The Fourth Great Awakening

Jeremiah Lanphier

Jeremiah Lanphier

This Great Awakening (often called the 3rd) was the greatest to date in its extent, effects and lasting impact.

It began slowly in Canada, when 21 were saved, and grew steadily until between 25 and forty were converted each day. Slowly reports of small awakenings began to emerge from various states in America. Then, in September 1857 Jeremiah Lanphier, a businessman and convert of Finney’s (a decade before), began a noon day prayer meeting on Wednesdays in a New York church. The small but growing numbers decided to meet daily in early October. Within six months over 10,000 business men were meeting in similar meetings across America; confessing sins, being converted and praying for revival. It was a lay-led movement that harvested a million souls in two years.

In 1858, from February to June, around 50,000 people a week were added to the church – in a nation whose population was only 30,000,000. Across the Atlantic another million were won to Christ by 1865. This was in Britain’s population of 27,000,000. Ulster saw 100,000 converted, Scotland 30,000, Wales 100,000 and England 500,000.

Evangelistic, missionary and philanthropic enterprises blossomed on every hand. Moody and Sankey enjoyed their greatest success. William and Catherine Booth, converted under the ministry of James Caughey, launched the Salvation Army and attracted great crowds to Christ. Walter and Phoebe Palmer, the American evangelists, saw a remarkable work of the Spirit attend their ministry. Charles Haddon Spurgeon preached to capacity crowds each week, filling the largest halls in London. Hudson Taylor began the China Inland Mission. Gawin Kirkham started the Open Air Mission.

Lord Shaftsbury championed for the cause of the young, the poor and the oppressed. Barnardo founded his famous orphanages. David Livingstone and Mary Slessor propagated missionary work in Africa. Such was the impact of this fourth great awakening.

The revival also swept around the world. Rapid growth was reported in continental Europe, western Russia, Australia, The South Seas, South Africa and India.

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