Little is known about this book or its author save that Robert Young was a Methodist minister who lived from 1796 - 1865. The name Robert Young may lead some to conclude that this is the same as the splendid and laborious work entitled ‘Young’s Analytical Concordance to the Holy Bible,’ but the preface to that worthy volume was written and published in 1879, fourteen years after this Robert Young had passed away.
Young explains his story in the preface, telling how he merely collected specimens of revival literature found in various Magazines, Reviews, Journals, Biographies, Pamphlets, and Manuscripts.
It is a worthy addition to any Revival library designed to inspire faith and prayer for fresh showers of blessing in our day.
We have included 5 of the 17 chapters.
SCRIPTURAL religion consists in the conformity of the heart and life of man to the will and. image of his maker. Consequently, whenever there is a cordial belief in the truth of God, an exclusive reliance upon the atonement forpardon and acceptance, and the graces of the renewed heart shine forth in the virtues of a holy life, the principles and practice of true religion are beautifully exemplified. Now, if such be the nature of religion, we cannot but perceive what is meant by its revival. Mr. Colton informs us, that it is “the multiplied power of piety over a community of minds, when the Spirit of God awakens Christians to special filth and effort to bring sinners to repentance.” Dr. Sprague tells us, that “wherever religion is seen rising from a state of comparative depression, to a tone of increased vigour and strength whenever professed Christians become more faithful to their obligations, and the church is increased by fresh accessions of piety from the world, there is a state of things which we need not hesitate to call a Revival of Religion.” And the inspired writers describe it as “a time of refreshing from the presence of the Lord”in which are “added to the church daily, such as shall be saved.”
Strictly speaking, the term Revival can apply only to those persons whose minds are in some measure under the influence of Divine grace for in the case of others, there is no religious principle or feeling to revive, and when religion is produced in their hearts, it is not so much a revival as a creation, that has been effected. The term however, according to its popular acceptation, is employed to express a state of things in which the Spirit is poured out from on high, the church greatly quickened in its graces, and many souls savingly converted to God.
When the prophet Isaiah exclaimed, “Drop down, ye heavens, from above, and let the skies pour down righteousness let the earth open, and let them bring forth salvation, and let righteousness spring up togetherhe gave, in a beautiful oriental dress, an instructive description of a revival of religion. In such a season, a Divine influence descends from on high, and thus the heavens drop from above, and the skies pour down righteousness the hearts of men, which resemble the parched ground, are softened and yield to that influence, and thus the earth opens sinners are truly converted and the lovely fruits of the Spirit appear in the virtues of a devout and holy life and thus salvation and righteousness spring up together. It was such a visitation of grace - such a change in the moral aspect of things, which the prophet Habakkuk desired to realize, when he said, “O Lord, I have heard thy speech, and was afraid. O Lord, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known in wrath remember mercy.” The speech of the Lord had denounced his countrymen in the strongest language, and graphically described the punishment about to be inflicted upon them for their sins. The prophet heard that speech and was afraid. He feared for the cause of God, and the souls of the people and in the anguish of his spirit interposed his intercessory prayer for a revival of the work of the Lord, that the threatened indignation might be prevented, and mercy made known where wrath had been merited.
Nor was a revival of religion more needed in the days of Habakkuk, amongst his countrymen, than it was amongst the countrymen of Wesley, when the Lord, by his gracious Providence, called him into public life, and endowed him with power from on high to rouse a slumbering church, and to spread scriptural Christianity throughout the land. ‘‘ That was, ”says a living author, ‘‘ unquestionably the most unevangelical period that had ever occurred in this country since the Reformation was completed in the reign of Elizabeth. Infidelity was extensively prevalent, both in the form of downright blasphemy, and of philosophical speculation. Of this no doubt can be entertained, when it is remembered that the pernicious and wicked writings of Hobbes, Toland, Blount, Collins, Mandeville, Shaftesbury, Tindal, Morgan, Woolston, and Chubb, were then in full circulation and that the higher and more influential classes of society were especially corrupted by their poison. The evil was aggravated by the appearance, about the middle of the century, of the infidel speculations of Bolingbroke. By many it was regarded as a settled point that Christianity was a fable, which they were justified in holding up to public reprobation and scorn, for the manner in which it had restrained the appetites and passions of mankind.”
“Strenuous efforts were also then made by several ecclesiastics to introduce deadly heresy into the church of God. The learned Dr. Samuel Clarke, occupying the influential post of rector of St. James’s, and enjoying the friendship of Sir Isaac Newton, and the patronage of the Queen, openly appeared as the advocate of Arianism, and was assisted by the erudite and indefatigable Whiston, with other writers of less note. In the West of England, Hallet, and Peirce, two able Ministers among the Dissenters, espoused the same cause, in which they were supported by some of their brethren in London. Waterland came forward as the successful opponent of Clarke and several Dissenting Ministers laboured with honourable zeal and talent, to preserve their churches in the catholic faith yet, the circumstance of Clergymen of superior learning and talent, disputing about the very substance of Christianity, must have had a very injurious influence upon the minds of the common people, and still more upon speculative libertines, in an age of profanity and scepticism.
“The interests of religion must at all times depend in a great measure upon the character and ministrations of the clergy. When these important functionaries live in the spirit of their holy vocation, preach the truth with fidelity and affection, and pay due attention to their pastoral charge, their labours cannot be altogether unsuccessful for they are sanctioned by the promised blessing of God, which will never be withheld. In the times of which we are speaking there was on the part of the great body of the episcopal clergy an evident departure from some of the most important, theological principles of the Reformation. No man, for instance, can read such works as Tillotson, Bull, and Waterland, without being struck with the discrepancy between the teaching of these great men, and the doctrines of the homilies which were drawn up by Cranmer, Latimer, Ridley, and Jewell, - especially on the vital question of a sinner’s justification before God. Yet Tillotson, Bull, and Waterland, are to be classed with the very best of their clerical contemporaries and the two last, as advocates of the catholic doctrine of the Trinity, have acquired imperishable honours, and will be for ever entitled to the gratitude of mankind. The generality of their brethren fell immensely short of them, not only in natural talents, and profound erudition but, in zeal and devotion. Not a few were notoriously ignorant of the science which they were appointed to teach, and therefore utterly incompetent to grapple with the errors and wickedness of the times. They were deficient also in that weight of moral character, which is always necessary to ministerial success many were despised for their inefficiency, while they were hated for the sake of their office.
“The Dissenting Ministers, in general, professed to hold the peculiar tenets of Calvinism but not a few of them, at the period in question, ran into the opposite extreme, and preached a gospel - if gospel it may be called - in which the great truths of the Christian revelation had little or no place. They seem to have thought that Christianity was to be checked and modified, by what they, in common with the Deists, called the light of nature and, as that light discovered to them nothing concerning a trinity of persons in the Godhead, Adam’s federal relation to his posterity, original sin, the atonement of Christ, justification by faith, and the offices of the Holy Spirit, these teachers maintained a corresponding silence on all subjects of this nature. In many volumes of sermons by Dissenting Ministers, which were published during this period, however we may admire the learning, ingenuity, and elegance of the writers, we look in vain for any such answer to the question, ‘What must I do to be saved?’ as is at all consistent with St. Paul’s epistles, or can satisfy the conscience of any man who is convinced of his guilt, and of the sinfulness of his own nature. Among the Dissenters there was a great decay of spiritual religion, arising perhaps partly from the very high Calvinism which some of them maintained but chiefly from the unevangelical ministry which had been introduced among them. It is probable that the writings and example of Locke exerted a very injurious influence upon several of their churches. His high intellectual character filled them, as it did many other men, with admiration his political publications generally accorded with their views and hence, they were prepared to receive his most defective theology. Two of their Ministers carried on his very misleading work on the apostolical epistles.
“These facts are stated, not for any party or sinister purpose, but to show that the nation was on the brink of ruin, both with regard to religion and public morals and, that unless God, in his merciful providence, had raised up some extraordinary means of counteracting the evils which were then in full operation, the consequences must have been most disastrous. The age was not so remarkable for any one particular vice, or crime, as for a general abandonment to ungodliness, and to profligacy of manners. Persons of rank and fashion laughed at religion and the common people wallowed in sin. We refer to the writings of Bishops Burnett, Gibson, and Butler also, to Archbishop Secker, Dr. John Guyse, Dr. Isaac Watts, the Rev. John Hurrion, and the Rev. Abraham Taylor, in proof that the statements which have just been given, are not only substantially correct, but correct in every part.
At this period, when our country, like the extended valley of vision, was full of dry bones, the hand of the Lord was upon Wesley, and carried him out in the spirit, causing him to pass by them round about, that he might prophesy, and say unto them, “O ye dry bones, hear the word of the Lord” and as he prophesied, there was a vital movement in the valley of death, “bone came to his bone”and very soon a large army lived, and stood up for the Lord of hosts.
The Wesleyan body had not its origin in unholy disputation but in the revival of religion which was brought about through the effective ministry of the two Wesleys. Under the clear and powerful ministry of those honoured men, and of others whom Providence raised up to assist them, the Spirit descended, not merely like the gentle dew, giving beauty to God’s heritage, but frequently as the teeming shower, which “makes the wilderness a pool, and the desert as the garden of the Lord.” To narrate the particulars of some of those special and powerful visitations, and to offer such remarks thereon, as may, by God’s blessing, excite a spirit of scriptural revivalism, is the design of the present publication.
When Mr. Wesley, on his return from America, became savingly acquainted with justification by faith, he preached in and about London, to thousands of persons with considerable success but it was not until he went into the country that his preaching was attended with “the richer energy”of the Spirit, affecting immense multitudes, and producing wonderful, mighty, and glorious results.
Bristol - In March 1739 Mr. Wesley visited Bristol, where he met with Mr. Whitefield, and found that he had adopted the practice of field preaching. This was directly opposed to Mr. Wesley’s educational prejudices, and high - church principles and hence, he says, “I could scarce reconcile myself at first to this strange way of preaching in the fields having all my life, till very lately, been so tenacious of every point relating to decency and order, that I should have thought the saving of souls almost a sin, if it had not been done in a church!” On April the 2d, his prejudices, however, gave way and at four o’clock in the afternoon, he proclaimed in the highways the glad tidings of salvation, to about three thousand people. His text was, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor. He hath sent me to heal the broken - hearted to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind to set at liberty them that are bruised to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” He continued thus to preach in Bristol, and its vicinity, to overpowering crowds of people but it was not until the 17th, that the power of’ God was so manifestly present to heal. On the evening of that day, Mr. Wesley went to Baldwin - street, the place where a religious society was accustomed to meet, (Footnote: This was one of those Societies which Dr. Woodward describes in an account first published about 1698 or 1699 - See Watson’s Works, Vol. 5, p. 68.) and there expounded the fourth chapter of the Acts. Earnest prayer was then offered to God to confirm his word and immediately a person that stood by, to the no small surprise of all present, cried out with the utmost vehemence, even as in the agonies of death but prayer being continued, a new song was put into her mouth, even of thanksgiving unto God. Soon after, two other persons well known in the place, as labouring to live in all good conscience towards all men, were seized with strong pain, and constrained to cry aloud for the disquietness of their hearts but it was not long before they likewise found peace, and burst forth in praise to God their Saviour. The last who called upon God was a stranger in Bristol and in a short space he also was overwhelmed with joy and love, knowing that God had healed his backslidings.
Wednesday, 18th - In the evening L.S - , late a Quaker, but baptized the day before, R. M - , and a few others were admitted into the society but R. M - was scarcely able either to speak or look up. The sorrows of death compassed her about, the pains of hell gat hold upon her. The members of the society poured out their complaint before God, and showed him of her trouble and he soon proved himself a God that heareth prayer. She felt in herself “that being justified freely,” she had “peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ and rejoiced in hope of the glory of God.”
Friday 20th - E. R - T. W - and one or two others, first knew they “had redemption in the blood of Christ, even the forgiveness of their sins” and on the following day, at Weavers’ - Hall, a young man was suddenly seized with a violent trembling all over, and in a few minutes, the sorrows of his heart being enlarged, he sunk down to the ground but prayer being made for him, God graciously raised him up, full of peace and joy in the Holy Ghost.
Thursday 25th - While Mr. Wesley was preaching at Newgate, on these words, “He that believeth hath everlasting life,” he was insensibly led, without any previous design, to declare strongly and explicitly, that God willeth all men to be thus saved and to pray, that “if this were not the truth of God, He would not suffer the blind to go out of the way but if it were, he would bear witness to his word.” Immediately one and another, and another, sunk to the earth they dropped on every side as if thunderstruck. Two of them cried aloud and God being earnestly besought in their behalf, he speedily turned their heaviness into joy. In the evening Mr. Wesley was again pressed in spirit to declare that “Christ gave himself a ransom for all.” A truth to which God immediately affixed his seal. One was so wounded by “the sword of the Spirit,” that she appeared as if she could not live a moment but immediately God’s abundant kindness was made manifest, and she loudly sang of his righteousness.
Friday 26th - All Newgate rang with the cries of those whom the word of God cut to the heart two of whom were in a moment filled with joy, to the astonishment of those that beheld them. Many being offended at the cries of those on whom the power of God came, among whom was a physician, who was much afraid there might be fraud or imposture in the case but on the following Monday, a person whom he had known for many years, was the first while Mr. Wesley was preaching in Newgate who broke out into strong cries and tears, He could hardly believe his own eyes and ears. He went and stood close to her, and observed every symptom, until great drops of sweat ran down her face, and all her bones shook. He then knew not what to think, being clearly convinced that it was not fraud, nor yet any natural disorder. But when both her body and soul were healed in a moment, he acknowledged the finger of God.
Tuesday, May 1st - Many were offended again, and indeed, much more than before. For at Baldwin - street, Mr. Wesley’s voice could scarcely be heard, amidst the groaning of some, and the cries of others, calling aloud to Him that is “mighty to save.” Mr. Wesley desired all that were sincere of heart, to beseech with him, the Prince exalted, that He would “proclaim deliverance to the captives, and he soon showed that he heard prayer. Many of those who had been long in darkness saw the dawn of a great light and ten persons then began to say in faith, “My Lord, and my God!” A Quaker, who stood by, was not a little displeased at what he called the “dissimulation of those creatures, ”and was biting his lips, and knitting his brow, when he dropped down as thunderstruck his agony was even terrible to behold. God was besought not to lay folly to his charge and he soon lifted up his head, and cried aloud, ‘‘ now I know thou art a prophet of the Lord.’’
Wednesday 2nd - At Newgate, another mourner was comforted. Mr. Wesley was desired to step thence to a neighbouring house, to see a letter wrote against him as a deceiver of the people, by teaching that God willeth all men to be saved. One who had long asserted the contrary was there when a young woman came in weeping, and in deep anguish of spirit. She said, she had been reasoning with herself, how these things could be, until she was perplexed more and more and she now found the Spirit of God was departed from her. Mr. Wesley, and others, began to pray and she cried out, “He is come! He is come! I again rejoice in God my Saviour.” Just as they arose from giving thanks, another person reeled four or five steps, and then dropped down. They prayed with her, and left her strongly convinced of sin, and earnestly groaning for deliverance. T.H - a weaver, who was at Baldwin - street, the night before - a man of regular life and conversation, one that constantly attended the public prayers and sacrament, and was zealous for the church, and against Dissenters of every denomination - being informed that people fell into strong fits at the societies, came to see and judge for himself. But he was less satisfied than before inasmuch that he went about to his acquaintance, one after another, until one o’clock in the morning, and laboured above measure to convince them it was a delusion of the devil. Mr. Wesley and his friends were going home, when a person met them in the street, and informed them that T. H - was fallen raving mad. It seems he had sat down to dinner, but had a mind first to finish a sermon he had borrowed, on “Salvation by Faith.” In reading the last page, he changed colour, fell off his chair, and began screaming terribly, and beating himself against the ground. The neighbours were alarmed, and flocked together to the house. Between one and two Mr. Wesley came in, and found him on the floor, the room being full of people, whom his wife would have kept without but he cried aloud, “No let them all come let all the world see the just judgement of God.” Two or three men were holding him, as well as they could. He immediately fixed his eyes on Mr. Wesley, and stretching out his hand, cried, “Aye, this is he, who I said was a deceiver of the people but God has overtaken me. I said it was all delusion but this is no delusion.” He then exclaimed, “O thou devil! thou cursed devil! yea thou legion of devils! thou canst not stay. Christ will cast thee out. I know his work is begun. Tear me in pieces if thou wilt, but thou canst not hurt me.” He then beat himself against the ground again his breast heaving at the same time, as in the pangs of death, and great drops of sweat trickling down his face. On prayer being offered for him, his pangs ceased, and both his body and soul were set at liberty. His voice was lost, and his body weak as that of an infant but his soul was in peace, full of love, and rejoicing in hope of’ the glory of God. The women of the Society met at seven, and during prayer, one of them fell into a violent agony but soon after began to cry out with confidence, “My Lord, and my God!”
Saturday l2th - In the evening, while Mr. Wesley was declaring that Jesus Christ had given himself a ransom for all, three persons almost at once, sunk down as dead, having all their sins set in array before them but in a short time they were raised up, and knew that the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sin of the world, had taken away their sins.
Tuesday, l5th - As Mr. Wesley was expounding in the Back - lane, on the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, many who had been righteous in their own eyes, abhorred themselves as in dust and ashes. But two, who seemed to be more deeply convinced than the rest, did not long sorrow as men without hope, but found in that hour, that they had an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous as did the others in Gloucester - lane, the evening before, and three at Baldwin street this evening. About ten o’clock, two persons who, after having seen a great light, had again reasoned themselves into darkness, came to the Society heavy laden God was entreated for them, and they were again filled with peace and joy in believing.
Wednesday 10th - While Mr. Wesley was declaring, “He was wounded for our transgression,” a middle - aged man began violently beating his breast, and crying to him by “whose stripes we are healed.” During prayer, God “put a new song in his mouth.” Some mocked and others owned the hand of God - particularly a woman of Baptist - Mills, who was now convinced of her own want of an Advocate with the Father, and went home full of anguish, but was in a few hours filled with joy, knowing that God had blotted out all her transgressions.
Saturday l9th - At Weavers’ - Hall, a woman first, and then a boy about fourteen years of age, was overwhelmed with sin, and sorrow, and fear but on prayer being made for them their souls were delivered.
Monday 2lst - Some having said, these were “purely natural effects the people fainted away, only because of the heat and closeness of the roomand others were sure, “it was all a cheat, they might help it if they would else, why were these things only in their private societies? Why were they not done in the face of the sun?” to - day the Lord answered for himself for while Mr. Wesley was enforcing these words - ‘Be still, and know that I am God,’ he began to make bare his arm, not in a close room, neither in private, but in the open air, and before more than two thousand witnesses. One and another, and another, was struck to the earth exceedingly trembling at the presence of his power. Others cried, with a loud and bitter cry, “What must we do to be saved?” and, in less than an hour, seven persons wholly unknown to Mr. Wesley, till that time, were rejoicing and singing and, with all their might, giving thanks to the God of their salvation. In the evening, Mr. Wesley was interrupted at Nicholas Street, almost as soon as he had begun to speak, by the cries of one who was “pricked in the heart,” and strongly groaned for pardon and peace. Yet he went on to declare what God had already done in proof of’ that important truth - that he is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” Another person dropped down, close to one who was a strong assertor of the contrary doctrine. While he stood astonished at the sight, a little boy, near him, was seized in the same manner. A young man, who stood behind, fixed his eyes on him, and sunk down himself as one dead but soon began to roar, and beat himself against the ground, so that six men could scarcely hold him. This was Thomas Maxfield, the first layman that preached in Air. Wesley’s connexion Meanwhile many others began to cry out to the Saviour of all, that he would come and help them insomuch that all the house, and indeed, all the street, for some space, was in an uproar. “But we continued in prayer” says Mr. Wesley, “and before ten o’clock the greater part found rest to their souls.” Mr. Wesley was called from supper to one, who feeling in herself such a conviction, as she never had known before, had run out of the Society in all haste, that she might not expose herself. But the hand of God followed her still, so that after going a few steps she was forced to be carried home and when she was there, grew worse and worse. She was in a violent agony but whilst earnest prayer was being made for her, God gave rest to her soul. About twelve, Mr. Wesley was greatly importuned to go and visit one person more, who, on his praying with her, was enabled to believe, and was filled with peace and joy. “I think,” says Mr. Wesley, “twenty - nine in all had their heaviness turned into joy this day.’’
Sunday, 27th - Mr. Wesley preached at Rose - green to upwards of ten thousand souls, on those words “Ye know not what spirit ye are of For the Son of Man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.” At the Society, in the evening, eleven were deeply convinced of sin, and soon after comforted.
Monday, 28th - he began preaching at Weavers’ - hall, at eleven in the morning when two persons were enabled to cry out in faith, “My Lord, and my God”as were seven, during the sermon in the afternoon, before several thousand witnesses and ten, in the evening, at Baldwin - street of whom two were children.
Mr. Wesley was now called to London, and in his absence the enemy had sowed tares. The new - born babes, instead of receiving the sincere milk of the word, that they might grow thereby, had received the bitter waters of the Calvinian controversy, and had in many cases, become very sickly. Hence we find that Mr. Wesley quickly returned and greatly deplored the change, which had taken place.
Monday, June 18th - He left London early in the morning, and the next evening preached in Bristol. It is scarcely credible what advantage Satan had gained during his absence of only eight days.
Wednesday, 2Oth - He shewed the people the state they were in, both at Newgate, and Baptist - Mills, from those words, “Simon, Simon behold Satan had desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat.” And in the evening, instead of reviving the dispute, they betook themselves to prayer. ‘The Lord was with them. Their divisions were healed. Misunderstandings vanished away. And all their hearts were sweetly drawn together and united as at the first.
Friday 22d - Mr. Wesley was led to explain, “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits, whether they be of God.” While he was speaking, one before him dropped down as dead, and presently a second and a third. Five others sunk down in half - an - hour most of whom were in violent agonies. The pains of hell came about them the snares of death overtook them. In their trouble they called upon the Lord, and he gave an answer of peace. One indeed continued an hour in strong pain and one or two more for three days. But the rest were greatly comforted in that hour, and, went away rejoicing and praising God.
Saturday 23d - Mr. Wesley spoke severally with those who had been so troubled the night before. Some of them he found were only convinced of sin others had indeed found rest to their souls. This evening another was seized with strong pangs but in a short time her soul also was delivered.
Sunday 24th - He preached at Rose - green to six or seven thousand people. In the evening a girl of thirteen or fourteen, and four or five other persons, some of whom had felt the power of God before, were deeply convinced of sin, and with sighs and groans which could not be uttered, called upon God, for deliverance.
Monday 25th - About ten o’clock this morning, A C - as she was sitting at work, was suddenly seized with grievous terrors of mind, attended with strong trembling. Thus she continued all the afternoon but at the Society, in the evening, God turned her heaviness into joy. Five or six others were also deeply wounded this day and soon after found Him whose hands make whole as did another person who had been mourning many months without any to comfort her.
Tuesday 26th - Three persons terribly felt the wrath of God abiding on them, at the Society this evening, but on prayer being made on their behalf, the Lord was pleased soon to lift up the light of his countenance upon them.
Saturday, 3Oth - At Weavers Hall seven or eight persons were constrained to roar aloud, while the sword of the Spirit was dividing asunder their souls and spirits, and joints and marrow but they were all relieved, upon - prayer being offered on their behalf and sang praises unto our God, and unto the Lamb that liveth for ever and ever.
July lst - Mr. Wesley preached at Rose - green, and a young woman sunk down in a violent agony both of body and mind, as did five or six persons in the evening, at the new room, at whose cries many were greatly offended. The same offence was given in the morning by one at Weavers Hall and by eight or nine others at Gloucester - lane, in the evening. The first that was deeply touched was L - W - whose mother had been not a little displeased a day or two before, when she was told how her daughter had exposed herself before all the congregation the mother herself was the next, who dropped down, and lost her senses in a moment but went home with her daughter, full of joy, as did most of those who had been in pain.
Saturday 7th - Mr. Wesley had an opportunity to talk with Mr. Whitefleld of those outward signs which had so often accompanied the inward work of God, and found his objections were chiefly grounded on gross misrepresentations of matter of fact. The next day he had an opportunity of informing himself better. For no sooner had he begun in the application of his sermon, to invite all sinners to believe in Christ, than four persons sunk down close to him almost in the same moment. One of them lay without either sense or motion. A second trembled exceedingly. The third had strong convulsions all over his body, but made no noise unless by groans. The fourth, equally convulsed, called upon God with strong cries and tears. “From this time,” says Mr. Wesley, “I trust we shall all suffer God to carry on his own work in the way that pleaseth him.”
Friday, 28th - Many were deeply convinced of sin, but none were delivered from that painful conviction. The children came to the birth but there was not strength to bring them forth, which probably arose from the Spirit of the jealous God being grieved by parties questioning his work.
Monday 3Oth - Two more were in strong pain, both their bodies and souls being well - nigh torn asunder and though prayer was made for them, there was no answer, neither did God as yet deliver them at all. One of these had been remarkable against those that cried out, and made a noise, being sure that any of them might help it if they would. And the same opinion she was in still, until the moment she was struck through as with a sword, and fell trembling to the ground. She then cried aloud, though not articulately, her words being swallowed up. In this pain she continued twelve or fourteen hours, and then her soul was set at liberty.
“During this whole time,” says Mr. Wesley, “I was almost continually asked, either by those who purposely came to Bristol, to inquire concerning this strange work, or by my old or new correspondents, how can these things be?’ And innumerable cautions were given me, generally grounded on gross misrepresentations of things, ‘Not to regard visions or dreams nor to fancy people had remission of sins, because of their cries or tears, or bare outward professions.’ To one who had many times wrote to me on this head, the sum of my answer was as follows ‘The question between us turns chiefly, if not wholly, on matter of fact. You deny that God does now work these effects at least that he works them in this manner. I affirm both because I have heard these things with my own ears, and seen them with my eyes I have seen, as far as a thing of this kind can be seen, very many persons changed in a moment, from the spirit of fear, horror, despair, to the spirit of love, joy, and peace and from sinful desires, till then reigning over them, to a pure desire of doing the will of God. These are matters of fact, whereof I have been, and still daily am, an eye or ear - witness. What I have to say touching visions or dreams, is this I know several persons in whom this great change was wrought in a dream, or during a strong representation to the eye of the mind, of Christ either on the cross, or in glory. This is the fact let any judge of it as they please. And that such a change was thenwrought, appears not from their shedding tears only, or falling into fits, or crying out these are not the fruits, as you seem to suppose whereby I judge, but from the whole tenor of their life, till then, many ways wicked from that timeholy, just, and good. I will shew you him that was a lion till then, and is now a lamb him that was a drunkard, and is now exemplarily sober the whoremonger that was, who now abhors the very garment spotted by the flesh. These are my living arguments for what I assert that God does now, as aforetime give remission of sins, and the gift of the holy Ghost, even to us and to our children yea, and that, always suddenly, as far as I have known and often in dreams, or in the visions of God. If it be not so, I am found a false witness before God. For these things I do, and by his grace will testify.”
LONDON - Mr. Wesley’s ministry, in the metropolis, had from the beginning excited great attention, and been attended with blessed results. But it was not until he returned from Bristol that it was attended with extraordinary effects that God rent the heavens, and came down, and caused the mountains to flow down at his presence. He began here, as at Bristol, to preach to multitudes in the open air. The following extracts from his journal will give some idea of his proceedings and success.
Thursday June 14th 1739 - I went with Mr. White - field to Blackheath where were, I believe, twelve or fourteen thousand people. He a little surprised me, by desiring me to preach in his stead which I did, though nature recoiled on my favourite subject, Jesus Christ, who of God is made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption.”
Friday l5th - In the evening I went to Wapping, weary in body, and faint in mind. I intended to speak on Romans iii.19 but could not tell how to open my mouth and all the time we were singing, my mind was full of some place I knew not where, in the Epistle to the Hebrews. I begged God to direct, and opened the Book on Heb. x. 19 - Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of the Lamb,’ &c. While I was earnestly inviting all sinners to enter into the holiest by this new and living way, many of those who heard began to call upon God, with strong cries and. tears. Some sunk down, and there remained no strength in them others exceedingly trembled and quaked some were torn with a kind of convulsive motion, in every part of their bodies, and that so violently, that often four or five persons could not hold one of them. I have seen many hysterical, and many epileptic fits but none of them were like these, in many respects. I immediately prayed ‘that God would not suffer those who were weak to be offended.’ But one woman was offended greatly being sure they might help it if they would no one should persuade her to the contrary and was got three or four yards, when she also dropped down, in as violent agony as the rest. Of those who had been thus affected, (most of whom, during the prayers which were made for them, were in a moment filled with peace and joy,) twenty - six promised to call upon me the next day. But only eighteen came by talking closely with whom I found reason to believe that some of them had gone home to their houses justified. The rest seemed to be patiently waiting for it.”
Mr. Wesley remained but a few days in London, as his presence was needed in Bristol, but the blessed work advanced under the efficient ministry of his brother Charles. On his return to London, in little more than two months, he thus writes
Monday, Sept 3rd - Both at Mr. B - ’s at six, and at Dowgate Hill, at eight, were many more than the houses could contain. Several persons who were then convinced of sin, came to me the next morning. One came also who had been mourning long, and earnestly desired us to pray with her. We had scarce begun, when the enemy began to tear her, so that she screamed out as in the pangs of death. But his time was short for, within a quarter of an hour, she was full of the peace that passeth all understanding. I afterwards called on Mrs. E - , with whom, was one lady come from Bristol, in deep anguish of spirit. We cried to God, and he soon declared his salvation, so that both their mouths were filled with praise.
Tuesday 18th - A young woman came to us at Islington, in such an agony as I have seldom seen. Her sorrow and fears were too big for utterance so that after a, few words, her strength as well as her heart failing she sank down to the ground. Only her sighs and her groans showed she was yet alive. We cried unto God in her behalf. We claimed the promises made to the weary and heavy laden, and he did not cast out our prayer. She saw her Saviour, as it were, crucified before her eyes. She laid hold on bun by faith, and her spirit revived. At Mr. B - ’s, at six, I was enabled earnestly to call all the weary and heavy laden and at Mr. C - ’s, at eight, when many roared aloud some of whom utterly refused to be comforted, till they should feel their souls at rest in the blood of the Lamb, and have his love shed abroad in their hearts.”
This blessed work was greatly checked by unholy disputations between the Methodists and the Moravians, who formed one society at Fetter - lane. Over this society Mr. Wesley professed to have no authority, and as it appeared, had but little influence. Various new doctrines of a mystical kind, which he thought dangerous had been introduced by several of the teachers and after the most strenuous efforts to promote the spirit of unity, separation became inevitable. A place in Moorfields, which had been used as a foundry for casting cannon, was now most providentially provided for him. Conversions soon became numerous, and the society connected with the Foundry increased continually. It was commenced about the end of November 1739 with twelve members and by the middle of the June following, they were increased to three hundred nearly the whole of whom professed saving faith in Christ, and exhibited its fruits in their lives. Nor did the work stop here, but continued to advance, as we learn from Mr. Wesley’s journal.
Monday August 11th 1740 - He observes, “Forty or fifty of those who were seeking salvation, desired leave to spend the night together, at the Society - Room, in prayer, and giving of thanks. Before ten I left them, and lay down but I could have no quiet rest, being quite uneasy in my sleep, as I found others were too, that were asleep in other parts of the house. Between two and three in the morning I was waked, and desired to come down stairs. I immediately heard such a confused noise, as if a number of men were all putting to the sword. It increased, when I came into the room and began to pray. One, whom I particularly observed to be roaring aloud for pain, was J - W - , who had always till then been very sure, that none cried out but hypocrites. So had Mrs. S - , also but she too cried to God, with a loud and bitter cry. It was not long before God heard from his holy place. He spoke, and all our souls were comforted. He bruised Satan under our feet, and sorrow and sighing fled away.
Saturday 16th - I called on one, who being at Long - lane, on Monday, the 4th inst. was exceeding angry at those who pretended to be in fits, particularly at one who dropped down just by her. She was just going to kick her out of the way, when she dropped down herself and continued in violent agonies for an hour. Being afraid, when she came to herself, that her mother would judge of her as she herself had done of others, she resolved to hide it from her but the moment she came into the house, she dropped down in as violent an agony as before. I left her weary and heavy laden, under a deep sense of the just judgement of God.”
This time of refreshing continued a considerable period, and in June, 1743, the number of members connected with the Foundry was one thousand nine hundred and fifty the most of whom appear to have been decided Christians.
NEWCASTLE - UPON - TYNE - As the world was Mr. Wesley’s parish, he found his way to this ancient town, in 1742 and in the course of nine months visited the town thrice, and his brother once. The hand of the Lord was with them, confirming the word, with signs following for during that short period not fewer than eight hundred souls were brought to God. The following brief extracts from Mr. Wesley’s Journal give some of the particulars of this glorious work.
Thursday, May 27th, 1742 - We came to Newcastle about six, and after a short refreshment walked into the town. I was surprised - so much drunkenness, cursing, and swearing, even from the mouths of little children, do I never remember to have seen and heard before, in so small a compass of time. Surely this place is ripe for Him who came not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.
Sunday 30th - At seven I walked down to Sandgate the poorest and most contemptible part of the town and standing at the end of the street, with John Taylor, began to sing the hundredth Psalm. Three or four people came out to see what was the matter who soon increased to four or five hundred. I suppose there might be twelve or fifteen hundred before I had done preaching, to whom I applied those solemn words - He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities. Observing the people, when I had done to stand gaping and staring upon me, with most profound astonishment, I told them, ‘If you desire to know who I am, my name is John Wesley.
At five in the evening, with God’s help, I design to preach here again “At five, the hill on which I designed to preach was covered from the top to the bottom. I never saw so large a number of people together, either at Moorfields, or at Kennington Common. I knew it was not possible for the one half to hear, although my voice was strong and clear, and I stood so as to have them all in view, as they were ranged on the side of the hill. The word of God which I set before them was ‘I will heal their backslidings, I will love them freely.’ After preaching, the poor people were ready to tread me under foot, out of pure love and kindness. It was some time before I could possibly get out of the press. I then went back another way than I came but several were got to the inn before me by whom I was vehemently importuned to stay with them, at least a few days, or, however, one day more but I could not consent, having given my word to be at Birstal, with God’s leave, on Tuesday night.
“The favourable impression thus made was deepened soon after by a visit from Mr. Charles Wesley, whose word was as fire among dry stubble, producing astonishing effects. On Mr. John Wesley’s second visit to Newcastle, he thus writes -
Saturday, Nov. 13th - I reached Newcastle. My brother had been here some weeks before, and was but just returned to London. At eight I met the wild, staring, loving society but not them alone, as I had designed. For we could not persuade the strangers to leave us so that we only spent about an hour in prayer.
Sunday 21st - After preaching in the room, at five, I began preaching about eight, at the hospital. It rained all the time but that did not disturb either me or the congregation while I explained, “Thou shalt call his name Jesus for he shall save his people from their sins.”
Tuesday 23rd. There appeared in the evening to be a deeper work in many souls than I had observed before. Many trembled exceedingly six or seven, both men and women, dropped down as dead. Some cried unto God out of the deep others would have cried, but their voice was lost. And some have found that the Lord is gracious and merciful, forgiving iniquity, and transgression, and sin.
Thursday, 25th - In the evening, God was pleased to wound many more who were quiet, and at ease and I could not but observe, that here the best people so called, were as deeply convinced as open sinners. Several of these were now constrained to roar aloud, for the disquietness of their hearts and these generally not young, as in most other places, but either middle - aged or well - stricken in years. I never saw a work of God in any other place, so evenly and gradually carried on. It continually rises, step by step. Not so much seems to be done at any one time, as has frequently been at Bristol, or London but something at every time. It is the same with particular souls. I saw none in that triumph of faith, which has been so common in other places but the believers go on calm and steady. Let God do as seemeth him good.
Sunday Dec. 19th - I cried to all who felt themselves lost - ’Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved’ and, in the afternoon every one that thirsteth come ye to the waters.’ At that hour one who was bitterly mourning after Christ, was filled with joy unspeakable.
Monday 20th - We laid the first stone of the house. Many were gathered from all parts to see it but none scoffed or interrupted, while we praised God, and prayed that he would prosper the work of our hands upon us. Three or four times, in the evening, I was forced to break off preaching, that we might pray, and give thanks to God.
Thursday, 30th - I carefully examined those who had cried out in the congregation. Some of these, I found, could give no account at all how, or wherefore they had done so only, that of a sudden, they dropped down they knew not how and what they afterwards said or did they knew not others could just remember, they were in fear, but could not tell what they were in fear of Several said they were afraid of the devil and this was all they knew. But a few gave a more intelligible account of the piercing sense they then had of their sins, both inward and outward, which were set in array against them round about of the dread they were in of the wrath of God, and the punishment they had deserved, into which they seemed to be just falling, without any way of escape. One of them told me, ‘I was as if I were just falling down from the highest place I had ever seen. I thought the devil was pushing me off, and that God had forsaken me. Another said, ‘I felt the very fire of hell already kindled in my breast and all my body was in as much pain as if I had been in a burning, fiery furnace.’ What wisdom is that which rebuketh these, ‘that they should hold their peace.’ Nay, let such an one cry after Jesus of Nazareth, until he saith, ‘Thy faith hath made thee whole.’”
Mr. Wesley now left Newcastle for about two months, that he might preach the gospel in other places, and superintend the blessed work, which the Lord had wrought in Bristol London, and elsewhere, through his instrumentality. On his return to Newcastle he found that some had been walking disorderly but upon the whole had much cause to be thankful with the state of things, as he happily ascertained, that generally his children were walking in the truth.
Sunday Feb 20th, 1743 - “I went on,”says Mr. Wesley, “in expounding the Acts of the Apostles, and St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans. In the following week I diligently inquired, who they were that did not walk according to the gospel? In consequence of which, I was obliged to put away about fifty persons. There remained about eight hundred in Society.
Saturday March 12th - I concluded my second course of visiting, in which I inquired particularly into the case of those who had almost every night the last week cried out aloud during the preaching, and I found -
1 - That all of them - I think not one of them excepted - were persons in perfect health, and had not been subject to fits of any kind, till they were thus affected.
2 - That this had come upon every one of them in a moment, without any previous notice, while they were either hearing the word of God, or thinking on what they had heard.
3 - That in that moment they dropped down lost all their strength and were seized with violent pain. This they expressed in different manners. Some said, they felt just as if a sword were running through them others, that they thought a great weight lay upon them as if it would squeeze them into the earth. Some said, they were quite choked, so that they could not breathe others, that their hearts swelled ready to burst and others, that it was as if their heart, as if all their inside, as if their whole body, were tearing all to pieces. These symptoms I can no more impute to any natural cause, than to the Spirit of God. I can make no doubt but it was Satan tearing them, as they were coming to Christ. And hence proceeded those grievous cries whereby he might design both to discredit the work of God, and to affright fearful people from hearing their souls might be saved.
4. – I found that their minds had been as variously affected as their bodies. Of this some could give scarce any account at all, which I also impute to that evil spirit, purposely stunning and confounding as many as he could, that they might not be able to betray his devices. Others gave a very clear and particular account from the beginning to the end. The word of God pierced their souls, and convinced them of inward, as well as outward sin. They saw and felt the wrath of God abiding upon them and were afraid of his judgements. And here the accuser came with great power, telling them, ‘there was no hope they were lost for ever.’ The pains of body then seized them in a moment, and extorted those loud and bitter cries.”
Mr. Charles Wesley soon after this visited Newcastle, and the blessed work thus begun, was greatly strengthened, and extended through his effective ministry. It soon spread to the neighbouring towns and villages, producing wonderful effects, and resulting in the scriptural conversion of hundreds of souls.
The following very spirited hymn was written by Mr. Charles Wesley at Newcastle, as descriptive of the work of God amongst the colliers and others in that neighbourhood, at the period now referred to and which shows the estimate he formed of it -
“You neighbours and friends, to Jesus draw near
His love condescends, by titles so dear,
To call and invite you His triumphs to prove,
And freely delight you in Jesus’ love.
“The Shepherd who died his sheep to redeem
On every side are gather’d to him
The weary and burden’d, the reprobate race
And wait to be pardon’d through Jesus’ grace.
“The publicans all, and sinners, draw near
They come at his call, their Saviour to hear
Lamenting and mourning, their sin is so great
And daily returning, they fall at his feet.
“The poor and the blind, the bait and the lame,
Are willing to find in Jesus’ name
Their help and salvation which still they receive
There ‘s no condemnation to them that believe.
“The drunkards and thieves, and harlots return
For him that receives poor sinners they mourn
The common blasphemer on Jesus doth call,
His loving Redeemer who suffered for all
“The outcasts of men their Saviour pursue
In horror and pain, the profligate crew,
Cry out for a Saviour, a Saviour unknown,
And look to find favour through mercy alone.
“They seek Him and find they ask, and receive
The Friend of mankind, who bids them believe
On Jesus they venture, his gift they embrace,
And forcibly enter his kingdom of grace.
“The blind are restored through Jesus’ name
They see their dear Lord, and follow the Lamb
The halt they are walking, and running their race
The dumb they are talking of Jesus’ praise.
“The deaf hear his voice, and comforting word
It bids them rejoice in Jesus their Lord
‘Thy sins are forgiven, accepted thou art’
They listen, and heaven springs up in their heart.
“The lepers from all their spots are made clean
The dead by his call are raised from their sin
In Jesus’ compassion the sick find a cure
And gospel salvation is preach’d to the poor.
“To us and to them is publish’d the word
Then let us proclaim our life - giving Lord,
Who now is reviving ills work in our days
And mightily striving to save us by grace
“O Jesus, ride on, till all are subdued
Thy mercy make known, and sprinkle thy blood
Display thy salvation, and teach the new song,
To every nation, and people, and tongue.”
AMONGST those brought to a knowledge of the truth during this remarkable Revival of Apostolic Christianity, many felt that a dispensation of the gospel was committed to them, and they went forth under the direction of Mr. Wesley to spread scriptural religion throughout the land. The hand of the Lord was with them and both in Ireland and Wales, as well as in many parts of England, a great multitude believed and turned Unto the Lord. They, in common with the two Wesleys, had to endure much persecution, but the Lord gave them boldness to declare his word and in every place to which the providence of God led them, did he confirm the word with signs following.
ATHLONE - At this place, and its neighbourhood, a blessed Revival was brought about by the ministry of some of those Evangelists, to whom reference has already been made. In 1748, Mr. Charles Wesley was in Ireland, labouring with great success, as appears from the following extract from his Journal
Jan. l4th - I heard more good news from the country, whither we had sent some of our Preachers. At Athlone, Tyrrell’s Pass, and the neighbouring towns, there seems to be great awakenings.
Feb 9th - I took horse for Tyrrell’s Pass. Near seven, we got, half - choked with the fog, to Mr. Force’s. The town immediately took the alarm, and crowded in after us. I discoursed on ‘A certain man had two sons.’ These are the publicans that enter before the Pharisees. Never have I spoken to more hungry souls they devoured every word some expressed their satisfaction in a way peculiar to them, and whistled for joy. Few such feasts have I had since I left England. It refreshed my body more than meat or drink. God has begun a great work here. The people of Tyrrell’s Pass were wicked to a proverb - swearers, drunkards, Sabbath - breakers, thieves, &c., from time immemorial but now the scene is entirely changed. Not an oath is heard, or a drunkard seen among them. They are turned from darkness to light. Nearly one hundred are joined in Society, and following hard after the pardoning God.”
The gracious revival spread and, a few months after, Mr. Charles Wesley thus writes - Sept. 24th - By one, the Lord brought us safe to our beloved brethren, in Athlone. I preached in the Market - house, and met the Society in a barn. Our poor lambs were all in tears, mourning after Jesus.
Sept 25th - I examined each of the Society, who made upwards of two hundred. A soldier followed and told me, that while I was talking to them, a horrible dread overwhelmed him he felt the burden of all his sins, shook every bone of him, and trembled exceedingly for fear of God’s judgments. I could not hinder his falling down again and again at my feet, under such piercing apprehensions of God, the righteous Judge, as made me envy his condition. in the evening preaching, the great blessing came. The cries of the wounded spirits cannot be described. The place rung with loud cries of ‘mercy, mercy!’ I concluded, and began again, and again then sung and prayed, and prayed and sung, not knowing how to give over.”
In the same year, Mr. John Wesley visited Athlone, and its neighbourhood and speaks of persons “being cut to the heart, and crying aloud to Him that is mighty to save and also of the inhabitants of Athlone being “nearly all moved, full of good - will, and desires of salvation.” The following year he again was found in this interesting part of God’s vineyard, and thus writes -
Saturday June l7th - The wind being very tempestuous in the evening, I preached in our new - built house. Toward the close of the sermon, I asked, ‘Which of you will give yourself soul and body to God?’ One cried out with a cry that almost shook the house, ‘O, I will - I will ’ and as soon as she could stand she came forth in the midst to witness it before all the congregation. It was Mrs. Glass her words pierced like lightning. Presently another witnessed the same resolution and not long after, one who had been sorrowing, as without hope, Mrs. Meecham, lifted up her head with joy, and continued singing and praising God to the dawn of the next day. Perceiving this was an acceptable time, I laid aside my design of meeting the Society, and continued in prayer with the whole congregation, all our hearts being as the heart of one man when I had at length pronounced the blessing, no man stirred, but each stayed in his place till I walked through them. I was soon called back, by one crying out, ‘My God! My God! Why hast thou forgotten me? We called upon God in her behalf. The cries both of her and several others redoubled but we continued wrestling with the Lord in prayer, till he gave, us an answer of peace.
Tuesday, 2Oth - I met the Society, where one and another, and another, cried aloud for mercy we called upon God, till several of them found mercy, and praised him with a good courage. I think more found peace with God in those four days, than in sixteen months before.”
Mr. Wesley visited Tyrrell’s Pass, Mountmelick, and other places near Athlone and he speaks of adding to the Society, the same day, in one place, “above three - score souls “he also says that in some of those places the power attending the word was so manifest, that “his voice could not be heard, for the voice of those who called for mercy, or praised the God of their salvation.”
Mr. Wesley now returned to England, and a month afterwards received the following communication relative to the work in and about Athlone. It was written by one of the Preachers labouring there.
Dear Sir - Many have found a sense of the pardoning love of God at Athlone since you left it and the Society in general are on the stretch for the kingdom of God. The Lord has kindled a fire in Aughrim, likewise. The last time but one that I was there, several, were struck with deep convictions, which continued till I came again while I was meeting the Society there, the governess of Mr. S - ’s children was struck to the ground, and in a short time was filled with peace and joy in the Holy Ghost. The next morning his steward was cut to the heart, and fell upon his knees, in the midst of the sermon, as did Mr. S - himself, together with his wife, and great part of the congregation. The steward went home full of peace and love this has set the whole Society on fire so that now, every one is crying out, ‘What must I do to be saved?’
“The same fire is kindled at Portarlington. I went thither the next Sunday after you. One then found a sense of God’s pardoning love and last Saturday, in the Society some cried out, and some fell to the ground, three of whom found peace to their souls.
“I was at Mountmelick, likewise, the next Sunday after you, and the power of God was present to heal. Two that were heavy laden found rest that night. The next time we met we scarcely knew how to part. We continued singing and praying till five persons received a clear manifestation of the love of God. Another found the same blessing while I was preaching this morning. We spent some time afterwards at James Moss’s house, in praying with some that were under deep convictions and two of them went home, rejoicing in God their Saviour. I was now informed of two more that were rejoicing in God so that in Mountmelick twelve persons in all have found peace that passeth all understanding, since you left that place.
“I preached at Rahew, likewise, the week after you were there. The man of the house had fetched his mother from a considerable distance. She had never heard a Methodist Preacher before. She was soon cut to the heart, and cried out aloud. One behind her hid her face upon her knees, which she presently did, and the whole house was in one cry. I broke off my discourse, and began to pray, which I continued till I was so spent I could hardly speak. I went out to take a little breath, and came in again. She was crying out, ‘I am dropping, dropping into hell - its mouth is open, ready to swallow me up! I went to prayer again and before we had done, God spoke peace to her soul. She was filled with joy unspeakable, and could but just say, ‘I am in a new world - I am in a new world.’
“From the whole, I cannot but observe two things, 1st. What a blessing it is when any one finds that peace, declares it openly before all the people, that we may break off and praise God if this were always done it would be good for many souls the first that found it on Sunday evening spoke before all, and we praised God. The moment she spoke, another, and then another found peace, and each of them spoke aloud, and made the fire run through the whole congregation. I would observe, 2d. The woman at Rahen had never before seen any one in the like trouble therefore she could not cry out because she had heard others do it but because she could not help it because she felt the word of God sharper than a two - edged sword and generally the sharper convictions are the sooner they are over.”
In the following year Mr. Wesley again visited this place of “broad waters,”and found congregations “more than doubled,’’ and the Society increased, both in number and in the grace of God,
EVERTON. The labours of the two Wesleys were made a blessing to several Clergymen of the Church, amongst whom was Mr. Berridge, of Everton, Mr. WesIey, being at Bedford, in November, 1758, was informed that Mr. Berridge desired to see him. On Thursday, 9th, be accordingly set out for Everton. “I found,”says Mr. Wesley, “Mr. B - just taking horse, with whom I rode on, and in the evening, preached at Wrestlingworth, in a large church, well filled with serious hearers we lodged at Mr. Hicke’s, the Vicar - a witness of the faith he once persecuted. The next morning I preached in his church again, in the middle of the sermon a woman before me dropped down as dead, as one had done the night before. In a short time she came to herself, and remained deeply sensible of her want of Christ. We rode on to Mr. B - ’s, at Everton for many years he was seeking to be justified by his works but a few months ago he was thoroughly convinced that by grace are we saved through faith immediately he began to proclaim aloud the redemption that is in Jesus and God confirmed his word, exactly as he did at Bristol, in the beginning, by working repentance and faith in the hearers, and with the same violent outward symptoms. I preached at six in the evening, and five in the morning, and some were struck just as at Wrestlingworth. One of these was brought into the house with whom we spent a considerable time in prayer.
Monday Dec. l8th - I rode to Everton. The church was well filled soon after six in the evening. God gave me great liberty of speech, and applied his word to the hearts of the hearers, many of whom were not able to contain themselves, but cried aloud for mercy.”
In the subsequent spring and summer the work of God exceedingly increased under the Rev. Mr. Berridge, as appears from the following journal of an intelligent eyewitness.
Sunday May 20th 1759 - Being with Mr. B - ll, at Everton, I was much fatigued, and did not rise but Mr. B - did and observed several fainting and crying out, while Mr. Berridge was preaching afterwards, at church, I heard many cry out, especially children, whose agonies were amazing one of the eldest, a girl of ten or twelve years old, was full in view, in violent contortions of body, and weeping aloud. I think, incessantly, during the whole service and several more children were in Mr. B - ll’s view, agonizing as they did. The church was equally crowded in the afternoon - the windows being filled within and without, and even the outside of the pulpit, to the very top so that Mr. B - seemed almost stifled with their breath yet feebly and sickly as he is, he was continually strengthened, and his voice, for the most part distinguishable, in the midst of all the outcries. I believe there were present three times more men than women, a great part of whom came from afar thirty of them having set out at two in the morning, from a place thirteen miles off. The text was,’ Having the form of godliness, but denying the power thereof.’ When the power of religion began to be spoken of, the presence of God really filled the place and while poor sinners felt the sentence of death in their souls, what sounds of distress did I hear! The greatest number of them, who cried or fell, were men but some women, and several children, felt the power of the same Almighty Spirit, and seemed just sinking into hell. This occasioned a mixture of various sounds, some shrieking, some roaring aloud the most general was a loud breathing, like that of people half strangled, and gasping for life and indeed almost all the cries were like those of human creatures dying in bitter anguish. Great numbers wept without any noise others fell down as dead, sonic sinking in silence some with extreme noise and violent agitation. I stood on the pew - seat, as did a young man in the opposite pew - an able - bodied, fresh, healthy countryman but in a moment, while he seemed to think of nothing less, down he dropped with a violence inconceivable. The adjoining pew seemed to shake with his fall I heard afterwards the stamping of his feet, ready to break the boards, as he lay in strong convulsions at the bottom of the pew. Among several that were struck down in the next pew was a girl, who was as violently seized as he when he fell, Mr. B - Il and I felt our souls thrilled with a momentary dread as when one man is killed by a cannon - ball, another often feels the wind of it.
Among the children who felt the arrows of the Almighty, I saw a sturdy boy, about eight years old, who roared above his fellows, and seemed in his agony to struggle with the strength of a grown man. His face was red as scarlet, and almost all on whom God laid his hand, turned either very red, or almost black. When I returned, after a little walk, to Mr. Berridge’s house, I found it full of people he was fatigued, but said he would nevertheless, give them a word of exhortation. I stayed in the next room, and saw the girl whom I had observed so peculiarly distressed in the church lying on the floor as one dead, but without any ghastliness in her face. In a few minutes we were informed of a woman filled with peace and joy, who was crying out just before she had come thirteen miles, and is the same person who dreamed Mr. B - would come to her village, on that very day, wherein he did come, though without either knowing the place or the way to it. She was convinced at that time. Just as we heard of her deliverance, the girl on the floor began to stir. She was then set in a chair, and after sighing awhile, suddenly rose up rejoicing in God her face was covered with the most beautiful smile I ever saw. She frequently fell on her knees, but was generally running to and fro, speaking these and the like words, - ’ O, what can Jesus do for lost sinners! He has forgiven all my sins! I am in heaven!
- I am in heaven! O how He loves me!and how I love Him!’ Meantime I saw a thin, pale girl, weeping with sorrow for herself and joy for her companions. Quickly the smiles of heaven came, likewise, on her and her praises joined with those of the other. I then also laughed with extreme joy so did Mr. B - , who said it was more than he could well bear. So did all who knew the Lord, and some of those who were waiting for salvation till the cries of them who were struck with the arrows of conviction were almost lost in the sounds of joy.
“Two or three well - dressed young women, who seemed careless before, now felt the power of God, and cried out with a loud and bitter cry. Mr. B - about this time retired, and the Duke of M - , with Mr. A - le came in they seemed inclined to make a disturbance, but were restrained, and in a short time quietly retired. We continued praising God with all our might and His work went on as when Mr. B - was exhorting. I had for some time observed a young woman all in tears but now her countenance changed. The unspeakable joy appeared in her face, which, quick as lightning, was filled with smiles, and became of crimson colour. About the same time John Keeling, of Potton, fell into an agony but he became calm in a quarter of an hour, though without a clear sense of pardon.
“Immediately after, a stranger, well dressed, who stood facing me, fell backward to the wall, then forward on his knees, wringing his hands, and roaring like a bull his face at first turned quite red, then almost black he rose, and ran against the wall, till Mr. Keeling and another held him. He screamed out - “O what shall I do? O for one drop of the blood of Christ!” As he spoke, God set his soul at liberty he knew his sins were blotted out and the raptures he was in seemed too great for human nature to bear he had come forty miles to hear Mr. B - II, and was to leave him the next morning, which he did with a glad heart, telling all who came in his way what God had done for his soul.
“I observed about the time that Mr. Coe (that was his name) began to rejoice, a girl eleven or twelve years old, exceedingly poorly dressed, who appeared to be as deeply wounded, and as desirous of salvation, as any but I lost sight of her, till I heard the joyful sound of another born in Sion and found, upon enquiry, it was she - the poor, disconsolate, gypsy - looking child. And now did I see such a sight, as I do not expect again on this side eternity. The faces of three justified children, and I think of all the believers present, did really shine and such a beauty, such a look of extreme happiness, and at the same time, of divine love and simplicity, did I never see in human faces till now. The newly justified eagerly embraced one another, weeping on each other’s necks for joy. Then they saluted all of their own sex, and besought both men and women to help them in praising God.
“I have mentioned only one man, two women, and three children at this time justified in the house but have, perhaps, omitted some and it is probable there were more than one justified at the church, though but one came to speak of it for all are not equally free to glorify God in the midst of his people. I wish all who find the same salvation with Mr. Coe, were as ready to proclaim redeeming love!
Thursday, 24th - Mr. B - H and I went to hear Mr. flicks, at Wrestlingworth, four miles from Everton. We discoursed with him first, and were glad to hear that he had wholly given himself up to the glorious work of God, and that the power of the Highest fell upon his hearers, as upon Mr. Berridge’s. While he was preaching, fifteen or sixteen persons felt the arrows of the Lord, and dropped down. A few of them cried out with the utmost violence, with little intermission, for some hours while the rest made no great noise, but continual struggling as in the pangs of death. I ob - served beside these, one little girl deeply convinced, and a boy nine or ten years old both of them, and several others, were carried into the parsonage house, either lay as dead, or struggled with all their might but in a short time their cries increased beyond measure, so that the loudest singing could scarcely be heard. Some at last called on me to pray, which I did, and for a time all were cairn but the storm soon began again. Mr. Hicks then prayed, and afterwards Mr. B - ll but still, though some received consolation, others remained in deep sorrow of heart.
“Upon the whole, I remark, that few ancient people experience any thing of this work of God, and scarcely any of the rich. These either show an utter contempt of or enmity to it, indeed, so did Mr. Hicks himself, some time since having so deep an aversion to it that he denied the sacrament to those of his parish who went to hear Mr. Berridge. Neither of these gentlemen has much eloquence, but seem rather weak in speech the Lord hereby more clearly showing that this is his own work. It extends into Cambridgeshire, to within a mile of the University, and about as far into Huntingdonshire, but flourishes most of all in the eastern and northern parts of Bedfordshire
“The violent struggling of many in the above - mentioned churches has broken several pews and benches. Yet it is common for people to remain unaffected there, and to drop down in the way home. Some have been afterward found lying as dead on the road others, in Mr. B - ’s garden - not being able to walk from the church to his house, though it is not two hundred yards.”
The following is an extract of a letter written at this period, and addressed to the author of the above Journal, by Mr. Berridge himself.
“On Sunday se’nnight, a man of Wybersly, ‘a Nathaniel indeed,’ was so ‘filled with the love of God,’ during morning prayer, that he dropped down, and lay as dead for two hours he had been so filled with love all the week before, that he was often, for a time, unable to work. On Sunday night last, as I was speaking in my house, there was a violent outcry. One soul was set at liberty. We sung nearly an hour, and the Lord released three more out of captivity.
“On Monday se’nnight, Mr. Hicks accompanied me to Mildred. On the way we called at a farmer’s house after dinner I went into his yard, and seeing nearly one hundred and fifty people, I called for a table, and preached for the first time in the open air two persons were seized with strong convictions, fell down, and cried out most bitterly. We then went to Mildred, where I preached in a field to about four thousand people in the afternoon at five, Mr. Hicks preached in the same field to about a thousand and now the presence of the Lord was wonderfully amongst us. There was abundance of weeping and strong crying, and I trust, beside many that were slightly wounded, nearly thirty received true heart - felt convictions. At ten, we returned, and called again at the farmer’s house. Seeing about a dozen people in the brewhouse, I spoke a few words immediately the farmer’s daughter dropped down in strong convictions. Another was also miserably torn by Satan, but set at liberty before I had done prayer. At four I preached in my own house, and God gave the Spirit of adoption to another mourner.
The following is an extract from the Journal of Mr. Hicks, one of the honoured instruments of this glorious work -
June 6th 1759 - I spoke this morning at Orwell, on Isaiah lvi. 1. One who had been convinced of sin, fell down in a kind of fit, and broke out in great anguish of soul, calling on the Lord Jesus for salvation. He wrought as in the agonies of death, and was quite bathed in sweat. He beat the chair against which he kneeled, as one who drew nigh unto hell his countenance then cleared up at once, and we hoped he would presently be set at liberty but on a sudden he was more distressed than ever, being in the sharpest conflict every muscle of his body was in strong agitation, as if nature were just dissolving. I never saw any convulsion - fit so violent but in a moment God dispelled the cloud, his face was again covered with smiles and he spoke as seeing the Lord near him. He cried unto Him, and the Lord pronounced him freely forgiven. At that instant he clapped his hands, and cried aloud, ‘Jesus is mine He is my Saviour!’ His soul was in peace neither did he find the least bodily pain or soreness. I asked, ‘For what would you undergo this again?’ He said, ‘Not for all the world but I would suffer more, rather than be without Christ yea, for his sake, I would suffer all things.’ An unwise man doth not consider this a fool doth not understand it.
“This morning Ann Simpson, aged sixteen or seventeen, lay nearly an hour in the utmost distress, shrieking out, ‘ Christ! Christ!’ and no other word her face all the time being violently distorted. I left her awhile, but could hardy sit down, before I heard the voice of praise. I asked her, ‘Why she cried out continually, Christ, Christ,’ She answered, ‘ I thought myself at the time on a little island, and saw Satan in a hideous form, just ready to devour me, hell all around open to receive me, and myself ready to drop in while no help appeared, nor any way to escape but, just as I was dropping in, the Lord appeared between me and the great gulf and would not let me fall into it. As soon as I saw him, all my trouble was gone, and all the pain I felt before and ever since I have been light and joyful, and filled with the love of God.’”
July 11th - “I heard Mr. Hicks,” says the gentleman from whose journal we have already quoted, “preach an excellent sermon on ‘the strait gate.’ He told me that he was first convinced of sin August 1st, 1758, and finding peace in about six weeks, first preached the gospel on September 17th. From that time he was accounted a fool and a madman. About two thousand souls seem to have been awakened by Mr. B - and him within this twelvemonth.
Friday 13th - Mr. R - , as well as Mr. M - , was in doubt concerning the work of God here but this morning they were both fully convinced, while Alice Miller, the little pale girl, justified May 20th, who is in the sixteenth, and Molly Raymond, who is in the twelfth year of her age, related their experience, their artless confidence confirming their words.
Saturday l4th - Mr. B - , being ill, desired me to exhort a few people in his house which the Lord enabled me to do with such ease and power, that I was quite amazed. The next morning at seven, his servant Caleb Price spoke to about two hundred people. The Lord was wonderfully present, more than twenty persons feeling the arrows of conviction several fell to the ground, some of whom seemed dead, others in the agonies of death the violence of their bodily convulsions exceeding all description. There was also great crying, and agonizing in prayer, mixed with deep and deadly groans on every side. When sermon was ended, one brought tidings to Mr. B - , from Grandchester, that God had there broken down seventeen persons last week, by the singing of hymns only, and that a child seven years old sees many visions, and astonishes the neighbours with her innocent, awful manner of declaring them. In the afternoon, Mr. B - was constrained, by the multitude of people, to come out of the church and preach in his own close. Some of those who were here ‘pricked to the heart,’ were affected in an astonishing manner. The first man I saw wounded would have dropped, but others catching him in their arms did indeed prop him up but it seemed as if the Lord came upon him like a giant, taking him by the neck, and shaking all his bones in pieces. One woman tore up the ground with her hands, and another screamed in more dreadful agony than I had heard before. I omit the rejoicing of believers, because of their number and frequency thereof though the manner was strange, some of them being quite overpowered with divine love, and only showing enough of natural life to let us know they were overwhelmed with joy and life eternal. Some continued long as if they were dead, but with a calm sweetness in their looks. I saw one who lay two or three hours in the open air, and being then carried into the house, continued insensible another hour, as if actually dead. The first sign of life she showed was a rapture of praise, intermingled with a small joyous laughter.
Tuesday 17th - We walked towards Harlston, near which Mr. B - overtook us. He was greatly fatigued and dejected, and said, ‘I am now so weak, I must leave off field - preaching.’ Nevertheless, he cast himself on the Lord, and stood up to preach, having nearly three thousand hearers. He was very weak at first, and scarcely able to speak but God soon performed his promise, imparting new strength to him, and causing him to speak with mighty power. A great ‘shaking was among the dry bones.’ Incessant were the cries, groans, wringing of hands, and prayers of sinners, now first convinced of their deplorable condition. After preaching, he was lively and strong, so that the closeness of a crowded house neither affected his breath, nor hindered his rejoicing over two children, one about eight, the other about six years old, who were crying aloud to God for mercy.
Wednesday, l8th - We called at the house where Mr. B - had been preaching in the morning, and found several there rejoicing in God, and several mourning after him. A vehement wrestling with God ran through the whole company whether sorrowful or rejoicing, till, beside three young women of the house, a young man and a girl about eleven years old, who had been counted one of the wickedest in Harlston, were exceedingly blessed with the consolation of God. We went on, and met Mr. B - at Stapleford, five miles from Cambridge. His heart was particularly set on this people, because he was Curate here for five or six years, but never preached a gospel sermon among them till this evening. About fifteen hundred persons met in a close to hear him great part of whom were laughers and mockers. The work of God, however, quickly began among them that were serious while not a few endeavoured to make sport, by mimicking the gestures of them that were wounded. Both these, and those who rejoiced in God, gave great offence to some stern - looking men, who vehemently demanded to have those wretches horsewhipped out of the close. Need we wonder at this, when several of his own people are unwilling to let God work in his own way? And well may Satan be enraged at the cries of the people, and the prayers they make in the bitterness of their souls seeing that we know these are the chief times at which Satan is cast out. I heard a dreadful noise on the fartherside of the congregation and turning thither saw one Thomas Skinner coming forward, the most horrible human figure I ever saw his large wig and hair were coal - black, his face distorted beyond all description he roared incessantly, throwing and clapping his hands together with his whole force. Several were terrified, and hasted out of his way I was glad to hear him after a while pray aloud. Not a few of the triflers grew serious while his kindred and acquaintance were very unwilling to believe even their own eyes and ears. They would fain have got him away but he fell on the earth, crying, ‘ My burden, my burden, I cannot bear it!’ Some of his brother scoffers were calling for horse whips till they saw him extended on his back at full length. They then said he was dead and indeed, the only sign of life was the working of his breast, and the distortions of his face while the veins of his neck were swelled, as if ready to burst. He was just before the chief captain of Satan’s forces none was by nature more fitted for mockery none could swear more heroically to whip out of the close all who were affected by the preaching. His agonies lasted some hours.
When Mr. B - had refreshed himself a little, he returned to the close, and bid the multitude take warning by Skinner, who still lay roaring and tormented on the ground. All the people were now deeply serious and several hundreds, instead of going when Mr. B - dismissed them, stayed in Mr. Jennings’s yard. Many of these, especially men, were truly broken in heart. Mr. B - talked with as many as could come into the house and seeing what numbers stood hungering without, sent me word to pray with them. This was a grievous cross I knew it was the Lord’s will but felt such weakness of body, and sickness of spirit, and was withal so hoarse, that I supposed few could hear out of some hundreds who stood before me however, I attempted and in a moment the Lord poured upon me such a spirit of supplication, and gave me so clear and so strong an utterance, that it seemed I was another man - a farther instance that the servants of God are not sent a warfare on their own charge.
Thursday l9th - I returned to Mr. Jennings’s, who had set out at four in the morning to hear Mr. B - , at Grandchester. He came soon after me, but was scarcely able to speak. I never saw a man sweat in such a manner the large drops seeming fixed all over his face, just like beads of glass. The congregation at Grandchester this morning consisted of about one thousand persons, among whom the Lord was wonderfully present, convincing a far greater number now than even last night. Mr. Jennings was a mild good - natured Pharisee, who had never been awakened but he was now thoroughly convinced of his lost estate, and stood for a time in utter despair, with his mouth wide open, his eye staring, and full of huge dismay. When he found power to speak, he cried out, ‘I thought I had led a good life I thought I was not so bad as others but I am the vilest creature upon earth! I am dropping into hell! Now now, this very moment’ He then saw hell open to receive him, and Satan ready to cast him in but it was not long before he saw the Lord Jesus, and knew he had accepted him. He then cried aloud, in an unspeakable rapture, ‘I have got Christ! I have got Christ!’ For two hours he was in the visions of God. Then the joy though not the peace, abated. I had left Mr. Jennings but a little while, when I heard John Dennis loudly praising God. I no sooner kneeled by him, than the consolations of God came upon me, so that I trembled and wept much. Nor was the Spirit poured out upon us alone all in the house were partakers of it. I walked to hear Mr. B - , at Triplow fifteen hundred, or two thousand, were assembled in the close. The only unpolished part of the audience were a few gentlemen on horseback. They were much offended at the cries of those in conviction, but much more at the rejoicing of others, even to laughter but they were not able to look them in the face for half a minute together. I looked after service at every ring the people made about those that fell under the word. Here and there was a place with only one but there were generally two or three together and on one spot not less than seven, who lay on the ground as if slain in battle. I soon followed Mr. B - to the house, and found both it and the orchard filled with serious people to whom he spake till his strength failed, and then seeing them unwilling to depart, desired me to dismiss them with prayer. I felt great reluctance but so mightily, when I began, came the Spirit upon me, that I found no want of utterance, while I was praying with about two hundred souls. I thought they had then gone away but perceived an hour after most of them were still in the house or orchard sighs and groans, prayers, tears, and joyful praise being intermixed on every side.
Friday 2Oth - Three times more people were struck this morning with convictions, than had been last night.
Sunday 22nd - The church at Everton was quite filled, and hundreds were without. And now the arrows of God flew abroad the inexpressible groan, the lamenting, praying, roaring, were so loud, almost without intermission, that we who stood without, could scarcely help thinking, all in the church were cut to the heart but upon enquiry we found about two hundred persons, chiefly men, cried aloud for mercy but many more were affected, perhaps as deeply, though in a calmer way. Good news came from several parts, especially Grandchester where ten more persons were cut to the heart, in singing hymns among them selves and the little child before mentioned continues to astonish all the neighbourhood. A noted physician came some time ago and closely examined her. The result was, he confessed, ‘It was no distemper of the mind, but the hand of God.’
Monday 23rd - Mr. Keeling and I walked to Barford. I was relating there how God had plucked such a brand as me out of the burning but my voice was quickly stopped by rejoicing and I have often found, that nothing I can say makes so much impression on myself, or others, as thus repeating my own conversion.
A few weeks after this, Mr. Wesley again visited Everton, and placed on record the following particulars
Sunday August 5th - During the prayers, as also during the sermon, and administration of the sacrament, a few persons cried aloud but it was not from sorrow, but love and joy. The same I observed in several parts of the afternoon service. In the evening I preached in Mr. Hicks’s church two or three persons fell to the ground, and were extremely convulsed but none cried out. One or two were filled with strong consolation.
Monday 6th - I talked largely with Ann Thorn, and, two others, who had been several times in trances. What they all agreed in, was - 1. That when they went away, as they termed it, it was always at the time they were fullest of the love of God. 2. That it came upon them in a moment, without any previous notice, and took away all their senses and strength - 3. That there were some exceptions but, generally, from that moment, they were in another world - knowing nothing of what was said or done by any that were around them. About five in the afternoon I heard them singing hymns. Soon after, Mr. B - came up, and told me, Alice Miller (fifteen years old) was fallen into a trance. I went down immediately, and found her sitting on a stool, and leaning against the wall, with her eyes open, and fixed upward. I made a motion, as if going to strike but they continued immoveable. Her face showed an unspeakable mixture of reverence and love, while silent tears stole down her cheeks. Her lips were a little open, and sometimes moved but not enough to cause any sound. I do not know whether ever I saw a human face look so beautiful. Sometimes it was covered with a smile, as from joy mixed with love and reverence but the tears fell still, though not so fast. Her pulse was quite regular. In about half - an - hour I observed her countenance change into the form of fear, pity, and distress. Then she burst into a flood of tears, and cried out, ‘Dear Lord they will be damned!’ but in about five minutes her smiles returned, and only love and joy appeared in her face. About half - an - hour after six, I observed distress take place again and soon after she wept bitterly, and cried out, ‘Dear Lord, they will go to hell. The world will go to hell ‘ Soon after, she said, ‘ Cry aloud spare not!’ and in a few moments her looks were composed again, and spoke a mixture of reverence, joy, and love. Then she said aloud, ‘Give God the glory! ‘ About seven, her senses returned I asked, “Where have you been?” “I have been with my Saviour.” “In heaven, or on earth? I cannot tell but I was in glory” “Why then did you cry?” “Not for myself, but for the world for I saw they were on the brink of hell” “Whom did you desire to give glory to God” “Ministers, that cry aloud to the world else they will be proud and then God will leave them, and they will lose their own souls.”
“I preached at eight, and the whole congregation were earnestly attentive but not above one or two cried out and I did not observe any that fainted away, either then or in the morning. I have generally observed more or less of these outward symptoms to attend the beginning of a general work of God. So it was in New England, Scotland, Holland, Ireland, and many parts of England but after a time they gradually decrease, and the work goes on quietly and silently. Those whom it pleases God to employ in this work, ought to be quite passive in this respect. They should choose nothing but leave entirely to him all the circumstances of his own work.’’
Upwards of three months elapsed before Mr. Wesley’s next visit to the scene of this glorious revival and when he had come, he perceived that some of the outward features of the work had undergone a considerable change.
Sunday Nov. 25th - Mr. Wesley says, “I was a little afraid my strength would not suffice for reading prayers, and preaching, and administering the Lord’s - supper, alone, to a large number of communicants but all was well. Mr.Hicks began his own service early, and came before I had ended my sermon. So we finished the whole before two, and I had time to breathe before the evening service. In the afternoon God was eminently present with us, though rather to comfort than to convince. But I observed a remarkable difference since I was here before, as to the manner of the work. None now were in trances, none cried out, none fell down, or were convulsed only some trembled exceedingly a low murmur was heard and many were refreshed with the multitude of peace.
“The danger was to regard extraordinary circumstances too much - such as outcries, convulsions, visions, trances, as if they were essential to the inward work, so that it could not go on without them perhaps the danger is, to regard them too little to condemn them altogether to imagine they had nothing of God in them, and were an hindrance to his work. Whereas the truth is : -
1. God suddenly and strongly convinced many that they were lost sinners the natural consequences whereof were, sudden outcries, and strong bodily convulsions.
2. To strengthen and encourage them that believed, and to make his work more approved, he favoured several of them with divine dreams, others with trances and visions.
3. In some of these instances, after a time, nature mixed with grace.
4. Satan likewise mimicked this work of God, in order to discredit the whole work and yet it is not wise to give up this part, any more than to give up the whole. At first it was doubtless wholly from God it is partly so at this day and he will enable us to discern how far in every case it is pure, and where it mixes or degenerates. Let us even suppose, that in some few cases there was a mixture of dissimulation that persons pretended to see or feel what they did not, and imitated the cries or convulsive motions of those who were really overpowered by the Spirit of God yet even this should not make us deny or undervalue the real work of the Spirit. The shadow is no disparagement of the substance, nor the counterfeit of the real diamond.’’
DUBLIN - A gracious revival took place in this city, in. 1762, and spread to several other places in Ireland. Mr. Wesley says, “The person by whom chiefly it had pleased God to work this wonderful work, was John Manners a plain man, of middling sense, and not eloquent, but rather rude in speech one who had never before been remarkably useful, but seemed to be raised up for this single work and as soon asit was done, he fell into a consumption, languished awhile, and died. On examination I found he had not at all exceeded the truth, in the accounts he had sent me from time to time. In one of his first letters, after I left town, he says, “The work here is such as I never expected to see. Some are justified or sanctified almost every day. This week, three or four were justified, and as many, if not more, renewed in love. The people are all on fire. Such a day as last Sunday I never saw. While I was at prayer in the Society, the power of the Lord overshadowed us, and some cried out, Lord, I can believe! The cry soon became general, with strong prayers. Twice I attempted to sing, but my voice could not be heard. I then desired them to restrain themselves, and in stillness and composure to wait for the blessing on which, all but two or three, who could not refrain, came into solemn silence. I prayed again, and the softening power of grace was felt in many hearts. Our congregations increased much, and I have no doubt but that we shall see greater things than these.”
Four days after, he writes, “The work of God increases every day. There is hardly a day but some are justified, or sanctified, or both. On Thursday three came and told me that the blood of Jesus Christ had cleansed them from all sin. One of them said, she had been justified seven years, and had been five years convinced of the necessity of sanctification but this easy conviction availed not. A fortnight since she was seized with so keen a conviction, as gave her no rest till God had sanctified her, and witnessed it to her heart.”
The following extracts from the journal of Mr. Manners will show the progress of the work
May 11th - God still continues his marvellous loving - kindness to us. On Sunday last, Dorothy King entered into the rest. She had been seeking it for some time but her convictions and desires grew stronger and stronger, as the hour approached. Awhile ago she told me she grew worse and worse, and her inward conflicts were greater than ever but on the Lord’s day she felt an entire change, while these words were spoken to her heart, ‘ Thou art all fair, my love there is no spot in thee.’ She now walks in sweet peace, and rejoices evermore her father received the blessing a few days before, and is exceedingly happy.
“The fire catches all that come near. An old soldier, in his return from Germany to the north of Ireland, fell in, one night, with these wrestling Jacobs, to his great astonishment. He was justified seventeen years ago, but afterwards fell from it for five years. As he was going to Germany, in the beginning of the war, the Lord healed him in Dublin and in spite of all the distresses of a severe campaign he walked in the light continually. On his return through London he was convinced of the necessity of sanctification and soon after he came hither, his heart was broken to pieces, while he was with a little company, who meet daily for prayer. One evening, as they were going away, he stopped them, and begged they would not go till the Lord had blessed him they kneeled down again, and did not cease wrestling with God till he had a witness that he was saved from all sin.
“The case of Mr. Timmins is no less remarkable he had been a notorious sinner he was deeply wounded two months since. Ten days ago, on a Friday, God spake peace to his soul. The Sunday following, after a violent struggle, he sunk down as dead he was cold as clay. After about ten minutes he came to himself, and cried, ‘A new heart, a new heart! ‘ He said he felt himself in an instant entirely emptied of sin, and filled with God. Brother Barry, likewise, had been justified but a few days before God gave him purity of heart.
May l5th - God still makes me a messenger of good tidings his work goes on. Our last night’s meeting was remarkable for the presence and power of God, while several were relating what he had done. One said, ‘All that day in which God delivered me, I felt the blessing just at hand, but I could not open my heart to receive it. II was fast shut up till, under the sermon in the evening, I felt God open my heart, remove the bar of unbelief, and he gave me power to receive the blessing freely.’ There are now three places in this city, wherein as many as have opportunity assemble day and night, to pour out their souls before God, for the continuance and enlargement of his work.
May l9tlh - Since my last entry many have been sanctified, and several justified. We begin now to meet with opposition from every quarter. Some say, ‘This is rank enthusiasm others, that it is either a cheat, or mere pride others, that it is a new thing, and that they can find nothing like it in the Bible.
June 3rd - The Lord increases his work in proportion to the opposition it meets with. Between Monday morning and Saturday night I have had eight bills of thanksgiving - for two justified, three renewed in love, and three backsliders healed.
June l5th - There is no end to the mercies of God. On Sunday afternoon I preached in the Barrack Square to as many as my voice could reach and they were all remarkably attentive. In the evening a cry ran through the Society, and four were justified that night. Two of these, Alexander Tate and his wife, were but lately joined. ‘The power of God first seized her, and constrained her to cry aloud, till she heard the small still voice he continued calling upon God, and would not cease, before God answered him also to the joy of his heart.
June l9th - We had eight this week whose sins are blotted out and two more have entered into the rest of perfect love. One says she has enjoyed the love of God nine years but feels as great a difference between that state, and the state she is now in, as if her soul were taken into heaven.
June 26th - Last week eleven were justified or sanctified, and. this week eleven more, eight of whom have received remission of sins, and three a clean heart and a troop are waiting for the moving of the waters.
“July 3rd - Our joy is now full. The flame rises higher and higher. Since Saturday last eight sinners more are freely justified, and two more renewed in love. Our house was once large enough now it is scarcely able to contain us and we have not many in Society who are not either wrestling with God for his love, or rejoicing therein.”
“Upon farther examination,” says Mr. Wesley, “I found three or four - and - forty in Dublin, who seemed to enjoy the pure love of God. At least forty of these had been set at liberty within four months. Some others who had received the same blessing, were removed out of the city the same, if not a larger number, had, found remission of sins nor was the hand of the Lord shortened yet he still wrought as swiftly as ever, in some respects the work of God in this place was more remarkable than even that in London. It is far greater, in proportion to the time, and to the number of people. That Society had above seven - and - twenty hundred members this not a fifth part of that number. Six months after the flame broke out there we had about thirty witnesses of this great salvation. In Dublin there were above forty in less than four months. The work was more pure. In all this time, while they were mildly and tenderly treated, there were none of them headstrong or unadvisable none that were wiser than their teachers none who dreamed of being infallible, or incapable of temptation in short, no whimsical or enthusiastic persons all were calm and sober - minded.
“I know several of these were in process of time moved from their steadfastness I am not surprised at this it was no more than expected. I rather wonder that more were not moved nor does this in any degree alter my judgment concerning the great work which God then wrought.”
This gracious visitation extended to Limerick, as appears from the following extracts of letters addressed to Mr. Wesley, dated July 20th, 1762 -
“There is a glorious work going on at Limerick twelve or fourteen have a clear sense of being renewed, several have been justified this week and on Sunday night, at the meeting of the Society, there was such a cry as I never heard before - such confession of’ sins, such pleading with the Lord, and such a spirit of prayer, as if the Lord himself had been visibly present among us some received remission of sins, and several were just brought to the birth all were in floods of tears - they trembled, they cried, they prayed, they roared aloud all of them lying on the ground. I began to sing yet they could not rise, but sang as they lay along. When we concluded, some of them could not go away but stayed in the house all night. And blessed be our Lord, they all hitherto walk worthy of their calling
Another writes, “I will just tell you the Lord has made your last visit to us a great blessing. Such times were never before in Limerick. The fire, which broke out before you left us, is now spreading on every side. Four were happy before you left us several others can now rejoice evermore, and pray without ceasing and certainly this they could not do, did they not love God with all their heart.’’ A third writes, five days later, and says, “Blessed be God - his word runs swiftly. Last night his power was present indeed and another was assured that God, who had before forgiven his sins, had now cleansed him from all unrighteousness. There are now ten women and thirteen men, who witness the same confession and their lives agree thereto. Eight have lately received the remission of their sins and many are on the full stretch for God, and just ready to step into the pool.”
“Hence it appears,” says Mr. Wesley, “that in proportion to the time, which was only three or four weeks, and the number of hearers, (not one half, if a third part,) the work of God was greater in Limerick than even in Dublin itself.” He also speaks of persons in this revival being “convinced and converted in the same hour,” but that for which it was most remarkable was the progress of entire sanctification.
KINGSWOOD - Upon the children of the School, which Mr. Wesley established in this place, the Holy Ghost was frequently poured out and here, as well as in many other places, children of tender years became the happy partakers of the saving grace of God. In September, 1770, Mr. Wesley, speaking of one of those seasons of refreshing, says -
Sunday September l6th - The appointed Preacher not coming in time, I preached myself, at five at eight, in Princess Street at two, in Kingswood and near King’s - square, at five in the evening. It was the day before that I first observed a very uncommon concern in the children at Kingswood School, while I was explaining and enforcing upon them the first principles of religion.
Tuesday l8th - Most of the children went to see the body of Francis Evans, one of the neighbours who died two or three days before. About seven, Mr. Hind - marsh met them all in school, and gave an exhortation suited to the occasion. He then gave out that hymn -
‘And am I born to die,
To lay this body down?
And must my trembling spirit fly
Into a world unknown?’
This increased their concern so that it was with great difficulty they contained themselves till he began to pray. Then two cried aloud for mercy and quickly another and another, till all but two or three were constrained to do the same and as long as he continued to pray, they continued the same loud and bitter cry. One of the maids, Elizabeth Nutt, was as deeply convinced as any of them. After prayer, Mr. H - said, ‘Those of you who are resolved to serve God may go and pray together.’ Fifteen of them did so, and continued wrestling with God, with strong cries and tears, till about nine o’clock.
Wednesday l9th - At the morning prayer, many of them cried out again, though not so violently. From this time their whole spirit and behaviour were changed they were all serious and loving to each other. The same seriousness and mildness continued on Thursday, and they walked together, talking only of the things of God. On Friday evening their concern greatly increased, and. caused them to break out again into strong cries. Saturday, they seemed to lose none of their concern, and spent all their spare time in prayer.
Sunday 23d - Fifteen of them gave me their names, ‘being resolved,’ they said, ‘to serve God.’ In the afternoon I gave them a strong exhortation, and afterwards Mr. Rankin. Their very countenances were entirely changed. They drank in every word.
Tuesday 25th - During the time of prayer m the evening, they were affected, just as they were the Tuesday before. The two other maids were then present, and were both cut to the heart”
Wednesday, 26th - Mr. Rankin says, “I rode, in the afternoon, to Kingswood, and went up - stairs, in - order to retire a little but when I came up I heard one of the boys at prayer, in an adjoining room. I listened awhile, and was exceedingly struck with many of his expressions. When he ceased I went in, and found two others with him just then three more came in, I went to prayer. The power of the Lord seemed to rest upon them all, and pierced their hearts with deep Conviction. The next morning’ I spent some time with all the children, and then desired those who were resolved to save their souls, to come up - stairs with me. I went up, and nine of the children followed me, who said they were determined to ‘flee from the wrath to come.’ I exhorted them never to rest till they found peace with God and then sung and prayed. The power of God came down in so wonderful a manner, that my voice was drowned by their cries. When I concluded, one of them broke out into prayer, in a manner that quite astonished me and during the whole day a peculiar spirit of seriousness rested on all the children. After spending some time in the school, on Friday, I desired those I had spoken to the day before, to follow me, which they did, and one more. I pressed each of them severally not to rest till he had a clear sense of the pardoning love of God. I then prayed and the Lord poured out his Spirit as the day before so that in a few minutes my voice could not be heard amidst their cries and groans.”
Friday 28th - Mr. Hindmarsh says, “When I came out into the ground, ten of the children quickly gathered round about me, earnestly asking what they must do to be saved? Nor could I disengage myself from them, till the bell rang for dinner. All this time we observed the children who wore most affected, learned faster and better than any of the rest. In the evening I explained to all the children the nature of the Lord’s - supper. I then met twelve of them apart, and spoke to each particularly. When I asked one of them, Simon Loyd, ‘What do you want to make you happy?’ after a little pause he answered, ‘ God, We went to prayer. Presently a cry rose from one and another, till it ran through all, vehemently calling upon God, and refusing to be comforted, without the knowledge of the love of God. About half - an - hour after eight I bade them good night, and sent them up to bed but Loyd, Brown, and Hindmarsh slipped aside, when the rest went up, being resolved they would not sleep, nor rest, till God revealed himself to them when they began to pray, some of the others heard them, and one and another stole down, - some half - dressed, some almost naked they continued praying by turns, nearly three - quarters of an hour, in which time, first one, then a second - and before they concluded, two more, - found peace with God. I then went to them, and asked Hindmarsh, ‘Why did you slip aside?’ He said, “Loyd, and Brown, and I had agreed together that we would not sleep till the Lord set us at liberty.’ After I had prayed with them, and praised God, till about half - an - hour past nine, I desired them to go to bed they did so all but those three, who slipped away, and stayed with Richard Piercy, who was in deep agony of soul, and would by no means be persuaded to rise from his knees. The children above, hearing them pray, in a few minutes ran down again they continued wrestling, with still increasing cries and tears, till three more found peace with God. About a quarter past ten I went to them again, and observing some of them quite hoarse, insisted upon their going to bed they did so, but quickly one, and then another stole out of bed, till in a quarter of an hour they were all at prayer again. And the concern among them wasdeeper than ever, as well as more general - there being but four of our five - and - twenty children that did not appear to be cut to the heart. However, fearing they might hurt themselves, I sent one of our maids to persuade them to go up but Brown, catching hold of her, said, ‘O, Betty, seek the salvation of your soul! Seek it in earnest - it is not too late, and it is not too soon.’ Immediately she fell upon her knees, and burst out into strong cries and, tears. The two other maids hearing this, ran in, and, were presently seized as violently as she. Brown then began praying for Betty, and continued in prayer nearly three - quarters of an hour. By that time there was a general cry from all the maids, as well as the boys this continued till past eleven. My wife and I, and. Mr. Reard, then went in, and fearing some of them might he hurt, with great difficulty prevailed upon them to go to bed, and went up with them. The maids continued below in much distress. We talked with them a little, and left them praying but it was not above a quarter of an hour before Betty broke out into thanksgiving I asked her, ‘Now is the love of God free? She answered, “Free as air - blessed be God that ever I came under this roof.” The other two remained on their knees, praying as in an agony. I desired them to go into their own room, and they did yet would not go to bed, but continued in prayer.
Saturday 2Oth - I was waked between four and five by the children vehemently crying to God. The maids went to them at five and first one of the boys, then another, then the maids alternately poured out their souls before God, both for themselves and for the rest. They continued weeping and praying till nine o’clock, not thinking about meat or drink. Nay, Richard Piercy took no food all the day, but remained, in words or groans, calling upon God. About nine, Diana went into her own room and prayed, partly alone, partly with Betty. About ten, as Betty was praying, her strength was quite spent, and she sunk down as dead. She lay so for some minutes as the other prayed on but then suddenly started up, praising God with all her might, and rejoicing with joy unspeakable. Mary, hearing her voice, broke off her work, and ran unto her in haste. They all remained praying by turns till twelve - when she lay like one at the point of death but there was not yet any answer to prayer nor any deliverance. About one, all the maids and three of the boys went up - stairs, and began praying again. And now they found the Lord’s hand was not shortened between two and three, Mary likewise rejoiced with joy unspeakable. They all continued together till after four, praising the God of their salvation. Indeed, they seemed to have forgotten all things below, and to think of nothing but God and heaven. In the evening all the maids, and many of the boys, not having been used to so long and violent speaking, were worn out, as to bodily strength, and so hoarse, that they were not able to speak but they were strong in the Spirit, full of love, joy, and. peace in believing.
Sunday 3Oth - Eight of the children, and the three maids, received the Lord’s - supper for the first time. And, hitherto they are all rejoicing in God, and walking worthy of the gospel.”
“All this time,” says Mr. Wesley, “it was observed that there was an uncommon revival of the work of God in all the societies round about. That in Kingswood, within a few months, increased from a hundred and eighteen to above three hundred members. And every day more and more were convinced of sin, and more and more enabled to rejoice in God their Saviour.”
Kingswood school has frequently since the period referred to, been blessed with revivals of religion, the fruits of which have been amongst the ablest of our Ministers.
WEARDALE - In 1772, the Holy Spirit was richly poured out upon this part of God’s vineyard, producing much moral beauty.
June 4th - “Before I give a more particular account of this work,” observes Mr. Wesley, “it may be well to look back to the very beginning of it. In this part of Weardale the people in general are employed in the lead mines. In the year 1749, Mr. Hopper and John Brown came and preached among them, but it made no impression none opposed, and none asked them to eat or drink. Mr. H - nevertheless made them several visits in the ensuing spring and summer. Towards autumn four found peace with God, and agreed to meet together. At Christmas two of the exhorters in Allendale determined to visit Weardale. Before they entered it they kneeled down on the snow, and earnestly besought the Lord that he would incline some person, who was worthy, to receive them into his house. At the first house where they called they were bid welcome, and they stayed there four days. Their word was with power, so that many were convinced, and some converted to God. One of these exhorters was Jacob Rowell they continued their visits at intervals all winter. In the beginning of the summer, about twenty lively people were joined together. From that time they gradually increased to thirty - five, and continued about that number for ten years. There was then a remarkable revival among them, by means of Samuel Meggot so that they increased to eighty but four years since, they were reduced to sixty - three. From that time they increased again, and in August were a hundred and twenty.
“In two respects this Society has always been peculiarly remarkable the one, they have been the most liberal in providing every thing needful for the Preachers the other, they have been particularly careful with regard to marriage. They have in general married with each other, and. that not for the sake of money, but virtue. Hence, having been yoke - fellows in grace before, they more easily bear the yoke of marriage, and assist each other in training up their children and God has eminently blessed them therein. For in most of their families, the greatest part of the children above ten years old are converted to God so that to several of them one may say, (as St. Paul to Timothy) ‘ The faith which dwelt first in thy grandmother, and thy mother, I am persuaded is in thee also.’ It was observable too that their leaders were upright men, alive to God, and having an uncommon gift in prayer this was increased by their continued exercise of it. The Preachers were there but once a fortnight but though they had neither Preacher nor exhorter, they met every night for singing and prayer.
“Last summer the work of God revived, and gradually increased till the end of November then God began to make bare his arm iii an extraordinary manner. Those who were strangers to God felt as it were a sword in their bones, constraining them to roar aloud. Those who knew God were filled with joy unspeakable, and were almost equally loud in praise and thanksgiving. ‘The convictions that seized the unawakened were in general exceedingly deep so that their cries drowned every other voice, and no other means could be used than the speaking to the distressed one by one, and encouraging them to lay hold on Christ and this has not been in vain. Many that were either on their knees, or prostrate on the ground, have suddenly started up, and their very countenances showed that the Comforter was come. Immediately these began to go about from one to another of them that were still in distress, praising God, and exhorting them without delay to come to so gracious a Saviour. Many who to that hour, appeared quite unconcerned, were thereby cut to the heart, and suddenly filled with such anguish of soul as extorted loud and bitter cries. By such a succession of persons mourning and, rejoicing, they have been frequently detained, so that they could not part till ten or eleven o’clock at night nay, sometimes not till four in the morning.”
A father account was drawn up by the Leaders, of which the following is an extract
“On Sunday afternoon, Dec. 1st as William Hunter was preaching, the power of God fell on the congregation in a wonderful manner. Many being cut to the heart, cried aloud for mercy, and ten were added to the Society. On Tuesday evening, we met again at six, but could not part till ten. In this time four found peace with God, and ran, from one to another, exhorting them to believe in Christ. On Wednesday night many were deeply distressed, but none set at liberty. While we were meeting on Thursday, two were enabled to rejoice in God their Saviour. On Saturday night we met at six, and three of us sung and prayed but before the third had done, his voice could not be heard for the cries of the people. Seven of those soon arose, blessing and praising God, and went about encouraging others. Many hardened sinners were much affected thereby, and began to cry aloud as they had done so that we had nothing to do but to stand and see the wonderful works of God. And O, how dreadful, yet pleasing was the sight. All this time many were crying aloud for mercy. Among these were four young men, who remained on their knees five hours together. We endeavoured to break up the meeting at ten, but the people would not go so that they were constrained to continue till twelve. Near this time one was asked, what he thought of this. He answered,’ I wish it be all real.’ He then turned to go home but after taking a few steps, began to cry aloud for mercy. He cried till all his strength was quite gone, and then lay as one dead, till about four o’clock in the morning then God revealed his Son in his heart. During this meeting eleven persons found peace with God.
“On Sunday morning we met at the common hour, and three of us sung and prayed as usual, till our voice was drowned by the thanksgivings of the new converts, and the cries of convinced sinners. Among the rest an ancient woman was so struck, that she vehemently cried out, ‘Mercy! Mercy! O what a sinner am I! I was the first that received them into my house at Weardale, and have heard them almost these thirty years. O pray for me Mercy, Mercy!’ It was not long before she found mercy, and mightily rejoiced in God her Saviour. An about the same time another mourner passed from death unto life.
“We met again at two, and abundance of people came from various parts, being alarmed by some confused reports we sung and prayed, and the power of God descended. A young man who had been deeply wounded in the morning now found one mighty to heal. ‘We then concluded but many of the people came in again, and others stayed at the door. Among those who came in, was one who had been remarkably profligate. He cried for mercy with all his might several crowded about to see him and before we parted not only he, but five more were rejoicing and praising God together. We met again on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, and by that time nine more found peace.
“Mr. Rowell came on Thursday, stayed three days, and joined many new members. Three - and - thirty of these had found peace with God, as did five more in the week following. When Mr. Watson came, he joined many more, eleven of whom were justified. At our meeting on Tuesday eleven more were filled with the peace of God yet one young man seemed quite unconcerned but suddenly the power of God fell upon him he cried for two hours with all his might, and then the Lord set his soul at liberty. On Saturday, a few met at Mr. Hunter’s room who were athirst for full sanctification. For this they wrestled with God, till a young man found the blessing, as several others have done since. We have ever since continued our meetings, and God has continued his loving - kindness towards us so that above a hundred and twenty are added to the Society, above a hundred of whom are believers.”
Mr. Fenwick having been appointed by Mr. Wesley to examine this Society one by one, gives the following account -
“On Saturday evening God was present through the whole service, but especially toward the conclusion then one and another dropped down, till six lay on the ground together, roaring, for the disquietude of their hearts. Observing many to be quite amazed at this, I besought them to stand still, and see the salvation of God. But the cry of the distressed soon drowned my voice so I dismissed the congregation. About half of them went away. I continued praying with the rest, when my voice could be heard when it could not, I prayed without a ‘voice, till after ten o’clock. In this time, four of these poor mourners were clothed with robes of righteousness.
“The Society now consists of a hundred and sixty - five members of whom there are but twenty that have not found peace with God. Surely such a work of God has not been seen before in any part of the three kingdoms.
“Such a work, it is true in many respects, was that at Everton, some years since yet not in all, as will further appear, if we consider a few more circumstances of this
“Forty - three of these are children, thirty of whom are rejoicing in the love of God. The chief instrument God has used among these is Jane Salkeld, a Schoolmistress, a young woman that is a pattern to all that believe. A few of her children are, Phoebe Feather - stone, nine years and a - half old, a child of uncommon understanding Hannah Watson, ten years old, full of faith and love Aaron Ridson, not eleven years old, but wise and stayed as a man Sarah Smith, eight years and a - half old, but as serious as a woman of fifty Sarah Morris, fourteen years of age, is as a mother among them, always serious, always watching over the rest, and building them up in love.
“On the second Wednesday in December, four young men, hearing of the roaring of the people, came out of mere curiosity. That evening, six were wounded, and fell to the ground, crying aloud for mercy. One of them hearing the cry rushed through the crowd to see what was the matter. He was no sooner got to the place, than he dropped down himself, and cried as loud as any. The other three pressing on one after another, were struck just in the same manner and indeed, all of them were in such agonies, that many feared they were struck with death,
But all the ten were fully delivered before the meeting concluded, which indeed was not until four in the morning.
“The rise of the late work was this - William Hunter and John Watson, men not of large gifts, but zealous for Christian perfection, by their warm conversation on this subject, kindled a flame in some of the leaders. These pressed others to seek after it, and for this end appointed meetings for prayer. The fire then spread wider and wider, till the whole Society was in a flame.”
“It is observed,” says Mr. Wesley, “that this work greatly resembled that at Everton it did in many respects, but not in all to instance in some particulars -
“It resembles that work -
1. In its unexpected beginning. No such work had ever been seen before, either at Everton, or in Weardale, when it broke out in so astonishing a manner, equally unlooked for by the instruments, and by the subjects of it the latter resembles the former work
2. In the swiftness of its progress I mean, in the persons affected many of whom were in one day, or even two or three hours, both convinced of sin, without any previous awakening, and converted to God.
3. In the number of persons both convinced and converted which was greater in a few months, than it had been in Weardale from the first preaching there, or in Everton for a century. The work at Weardale resembled that at Everton
4. In the outward symptoms which have attended it in both the sudden and violent emotions of mind, whether of fear or sorrow, of desire or joy, affected the whole bodily frame, insomuch that many trembled exceedingly, many fell to the ground, many were violently convulsed, perhaps all over, and many seemed to be in the agonies of death and the far greater part, however otherwise affected, cried with a loud and bitter cry. To name but one circumstance more, there was a great resemblance
5. In most of the instruments of whom God employed these were plain, artless men, simple of heart, but without any remarkable gifts men who, almost literally, knew ‘nothing but Jesus Christ and him crucified.’
“In these respects, the work of God in Weardale nearly resembled that at Everton but in other respects, they were widely different for
1. That was the first work of God of the kind, which had ever been in these parts in the memory of man this was only the revival of a work, which had continued for many years now these circumstances are common at the dawn of a work, but - afterwards very uncommon. I do not remember to have seen the like any where in the three kingdoms, unless at the beginning of a work
2. Although the former work was swift, the latter was far swifter in general, persons were both awakened and justified in a far shorter time.
3. A far greater number were converted to God in Weardale than about Everton, although the number of hearers about Everton was abundantly greater than in Weardale.
4. Although the outward symptoms were the same, yet in Weardalo there were none of the dreams visions and revelations which abounded at Everton and which, though at first they were undoubtedly from God, yet were fatally counterfeited by the devil, to the great discredit of the work of God.
5. There was a great difference in the instruments whom God employed in one and. in the other work not one of those in or near Everton had any experience in the guiding of souls none of them were more than babes in Christ whereas in Weardale, not only the three Preachers were, I believe, renewed in love, but most of the leaders were deeply experienced in the work of God, accustomed to train up souls in this way, and not ignorant of Satan’s devices. And hence, we may easily account for the grand difference between the former and the latter work namely, that the one was so shallow, there being scarcely any of its subjects rising above an infant state of grace the other so deep, many both men, women, and children, being what St. John terms ‘young men in Christ.’ Yea, many children here have had far greater experience, and more constant fellowship with God, than the oldest man or woman at Everton, whom I have seen or heard of so that, upon the whole, we may affirm such a work of God as this has not been seen before in the three kingdoms.”
EPWORTH - A blessed time of refreshing was vouchsafed to this part of Lincolnshire in 1781. In describing its rise and progress, Mr. James Barry thus writes
Feb. 1st 1782 - For several years some of our brethren have been crying to God, to revive his work in this remarkably dead place three months ago there seemed to be some answer. A little before Christmas one was set atliberty another on New - year’s day soon after several of Robert Leister’s children. About this time several meetings for prayer were appointed in several parts of the town. At almost every meeting, which were generally every night in the week, one or more found peace with God and at one meeting, between thirty and forty, the greater part of whom were children. In six weeks we have joined eighty - three members, near thirty of whom are young men, about twenty young women, and several backslider who are now happier than ever they were.”
Mr. Robert Leister, writing on the same subject, and giving this giving an account of his children, who during this gracious visitation obtained the grace of God, says “I have known the goodness of God for near thirty years but, in spite of all my advice, my five sons and two daughters, all grown up, ran on in the broad road to destruction, this cost me many a prayer and tear yet I saw no fruit of all my labour. In January last, I dreamed the day of judgment was come. I saw the Judge on his great white throne. The holy angels set around him, and all nations appeared at his bar. I and my wife were on the right hand but I could not see any of my children. I said, “I cannot bear this I must go and seek them so I went to the left hand, and found them all seven standing together, tearing their hair, beating their breasts, and cursing the day that ever they were born. As soon as they saw me, they all catched hold of me and said, O father, we will never part more.” I said, “My dear children, I am come to see if I can get you out of this dismal situation.’ So I took them all with me but when we were come within a short distance of the Judge I thought he cast an angry look, and said, “What do thy children with thee now? They would not take thy warning when upon earth. They shall not share the crown with thee. Depart, ye cursed. At these words I awoke, bathed in sweat and tears. Awhile after, as we were all together on a Sabbath night, I related my dream to them. No sooner did I begin, but first one, then another yea, all of them burst into tears and God fastened conviction on their hearts. Five of them are now rejoicing in God their Saviour. And I know God is at work with the other two so that I doubt not but he will give them also to my prayers.”
Mr. George Whitefield gives a more particular account of this season of grace. The following are extracts from his Journal
Feb. 3rd I782 - As Thomas Saxton, one of the leaders, was giving out a hymn at John Langton’s, his son was so affected that he could hardly stand they went to prayer and he with two others were set at liberty.
Friday 8th - Six were made happy in God in the morning, and six more in the evening.
Sunday 10th - Several more at John Langton’s found a sense of the pardoning love of God. Two young women came on purpose to make sport but they were no sooner come into the house than they were cut to the heart and before they left it, both the one and the other could rejoice in God her Saviour.
Monday 11th - There was a remarkable outpouring of the Spirit, at John Baker’s house, where ten persons were set at liberty, and many deeply convinced of sin.
Thursday l4th - Ten were set at liberty in a meeting for prayer and on the 18th, seven or eight at Francis lngham’s found the same blessing.
Tuesday 19th - Mr. Tattershall preached at John Watkin’s house but when he had done, very few of the congregation went away. As soon as the prayer - meeting began, the power of God fell mightily upon them. A great number of people were convicted, and cried aloud for mercy. But it was not long before a considerable number of them rejoiced abundantly in the God of their salvation. Among the rest, four children of Simon Kilham, (the eldest sixteen, the youngest ten,) as careless as possible till that hour, were fully convinced of sin. Two of them found the love of God that night the two others not long after.
Wednesday 20th - The people flocked from every quarter, to a prayer - meeting, held at John Sampson’s, and the Spirit of grace and supplication was poured out as the night before. The cries of the people were so great, that the voice of them who prayed for them could not be heard. About twelve cried aloud, and would not be comforted, till ‘the Lord turned their heaviness into joy.’ Before they parted, a famous young man, a servant to a miller, eminent for boxing, and all manner of wickedness, after listening awhile at the door, ventured in, and soon fell down on his knees, and cried for mercy. He found a strong hope that night and in a day or two a full sense of the pardoning love of God. Two prayer - meetings were now held every night in the town, and at both the work of God went on swiftly insomuch that in less than twenty days, from February 3d, a hundred and twenty persons found peace with God. And many of them, children as well as grown persons, experienced a farther deliverance being fully persuaded that God had circumcised their hearts, and enabled them to love him with all their hearts, and with all their souls.
Thursday 2lst - As soon as they began praying at John Watkins’s, the power of God began to work as usual, resting upon them in a wonderful manner. Many were deeply convinced of their lost estate. Many were greatly comforted and several ‘found redemption in the blood of Christ.’
Friday 22nd - There was preaching at the usual place, during which many were deeply wounded, and several found the power of the Lord present to heal. But one woman went away in great distress and awhile after, one of our brethren who was going home, heard her cry in a very uncommon manner in the open fields. When he came up to her he found her on her knees, her husband being with her, crying so loud, he thought she might be heard half a mile. He spoke strongly to her of the mercy of God it sunk deep into her heart. She and her husband went home, and spent the greatest part of the night in prayer, and in praising God. Her husband soon after found pardon, and ‘they went on their way rejoicing.’
Saturday 23d - A meeting was held at John Crosby’s house, with the usual blessing. The eldest of Simon Killiam’s sons being abroad had not been at any of these meetings before. Almost as soon as he was come in he was struck to the heart and the same night he obtained the remission of his sins. Immediately he began to go from house to house, all round the neighbourhood, speaking to every one he met of the things of God, and exhorting them ‘to flee from the wrath to come.’ But not content with this, he with two or three more youths went to several of the neighbouring towns, and were the means of kindling the same fire in almost every place where they went.
Sunday 24th - We had a prayer - meeting at John Sampson’s where several cried aloud for mercy, in particular John Hackshaw and his wife. He had many times before had convictions but he continually stifled them with strong drink. To prevent this, God in a few days laid his hand upon his body. But before his soul was required of him, he had a clear manifestation of the love of God, and died rejoicing in God his Saviour. Another night, the power of God fell on young and old in a remarkable manner, during a prayer - meeting at John Watkins’s. One young woman cried mightily prayer was made for her, and God spoke peace to her soul. While we were at prayer for her, a lad about ten years, old fell upon his knees, and began to cry aloud as she did. Our brethren stood up, and sung a verse of a hymn but he continued on his knees, till three little boys and two girls drew near, kneeled down round about him, and broke out into prayer for him in such a manner as astonished the old People. After this, it was not uncommon for several children to break out into prayer and sometimes artless enough. One of them prayed, ‘Lord, keep the devil in hell, till all the people in Epworth are converted.’ Another, ‘Keep him in hell by himself, and let nobody go to him.”
In the following letter of Mr. Thomas Saxton, dated April 1782, some additional information is given respecting this blessed work.
“On Christmas - Day, I went to Scotten, and we had a prayer - meeting. It was here first that the power of God came upon us, in a manner I had never known before and three persons were enabled to praise God for his pardoning love, as were two others at Scotten the same day. I related this to Mr. Tattershall, on New - Year’s - Day, at which he rejoiced exceedingly. A young girl coming in, who had been convinced of sin some time before, we joined in prayer with her, and for her, and the Lord answered, to the joy of all our hearts. On February 23rd, my brother came over to Epworth, and afterwards Mr. Tattershall. After preaching, I desired a few that were seeking the Lord, to meet us at John Langton’s, in the evening. No sooner had we begun to pray, than my sister began earnestly to cry to God for mercy. The Lord heard, and sent an answer of peace. In a few minutes, a lad, about seventeen, before quite unconcerned, began to cry unto God and almost as soon as he cried, the answer was sent down. Three more before the meeting broke up, were filled with peace and joy in believing. Two days after, I called upon one who was deeply affected, both in body and mind. While I was talking to her, a boy about ten years old, appeared to be deeply affected, and would not be comforted till he found peace with God. On the following evening, while we were at James Steadmore’s, a young girl came in, to whom Ann Fields immediately began to speak concerning the necessity of being born again, which Ann Towns received with all eagerness, and showed a longing desire to experience. When they began to pray, she fell into a violent agony, and could not avoid shrieking out. This she continued to do for about two hours, and then her misery was turned into joy. After she had walked closely with God for about a fortnight, it pleased him to deepen his work, and show her that he had not only forgiven her sins, but also cleansed her from all unrighteousness. And from that time she has been enabled to pray without ceasing, and in everything to give thanks. The day after the Lord had thus blessed her, while she was praying with a friend, a young woman who was in another room, listened to her, and was deeply awakened. At twelve we had a meeting for prayer. Ann Field, calling on Ann Towns, went to it with her there they met the young woman, who was in deep distress, and with some others besought God in her behalf. The power of God so fell upon them, that they knew not how to leave off, but sent a messenger, begging me to come to them. When I came in I was amazed. Some were crying for mercy, - others mightily praising God she in particular who was convinced in the morning and two others who had been mourning for above a year, were enabled to rejoice in God their Saviour. This day nine persons were set at liberty one of whom had been seeking the Lord for twenty years. At four in the afternoon, on Saturday, Ann Towns was desired to visit one in deep distress of soul, occasioned by the words of Susannah Waterland - the girl that was awakened and justified the day before we joined in prayer a few minutes, and she found peace to her soul as a boy about thirteen years of age bad done at our morning meeting. We then thought of concluding but immediately the power of God came in such a manner as I never before experienced. The people began to fall down to the Boor, on the right hand and on the left some cried for mercy others for a larger manifestation of the love of God I then endeavoured to speak to them one by one, and asked, what they wanted the Lord to do for them telling them, if they had confidence in God, whatsoever they asked he would do it. I desired those who were crying for mercy, to come near together and they came trembling, and fell on their knees, weeping and mourning, because they had sinned against God. We prayed and the Lord heard and answered, insomuch that nine or ten persons more found redemption in his blood and indeed the power of God was so sensibly present, one would have thought every soul must have been convinced one who was listening under the window was pricked to the heart, and the next day found peace with God.
The next evening we had two other meetings for Prayer. My brother came to us at one of the meetings no sooner did he begin to speak than many stout - hearted sinners began to cry for mercy. The Lord heard their cry, and before we parted, answered them to the joy of their hearts and I think ten or eleven were savingly brought to the Lord. Many more were convinced, who since that time have found peace with God.
“We have in Epworth three factories for spinning yarn, and weaving coarse linen cloth the children employed here, both boys and girls, were the most profligate in all the town. It was nine or ten days after this, that some of the girls at the largest factory sent and desired me to come to them but I did not go they then sent for Ann Towns and Ann Field, who went to them many times, and spared no pains in talking to them, and praying with them, more or fewer at a time. Awhile after, I went to the factory myself, and saw the fruits of their labours all the children being greatly changed, and most of them rejoicing in God. There is a great change in the two other factories also, many of the children having the saving knowledge of God.
“In the meantime I longed much that salvation might come also to my native town, Belton. I was much concerned for my old neighbours there who were wholly ignorant of God. A few of us therefore agreed to go thither. At our very first meeting a brother and sister of mine obtained a knowledge of salvation, and afterwards two or three more. Most of the people were melted into tears. We kneeled down to praise God for what he had done, and prayed that he would deepen his work in each of our souls. No sooner had we begun to pray than he seemed to open the windows of heaven, and to pour down his Spirit upon us, in such a manner as we had scarce known before.
“About this time Ann Fields desired me to go with her to one who had sought the Lord for some time. Many went with us and God met us there and gave his blessing to us, and to many more, four of whom, were enabled to give thanks for a clear sense of his pardoning mercy. On Sunday morning some of us met at James Skidmore’s, and one was enabled to testify that God has power not only to forgive sins but likewise to cleanse from all unrighteousness. The same day several others were made partakers of the same blessing. In the evening, as soon as a few of us kneeled down, the Lord came with a rushing mighty wind, and filled all the place with his presence, and added three more witnesses of his full salvation and four at John Langton’s were brought out of darkness into his marvellous light. The day following a female came to Ann Towns in deep distress who prayed for her and she was set at liberty. The same night she and Ann Fields visited a person that was sorely afflicted both in body and soul they prayed with her, and her convictions were much deepened and in a few days she was savingly brought to God. A violent persecutor, who heard their prayer, was powerfully awakened, and soon after happily saved. The next Sunday several persons came to the prayer - meeting, on purpose to make sport but while one prayed, ‘Lord, if any came hither to mock at thy word, smite them to the heart - it was done and the night following one of these very persons found peace with God, as did nineteen or twenty more.”
ST. Just - In December 1781, a blessed revival commenced in this place, and, spread to other parts of the county. “Several persons,” says an eye - witness “met one evening at Gabriel Thomas’s house, in St. Just’s, Church - Town, in order to sing and pray. In a little time, several began to cry aloud, and would not be comforted. Some struggled as in the agonies of death, and one fainted away. They continued in prayer till the preaching began at five o’clock in the morning, and six of the mourners found peace with God. Some were also deeply distressed for full salvation but they were not yet set at liberty.
Tuesday Dec. 25th - Many met at three in the morning, at Gabriel Thomas’s to pray. The power of God fell upon them, so that six were as in an agony two of whom were soon filled with peace. At seven they removed to the Chapel, where the same power was present. They continued in prayer till about nine. In that time four or more found a sense of pardon. They met there again in the evening, and stayed till one or two in the morning, when four or five more were enabled to rejoice in God their Saviour.
Wednesday 26th - They met at the preaching - house, about seven in the evening very soon some began to cry for mercy but two women, who, though they had been long in. the Society, were not convicted of sin, were much offended, saying, ‘ It is all hypocrisy.’ In a short time the cries of the mourners were turned into praise at this they were still more offended but in about two hours they were both deeply convicted, and cried out as loud as any. About one o’clock, God put a new song in their mouths. About seven the meeting broke up but not before eleven more were enabled to declare, that their sins were blotted out.
Friday 28th - About seven in the evening there was a prayer - meeting at the village of Bussorne. After the meeting was over, several being much in distress, about twenty persons remained to pray with them. They continued wrestling with God till about midnight, and four were set at liberty.
“In January a prayer - meeting was held at the preaching - house on Wednesday evening. After about an hour the bulk of the congregation went away but many who were distressed for God, kept crying to him, and forty or fifty persons continued in prayer with them till about twelve before they parted nine found peace with God, and five believed he had cleansed them from all sin.
“During all February the work of God went on with power - many being justified, and some sanctified. On Saturday, March 9th, Mr. Watkins preached, and afterwards met the Society but the people would not go away but first one prayed - then another, till it was past midnight. In the morning Mr. Watkins preached again, and some continued in prayer after him. In the night and morning twenty persons found remission of sins.
The following Wednesday evening there was a prayer - meeting, as usual, at the preaching - house. After it about twenty persons met at Gabriel Thomas’s, and continued in prayer till one in the morning. During this meeting six found peace with God. It was about this time that fourscore persons were justified in one week.
“Soon after there was a prayer - meeting at the village of Trewillard, in which two persons were sot at liberty, and many deeply convinced two of these were justified during the prayers that followed. The same evening there was a prayer - meeting in Bussorne when this was ended a few continued to pray for those who were under convictions four of these found peace - one of whom had been long in the Society, and was about fourscore years of age - and one believed she was saved from all sin.
On Tuesday, March 20th, Stephen Harvey was at a prayer - meeting in the village of Bossuarges. There was much of the presence of God in the first meeting, which continued about an hour. Then many went away. As Stephen Harvey was sitting down to rest, a little child, about seven years of age, coming by him, he said ‘ My dear, do you believe you shall die?‘ she said, ‘ Yes ‘ he said, ‘ Little children go to Christ when they die, if they are good but if they are not good, they cannot. Are you happy now?’ She replied, No.’ ‘ But do you believe that Christ can make you happy She answered, ‘ Yes.’ ‘But can you believe he will?’ She said, ‘Yes, I can.’ ‘Then look to him now, and he will just now make you happy.’ She immediately burst into tears but they were tears of joy for she rejoiced with joy unspeakable, being fully assured that all her sins were forgiven she had a sister between eight and nine years old, who seeing her happiness, began to be concerned for her own soul and it was not long before she was happy too. A lad, twelve or fourteen years of age, was standing by, wild and utterly unconcerned. Stephen Harvey, looking up to him, said, ‘If you do not repent you will go to hell, as sure as you are alive’ he melted into tears, and earnestly asked, ‘What must I do to be saved?’ Being told to believe on the Lord Jesus, and he should be saved, he began crying mightily to him, and did not cease till he was a witness of his salvation. In less than a quarter of an hour there were six witnesses of this and before they parted, eighteen were praising God for a sense of his pardoning mercy.
“In April, Gabriel Thomas went to Humphreys - a neighbouring village, - to visit Charles Ellis, who once had run well he was earnestly crying for mercy, which he found during prayer, as did his wife, within a quarter of an hour after. A woman who was standing on the stairs listened attentively, and in about an hour knew that she was reconciled to God. Meantime another woman, who was standing with her child in her arms at the window, was pierced through as with a sword. The sick man was so strengthened that he dressed himself and came down - stairs to praise God. Soon after Gabriel Thomas was gone home, the convinced woman followed, being distressed for God. Two or three joined in prayer, and in about an hour God turned her heaviness into joy. An old man, who occasionally came in, was quickly a partaker of the same blessing.
“Many of those who during all this time found peace with God, were children, from seven years old to fourteen forty - eight of these were at one time happy in God, and walked as unblameably as men or women. Fifty children met in class, and all of them but two could witness a good confession. About forty persons, who received remission of sins during these days of Pentecost, had the witness in themselves that the blood of Christ had also cleansed them from all sin. About this time, also, ten of these children of God died, and every one witnessed a good confession. Many, also, who were not members of the Society, were, before they died, filled with peace and joy in believing. What is peculiarly remarkable is, that in this uncommon revival, as well as that at Epworth, and that in Weardale, some years since, the travelling Preachers had very little share they were the Leaders whom it pleased God chiefly, indeed, almost wholly, to use on the occasion so hath God chosen the weak things of this world to confound the things that are mighty. So does he send by whom he will send, that no flesh may glory in his Sight.
FERMANAGH - this part of Ireland was blessed with a revival of religion, which began early in 1784 and advanced, apparently, without interruption for more than twelve months. The following particulars, from the pen of the Rev. Samuel Mitchell, will bring the work before us in detail.
“Wednesday, Jan. 21st - While a few people were met at James Shearman’s, and one was reading to them in the Bible, the power of the Lord descended they went to prayer and it was not long before two young women, who were before deeply sensible of their wants, were cleansed from all pollution of flesh and spirit.
“On Friday, February 6th, Mr. Armstrong came over to my father’s the next day he went to a place two miles off, where, after preaching, he kept a love - feast.’ Here many rejoiced in God, many groaned for pardon, and one young man was set at liberty. When he told this on Sunday, the 8th, at the meeting of the class, it seemed as if God opened the windows of heaven, and poured out blessings upon all that lifted up their hearts to him.
“This morning Mr. Armstrong preached three miles off, at the house of one John Dunbar, whose mother appeared to be near death, but earnestly seeking life eternal as were he and his wife also. I preached here on February 22nd. There were many tears and groans in the congregation. The old woman confirmed all I had said, and was filled with joy and peace in believing and a little after it pleased God to remove her to Abraham’s bosom.
“Hence I went to my father’s where, as I was one night talking of the things of God, I perceived a young woman, who lived there, to be much affected. While we were at supper, I said, ‘How would it rejoice me if Margaret were converted to God, or even convinced of sin!’ As I spake she quitted her supper, and roared aloud and her convictions grew deeper and deeper. On Sunday, 29th, at family - prayer, a girl was convinced of sin, and wept bitterly. On Saturday, March 6th, Mr. Jordan came to my brother Robert’s, and preached and while he met the Society, Margaret found a clear sense of the favour of God.
“After we concluded, John Dunbar and his wife came, but were greatly troubled to find all was over. Richard Dunbar, however, began to apply the Scripture to his brother John. The Spirit of power applied the simple words to the heart both of John and his wife they fell down on their knees, and cried aloud for mercy and Richard cried mightily to God for them, till John rose from his knees, and cried out, ‘ O see me - See me. I am all new, I am all new’ His words were as fire to all present but his wife continued weeping till Robert Mitchell came in and went to prayer. Two girls, meantime, were sent for, who were before convinced of sin as soon as they entered the door, the Spirit of God took fast hold of their hearts so there was much weeping, praying, and agonizing for some hours but Mrs. Dunbar was rejoicing with her husband and who can describe the heaven of love which was there, while this happy pair saluted each other with tears of joy, saying, ‘Though we were too late for the preaching, we were not too late for the blessing. O that we had all our children here! God would bless them all!’ But the two maidens continued still in violent agonies and one of them swooned away, and lay motionless for a considerable time. Meanwhile many continued in prayer, till the Lord delivered first one, and then the other, out of all her trouble but who can describe the joy and love which filled the hearts of all present, particularly the new - born children.
Sunday March l4th - Though I was very ill, yet I spoke a little to the class. As I was speaking to a deep mourner, the Lord shined upon her heart I made it known to all that were in the room, which was full. The hearts of all that knew Christ were filled full, and running over and those that knew him not wept aloud. The voice of joy and the voice of weeping were so loud, that those who prayed could not be heard for some time.’ At this happy season, in whatever house a few met, they went to prayer and none went away without a blessing some were either convinced of sin, or justified, or saved from all sin.
Saturday 2Oth - While Mr. Jordan was preaching at Robert Mitchell’s, it was a time of love to many. I travailed in birth for the mourners, and more particularly for one little girl but while I was praying for her, my prayer was suddenly turned into praise, and tears of joy. After the people were gone I told Mr. Jordan I believed Elizabeth Hall was justified and the next morning she declared God had spoken to her soul at that very time.
“A lad was then admitted into the class for the first time. As I was speaking to him the tears dropped from his eyes but while Mr. J - was speaking it pleased God to seal a pardon upon his heart he could not but tell what he felt to all that were in the room and most of them rejoiced with joy unspeakable. A few days after, his eldest brother found peace with God, and. openly declared it to all in the room, to the unspeakable comfort of all, especially their old father, who had long lamented that his foes were those of his own household.
“On the 21st I ventured to exhort a little, and another soul was set at liberty the same evening, about sunset, a few of the young converts met together in Robert Mitchell’s out - house. First one prayed, then another and while they prayed, God bowed the heavens, and came down. The mountains of unbelief flowed down at his presence, so that several stood motionless when it was dark the elder Christians brought them into the dwelling - house, and prayed with them they had a night of great consolation and one (if not more) was cleansed from all sin.
Monday 29th - The young converts met in the same place, and the power of God laid hold on two boys, (one about thirteen, the other scarce seven years of age,) who were not only convinced, but converted to God, before they parted. The elder Christians then took them into the house as before, and continued in prayer, till a girl, between ten and eleven, was filled with pure love and who has been ever since a pattern of all holiness.
“Upon the whole I never saw so sound a work of grace wrought so rapidly before as this was, in all its branches, from the beginning to this very day. May the Lord carry it on in every heart, and make us all more than conquerors, through him who hath loved us!
Sunday 28th - John Dunbar brought his eldest daughter, twelve or thirteen years old, to stay a few days at her uncle Richard’s he was persuaded she would know the Lord before the end of the week and he was not mistaken. The child set herself to seek him, as if she believed she had but another week to live her cousins, who were already alive to God, were of great service to her they prayed with her, wherever they were, six or seven times a day. On one day, which she set apart for fasting, she inadvertently put a grain of mustard in her mouth - this troubled her exceedingly, till she mentioned it to one, who exhorted her not to mind, but to go steadily on her way, and she would soon find the salvation of God.
Saturday April 3rd while John Miller was preaching, the arm of the Lord was revealed. There was a noise, and behold a shaking! And bone came together to his bone. After preaching this girl and others were exceedingly distressed. One prayed, and another, and another, till God spoke peace to her soul. I have seen many sinners converted to God, but few in so apparent a manner as she. Her distress continued till she fainted away, and lay as one dead so that a person said to me, ‘Do you think she will ever come to herself again?’ She soon answered for herself, suddenly crying out, ‘Glory, glory be to God, my Saviour!’ All her trouble was gone, and she rejoiced in him with joy unspeakable.
Wednesday April 7th - I preached at Robert Mitchell’s, and several were filled with joy unspeakable. On Easter - day, April 11th, in the evening, some were justified, and some believed they were cleansed from all sin. On Wednesday they met again, when a backslider was healed, and two others found peace with God. On Saturday, 17th, Mr. Jordan preached at my brother Robert’s, and three were converted to God. In the morning Robert Hall came to hear, as he had done for eleven years, but to little purpose. Before preaching he went into the house of his niece, who said, ‘Uncle, will it not be a dreadful thing, if this little boy, your son, (converted some time before,) should say Amen to your destruction at the last day?’ This struck him to the heart, so that when he went into chapel, he was all in tears. After Mr. Jordan had preached, he met the Society. He would have exhorted them, but his voice could not be heard such were the cries both of sorrow and joy, till six souls were set at liberty, of whom Robert Hall was one.
On Wednesday 23rd coming to my father’s, I found him seemingly on the point of death, but rejoicing in God a report prevailed on Sunday that he was dead, which brought many together to the house. I prayed God that he would give me strength to preach to them, which he did beyond my expectation. Two were convinced of sin, who were both the same night converted to God in family prayer.
Saturday May lst - Joseph Armstrong preached at Robert Mitchell’s, and the next evening I preached in the very house wherein I first heard a Methodist preach eleven years ago. A lad was there who came from a very barren place, who told his sister when he went home, that he thought verily, if she would go with him, as careless as she was, she would find a blessing. She went and as he said, so it proved for while many were wounded, God both wounded and healed her soul.
“In my way to the Conference, I called at Aughalun, where there was a Quarterly Meeting, on Monday, 28th. That day some were truly converted and among them, one that had wished us well from the beginning, but never found peace till now. There was now a great outpouring of the Spirit upon young men and maidens, old men and children. And the work was not only very rapid, but very deep. Many of those who had found the pure love of God, were so overpowered, that they lay motionless for some hours.
“In the latter end of August, Mr. Barber preached in my father’s house. During the love - feast that followed, a fresh work of God broke out, which increased more and more till the 27th of September. On that night Robert was nearly driven to despair but when he was in bed, God spoke to his heart. He sprang out of bed, and began to praise God aloud for his pardoning mercy. His brother James hearing this, was so cut to the heart, that he could have no rest, till he also rested in God his Saviour. And indeed all the family were in an uproar that night, crying and praying for a share of the same blessing.
Oct 26th - While a few were met together, James Cooke was set at liberty. They continued in prayer till James Rea, and his sister Jane, also knew their sins were blotted out and so did Patrick Johnson, and on the 27th a young man that lived at John Cooke’s. He thought he should see war no more but in the evening, going to prayer in the barn, while he was on his knees, Satan so violently assaulted him, that not understanding it, he started up and ran into the house, crying ‘Murder, murder.’ Just as he got in, he cried out to the family, ‘Pray for me, O pray for me.’ They took him with them to the preaching but his distress increased. They then removed him to another house, where they continued in prayer till God bruised Satan under his feet.
“On the 29th Esther Johnson was brought to know that ‘the blood of Christ cleanseth from all sin.’ The next day her sister Catherine recovered the love of God, which she had long bemoaned the loss of. The same day Margaret Laird received a clean heart and an old man, George Rea, found peace with God. Afterwards he told me that he thought his soul was wafted to heaven, and his very body lifted up from the earth. On Sunday, 31st, Francis Johnson found peace, and Robert Cooke the true love of God.
Nov. 12th - While Gustavus Armstrong was preaching, many were cut to the heart, particularly three young women a few continued in prayer with them after the preaching, till the Lord answered the prayer, and filled them all with joy and peace in believing. When they met as usual on Sunday morning, the 14th, Robert Burnside and Jane Graham found favour with God, as did Margaret King at the meeting of the class, on the Sunday following.
Sunday Dec. 4th - I came to John Cooke’s house. The same night James Beatie dreamed that he saw me come in, and heard me give out my text from the Lamentations. I did so and as soon as I named my text, the power of God fell upon the people. In a short time, scarcely was there a dry eye to be seen. Afterwards, some of the neighbours came in. While we were talking of the things of God, one roared out for mercy, and then another and another, till four or five were in a bitter agony. Three of us prayed by turns till the Lord justified John Beatie and his cousin, and confirmed to the woman of the house that knowledge of God which she had tasted of the day before. I cannot describe the joyous scene! Parents and children saluted each other, and congratulated each other with tears, welcoming one another into the possession of that goodly inheritance.
Friday 10th - My grandmother died, about ninety years old, in the full triumph of faith, crying out, ‘help me, O help me go to my Jesus‘and then breathed her last. On the 11th I preached, and the power of God convinced sinners in a wonderful manner. There was a cry as of people weeping for their first - born. And some of those who were alive to God sunk down, and for several hours lay quite speechless and motionless. The next afternoon I preached a funeral sermon. Soon after I began, the Lord filled the house with his presence, and many hearts with his love. On the 23d brother Barber, Hetherington, and I, held a watch - night. Brother Hetherington spoke first, and I followed till the cries of the people rose to such a height, that I left off preaching, and we began to pray, one after another, and soon had a gracious shower.
Sunday 26th - Mr. Barber and I held a love - feast at my father’s, and before we parted, Francis Little, Edward Thompson, Mary Armstrong, and Elizabeth Little, knew all their sins were blotted out. Awhile after, Elizabeth Little’s uncle said, ‘When I came here, I was quite weighed down but glory be to God, I am now full of his love, and as happy as I can wish.’ Yet William Noble went away in great heaviness, but the next day he was set at liberty.
Jan. 7th - Jane Buchanan knew her interest in Christ, and soon after rejoiced in his perfect love. Sunday, 9th, Mary Smith was accepted in the Beloved, and on Sunday, 30th, Jane Kelso, twelve years old. Feb. 6th, though the snow was deep, a large congregation got to Patrick Johnson’s. One of them, Elizabeth Herne, had waded the river, and stood, wet as she was, all the time of the sermon. She wept bitterly, and was in great agony, till the Lord conquered and filled her with his love. Sunday, 13th, at the meeting of the Society, well nigh every one felt that God was there, and Mary Tremble knew her sins forgiven. On the 24th she and her sister, with a few more, went to prayer at her father’s, and continued weeping and crying to God, till their father came in, being afraid they were going to kill one another but seeing them on their knees, he fell down on his and they went on, till the other sister was filled with peace. The elder of the two is about thirteen years old.
Thursday, 24th - Three souls were set at liberty. The case of one of these was particular. A few weeks before, she had so violently opposed her husband’s going with this people, as even to strike him he did not strike her again, but immediately advertised all he had to be sold by auction, on such a day. She was much frighted, asked his pardon, and solemnly promised never to oppose his going where he would. He said, ‘Nay, you must go with me and hear for yourself.’ I told him to make haste, or she would get before him. And so she did being soon after justified, and in a short time enabled to love God with her whole heart.
Monday 28th - I rode to the other side of the Circuit. When I began preaching, I had much pain in my breast and side. But all of a sudden my pain was gone, my tongue was loosed, and the spirit of the people bowed down before the word of God. Of three who were justified that day, two were a mother and her daughter and. there were hardly five minutes distance between the one and the other.
“For some time after, very few days passed without one or more finding peace with God. Sunday, April l7th - Mr. Hetherington and I, after preaching at Kilmore, held a love - feast at which it pleased God to display his saving power, in a wonderful manner.
“About this time, Jane Kelso talked closely to William Cooke, about eight years of age. As she was speaking, he began to cry in such a manner, as roused the whole family. ‘ O,’ said he, ‘you would have let me go to hell, had not Jenny Kelso warned me of my danger.’ They continued in prayer for him, till he broke out into such praise as astonished them all. April 21, Isabella Beatie, about eight years old, found peace on the 22d, Eleanor M’Laughlin, aged eighty and on the 23d so did Rebecca, ten years old, sister to Isabella. On the 24th, I preached at Joseph Foster’s. In the time of preaching, many groans and cries were heard so that many, when I began to sing, could not join, but groaned and wept still. I then addressed the careless congregation, and, asked, ‘Why will you reject the counsel of God against yourselves?’ The tears then fell from most eyes and when we prayed, all was weeping and lamentation. I then went to get a little fresh air, leaving some of our brethren to pray till my return. When I did return, many were convinced of sin, two backsliders were healed, and seven persons could magnify the Lord for a sense of his pardoning - mercy.
June l3th - We had a love - feast at my father’s, from the very beginning of which, many spoke freely of the dealings of God with their souls. Among these was a boy of eight years old, and several children, from eight to twelve years old, who spoke both with wisdom and power at last we betook ourselves to prayer, and pardoning love suddenly took place in many hearts. Those who were not joined with us, now came forward to the doors, and began to weep, and some of them to cry aloud for mercy. Their cries were so vehement that the Preachers were obliged to separate themselves, and go from one place to another, to exhort and comfort the mourners, and were soon constrained to have prayer in four or five different parts of the house at once. Through much labour and tears, many were brought to the birth, and then God gave strength to bring forth. By the lowest computation, between twenty - five and thirty children were born that day. Meantime many were convinced of the impurity of their nature who, were in as great distress as those who sought for pardon. There were probably many more who escaped our notice, not being personally known to us. Such a display of Divine power and love we never saw before.
“Saturday, l8th. - Brother Barber and I went to assist our brother Joseph Armstrong, to hold a meeting near Bellock. While we were preaching in a field, the Spirit of the Lord fell upon the congregation in a glorious manner. So that even the, children of God cried out and trembled yea, and some of them fell to the earth. Meantime ‘there was a shaking among the dry bones.’ Many were convinced of their guilt and many of the want of purity of heart, which two of them attained in the love - feast that followed.”
BIRSTAL - In this place the Lord poured out his Spirit in 1783, and many souls were converted. The following is a brief notice of this work, furnished by the Rev. J. Valton.
“Thursday, Jan. 21 - This evening I held a watch - night at Batley. Under the sermon, a child, about twelve years old, cried out much, and soon found peace with God. Another fell down under the exhortation, and another was cut to the heart. These continued crying in great distress till near midnight when the Comforter came and brought peace to their souls. I did not think that human nature could have continued such a constant cry for so long a time.
On Saturday, 18th we had a most excellent watch - night at Childshill, about a mile from Hanging - Heaton it lasted near five hours. Four persons were most earnestly crying out for mercy for several hours. Two or three of them were convulsed for some time, and shook like the aspen - leaf Another dropped down on the floor, and several others felt a wounded spirit. At last three of them were filled with peace.
Tuesday, 2lst - Last night we had a wonderful time at Hanging - Heton. We continued in prayer for two or three hours, after I had done preaching, amidst the groans and cries of several. We told the Lord we would not go away without their deliverance and God granted our request when they praised and glorified their great Deliverer. This was a precious night indeed!
Thursday 23d - I preached and held a watch - night at Dewsbury - bank. As I was giving out the hymn, I felt the power of God descend, and told the people we should have a wonderful time. Presently, cries, groans, and other signals of distress, manifested the spirit of bondage. It seemed to be a Pentecost indeed! and strangers might reasonably conjecture that many persons were full of new wine. It was a most wonderful time, and several were set at liberty. ‘The Lord did with his great, and sore, and strong sword (of the Spirit) punish Leviathan holy and reverend is his name!
Monday 27th - This night I preached and held a watch - night at Anthony Williamson’s, at Lee - fair. We had a large congregation, and a most awful time. Cries, tears, and groans, &c., were uttered forth for some hours, when two children and a young man found peace. It is amazing to think what one child went through it would have pierced a stone to have heard their cries and prayers.
Saturday Feb. 1st - I preached again at Childshill. Soon after preaching, the power of God fell upon the people, and Satan made a dreadful resistance. One woman was like the man among the tombs four people were employed in holding her for some hours her shrieks were dreadful! But, blessed be God! We had three set at liberty before twelve o’clock.
Yesterday, Feb. 31 - I called at a place near Childshill, to see a publican’s wife, who was ill in bed. Several came into the room while I was there. When I was at prayer, dreadful convictions seized her, and her arms became cold and contracted. Soon after another woman was seized, and then a third, and several cried out bitterly. However, before I left them, God heard our prayer, and two found peace. The landlady cried out, ‘I am cured both in body and soul‘. It was a wonderful time,”
The work thus commenced spread in various directions, resulting in the conversion and sanctification of many souls.
SHEPTON - MALLET - IN 1787 - a gracious visitation was experienced in this place, as we learn from the following letters addressed to the Rev. John Valton
Dec. 22nd 1787
According to your kind request, I shall endeavour to give you some account of the work of God here, for these five days past. Wednesday after you left us, the prayer - meeting, which we had in the evening in Church - lane, was attended with much power. Many were deeply wounded, and our prayers were drowned with the cries of those who felt the burden of their sins. Thursday morning I - S - came to my house, and declared what great things the Lord had done for him - ’ his soul was set at liberty, and his mouth was filled with laughter praise, and thanksgiving.’ In the evening 1 - S - witnessed a good confession, and began prayer for those who were distressed. ‘ The waters were again troubled,’ and the power of Jesus was present to heal. One of the mourners was a deaf and dumb boy I believe the work of God was never more conspicuous than upon him. I looked at him with a solemn countenance, pointed upwards, and then to my breast, and then to him. He understood the motion and fainted. We lifted him into a chair, and one got water to sprinkle on his face but when he came to himself, he by signs intimated to us that he did not want water, but Christ. His cries were so plaintive that they were almost sufficient to melt an adamantine heart. A person said that his father had beat him that day for coming among us, and wished the devil might fetch him if he went again to our meetings. About ten o’clock several persons, who were in great distress, went into a room by themselves to wrestle with God for his blessing these were mostly children. We had not been at home more than half an hour, before one knocked at the door and said that Miss R - was rejoicing in the Lord. Soon after the same person came again and said that Miss P - was set at liberty. We went into the house and found them rejoicing indeed! We then joined in prayer for one or two more who remained in distress, and in a little time J - H - , a boy of about fourteen years of age, found peace. For near half an hour he was in an ecstasy of joy after which he sat down in solemn recollection then opening the Bible, be read, ‘ But now, thus saith the Lord that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name, thou art mine,’
Friday morning the three young converts had a prayer - meeting and this day the dumb boy’s mourning was turned into joy. In the evening the prayer - meeting was crowded, and many were travailing in birth till Christ should be formed in them, the hope of glory. It was as much as two or three could do to hold one person, who vehemently exclaimed, ‘My sins, my sins.’ Three were set at liberty in this meeting, and three others at their own, houses after the meeting was over. On Sunday morning Mr. Kyte preached from Psalm c
. it was a blessed opportunity. Afterwards he admitted forty - four new members into Society. The love - feast in the evening was very solemn. Many now were deeply wounded, and two or three were brought into liberty. And now, Sir, permitting to ask, will you come over and help us? Yes, you will but you must come as often as you can. The Lord has made you an instrument of good in this place do not let any excuse prevent you I may boldly say, the whole Society will be glad to see you.
“I add their kind love to that of your unworthy servant.’’
Nov. 12th 1787
“A FEW days after my last letter to you, a poor sick girl found peace. At first she was afraid of embracing the blessing, till the Lord applied these words to her heart, - ’ I am he that pardoneth transgression and sin. From that time she has been rejoicing indeed, and longing to be dissolved, that she may be with Christ.
Sunday Nov. 25th at a prayer - meeting in the morning, two young men were set at liberty. In the evening my class meeting was attended with the Divine presence. Several had gained admittance who were not in Society. Towards the conclusion of the meeting, many were struggling into life. Four persons were justified freely by the grace of God. One young woman, who stood near me, sunk down on the floor, and for the space of half an hour seemed like one dying. I said to her, ‘Jesus shed his blood for you! He loves you O believe now, and he is yours.’ She said, ‘Yes, yes!’ A young man, who stood on my right hand, cried aloud for mercy, and shook violently while a third shouted aloud, ‘I have found him! I have found him‘
“Monday evening the prayer - meeting at the room was attended with much power one woman was set at liberty, and testified it immediately, by praising God in the congregation and two others who had found peace before, declared what great things the Lord had done for their souls. Next day a poor backslider found peace.
Dec. 2 - This morning Mr. Mason preached a suitable sermon from these words, ‘Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.’ (1 John iv.10.) The word was attended with life and power and .1 think I never saw so large a congregation at the morning preaching. In the evening the word was attended with a peculiar blessing. One young man found peace in the Society - meeting, and desired to return thanks to God. Next day, at the prayer - meeting, I reminded them that but one of the ten lepers whom our Lord healed gave glory to God for that great blessing. Immediately twenty persons came to me, and desired to have notes of public thanks for having received a clear sense of pardoning love.
Dec. 4th - While you were describing the state of the rich man and Lazarus, fear and trembling made the presence of God awful. I need say little of the number of converted persons who came to you next day. After your departure, I was forced to supply your place. Many came, inquiring the way to Zion and six found peace that evening. On Thursday, a person found ‘the pearl of great price,’ and came to my house with the glad tidings. About eleven o’clock, a young woman was ‘brought out of darkness into marvellous light’ and another, who was at work with her, said, ‘I will work no more until I experience the same change.’ A few joined with her in prayer, and the Lord soon broke all her hands asunder, and filled her with peace and joy. In the evening we had a prayer - meeting at the room when four more were brought into liberty. May the Lord make them pillars in his house, to go out no more. Mr. Kyte preached Saturday night and Sunday morning, and admitted twenty - three into Society.”
BIRSTAL - This place was again favoured with a blessed work in 1788. The following account of it is from the pen of the Rev. Thomas Taylor, written eight years after.
“In the years 1788 and 1789, it pleased God to revive his blessed work in the Birstal Circuit, in Yorkshire. In the former year the revival was chiefly in Birstal, but in the second year, to wit, 1789 it spread throughout the Circuit so that great numbers were brought to the knowledge of the truth, insomuch that we admitted upwards of seven hundred into the Connexion. Various and simple were the means made use of in that revival. The preaching of the word was attended with much energy and life and especially one plain simple man, who was with me that year. I do not remember labouring with any one whom God so owned in converting dead souls.
“But our Lord did not confine himself to preaching alone he let us see that he could carry on his own work without us prayer - meetings were singularly useful, for in them many of these sinners were convinced and converted, giving ample proof of the reality of the change, by their tempers and conversations. But in short, dreams and visions, thunder and lightning, yea, the very chirping of a bird was made successful to the awakening of sinners, and the carrying on of the work of our glorious Emmannel. The last circumstance is well worth attention, and was as follows
“A young man, of the name of John Webster, lived with Mr. John Waller, a capital clothier. This young man was, as the generality of young people are, very wild, giddy, and foolish, not to say, very profane. This careless youth was one day walking in the garden by himself and a bird lighted upon his hand, gave three chirps, and flew away. I suppose the note of the bird might be, chat, chat, chat, which induced the young man in his confusion to think, that the bird called him by his familiar country appellation, Jack, Jack, Jack. Be that as it may, it had an awful, and in the end, a blessed effect upon him. he thought the bird was a supernatural messenger, or the harbinger of death and truly he saw himself utterly unprepared for death. He saw himself in a deplorable condition, and did not know what way to turn, he thought he would apply to one of those jugglers, whom in Yorkshire they call Wise men to explain this phenomenon to him. However, before he went to this agent, he very providentially met with arelation, a very pious man, one that was joined to the Methodists, and to whom he related what had happened, and the effect it had upon him also of his intention of going to the cunning - man, for his advice hisfriend heard him relate his story, and understanding his case better than he did himself, of course, dissuaded him from going to the tool of Satan for advice, assuring him that such a physician would be of no use to him. He tried to convince him that the Spirit of God was making him sensible of his lost and ruined state. He advised him to go with him to a prayer - meeting, intimating that perhaps he might find some relief there. The young man did not relish this advice very much, for he had no great affection for the Methodists but feeling himself so distressed, he was glad to go any where to find ease to his troubled mind. It is true, that the spirit of a man may sustain his infirmity a kind of courage may bear him up, under many trials and difficulties but a wounded spirit who can bear? To the meeting he went but the stubborn carnal mind rose up in him he would not, at first, kneel down to prayer. However, he stayed till the meeting ended and conviction struck deeper in his soul, so that he was made sensible of his real disease. He attended another meeting but still his burden increased insomuch that he thought that there was no mercy for him, but that he must be eternally lost, He next heard preaching but that seemed to add grief to his woe he still found no rest. Our quarterly love - feast at Birstal came on, and being informed what was the nature and design of that prudential means, a thought struck him.’ If I could be admitted into that meeting, God may set my soul at liberty.’ But his doubt was, that he could not be admitted, for he was ready to suppose everybody saw him in the light in which he viewed himself. However, he came to the preaching and the sermon almost tore him in pieces, though of an encouraging nature. After preaching was over, they brought him to me, for a note of admittance into the love - feast, where God most graciously released him from all his fears his burden fell off, and he never felt it since. He went home rejoicing in God his Saviour and I hope he will take heed and hold fast whereunto he hath attained, so that no man take his crown.
“The change was now visible to the whole family in which he resided, and had a good effect upon one of his fellow - servants, who had been as thoughtless and as wild as himself but seeing such a change in John, it struck him forcibly, and set him a - thinking, and seeking salvation very seriously, which he soon found, and rejoiced in God his Saviour. They both walked as the heirs of salvation, attended all the means of grace, at all seasonable opportunities. No swearing, or vain talk, or idle songs were heard from either of them but the Bible was read, and they sung psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs giving proof to all, that a blessed change was wrought in them.
“There happened to be a poor woman sick, who lived in a cottage near Mr. Waller’s house with this poor woman, they frequently went to prayer, and one time while they were at prayer, the master stood at the window to hearken. He was greatly astonished to hear these young men pray with such fervour, who a little while before had been so wild and thoughtless. He wondered where they had learned those prayers, for he had never heard the like before. When they had concluded, he entered into a very serious conversation with them and they spoke very freely with him upon the subject, insomuch that he told them they should pray in the family in the evening, if they pleased. They accepted the offer and in the evening the whole family was summoned to this strange business of prayer. The young men began to pray, and the gracious Lord soon answered, so that there was not one adult person but what was affected. As for Mr. Waller, the master of the house, he was so affected, that he rose from his knees, and fled out of doors to prevent his crying ant before all his family. But his conviction stuck close to him, and in a little time issued in a happy conversion. In short, both master and mistress were converted, and several of the servants, I think all of them likewise, several neighbours and some visitors, who happened to he there and the first instrument of that glorious work was, the chirping of a little bird.
“Mr. Waller immediately opened his door for the Gospel, and a Society was formed in his house, and numbers flocked to hear the word. Several are gone to glory, and others, I trust, are on their way. Mrs. Waller lived about a year and a half, and died happy in the God of her salvation and Mr. Waller survived her a few years, and then finished his course with joy. I was then in the Sheffield Circuit but being requested to preach his funeral sermon, I rode over, being the 14th day of December, and in a deep snow yet his memory was so much respected, that it brought such a confluence of people together, that the chapel would not contain half of them so I was obliged to preach in the open air in a field.
“As for John Webster, the seal of the little bird’s ministry, he is now in business for himself, and in the Society, retaining his confidence in God, who bought him, and striving for the hope of the Gospel. When the division took place at Dewsbury, he was carried away with the torrent, for some months, but when he came to understand matters fully, he, with many others, returned to the fold, and I believe it will not be an easy matter to draw him aside again.
“The above narrative is a circumstance among thousands, of God’s choosing the foolish things of this world to confound the wise, and weak things to confound the mighty and things which are not, to bring to nought the things that are by which he humbles the pride of man, carrying on his own work in his own way so that no flesh should glory in his presence but as it is written, ‘ Let him that glorieth, glory in the Lord.’”
BALTIMORE - Upon this American city the Lord showered his blessings in 1789, as appears from the following letter of the Rev. Ezekiel Cooper, addressed to a friend.
Respected Sir - It has for some days been impressed on my mind to write to you I wish the reading of my letter may not prove a task, and take you from a more profitable employment but considering the subject - matter is the glorious work of God, and that you wish to hear of Zion’s prosperity, I am persuaded you will, if possible, make it a satisfaction.
“I expect to continue yet some time in this town the work of the Lord appears as lively as ever the brethren are alive, and pressing forward after more of that mind which was in Christ Jesus a number lately have experienced that his blood cleanseth from all sin and not a week passes but there are conversions, and frequently every day, for days together.
“At our Quarterly - meeting, the 8th and 9th of August, and the following week, Satan’s kingdom suffered great loss. I did not know but he would be quite conquered in this town however, he was cast out of many hearts by the stronger than the strong man.
The first day of the Quarterly - meeting we had a melting time many cried bitterly for mercy, and some souls were born of God, among whom there was a. young lady, who thought before, that she would never cry out in public, at any rate but blessed be God, she was converted that day, and lifted up her voice aloud with others.
“Sunday, the 2d day of the Quarterly - meeting, was, I think, as awful and glorious a day as ever I saw. In the Love - feast at eight o’clock we truly had a little Pentecost, and dwelt, as it were, in the suburbs of heaven. Glory appeared to rest on every countenance, while one after another feelingly declared what God had done for their souls, as if their tongues were touched with a live coal from the heavenly altar. In public preaching the word was so accompanied by the energy of the Holy Ghost, that there were few but felt its mighty power. Some of the most unlikely to turn to God were brought to tremble and weep. We broke up, on Sunday night, very late, many being converted. Some were two, three, and four hours on their knees, and on the floor, in bitter cries and agonies for mercy, till they could rejoice in God their Saviour. What power! What awe rested upon the people! Some, after they went home, could not sleep, hut wept and prayed all night. The next day was such a time as I know not how to describe, so as to give you a just idea of it.
“I was sent for, early in the morning, to visit a respectable young lady, who had not closed her eyes the whole night. When I went into the room, she was in the arms of a young woman, who had lately found peace, weeping and praying, but almost exhausted. My heart was much affected at seeing her penitential sorrow. She now saw the vanity of this world, and the need of a Saviour. She felt her misery and lost condition, and her cry and prayer was, ‘Save, Lord, or I perish.’ I exhorted her to believe, and then sung and prayed with her. She continued thus for several hours, when a number of friends, full of faith, were collected to supplicate Heaven on her behalf and the Lord broke into her soul, and she lifted her voice ‘with others, in loud praises to God. ‘O Lord, how wonderful art - thou, and thy ways past finding out!’
“This is only a small part of this day’s work. About ten o’clock a number of mourners got together in a private house, where the work of conversion began first one, then another, found the Lord the news spread the people collected, till the house and street were filled with numerous believers, and a wondering multitude, and continued so without the least intermission till night we then repaired to the church, and presently had it full, (though no previous appointment had been made for meeting that night,) and we did not break up till two o’clock the next morning which made sixteen hours, without intermission, excepting when we went from the private house to the preachinghouse.
“Some, who came quite careless, and indeed making diversion, were converted before they returned. Many hard - hearted opposers are conquered at last, and are now engaged in seeking their salvation. Tuesday was like unto Monday, though there were not so many conversions. The meeting began at eight in the morning, and continued till ten at night. Wednesday and Thursday the work wenton. I cannot, with any certainty, tell how many were brought in, that week, though they were many, and they still continued coming.
“Religion is the general topic of conversation now in the town, among all kinds of people some aspersing, some wondering, others inquiring, rejoicing, &c. The people appear panic - struck and our reverend neighbours are warning their flocks to take care of these wild sort of people, the Methodists but the people have got sense enough, I trust, to judge for themselves.
“The country Circuits are flaming the Preachers are much alive the fire runs as in stubble. On the other side of the Cheasapeak - Bay there is a mighty work hundreds I hear of in different parts turning to God. I don’t know but these earthquakes of the Lord’s power and love will soon run through the continent. O Lord! hasten the time!”
BLIDWORTH - This place was visited from on high in 1790, and many persons were brought into glorious liberty, as we learn from the following statement of the Rev. John Moon - “After the preaching on Sunday evening, September 13th, 1790, some friends stayed to pray with two women, who were in great distress. While they were engaged in prayer, a young man began to cry for mercy, as from the depth of hell, and soon after, his younger brother. The cries of the distressed were very affecting. The two women fainted beneath their load. A few friends continued in the chapel with them till ten o’clock, and then accompanied them home. One of the young men was set at liberty about half - past eleven, and the other at aquarter - past twelve o’clock. We believe their conviction began, partly, on hearing of their brother’s conversion at Nottingham. We had such an outpouring of the Spirit that there was scarce a soul unaffected. Some of the believers were so happy in God that they could scarcely contain themselves.
“On Monday night, September 14th, a few friends met at a house to praise God for the blessings bestowed - on them the night before. While one was praying, a woman was uncommonly affected, and remained the greatest distress imaginable till between one and two o’clock when the Lord set her soul at liberty. Another received the blessing as she went home and another the same night.
“On Tuesday night we had a prayer - meeting, and it was a blessed time indeed. Many believers were so overwhelmed by the love of God, that they had scarce the use of their bodily powers. Wednesday, a boy, about fifteen years of age, was brought into the liberty of the sons of God.
“On Sunday morning, September 20th, one of the Local Preachers preached on, ‘ He became poor, that we, through his poverty, might be made rich ‘ when one man roared out for the disquietude of his soul. In the evening Mr. A - preached an alarming discourse, on, ‘They made light of it.’ When the preaching was ended some friends stayed in the chapel to pray with two or three that were greatly distressed in a short time six more cried out from a deep sense of their having sinned against God. They continued in prayer for them for some hours during which time one young man found peace. On Monday a young woman could praise God, having found redemption in the blood of Christ and was happy beyond expression and on Wednesday another man could testify, that God for Christ’s sake had forgiven him all his sins. At the same time also another young man found rest to his soul, who had been in great distress four days. He cried out in a most dreadful manner. Sometimes le thought he saw hell, and the devil ready to drag him into it while his groans were enough to pierce the hardest heart. But he can now rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.
“On Friday a boy could praise God, and sing redeeming love. He came, at first, to mock but was soon struck to the heart and found no rest till he found peace through believing. Sunday, 27th, was a blessed day to many souls. On Monday morning a woman found Christ, to the joy of her soul and at night a man was set at liberty, with the application of these words - ‘ Thy sins, which were many, are all forgiven thee.’ He stood amazed, and wondered, when the text was applied to his mind, ‘The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, or whither it goeth so is every one who is born of the Spirit.’ But he is now more happy than can be expressed.
“On Monday, October 11th, at a prayer - meeting, a woman was in deep distress but in a little time the Lord set her soul at liberty when she got up, and publicly declared what God had done for her. Two women and two or three boys now began to cry out for the disquietude of their souls. The cries of the distressed became so great, that the voice of those who prayed could no longer be heard. It was a most awful place. Two of the boys appeared as in the agonies of death and a woman in as great a struggle for sanctification. We continued in prayer with her till between eleven and twelve o’clock, when one of the boys appeared as dead for sometime, but soon after the Lord set his soul at liberty, and he could praise God for redemption in Jesus Christ. The next morning another lad was made a partaker of the same blessing.
During the time of the people’s distress, one young man went out to mock but soon asked to be admitted again. After he entered the chapel, he was so struck, that he was constrained to cry out, and acknowledge before God and the people his wicked intention, and how the Lord had convinced him of his error.”
NEWRY - According to the following communication of the Rev. J. M’Donald, dated October - 14th, 1790, this place was, at that time, visited with a blessed revival.
“The first night in which the work of God broke out particularly, five sinners were justified, and one poor backslider restored all of whom to the present are strictly pious, and very happy in God. Two of these five were not in Society, but as soon as they obtained a sense of pardon, they rejoiced at the prospect of being united to a people among whom they had found rest to their souls. The oldest members of Society did not remember a meeting in this town so remarkably blest as this was but soon after they were witnesses of several that far exceeded it. It was a new thing here for people to continue wrestling in prayer for four hours together, which has sometimes been the case of late. Our congregations soon increased a divine power attended the word and a solemn awe appeared upon almost every countenance. Few nights passed without a prayer - meeting, after preaching, chiefly for the mourners, whose cries might be heard at a considerable distance from the preaching - house, and were enough to pierce every feeling heart. Many of the careless and profane gathered round the house, wondering what was the matter but were not admitted lest they should disturb those who were continuing with one accord in earnest prayer. Indeed, some truly pious persons, who were only acquainted with God’s ordinary method of working, began to reflect a little on what seemed to them confusion in our meetings but, after seeing the blessed effects, they are now fully satisfied, and heartily bless God for stepping out of his ordinary method of working among the children of men.
September 8th was a night much to be remembered not only because five were set at liberty, but the Spirit of prayer was poured in a wonderful manner upon the people, so that many went away under deep conviction. A man who loved God with all his heart, said, as the people were going away, ‘Such of you as have not received the blessing now, will assuredly receive it tomorrow night ‘ and it was so, for most of them were comforted the night following’. Brother Grace and I having been that evening at a new Society two miles out of town, on our return to the house, we found there was a blessed work going on for when we entered, we saw several persons newly set at liberty, praising God, and full of rapture and others in the pangs of the new birth we went to different parts of the house, and prayed with the distressed, some of whom in different parts of the congregation soon had their sorrow turned into joy.
“Brother Grace, on coming in, found a man roaring aloud for mercy, who twenty years before had turned his back on the ways of God, and had given himself up to drunkenness. He prayed earnestly with him, and in a few minutes he was taken out of the horrible pit, and is since a pattern of sobriety. On finding him happy I went to look for his wife, who was a member of Society, but had for some time walked in darkness. She came running to her husband, who was now remarkably happy they both went into a corner, joined their earnest prayers in one, till, in a few minutes, her backslidings were healed, and her soul once more made happy in God. A young man, who wrought with her husband, was made happy about the same time. After God had removed his guilt, he continued to clap his hands and cry aloud for a considerable time, often regretting that he had not sooner believed such a blessing attainable.
“The night before our Quarterly - meeting was a glorious time of the out - pouring of the Spirit I believe seven or eight then, for the first time, felt the powers of the world to come. As we prayed for, and expected a glorious visitation on the Quarterly - day, we were not disappointed. One who had been in Society more than thirty years, now, for the first time, was enabled to rejoice in God his Saviour. He had. been in great distress some weeks before and often, apparently, brought to the birth. A few minutes before God visited him with his love, one of our Leaders relating his experience, observed, it was impressed on his mind, if we would all pray for that brother, God would set him at liberty. We then prayed for him, and all in the house soon felt the flame. About half an hour after, public thanks were returned for his conversion and he is since very happy in God his Saviour. Some say that twelve besides him found the Lord before the Love - feast was concluded.
“The watch - night was also a happy season, at which time many more were justified freely. We suppose that, during the watch night and Love - feast, twenty at least were brought into liberty. Three Papists have joined the Society of late and two of them were brought not only from the superstitions of the Church of Rome, but also from darkness to marvellous light. Upwards of an hundred have joined the Society since the last Conference and I believe a greater part of them know in whom they have believed. Very little, if any wildness has appeared in this sudden work the subjects of which all along have had the right use of their reason and the conversion of sinners, and sanctification of believers, are topics on which they delight to converse. Some parts of the country circuit have caught the spirit of this revival. O that it may spread through it all! Our Lord is still carrying on his work here, and we trust he will do so, till all become acquainted with him.”
SHEFFIELD - In 1794, God visited this town in a most remarkable manner, as we hear from the following statement of the Rev. John Moon - Through the Divine blessing, we have had a gradual increase, the greatest part of the last year many were enabled to testify that God, for Christ’s sake, had forgiven their sins, and several backsliders were restored. At our Lady - day Quarterly - meeting, we had a remarkably good Love - feast. The presence and the power of God were unusually felt, and there was a cry among the people but it was not attended with even the appearance of disorder. From this time the work went more swiftly on, and a prayer - meeting was established at the chapel every morning, at five o’clock. The prayer - meetings in private houses, also, became now abundantly more lively so that at times, they could not break up till nearly midnight. In these meetings, some cried aloud for mercy, while others as loudly praised God, for enabling them to believe to the saving of their souls.
“Thus the work continued steadily prospering all through this quarter, seven or eight, or sometimes more, being brought into liberty every week. But in our last quarterly Love - feast, the fire broke out in a more extraordinary manner. The meeting began with its usual calmness and order, and so continued till we were about to conclude. But while we were thinking of concluding, a person came and requested our prayers for one in deep distress and, soon after, the same request was repeated for a woman in the gallery. I then desired two or three of the Local Preachers to go and pray with her, intending to keep my place, and conduct the remaining part of the meeting with all possible decorum, it being, however, a new thing, and to them not a little strange, they appeared reluctant to go. I knew not what to do I hesitated for a moment, but the cry of distress still prevailing I determined to sacrifice regularity to the season of usefulness which presented itself to me. I therefore went up into the gallery, and prayed with the afflicted person. But, I must acknowledge, so awkwardly did I enter on this important duty, through my great attachment to order, that I found very little access to the throne of grace and, perhaps, as a punishment for my reluctance to engage, and my awkwardness in performing the work, I had not the answer of my prayer. When I concluded, one of the Local Preachers below gave out a hymn and prayed. And now the power of God in a wonderful manner filled the place. The cries of the distressed instantly broke out like a clap of thunder from every part of the chapel and the person’s voice, who was engaged in prayer, though exceeding loud, could not be heard. I now determined to resume my place, that I might, at least in some tolerable degree, regulate our further proceedings. But before I could accomplish this design, some of the Local Preachers had spread themselves among those who were so greatly distressed, and were praying for them while others came inquiring what I would wish them to do. I recommended to them the same work in which their brethren were already employed so that I suppose, in two minutes, ten little parties were praying in different parts of the chapel at the same time. In a few minutes one of our friends informed me, that seventeen persons found peace in the gallery, and at least half that number below I never saw anything like it. It could not but appear to an idle spectator, all confusion, but to those who were engaged therein, it was a glorious regularity. It must be granted, that cries for mercy, and thanks for pardoning love, ascended in a wonderfully mixed, but grateful incense, before the heavenly throne.
“It now became impossible to keep the meeting in the usual form of a love - feast, nor could we, but in a very irregular manner, make our customary collection for the poor. The multitude came together, and the doors were thrown open many of those who entered, found that God was there, both to convince and convert, before they left the place. As far as we could judge upwards of seventy persons found peace with God before the conclusion, which did not take place till nearly two in the morning. We could keep no regular watchnight but continued in prayer, exhorting and encouraging the distressed, and praising God for those who were brought out of darkness into his marvellous light which almost all under deep conviction experienced before they departed.
“The next night, between seven and eight o’clock, as our friends were engaged in prayer, the flame broke out again and continued bearing down everything before it, till near one in the morning. The cries of the people were very loud, but as there were many unconcerned spectators present, who kept walking up and down in the chapel, talking to each other. I was sorry to observe, that we had less regularity than on the preceding night. God, however, was graciously present, both to wound and to heal. The out - pouring of the Spirit was now chiefly amongst young persons. It was marvellous to behold boys and girls of ten or twelve years of age so violently agitated, and so earnestly engaged to obtain mercy and more abundantly to observe the change which pardoning grace made, even on some of their very countenances. Though sunk in the deepest distress, and crying out under the bitterest anguish yet, when the Comforter came, their faces shone with holy joy, and their eyes sparkled with divine rapture! They wondered, praised, and adored - and then wrestled with the Lord for their elder relations. Even children sent on errands, entering the chapel to see and hear this strange work, partook of the divine blessing, and went away, giving glory to God for pardoning all their sins. And so rapid was its progress, that some were convinced and justified in an hour’s time. About half - past twelve o’clock, I made an attempt to gain the people’s attention, by going into the pulpit, and sending the Local Preachers and Leaders to different parts of the chapel for that purpose. This succeeded beyond my expectation all were quiet and now, by addressing myself to them in a way suited to the occasion, I was enabled to dismiss the assembly.
“On Wednesday, likewise, about half - past seven o’clock, as our friends were holding another prayer - meeting, the goodness and power of God were displayed again but they were met with considerable interruption from such as were collected to gainsay and mock. The kingdom of Satan was powerfully shaken, and his children were stirred up to support his sinking cause, by endeavouring to stop what they called the madness of the Methodists. Nineteen or twenty constables, I was informed, were brought into the chapel to watch over us. The good work, however, went on, and there was no business for them except to behold the wonders which God was working on earth, and to become the astonished witnesses of that redemption which several found through the blood of Jesus.
“In the three days above alluded to, one hundred persons, or upwards, struggled into the gracious kingdom of our God and Saviour besides a number that were now alarmed with a sense of their danger husbands and wives, parents and children, masters and servants, not knowing the change that had taken place in each other during these opportunities, we exulted together in the love of God, and admired the power of changing grace.
“Since that period, the work has proceeded in a less rapid, and of course, more regular way. Two or three, and sometimes four or five, have been brought to God at a prayer - meeting and, praised be the Lord, thus it continues still. Last Thursday night, the meeting of the bands was a particular season it lasted from nine o’clock till near one in the morning during which time, I am told, four or five persons were enabled to love God with their whole heart and the rest were abundantly refreshed and strengthened in the way. Even little boys and girls have now prayer - meetings among themselves and one company of lads meet constantly in the evening, when the weather is fine, in a field they form a circle, and pray for each other, till they have some signal answer of divine approbation. In this meeting, simple as it may appear to some, two or three have sometimes been set at liberty before they parted. From the reflections I have been led to make on this extraordinary work, together with what has lately taken place, mostly through Yorkshire, I am led to conclude that this must surely be a prelude to that glorious conquest of grace, which we are prophetically assured shall take place in the last days and hence, is eminently preparing the way for the grand millennial reign of our redeeming God. Amen. Even so. Come, Lord Jesus!”
WAKEFIELD - The Lord abundantly poured out his Spirit here in 1794. The following communication from the Rev. James Wood gives some account of the rise and progress of this work
“There has been a gradual ingathering in almost every place in this country, ever since the last Conference, but more abundantly so since the 3rd of February last when our friends at Woodhouse, near Leeds, met together for a prayer - meeting, at eight o’clock in the evening. Soon after they had begun, the Lord poured down his Spirit one, and then another, found peace with God, while others entered into liberty. On Tuesday evening they met again, and continued in prayer all night about twenty more found a sense of pardon, or were enabled to give the Lord their whole heart. On Wednesday evening they continued in religious exercises all night in the chapel, and about thirty could praise God for deliverance. In the morning, many who remained in distress went to different houses, begging the people to pray with them and during that day about fourteen rejoiced in God their Saviour. At night they met at the usual hour the chapel was crowded, and many could not get in. They wrestled all night, and near twenty could testify that God hath power on earth to forgive sin. Ever since, it hath increased in that place, though not with any great rapidity. Soon after, the work broke out in several other places, and hath now, I am informed, reached almost every Society in the Leeds Circuit. About two thousand have been added in that Circuit the last year.
“On our last quarter - day, at the watch - night, the Lord began to work in Wakefield, in a manner we had not seen, and by one o’clock in the morning, about twenty persons could praise God for justifying or sanctifying grace. On the 12th ult. we had another watch night we began at seven o’clock, and for more than two hours there seemed rather a dullness, both upon the Preachers and people. But God was entreated and in a short space of time there appeared to be twenty persons on their knees, crying for mercy, some of whom were, in about half an hour, rejoicing in God, and publicly declaring what God had done or their souls. This had a happy effect on others, and many were brought under deep convictions by hearing and seeing the happiness of those that had found peace. We continued till after four in the morning, in which time near one hundred persons were either made happy, or deeply sensible of their guilt and misery. We have now some stirring up in every place in our Circuit, and sinners, of every description, are brought from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God.
“Some of those persons had been in Society for months or years, resting in good desires others had only heard preaching a few times and others had no concern till the moment they were cut to the heart with a painful sense of their lost condition. In some, the distress was great, the anguish of spirit affecting the body, and drops of sweat issued from every pore in others, there was no remarkable terror, but a consciousness of the want of divine faith and love. Sometimes they continued an hour or two without any deliverance, but many were enabled to believe much sooner. Those who are brought through much distress, are generally led into a calm waiting in hope, a few minutes before they are delivered from their guilt, and then in a moment break forth into praise and thanksgiving. These frequently discover a peculiarly tender sympathy with those who remain in distress, an ardent love and gratitude to those who prayed with them, and, almost universally, a deep concern for their unconverted relations.”
“When we are in a small house, only one prays at a time with those who are in distress but when in a large house or chapel, and several persons are crying for mercy, they form a little circle of serious persons around every one who is in bondage, and one after another pray till the soul is set at liberty. Sometimes we have ten or more of these little companies in a chapel at a time. To a looker - on, it must appear very confused, but to those who are engaged with the distressed it seems like being in a room, agonizing for one soul that is just ready to perish, and often have I found it a little heaven to my soul. Glory be to God for ever. Amen!
“I should have observed, that this work has been chiefly carried on in prayer - meetings, though preaching as owned in a manner it was not before. We seldom
preach in any country place or in town, but we spend an hour or two in singing and prayer afterwards and ifthere be any in distress, we generally continue with them till they are delivered.”
HALIFAX - In 1794, a glorious work was effected in this place, as appears from the following particulars given by the Rev. Charles Atmore
“The great work of God in Halifax Circuit and its neighbourhood is almost indescribable, I scarcely know how to relate the circumstances thereof. It began at Greetland, which for many years had been proverbially dead, so that the Preachers had often serious thoughts of entirely giving it up. It was in a Love - feast that an uncommon measure of the spirit of prayer was given to my dear fellow - labourer, brother Lomas, and also to many of the people. The power of God descended in an extraordinary manner and the Spirit of life from the Holy One visited many mournful hearts with peace and love, and enabled them to return home rejoicing in the God of their salvation. When these persons returned to their respective Societies, and related the great things, which the Lord had done for their souls, many believed their testimony, and were excited to seek with greater diligence than ever, the same mercies and in a little time, the work spread into several other parts of the country.
“We have added about seven hundred persons in our Circuit since last Conference the far greater part of whom, there is reason to believe, are truly converted to the Lord, and can rejoice in him as their Saviour and Redeemer. The work has commonly been carried on in prayer - meetings, which were singularly owned of God. Frequently ten, fifteen, or twenty souls were either justified or fully sanctified at one of these meetings. Veryoften, while one of the brethren was engaged in prayer, the power of God descended, and some began to be deeply affected, and cried aloud for mercy. Many were much agitated in their bodies, and even fainted away. The cries of others were very great indeed, and they remained in distress for several hours, till they were sensibly delivered from their misery, and enabled to rejoice in God. It has been no uncommon thing for six, eight, or ten persons to be in distress together, in the same room. In these cases our friends continued in prayer with them, till they were brought into the liberty of the children of God. I have conversed with some hundreds of them, and have been surprised to hear the clear and distinct account, which they gave of the work upon their souls. Some have now evidenced the reality of the change upon their hearts, for twelve months, by a holy life so that the mouths of gainsayers are stopped. I hope this work will spread over the whole earth.”
HULL - Here as in many other places in Yorkshire, in 1794, the Lord gave showers of blessing. The Rev. Alexander Mather thus describes the visitation
“For some years past, it has pleased the Almighty to favour the Society of Methodists at Hull with much peace and unity, particularly since the opening of their new chapel and they have not only increased in number, but most of them have experienced a gradual growth in the divine life. Daring the time I have laboured among them, we have been blessed with awakenings, conversions, and now and then some entered into the liberty of pure love. When we heard of the great out - pouring of the grace of God upon the Circuits in the West Riding of Yorkshire, where hundreds and even thousands have lately been awakened and converted, a very earnest desire was kindled in the hearts of the people, especially among the Leaders, for a revival in our Society, and which impelled us to address the throne of grace, both in public and private, with ardent importunity. One hindrance, perhaps, to such displays of the awakening rower of God as were manifested in other places, Was, a too anxious attachment to decorum and order and consequently a strong aversion to loud lamentations and cries, especially in the public congregation, which circumstances were common in various parts of the country where the work of conviction had recently broke out. However, at the Christmas Love - feast this difficulty was surmounted and in some degree we wore willing to let God work upon the minds of the people which way he pleased, although we should incur the disagreeable reproach of being accounted enthusiasts. At this meeting we were put to the trial, and bore it very well one person, being in great distress of mind, cried out mightily for mercy, and was soon delivered.
“In the latter end of January, some of the brethren came to me, and requested to have a prayer - meeting appointed on Sunday evening after the service of the day, which was agreed upon. Soon after they were gone, I considered, that there was no necessity for deferring the meeting till Sunday we could make a beginning on Tuesday evening, as I had that night at leisure. Accordingly, the people being apprized of it, we had a full congregation, and a very solemn season. The hearts of the brethren, who exercised the gift of prayer, were much enlarged and a general expectation was raised among us that the Lord would shortly answer our supplications. The meeting concluded about ten o’clock, but the people returned home with reluctance, and seemed much inclined to stay longer. Many were greatly quickened and excited to double their diligence one person found peace, and another obtained the cleansing virtue of the blood of Jesus.
“From this time, we embraced every opportunity of assembling together for public prayer and were greatly encouraged to persevere in this duty, by an accession of serious hearers, and the satisfaction they manifested on these occasions. The mouths of many were likewise opened, and their hearts enlarged, who had never been accustomed to exercise in public before. And although we were not acquainted with many conversions, yet it was very evident the Lord was carrying on a great work among the people in general, as well as in the members of Society. We had many tokens for good, particularly on the national fast day.
“On Sunday, the 9th of March, after Mr. Brown had done preaching, the prayer - meeting began, and concluded at the usual time. But some who were in great distress would not depart from the place they were therefore convened in the vestry, and several of our brethren assisted them by their supplications to the fountain of mercy, till four or five persons obtained divine peace and consolation. This being noised abroad, excited great expectations in the minds of many who felt the burden of their sins, and they came to the chapel on Monday evening. When Mr. Brown had concluded his discourse, he requested the bands to meet in the vestry, and likewise invited any that were in distress to meet with them. But the vestry not being large enough to contain all that tarried, they attempted to collect them into a body in one part of the chapel this, however, they were not able to accomplish, because there were many, in great anguish of mind, in different parts of the chapel, and these required help as well as others which obliged the brethren to pray with them, and encourage them to look unto the Lord for his promised salvation. In a short time, several who had been in great agony, found the blessing of forgiving mercy, and instantly rising up, declared what the Lord had done for their souls, and their friends who were around them united together in praising the Lord on their behalf while others, in different parts of the chapel, still remained in distress, in this manner they continued till about ten persons found the Lord.
“The circumstances of two or three persons praying at the same time, in different parts of the chapel, while some were encouraging the distressed, and others praising the Lord for benefits received, occasioned some idle by - standers to report through the town, that it was all confusion. Undoubtedly it must have had this appearance to persons destitute of sympathy for the disconsolate mourners, and uninterested in the happiness of pardoned sinners. But the seeming disorder, as matters then stood, was unavoidable, nor did any disagreeable consequences follow. There was nothing irrational or unscriptural in these meetings. It was perfectly natural for sinners who were overwhelmed with a sense of their sin and misery, to cry aloud for help to Him who is mighty to save and on some occasions, to be inattentive to every surrounding object. They were conscious of the depravity of their hearts, and the sinfulness of their lives against God they had sinned, and fallen short of his glory the burden they felt was intolerable forgetting, for a moment, their fellow - creature, they cried out aloud, for the disquietude of their souls, as if only God was present, and the sole spectator of their sorrows. When the answer of peace returned, and they were filled with unexpected and unspeakable comfort, it is no wonder if their joy was as excessive, for a time, as their preceding sorrow had been.
“Next evening, after the public prayer - meeting, many who were groaning for redemption, retired into the vestry, and continued several hours in fervent supplication about twelve persons found peace before they departed. In this manner the work went on during the first fortnight at every prayer - meeting ten or twelve persons, and sometimes more, being brought out of darkness into the light of God’s reconciled countenance, and some were likewise awakened at the same time. In the mornings, I was generally employed in visiting those persons who had recently tasted that the Lord is gracious and in a few days seventy were added to the Society these being distributed among the respective classes, and frequently bringing others with them, were instrumental of spreading the work through various parts of the town. The class - meetings were very lively, and generally four or five persons were set at liberty at each meeting.
“On the 23d of March, Mr. Grant kept a love - feast at Beverley many of our friends from Hull were present, and spoke freely of the great things which the Lord had done for their souls the brethren at Beverley were much revived, and two or three were brought into liberty. The same evening, our meeting at Hull was accompanied with much of the divine presence, and a greater number found peace than on any former occasion.
March 25th - I set out on my journey into Staffordshire. Mr. Grant attended the prayer - meetings at Hull that week and the following. From twenty to thirty persons found peace at every meeting. I returned on the 6th of April, and in the course of a week added upwards of a hundred and fifty, the greater part of whom were awakened and converted during the time of my absence. Mr. Stephenson, from Bridlington, preached, and attended the prayer - meeting, which continued till he began to preach again next morning at five o’clock.
“About thirty were converted that night. The work continued to prosper every day during the ensuing week, both at the chapel and in private houses.
April l3th - We had our Love - feast many of the new converts stood up before the congregation, and gave a clear and satisfactory account of the work of God upon their souls. The meeting continued till five o’clock, and it was then with reluctance that they departed. The chapel was crowded with deeply serious hearers at six o’clock, and the prayer - meeting began as soon as the preaching concluded, and continued till ten, when the congregation was dismissed a second time and they were entreated to return home, especially all whose family affairs required their attendance. But this requisition had very little effect, for the greater part continued in prayer till one or two o’clock and some even remained till the morning preaching. About twenty found peace. At this meeting were present many of our friends from the country Societies, whose souls the Lord abundantly blessed they returned home greatly rejoicing, and praising God for the things which they had heard and seen. They likewise faithfully represented these matters to their brethren in various parts of the Circuits their testimony was received, and through the divine blessing, Proved the means of stirring up the people to seek the Lord with redoubled diligence and earnestness. From that time the work revived in many places in the country, and in a few weeks some hundreds were convinced and converted.
“Monday, l4th. - This evening the prayer - meeting continued to a late hour, and many were brought into the liberty of’ the children of God. On Tuesday, the divine power was present to heal the broken in heart in all the class - meetings.
“April 18th, being Good - Friday, we met at five in the morning for prayer, and had a very gracious season. At seven o’clock we had preaching and again at six in the evening. The congregation was large, and deeply serious. The prayer - meeting continued till ten o’clock, which was indeed solemn and lively and several were delivered from the burden of sin. The congregation was then dismissed but a large number remained in every part of the chapel, as well as in the vestry, in great distress. When these were released from their troubles, more fell under conviction, which unavoidably lengthened the meeting to a very late hour. It being impossible for those who had themselves tasted that the Lord is gracious, not to sympathize with their brethren, whom they beheld in the greatest anguish of spirit they could not refuse to watch a few hours with them, and afford them every assistance in their power especially by their prayers and exhortations to look unto Jesus in faith, for a present salvation. And many, who had been delivered but a few days, or perhaps a few hours, now became earnest and prevailing intercessors for others. Even some who had ignorantly inveighed against this extraordinary work, and represented it as a scene of confusion and disorder, were constrained themselves, by the mighty power of God, to cry out for mercy as well as others.
Sunday 2Oth - A large company assembled this morning to commemorate the resurrection of our Lord, at five o’clock, and a still greater at seven o’clock. At Six in the evening the chapel was crowded with a serious congregation, that cordially united in blessing God, ‘who according to his abundant mercy had begotten them again to a lively hope, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.’ The prayer - meeting began after preaching, and continued till midnight.
“Easter - Monday being one of the great holidays for young people at Hull, I wished to draw as many as possible from their wild and frantic sports, and engage them in better exercises for this purpose, I appointed a prayer - meeting at three o’clock, which was well attended, and the divine blessing visited the people. Before seven o’clock, upwards of twenty prisoners were liberated from the bondage of sin and Satan and likewise many more that night, in the prayer - meeting after the sermon.
“On Tuesday, several new places were opened for prayer - meetings, in different parts of the town, which were well attended, and in most of them some were set atliberty. The work continued to prosper in this remarkable manner until the 12th of May, considerable numbers being deeply wounded and graciously healed. Since the 12th of May, the Lord has favoured us with refreshing seasons, but we have not had so many instances of persons being under deep convictions, and consequently, not so many clear conversions. It is difficult, though perhaps not impossible, to assign the reason of this decline. Those who have seen extraordinary revivals of religion, know that it is impossible on these occasions to prevent irregularities and that even an attempt to remove some inconveniences at such a season, is too frequently succeeded by an interruption of that fervency of spirit, and lively exercise of faith and hope, which are so necessary for facilitating the increase and progress of the work. Some religious persons of other denominations exclaimed, that this work was too sudden in itself, and irregular in its manner, to be of God. These reflections being spread through the different circles of their acquaintance had probably a tendency to lessen the ardour of those who were zealous for the cause of God, and discouraged others who were seeking salvation. But the clamour that was raised on account of the meetings being sometimes continued to a late hour, seemed of great importance especially as it was insinuated, that it was not only disagreeable to many families, but offensive to the magistrates. These considerations induced us to attempt some regulations, in a most gentle way, so as scarce to be perceived. And we supposed ourselves justified in our proceedings, as we acted from the motive of preserving civil and religious peace. Yet we are now doubtful that our well - meant endeavours to remove every stumbling - block out of the way, has given a check to the work and that we have been more anxious to please men, and avoid a part of the cross, than to bear reproach for the sake of Christ. Many instances might be given of remarkable conversions but at present I shall only select two or three
“A servant of Mr. G - ’s came one evening to the prayer - meeting she had no idea of what she was coming for, only having heard that people went to those meetings and were blessed. She was so exceedingly ignorant as scarce to know that she had a soul that must live for - ever. She had not been in the meeting a few hours before she was thoroughly awakened, and truly converted and returned home rejoicing and praising God. Her mistress has observed her conduct very narrowly ever since, and testifies that her whole deportment gives the fullest evidence of the reality of the change.
“A servant of Mr. C - ’s, of Cottingham, came to the market and being informed of the prayer - meetings, and the benefit that many people found at them, was so affected, that she resolved to stay all night, in order to be present at one of them saying to herself, I can but lose my place, and what is that to the salvation of my soul? Soon after the meeting began, she was convinced of her fallen state, and sensible of the burden of sin and before midnight, received a sense of pardoning mercy. Next morning she returned home rejoicing in the Lord, to the astonishment of her mistress, who is a pious person, and expresses great satisfaction in the evident change that her servant manifests in all her conduct and tempers.
“A poor Magdalen strolled one night into the chapel, and came forward into the vestry, where many were wrestling in prayer with the distressed, who were crying for mercy, which struck her with amazement which another woman observing, spoke to her, and asked, ‘Do not you want the converting power of grace? Do not you desire to be happy?’ To which she answered, ‘I am not happy now - nor do I know how to be so.’ The woman then took her aside, and explained to her the way of salvation through faith in Christ and then left her, to speak to some others. Returning soon after, she found the poor prostitute on her knees, weeping, and entreating some to pray with her in a short time the Lord answered the supplications of his servants, and visited the trembling, guilty sinner in mercy, removing from her the burden and power of sin, quickening and renewing her soul in righteousness and she went away rejoicing in the Lord. She had made an appointment on board of a vessel, but wrote a line, informing them, ‘ That she could not that God had opened her eyes, and mercifully forgiven her past offences and she would die for want, rather than follow that wicked course any more.’
“The work of God has likewise revived in sundry places in the country part of the Circuit. At Beverly, where there has been great deadness for a long season, twenty persons have lately found peace with God. Some of them were not only strangers, but enemies to godliness.
“At Theam, a small village, on Tuesday evening, April 8th, after Mr. Brown had done preaching, nine persons were converted in the prayer - meeting among them were two brothers one was twelve years old, and the other only eight. Next day, they each of them wrote a letter to their relations, describing the work which the Lord had wrought upon their souls, and the consolations they experienced, interspersed with pertinent remarks and observations, that would not have discredited persons who have been long acquainted with the things of God. So true it is, that when He teaches, there is no delay in learning.
“On the Friday evening after, three persons belonging to one family were much affected in the public meeting. Upon returning home, their distress increased to such a degree, as to alarm the family, who sent and called up some of our friends to pray with them. Their prayers were answered, and the God of mercy revealed himself to the penitent mourners.
“At River - Bridge, our prospect has been very discouraging for a long time neither the young nor the old regarding the things which make for their peace. Some of the aged would hear us attentively on the Sunday forenoon, and seemed affected while under the word nevertheless, they continued to walk as they did before. But the younger would neither be governed nor instructed. In order to promote their reformation, a Sunday school was set up in that place, and two of our brethren undertook to teach the children gratis. At first, a considerable number of children attended regularly but they soon became quite careless, and followed the example of the elder boys, who were wholly addicted to Sabbath - breaking. The young people of the village had formed a plan for a foot - ball match on Easter - Monday, and some of them spent Good - Friday in preparing the instrument for their diversion. On Easter - Sunday, the Leader of our Society went in the afternoon to Hotham church, (about four miles distant,) and some of the young people accompanied him, which he thought strange, as they were wont to shun all converse with him. He improved the opportunity, and spoke closely to them on the danger of living in sin, and the necessity of repentance. They heard the sermon in the church with more than common attention and as soon as the service was over, they joined him again, and he resumed his former conversation all the way home, with which they appeared well satisfied. At parting, the Leader said to them, ‘Lads, we shall have a prayer - meeting at eight o’clock if any of you please to come, you shall be very welcome and bring as many with you as you think proper.’ They came accordingly, and brought some of their companions with them. The meeting was very solemn, and the young folks were much affected and although it continued a considerable time, they were unwilling to go away.
“The Leader was present at that remarkable Love - feast at Hull, (already mentioned in this narrative,) and not only noticed the progress of the work, but likewise was engaged in prayer, and speaking to those who were under the power of conviction numbers of whom he had seen happily released from the guilt and dominion of sin and this evening he perceived a probability of a similar work at River - Bridge, but was afraid they should not be able to continue the meeting, as there were only three or four persons present, who had any tolerable gift of prayer he therefore requested one of the brethren to go out, and endeavour to get help, as the distress of the lads, and young men, increased so much as not to be concealed any longer for their cries were heard in the street, and many persons began to assemble about the door. In the mean time, the Leader requested one of our Society, who had been converted in her youth, and whose experience was clear and scriptural, to give the people a particular relation of God’s dealings with her soul. This she was enabled to do, notwithstanding she was at that time under affliction, in so lively and striking a manner, that every sentence took place in the minds of the people, and increased their desires, and encouraged them to hope for the mercy of God. Not only the house was filled with people, but the stairs and workshop, and many stood without. Some came out of curiosity to hear or see something new but the greater part were concerned for their souls.
In the village were some persons who were not only enlightened, but they really had tasted that the Lord is gracious, and walked comfortably, for some years, in the profession and practice of religion, till the thorns of’ deceitful riches, and the desire of other things, had nearly choked the good seed. Our brother who went to call in assistance, ran to their houses without ceremony, and delivered his message faithfully. Particularly, one respectable family that he visited, be addressed the master of it to this purpose ‘Mr. C - , yonder are three of your children in great distress for their souls. For Christ’s sake, come and help us to pray for them, that He may be merciful to them, and forgive all their sins!’ Mr. C - followed him with some difficulty he got into the room, and fell down upon his knees. For an hour he continued in an agony of prayer for his own soul, till the Lord restored unto him the light of his countenance, and once more filled him with peace and joy in believing he was then exceedingly helpful not only to his own children but to every one that was in distress. That night upwards of twenty were enabled to praise God for the manifestation of his pardoning love.
“In consequence of this blessed revival at the Bridge, the young people engaged themselves, on Easter - Monday, in quite a different employment from that which they originally intended, and had made provision for. The instrument which they had idolized and expected to be the source of abundant happiness to them now became the object of their hatred and condemnation. When the question was agitated among them, ‘ What shall be done with the foot - ball?’ One said, ‘Let us sell it.’ But another replied, ‘No, that cannot be right for if it is a snare to us, it must be the same to others therefore let us not sell it, but destroy it.’ To this determination they all fully agreed and after it was cut in pieces, they threw it away with utter detestation.
“From River - Bridge, the work spread to Gilberdyke. Mr. Brown preached there on Wednesday, and afterwards kept a prayer - meeting, where many found peace and, likewise, at all the prayer - meetings, which were every night that week at the Bridge. In about a fortnight, upwards of one hundred persons were set at liberty. At the end of three weeks, I visited the new converts at the Bridge and Gilberdyke, and spoke to most of them I found them truly alive to God, and a thirst for all the blessings of the Gospel. I remarked that many of them were under fourteen years of age that their parents were, in general, altogether careless. I could not help observing the goodness of God, in supplying the lack of ungodly parents, and reproving them, by so wonderfully converting their children. While I was preaching at the Bridge on Monday evening, I was obliged to stop three times, to praise God for delivering souls from the burden of their sins. After preaching the prayer - meeting continued to a late hour, and the Lord manifested his pardoning mercy to seven persons more before the meeting concluded.
“On Sunday morning, May 6, Anne Leach was suddenly taken ill, during the time of preaching she continued sensible and happy till next morning, when she died. For many years she had been a member of our Society at Thorner, and adorned her profession by a holy life, and unspotted conversation, and lately came to reside at the Bridge among her friends. Mr. J. U., one of her relations at Thorner, came over to her funeral, on Thursday, and tarried till Sunday, when I preached a sermon on the occasion. It pleased the Lord to awaken his soul that day and next morning, on his return home, his distress was so great, that he was obliged to alight from his horse, and apply to the throne of grace, regardless of every object that passed by on the road. He continued in an agony of prayer, till the Lord revealed forgiving mercy to him, and enabled him to pursue his journey with joy and gladness.
“It is not to be wondered at, that the extraordinary work at River - Bridge should be the subject of much conversation, far and near, and that different constructions were put upon it - Some saying, ‘ It is only among the children and young people, and will soon come to nothing’ others replying, ‘ It could be no work of God, because it was so sudden, and attended with much noise and disorder.’ However, they generally acknowledged, that, for the present, there was a very great alteration for the better among the people no cursing, or swearing, or horrible language, being now heard in the streets, no Sabbath - breaking, or assemblies of young people in the fields for the purpose of vain and wicked diversions on the Lord’s - day and therefore, it is a matter of thankfulness that so much good is already done.
“Since that time, the work continues to prosper, and has spread to many other villages, where ten, fifteen, and twenty persons, have been converted at a meeting, and sometimes more so wonderfully does the Lord visit his people, with the convincing and saving influences, whereby they are turned from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God.”
The Rev. James Wood, in remarking upon this revival, says
“I judge it may be proper to notice a double extreme which some of our own people are in danger of, as well as others, respecting the present revival of religion amongst the Methodists. Some old members of our Society who have long known the favour of God, and evidenced living faith by the sure fruit it produces, have found it, at first, hard to believe that there is anything genuine in the sorrows or joys of those who have been brought in, on account of the noise and apparent confusion which have attended some of the meetings of course they have not heartily closed in with the revival, nor exerted themselves to the uttermost, to promote it. While others, in the simplicity of their heart, believe every thing to he genuine, and every one that is in sorrow and afterwards appears to be comforted, to be truly converted to God. It seems probable, that the truth lies betwixt these and therefore for any person to oppose every thing that is irregular, or borders on what some may call confusion, or to condemn all in the lump, seems not only far from the spirit of the Christian, but even below the conduct of a candid Jew. (Acts v. 38, 39.) And to suppose that every one who professes a change of heart is really converted to God, is more than the bible calls us to believe.
“What then is our duty? To hope the best to cherish every plant of grace and affectionately to caution, instruct, and advise all that have the smallest desire after God to suspend our judgment where anything is doubtful and where there is an evident mixture, cautiously ‘to check that which is wrong, without hurting what is of God. That there is a blessed and glorious work of God, though attended with some irregularity, I no more doubt than of my own existence. There are hundreds in this Circuit who have been gathered into Society in this revival, whose conduct is every way an ornament to their profession. This is especially the case in Hull, where our old Leaders are hearty in the work, and as fathers, care for those who are newly added to their Classes. May the Lord carry on the work in his own way, till the whole earth is filled with the knowledge of his glory!”
Another writer, in offering some observations upon the glorious work, which extended through the most parts of Yorkshire, and to several in Lancashire, thus expresses himself.
“For some time past my mind has been engaged in reflecting upon the manner in which the Lord has of late been pleased to revive his work amongst us, in Yorkshire, Lancashire, and several other parts of this nation. I have endeavoured to collect all the information I could from those places where the revival has spread with the greatest celerity, and have likewise been present at some places where it first began, and was a witness of its rise, progress, and declension.
“Some with whom I have conversed on the subject, endeavoured to defend all parts of its progress, the manner in which the meetings were conducted, and the proceedings of most or all who are more immediately engaged therein. Others run into the opposite extreme they call it enthusiasm, madness, and the work of the enemy and, so far as their influence reaches, do all in their power to put a stop to it. Some pious persons compare it to that work which commenced in London in the year 1761, when George Bell and his colleagues ran into such extravagancies and they appeal to the Journals of Mr. Wesley, to show the necessity of putting a stop to the present prayer - meetings. There is no doubt but in the beginning of the revival, in 1761, there was much good done a considerable number were truly converted to God, and the work of grace was deepened in the hearts of many. But the disgrace which was brought upon it at that time, arose from a few of the leading persons giving way to dreams, visions, and sudden impressions on their minds, or, as they termed them, revelations from the Lord, whereby many were led astray. But the leading persons in the present revival, so far as I have had any knowledge of them, have given very little way to such things. In the former revival, the people were taught to believe that the Preachers were blind, ignorant, and unable to instruct them in the way of righteousness some few became wise above what is written, they laid aside the Bible, and declared that they had no farther need of being taught by man the natural consequence of their proceedings was, that they laid themselves open to all the devices of Satan, who transformed himself into an angel of light, and seduced them into the labyrinths of error and folly. But the case at present is widely different the active persons in the prayer - meetings, in general, are remarkable for an affectionate attachment to their Preachers they constantly attend all the menus of grace they ardently love their Bible and steadily adhere to the Methodist doctrines and discipline.
“There are some who find fault with the present revival, because many of those who are zealous in promoting it, are persons of small abilities, or in a humble situation in life. But would it not be well for the objectors to inquire, ‘ Who were the men that God raised up to be so eminently useful, in the first revival of religion among the Methodists? What were their abilities?’ Have not many of the most useful Preachers been persons of no extraordinary talent, but only remarkable for deep piety, and fervent zeal? Besides, isit not an impeachment of divine wisdom to oppose a work, because the instruments are not such as we approve of? ‘ God hath chosen the weak things of the world, to confound the things that are mighty and base things of the world, and things that are despised, bath God chosen yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are, that no flesh should glory in his presence.’ If the Lord pleases, he can make use of rams’ horns to overthrow the walls of Jericho.
“Another objection arises from the disapprobation expressed by some pious people in our connexion against it especially to the manner in which it is carried on. In answer to which, I beg leave to ask, was there ever a revival of religion in which all pious persons agreed respecting the way or manner of its commencement or progress?’ If we only survey the beginning of Methodism, we shall find, that some excellent persons objected very much to the prayer - meetings, love - feasts, class - meetings, and even to public preaching, when it was out of that regular way to which they had been accustomed. At the present time, do not the Church - people, Quakers, Dissenters, and Methodists, disagree with respect to the manner in which public worship ought to be conducted? But would it be wise in any one party, to declare the other is not of God? Or to call them enthusiasts, because they do not worship exactly in the same way with themselves? Besides, are there not some that have a name among us, who do not enjoy that degree of life and zeal which they once possessed? And unless they have a large measure of Christian candour and forbearance, will not such persons object to every thing which is out of the common way, in conducting prayer - meetings?
“I am far from endeavouring to defend all the circumstances, which have generally accompanied the work in most places. I have often observed, that there has been much more noise and disorder than was really necessary though sometimes both are unavoidable, except we interposed so as to quench entirely the spirit of prayer and holy desire, when they are beginning to enkindle in the hearts of the people.
“In the commencement of a revival, there is an extraordinary degree of the divine influence many are awakened, and converted to God in a few days the greater part of whom are generally such persons as have had their understandings previously enlightened, although their consciences were not sufficiently alarmed to urge them to lay hold on eternal life.
“But when the power of God is remarkably present in a meeting, then they begin earnestly to plead for mercy, and are soon enabled to rejoice in the Lord. And such persons, forthe most part, are afterwards steady and zealous in the way of godliness. In a little time, many are drawn to the place by curiosity borne of them are soon affected they cry aloud for mercy, and presently become happy in the Lord - not infrequently they are both awakened, and find peace with God, in the same meeting. These not having their understandings previously informed, are ignorant of Satan’s devices and, perhaps the very same evening, returning to a set of ungodly relations and companions, they are drawn back into their former darkness and hardness of heart, and seldom come among the people again. But then there are others that have been thus suddenly brought to the knowledge of Christ who continue steadfast to this day.
“When a revival has continued in a place for some time, many of the persons who are in distress in the meetings, are such as had found peace, but, through unfaithfulness, have lost the evidence of the divine favour. And although great numbers have been much blessed, in the meetings, yet the increase in Society is not so large as at the beginning of the revival. It has likewise been a grief to pious minds, that, after the divine power and influence are in a great measure abated in the meetings, some officious persons imprudently continue to make the same noise and disorder, which they did when the work was the most lively. Many can gladly bear with disagreeable things in a meeting, provided the power of God is present, and good is done but they are justly offended when the contrary is the case. But ought we not to endeavour, as far as possible, to retain all the good, and prevent the evil, which too often mixes with it? And may we not hope for success, through the divine blessing, by attending to a few regulations? I am far from supposing that these regulations are the test which can be laid down and sometimes, when the power of God is uncommonly present in a meeting, attending too minutely to any particular plan, might do much harm God alone can direct at such blessed seasons.
“First, I would, therefore, recommend, that every prayer - meeting be begun with singing a few verses, and solemn prayer. Then let two or three pray in succession, short and lively, while the congregation continue on their knees. If any persons are perceived to be in distress, someone should, in a low voice, inquire into their state and if they be earnestly seeking pardon, or holiness, after giving them proper advice, and suitable encouragement to look unto Jesus in faith, and to venture their souls wholly upon him, let one pray for them, but not in too loud a manner and others also should assist by prayer and animating exhortations, till the blessing of God descend upon the penitent mourners. In a little time, probably, there may be several companies engaged in the same manner, in different parts of themeeting and while they are thus employed, a proper person should preside in the meeting, and occasionally address the congregation at large, intermixing hymns proper for the occasion, in which all may join, except those who are praying with the distressed. When there is good reason to believe that any of the mourners have found divine consolation, the person who conducts the meeting should be made acquainted with it, in order that he may inform the congregation, when all will unite in praising God for his mercy and grace. Attention to these circumstances will conduce to keep the people in their places the different parties may go quietly on with those that are in distress, and all the congregation will be encouraged to persevere in prayer and thanksgiving.
“Secondly, It would be of great utility, if some friend, who is present with the mourners, when the Lord speaks peace to them, would inquire their names and places of abode and either direct them to a suitable class, or call upon them at a proper time, and introduce them to the meeting. For want of Christian care and tender affection, many who were under serious impressions in the prayer - meetings, but having no opportunity of being acquainted with real believers, or associating with them, have soon fallen back again into the world.
“Thirdly, Our friends who preside in the prayer - meetings, ought to be exceedingly careful that those who exercise in prayer are exemplary in their lives and conduct because one unsteady or immoral person may do much hurt to the cause of God. It is likewise necessary, in every meeting, to take care not to depend too much on any particular persons, by expecting them to take the most active or useful part therein, lest our dependence be more in man than in God. But in the spirit of lively faith, and holy breathings after the Lord, let us come together, looking for his presence to be with us.
“Sometimes there may not be such a measure of life and power in a meeting, as we hope and wish for, and then we are in danger of sinking under the temptation to unbelief, our spirits are apt to be depressed, and we are ready to lay the blame upon this or the other person especially if that person be not hearty in the cause. At other times, we may be tempted to fear that the Lord is not willing to bless the people. If we give place to this temptation, it will soon rob us both of peace and power. At such times it will be well to examine, if there be any cause for the deadness and barrenness of the meeting, in order that it may be removed as soon as possible. Particularly we must take care not to he cast down or discouraged, because such seasons may sometimes be permitted as a trial of our faith and. there may be good done among the people, which we may not come to the knowledge of for a considerable time after.
“On the other hand, when many are brought out of darkness and distress, into light and liberty, through the extraordinary joy we feel on such occasions, there is danger of lightness of spirit except we guard very much against it. And this is the more necessary, because any degree of levity would rob us of that solemn sense of the divine presence which is always necessary, and more especially on such important occasions.
“When the meetings are concluded, we must still be upon our guard for much good has been lost, and much evil arisen, from several persons collecting together at the door, or in the street, and in a trifling manner conversing about what has been done in the meeting, instead of retiring home and praying earnestly to the Lord, that the good which has been done may be lasting, and, like the good seed, bring forth fruit an hundredfold, to everlasting life.
“When we meet with pious professors, who, through prejudice, oppose the work, and depreciate the good that is done in the prayer - meetings, we must be careful, in answering their arguments, not to admit of any improper warmth of spirit let all we say be in meekness and love. On some occasions, perhaps, the less we say the better. Not that the subject is incapable of being defended, by reason or Scripture but when the prejudice is very great, the voice of reason is too feeble to find its way into their hearts at that time we must, therefore, suffer patiently, and wait in hope for a more favourable opportunity.
“Upon the whole, it is evident, that the Lord has blessed the prayer - meetings, in many parts of the nation thousands have been brought to the knowledge of God, some of whom are gone triumphantly to paradise, and others are travelling steadily forward in the way to Zion. The Lord is still in the midst of his people and though the work is carried on in a way, which the world despises, yet it is the way which God hath owned, and still continues to bless. The Methodists have long been in danger of sinking into conformity to the world. In this late revival, the Lord has again drawn the line. Let us now take care not to give place to that worldly prudence, which would much endanger the prosperity of Zion. All our friends who are engaged in the work, should be careful not to be elated with the smiles of professors, nor depressed by their frowns. Let us be zealous in promoting the conversion of sinners holding fast the doctrine of a free pardon through the merits of Jesus, and that glorious privilege - a present and full salvation. And though the meetings may sometimes be attended with noise and some disorder, yet, let us go steadily forward, hoping that the present revival will continue to spread,
Till the earth is o’erflowed,
And the universe fill’d with the glory of God‘
AMERICA - The following sketch of the rise and progress of the work of God on the continent, and the Isles of the Western Archipelago, is given by a writer in the Missionary Magazine, published at Edinburgh, for August, 1796.
“To many who have been eye - witnesses of the zealous exertions of the Methodist Society in these, kingdoms, in opposing the torrents of vice, and promoting the interests of Christianity, it will no doubt appear strange, that they have not come forward as a body, with the other denominations of Christians, who have lately united together, for the laudable purpose of sending the Gospel to the Heathens. That it is not from their want of hearty concurrence in this design, the following narrative will afford evident demonstration they having already a considerable number of Missionaries, both in America and in the West Indies, whom they, as a body, have to support alone. It is our intention, in the following account, to lay before our readers the entrance, progress, and present state of those Missions, which we presume will he acceptable, and which, we hope, will have a tendency to excite the utmost exertions of those who have engaged in so benevolent an undertaking.
“We proceed, first, to give an account of their Missions to the Continent of America.
“Some time in the year 1763, several persons, members of Mr. Wesley’s Society, emigrated from England and Ireland, and settled in various parts of America and some years after, two Local Preachers, from Ireland, Philip Embury and Robert Strawbridge, began to minister the Gospel of Christ, the one at New York, the other in Frederic County, in Maryland and had the happiness to see their labours accompanied with the divine blessing, many being converted to God, and by them formed into Societies. About this time, Mr. Webb, a Lieutenant in the army, preached at New York and Philadelphia with great success and, with the assistance of his friends, erected a chapel at New York, which was the first belonging to the Methodist Society in America. Induced by this success, and by an earnest desire for the salvation of mankind, he, and other friends, wrote to Mr. Wesley, earnestly importuning him to send Missionaries to that continent. In compliance with which request, two Preachers were sent from the Conference at Leeds, namely, Messrs. Boardman and Pilimore, who landed at Philadelphia, in the year 1769. Upon their arrival, they found a Society of about an hundred members, who had been brought to the knowledge of the truth, through the exertions of Mr. Webb, and others. The inhabitants received them with great cordiality, and heard the Gospel gladly, as appeared from the number who attended their ministry. One of these Missionaries went soon after this to New York, when his audience amounted to about five thousand persons. The Gospel continued to spread, and, in the year 1771, two other Ministers were sent, Messrs. Asbury and Wright, who met with a similar reception so that in the year 1773 the Conference was induced to send two more, Messrs. Rankin and Shadford. At this time they had on the continent about a thousand members, six or seven of whom were Preachers. The Lord still continued to smile on their labours, so that in the space of about four years afterwards they had increased their number of itinerant Preachers to forty, and of members to above seven thousand, besides some thousands of blacks, whose minds the Lord had opened to receive the Gospel, although not yet united in fellowship. The work of God prospered in the hands of these Missionaries to an astonishing degree. During a Quarterly Meeting, at a place called Maybery Chapel, which lasted two days, the congregation being about four thousand, some hundreds were awakened, and it is hoped one hundred and fifty savingly converted.
“In July, 1777, there was a very remarkable spread of Christianity at the town of Petersburgh, in Virginia, and parts contiguous thereto in Amelia county, in the course of the summer, eight hundredin Sussex county, one thousand six hundred and in the county of Brunswick, one thousand eight hundred were converted to God, as appeared evident in their subsequent holy life and conversation, it would exceed our limits to trace this mission through its different stages, and therefore we shall only observe, that the hand of God continued with it for good, as appears by the present state thereof. At the last general meeting, held in the year 1795, it appeared that the number of itinerant Preachers employed therein were no less than four hundred, exclusive of many hundred Local - Preachers that the number of white persons in their Society, was, fifty - one thousand six hundred and ninety - four and of blacks, thirteen thousand eight hundred and fourteen amounting in all, to sixty - five thousand five hundred, and eight, who unite in close fellowship, exclusive of many thousands who are regular attendants on their ministry.
“This great spread of the Gospel was not wholly confined to the continent of America it extended also to the West - India islands. So early as the year 1760, Nathaniel Gilbert, Esq., who had heard the Gospel in England, but who was then resident in the island of Antigua, began to meet a few people in his own house, on the Lord’s - day, for the purpose of exhortation and prayer his endeavours being countenanced by God, he was encouraged to enlarge his sphere of action, and though no less a person than the Speaker in the house of Assembly, preached the Gospel to the blacks, in the midst of great reproach, till he had formed a Society of two hundred of them, who at his death were left as sheep having no shepherd. About sixteen years ago, Mr. John Baxter, a shipwright in the royal dockyard at Chatham, and a Local - Preacher in the Methodist Connexion, went to this island to work for His Majesty in the English harbour and, being constrained by the love of Christ, soon after his arrival openly preached the Gospel by which means he collected the scattered remains of Mr. Gilbert’s labours. For seven or eight years, with surprising assiduity, he walked through the evening dews, when his daily work was over, to instruct the slaves on the plantations the Sabbath he devoted entirely to this labour of love, and, enduring very great opposition and persecution, continued it until he had raised a Society of at least one thousand members, the most of whom were blacks.
“In the latter end of the year 1787, four Missionaries sailed from England for Nova - Scotia but after being ten weeks at sea, by stress of weather, the Captain of the ship was obliged to bear away for the West - Indies, whither they now believed themselves providentially called. They landed at Antigua on Christmas day. One of these Missionaries staid to assist Mr. Baxter in this island. Under his ministry the work of God flourished exceedingly between two and three thousand blacks were united in Society, together with some white persons. It may not be improper here to state, that the influence of Christianity in this island has been so evident, as to render military law, which had formerly been enforced on Festival days, from a fear of an insurrection of the Negroes, wholly unnecessary.
“From Antigua, the other Missionaries proceeded to visit the island of St. Vincent’sand in a short time united from four to five hundred blacks in Society. The third island they visited was St. Christopher’s. The word of God has had much success in this island, there being at present upwards of one thousand four hundred members in Society, who in general adorn the Christian profession by an exemplary conduct. The fourth island visited by these Missionaries was St. Eustatius. Here they met with a very violent persecution from the Government - the first instance since the commencement of this great spread of the Gospel, in which the Government of any country has openly and professedly supported a persecution. The Missionaries were at last driven from the island but the fruits of their labours appear to this day two hundred of those persecuted people having united together for divine worship, and mutual edification, although deprived of the benefit of ministerial instruction.
“In 1788, several other Missionaries were sent to the West - Indies, to extend the work the Lord had so signally begun. They landed at Barbados on the 9th of December and found the inhabitants, for a time, reluctant to receive instruction, and more callous to convictions than those of any of the other islands. They next visited Nevis, where they joined in Society about five hundred negroes, and have at present a bright prospect of more extensive usefulness. The island of Tortola also was visited this year by those Missionaries, where there was a great outpouring of the Spirit of God, as well as in the small islands adjacent thereto so that one thousand five hundred persons have, to all appearances, been turned from darkness to light.
“In the year 1789, the Missionaries went to the island of Jamaica, and had the pleasure of seeing their labours crowned with success. Notwithstanding the spirit of persecution which, both at that time and since, has raged to an alarming degree a Society of two hundred members has been raised at Kingston, and we hope will be yet more abundantly increased. They then proceeded to visit Grenada, where they were received with the greatest courtesy, and formed a small Society in St. George’s. At Dominica an attempt was made with considerable success one hundred and fifty blacks were brought to the knowledge of the truth but, unfortunately for that island, their Missionary, through excessive fatigue, was seized with an inflammatory fever, which brought on his death, and his place has not yet been supplied. The Methodist Society have at present in these islands, twelve Missionaries, and eight thousand six hundred and fifty - six members. It is presumed that their Society in these parts would have been in a much more flourishing state, if they had not been prevented, by the late disturbances, from sending Missionaries to supply the place of those who have fallen victims to the yellow fever.”
This blessed work has so greatly progressed since the period of the above statement, that there are now (1843) in America, upwards of four thousand Ministers, and one million thirty - five thousand members, in connexion with the Methodist church and in the West - Indies, nearly one hundred Missionaries, and fifty - four thousand six hundred and sixty - one members.
Chapter 1 - The nature of revivals of religion & etc
Chapter 2 - Revivals at Athlone - Everton - and Dublin
Chapter 3 - Revivals at Kingswood - Weardale - Epworth - St. Just - Fermanagh - Birstal.
Chapter 4 - Revivals at Shepton Mallet - Birstal - Baltimore - Blidworth - Newry - Sheffield
Chapter 5 - Revivals at Wakefield - Halifax - Hull
Chapter 6 - Revivals at Penzance - Redruth - Bandon - United States
Chapter 7 - Revivals in the United States of America (Continued)
Chapter 8 - Revivals in the West Indies - Glasgow - Rhode Island - Cornwall
Chapter 9 - Revival at Shaftesbury - Salisbury - Baltimore
Chapter 10 - Revivals at Liverpool - Tenterdon - Midsummer - Norton - Burslem - Newcastle - Under - Lyme - Canterbury - Durham - Bradford - Cornwall - Ely
Chapter 11 - Revivals at St. Austle - Hull - Hayle - Bacup
Chapter 12 - Revivals at Penzance - Grenada - Gateshead - Tipton - Dudley
Chapter 13 - Revivals at Wednesbury - Midsummer - Norton - France - Nantwich - Sheffield - Yeadon - Shepton Mallet
Chapter 14 - Revivals at Grantham - St. Austle - Friendly Isles - Camborne
Chapter 15 - Observations on Revivals - Conscious Pardon - Instantaneous Conversion - Prayer - Meetings - Separation Of Penitents
Chapter 16 - The Next Great AwakeningObservations on Revivals - Excitement - Noise - Bodily Convulsions - Confusion - Children Saved - Character of Revivalists - Opposition - Irregularities - Reputed Converts - Want Of Co - operation - Result of Revivals