1. A Lack of Christian Love
When there is a want of brotherly love and Christian confidence among professors of religion, then a revival is needed. Then there is a loud call for God to revive his work. When Christians have sunk down into a low and backslidden state, they neither have, nor ought to have, nor is there reason to have, the same love and confidence toward each other, as when they are all alive, and active, and living holy lives. The love of benevolence may be the same, but not the love of complacency. God loves all men with the love of benevolence, but he does not feel the love of complacency toward any but those who live holy. Christians do not and cannot love each other with the love of complacency, only in proportion to their holiness. If Christian love is the love of the image of Christ in his people, then it never can be exercised only where that image really or apparently exists. A person must reflect the image of Christ, and show the spirit of Christ, before other Christians can love him with the love of complacency. It is in vain to call on Christians to love one another with the love of complacency, as Christians, when they are sunk down in stupidity. They see nothing in each other to produce this love. It is next to impossible that they should feel otherwise toward each other, than they do toward sinners. Merely knowing that they belong to the church, or seeing them occasionally at the communion table, will not produce Christian love, unless they see the image of Christ.
When there are dissensions, and jealousies, and evil speakings among professors of religion, then there is great need of a revival. These things show that Christians have got far from God, and it is time to think earnestly of a revival. Religion cannot prosper with such things in the church, and nothing can put an end to them like a revival.
When there is a worldly spirit in the church. It is manifest that the church is sunk down into a low and backslidden state, when you see Christians conform to the world in dress, equipage, parties, seeking worldly amusements, reading novels, and other books such as the world read. It shows that they are far from God, and that there is great need of a Revival of Religion.
When the church finds its members falling into gross and scandalous sins, then it is time for the church to awake and cry to God for a Revival of Religion. When such things are taking place, as give the enemies of religion an occasion for reproach, it is time for the church to ask God, “What will become of thy great name?”
When there is a spirit of controversy in the church or in the land, a revival is needful. The spirit of religion is not the spirit of controversy. There can be no prosperity in religion, where the spirit of controversy prevails.
6. The Triumph of Wickedness
When the wicked triumph over the church, and revile them, it is time to seek for a Revival of Religion.
7. The Deaths of the Unsaved
When sinners are careless and stupid, and sinking into hell unconcerned, it is time the church should bestir themselves. It is as much the duty of the church to awake, as it is of the firemen to awake when a fire breaks out in the night in a great city. The church ought to put out the fires of hell which are laying hold of the wicked. Sleep! Should the firemen sleep, and let the whole city burn down: what would be thought of such firemen? And yet their guilt would not compare with the guilt of Christians who sleep while sinners around them are sinking stupid into the fires of hell.
(Adapted from Charles Finney’s Revival Lectures, Lecture II, WHEN IS A REVIVAL OF RELIGION NEEDED?)