Mr Crosbie, Congregationalist minister of Derby, thus writes in this month's Congregationalist:
Reform is needed in the direction of our spiritual life. It is there where our weakness lies. The curse and hindrance of our churches is a miserably depressed spiritual life. Nor is this condition peculiar to us. It is common more or less to all evangelical churches. The disease is not endemic, but epidemic.
But there is a remedy- an effectual remedy. There is a Physician who is able to cure this malady, and makes us perfectly whole--the Lord Jesus Christ. "A clean heart He creates within us." And "with Him is the fountain of life." There is no diseased heart He cannot heal; his skill is never baffled. And there is no empty aching heart He cannot fill. "He is able to save them to the uttermost who come unto God by Him." Our only hope is in Him.
One thing only is wanted on our part: earnest co-operation with Christ; cordial and glad consent to his drawing; the
sphere of our responsibility filled up to its measure." And we cannot even attempt the filling up of the sphere of our responsibility without finding ourselves in immediate contact with sovereign and all-sufficient grace. Christ is always before us; always first. He "prevents us with the blessings of his goodness." Every movement toward salvation, or toward a higher
spiritual life; has its beginning really in Him and all its direction from Him.
Among not a few there are great searchings of heart and many penitent confessions of both personal sins and of the sins of others. The burden of the responsibility is becoming unendurable, There are symptoms of the approach of a general spiritual awakening. "Can ye not discern the signs of the times?" The subject of religious revival is advancing to the foremost place. The necessity for a revival is being discussed in every section of the Church of Christ and the desire for a revival is born in many a breast. The cry goes up from secret places where devout men wrestle with God, and from public
Christian assemblies, "O Lord, revive thy work in the midst of the years," Eyes, that were dim with tears because of the desolations of Zion, have ceased to weep, and begin to beam with the light of the better and the larger day.
Upon the town of Derby some drops of the overhanging cloud of blessing have fallen. To more than one church, religious revival has to some extent come. The church with which the writer is connected has had "a time of refreshing." In a comparatively brief period, nearly two hundred persons have entered the fellowship of the church. Not a few of these are
children of eleven and twelve years of age. The movement began among the children. "Out of the mouth of babes and
sucklings hast Thou ordained strength because of thine enemies. And their discipleship is beautiful, fresh and joyous as the spring. The love of Jesus has made them glad and useful. The spectacle of considerable numbers of children seated side by side with their parents at the Lord's Table has invested that sacred ordinance with a new and tenderer interest to us all.
An inquirers meeting is held every Monday night and is very largely attended, as many as two hundred have been present. Experienced members of the church assist the pastor in conversing and praying with those who come seeking 'rest to their souls." The young people who have recently given themselves to the Lord also render most valuable help and are often made a special blessing to those of their own age. A child can sometimes best explain to a child the way to salvation. All who attend this Monday night meeting testify to its singular usefulness. It is a special means of grace to the members of the church who take part in it. There is in it the element which our Methodist friends have developed so eagerly in their class meetings. It seems to solve a difficulty which has somewhat hindered the usefulness of our Congregational Churches.
It is not always easy to trace spiritual results to their immediate secondary causes, these results are frequently due to several concurring causes which have contributed to the partial revival to which allusion has just been made. There is one about which the writer has no doubt. More than eighteen months ago a few ministerial brethren resident in different parts of the country, agreed to spend the hour between eight and nine o'clock every Saturday evening, in special prayer to God for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the churches. Over two hundred brethren have since joined this Prayer Union: not a few of the members of the writer's own church also observe the hour. It can scarcely be doubted that this Prayer Union has something to do with the blessing that has come upon us in Derby. One thing at all events is certain: since the formation of this Prayer Union, the writer's own soul has known a higher spiritual life.
"The Christian," March 19th, 1874.