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The Revival of 1859The Revival of 1859
by William Hamilton

An Inquiry into the Scriptural Character
of the Revival of 1859

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297 Pages
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Rev. Hamilton was a minister in the Presbyterian Church in Ireland and witnessed first-hand some of the characteristics of the 1859 revival in Ireland. He critiques the revival using as his standard Holy Scripture and the Westminster Confession and Catechisms

Click here to read this review of this book in the Standard Bearer.

Donald L. James in the Gospel Magazine and the Journal of the Church of England (Continuing):

Prepare for a shock! I suppose many look upon the 1859 Revival as a wonderful work of God: to dispute or deny such a claim is to invite opposition on a grand scale. The author, a minister of the Irish Presbyterian Church, witnessed all the extraordinary happenings. Written only six years after the Revival it could rightly be considered as prophetic. The Foreword states, "There is no doubt that 'revivalism' has captured the fancy of modern evangelicals to the extent that anyone who speaks against revivals of this sort would scarcely be considered as evangelical at all." William Hamilton's book is not just a searching critique of a special revival, that of Northern Ireland in 1859, but of all revivalism; things that "need to be repeated, and need to be heard." Charles Finney, the celebrated American revivalist is quoted, with telling effect. In his Introduction to his Revival Lectures he stated, "God has found it necessary to take advantage of the excitability there is in mankind to produce powerful excitements among them, before He can lead them to obey Him ... they must be so excited that they will break over these counteracting influences before they will obey God." Arminianism run amok! "Throughout the two pages of this Introduction, the word 'excite,' or one or other of its variations, is used no less than five and twenty times." The book deals with the doctrines of Scripture, of the Person and work of the Holy Spirit, of the church and its ministry, of conversion (here he explains many misconceptions) of the law and its place in the life of a Christian, and of assurance. A consequence of revivalism was the undermining of doctrine as bound up in historic church articles. It has been truly said, "Those who encourage visions, dreams, faintings, slaying in the 'spirit' and bodily agitations are, in effect, advocating a return to Roman Catholic mysticism" (Michael de Semlyen). 

In his preface the author shows an abundance of Christian charity. "There has been considerable controversy concerning the 'Revival' but no one, as far as I know, has brought it to the test of Scripture. This, from the beginning, I regarded as absolutely necessary, and I endeavoured to do so according to my ability." He continues, "The sum of all this is: True religion is obedience to the Divine will, revealed in Scripture—nothing more, nothing less. We are neither to go beyond nor come short of what the Word requires; while to misstate, misinterpret, or misapply the Word, or in any wise give it a meaning not to the Spirit's meaning, tends to our injury and the dishonour of our heavenly Father. These things I have kept in view throughout, and the Revival, weighed in this balance, is found wanting."

This is a remarkable, timely and important book; it is certainly Revivalism under the spotlight!