Samuel Davies, Part Two of Two
RECOGNIZING TRUE WORK OF THE SPIRIT
3) The essential role of the Holy Spirit in revival
“The outpouring of the Holy Spirit is the great and only remedy for a ruined country—the only effectual preventative of national calamities and desolation, and the only sure cause of a lasting and well-established peace” (p. 21).
The special work of the Holy Spirit in revival is not necessarily a different work, but it is an increase in the work that He normally does. For example, the work of the Holy Spirit in saving souls is always essential, but in the Great Awakenings, He chose to work more than at other times. Murray writes, “It is essential to note that what Davies and his brethren believed about revival was not something separate from, or additional to, their main beliefs; it was, rather, a necessary consequence. Such is man’s state in sin that he cannot be saved without the immediate influence of the Holy Spirit. Regeneration, and the faith that results from it, are the gifts of God. Therefore, wherever conversions are multiplied, the cause is to be found not in men, nor in favourable conditions, but in the abundant influences of the Spirit of God that alone make the testimony of the church effective” (p. 21).
It is interesting to see the Spirit work in His time and in His ways. Murray notes an example of sermons that were preached with “success” in Hanover, were ineffective when he preached them in other places. “Whence could this difference arise, but from special grace?” Davies observed, “We have seen persons struck to the heart with those doctrines which they had heard a hundred times without any effect” (p. 22).
4) The true evidences of the Holy Spirit in revival
“If revival is a larger giving to the church of grace already possessed—a heightening of the normal—then it follows that the evidences by which revivals are to be judged are the same as those which form the permanent evidences of real Christianity” (p. 24)
When speaking of the work of the Holy Spirit in revival, the issue of the evidence of the Spirit has to be addressed. Murray states, “Davies and his brethren repudiated the idea that revivals restore miraculous gifts to the churches” (p. 23). Instead, the Holy Spirit works more broadly, more deeply, and more intensely, but these increased evidences are essentially of the same kind as He always produces. We are told that the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. This is the kind of fruit that Davies observed yielded in full measure.
One evidence of the Spirit is the love that was shared among believers across denominational lines. This did not mean laying aside doctrine as some suggest today, but it was a recognition of the Spirit at work in bringing souls to Christ through the preaching of the gospel. Davies stated “that he would rather that men were ‘made members of the church triumphant in the regions of bliss’ by the preaching of a minister of the Church of England than that they should remain unconverted in a Presbyterian church” (p. 27).
If we recognize that the work of regeneration completely belongs to the Holy Spirit, there is no reason to become proud when He uses us or jealous when He uses someone with whom we may have points of disagreement. This sense of the working of God, and our greater knowledge of Him in His glory can only bring us to a point of humility. This is truly the work of the Spirit, because on our own we are proud-hearted creatures that attempt to heap glory on ourselves.
May God work among us to produce the love, grace, and humility that will be to the praise of His glory.