Bombarded The Heavens In Vain For Rain
( Originally Published 1902 )
THE heat was so terrific, and the rains were so scarce in some of the Western States, one summer, that the crops were parched as though they had been in an oven ; the thermometer ranging from 100 to 108 degrees. The corn in some places seemed to be cooked on the stalk. Many prayers for rain pierced the heavens. Mr. W. F. Wright, of Lincoln, Nebraska, concluded to relieve their local distress, by bombarding the clouds and making them give down rain, whether or no. From one evening till five o'clock the next morning, with the aid of a force of men which he had secured, he kept twenty-five mortars shooting into the heavens. But the clouds declined to pay any attention to his demands.
The failure of Mr. Wright reminds us of the extra-sensational, extra-businesslike, and earthly methods employed by some evangelists, to bring down showers of divine grace upon the thirsty soil. There are cold-hearted, business-like, noisy, brassy-human instrumentalities sometimes employed, guaranteed to get up a revival at any time, for so many dollars a week. Such agencies cheapen religion and bring the name of revival into reproach. Patent rain-makers, with their extensive artillery, may promise great things, but they cannot make it rain. The parched earth is begging for rain ; the flowers are wilted, the corn leaves are twisted, the pastures are brown, the springs are dried up and the thirsty cattle are panting for drink. The rain comes, the garden is painted with lovelier hues, the corn with a darker green, the springs are replenished and beast and man are supplied with drink ; there is plenty in the field ; there is joy to the farmer. This is the genuine revival the descent of the Holy Ghost upon the Church, like rain on the thirsty ground, calling up the seeds of saving truth into beautiful flowers and luscious fruit—the refreshing from the presence of the Lord. The earth is parched, the gardens and fields and flocks are famishing for drink. A black cloud promises relief. The lightning flashes, and the thunders roll. The storm sweeps over, the crops are thrown on the ground to spoil ; there is not a drop of rain, it is only wind ; this is the so-called revival. The blackest cloud, with the reddest lightning and the loudest thunder, but only wind, with damage to field and disappointment to the farmer. These so-called revivals, with the plus human and minus divine, have wrought such spiritual harm, that some reliable churches are afraid of any kind of revival. Evangelists, like pastors, are of various shades of ability and grace, some advertise themselves like the advance agent of a circus, preach questionable doctrines, exhibit a prodigious ability for numbers in counting converts, complaining of the ministers of the place who do not come under their banner and work with their methods, blessing a town like a forest-fire does a forest; like a hurricane does a fleet. Other evangelists are modest, brilliant, consecrated, affectionate, and bring untold blessings to the Church and to the world.