Do revivals merely prepare converts for an enjoyment of "pie in the sky by and by"? Do advocates of "enthusiasm" in religion have no interest in the needs of their fellow men? Are evangelicals so heavenly minded that they have no sense of their social responsibility? Critics often answer "yes" to these questions.
This book will not silence all such critics. But if they carefully consider what the author has to say, their conclusions will be greatly modified.
The author clearly demonstrates that revivals in one period of English history - the eighteenth - did result in tremendous social improvement. He shows that converts won in the Wesleyan and Evangelical revivals were largely responsible for stopping the English slave trade and abolition of slavery throughout the Empire. They also took the lead in prison reform, emancipation of the insane, and enacting more human labor legislation.
The spotlight centers most often on the efforts of Wesley, Wilberforce, and Shaftsebury, but lesser actors in the drama are not ignored.
Dr. Cairns shows that the motivation of these great leaders to improve the society of which they were a part is found in their personal faith in God. And he issues a clarion call for twentieth century saints to take a lesson in social action from their eighteenth and nineteenth century forebears.