Saturday, 7 March 2009

1859 A Year To Remember

Just now, as I sit down to write this post, the BBC is airing a program entitled Darwin's Dangerous Idea, analyzing the consequences for society of the theory of evolution. It is only one of a series of programs (the Darwin Season) commemorating, indeed celebrating, this the 150 anniversary of the publication of Darwin's book On The Origin of Species and the 200th anniversary of his birth. On the desk beside me is a copy of National Geographic magazine with a cover and several articles about Darwin and evolution.

So, as it feels like the whole world is celebrating Darwin and the year 1850, believers too have much cause to celebrate this seminal year. It is, of course, the year of the great awakening known as the 1859 Revival. During the winter of 1857-1858, a few young men gathered around a peat fire in an old schoolhouse, and, with their Bibles in their hands, waited upon God. Dr. Paisley, in his book on the '59 revival says of them, "their prayers brought down unquenchable fire from heaven which set all Ulster ablaze for God, and warmed with saving rays at least 100,000 souls."
These two powerful events each have left a powerful and lasting legacy for our society today. One has left our nation bereft of moral direction, out of control and powerless; the other filled our province with churches and fellowships and left a heritage of faithful gospel preaching, evangelistic zeal and a body of missionary work much greater than any other country of its size. One left poor, deluded man to a life without God and an eternity without hope; the other freed men to live life as it should be lived with eternity in the presence of Christ at its end.
To celebrate the 1859 revival, two books have recently been published:

The 1859 Revival by Dr. Ian Paisley
First published in 1959, this history of the revival has just been reprinted, given a clear account of this great work of God.

A hardback, illustrated history of the revival and related awakenings in Ulster.

Suggested reading for more on the creation/evolution debate:

And God Said by Farid Abou Rahme
Creation's Story by Robert W. Cargill
God's Undertaker by John C. Lennox