Revive Us Again
written by David T. Myers
It is a remarkable true story of God’s redemptive work.
Reared in a Scottish home, William Paton MacKay was born on May 13, 1839. We know nothing of his family except that his mother was a godly Scottish woman. All during his younger years, she endeavored to place the principles of biblical Christianity into his heart, but was met with only resistance by her son. When the latter went away to Edinburgh to attend the university, she handed him a Bible with his name on the inside cover which she had written, followed by John 3, verse 16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (KJV) She obviously commended him to the God of redemption.
Upon arriving at the University, William soon fell into the company of some aggressive unbelievers, joining the local infidel’s club, and began to live a godless life. To feed his drinking habit, he even sold the Bible which his mother has given to him, using the money to buy whiskey.
Fast forward to his graduation from the University of Edinburgh and his subsequent training to become a medical doctor. Now engaged in his medical practice, William was using those gifts of healing in a local city hospital when a dying man entered the hospital as a patient. The patient knew he would soon die and began to urgently request that the hospital staff get his landlady, as he yet owed her money for his rent. But also weighing heavy on his mind is a book in his apartment; he needed that book brought to him. “I need my book,” was his dying request. But alas, he perished without the book.
Curious, Dr. MacKay went to the apartment and asked the landlady about his patient’s great desire for this book. So they searched the apartment and found his Bible. But it was not just any Bible. It was the very same Bible which Dr. MacKay’s mother had given to him when he left for the university years before! Evidently, the dying man had bought the Bible from the pawn shop where young William had sold it years before.
Returning to his office at the city hospital, Dr. MacKay found his mother’s familiar writing in both his name and the text of John 3:16 on the inside cover. The pages were worn and weathered, but he could still note the texts which his mother had marked for him to read. The medical doctor read them that whole night in his medical office, and at the end of it the next mornng, his life was changed for good from a state of sin to a state of salvation.
He left the medical profession, went to a theological college, and became a minister. He served the Prospect Street Presbyterian Church, in Hull, Scotland, as their pastor. To the blessing of the wider Church, he wrote 17 hymns, always full of gospel truths. He departed to heaven on this day, August 22, in 1888.
Words to Live By:
His best known hymn is still familar today, entitled “Revive Us Again.” Oddly, it is not found in either edition of the Trinity hymnbook. That is to our loss, for it is most biblical, based both on Psalm 85:6 and Habakkuk 3:2. The fourth verse describes Rev. MacKay’s spiritual beginning when it states, “All glory and praise To the God of all grace Who has bought us and sought us and guided our ways.” God did purchase with His blood, seeking and guiding Thomas MacKay. Now, can you, the reader, trace how the God of all grace bought, sought, and guided your way to salvation?