‘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.’ Habakkuk 3:2
Suggested Further Reading: Psalm 85:1–13
O God, have mercy upon thy poor church, and visit her, and revive her. She has but a little strength; she has desired to keep thy word; refresh her; restore to her thy power, and give her yet to be great in this land. Mercy is also wanted for the land itself. This is a wicked nation, this England; its wickedness belongs to all classes. Sin runs down our streets; we have a fringe of elegant morality, but behind it we have a mass of rottenness. There is not only the immorality of the streets at night, but look at the dishonesty of business men in high places. Cheating and thieving upon the grandest scale are winked at. Little thieves are punished, and great thieves are untouched. This is a wicked city, this city of London, and the land is full of drunkenness, fornication, theft, and popish idolatry. I am not the proper prophet to take up this burden; my temperament is not that of Jeremiah; but I may at least, with Habakkuk, having heard the Lord’s speech concerning it, be afraid, and exhort you to pray for this land, and be asking that God would revive his work, in order that this drunkenness may be given up, that this dishonesty may be purged out, that this great social evil may be cut out from the body politic, as a deadly cancer is cut out by the surgeon’s knife. O God, for mercy’s sake, cast not off this island of the seas, give her not up to internal distraction, leave her not in darkness and blackness for ever, but ‘revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy.’
For meditation: Despite the 1859 revival, the late nineteenth century in Britain was clearly not ‘the good old days’; the early twenty first century is certainly ‘the bad new days.’ Sin is still a reproach to any people (Proverbs 14:34). Pray that God will revive us again, that his people may rejoice in him (Psalm 85:6) and that righteousness may again exalt a nation (Proverbs 14:34).
Sermon no. 725
16 December (1866)