|The Thirsty Theologian| |Sola Gratia| |Sola Fide| |Solus Christus| |Sola Scriptura| |Soli Deo Gloria| |Semper Reformanda|
|The Thirsty Theologian| |Sola Gratia| |Sola Fide| |Solus Christus| |Sola Scriptura| |Soli Deo Gloria| |Semper Reformanda|

Previous · Home · Next

A church is a society of Christians


One of the books I am presently reading is Revival & Revivalism by Iain Murray. The following quote refers to a revival that took place in Virginia in 1787–1790.

img

The most important consequence of the Great Revival for the Presbyterians was the new ethos which came to prevail in the churches. Old Side prejudices lost their hold and a ‘unanimity of sentiment’ came to distinguish the denomination in the South. The main cause for this was undoubtedly the priority now given to experimental religion. Prayer was restored to its rightful place and ‘fervent charity’ came to be expected among all Christians. The same influence inevitably brought a return to biblical standards of church membership. It was no longer assumed that those who attended church from birth were Christians, nor was ‘profession of faith’ henceforth taken as sufficient evidence of conversion. Ministers and elders considered how people lived, and what they did, as well as what they said. It was understood afresh that the true usefulness of the church is bound up with her spirituality and her unity. The premature admission of men and women and young people to the Lord’s Table (communicant membership), which had formerly been too common, now gave way to a more faithful examination of candidates. The wisdom of the counsel of John Blair Smith was universally recognized: ‘He advised those who were awakened not to be too hasty in professing conversion, and urged them to examine the foundations of their hopes well before they entertained a hope they had made their peace will God . . . Generally months, and in some instances a year or more was suffered to pass before they were received into the church.’

William Hill believed that the revival ‘gave a character to the Presbyterian Church of the South for vital, exemplary piety which has pervaded several States and given a tone to religious exercises far and wide’. How this affected the churches in practical way is well illustrated by a statement of principle drawn up by one of the many new churches of the 1790s:

  1. A church is a society of Christians, voluntarily associated together, for the worship of God, and spiritual improvement & usefulness.
  2. A visible church consists of visible or apparent Christians.
  3. The children of visible Christians are members of the visible church, though in a state of minority.
  4. A visible Christian is one, who understands the doctrines of the Christian religion, is acquainted with a work of God’s Spirit in effectual calling, professes repentance from dead works, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, and subjection to him as a king and whose life and conversation corresponds with his profession
  5. Sealing ordinances ought not to be administered to such as are not visible Christians.
  6. A charitable allowance ought to be made for such, whose natural abilities are weak, or who have not enjoyed good opportunities of religious instruction, when they appear to be humble and sincere.
  7. Children and youth, descended from church members, though not admitted to all the privileges of the church, are entitled to the instructions of the church, and subjected to its discipline.

—Iain Murray, Revival & Revivalism (Banner of Truth, 2002), 105–107.

What would our churches look like today if this represented the general practice of congregations?



Posted 2007·04·11 by David Kjos
TrackBack URL: http://www.thirstytheologian.com/mt/mt-tb.cgi/382
Share this post: Twitter Buffer Facebook Email Print
Posted in: Church History · Iain Murray · Revival & Revivalism · William Hill
3 Comments
← Previous · Home · Next →



Westminster Bookstore


Feedback



3 Comments:


#1 || 07·04·11··14:48 || Even So...

Real...


#2 || 07·04·13··08:06 || Daniel

It would look like less of an approximation.


#3 || 07·05·18··09:37 || Pontius Pilate

Ah! The Unity of the body of Christ.
How beautiful, how sacred, how real, and how practical.


Comments on this post are closed. If you have a question or comment concerning this post, feel free to email me.