James Caughey was an Irish-born emigrant to the United States who was converted in the revival times of 1830-31 and soon after ordained to the Methodist ministry. He experienced powerful revivals in Canada but it was his revival labours in Great Britain during the 1840’s, for which he is most well known.
This book is a history of the revival he experienced across Britain when he claims to have seen “20,000 profess faith in Christ and 10,000 profess sanctification.” He campaigned in Ireland and England, mainly in Methodist circles, drawing huge crowds wherever he went. He was a powerful preacher who frequently used the ‘word of knowledge’ in his sermons, resulting in great conviction of sin.
Among the converts during this campaign was the young William Booth, who professed salvation during Caughey’s Nottingham crusade and immediately took to street preaching.
We have included 5 of the 25 chapters.
THE experiences of human life are God’s teachers. He employs them to instruct the ignorant, to warn the unwary, to guide the inquiring, to give a visible and practical enforcement to the precepts of revelation. Hence the miseries of the vicious, teach the fearful nature of sin. The serenity and comfort of a true Christian, exhibit the reality and power of faith in Christ. The achievements of individual minds, also, teach us what vast powers lie hid in the human soul: they urge the observer to action. Well and beautifully is this thought expressed in Longfellow’s admirable “Psalm of Life.”
“Lives of great men, all remind us,
We can make our lives sublime
And, departing, leave behind us,
Foot prints on the sands of time.
Foot-prints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.”
If these remarks are truths, then he, who turns away his mind from the study of a great fact, is a sinner. Lessons may be written upon it, influences may be deposited within it, which, if studied and felt, would change the whole current of his being. A wilful blindness to its teachings, may prove the sealing of his eyes in perpetual darkness. Every great fact, therefore, and especially every great religious fact, should be studied well and thoroughly by every man who wishes to do his duty.
It will be admitted, that the CONVERSION OF TWENTY THOUSAND SOULS IN ABOUT SIX YEARS, chiefly under the labours of one man, is a great religious fact! It is more than great! It is marvellous, startling, and sublime! It is eminently suggestive, too. It prompts the questions: How was it done? What were its processes? May other men be equally successful?
Who can turn aside from such a fact as this? It is a sublimer object than the burning bush, whose mystic, unconsuming fire held the outlawed shepherd in such wrapt attention. That was God in an unconscious tree; this exhibits him working “miracles of love” through a conscious, willing agent! Where is the Christian heart that can refuse to behold, to admire, and to examine it? Where is the minister of Jesus who can hear it mentioned, and be unmoved? Impossible! If the spirit of Christ be in us, we must desire to trace the workings of God’s hand in this majestic fact. How did God prepare the instrument? How did Providence prepare the way, and open so effectual a door for the appointed labourer? And what encouragement does the wonderful success of the instrument in producing this fact, afford to other ministers? May they hope for like victories through their own labours? The following pages will solve these vital and interesting questions.
The man, who has been the successful labourer in the conversion of this vast multitude of souls, is the Rev. JAMES CAUGHEY, a native of Ireland. He came to this country in his youth, and was converted to God some nineteen year since. Two years after his conversion, he joined the Troy Annual Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and was ordained a Deacon in 1834. At first he was not distinguished for usefulness above many of his brethren; but subsequently he became the subject of some very extraordinary spiritual exercises; which, being submitted to in the simplicity and docility of a child-like spirit, resulted in a visit of some six years to the British Islands. It was while on this visit that the magnificent array of TWENTY THOUSAND CONVERTS rose up around him to hail him as their spiritual father; and to attest the genuineness and divinity of his previous spiritual exercises.
Mr. Caughey is a self-educated man. He has been an extensive reader, and his mind is richly stored with the best thoughts of the best English writers. He possesses a remarkably vivid imagination, which, in its ardent flights, sometimes, though not often, soars into the suburbs of fanciful regions. His perceptive faculties are superior, his reasoning powers good, though not logical in the highest sense. His memory is both retentive and ready; hence he has a large treasury of ideas at command. His mind possesses great force; his manner is earnest and persuasive; his gesticulation natural. His voice possesses remarkable compass; if not richly musical, it is very pleasant, and the more it is heard the more it charms. His discourses bear the mark of originality. It is true they often flash with the intellectual jewels of great writers, but these are faithfully acknowledged; and his sermons, both in thought and structure, are manifestly the offspring’s of his own mind.
Such is the man whose marvellous movements form the topic of these pages. Nature had raised him above mediocrity, but she had not endowed him with the highest gifts of genius. The church has many ministers of larger powers, more highly cultivated, better read and of higher intellectual rank, but whose successes in God’s work will not bear comparison with those of Mr. Caughey. Whence, then, has his superior power proceeded? Why has he won such victories in the church of God? We must leave this question unsolved, or attribute his surprising victories to the Holy Spirit, who finds his instruments among the herdsmen of Tekoa, or at the feet of Gamaliel, as his sovereign wisdom may decide. To this source Mr. Caughey himself ascribes the glory of his fruitfulness. We do the same, and invite the reader to the pleasant work of tracing the influence of the Holy Spirit in fitting Mr. Caughey for the work, and assisting him in its performance. Surely God will bless this book to every reader’s soul; for its aim is to exhibit the glory of God shining through the instrumentality of man to show the church of God, in her ministry and membership, how she may indeed SHINE AS THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD -the spiritual Pharos of mankind!
JESUS CHRIST received a baptism of the Spirit on the banks of the Jordan, before entering on his mission. The apostles had their Pentecost. Paul had his spiritual refreshing in the house of Ananias. Luther’s Pentecost was received in his monastic cell. Mr. Wesley received his in the Moravian prayer meeting; and in some place or other, all eminently useful men have their Pentecost’s. A marked spiritual exercise precedes their successes; an exercise which forms an epoch in their history.
Mr. Caughey had such a baptism in the earlier years of his ministry. This feature marked it: his theory concerning the necessity of the help of the Holy Spirit in preaching became a conviction - a stern, living conviction. His account of this epoch is characteristically described in one of his letters. He says:
From the hour I read the following striking remarks of Dr. Adam Clarke, a few months previous to my ordination, I have never varied a hair-breadth from the great truth they advocate. I can only quote from memory, as the page which first presented them to my eye is many thousands of miles from me, and I cannot turn to the place in his Works where they stand recorded; but they differ little from the following: “But all this spiritual and rational preaching will be of no avail, unless another means of God’s own choosing be superadded to give it an effect - the light and influence of the Holy Spirit. That Spirit of life and fire penetrates, in a moment, the sinner’s heart, and drags out to the view of his conscience those innumerable crimes which lie concealed there under successive layers of deep and thick darkness, when, under that luminous burning agency, he is compelled to cry, ‘ God have mercy upon me a sinner!’ ‘Save, Lord, or I perish!’ ‘Heal my soul, for it hath sinned against thee’”
I shall have eternal cause of thankfulness that the above sentiments ever came under my notice. If my ministry has been rendered a blessing to many, that blessing has been vouchsafed through the merits of Christ, to a steady recognition of the necessity of the influence of the Holy Spirit. On the evening of that never-to-be-forgotten day in which I read the above, I took up my pen, in secret, before God, and gave vent to the emotions of my deeply-impressed heart, in language something like the following: I see, I feel now as I have never done before upon this particular subject. From the convictions of this hour, I hope, by the grace of God, never to vary. I see, I feel,
1st. The absolute necessity of the immediate influence of the Holy Ghost to impart point, power, efficacy, and success to a preached gospel.
2nd. The absolute necessity of praying more frequently, more fervently, more perseveringly, and more believingly, for the aid of the Holy Spirit in my ministry.
3rd. That my labours must be powerless, and comfortless, and valueless, without this aid; a cloud without water, a tree without fruit, dead and rootless; a sound uncertain, unction-less, and meaningless; such will be the character of my ministry. It is the Spirit of God alone which imparts significancy and power to the word preached, without which, as one has expressed it, “all the threatenings of the Bible will be no more than thunder to the deaf, or lightning to the blind.” A seal requires weight, a hand upon it, in order to [make] an impression. The soul of the penitent sinner is the wax; gospel truth is the seal; but, without the Almighty hand of the Holy Ghost, that seal is powerless. A bullet demands its powder, without which it is as harmless as any other body. The careless sinner is the mark; truth is the ball that must pierce him; but it cannot reach, much less penetrate him, separate from this influence from heaven. In apostolic times, they preached the gospel with the Holy Ghost sent down from Heaven. 1 Peter, I.v12 In our day we need an energy from no lower source, to overturn the wickedness of the vile and profane, and to counteract the formality and worldliness which are everywhere visible.
4th. I am now fully persuaded, that in proportion as the Spirit of God shall condescend to second my efforts in the gospel message, I shall be successful; nor need I expect any success beyond. No man has ever been signally useful in winning souls to Christ, without the help of the Spirit. With it, the humblest talent may astonish earth and hell, by gathering into the path of life thousands for the skies; while without it, the finest; the most splendid talents remain comparatively useless.
5th. The entire glory of all my success shall henceforth be given to the Holy Spirit. By this I shall conscientiously abide, as by any other principle of our holy religion. It is written: “ They that honour me, I will honour.” To this may be added, that righteous, inalienable, and unchanging determination of Jehovah: “My glory I will not give to another.”
These truly scriptural purposes were graven on Mr. Caughey’s heart as with the finger of God. The conviction of dependence became henceforth interwoven with his thoughts and feelings. Several years after, when he was sailing on the full tide of glorious success, he exclaimed, speaking of himself as an instrument:
Amazing goodness, that it should be so owned of God! I know the reason! It is because there is a distinct understanding between my poor soul and Heaven, that no portion of the glory of such a work is to be appropriated by me, either to myself or others; that I am to feel as deeply humbled before God when thousands are converted under my ministry, as when only one sinner has been converted. He knows I would rather die than vary, for a moment, from first principles; I mean those views of the necessity of the Holy Spirit, which I noted down as the convictions of my heart, after reading that sentiment of Dr. Clarke. That eminent servant of God little thought, that this passage, of all the multitudinous writings, which emanated from his pen, should be rendered such a blessing. So true is that stirring saying of holy writ: “In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thine hand; for thou knowest not whether shall prosper, either this or that, or whether they both shall be alike good.” He little imagined, when penning those words, that they should be wafted across the Atlantic ocean, and fall like heaven’s own fire upon the understanding and heart of a young and ardent spirit at the foot of the Green Mountains, in North America; that, at an important and perilous period of a youthful ministry, these words of light, life, and fire, should arrive, should interweave themselves with the whole texture of his “thinkings,” become one with his very being, and the secret spring of his motions; motions which, though somewhat eccentric in the estimation of some, have resulted in the conversion of many thousands of sinners to God. And then, that this youth, having sprung into manhood, should cross the “raging seas,” in the noon of his usefulness, and pay back, to Ireland first, and then to England, a sort of interest for the use of that invaluable capital transferred to the American shores; and all to the glory of God the Father, through Jesus Christ, by the power of the Holy Ghost. Hallelujah! “ Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty: just and true are thy ways, thou king of saints. Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? For thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee, for thy judgments are made manifest.” Rev. xv. 3, 4.
The experience described in this chapter, may be considered as the beginning of the Spirit’s work in preparing Mr Caughey to be a special instrument of salvation to thousands. He might have resisted that anointing. He might have rested satisfied with a sound theory, instead of steeping his soul in the truth, until it so filled him that he learned as by instinct to lay all the glory of his labours at the footstool of the eternal God. The next chapter will show the further work of the Spirit on his heart.
THE heart in which God works, must sympathise with the divine mind with all its emotions, energies and powers. It must do for itself all that human strength may do; for God never does that even for his most favoured instruments, which they can do for themselves. The following letter to one of his friends, contains a simple and touching account of the manner in which Mr. Caughey laboured to make himself a “Workman that needeth not to be ashamed,” and will forcibly illustrate these remarks.
MY DEAR BROTHER: -I was once in the very position you describe. The church, over which God had placed me, had long been unvisited by an extensive revival. My soul became more deeply concerned than usual for the conversion of sinners; and I was led to pray most earnestly for a revival. I began a series of meetings, in the month of December, first in one private house, and then in another. I preached every night, and held a prayer-meeting afterwards; but we never got the matter fairly before the public; only a few attended, and the special effort was a complete failure.
The meetings dwindled down to nothing, and we gave them up with as good a grace as we could, and returned to the ordinary means. But, you will inquire, “Why such a defeat?” Weakness of faith, and distrust in God, were perhaps the chief causes. We missed our way, by not lighting up the chapel at once. We endeavoured to take hold of the population by means of these little meetings in various parts of the town, and failed to make a sufficient impression upon the public mind. Sinners cared nothing for us and our paltry movements; there was no expectation raised, no curiosity excited; we were down, nor could we recover ourselves; and so the effort was abandoned. “But why did you take such a course? Why then did you not open the chapel?” There were several reasons:
1st. We could not obtain the proper preachers to assist in such an arduous undertaking. They were, all engaged in vigorous efforts for souls, in “protracted meetings” on their own circuits.
2nd. I had at that time a very small stock of sermons that were any way suitable for a revival. Unhappily, I had spent much of my time upon speculative divinity; in composing sermons, fifteen thousand of which would not, it is probable, have brought one sinner to God. The truths embodied in them, were not at all calculated to bring about an instantaneous revival. The few sermons likely to make an impression had been exhausted in the ordinary services.
3rd. I concluded that, in these private meetings, some good might be done by taking up new texts of a revival tendency, and preaching as I best could. But not having at command the proper materials for the illustration of truth, nor those arguments which are best adapted to awaken sinners, and excite public attention, I could only dwell upon the dry materials of theology, and so I was as one beating the air.
4th. Aware of my deficiencies, pride or prudence suggested the impropriety of my attempting to preach every night in the chapel, where a failure might he attended by a serious reaction.
But the same difficulties accompanied me, of course, to the meetings in the private dwellings. I knew my want of preparation for so many sermons, and, though it should not have affected me, (for my trust ought to have been in God,) yet it weakened my faith, and I had no courage. The praying men caught my spirit also; thus, instead of being able to fight a battle manfully for God, during several weeks I could only stand a few skirmishes, and the devil and sin were victorious.
Here I received a lesson never to be forgotten. I now saw the necessity of turning my attention to that style of preaching which would be likely, by the aid of the Holy Ghost, to awaken sinners, and bring penitents to God. Revival artillery, I resolved to have. I fasted and prayed, and searched the Scriptures. My reading, thinking, conversation, and all my observations, were laid under contribution to one end; -preparation for soul-saving, which I now perceived to be the main end of the gospel ministry. My little stock of sermons suitable for a revival, increased rapidly. When a text presented itself as suitable for a revival, my cry was, “Lord God, open the eyes of my understanding; give me a clear perception of thy meaning in this passage.” A forenoon was generally spent upon my knees, pleading for divisions and sub-divisions; sometimes a simple proposition was presented. Having completed my “skeleton,” I returned to my knees, and pleaded for an introduction, and that flesh and sinews might come upon these dry bones. And the pleading was not in vain; thoughts of a moving character came into my mind in troops. Having finished the rough outline, it was folded up till next day. On the morrow, I returned to my knees, read the subject over, expunged such extraneous and superfluous matter as only tended to load the memory and encumber the subject, but retained all that had point, and was likely to do execution among sinners. The holy Scriptures were then called in, to prove or illustrate the sentiments; commentators were referred to; and lastly, my private Journal and Common-Place Book. It is proper to remark, that I had long attended to that advice given by an aged American minister, to a young preacher:
“This I would advise you, wherever you, in any reading, meet with a curious illustration, prize it, seize it, enter it in papers where you may design a lodging for such inestimable jewels. Like Hezekiah, have your treasures for precious stones; and let these be such unto you. Get such an amassment of them, that among them you may be like the king of Tyrus, and ‘walk up and down in the midst of the stones of fire,’ when you are upon the holy mountain of God. One of these may be like an ingot of gold, and a whole discourse may be rendered acceptable by having such a jewel studded in it.” After walking thus in the mount with God, among my jewels and stones of fire, some original, others by right of conquest, and collecting such as were calculated to move an assembly, -supposing I could do nothing more with them at present, the written outline was brought to the footstool of God, thus: “O Lord God of hosts, God of the armies of Israel, and head of the Church, I ask thy acceptance of my body, soul, and spirit, and of this my humble offering, -this outline of a sermon, which I now present to Thee. Forgive all that may be wrong in it, or which savours of human infirmity; and grant that, wherever and whenever it shall be preached, the power of the Holy Ghost may attend it to the hearts of sinners and believers. Grant that I may obtain, by its instrumentality, thousands of souls to my ministry, from the ranks of wickedness, through Jesus Christ my Lord! For this, and the pardon of all my sins, and the purification of my nature, I offer the atonement of the Saviour. I trust; in the blood of Jesus Christ thy Son; I cast myself upon it by faith, and upon the veracity of Christ Jesus in that promise: ‘what things so ever you desire when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.’ I have desired these things, I have prayed for them, and I do receive what I have asked, agreeably to thy will.” The sermon was then placed among kindred subjects, and carefully put away, under the label REVIVAL; and I held myself in readiness to take up another text, in a similar manner.
But you will inquire: “Did you not preach them immediately to your people?” Sometimes I did so, but not always; nor could I the ordinary services being so few. I considered myself only in preparation for a campaign; that I was just getting my ammunition and engines of war in readiness for a great battle. The following Conference recalled me from the town alluded to, and sent me to another field of labour. After my arrival, I endeavoured to get the church into a prepared state for a revival; and proceeded with increased activity in the accumulation of “munitions of war.” As the time approached, when we were about to enter upon an extraordinary conflict with the powers of darkness, I endeavoured to secure ministerial help, but, in case of a failure in that quarter, had my own artillery ready. I had faith in God and good courage, because faith had been exercising itself for several months in active preparation for the holy war. Cromwell said to his soldiers, on the battle-field, “Trust in the Lord, and rely upon your pikes!” and, on another occasion, “Trust in the Lord, and keep your powder dry!” But had they had neither pikes nor powder, their trust in God would not have been very firm. In my last skirmishes with the devil and his children, I had a feeble trust in God, but had neither pikes nor powder; you know what I mean, and I have told you the results. On the eve of this battle, glory be to God! I had both pikes and powder. I trusted in God, however, knowing that both were useless, if not attended by an influence from heaven; and when fully in the engagement, the weapons were wielded with such an energy as if every thing had depended upon human might.
The people of God were fully aware of the difficulties in the way of a revival; but they were all of one heart and soul, and joined together as an impenetrable phalanx. The respective officers put on the heavenly armour of faith, and hope, and love. The intended conflict was talked of in every direction, and all was expectation in the town.
The time arrived; the house of God was thrown open, and hostilities commenced. Many people thronged there to witness the conflict. The weapons of our warfare were not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down strongholds, and casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalted itself against the knowledge of Christ. The pulpit was the “grand battery,” but there were several others along the ramparts; (if you will allow me to continue use of military phraseology, which I employ without scruple, as did St. Paid, because it was a real battle between mind and mind, light and darkness, truth and error, powers divine and diabolical;) and there were no “ blank motions,” no “powder and flash without ball.” The execution was tremendous. It appeared to some as if the devil had fled, and left the field to Zion’s sons. If so, he left his troops under a “galling fire,” and the surrender of some of his regiments was exceedingly grand. The battle lasted nine weeks; and the results were glorious. If victory had not been ours at the end of that time, we must have had to retreat, as my “ammunition” was nearly exhausted; but this only imparted a fresh impulse to my mind, to lay up “military stores” on a larger scale. In addition to this, my late experience had enabled me to detect the artillery that was weak or unwieldy, and therefore unfit for the service. There were weapons, some of whose points were too soft, others of a harder temperament than they should have been; and though they did some execution upon mind, they might have accomplished much more, had they been of better metal, kindlier temper, and keener edge. To remedy these defects, and get ready for another campaign, was my happy employment during the intervals of my pastoral duties.
In the meantime, the new converts received close attention; were appointed to classes; new classes were formed, and every possible means used, by visiting them daily at their own houses, and by affectionate pulpit discourses, to confirm and establish them in the practice of true piety. Books were placed in their hands for the improvement of their minds; and the absence of any one of them from class, was a subject of immediate inquiry. Thus the reaction talked of by some was avoided; we had, in fact, nothing of the kind. A few went back to the world, I admit, and shortly after, a number of the new converts died happy in God, and went home to glory; but a large majority remain to the present day, pillars in the church of God, and happy witnesses that “Jesus Christ hath power upon earth to forgive sins.”
I have now, my dear brother, given you a detailed account of my experience in these things. I could enlarge, but it is not necessary. If I have been, in some measure, successful among my brethren, in winning souls to Christ, the Holy Spirit of God has been the original and efficient cause; and to him be all the glory. That he works by means, you will readily admit, and, in the above hasty sketch, you have seen the progress of my mind in laying hold of that class of truths which is calculated, by divine aid, to awaken and convert sinners. I could give you an account of many revivals, in which I have been engaged during past years, and farther observations upon the effects of particular and pointed truth upon different characters, but time will not permit. My mind is quite as much alive as ever to seize upon illustrations in nature, science, and common every-day life, of which the world is full, was we only intent upon perceiving them. My common-place books and little pocket note-books, are always at hand, in which are noted down whatever may occur to my thought, in conversation, observation, and reading.
I am fully persuaded, the reason why some preachers are averse to what are called “revival movements,” is not because they have no desire for the conversion of sinners, nor from a conviction that God has not called them to bring sinners to repentance, for they frequently attempt it; nor because they have no talents for such an effort; but, chiefly, for the want of proper pulpit preparations, to begin and carry forward a revival. Although they may have a respectable stock of sermons, which procure them a rank, deservedly, among the accomplished theologians of the day; yet, the engaging a very few times in preaching would exhaust their capital; and then, to come forward with “long common-place sermons,” as unfit for producing immediate and beneficial effect in a revival, as snow upon a harvest field, would disappoint even the expectation of sinners, discourage penitents, and weary and unfit believers to enter the prayer meeting with life and zeal. A few such dull sermons would soon thin the congregation, and leave the preacher to address an array of empty seats. Such men have, therefore, no heart for such a continued and laborious struggle. What confidence could a general have in laying siege to a city, or in attempting to take it by storm; knowing that he has neither ammunition nor artillery sufficient for such an undertaking? But these, in a spiritual sense, every minister of Jesus must have, if he would undertake with proper energy to lay siege to and storm a population of sinners. Hence, the preachers on whom I have ventured to animadvert are shy of making full proof of their call to the work of the ministry, in this way; and when the matter is pressed home upon the conscience of one of these, he usually resorts to the pitiable apology, “I have no talent for these revivals. Every man has his particular gift. All cannot be revivalists. I must, therefore, proceed in my own way.”
Let the inquiry be put to his conscience and understanding, by a proper person, “But, my brother, what is your way? What are you aiming at in preaching? Upon what principles did you begin to preach at first? Excuse the inquiry; what were the secret feelings, which prompted you in the beginning of your career in the ministry? If the immediate conversion of sinners was not your object, what was it? Why? For what purpose do you yet enter the pulpit? Is it not to bring sinners to repentance? But, if you are incapable of conducting a prayer meeting, and of kneeling down to pray for a penitent sinner, to whom must the church of God look? If you are incapacitated to point a trembling sinner to the Lamb of God, and to tell him how to believe, to whom must the unhappy soul resort? Do you say, ‘I make such things known in the pulpit, and that is the place for the performance of my duty?’ But St. Paul preached Jesus ‘from house to house,’ and ‘ with many tears;’ is it, therefore, improper to do the same thing in a prayer meeting, under circumstances so interesting?”
Language more pointed than this might be used, but it is well even with this, if he keeps his temper.
You may depend upon it, you will find in the above hints, most of the prominent reasons for the aversion of some men to revivals; and why they discountenance extraordinary endeavours for the salvation of sinners. It is upon the same principles that we may frequently account for those mortifying failures, when special efforts have been made to bring about a revival.
I cannot close without an allusion to your mental conflicts. Have you not read Augustine’s advice to a young minister, Prepara te ad pressuras? To which a good man added, “When a man enters upon the work of preaching the gospel, He finds himself speedily, as it were, in the wine-press.” It is seldom the following sentiments of one now with God, have failed to be realized in one way or other in my experience: “You will hardly ever be engaged in any special service for the kingdom of God, but you will either just before it, or after it, meet with some special trouble; either from some failure of your health, or in some storm of groundless obloquies among the people; or, which is worst of all, some horrid colaphtisations from wicked spirits on your mind, strongly filling you with consternations and confusions, which, be they ever so unreasonable, yet will be intolerable.”
It is in the latter way, I have hitherto chiefly suffered, although I have had my trials from most of the above sources; but the onsets of those cruel and invisible spirits upon my mind have often been terrible. The devil has generally taken his revenge in this way, when I have been favoured with any remarkable success in the work of the ministry. These conflicts have often been very severe just before some remarkable conquest; and after the revival, he has come against me as a roaring lion; but the Lord hath hitherto delivered me, and by such commotions, prepared me for greater usefulness, and endued me with a larger measure of watchfulness and humility.
I have often shortened these days of trial, by plunging into another revival; then all has become light, and peace, and joy. I have therefore, of late years, arranged matters, so as to step into another effort for a revival, when my work has concluded in any given place. The devil has been baffled for the time, by these rapid movements; but he has still threatened my trembling soul in a manner I cannot describe; suggesting, that, for every instance in which he has been foiled in this way, he shall yet have his vengeance, in one concentrated and tremendous storm, which is brooding and preparing in the gloomy distance. “But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, if I may finish my course with joy, and the ministry I have received of the Lord Jesus.” “He that will wage war with hell, must suffer hell’s rage,” has long been my motto; but, if the devil and I must fight, I am determined to be the aggressor. I think there is an advantage here worth taking; and we may take it most fairly, as the apostle tells us he is wide-awake to “get an advantage of us!”
These trials, I admit with you, are “worse than preaching;” and, a succession of them, make a man look older by many years than he really is. The people who surrounded our Lord, mistook him for being nearly fifty years of age, when he was only a little more than thirty. “Thou art not yet fifty years old,”-this was their nearest guess, -“and hast thou seen Abraham?” John viii. 57.
Such were the experiences of God’s church nearly three thousand years ago, that its saints could say, with triumphant confidence, “The word of the Lord is tried” -i.e. it has been put to the test, it has stood the trial of experiment. It may, therefore, be relied upon with unshrinking certainty. It is this certainty, this unwavering, unyielding, invincible confidence in the faithfulness of God that has sustained Mr. Caughey that has lain at the base of base of his movements and inspired his heroic heart, in its conflicts with kingdom of darkness. The following letter, which is fired with the energy of its author, is strikingly illustrative of him. It reveals him in the battle-field, testing the weapons he has furnished and sharpened in the closet. It was written to a friend in England, who desired his counsel on the best methods of bringing a church into a revival state. After stating that scene of the work was a town in North America, Mr. Caughey proceeds to say:
Protracted religious services were determined upon, by a few choice spirits, who had for some time mourned over the desolations of Zion in that town. The time fixed for the commencement of hostilities arrived. The conflict began a determination I have seldom seen surpassed. We preached the gospel during a succession of evenings, with but one single object in view, to bring hardened sinners to repentance. There were many such in that town; ungodly men, who had long set the God that made them at defiance; men who violated his law, neglected his worship, despised his servants, denied the truths of his Bible, and entertained opinions the most degrading and anti-scriptural. Drunkenness, Sabbath-breaking, whoredom, profane swearing, and all manner of wickedness, were practised without feeling, fear, or remorse. But a few there were who “sighed and cried” for all the abominations of the place. “Rivers of water,” said some, “run down mine eyes, because men keep not thy law.” “It is time, Lord, for thee to work, for they have made void thy law,” was the mournful and interceding language of others. The example of some ministers in the town was no rule for us. Our duty was plain; -not to glance over this moral desolation an eye of careless indifference; nor to be governed in our movements by that Cainite sentiment, the principle of which is so prevalent in the present day: “Am I my brother’s keeper?” We did not feel ourselves called to deplore merely the general wickedness around, nor the horrors of that dreadful hell towards which that wickedness was carrying this population of sinners, but to make vigorous efforts for their rescue.
Believing the gospel to be Heaven’s revealed instrumentality to bring about an event so desirable, we endeavoured to wield its divine truth with all the energy with which it had pleased God to endue us. Our efforts were not confined to the Sabbath, or to one or two evenings in the week, but “night and day,” throughout the week, not in the sanctuary alone, but from house to house; afternoon and night we laboured for God in the chapel; the forenoons and intervals between meetings, we exhorted the people at their homes to turn to God. Sinners, however, remained hard and obstinate. They seemed, in fact, as if leagued together to defeat our object; not indeed by open and avowed hostility, but by keeping themselves away from the house of God. The few who ventured into our assemblies, were as unmoved as the seats. The “why and wherefore” of all this “religious stir and din,” seemed to be the predominant inquiry upon the features of the visitors. This was just what we wanted to see; and we were determined to have this expression become general. “Truth,” said one, “fears nothing more than inattention. It is too important to be treated with indifference. Opposition calls forth and sharpens the powers of the human mind in its defence. The cause of the gospel has ever gained by investigation. Credulity is the bane of it.”
Our congregations increased, but the hardness and impenitency of sinners continued. Of one thing I can assure you, the whole counsel of God was delivered. Nothing was kept back which we considered profitable to our hearers, or essential to the faithful declaration of our message. With the sentiment of an elegant writer we heartily concurred: “The defensive armour of a shrinking and timid policy, does not suit Christianity. Hers is the naked majesty of truth. With all the grandeur of age, but with none of its infirmities, has she come down to us, and gathered new strength from the battles she has won in the many controversies of many generations. With such a religion as this, there is nothing to hide; all should be above board; and the broadest light of day should be made fully and freely to circulate through all her services, but secret things she has none. To her belong the frankness and the simplicity of conscious greatness. And whether she grapple with the pride of philosophy, or stand in pointed opposition to the prejudices of the multitude she does it upon her own strength, and spurns all the props and all the auxiliaries away from her.”
We were not seeking after gain or popularity. We asked not the money of our hearers, nor their goods, nor any portion of them. “It is not for you to be fishing for gudgeons but for towns, forts, and castles,” said Cleopatra to Mark Antony. Glory be to God! we were not fishing for gudgeons, -filthy lucre, or the praise of men -but we had laid close siege to the town, its forts and its castles; every strong-hold of Satan. We wielded the same weapons, as did the apostles. (2 Cor. x. 4. 5.) And as the forts, towers, and castles, all the strongholds of the kingdom of hell, came tumbling down, under the mighty and supernatural blows of their weapons, we did expect to see the same effects produced, ere the battle was ended in which we were now engaged. Human applause was as valueless as the dust of their streets. Their wrath we dreaded not. Neither men nor devils were we afraid of. We expected persecution, but we were yet too insignificant. Dogs do not bark at a solitary star or two; but, as old Alciat observes, in his “Emblems,” they bark most when the moon is at the full; perhaps not so much at the moon herself, as at the “strange and dubious things,” which multiply upon their animal vision. We anticipated that when the little church began to shine forth, “bright as the sun, fair as the moon, and terrible as an army with banners,” in a glorious revival, that it would set all the dogs in town barking.
Again and again, as our congregations increased, the gospel of our God and Saviour was proclaimed in all its fullness, while the steel of eternal truth was pointed directly at the heart of every sinner. The sins of the people were clearly and faithfully portrayed in all their horrible deformity. There was no daubing with intemperate mortar; no compromising of truth; no beating the air with idle words; no temporising; no trimming to suit the prejudices of the people; no mincing of truth, a little now and a little again, as the people could bear it; no equivocal, or ambiguous sentences or expressions, phrases of “doubtful signification,” in order to avoid offending delicate ears. Things were called by their proper names; whoredom was named whoredom; adultery, fornication, &c., were called such; hell, sin, sinners, and the devil, were subjects set before the people in all the terror of the one, and the native ugliness of the other. The law of God, and the hell of eternity, were set forth with all the sanctions of the former, and with all the torments, weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth, of the latter.
While dealing with these sinners, we were perplexed with no misgivings respecting the extent of the redeeming plan. We knew, to borrow the language of another, that, “as the gospel had no limitation as it regarded time, it had nothing of the kind when applied to human character.” “Jesus Christ,” we insisted, “by the grace of God tasted death for every man;” “he is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world;” and “by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which they could not be justified by the law of Moses;” that so long as a sinner had repentance and faith in his heart, we know not a single crime, or collection of crimes, in the whole catalogue of human depravity, that the atoning blood of Christ could not wash away; or that there was any desperado of vice and folly, within the compass of our voice, however sunk in the depths of his dark and unnatural depravity, who was not welcome to come to Christ, if he would. Nor would such a sinner find, that the crimson inveteracy of his manifold offences was beyond the reach of the peace speaking and purifying blood of the Son of God. We were persuaded that as the justice of God suffered no encroachment by the offers of mercy to the believing penitent, and as mercy itself is restrained by no limitation, there can be no arrest laid upon its offers, arising from the shades, and degrees, and varieties, of human sinfulness; that, allowing the existence of repentance and faith within the soul of the sinner, there is no point in the descending scale of human depravity beyond which it cannot go, even “to hell’s trembling verge.” They were told, that as “for guilt, in its full impenitency, Jesus Christ dyed his garments, and waded through an arena of blood,” so might the most abandoned of the children of iniquity begin a contrite movement toward him; that Jesus Christ would be the last person in heaven to spurn them away from purchased mercy, purchased by his own most precious blood; nor would he ever close the door of mercy, which had cost him so much to open; that he would never quench the spark of the sinner’s desire for salvation, nor break the bruised reed, nor overturn the prop of hope in Christ, upon which he was invited to rest.” But, strange as it may appear, a sullen front of resistance was still maintained upon the part of sinners. With us the matter was settled, “Victory or death” Again the lightnings of truth and terror flashed over the congregations. The thunders of Sinai reverberated long, loud, and dreadful The place trembled, and the heart and soul of man quaked before the presence of the Lord God of hosts.
We were not trammelled in our efforts by rich and time serving professors; nor by any who were anxious we should obtain or retain the approbation of the wealthy. There was no sensation created on the appearance of influential persons in the congregation, lest they might take offence, and leave the church, possibly to return no more. We were troubled with no officials cautioning us against giving offence, with a “peradventure, such and such persons will withdraw from the church, and withhold hereafter their support.” The people of God were poor and feeble, and, from various causes, had dwindled down to a solitary disheartened few. They knew very well if God did not interfere, and vouchsafe a revival, their church, in that place, must become extinct. The dear people felt their feebleness, but they were loyal at heart, and stood by us. Some could do but little, as it regarded vocal prayer, but they could weep and pray secretly; not unlike a little girl, of whom I heard the Rev. Dr. Beaumont relate the following anecdote, in Liverpool: Four children, three brothers and a little [sister] were enjoying a ramble along the banks of a river, when one of the boys accidentally fell into the water; just as he was sinking, another little brother plunged in for his rescue, and when they were both struggling in the stream, the other brother reached out his hand, and caught the second brother, who was about to sink also; and, by the good providence of God, both found bottom, and crawled ashore. When they arrived at home, the glad father, who had learned the jeopardy of his children, called them around him, and inquired of one, “Well, what did you do to save your drowning brother?” “I plunged into the water after him, Sir,” was the reply. “And what did you do” he inquired of the next. “ I carried him home my back, Sir.” Turning to his little daughter, he said, “Well, my dear, and what did you do to save your drowning brother?” She replied, “I fell a crying, papa, as hard as I was able, all the time.” Aye, and perhaps her tears and cries prompted her little brothers to these desperate and successful efforts for the rescue of their sinking brother. Be this us it may, we felt ourselves stimulated to “deeds of noble daring,” by the tears and cries of this precious little flock.
During eight or nine days, sinners were thus battered by the artillery of the law, and assailed on every side by the offers of the gospel. Every appeal made to their fears was followed by another to their hopes. Hell and its horrors sin and its penalties, glared around, while Calvary and its scenes were held forth as pledges of hope and salvation. If they wept not, we did, as Christ was set forth, evidently crucified before their eyes: -
“Jesus drinks the bitter cup,
The wine -press treads alone,
Tears the graves and mountains up,
By his expiring groan.
Well may heaven be cloth’d in black,
And solemn sackcloth wear;
Jesus’ agonies partake,
The hour of darkness share:
Mourn th’ astonish’d hosts above;
Silence saddens all the skies;
Kindler of seraphic love,
The God of angels dies.
O, my God, he dies for me,
I feel the mortal smart!
See him hanging on the tree,
A sight that breaks my heart:
O that all to thee might turn;
Sinners, ye may love him too;
Look on him ye pierced, and mourn
For one who bled for you.
Weep o’er your desire and hope,
With tears of humblest love:” ?
“Behold,” we cried, as sin still occupied the ground and sinners still remained hard and unsubdued, “Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sins of the world -see an expiring Saviour! God is now in Christ reconciling you to himself, not imputing your trespasses unto you.
‘O believe the record true,
God to you his Son hath given!
Ye may now be happy too;
Find on earth the life of heaven:
Live the life of heaven above,
All the life of glorious love!’
Plead the merits of his death, O sinners! Behold your pardoning God! He is ready to blot out your transgressions as a thick cloud; your sins and your iniquities will he remember no more. Believe, only believe, and yours is the right and title to the kingdom of heaven.”
Think me not tedious, my dear brother, nor over particular in descending to such a minute detail as to the manner of our address to these sinners. It was, indeed, a regular siege, and an important one. We now were making full proof of our ministry, and pushing our tremendous principles to those results intended by the Author of them. Hell and heaven were perpetually before our eyes. The danger of that eternal damnation to which these sinners were every moment exposed, absorbed our every thought. We knew no other method by which to save them from the perdition that awaited them but this, nor did we want any other. Our triumphant boast “ I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation unto every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek;” and we were determined not to stir from the place till the power of that gospel was realized, and acknowledged by angels, devils, and men.
Never, I assure you, did a besieging army bombard a city with greater confidence of beholding surrender, than we felt when beleaguering these sinners. Speculations were never more rife, outside the walls of a besieged city, as to what part of the walls would be likely to give way and cause a breach, than were the speculations among some, as to what sinner, or what class of sinners, would first break down under the truth, and cause a gap in the ranks of sin. As the crisis approached, our congregations increased; our all-absorbing feelings seemed to pervade the people, but none had sufficient courage to brave the gaze of the multitude, and separate himself as a stricken sinner.
Night had succeeded to night, and day-to-day, without any conversions. The sword of the Lord appeared to us as if blunted against the hardened mass; the arrows of truth rebounded from flinty hearts as if they had been shot against a stonewall.
The time of extremity was God’s opportunity. Is there anything too hard for Jehovah? “Nothing but quite impossible, is hard.” “God is terrible out of his holy places,” says the psalmist. He speaks, and it is done; he commands, and it stands fast. “Pompey boasted,” said one, “that with one stamp of his foot he could raise all Italy in arms; but God, with one word of his mouth, could raise, not all Italy only, but all heaven.” He is wonderful in working. He humbles human pride, and secures his own glory, by rendering our plans and efforts useless for a time, and bringing about his purposes by the humblest and weakest instrumentality. One of our company, a minister, in the course of his visitations from house to house, thought proper to extend his visits of mercy to a blacksmith’s shop, in which were several men at work; most of whom were very wicked; the voice of profane swearing often sounded out from it horribly. One of the young men was shoeing a horse when our friend entered, and did not observe his approach. He suddenly advanced, and whispered sharply in the ear of the busy sinner, “You must have your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace.” The man was taken by surprise, as much, perhaps, as if the horse had struck him. He hastily raised his head, discovered the author of this strange salute, dropped it again, muttered something, and fell a hammering a nail into the shoe violently. The word was a nail fastened in a sure place. The Spirit of God was there, and drove it into the sinner’s heart. The minister left the shop without saying any more. That night the man mingled with the crowd who entered the church, and, at the close of the sermon presented himself as a distressed and condemned sinner, soliciting “prayer and help.” A number of others, quite as unhappy as himself, were soon by his side, when they all raised their cry together, “Lord have mercy!” This was the hour of our triumph. Now we witnessed a scene, which repaid us for all our toil. The young smith, with many more, obtained salvation the same evening. From that night the work of God went on in majesty and power.
It was now, and from this time, that we saw those great truths, which other ministers were contented to preach from Sabbath to Sabbath, and from year to year, without beholding any visible effects, invested with a potency which was, indeed, glorious, mighty, and almost irresistible. The moment a sinner came within range of its influence, he was affected. Many a stout and stubborn adversary was felled to the ground, and roared for mercy, as if he was going quickly into hell. We had evidence before our eyes, the most convincing, that if the people of God set their hearts upon a revival, and use the proper means, they cannot fail to obtain their desire. Their feebleness, in every worldly sense in which the term may be used, will be no obstacle. If they depend upon the aid of the Holy Ghost, fast and pray, and employ every other method authorized in the word of God, earth and hell combined cannot hinder a revival. The prayer must prevail: -
“Like mighty winds and torrents fierce,
Let it opposers all o’errun,
And every law of sin reverse.” -
Let the ministers of any particular church trample under foot that silly objection, that extraordinary means will throw discredit upon the ordinary. Rather let them decide, that the former, if successful, must, in the nature of the case, confer honour upon the ordinary services. Uncommon efforts, justify, to the fullest extent, those endeavours, which are put forth in the common services of the sanctuary; but that they do impart a significancy and a power to the regular services of the future, is now a fact well attested. Let them, then, break boldly through, and no more confine themselves to the limits of Sabbath preaching, but take a firm stand before the congregation in reference to a revival. The doors of the house of God must be thrown open for daily and nightly preaching. Let them be simple of heart, and aim at one thing, the conversion of sinners. Ordinary sermons, however, they must know, will not be suitable for such services, unless they desire to preach to empty pews. Extraordinary plans and movements will demand an extraordinary kind of preaching. We do not expect to see snow in harvest; nor the sea, smooth as glass, and calm as a fishpond, when a storm is out upon its surface. I need not multiply words or figures. You know what I mean. I would recommend the style of preaching, and means, which I have hinted at in this letter when describing our efforts for the great revival in question. If the people of God unite with their ministers, and encourage them by their presence and prayers, while they are preaching fearlessly, vigorously, and pointedly, those great truths likely to awaken and convert men, the arm of God will soon be made bare in a great revival. I would urge the continuation of the meeting for weeks, with or without success. Whether the congregations are large or small, I would continue the meetings. Though sinners were as wicked as devils, and as hard and senseless, or stupid, as the seats of the chapel, I would continue the meetings, and preach on, every night, with an undying trust in the promises of God. Magna est veritas et praevalebit, -Great is truth, and it shall prevail. Let them thus go on repeating the blow, “Victory or death,” and they shall see a revival; such a turning to God, such an in-gathering of souls to the fold of Christ, as will gladden the hearts of all who believe; while the scene will spread a tide of holy joy over all the inhabitants of heaven. Luke xv. 10.
WE are now approaching a fact in Mr. Caughey’s experience, of deep and affecting interest. We are about to witness him listening to a solemn call from God, which is to utterly change the sphere of his action, to cast him as a pilgrim on the shores of another land, and to affect the destiny of thousands. The opinion of the reader concerning the exercises about to be described will depend on the character of his pre-existing views of divine operations on the human heart. If he possesses exalted faith, if his mind is spiritualised by devotion, if he has a soul tutored by the Spirit to that child-like simplicity, so earnestly required by Jesus Christ, he will readily give credence to Mr. Caughey’s statements, and admire that sublime obedience which led him, in the spirit of Abraham, to leave his home, to abandon the sphere of his present usefulness, simply, because God required it!
But if his heart is more alive to the voices that come from without, than to the “still, small voice” within; if he has more faith in the visible than in the invisible; if he is a disbeliever in the subjective operations of the Spirit of God on the human soul; he will probably read with a cold, questioning incredulity. But let him remember, that many great and pious men have had a firm belief in the subjective influences of the Spirit. Wesley, Fletcher, Edwards, Luther, Doddridge, Bunyan, and many other greatly good men, would readily have sympathized with such impressions as those of Mr. C.; where, as in his case, they were preceded by the steady enjoyment of holiness, by a life of prayer, and attended by outward Providences corresponding with and confirming the inward impressions. As long as it stands recorded in the Bible, that the Spirit directed Philip and Peter and Paul, that Christ pledged that Spirit for the guidance of his disciples, and especially of his ministers, there can be no room to doubt the possibility of such impressions. The proofs of their genuineness in individuals must be sought in their fruits. To this test we shall see those of Mr. Caughey submitted; and by their fruits, the reader will, we think, be compelled to admit their supernatural origin. But we will let Mr. Caughey speak for himself in the following striking portions of his correspondence; he says to an inquiring friend:
I cannot say I have any serious objections against relating to you the circumstances which led me to this singular decision. I would have done so in my last; but I felt a hesitancy to tell you, in the simplicity of my heart, those severe exercises of mind connected with it. I knew your cool and metaphysical turn of mind so well, that I feared to open a new field for your speculative genius. It is likely my simple story will excite your incredulity more than ever. “Strange,” you will say, “that a man of sense, and a minister of God, should suffer himself, for such a small affair, to be tossed like a ball into a far country; or, that he should suppose such great effects would be connected with such insignificant causes; that the infinite God should stoop to bring about such important events from means so small and paltry!”
To this I answer, Man always proportions his means to his ends. He seeks to accomplish great designs by great means. With him, the cause must always be commensurate with the intended effects. On the contrary, God has ever delighted to humble the pride of man, by bringing about the greatest events by the smallest instrumentality. When disposed to smile at the trivial matter which arrested my mind, and which prepared it to take such an unusual course, I wish you would reflect on that verse you have heard me repeat, and which you so much admire: -
“A pebble in the streamlet scant,
Has turned the course of many a river;
A dew-drop on the baby plant,
Has warped the giant oak forever.”
You will remember our Conference of 1839, was held in the city of Schenectady, N. Y. That year I was appointed to Whitehall, N. Y. Shortly after, I had my library and study furniture forwarded to my station. It was then I began seriously to reflect upon the propriety of choosing a wife, believing that “marriage is honourable in all men.” I had travelled a number of years, studied hard, and expended all my time and strength in winning souls to Christ. My brethren approved of my intention. But while indulging in this purpose, for some reasons I could not explain, my heart became very hard. The Lord seemed to depart from me; and that countenance, which so often beamed upon me from above, and had daily, for many years, brightened my soul into rapturous joy, appeared now to be mantled in the thickest gloom.
The more I reflected thus, “I can see no good reason why I should be singular among my brethren, nor continue to lead this solitary life,” my heart became harder, and my darkness increased. I was soon involved in a variety of evil reasonings. My will seemed to be in a conflict with something invisible. God, who had honoured me with such intimate communion with himself since my conversion, apparently left me to battle it out alone. So it appeared to me then; but now I see God himself was contending with me. I was about to step out of the order of his providence; and he was resolved to prevent it, unless I should refuse to understand why he thus resisted me. Had I continued the conflict, I believe he would have let me take my own course; nor would he have cast me off; yet I solemnly feel, he would have severely chastised my disobedience.
My distress and gloom were so great; I could not unpack my library, nor arrange my study. I began to reflect most solemnly upon my unhappy state of mind, and became more concerned to regain my former peace and joy in God, than to obtain any temporal blessing whatever. The world was a blank, a bleak and howling wilderness, to my soul, without the smiles of my Saviour. In fact, that I could not live, but must wither away from the face of the earth, without his comforting and satisfying Presence. Like a well-chastised son, I came back to the feet of my heavenly Father, and with many tears I besought him to reveal his face to my soul; that if my purposes were crossing his, to show me; and whatever was his will, I would at once, by his help, yield my soul unto it. “Lord God,” I said, “if my will crosses thy will, then my will must be wrong; for thine cannot but be right.” Now I cared not what he commanded me to do, or to leave undone; I stood ready to obey. I felt assured, clear light from God on some points would soon reach my soul; and I was fully prepared for it; but I no more expected such an order as came soon after, than I expected he would command me to fly upward and preach the gospel in another planet. During three days I cried to God, without any answer. On the third day, in the afternoon, I obtained an audience with the Lord. The place was almost as lonely as Sinai, where Moses, saw the burning bush. It was under open sky, a considerable distance from the habitations of men; steep rocks and mountains, deep forests, and venomous reptiles surrounded me. Here, and in a moment, the following passage was given me to plead: “And the Lord descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord. And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty.” Exod. xxxiv. 5-7. I took hold of this; many of the words were as fire, and as a hammer to break the rocks in pieces before the Lord. The fountains of tears were opened, and the great deep of my heart was broken up. I left the place, however, without receiving any light; but my heart was fully softened and subdued, and I felt assured I had prevailed in some way with God. I was confidant light and directions were coming; but of what nature I could not tell.
This was on the 9th of July 1839. The same evening, about twilight, eternal glory be to God I when reading in a small room adjoining my study, a light, as I conceived from heaven, reached me. My soul was singularly calmed and warmed by a strange visitation. In the moment I recognised the change; the following, in substance, was spoken to my heart; but in a manner, and with rapidity, I cannot possibly describe. Every ray of divine glory seemed to be a word that the eye of my soul could read, a sentence which my judgment could perceive and understand: “These matters which trouble thee, must be let entirely alone. The will of God is, that thou shouldst visit. Europe. He shall be with thee there, and give thee many seals to thy ministry. He has provided thee with funds. Make thy arrangements accordingly; and next Conference, ask liberty from the proper authorities, and it shall be granted thee. Visit Canada first; when this is done, sail for England. God shall be with thee there, and thou shalt have no want in all thy journeyings; and thou shalt be brought back in safety again to America.”
The above is far beneath the dignity and grandeur of the impression. It came in a way, which left no room for a doubt. A heavenly calm, a powerful persuasion, and an intense glow of divine love, accompanied the whole. It was like the breaking forth of the noon-day sun at midnight. I fell upon my knees before the Lord, my whole mind consenting to the orders, which I believed had come from heaven. Oh! The sweetness of that communion I then enjoyed with God! My sky was cloudless. My rest of soul unutterable, the meaning of many past providences was now explained. The possession of a few hundreds of dollars had often made me very uneasy. I doubted the propriety of laying up treasure on earth. The cause of missions stood in need of what I possessed, but still I was restrained. Now I clearly saw that God had provided me with these funds, in order to make me willing to obey the call, and to save me from embarrassment in my travels. I could perceive a special reason, why I had pressed forward in my studies for so many years, and why revival texts and sermons had occupied so much of my time; -God had been thus preparing me for a few campaigns in Europe.
I arose from my knees under a strong conviction that God had called me to take this tour. Letters were written immediately to Canada, etc. The next day my soul was calm and happy. My books were unpacked, and everything in my study arranged with a glad heart and free. Eleven months were before me, to criticise the impressions on my soul. With delight I commenced my pastoral work, visited from house to house, and had the pleasure of seeing a most powerful revival of religion in my circuit. During this period, not the least wish entered my heart to form any connection or engagement whatever, that would entangle or hinder me from fulfilling, what I conceived to be, the high and solemn commission I had received from the Lord. I continued to resign the whole matter to God, entreating him to overrule all to his glory, and to hedge up my way, if it were not his will I should leave America.
The time for the sitting of Conference arrived. With solemn feelings I took my seat with my brethren. They were never dearer to my heart than now. At a proper time, I presented my request to the Bishop. He made no objections, but immediately proposed it to the Conference. After a few moments deliberation, they seemed to have but one mind on the subject; that I should have liberty to visit Europe. A resolution to that effect was passed, and that my name should continue to appear as usual on the printed minutes. One of the chief men of the Conference then arose, and said, “having permitted Brother Caughey to visit Europe, it is our duty to make his visit to those countries as pleasant to himself as it is in our power. I therefore propose, that he have a recommendation from this body to the Wesleyan Connection in Great Britain and Ireland, signed by the Bishop and Secretary of Conference.” Adding, “He will then appear among our brethren on the other side of the Atlantic, as an accredited Minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church in America,”
This proposal was immediately acceded to, and submitted to the Bishop. He replied, that he had no objections, and requested me to wait upon him at his lodgings. I did so. He entered into conversation with the freedom and tenderness of a father. Never before did I see such majesty, connected with extreme age. His hair, white as snow, fell in graceful locks upon his shoulders; and his masculine mind, unimpaired by years, shone forth in company with a deep and glowing piety. I thought of St. Paul, of John, of one of the old patriarchs. I loved, admired, and reverenced him. After an interview of half an hour, in which the Bishop appeared to be greatly interested, he presented me with the following document: -
“MIDDLEBURY, VT. June 24, 1840.
“Brother James Caughey having asked permission of the Conference, to visit his friends residing in Europe, -
“On motion, it was resolved, That Brother Caughey’s request be granted, and that he be so returned on the minutes.
“And it is hereby certified, that the said J. Caughey is in good standing in the Troy Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, in the United States of America; and, as such, is cordially commended to the Christian fellowship of the Wesleyan Methodist Connection in Great Britain and Ireland.
“R. R. ROBERTS, President.
“J. B. HOUGHTALING, Secretary.
I have thus, in the simplicity of my heart, related to you my singular experience, and the circumstances, which led me to take the course I have taken.
These great changes in Mr. Caughey’s history, caused by such supernatural experiences, were not rushed upon without a clear perception and due consideration of the difficulties they involved, as the following extract of a letter to a friend, who had written him on this point, will show:
I think I feel the full weight of every question you have proposed. I have set them down carefully, one by one, that you may see they have all arrested my attention; and that, writing them off, and having them before my eyes, I might be affected by them, and answer them most sincerely. I am not aware, however, that they have created the least uneasiness, or in any degree shaken the purpose of my heart. My call to visit Europe seems quite as clear as to preach the gospel. It does seem -
“A part of my being beyond my control.”
I candidly admit that there is a thick mist spread over my usefulness on the other side; but sometimes, through the haze, I can see great multitudes of sinners coming home to God through my instrumentality. I have also a solemn impression, that the salvation, or damnation of thousands, may depend upon whether I obey or reject the call. I may also add, my impression is constant that if I refuse to go, God will permit many troubles to come upon me in America, and that I shall, through future life, be ever after sorry I did not obey.
Mr. Caughey’s convictions of the reality of his divine call seem never to have faded, nor did his confidence in their genuineness fail him, as will appear by the following passage in another of his letters. He says:
I remember walking one afternoon in a retired spot, some months before I sailed for Europe. It had been named Providence Path, because there I had prevailed with God in a time of great distress connected with my present tour. All the past providences of the Lord, and manifestations to my soul, came up before my mind in a manner similar to that part of Ezekiel’s vision: “The appearance of wheels -and their work was as it were a wheel in the middle of a wheel.” I saw how one wheel had worked into another, and started a third, and fourth, and so on till the great wheel for Europe was set in slow motion. Beyond this wheel I could not see. Then there were small wheels within wheels, but all working, Rom. viii. 28, and contributing to the great events of my life. I could name every wheel, and the results it produced upon the one it set in motion. I wondered, admired, and adored. Before leaving the favourite walk, I traced the whole gently upon the bark of a tree; but in my absence some rogue came, cut it down, and carried it off, I knew not whither. My diagrams I hoped might remain till I returned from Europe, when, perhaps, a few more wheels might be added. They are, however, too deeply traced upon my memory ever to be obliterated in time or eternity.
The following extract from another letter will show how carefully Mr. Caughey analysed his mental operations. He did not grasp his impressions blindly, hastily, or carelessly, but with solemn and serious care, sought to discern what was human and what was divine in his feelings. On this point he writes:
To your inquiry, “Did you feel condemnation on account of sin during your trials in July, 1839?” I answer, No. I felt no condemnation, though perhaps I deserved it. But a restraint was upon me, which greatly distressed my soul; and when I began to suspect, that the step might be contrary to the will of God, I felt worse and worse. The conflicting arguments for and against drew me out of my rest in God. I had arisen to transact my own concerns in my own way, and being unhinged from my centre, I was discontented and unhappy. There is, however, a mystery about those deep exercises, which I fear to explain, lest it would seem to contradict the reproach I have cast upon myself. I have seriously doubted, whether I should have entertained the call to visit Europe, for a single moment, had I not been previously prepared by those mental troubles. As it was, I gladly accepted any proposition, which would relieve me from my sore conflicts, and bring again to my heart the comforting presence of God. But then God could have ordered another kind of discipline to prepare me for obedience, though my foolish heart had wandered from him. As it was, if God did design to send me on this errand of mercy, it became necessary, I think, in this juncture of my history, that I should know it; and when it could be no longer concealed from me, without endangering the whole, the Lord then revealed his will. Here I must leave it for the present. The present I know; the past also; but the future is a dark unknown.
“If light attends the course I run,
‘Tis he provides these rays;
And ‘tis his hand that veils my sun
If darkness clouds my days.”
Letter from J. Caughey on Impressions, Revelations, & etc.
Chapter 1. The Introductory
Chapter 2. The Anointing
Chapter 3. The Preparation and the Conflict
Chapter 4. The Test of Revival Principles
Chapter 5. The Call of the Spirit
Chapter 6. First Fruits
Chapter 7. Revival Scenes in Lower Canada
Chapter 8. Halifax and the Voyage Thither
Chapter 9. The Atlantic Voyage
Chapter 10. The Denouement
Chapter 11. Ten Weeks in Limerick
Chapter 12. Visit to Cork
Chapter 13. Experiences and Incidents in Cork and Bandon
Chapter 14. Mr. Caughey in England
Chapter 15. Arguments with the Enemies of Revivals
Chapter 16. Inquiries, Anecdotes, and Closing Labours in Liverpool
Chapter 17. Great Revival in Leeds
Chapter 18. The Offended Hearer
Chapter 19. Rambles Around Leeds
Chapter 20. Glorious Work of God in Hull
Chapter 21. Scenes and Incidents of the Hull Revival
Chapter 22. Displays of Divine Glory in Sheffield
Chapter 23. Concluding Incidents in Sheffield
Chapter 24. Close of Mr. Caughey's Labours in England
Chapter 25. The Voyage Home