Pre-1700 Revivals

Pre-reformation RevivalsIn studying the broad sweep of revival histories it is not difficult to concur with the eighteenth-century evangelicals’ view that ‘revival is the engine of history,’ the most powerful gift of God for the expansion of His church and for the renovation or reform of human society.

To quote Jonathan Edwards’, the first ‘theologian of revival,’ “Indeed, it is true to say that seasons of revival have always been the major means that God has employed to advance His cause and the cause of the church in the world."

"Though there be a more constant influence of God's Spirit always, in some degree, attending His ordinances, yet the way in which the greatest things have been done towards carrying on this work, always has been by remarkable effusions of the Spirit at special seasons of mercy..."

Students of revival today agree with these views but their conclusions are similarly based on historical records from the post-reformation period through to modern times. But what about the period between the first and the seventeenth century? Revival records before the Reformation appear scant and rare, not having the same impact and extensive influence as their later counterparts.

This scarcity of material may easily be explained. During the first four centuries the church was very often under siege from Roman persecutors and much Christian literature was hidden, lost or destroyed. After this the church entered what has become known as the Dark Ages for a thousand years, until the dawning of the light which led to the Reformation. There was a widening rift between the Spirit-filled religion of Jesus and an alternative Christianity which married various philosophies and pagan ideas to a ritualistic and clergy-dominated organisation. The spiritual fire simply went out!

Nevertheless, during this dark period there were ‘seasons of refreshing’ which occasionally fanned the embers of authentic Christianity. Though literature is in short supply there is sufficient data in the writings of the early church Fathers suggesting there were significant moves of God in the first five centuries, details of which can be found in the ‘Pensketches’ section of this site. There are occasional references to outpourings of the Spirit during the Dark Ages and the literature becomes more common as the light began to dawn in the 16th century. We plan to put much of this later material on the site shortly.

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  • Bede Open or Close
    Ecclesiastical History of England

    This scholarly work records the arrival and infancy of the Christian Church in Great Britain. It unashamedly includes so many references to supernatural happenings, healings, visions and divine encounters that we thought our English readers ought to be more aware of the faith and experience of their forefathers.

  • Fox, George Open or Close

    Autobiography of George Fox

    George Fox is not reckoned to be a revivalist of the same order as some of his Puritan predecessors or the next generation of revivalists like Edwards, Whitefield and Wesley. Nevertheless, he accomplished a great work for God, founding the Quaker movement, numbered around 100,000 when he died in 1691.

    He witnessed revivalistic scenes including shaking, groanings, cryings and many tears. Thousands were converted, mostly from the working classes.

  • Guyon, Madam Open or Close
    Autobiography of Madam Guyon

    We have included this amazing autobiography in the Revival Library, not for its revival content, for it has none, but rather for its devotional value. Although Madame Guyon lived and died in the Catholic church her shining life and writings won her both Catholic and Protestant admirers in France, Germany, Holland and England during her lifetime.

    Subsequently thousands have been drawn into a closer relationship with God by reading of her deep devotion to God.

  • Iain H. Murray Open or Close
    The Puritan Hope

    In this landmark book, Iain Murray, traces the “Puritan Hope” of a glorious and worldwide revival before the second coming of Christ, from the Reformation onwards. He shows how this hope of coming revival, was embraced firstly by the giants of Puritanism, then by men like David Brainerd, Jonathan Edwards, and George Whitefield.

    This is an excellent book which deserves to be read by all evangelical Christians who are seeking a Biblical basis for the great end-time Revival.

  • Iain H. Murray (2) Open or Close

    The Puritans and Revival Christianity

    Following as it did so closely upon the Reformation it is not surprising that the Puritan movement in England believed so firmly in revivals of religion as the great means by which the Church advances in the world.

    The Reformation was the greatest revival since Pentecost. Multitudes being converted to Christ no longer sounded impossible to the pioneering Puritans. They prayed it, believed it and saw it happen.

  • Roberts, Maurice Open or Close
    John Welsh of Ayr

    This short article presents a short overview of the life and times of John Welsh who was born in 1568. After an unfruitful six-year ministry at the town of Selkirk, 38 miles south of Edinburgh, where he married the third daughter of John Knox, he moved to Kirkcudbright.

    Here he saw a trickle of converts but when he  arrived at Ayr, the Holy Spirit began to be poured out. In 1596 at the General Assembly in Edinburgh, over four hundred men experienced a great 'refreshing from the Lord.'

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