Awakening

Awakening

(1) is used with regard to individuals, and designates the first work of the Spirit in conversion, i.e. conviction;

(2) it is also applied to revivals of religion, in which multitudes of sinners are awakened.

The state of sin is in the New Testament represented as a sort of sleep or death; Eph 5:14, "Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light." When man, then, is brought to a consciousness of his sins, and to feel sorrow and contrition on account of them, and these are followed by a desire for the forgiving and renewing grace of God, and partly for improvement, the process is called awakening. The expression is not found in the New Testament, although the thing itself is largely explained therein. The prodigal son was awakened by his self- inflicted poverty, Peter by the correcting look of the Lord, Paul by the miraculous apparition of Christ, Judas by the consequences of his betrayal, and many by the preaching of Jesus or by his miracles. Awakening takes place when the sinner, who before did either not know the truth, or else treated it lightly, becomes strongly impressed with it, and gives up his heart and mind to it. Comp. Ac 2:36-37: "Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God hath made that same Jesus whom ye have crucified -both Lord and Christ. Now when they heard this they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?" (Comp. also Ac 2:43; Ac 4:4; Ac 5:11; Ac 11:23-24.) One of the principal aims of the preacher in presenting the word of God and of the church in the exercises of divine worship is to produce the awakening of sinners.

As, according to the doctrine of the New Testament, all possible agencies of deliverance and of moral improvement in humanity are to be ascribed to the Holy Spirit, the church holds, and rightly, that the operation of the Holy Spirit is united with the word of Christian truth, and also with visible religious exercises, in the awakening of sinners. It is also right in considering the word as the messenger or the medium of the Holy Spirit. Awakening may also result from external changes and events in life, by which truth, previously received into the heart and mind of the sinner, after lying apparently dead, is rendered active, as if awakened from slumber, so that the sinner himself awakes from the sleep or death of sin. Among the outward causes often producing awakening are sickness, either our own or others, particularly such as is the result of sin; the death of those we love, or sometimes of those who have fallen victims to their sins or to those of others, or perhaps have ended their life by suicide; or the death of such as were associated with us in our sinful career; also shame and contumely, or a fall into gross sin, either by ourselves or others, which discloses to us the bottomless nature of sin; deliverance out of danger, or, on the other hand, undeserved blessings. Intercourse with pious and good persons, or sometimes of the bad, may lead to awakening. Sometimes the Spirit uses the memories of youth and of its inexplicable feelings and of confused impulses; sometimes solitary meditation; sometimes the contemplation of nature; the reading of biographies; the study of works of art, as means of awakening. Both good and evil can be made awakening in the life of man; thus Ro 2:4: "Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness, and forbearance, and long-suffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?" Ro 11:22: "Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness; otherwise thou also shalt be cut off;" 1Co 10:6,11: "Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted. Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples; and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come." The effects produced by an awakening cause differ widely, both for objective and subjective reasons. In more quiet and tranquil natures, its effect may be slow and gentle; in the more vigorous ones it is more forcible, and often sudden. But the weaker natures are, on the other hand, more easily awakened than stronger ones, while the latter, though requiring a stronger impulse, are more likely to be lastingly impressed. Where moral self-consciousness, or conscience, is yet awake, the feeblest awakening can act effectually; but where conscience has become benumbed and dormant, a more powerful impression is required. It is evident, besides, that the result will be influenced by a variety of other causes, such as the more or less enlightened state of the subject, the energy of the impulses, the relations of life, either favorable or unfavorable to the development of moral sense, etc. Of course, to produce saving effects, the impression must be lasting, i.e. it must not merely lead to a resolve to amendment, but must work it out also. This, however, is not the work of a moment, but of a whole lifetime, through which the awakening must steadfastly and unceasingly act. The sinner must do all in his power to apply the prevenient grace, which is the source of the awakening, to the redemption of his soul; for without the sinner's own co-operation, the work of sanctification will not be accomplished. In order, then, to render the effect of awakening persistent, it is necessary to keep the memory of it continually in the soul, and to connect with it all that follows. We see, therefore, how great an obstacle is frivolity, which never looks back, but only considers the present or the future; and for that reason the sanguine temperament, while more readily awakened for a moment, is more difficult to impress lastingly; choleric natures are touched easily and deeply, the melancholy lastingly, and the phlegmatic with difficulty. The strength of the awakening is measured by the inward pains of penitence, but cannot be estimated by the outward tears or demonstrations, partly on account of difference in temperaments. Sanguine and choleric subjects will be more demonstrative than phlegmatic or melancholic while under the same force of awakening. — Krehl, N. — T. Handiworterbuch, s.v. SEE CONVICTION; SEE REVIVAL.

 
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