God has set a limit upon the defection of His Church; when the night is at its darkest the dawn is on the way. The inner history of revivals is characterized by a profound sense of dissatisfaction awaking in many hearts. A period of gloom sets in, a weariness and exhaustion invade the heart, the pleasures of the world no longer satisfy. Sick in soul, men turn with a sigh to God; dimly they awake to the consciousness that, in trading heavenly for earthly joys, they have encountered great loss; that in the decay of spiritual vision the world has lost its soul of loveliness. Slowly this aching grows, the heart of man begins to cry out for God, for spiritual certainties, for fresh visions. From a faint desire this multiplies as it widens, until it becomes a vast human need; until in its urgency it seems to beat with violence at the very gates of Heaven.
Within the Church itself, also, through all its days of defection, there have been many who have not bowed the knee to Baal, who have mourned its loss of spiritual power, and who have never ceased to pray earnestly for a revival of its spiritual life. For long their prayers seemed to be unanswered; it appeared as if God had forgotten to be gracious. Gradually, however, the numbers are found to increase; prayer becomes more urgent and more confident; the condition of the Church, its want of spiritual life, the weakness of its spiritual witness, the need of a fresh baptism of spiritual power become apparent. This need weighs more and more upon the hearts of the devout. Longing for better things becomes an intense pain; men begin to gather in companies to pray; they cease not to cry out to God day and night, often with tears, beseeching Him to visit with His divine power the souls of men, and to pour into the empty cisterns a mighty flood of divine life. In many different parts, quite unconnected with each other, this spirit of intercession awakes, and with it an expectation that will not be denied, a premonition that there is at hand the dawn of better days.
Thus we see how at such times all things seem to unite and cry out for a revival; the waters are far withdrawn, and heaped up, are foaming and fretting behind the barricade. The times are ripe; the soul of man weary of wandering, cries out for God; a spirit of intense expectation is abroad, of dissatisfaction with the past, of earnest longing regarding the future. Once more the long and bitter night has ended; the dawn is at hand, for "the fullness of the time" has come.