“We have heard with our ears, O God, our fathers have told us, what work thou didst in their days, in the times of old.” Psalm 44:1
Suggested Further Reading: 2 Chronicles 29:31-36
The old stagers in our churches believe that things must grow, gently, by degrees; we must go step by step onwards. Concentrated action and continued labour, they say, will ultimately bring success. But the marvel is, all God’s works have been sudden. When Peter stood up to preach, it did not take six weeks to convert the three thousand. They were converted at once and baptised that very day; they were that hour turned to God, and became as truly disciples of Christ as they could have been if their conversion had taken seventy years. So was it in the day of Martin Luther: it did not take Luther centuries to break through the thick darkness of Rome. God lit the candle and the candle burned, and there was the light in an instant—God works suddenly. If any one could have stood in Wurtemburg, and have said, “Can popery be made to quail, can the Vatican be made to shake?” The answer would have been:—“No; it will take at least a thousand years to do it. Popery, the great serpent, has so twisted itself about the nations, and bound them so fast in its coil, that they cannot be delivered except by a long process.” However, God said, “Not so.” He smote the dragon sorely, and the nations went free; he cut the gates of brass, and broke in sunder the bars of iron, and the people were delivered in an hour. Freedom came not in the course of years, but in an instant. The people that walked in darkness saw a great light, and upon them that dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, did the light shine. So was it in Whitefield’s day. The rebuking of a slumbering church was not the work of ages; it was done at once. Have you never heard of the great revival under Whitefield?
For meditation: We tend to label God “slow”, but he is only “slow to anger” (2 Peter 3:9). He was a very quick Creator and we should take encouragement from the fact that he has brought revival out of the blue before and can do it again (Isaiah 66:8; Acts 2:2).
Sermon no. 263
17 July (1859)