drove 1,000 miles every month to all the different churches, about 450 of them, from Oshawa to Niagara Falls to Richmond Hill, and throughout Burlington, Hamilton, Stoney Creek, etc.
All along that area, there were churches after churches – every block had a church – and we could tell that there had been revivals that took place back in history… you could visibly see that… it was truly amazing.
A husband and wife team
Now history tells us that behind this revival, there was a husband and wife team -- Walter and Phoebe Palmer who had become evangelists and teachers of the word of God ever since they had converted to Christianity.
Their work was located within the state of New York, U.S.A.. They would often go up to Ontario, North and East all the way to Napanee and Barrie at times in the 1850’s. All of these came to the public’s attention through the letters that Phoebe wrote about their trips, and that were published by the “Christian Guardian” throughout the United States and Canada.
The Palmers were getting great success preaching old-fashioned Methodist salvation and sanctification.
It is said that Methodist revivals were in the early 1800’s, stemming from Wesley’s field meetings in England. Canadian Methodists were proficient at holding revival camp meetings.
Neil Semple in his “The Decline of the Camp Meeting” says: “In its more general sense, revival hinged on the belief that religion did not progress uniformly. It periodically required an extraordinary shock in order to rekindle the spiritual intensity of the church.”
In a manuscript of the Great Hamilton Revival of 1857, it says “Nowhere did the spirit of revivalism manifest itself as in the camp meeting. A typical example was the Georgetown camp meeting which started Sunday and went on for four days, attracting some 3,000 people and a schedule of preachers who spoke at 11 am, 3 pm and 7 pm.”
Going back specifically to that Hamilton Revival, one summer the Palmers, who were strong Methodist missionaries , held a 4-day camp meeting in Georgetown, Ontario.
This was one of many along their way. Their final meeting for that season was at Oakville, Ontario, early in October, on their way back home to the U.S.
Salvation and sanctification
Typically the meetings would begin with Walter Palmer, who was a wealthy medical doctor, telling his testimony of how he had gotten saved. Then his wife, Mrs Palmer would eloquently take over the meeting with fire, preaching salvation and sanctification. These would attract large numbers of crowds.
The story goes that when they got to Hamilton, on that week of October, 1857, they were to stay overnight. Two Methodist ministers got word of their presence and asked the Palmers to speak at a prayer meeting, where other ministers joined in as well along with members of their congregation.
They prayed for revival and scheduled one meeting for the Friday of that week in a location that could accommodate 500 people. People came, and by Sunday had seen 75 salvations. The meetings grew every day with fervour and intensity as laypeople also exhorted and gave their testimonies… until the next week when on Tuesday another 45 people got saved.
The meetings were the most unusual the Palmers had experienced, where many of the leading citizens of Hamilton, including the mayor at that time, as well as those in rank and file.
From this came the growth of the churches throughout this area of Burlington, Hamilton and Stoney Creek that I told you about earlier and that my husband and I were privileged to witness with our own eyes some 140 sustained years later.
Mrs Palmer wrote an extended detailed letter about the experience to a clergyman in New York from Hamilton, which is too long to repeat here right now.
The four conditions for revival
And the four conditions for revival, given by Evan Roberts that I mentioned earlier, are summarized as follows -- (and these are in the form of questions to ask ourselves):
1__ Is there any sin in your past that you have not confessed to God? On your needs at once. Your past must be put away and yourself cleansed.
2__Is there anything in your life that is doubtful? Have you forgiven everybody, everybody, everybody? If not, don’t expect forgivness for your own sins. You won’t get it.
3__Do what the Spirit prompts you to do. Obedience – prompt, implicit, unquestioning obedience to the Spirit.
4__A public confession of Christ as your Saviour. There is a vast difference between profession and confession.
Why no Revival? Perhaps it is because we have softened our approach too much. We sure don’t do it this way anymore. But neither do we have revivals like we used to.
And after that one meeting, Roberts taught the people to pray for the Spirit to come in their midst now. It wasn’t until after midnight that they dispersed. At the next evening meeting, the place was packed. Evan Roberts read the last chapter of Malachi and the people were astonished at his holy boldness. Many were moved to tears, others cried in agony. That meeting did not close until three o'clock in the morning.
We say there is revival coming… but are we seeing what precedes Revivals – yet?
If you feel the Holy Spirit speaking to you right now, I would strongly suggest that you might want to heed and follow your heart… for many, this may be the last chance before the next train comes by… tomorrow is not guaranteed. And Jesus is the only way to come to God the Father (John 14:6).
The Spirit says “Come”… just say “I come to you Lord Jesus, right now… I repent of my sins, I repent of having rejected you up until now… but I believe that you are real and I want to have you in my life and in my heart… thank you for your grace and mercy, your promises that if anyone comes to you, you will in no wise reject them… that’s me today Lord, I come to you right now.”
If you said that prayer and meant it in your heart sincerely, He has received you and you are now a born-again child of God. It is important that you tell someone as a witness and confirmation of your new turning point this day, and that you join a Bible-believing church in your community, where you can worship God with other Bible-believing Christians, hear the word of God and grow in your new-found faith – or your renewed and re-dedicated faith.
I will continue this “Why no Revival” series in the next article -- Part 3.
P.S.: And now I’d like to let hear a beautiful rendering of "Standing on the promises", by Gary Chapman, from ‘A hymn a week’ YouTube video…
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