Revival Tornadoes — No Respecter of Persons
Tornadoes are no respecters of persons. God “directs their way.” They do His bidding.They treat pauper and patrician alike. So does revival truth. It condemns sin alike in all, andsmiles on real righteousness, whether in kings or common people. Money, learning, or positioncannot bribe it nor turn its edge. The man who is the center of the revival must, fearless of man,present God’s truth, realizing that an emperor or president, a king or a doctor of divinity, will, ifunconverted, be lost eternally as surely as the most degraded. This point is illustrated in the storywhich, of told, will bear repeating, of Peter Cartwright and General Jackson. A fastidious preacher had invited Cartwright to preach for him. As he was about to begin,the preacher whispered loudly to him, “General Jackson has come in. General Jackson has comein.”
“I felt,” writes Cartwright, “a flash of indignation run all over me like an electric shock,and facing about to my congregation, and purposely speaking out audibly, I said, ‘Who is GeneralJackson? if he don’t get his soul converted, God will damn him as quick as he would a Guinea …'”
The next day General Jackson said, “Mr. Cartwright, you are a man after my own heart. Aminister of Jesus Christ ought to love everybody and fear no mortal man … If I had a few thousandsuch independent, fearless officers as you are, and a well drilled army, I could take old England.”
The next day after Bro. Weber had preached at Hillsdale, Mich., on “Hell,” he was met onthe street by a Universalist preacher, who accused him of personally attacking himself and hischurch. “I know nothing of, you personally,” replied Mr. Weber; “but if the shoe fits you, wear it.”Such was the lightning bolt that thus leaped upon this nettled prophet of infidelity.
Tornadoes pay no attention to en’s ideas of dignity. Their business is to arrest and bearaway every germ . of malaria they can find in earth or air, and with search warrants for such fromthe great God of the tempest, they accomplish their work without consulting men’s notions ofdignity or how it should be done.
Revival tornadoes act in a similar way. Their mission is to seek the destruction of “singerms,” from which men are dying eternally by the million. They find men bearing in their breaststhe fire of rebellion against God, which, unless quenched, will burn their souls forever. They findthem wrecked upon the shores of Time and sinking beneath the angry billows of eternal despair.Their work is to seek them out and save them. So in plain language that all the people canunderstand, they vehemently warn and point to the one place of safety. Souls which are moved bysuch mighty currents of faith and quenchless love are not like the weak one who, when asked tohelp inquirers in an after-service, said, “I cannot; I’m not acquainted with them,’ but like sailorsrescuing sinking seamen, will first get them to a place of safety and then get acquainted with themafterwards. Lost souls to them are more precious than rubies, and wherever these can be found,there they go.
Whatever ways or words they can devise to get their attention and rivet their minds tothings eternal, they do not hesitate to use. If they will not come to the meetings, then they will go tothem; and if at their homes they cannot be found, then away to their places of business; and if needsbe from hence, at the Master’s command, into the “highways and the hedges” to “compel them” tocome in. Their Saviour gladly flew on such errands of love and mercy, and is the servant betterthan his Lord?
If those unversed in the Master’s arts of reaching souls shall feel annoyed by their earnest,practical efforts, and shall complain as some have of their “lowering the dignity of the Gospel,” inthe unanswerable language of another they can say, “What constitutes the dignity of the Gospel? Isit human dignity, or Divine? It was a very undignified thing, looked at humanly, to die on the crossbetween two thieves. That was the most undignified thing ever done in this world, and yet, lookedat on moral and spiritual grounds, it was the grandest spectacle that ever heaven or earth gazedupon, and methinks the inhabitants of heaven stood still and looked over the battlements at thatglorious, illustrious Sufferer as He hung there between heaven and earth … That was the dignity ofalmighty strength allying itself with human weakness in order to raise it. It was the dignity ofeternal wisdom shrouding itself in human ignorance in order to enlighten it. It was the dignity ofeverlasting, unquenchable love, baring its bosom to suffer in the stead of its rebellious creatureman. Ah, it was incarnate God standing in the place of condemned, apostate man — the dignity oflove! love!! LOVE!
“Oh, precious Saviour, save us from maligning Thy Gospel by clothing it with our paltrynotions of earthly dignity and forgetting the dignity that crowned Thy sacred brow as Thou didsthang upon the cross
“That is the dignity for us, and it will never suffer any gentleman here carrying the gospelinto the back by-slums or alleys of any town or city where he lives. That dignity will never sufferby any employer talking lovingly to his errand boy, and looking into his eyes with tears ofsympathy and love, and trying to bring his soul to Jesus. That dignity will never suffer, even thoughyou should have to be dragged through the streets with a howling mob at your heels, like JesusChrist, if you have gone into those streets for the souls of your fellow-men, and the glory of God.Though you should be tied to the stake, as were the martyrs of old, and surrounded by laughing andtaunting fiends and their howling followers, — that will be a dignity which shall be crowned inheaven, crowned with everlasting glory. If I understand it, that is the dignity of love. I do not envy,I do not covet any other God is my witness than the dignity of love.”
The success of the man and his methods show that, though Mr. Weber is a stranger to thesham dignity which attends the. spiritual idleness or iceberg efforts of many of his critics, thedignity of the corpse and the shroud, yet that with the true gospel dignity that seeks to save men atany cost he is clothed as with a garment.
Tornadoes provoke unfriendly criticism. Instead of looking at the blessings which attendthem, people are wont to magnify the discomforts which they cause, forgetful that even in these issome concealed blessing. Revival tornadoes have ever provoked kindred criticism, and of coursesuch mighty cyclones of divine power as attend Mr. Weber’s work will be no exception to thisrule. In many places, as in Defiance, Ohio, as he has recorded in is journal, “The people criticizedvery much and some got mad because the truths were told so plainly. One complained and said, ‘Iwould split the seats.’ I heard about it and said, the next night, I hoped God would split some oftheir hearts and let light in so they could see their sins. The work swept on with mighty power.During his work at Jackson, Mich.., where over 800 gave their names as being saved, two of thecity papers criticized the work with a venom born from below. Referring to this in his journal, Mr.Weber wrote, “But this only drew out the crowds, and in fact stimulated the Christian people.”Thus God makes the wrath of man to praise Him. The evangelist treats these criticisms as a planetwould a pebble.
One of the most cunning devices of the devil is that in which he deceives people to persistin worldliness, formality and opposition to holiness and aggressive -revival work, and then blamespiritual people for the “friction” thus caused. It is as if a bad man should censure faithfulflow-citizens, who stand firmly by the laws of their land, because of the friction” which his ownbadness brings.
Wherever there is carnality, pure Christianity, when its claims are all pushed withApostolic energy, is the occasion of “friction,”
Noah, Elijah, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, John, Paul and Jesus were the prolific occasions of”friction” among the self-seeking formalists of their own day, and the truths they taught and theerrors they fought are in essence the same as then.
“Never on custom’s oiled grooves The world to a higher level moves, But grates and grindswith ‘friction’ hard On granite, boulder and flinty shard.”
The critics mentioned are usually of “the dog in the manger” class, who do not eatthemselves, but snap at those who would. They are brethren to the Pharisees of old who would notgo into Christ’s kingdom themselves, but hindered’ those who sought to enter. What would havebeen thought of men, in the great Pennsylvania flood, who would not only refuse to aid in rescuingthe dying, but would throw stones at those who were doing all they could to save them? Suchpersons are like men who would sit and find fault with the tone of the fire bell, the motions of thefiremen and the noise of the busy rescuers, when the city is on fire, and fellow-mortals areperishing in the flames. O shame! Shame!! SHAME!!! Sad to say there are those who have beenthus guilty. Only it was the evangelist, or pastor or other helpers that were criticized, and the soulsof men instead of their bodies that were being rescued from ruin. They were seeking to save, notfrom a burning building, but from the quenchless fire of an eternal hell. Yet some, wearing theouter garb of a Christian profession, instead of encouraging them, keep criminally silent, andsometimes try, after the victory is won, to cover their treachery by saying, “Well, I said nothingagainst them.” Jesus, by and by, will say to such, “Inasmuch as ye did it not unto one of the least ofthese my brethren, ye did it not unto me Depart.” Others, instead of praying for them, shrug theshoulder and curl the contemptuous lip, and instead of defending them, stab them again and againwith the keen dagger of unfriendly criticism, and, saddest of all, sometimes this cruel, murderouswork is done, as in the days of Jesus, by church officials and even ministers
Would that they would yet repent! The probabilities are, however, that they will not.Already they have been seen to point with a triumph poorly masked to one of the young convertswho, in an unguarded moment, had yielded to the tempter’s power and say, “We told you so.”Already have they been heard to seek to justify self in the murderous course taken, and thus withthe mantle of self-justification seek to cover the blood of souls with which their garments arespattered. May such be warned before it is too late. Otherwise, HOW WILL THEY STAND ATTHE JUDGMENT?
Every true deep revival from Pentecost to the present day has awakened from opposers thissame unkind hostile critics. The unfriendly world has taken up the cry, “These men are drunk onnew wine,” and ringing ten thousand changes on it, hurled it into the face of every great revival thathas ever blest the land. As in the beginning, it has been treated as an elephant would treat a gnat, oras the moon, moving onward in majesty, treats the our that barks at her. Jesus did thus, and hisChurch can be no wiser than her Head.
Tornadoes come contrary to men’s preconceived ideas of how showers should come. Menin a general way often in the time of a drought pray for rain and look for it. When the tornadocomes they prefer it to continued drought, but it is not “just is they would have ordered. “The classthat we expected to see converted have very few of them yielded yet, said prominent member ofthe church at Adrian, during the great revival there. Over four hundred had professed conversion,but they were chiefly persons whose salvation had not been looked for. The unlooked-for way inwhich God’s power … often is displayed in revival time, often surprises those who are not closeobservers of his dealings. Such is the case when some rich pew holder is hit by the truth andthreatens to join some church where it never thunders nor lightens, where gospel gales neversweep, and revival tornadoes never come; where from one year’s end to another there is oneparched desert of formality and worldliness, and deadly spiritual calm in which most of itsdwellers perish. Some too, are frightened when the power of God rests mightily with officialmembers that are not right with him, as at Findlay, Ohio, where, under Brother Weber’s labors, inabout four weeks five hundred and thirty professed conversion. In the beginning of the meetingsome of the leading men of the church said, “I cannot and will not stand it,” and some said, ‘I willtake my letter and go elsewhere.” Some of the daily papers echoed their opposition, but the pastorremained firm and said, “They got no letters from me,” and the work moved mightily onward.
The spiritual tornado often acts in an unlooked-for way upon an unconverted husband. Hedeclares himself “disgusted” at the “plain preaching” of the evangelist, or at the idea of an endless”hell, “and declares that he will “never go to church as long as that revival continues.” SisterFaintheart had prayed for the revival and felt almost sure her husband would be converted, butnow all hope must go, “he means just what he says, and the tornado has struck him in such a way henever will go back to the meetings. She never thought it would bring about such a state of things. Odear! O dear! The next night he goes. The third night he asks his wife’s forgiveness. The fourth, Oglory! He is converted! Such events are not likely to occur in spiritual ice-houses, where spiritualmummies fumble their musty manuscripts, but in the tornado belt they are of frequent occurrence.
A tornado, notwithstanding all opposition, moves on. Contrary winds may cross its track,and forests, cities and even mountains rise up before it in its onward .march, but they do not stop it.To fight against it would be a foolish if not a suicidal act. Revival tornadoes are centers of asimilar might. As was written of the gracious revival conducted by Mr. Weber at Rock Rapids,Iowa, “The work has not been without opposition. Christians have been reviled to their faces, butsince then some of these very men have been converted.”
Jerusalem rose up to crush revivals in the beginning of this great revival dispensation, andlike lightning God’s judgment fell upon her and she was quickly pillaged and annihilated by aforeign foe. Herod threateningly shook his sword at them, and quickly he was “eaten of theworms.” One of Mr. Finney’s revivals was opposed by an influential clergyman, who made a.public and violent speech against it. “There was great crying unto God that night that He wouldcounteract any evil influence that might result from that speech. The next morning this man wasfound dead in his bed,” but the revival swept on with power.
He who opposes the organized efforts through which God is saving the people touches the”apple of his eye.” Such people are like a man who would stop and knock his head against thecorner-stone of a . cathedral every time he passed it. The structure could stand it all right, but itwould lie hard on the poor man’s head. Some, by opposing holiness and resisting revivals, haveacted thus foolishly. The holiness temple still stands in all its stately grandeur, and revivals sweepon like a resistless Niagara, but the “heads” of opposers are in a sad condition,
The revival tornadoes which are about to be noticed are all of them monuments to thepower of God, which thus crushes mighty combinations that unite to impede the progress of Hiswork and moves on like the “sun when he goeth forth in his might.”
Some persist in their foolish opposition, and while the revival moves on, their children areprejudiced against it by their parents’ influence, and remain unconverted. Or, if the person whothus exposes his folly and sin chances to be a pastor, his people, too frequently drinking in of hisspirit, likewise remain aloof from the revival or oppose it, and thus grieve the Spirit and purchaseto themselves and theirs an awful penalty. Such people are like men who would oppose otherswho are seeking to rescue drowning persons from a billowy grave, because, forsooth, they “talktoo plainly to suit them,” or are “too excited,” or because they “don’t believe that people who areexcited or frightened when they get into the life-boat will stay there.” Or, they don’t believe inhaving a whole ship’s crew “saved at once,” but “think they would be more likely to live if theywere picked up singly, here one and there one.” Or, because so many that are rescued belong to theriff-raff of society.” Men who would sit still and make such excuses for not aiding in saving theirdrowning fellowmen, or, worse still, oppose those who were doing their best to rescue them,would be considered thunderers. Yet this is precisely the way that some act towards revivals. Arenot such opposers in God’s sight guilty of soul-murder? Aid if they repent not, must they not answerfor it at the Judgment seat of Christ?
Tornadoes are not of the regular order of things. So are revivals, and yet, as Mr. Moodysays, that does not prove that they are wrong. Eldad and Medad were out of the regular succession.Joshua wanted Moses to rebuke the in. Instead of that he said, ‘Would God that all the his peoplewere prophets.’ Elijah and Elisha did not belong to the regular school of prophets, yet they exerteda mighty influence for good in their day. John the Baptist was not in the regular line; he got histheological training out in the desert. Jesus Christ Himself was out of the recognized order. WhenPhilip told Nathaniel that he had found the Messiah, he said to him, ‘ Can there any good thingcome out of Nazareth?’
“As we read the history of the past few centuries, we find that God has frequently taken upthose who were, so to speak, out of the regular line. Martin Luther had to break through the regularorder of things in his day before he brought about the mighty Reformation. There are now somesixty millions of people who adhere to the Lutheran Church. Wesley and Whitefield were notexactly in the regular line, but see what a mighty work they accomplished!”
More rain frequently falls in one tornado than in a number of ordinary showers. More soulsare ‘frequently converted in one revival tornado than during years of the dews of ordinary means ofgrace or months of protracted drizzles. Listen to Talmage, the eminent Brooklyn evangelisticpastor, —
“The church is the boat; the gospel is the net; society is the sea; and a great revival is awhole school brought in at one sweep of the net. I have admiration for that man who goes out witha hook and line to fish. I admire the way he unwinds the reel, and adjusts the bait, and drops thehook in a quiet place on a still afternoon, and here catches one and there one; but I like also a bigboat, and a large crew, and a net a mile long, and swift oars, and stout sails, and a stiff breeze, anda great multitude of souls brought — so great a multitude that you would have to get help to draw itashore, straining the net to the utmost, until it breaks here and there, letting a few escape, butbringing the great multitude into eternal safety.
“I other words, I believe in revivals. The great work of saving men began with threethousand people joining the church in one day, and it will close with forty or a hundred millionpeople saved in twenty-four hours, when nations shall be born in a day.”
Tornadoes are a heaven-sent benediction. They find Nature gasping for a pure breath of airand choking for a drop of water to cool her parched tongue. Her birds, heat-smitten and thirsty,have ceased to sing. Many of her cattle that once rejoiced upon her thousand hills, and her sheepthat gamboled in her pastures, are dead. or dying, and the stench of their decaying bodies pollutingthe air, scatters deadly contagion far and near. Her fountains are dried, and also her lakes andrivers, which once were as mirrors in which she beheld her own beauty.
Her flowers long since have faded, and her forests now are no longer pictures of life butdeath. Her fields, baked by the burning sun that glares blood red from the brassy heavens, arebarren wastes. Her granaries are empty. Food is worth more than gold, and water than rubies. Herpeople many of them are dead, others are dying. Pestilences, arm in arm with deadly plagues, stalkdefiantly through the streets of her cities at noonday, claiming thousands of victims who arehelpless to escape their power. At night they break into her homes, and snatch children from theirparents and wives from their husbands, and with their breath poison whole households, and thenwith a fiendish laugh, which they have caught from long companionship with demons, they tossthem all into the lap of greedy Death, who gloats over them for a moment and then consigns them tothe grave. Through all her rural districts where a happy, prosperous people had rejoiced in the richprofusion of her gifts, now Diseases hold high carnival. In secret counsel assembled, they decidethat one of their number shall cuter this home and another that, nor stay their deadly work, until allthe people are prostrate through their power. Health is banished from her borders. Joy issmothered in her chamber. Plenty and Prosperity have been stabbed by Penury and Poverty, whohave usurped their thrones, and now reign in their stead. Wolfish Want makes both day and nighthideous with his cries.
But see, quickly the scene changes. The wind rises. Hope about to die lifts again her headand faintly sings. A cloud hovers in sight. It fills the western sky. Now the sun is darkened. Theheavens now look black lightnings flash in the distance and the welcome rolling of the thunderonce more is heard again. The clouds like coursers on the track each bent on outstripping the other,move swiftly. Now the thunder peals, now crashes, then for a moment an awful deadly calm, thenthe elements all seem let loose and the tornado has come. Some fly to the cellars for safety, others,thankful that the reign of ghastly drought is over, sing songs of thanksgiving and the tempest, andwith contentment trust Him who holds the whirlwind in His hand.
‘Tis ended now. How changed the scene ‘Tis true, some fences are blown down,occasionally a house unroofed, a forest tree laid low, — but oh, how small a price to pay for such ablessing Look, Nature again wears the same glad smile that of old so brightened all her subjects.Drought and Blight and Malaria and Plagues and Pestilences, all, in one short hour have beendriven from her realms. These, with the murderous company of Diseases that were lurking in theland, were sought out and seized by the tornado’s might, and, like so many prisoners to thescaffold, were borne roughly to their destined doom.
As it hasted on its mission, it touched each bird and tree and flower, and at that touch theone burst forth in song and the others into beauty. It carpeted the earth as in the days gone by, andfollowing in its train were rosy-cheeked Health and brawny Strength and blushing Beauty, andPurity and Happiness, Plenty and Prosperity, with all of their attendants of minor blessings.Innumerable are the benefits following in the wake of the tornado. This picture has its counterpartin the spiritual world.
In many places spiritual drought abounds. The water of divine truth no longer springs upinto everlasting life. The flowers of Peace and Joy and Love, and kindred graces of the Spirit,have withered away. The “wheat and corn and wine” of the kingdom rejoice the heart no more.
Spiritual diseases, plagues and pestilences, as in the counterpart, have formed a conspiracyagainst the souls of the people, and in the employ of Eternal Death are daily ringing consignmentsof their doomed prisoners to the gates of Eternal Despair.
Many, starving on the burning sands of Formality, stagger up and down the land, beatingtheir breasts and crying, “O my leanness! O my leanness!” Others, to satisfy the demands of greedyhunger, devour like starving swine the husks of worldliness and many of the poisonous fruits ofsin, which seem to allay the momentary craving but which leaves the system with additional poisonin the blood.
Satan, through a band of strong temptations which ever wait to do his bidding, hashoney-combed the land with pitfalls, cunningly covered so as to snare the victim by treachery andsurprise, ad into these many fall, to rise again no more.
But soon there comes the mighty transformation, more marvelous than that mentioned in thematerial world. A faithful few beseech heaven in Jesus’ name for showers from above. They meetthe conditions, and soon mercy-drops are falling, and now they are in the midst of a sweepingspiritual tornado, the figure of which was just described.
As bolt after bolt of the lightning of divine truth falls on every side, and as the revivalcurrents in their majestic sweep make everything that is movable to tremble, some are frightened,and seek to run away from its influence, and others curse it, while all who know the secret of theLord, sing His praises that the “rain has come and the drought is at an end. It soon passes by, but itsfruits abide. Men who were dying of thirst new abide continually at the fountain and without moneyand without price partake freely of the water of life. Others that were dead of spiritual starvation,have been brought to life and now, alive forevermore, partake gratefully of the gospel feast and”go from strength to strength.”
Many afflicted with tongue paralyzing palsy, the loathsome leprosy of inbred sin, spiritualblindness, which makes men make “crooked paths “to the glee of devils and the grief of saintsspiritual deafness that hid for years deadened the soul to gospel sounds, spiritual debility andnervousness that had for a long time made revival meetings a dread, and spiritual fever that hadwell-nigh reached the fatal crisis now are made every whit whole,” and strong in the strengthwhich God supplies through His eternal Son, are fast becoming effective workers in His vineyard.Weaklings are transformed into spiritual giants, and the desert waste now blossoms as the rose.The land new is full of the wheat and the corn and oil and the wine of the heavily kingdom, and thepeople partake and are satisfied.
The strength of the Church in quantity and quality is increased manifold, and her childrennew are ad to work, to give, to speak or to pray, as need requires and as privilege affords. Noquestionable or sinful expedients to “meet expenses,” or the benevolences of the church, areneeded now, for the people “have a mind and love to give,” as Jesus taught. No more sepulchralsilences in meetings for prayer and praise and Christian testimony, for they “cannot but speak ” theblessed experiences of the soul. No more godless musicians going through with musicalperformances for worship, but a people whose hearts are full of song and whose voices join thoseof devout leaders as together ” with the spirit and the understanding ” they praise the trine God. Nomore dearth of workers in the Sunday School and other departments of lawful church activities, forGod’s people, having become willing in this, the day of His power, many are ready to say, ” Heream I; send me, send me.” No more urging the Christians to labor with sinners, for now they cannotkeep away from them.
May such revival tornadoes multiply, until Ethiopia shall no longer stretch out her hands invain for some to bring to her the gospel, and until all the kingdoms of this world shall becomethose of our Lord and of His Christ. ‘The great revivals, a record of which is given in thesucceeding chapters of is book, are all corroborative of the fact that real revival tornadoes are ablessed benediction from above.