(Article for publication week of 5-7-2015)
"Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my helpers in Christ Jesus" (Romans 16:3).
Those of you who read the Narrow Way regularly will remember that the Revival referred to in our title this week is the Revival in the Confederate Army during the War for Southern Independence. We have written previously that it was genuine as shown by its lasting effects, and that it was attended and promoted by fervent prayer, faithful preaching and Christian Unity. This week we shall notice some of the helps to the Revival. We desire to spark an interest in the hearts of the Lord's people for revival in our place and time.
One of the great helps to the Revival was the influence of the many Christian officers in the Confederate Army. Never was there an army with such Christian leaders as those of the South, with the possible exception of the Parliamentarian Army led by Oliver Cromwell who fought the Royalists in the English Civil War. Some notable names are Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, Leonidas Polk, JEB Stuart, John B. Gordon, A.P. Hill , and our President, Jefferson Davis from our home State. These are a few of the leading figures who by example and in Duty helped in the Great Revival. Possibly one of the most used of the Lord was General Lee. General Lee encouraged Religion in the army by his own example, by his private and public devotions, and in his concern for the spiritual welfare of his men. One of the notable things that General Lee did to encourage Christianity in the army was his many orders regarding the proper observance of the Sabbath. (In fact the Confederate government proposed to the Federals in the beginning of the War that both sides agree by treaty not to initiate battle on the Lord's Day, but the irreligious Yankees refused.) General Lee Ordered that no unnecessary work be done on Sundays, and that any necessary duties be performed so as not to interfere with Divine Service. He further ordered that those who did not participate in Divine Services be quiet and orderly and not to in any way disturb worship. He was a great helper to the Lord's ministers and the Church in this and in many other ways.
Contrast this with the present leadership in the South! Why! sad to say- even many preachers do not remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy. Sadly, professed Christians in our day go to the stores and the restaurants on the Lord's day just like the world does. If the South were truly the "Bible Belt" as we sometimes like to imagine (and it is purely imagination), then there would not be any stores or cafes open on Sundays. And if Christians were what they profess to be, these establishments would likely close on Sundays for there would not be enough customers to justify opening. It is amazing that if you go into the offices and homes and places of business of professed Christians in Mississippi you will likely find a Bible and perhaps a plaque of the Ten Commandments, all the while ignoring the Fourth Commandment! It grieves my soul, and it should everyone's that the professed church is so blatantly antinomian. Dear Readers, the Bible still says "remember the Sabbath Day, to keep it holy"! The Lord's Day (the first day of the week which is the New Testament Sabbath)is not a Day for unnecessary labour or for your own recreation. It is a day for rest and a Day for worship of our Great God and fellowship with His people. Don't you see when you go to Wal-Mart on Sunday afternoon, or to the cafe you are causing others to break the Fourth Commandment by unnecessary labour. When you do business on the Lord's Day you are saying to the management of that business that you endorse their opening on Sunday. I call on professed Christian business men to quit requiring your employees to labour on the Lord's Day. I call on you not to open your place of business on the Sabbath. I call upon the professed people of God to "remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy. None of the Ten Commandments have been repealed, including the Fourth (Matthew 5:17-21; Romans 3:31).
True revival will be attended by and promoted by a proper observation of the Lord's Day. It is interesting that both the end and God-ordained means of revival, as in salvation itself are vitally connected. Attendance upon all Christian duty is both the means and end of salvation and Revival. May the Lord raise up prayer warriors, preachers and faithful helpers like General Robert E. Lee and favour the South and the whole world with a true Revival.
(At some point, Lord Willing, we shall write a series of articles on the Fourth Commandment, but until then I would recommend to you the 2nd London Confession, and the Westminster Standards for a good introduction to the Doctrine of the Lord's Day. We also have a series of messages that can be heard at sermonaudio.com.)