In an Internet article titled "AWAKENING – BEFORE CONVERSION," by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr., (see HERE) whom I have cited before and received comment, wrote the following concerning what the old writers referred to as "awakening" in Christian experience. The Hardshells went into error concerning this experience, wrongly seeing it as an evidence of regeneration rather than what is preparatory to it. But, Hymers gives the correct view, the one in line with writers of former centuries and with the holy scriptures. Further, in this article, Hymers uses the word "conversion" for "regeneration" or the "new birth" as did the old writers.
Hymers wrote (emphasis mine):
"Awakening is not conversion. Awakening prepares the heart for conversion. It comes before conversion.
what is awakening?
Awakening is when you begin to think very seriously about the salvation of your soul. Here is what great Spurgeon said about awakening:
"Great numbers of persons have no concern about eternal things. They care more about their cats and dogs than about their souls. It is a great mercy to be made to think about ourselves, and how we stand before God and the eternal world. This is [very] often a sign that salvation is coming to us. By nature we do not like the anxiety which spiritual concern causes us, and we try, like sluggards, to sleep again. This is great foolishness; for it is at our great peril that we trifle when death is so near, and judgment is so sure… If we are sensible, we shall pray that our anxiety about our souls may never come to an end till we are really and truly saved…It would be an awful thing to go on dreaming down to hell, and there to lift up our eyes with a great gulf fixed between us and heaven. It will be equally terrible to be aroused to escape from the wrath to come, and then to shake off the warning influence, and go back to our insensibility. I notice that those who overcome their convictions and continue in their sins are not so easily moved the next time: every awakening which is thrown away leaves the soul more drowsy than before, and less likely to be again stirred to holy feeling. Therefore our heart should be greatly troubled at the thought of getting rid of its trouble in any other than the right way. One who had the gout was cured of it by a quack medicine, which drove the disease within, and the patient died. To be cured of a distress of mind by a false hope, would be a terrible business: the remedy would be worse than the disease. Better far that [your] tenderness of conscience should cause [you] long years of anguish than that we should lose it, and perish in the hardness of our hearts." (C. H. Spurgeon Around the Wicket Gate)
These are the essentials of true awakening: you see that you are a lost sinner. You see that you deserve to be punished for your sins. You see that you are in great danger. You see that your sins must be punished – or God is not just. Those are the essentials of true awakening. Until a person feels these things, he is not going to be converted.
These examples show that it is not the length of the awakening that matters. Spurgeon said:
Awakening is not a thing to rest in, or to desire to have lengthened out month after month. If I [wake] up in a fright, and find my house on fire, I do not sit down at the edge of the bed, and say to myself, “I hope I am truly awakened!”… No, I want to escape from threatened death, so I [hurry] to the door or to the window, that I may get out, and…not perish where I am. It would be [no good] to be [awakened], and yet not escape from the danger. Remember, awakening is not salvation.
I publish this as an introduction to further writings upon this subject for it is one in which the Hardshells have greatly erred. I covered this a great deal under a series in "The Hardshell Baptist Cult" book under the title "Hardshells and Conviction of Sin."