What I have to deplore with mournful complaint is a general loss of good, a heaping up of bad...I sympathize with my country’s difficulties and troubles, and rejoice in remedies to relieve them.
- Gildas, The Ruin of Britain, British, 6th century
Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, have their own conscience seared with a hot iron…
- 1 Timothy 4.1, 2
Loss of what is good, heaping up of what is bad: Gildas anticipated the observations of William Butler Yeats in his 1919 poem, “The Second Coming”: “The best lack all conviction, while the worst/ Are full of passionate intensity.” Both of them might have been writing about our day.
Looking back on his native Britain, sometime after the turn of the sixth century, Gildas surveyed the sorry state of civil and ecclesiastical society and cried out for God for “remedies to relieve them.”
He pleaded with God to raise up faithful men through whom revival might come.
He could not have known what would shortly ensue. Before the 6th century was over, Irish peregrini – wandering missionary/scholars – would begin leaving their homeland to proclaim the liberating power of the Gospel to Scotland, Wales, and beyond to the European continent. The effect of their efforts over the next century and a half was to bring revival, renewal, and awakening where previously the darkness of unbelief and sin had long prevailed.
Some of those men – such as Columbanus – were trained and prepared for this great work by those whom Gildas had taught and encouraged through his writings, such as Finnian of Clonard, one of Gildas’ correspondents. Finnian himself was descended spiritually from one of the many thousands led to Christ by Patrick in the previous century.
In trying times, desperate times, it’s good to remember that God is sovereign and that His economy – not man’s – governs the course of history. The remedies we require at every level of our society, and in every sector of it, will come from the sovereign pleasure of God, or not at all. And they will come, in the first instance, as spiritual remedies to the self-interest, corruption, doubt, and unbelief that shrouds our souls.
Our nation is captive to false teachings, both in the civil arena and in the churches of the land. The sins of our unbelieving society are well known and duly decried. Then again, why should they surprise or dismay us? Sinning is what sinners do. Look at yourself.
Among the churches, a form of “near Christianity” offers forgiveness of sin and the hope of heaven, together with a measure of happiness and fulfillment here and now, but little true spiritual vision, no determined path to holiness, no taste for self-denial or suffering, and no power for turning rightside-up the morals and culture of our world.
The gospel embraced in too many churches today is not the Gospel of Patrick, Colum Cille, Gildas, and Columbanus. It’s not the Gospel of the Kingdom, but another gospel, a weakened, withdrawn, and withered palliative against the uncertainties and discomforts of our age in flight from God. It can only soothe us against these; it is no remedy for our ills.
Like Gildas, when we look upon our nation and the churches of the land, and we should plead with God for some remedies from His Spirit.
Beginning with faithful men – men of prayer. God wants all people to pray, but Paul was especially emphatic about getting men to take up this holy work (1 Tim. 2.1-8).
Where are the faithful men who will call and lead the Church back to her true Gospel roots and mission? Where are the men who pray for revival, and who join with other men to seek this greatest of all remedies? Where are the men who will take up the mandate to live and to proclaim the Gospel of the Kingdom, to call this generation to repentance, and to lead them in reconciling all things back to God? To stand on the wall together and give God no rest in prayer (Is. 62.6, 7)?
Christian men, look in the mirror: God is speaking to you. Your prayers can tap into the remedy we require. Will you stand in the gap for the Church? Will you seek awakening for the world?
Or will the remedies which you might offer our sick and dying world remain on the shelf for yet another year?
Questions for Reflection
1. Why are spiritual remedies the most needed remedies at this time?
2. How can you improve your prayer life to seek revival, renewal, and awakening more urgently and consistently?
Psalm 85.4-6 (Lyons: “O Worship the King”)
Restore us, O God, renew us in peace,
And cause all Your wrath against us to cease.
Will You evermore all Your wrath to us show?
Revive us that we may Your joy again know.
Lord, help me to be a good steward of the remedies You can provide, as I…
Men at Prayer
Thank the Lord with us!
The Lord provides for the needs of The Fellowship of Ailbe by moving on the hearts of those who benefit from our work and believe in our mission. If that includes you, please seek the Lord in prayer concerning this opportunity. It’s easy to give to The Fellowship of Ailbe, and all gifts are, of course, tax-deductible. You can click here to donate online through credit card or PayPal, or send your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 360 Zephyr Road, Williston, VT 05495
T. M. Moore, Principal
All Psalms for singing from The Ailbe Psalter. Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
 Winterbottom, p. 13.