Isaiah 62:6-7 I have set watchmen upon thy walls, O Jerusalem, which shall never hold their peace day nor night: ye that make mention of the LORD, keep not silence, And give him no rest, till he establish, and till he make Jerusalem a praise in the earth.
The progress of Christianity in the world has rarely, for any length of time, been uniform. Its growth in the individual and in the community is characterized by very obvious fluctuations. Like all things temporal, it is subject to constant change, exposed to influences the most varied and antagonistic. Now it makes rapid advances in its conflict with sinful propensities and developments; again it is subjected to obstructions and reverses that effectually check its onward course, and result in spiritual declensions. Growth in grace is attainable only by ceaseless vigilance, untiring diligence, unremitting conflict, and a faithful improvement of the opportunities and means of spiritual advancement. Any relaxation in the strife with moral evil tends to spiritual retardation: the evil gets the advantage over the good; the religious fervor abates; the soul becomes lukewarm, cold, dead. As with the individual believer, so is it with the community. A church, a sisterhood of churches covering a large section of country, by reason of the predominating influence of some worldly interests—the greed of gain in a season of great commercial prosperity, the strife of party during a highly excited political campaign, the prevalence of a martial spirit in time of war, or the lust of pleasure in a time of general worldly gaiety and festivity, or any absorbing passion for mere temporal good—may be so diverted from the direct pursuit of holiness, and the prosecution of the work of advancing the kingdom of Christ, as to lose, to a considerable extent, the power, if not the life, of godliness. The spiritual and eternal become subordinate to the worldly and temporal. The blight of spiritual declension settles down and attaches itself with increasing persistency year by year. Such has been the history of Christian churches everywhere. This being the testimony of universal experience to the proneness of human nature to decline from the spirit and the power of godliness, how, it is asked, is this tendency to be checked? Obviously the true and only effective and appropriate remedy for a season of spiritual declension is a season of spiritual revival. Such a season, by whatever agencies or instrumentalities brought about, by whatever adjuncts of questionable propriety it may be accompanied, and of greater or less extent, may properly be termed “a revival of religion.” These manifestations, moreover, are to be regarded as a result of a special and peculiar effusion of the Holy Spirit. All spiritual life, all progress in the divine life, whether in the individual or in the community, in the church or in the nation, is the Spirit of God. The whole period of grace, from the Day of Pentecost to the final judgment, is properly termed “the dispensation of the Holy Spirit.” Every true convert is begotten of the Spirit, and so becomes a child of God. The Spirit is always in and with the Church, carrying forward the work of redemption.
Jackson, S. M. (Ed.). (1908–1914). In The new Schaff-Herzog encyclopedia of religious knowledge: embracing Biblical, historical, doctrinal, and practical theology and Biblical, theological, and ecclesiastical biography from the earliest times to the present day (Vol. 10, pp. 9–10). New York; London: Funk & Wagnalls.