Iain Murray is best known for his monumental biographies of men like Martin Lloyd-Jones and Jonathan Edwards. He manages to get a grip on the reader and pull you through even dense biographical content with ease. His works about church history are also illuminating and equally compelling.
In Revival and Revivalism he gives an account of the amazing resurgence of religious fervor that was gripping Virginia. One line jumped out at me. It comes from a letter written to someone back in England. It’s dated September 10th 1776, and outlines many of the amazing things happening in the churches and communities. Toward the end of the letter I read this fascinating sentence, “The unhappy disputes between England and her colonies, which just before had engrossed all our conversation, seemed now in most companies to be forgot, while things of far greater importance lay so near the heart”.
That is such a remarkable statement given the political climate of the day. Of course politics had engrossed everyones conversation. The people were at war. The “unhappy disputes between England and her colonies” included the signing of the Declaration of Independence just 2 months earlier! If ever there was just cause for political enthusiasm, it was then. The stakes were as high as they could be, and the future of the nation (a small collection of colonies really) was literally being shaped at that moment.
Surely you would excuse even the church for being obsessed with what was going to happen next. However, something even greater got ahold of everyone. What could possibly have the power to occupy the minds of people and turn their attention and conversation away from the political theatre? The answer is the gospel. The answer is true revival. The effect of the gospel on people was so marvelous that it made all the other noise pale in comparison. It’s helpful to remember that there are things of eternal significance that are of far greater importance than the upcoming election.