Kate Drew has done an excellent job of presenting an overview of a medley of revivals between the years 1626 and 1924 ranging from well-known national movements like the Ulster revival, the ministry of individual revivalists like C. G. Finney and local church revivals like that experienced at Charlotte Street Baptist Church, Edinburgh under the ministry of Joseph Kemp.
This is a little-known gem, ideal for introducing the subject of revival to those who have little knowledge of the great works of God in history. It has 27 short chapters but covers a whole spectrum of revivals across the ages.
We have included 6 of the 27 chapters.
KING JAMES I. did his utmost for about twenty years to establish uniformity of worship in England and Scotland, and to destroy the freedom of the Kirk. Charles I. continued his father’s work, but at the commencement of his reign, (1625) when God-fearing men were continually harassed, preaching had almost ceased, and the dominant spirit was one of legal formalism, Dickson of Irvine was permitted to return to the parish from which he had been banished, and a remarkable revival immediately broke out. An irresistible power accompanied his message, and for five years few Sabbaths passed without numbers being converted. “The power of godliness,” says Robert Fleming, “ like a spreading moor-burn did advance from one place to another, which put a marvelous lustre on those parts of the country (Stewarton and Irvine), the Savior whereof brought many from other parts of the land to see its truth.”
This movement stirred up the spirit of prayer and was followed by a second and more memorable revival in 1630. In June of that year a conference which included several of the persecuted ministers assembled at Shotts, on the Clyde. A vast concourse of godly persons gathered on this occasion from all quarters of the country, and several days were spent in social prayer preparatory to the service, the Communion being fixed for June 20. So rich a blessing was granted on that day that the assembly, instead of retiring to rest, divided into little bands and spent the whole night in supplication and praise. The Monday was consecrated to thanksgiving, a practice not then common, and proved the great day of the feast.
After much entreaty John Livingston, chaplain to the Countess of Wigtown, consented to preach. He spent the night with one of these praying bands, but in the morning his heart failed him at the thought of his youth and insufficiency, and he stole quietly away across the fields hoping to escape observation. As he directed a last glance at the Kirk of Shotts in the distance, a Voice spoke in his ear: “Have I been a wilderness unto Israel? A land of darkness?” (Jer. II. 31.) The Message came with a force, which compelled him to return to the work. Then God perfected His strength in His servant’s weakness. For an hour and a half Livingston expounded Ezekiel XXXVI. 25-6, “Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you.’’
In later life Livingston spoke of this as the day wherein he enjoyed most of the presence of God in public. “ In the end, offering to close with some words of exhortation, I was led on about an hour’s time in a strain of exhortation and warning, with such liberty and melting of heart as I never had the like in public all my life.’’
Robert Fleming (“The Fulfilling of Scripture’’) says: “ On this occasion there was so convincing an appearance of God and down-pouring of the Spirit in an extraordinary way, with a strange, unusual motion on the hearers, who in a giant multitude were there convened of divers ranks, that it was known that near five hundred had at that time a discernible change wrought on them, of whom most proved lively Christians afterwards. It was the sowing of a seed through Clydesdale, so as many of most eminent Christians in that country could date either their conversion or some remarkable confirmation in their case from that day.”
(It is an illustration of revival being linked to revival that at the great meeting at Kilsyth, of which place Livingston was a native, on July 23, 1839, William Chalmers Burns, preaching on Psalm CX. 3, retold the story of the Kirk of Shotts and pressed immediate acceptance of Christ. “ I felt my own soul moved in a manner so remarkable,’’ said Burns, “ that I was led, like Mr. Livingston, to plead with the unconverted instantly to close with God’s offer of mercy. The power of the Lord’s Spirit became so mighty upon their souls as to carry all before it, like the “ rushing mighty wind’’ of Pentecost. Some were screaming out in agony: others, and among these strong men, fell to the ground as if they had been dead. I was obliged to give out a Psalm: our voices being mingled with the mourning groans of many prisoners sighing for deliverance.” [Finney. ‘‘Lectures on Revivals,” p. 62, note.])
At the date of the revival at Shotts a venerable minister, Mr. Robert Bruce, lived in retirement at Edinburgh, and through weakness kept his chamber. ‘‘ A little before his death,’’ says Fleming, “ there was a meeting of divers godly ministers at that time there on some special ground of the church’s concernment, who, hearing he was in the town, came together and gave him an account of the actings of those times, the Prelates then designing the service book. After which Mr. Bruce prayed, and did therein tell over again to the Lord the very substance of their discourse, which was a sad representation of the case of the Church: at which time there was such an extraordinary motion on all present, so sensible a down-pouring of the Spirit, that they could hardly contain themselves: yea, which was most strange, even some unusual motion on those who were in other parts of the house not knowing the cause at that very instant. One Mr. Weemes of Lothaker being then present, when he went away said, O how strange a man is this, for he knocked down the Spirit of God on us all!’’ This he said because Mr. Bruce did divers times knock with his fingers on the table. I had this from a worthy Christian gentleman in whose mother’s house this was.’’
[‘‘The Filling of Scripture,’’ p. 360.]
On this subject Fleming remarks ‘‘It is undeniable how great a witness to the Truth the Spirit, and downpouring thereof is: for this is God’s own seal, which is not put to a lie or falsehood. Thus He bears witness to His work in the hearts of His people, and by this also the Lord doth seal and attest the doctrine of the church and commission of His servants who publish the same. Yea, at some special seasons when the Truth hath least countenance or encouragement from without: times of contradiction, when men will not receive its testimony, and a great spate of opposition is to the Gospel, then hath this in a more full and large measure been discernible.”
There is an instance of this in the life of Robert Garnock, executed with five others for “constumacv’’ and faithfulness to the Covenant in I68I. He had been stedfast from early youth, and has himself recorded: ‘‘ The Lord was kind to me then, and His love was better than life. I was tossed in my wanderings and banishment with many ups and downs till I came to Edinburgh, where I heard of a Communion to be on the borders of England, and then I went to it. Oh, let me bless the Lord that ever trysted me with such a lot as that was: for the 20th, 21st, and 22nd of April, 1677, were the three most wonderful days with the Lord’s presence that ever I saw on earth. Oh, but His power was wonderfully seen and great to all the assembly, especially to me. Oh, the three wonderful days of the Lord’s presence at East Nisbet in the Merse; that was the greatest Communion, I suppose, these twenty years; I got there what I will never forget while I live. Glory to His sweet name that ever there was such a day in Scotland; His work was wonderful to me both in spirituals and temporals; oh, that I could get Him praised and magnified for it. He was seen that day sitting at the head of His table, and His spikenard ‘sending forth a pleasant smell.’ Both good and bad were made to cry out, and some to say with the disciples, ‘It is good for us to be here.’ They would have been content to have stayed there, and I thought it was a heaven begun to be in that place.’’ [“The Scots Worthies,” p. 460.]
It was in the strength of such spiritual manifestations as these that the Covenanters withstood the fifty years’ persecution at the hands of the Prelates, Court and King. They fought for right principles and were ultimately victorious: they helped to procure the blessings of religious freedom and civil liberty which we now possess.
AT first sight the Quaker might seem to have little in common with his contemporary, the Covenanter, yet in each case there was the same fidelity to principle, the same courageous defence of Truth, the same patience under suffering and, in the end, the same victory. There was also the same divine recognition in evident manifestations of the power of the Spirit to the individual and in the assembly.
George Fox was called to his public ministry in 1648. In that year, he records in his ‘‘Journal,” ‘‘As I was sitting in a friend’s house in Nottinghamshire (for by this time the power of God had opened the hearts of some to receive the word of life and reconciliation) I saw that there was a great crack to go throughout the earth, and a great smoke to go as the crack went: and that after the crack there should be a great shaking: that this was the earth in people’s hearts, which was to be shaken before the seed of God was raised out of the earth. And it was so; for the Lord’s power began to shake them, and great meetings we began to have, and a mighty power and work of God there was among people, to the astonishment of both people and priests.
I went to Mansfield, where was a great meeting of professors and people: here I was moved to pray, and the Lord’s power was so great that the house seemed to be shaken. When I had done, some of the professors said it was now as in the days of the Apostles, when the house was shaken where they were.’’
(Later date.) The Lord’s power was wonderfully manifested both in Mansfield and other neighbouring towns. In Derbyshire the mighty power of God wrought in a wonderful manner. At Eaton, a town near Derby, there was a meeting of friends where there was such a mighty power of God that they were greatly shaken, and many mouths were opened in the power of the Lord God.”
The biographies of early Friends contain many references to manifestations of the Holy Spirit at their meetings. Thus encouraged they bore “ trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, of bonds and imprisonment in defence of the Truth.” After the Restoration they stood up openly, almost alone among Dissenters, for religious liberty by continuing to meet in public, despite the severity of the law, in their old meeting-houses, or on the sites of them when they had been pulled down. Thus they helped, at great cost to themselves most cheerfully borne, to secure the freedom which we enjoy at this day.
IN 1722 a number of persecuted Bohemians who had maintained the faith of their fathers under Romanist domination fled from their country to find a refuge on the estate of Count Zinzendorf in Saxony, where many Moravians joined them. They were received in a spirit of true Christian generosity and given every assistance needed under circumstances of severe trial.
At the end of five years of somewhat chequered experiences and some difficulties among themselves, the Brethren reconstituted their ancient Episcopal Church and agreed to live in the unity of the Spirit and the bond of peace in accordance with the statutes drawn up by Count Zinzendorf. This decision was arrived at in May, 1727. The immediate result was revival, which lasted throughout the summer with increasing spiritual intensity. All hearts were changed: love took the place of discord, and united prayer was continually offered.
An atmosphere was thus created at Herrnhut similar to that which prepared the Disciples for Pentecost, and when the time was fully come, the Fire fell. The historian, J. E. Hutton, now speaks for himself: — *[I am indebted to the Rev. W. Y. Fullerton for this passage from Hutton.]
It is Wednesday, August 13, and the leaves in Berthelsdorf are beginning to fall. With their hearts stirred by recent events, with a feeling of unutterable awe, the people of Herrnhut walk together down the long shady avenue to take the Holy Communion in Berthelsdorf church. They enter the building: the service begins: the sacred Bread is taken and the words of the Lord are repeated. Suddenly every man and woman present is thrilled by a Force which none can understand, and which binds them together in a Christian fellowship that no earthly power shall break. Pastor Rothe feels that force: Count Zinzendorf feels it. All look at one another and ask, What may this mean? And the answer in each heart is given: It is the Holy Ghost! It is the Spirit that guided our fathers! It is another Pentecost! We are linked together as servants of our Lord, and nought shall part us more. ‘ We learned,’ said the Brethren, ‘to love’ —to love each other and to love Christ.
As the Brethren returned to Herrnhut they felt within them a strength and a joy such as they had never known before. One and all they agreed on a system of hourly prayer, that what God had that day given them might never be lost. From that moment every day was mapped out as a day of prayer; each brother or sister took his or her turn, not an hour was left vacant. Henceforward Herrnhut should in very deed be ‘The Watch of the Lord.’ Henceforward there should burn day and night the sacred watch-fire of prayer, which should warm all hearts and terrify all secret foes, and make God the constant Guest at every hearth.”
The Spirit of God thus baptised the Brethren into one body, and filled them with a passion to execute the Saviour’s great commission and let all mankind know of His Cross and of His salvation. Here,’’ says Bishop Hassé, ‘‘is the beginning of the whole modern missionary movement, and it was in furtherance of this that the Moravians first came to England . . . only, so far as they knew, as passengers to lands lying far beyond the ocean. But God had a work for them to do here in England of which they themselves were so far quite ignorant.”
BY means of the Moravians the awakened religious forces of’ Germany were brought into personal touch with England; and the meeting of John Wesley with Peter Bohier on February 7, 1738, made that a “day to be much remembered,” as Wesley wrote of it in his Journal. Bohier’s pure Gospel preaching brought new light into the religious life of our land, for, in Hutton’s words, “This proved to be the commencement of true Evangelical preaching in England.”
Its adoption by John Wesley brought upon him the censure of the ecclesiastical authorities of his time, and at the close of 1738 he was almost uniformly excluded from the pulpits of the Established Church. But a Higher Power was in his favour, and on the Watch-night of 1739 Methodism had its Pentecost. He thus records it: —
Mr. Hall, Kinchin, lngham, Whitefield and my brother Charles were present at our Love-feast, with about sixty of our brethren (Moravians). About three in the morning, as we were continuing instant in prayer, the power of God came mightily amongst us: insomuch that many cried out with exceeding joy and many fell to the ground. As soon as we were recovered a little from that awe and amazement at the Presence of His Majesty we broke out with one voice, “ We praise Thee, O God: we acknowledge Thee to be the Lord!
From that night Whitefield said that when he preached it seemed as if rivers of living water were flowing from him as he proclaimed the Gospel to the people. This he did in the open air at Kings-wood, being shut out of the Bristol churches. John Wesley followed his friend’s example in April, 1739, thus commencing the great evangelistic work of his life, and with it that mighty revival which has been a power for good throughout the world from that day until now.
Wesley’s preachers carried the Fire wherever they went. The work of God was advancing rapidly in America when, at the Conference of 1771, he appointed Thomas Rankin to go thither as Superintendent of the whole. On his arrival Rankin prayed: — As I am now, by the providence of God, called to labour for a season on this continent, do Thou, O Holy One of Israel, stand by Thy weak and ignorant servant! Show Thyself glorious in power and in divine majesty. Let Thine arm be made bare and stretched out to save, so that wonders and signs may be done in the name of The holy Child Jesus.”
This apostolic prayer was fully answered.
In November, 1774, at Philadelphia, the Society held a Love-feast, at which the power of the Lord descended mightily. “All the preachers were so overcome with the Divine Presence that they could scarce address the people; but only in broken accents saying, is none other than the house of God and the gate of heaven! “ When any of the people stood up to declare the loving kindness of God, they were so overwhelmed with the Divine presence that they were obliged to sit down and let silence speak His praise. Near the close of our meeting I stood up and called upon the poor people to look towards that part of the chapel where all the blacks were. I then said, See the number of the black Africans who have stretched out their hands and hearts to God! While I was addressing the people thus, it seemed as if the very house shook with the mighty power and glory of Sinai’s God. Many of the people were so overcome that they were ready to faint and die under His almighty hand. For about three hours the gale of the Spirit thus continued to breathe upon the dry bones; and they did live the life of glorious love! As for myself, I scarcely knew whether I was in the body or not; and so it was with all my brethren. We did not know how to break up the meeting or part asunder. Surely the fruits of this season will remain to all eternity.’’
Another entry in Thomas Rankin’s journal, under date June 30, 1776: —
I preached (at Leesburgh) from Rev. III. 8. Towards the close of the sermon I found an uncommon struggle in my breast, and in the twinkling of an eye my soul was so filled with the power and love of God that I could scarce get out my words. I scarce had spoken two sentences while under this amazing influence before the very house seemed to shake, and all the people were overcome with the presence of the Lord God of Israel. Such a scene my eyes saw and ears heard as I never was witness to before. Through the mercy and goodness of God I had seen many glorious displays of the arm of the Lord in the different parts of His vineyard, where His providence had called me to labour; but such a time as this I never, never beheld. Numbers were calling aloud for mercy and many were mightily praising God their Saviour, while others were in an agony for full redemption in the blood of Jesus. Soon, very soon, my voice was drowned amidst the pleasing sounds of prayer and praise. Husbands were inviting their wives to go to heaven with them, and parents calling upon their children to come to the Lord Jesus; and what was peculiarly affecting, I observed in the gallery appropriated for the black people, almost the whole of them upon their knees: some for themselves and others for their distressed companions. In short, look where we would, all was wonder and amazement. As my strength was almost gone, I desired Brother Shadford to speak a few words to them. He attempted so to do, but was so overcome with the Divine Presence that he was obliged to sit down; and this was the case, both with him and myself, over and over again. We could only sit still and let the Lord do His own work. For upwards of two hours the mighty outpouring of the Spirit of God continued upon the congregation. As many of them had come from afar, we, with the greatest difficulty and most earnest persuasions got them to depart between seven and eight o’clock in the evening.
Such a day of the Son of Man my eyes never beheld before. From the best accounts we could receive afterwards, upwards of fifty were awakened and brought to the knowledge of a pardoning God that day: besides many who were enabled to witness that the blood of Jesus had cleansed them from all sin.’’
We pass on, not for want of material, but from lack of space to continue these representative incidents, to see the Fire burning quite as brightly in Methodism fifty years later.
William Carvosso, a devoted Cornish evangelist, left the following record in his autobiography. (When staying at Saltash on his circuit as local preacher in the summer of 1820): — Never shall I forget a meeting we had one night at Mr. Tasker’s. Himself, his wife and two pious young men came together to talk about the deep things of God. After I had pointed out to them their privilege to be pure in heart, and the way to attain it, we went to prayer, and the Lord opened the windows of heaven and poured out such a blessing that there was scarce room to contain it. It was some time before anything could be uttered but: ‘‘ Glory, glory, glory!’’
From that period they all four bore witness that the blood of Jesus Christ had cleansed them from all sin. I have since received a letter from one of them informing me that they all retain their confidence and are going on their way rejoicing, giving glory to God.”
Carvosso’s son continues the story: “The happy effects produced at this social meeting were as permanent as they were glorious. With two of the party my father held a close correspondence till near the time of his death. Many of their numerous letters are of no common quality. After the lapse of ten or twelve years I find they had all as lively and as grateful a remembrance of this overpowering visitation of the Holy Spirit as when the letter was written which my father mentions. Two of them are local preachers: from one of these I have just received a letter. After giving an interesting account of the meeting, of my father’s conversation with them, and of the four lepers being cleansed at once,” he adds, “In the best sense of the word we were now new creatures: and we went forth with an increase of both light and heat. While the Spirit took of the things of Christ and revealed them unto us, the love of Christ continued to fill our enlarged hearts, and prepared us either to do or suffer the will of God. We became more happy and more useful, and, what is matter of highest praise to Him who hath loved us and washed us from our sins, we all continue to hold fast our possessions to the present day. Our joy indeed often varies, but we have learned that the possession of inward holiness is retained not by joy, but by faith. Therefore we still go on our way singing, with one who is gone before us,
I can, I do, believe in Thee:
All things are possible to me.”
[Life, p. 116-17.]
CHARLES G. FINNEY, of Adams, N.Y., was converted at the age of twenty-nine (1821), and was almost immediately baptised of the Holy Ghost and fully qualified for his long life-service as an evangelist. Having had no regular training for the ministry, he went at first into the new settlements, and began his labours at Evans’s Mills and the village of Antwerp, a few miles off. Here, he tells us, ‘‘ on the third Sabbath an aged man came to me as I was entering the pulpit and asked if I would preach in a school-house in his neighbourhood, saying that they never had any services there. I appointed the next day at five o’clock in the afternoon.
At the appointed hour I found the school-house full; and I could only get a standing place near the open door. I read a hymn and I cannot call it singing: each one bawled in his own way. Their horrible discord distressed me so much that at first I thought I must go out. I finally put both hands over my ears until they were through; and then I cast myself down on my knees almost in a state of desperation, and began to pray. The Lord opened the windows of heaven and the spirit of prayer was poured out, and I let my whole heart out in prayer.
I had taken no thought with regard to a text, but waited to see the congregation. I arose from my knees and said, ‘‘Up, get you out of this place for the Lord will destroy this city.” (The preacher went on to give his hearers an outline of the story of Abraham and Lot; of the wickedness of the Cities of the Plain and of their destruction.) While I was relating these facts I observed the people looking as if they were angry. Many of the men, in their shirt sleeves, looked at each other and at me, as if they were ready to chastise me on the spot.
I could not understand what had offended them. However, it seemed that their anger rose higher and higher as I continued. As soon as I had finished I turned and said, that I had understood that they had never had a religious meeting in that place; and that therefore I had a right to take it for granted that they were an ungodly people. I pressed that home upon them with energy, with my heart full almost to bursting.
I had not spoken in this strain more than a quarter of an hour when an awful solemnity seemed to settle upon them; the congregation began to fall from their seats in every direction and cried for mercy. If I had had a sword in each hand I could not have cut them down as fast as they fell. Nearly the whole congregation were either on their knees or prostrate, I should think, in less than two minutes from this first shock that fell upon them. Everyone prayed who was able to speak at all.
I was obliged to stop preaching, for they no longer paid attention. I saw the old man who had invited me sitting in the middle of the house and looking around with amazement. I raised my voice to make him hear and said, “Can’t you pray?” He instantly fell upon his knees and with a stentorian voice poured himself out to God, but he did not at all get the attention of the people. I then spake as loud as I could, and tried to make them attend. I said, “ You are not in hell yet: and now let me direct you to Christ.” For a few moments I tried to hold forth the Gospel, but scarcely any of them paid attention. My heart was so overflowing with joy that I could scarcely contain myself. It was with much difficulty that I refrained from shouting, and giving glory to God.
As soon as I could control my feelings I turned to a young man close to me, engaged in praying for himself, laid my hand upon his shoulder and preached in his ear Jesus. As soon as I got his attention to the Cross of Christ, he believed, was calm and quiet for a minute or two, then broke out in praying for others. I then turned to another and took the same course with him, with the same result; and then another, and another.
In this way I kept on until I found the time had arrived when I must leave and fulfil an appointment in the village. I told them this, and asked the old man who invited me to take charge of the meeting. But there was too much interest and there were too many wounded souls to dismiss the meeting; and so it was held all night. In the morning there were still those that could not get away; and they were carried to a private house to make room for the school. In the afternoon they sent for me to come, as they could not break up.
When I went down the second time I heard an explanation of the anger manifested during my sermon the day before. The place was called Sodom, but I knew it not. There was but one pious man in the place, and him they called Lot— the old man that invited me. The people supposed I had chosen my subject and preached in that manner because they were so wicked. This was a striking coincidence; but it was altogether accidental.
A few years since I was labouring in Syracuse, in the State of New York. Two gentlemen called upon me; one an elderly man, the other not quite fifty. The younger introduced the elder as Deacon W., elder in his church, saying he had called to give a hundred dollars to Oberlin College. The elder in turn introduced the younger, saying, ''this is my minister, the Rev. Mr. Cross: he was converted under your ministry.’’ Whereupon Mr. Cross said, “Do you remember preaching in Antwerp, in the school-house, in the afternoon, and that such a scene (describing it) occurred there?” I said, ‘‘I remember it very well, and can never forget it while I remember anything.’’ ‘‘Well,’’ said he, ‘‘I was then but a young man, and was converted in that meeting.” He has been for many years a successful minister.
Although that revival came upon them suddenly and was of such a powerful type, the converts were sound and the work genuine. I never heard of any disastrous reaction.” [Life of C. G. Finney, p. 82 - 6.]
The Rev. Asa Mahan, at Cincinatti, Ohio, in 1834: —
“At this time our Methodist brethren held a camp-meeting in the forest. At this meeting the ministry found themselves utterly powerless to move at all the vast congregation before them. After consultation they sent for me, they being aware of the power which God had before given me on such occasions. As I took my stand, on my arrival, in the presence of the vast crowd before me, a consciousness of divine power came over me of which I had never had an experience before. During the progress of the discourse the hearts of the crowd were moved by the power of the truth and of the Spirit as the trees of the wood are moved by the wind. At the close of the discourse sinners of all classes and in astonishing numbers crowded to the places of enquiry. The whole following night was spent by ministers without sleep at all, in directing enquirers to Christ, and a revival of religion occurred which is spoken of by people in the city and all that region to this day. When I witnessed these results this sentiment forced itself upon my mind: ‘‘He always wins who sides with God,’’ and always wins such victories as his heart most desires.
The baptism of power for the conversion of sinners which I received at the camp-meeting was retained when, in the early spring of 1835, I assumed my duties as President of Oberlin College. At the institution, in connection with the labours of Professor Finney and in protracted meetings held by myself, more than one thousand souls were hopefully converted prior to the middle of March of the next year. With very few exceptions these converts evinced by their subsequent lives the genuineness of their conversion.” [‘‘Out of Darkness Into Light,’’ p. 119-20.]
IN that grand old book, “The Fulfilling of the Scripture,” Robert Fleming records a wonderful demonstration of the Spirit in Ulster about the year 1628, which, he says, many grave and solid Christians who were there present witnessed to have been ‘‘a bright and hot sun-blink of the Gospel.’’ Yea,’’ he continues, ‘‘it may with sobriety be said to have been one of the largest manifestations of the Spirit and of the most solemn times of the downpouring thereof that almost since the days of the Apostles hath been seen, where the power of God did sensibly accompany the word with an unusual motion upon the hearers and a very great tack as to the conversion of souls to Christ. The goings of the Lord were then full of majesty and the shout of a King was heard in the solemn meetings of His people, that as a judicious old Christian who was there present did express it, he thought it was like a dazzling beam and ray of God, with such an unusual brightness as even forced bystanders to an astonishment: a very effectual door opened with more than ordinary engagement, which the ministers of Christ there did find in preaching the word, whilst the people might be seen hearing the same in a melting frame with much tenderness of spirit. Surely this was the very power of God, a convincing seal to the truth and ministry of His servants who were then persecuted by the Prelates: yea, a thing which as it was known had an awful impression and was a terror to their adversaries.
I remember amongst other passages what a worthy Christian told me, how sometimes in hearing the word such a power and evidence of the Lord’s presence was with it that he hath been forced to rise, and look through the church and see what the people were doing, thinking from what he felt on his own spirit it was a wonder how any could go away without some change upon them. And then it was sweet and easy for Christians to come 30, 40 miles to these solemn Communions which they had, and there continue from the time they came until they returned, without wearying or making use of sleep, yea, but little either meat or drink, and as some of them professed did not feel the need thereof, but went away most fresh and vigorous, their souls so filled with a sense of God.”
When John Livingston heard of the blessing in Ulster, he went thither, and preached at Holywood on a Communion Sunday. He spent the previous night in prayer with his friends and preached without much preparation, but to such effect that about a thousand souls were either confirmed or converted to God.
In course of time the Fire died down, as any fire will if fresh fuel be not continually added, and during the first half of the nineteenth century a general indifference and deadness reigned throughout the Protestant churches in Ulster.
In Connor, County Antrim, the Rev. J. H. Moore laboured long and faithfully, but with scarcely any result, and his prayer-meeting attendance dwindled down to two persons besides himself. It is in extremities such as these that God finds His opportunities. For all his disappointments, Mr. Moore held on until his patience began to tell on some members of his church, and at last the famous prayer-meeting of four Sunday School teachers met regularly in the old school-house of Kells and poured their hearts out in supplication for Revival.
A stir now began among the dry bones, but for some time the work of the Spirit was confined to a small area. The outer world was indifferent, and the ministers were discouraged by the general apathy which was not even broken by the news of the American Revival of 1857. However, importunate prayer never fails of bringing down a blessing, and at last those who had not given up hope in God were abundantly rewarded. A movement commenced suddenly in 1858, and the awakening spread until, in May, 1859, the mighty power of God was manifested in the important district of Broughshane. The Rev. Archibald Robinson tells the story: —
“It was just before the meeting of Synod that we were visited with a most gracious and abundant outpouring of the Holy Spirit. We had been praying for and expecting some such precious blessing, but were, notwithstanding, taken by surprise: so sudden, powerful and extraordinary were the manifestations of the Spirit’s presence. Persons of every shade of temperament and character were mysteriously affected, overpowered, prostrated and made to pour out the most thrilling, agonizing cries for rnercy. Most of those thus impressed and awakened found peace and comfort in a very short space of time, and then their countenances shone with a sweetness and glory beyond description. Very many of them received a marvellous fluency and power of prayer. A hatred of sin, a love for the Saviour, a zeal for His cause, an affection for one another and an anxiety about perishing sinners took absolute possession of their hearts, and literally ruled and governed their actions.
For about six weeks almost all agricultural operations, and indeed every kind of secular employment, were suspended: no man being able to think of or attend to anything but the interests of his soul. Night and day the sound of praise and prayer never ceased to float upon the air. An overwhelming sense of awe and terror held in check the boldest sinners. I should say about one thousand people were suddenly, sensibly, and powerfully impressed and awakened, while not less than five hundred were silently brought from death unto life, or from a state of stupor and coldness into a state of activity and warmth, and are now (April, 1860) rejoicing in the peace that passeth understanding.”
As in other movements of this order, there was a wonderful work amongst the children, of which a striking instance is given by the Rev. J. Shearer: —-
“The blessing had come to Coleraine, and one day the schoolmaster observed a boy so troubled that he was quite unfit for lessons. He kindly sent him home in the company of an older boy who had already found peace. As the two lads went on their way they saw an empty house and went into it for prayer. While they knelt, the painful burden lifted from the boy’s heart. He sprang to his feet in a transport of joy, and returning to the school, ran up to the master and with a beaming face cried out, “Oh, I am so happy! I have the Lord Jesus in my heart.” The effect of these artless words was very great Boy after boy rose, and silently slipped from the room. In a little while the master followed, and discovered his boys ranged alongside the wall of the playground: every one apart and on his knees. Very soon their silent prayer became a bitter cry. It was heard by those within, and pierced their hearts. They cast themselves upon their knees, and their cry for mercy was heard in the girls’ schoolroom above. In a few moments the whole school was upon its knees, and its wail of distress was heard in the street without. Neighbours and passers by came flocking in, and all, as they crossed the threshold, came under the same convicting power.
Every room was filled with men, women and children, seeking God. The ministers of the town and men of prayer were sent for, and the whole day was spent in directing these mourners to the Lord Jesus. That school proved to be for many the House of God and the very gate of heaven.”
The gracious influence visited place after place, each town and neighbourhood seemingly taken in regular course. All classes and ages caught the heavenly Fire, and the narrative, told by those who took part in the Revival, has helped to confirm the faith of the church in the omnipotent grace and energy of the Holy Spirit, bestowed in answer to persevering prayer.
I. The Covenanters
II. George Fox And The Early Friends
III The Moravians
IV. Early And Later Methodists
V. Charles G. Finney And Rev. Asa Mahan: U.S.A.
VI. The Ulster Revival
VII. A South African Incident
VIII. A Scotch Revival Incident: At Huntley
IX. A Welsh Revival
X. Norwich: Rev. Robert Middleton
XI. Rochester, N.Y.: Rev. J. E. Tiffany
XII Rev. Arthur Handcock: Place Not Named
XIII. Buckenham: Rev. H. Haslam
XIV. Edinburgh: Rev. J. W. Kemp
XV. Leicester: Rev. W V. Fullerton
XVI. Dr. F. B. Meyer: Various
XVII. A Keswick Incident: Mr. George Clarke
XVIII. Chicago : Dr. R. A. Torrey
XIX. London: D. L. Moody
XX. Binghamton, N.Y.: Rev. John Allen Wood
XXI. Sydney, Australia: Rev. W.M. G. Taylor
XXII. London, Cardiff, Etc.: Dr. Thomas Payne
XXIII. Skinningrove And Sheffield: Mrs. J. B. Horton
XXIV. Revival In India: Pandita Ramabai, Etc.
XXV. China: Dr. J. Goforth
XXVI. An African Pentecost: Dr. Charles Inwood
XXVII. Revival At Cliff College: Rev. J. I. Brice