Shortly after arriving in London from my native west Cornwall 25 years ago, while working for a few months at the Evangelical Library, I was thrilled to discover Paul Cook’s Westminster Conference paper on ‘The forgotten revival’. The glimpses of God at work in the early 1800s in places I knew well fascinated and excited me.
Now Paul Cook has finally been able to expand his material into book form. It contains first-hand accounts and statistics from contemporary denominational publications showing incredible growth in churches affected by the revivals.
Whole communities in west Cornwall and the north of England were changed. The leading Cornish figure William Carvosso noted that ‘a universal seriousness pervaded all ages and classes’. He also records how delighted he was on one occasion ‘to hear the people speak so freely, scripturally and experimentally, and so much to the point. The chapel at times seemed filled with the glory of God’.
Comments and lessons are interspersed by the author regarding the nature of true revival. He is careful to ground an understanding of revival in ‘regular New Testament teaching on the person and work of the Holy Spirit’.
He quotes from the History of Wesleyan Methodism by George Smith: ‘A revival therefore is a work of grace effected by the Spirit of God on the souls of men; and in its nature differs only from the ordinary operations of the Holy Ghost, in the enlightening and conversion of men, by its wider prevalence and greater intensity’.
The author has given a thrilling account and opened up a neglected part of the history of the church. I would highly recommend this little book, not least for those newer Christians who need a balanced and trustworthy guide on the subject of revivals.