Reviving the heart
Lion Press, 192 pages, £9.99,
There are few episodes of church history more fascinating than the eighteenth-century Evangelical Revival in Britain. Richard Turnbull’s brief account of the revival is an introduction to its main events and characters and it ought to inspire those new to the material to go on to further reading.
The book includes short sketches of the lives and characters of the main figures involved, such as George Whitefield, the Wesley brothers, Howell Harris, and the Countess of Huntingdon, along with lesser-known men like William Grimshaw, Samuel Walker and John Fletcher. It then covers later ‘consolidators’ of the revival like Charles Simeon and John Newton.
While the author clearly believes that the revival was a movement from God, he faces honestly the limitations of the men God used and the disputes and divisions that arose among them.
These included the well-known quarrel between Whitefield and the Wesley brothers over predestination, which even affected Charles Wesley’s hymn-writing (many of his hymns are deliberately anti-Calvinist polemic!).
The author strongly emphasises the international nature of the Evangelical Revival and points out its links with the continental pietistic movement, especially Moravianism, and the Great Awakening in North America.
This is a short, fast-moving introduction to an exciting period of evangelical history which I enjoyed being reminded of again. Much of it may be familiar to readers of ET. Those new to it will want to use this book as a base from which to launch out into further research.