“O Lord, revive Thy work in the midst of the years.” -Habakkuk 3:2The apostle Paul referred to the time in which he lived as a crooked and perverse generation (Phil.2:15). Certainly we can say the same about our generation. We tend to reminisce about the “good ole days”, believing that the wickedness, debauchery, crime, and atheism we see today is worse than at any time in our history. This is untrue.There has always been great evil and wickedness, but the hope for the future, as it has been in the past, is always the same. Take encouragement from this little snippet of our history.
By the time of George Washington’s first inauguration in 1789 the glorious benefits of the first Great Awakening of 1735 to 1745 were a distant memory. America was imbibing deeply of the Jacobin, Enlightenment philosophy of the Marquis de Sade, Voltaire, and Jean Jacques Rousseau. The new nation, founded on the Puritan vision of “A City on a Hill”, was adrift in ungodliness, perversion, and crime. Of the five million American citizens in 1789, three hundredthousand were confirmed drunkards and fifteen thousand were dying annually from their alcoholism. Bank robberies were a daily occurrence. For the first time in our country, women were afraid to go outside alone at night. Whole counties in Kentucky were bereft of law and order. Ordinary citizens formed vigilante groups in order to protect their property and lives. The Methodist church was losing more members than she was taking into the church. The Lutherans and Episcopalians considered combining their denominations because of their mutual decline. Presbyterians at their General Assembly passed a resolution deploring the nation’s ungodliness. Chief Justice of the Supreme Court John Marshall wrote James Madison, lamenting that the church was too far gone to be redeemed. Voltaire and Thomas Paine rejoiced, saying that Christianity would be forgotten in thirty years. Polls showed that Harvard and Princeton had only one Christian each in their colleges. Students at Harvard rioted, forcing the resignation of the President. Students at Princeton burned down Nassau Hall. Only five students there were not part of the filthy speech movement. Dartmouth students put on an anti-Christian play. Students at Williams College observed a mock communion service. A Bible was taken from a church near Princeton and burned publicly in a bonfire. The few Christians at the colleges gathered in secret for their meetings, keeping their minutes in code, lest they be discovered and mocked. Students at Hampden Sydney College overheard two students praying and stormed their room, threatening to beat them.