The Power of Prayer – Samuel I. Prime

 

fultonstreet

The autumn of 1857 saw New York in the midst of financial failure which ruined many of its one million people. But, unlike other times of national disaster, this era was accompanied by a renewed spirit of prayer, to be followed by a manifestation of the 'marvellous loving kindness' of God as thousands were brought from worldly sorrow to the possession of lasting riches.

Samuel Prime's work, written with the aid of other ministers, gives a first hand record of the year which saw America's last national awakening - a revival which, noiseless and unexpected, was in striking contrast with the idea that evangelism is primarily a case of human effort. In 1858 the great truths 'made exceedingly prominent' were 'the influence of the Holy Spirit and free salvation through the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ'.

This is largely the human story of people into whose lives God came. But the main lesson is abiding. The Spirit of God, Prime believed, intended the revival to be a lasting example to the church of the relationship between His work and believing prayer. This rare title was the last which Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones urged for republication before his death. Few books can be more relevant for the church today. The original book is in the public domain.

We have included 5 of the 26 chapters.

Chapter I.

1. The Work Proposed - The Commercial Revulsion - No Extraordinary Means - Prayer, and Prayer only - The Story - The Future.

The pen of an angel might well be employed to record the wonderful works of God in the city of New York, during the blessed years 1857-8.

The history will be a memorial of divine grace. In all future time it will proclaim the readiness of the Lord God Almighty to hear and answer prayer; of the Holy Spirit, to descend and convert sinners; of Jesus Christ, to forgive and save.

To GOD THE FATHER, GOD THE SON, AND GOD THE HOLY GHOST, BE ALL THE PRAISE!

The autumn of 1857 was signalized by a sudden and fearful convulsion in the commercial world. That calamity was so speedily followed by the reports of revivals of religion and remarkable displays of divine grace, that it has been a widely received opinion, that the two events stand related to one another, as cause and effect. In the day of adversity, men consider. When the hand of God is suddenly laid upon city and country, the sources of prosperity dried up, fortunes taking to themselves wings; houses, venerable for years, integrity, and success, tumbling into ruins; and names, never tarnished by suspicion, becoming less than nothing in general bankruptcy, it is natural to believe that men will look away from themselves, and say, ‘Verily there is a God, who reigns.’ As in the time of an earthquake, or wreck at sea, men’s hearts failing them for fear, they will cry to him who rides upon the whirlwind, so it was believed that the financial storm had driven men to pray. And it doubtless did. Never was a commercial crisis so inexplicable under the laws of trade. It was acknowledged to be a judgment. The justice of God was confessed in arresting men in recklessness, extravagance and folly. Thousands were thrown out of business, and, in their want of something else to do, assembled in meetings for prayer. But these meetings had been already established. The Spirit of God had been manifest in the midst of them. Before the commercial revulsion, the city and the country had been absorbed in the pursuit of pleasure and gain. Men were making haste to be rich, and to enjoy their riches. Recklessness of expenditure, extravagance in living, display in furniture, equipage, and dress, had attained a height unexampled in the previous social history of our country, and utterly inconsistent with the simplicity and virtue of our fathers. These signs of prosperity had filled the minds of good men with apprehension and alarm before the panic seized the heart of the world. Christians who had kept free from the spirit of speculation and the mania for making money had trembled for the future of a people so absorbed in the material, as to be oblivious of the spiritual and eternal. These pious people had been gathering in meetings for prayer, before the convulsion began. Now, indeed, the meetings received large accessions of numbers in attendance, and a new infusion of life from above. More meetings were established, and larger numbers attended. The prayer-meeting became one of the institutions of the city. Christians in distant parts of the country heard of them. They prayed for the prayer-meetings. When they visited the city, the prayer-meeting was the place to which they resorted. The museum or theatre had no such attractions. Returning, they set up similar meetings at home. The Spirit followed, and the same displays of grace were seen in other cities, and in the country, that were so marvellous in New York. So the work spread, until the year has become remarkable in the history of the church. This revival is to be remembered through all coming ages as simply an answer to prayer.

We must look behind all means, and acknowledge that this is the Lord’s doing. He had said that he would be inquired of by the house of Israel, and when they called, the Lord answered and heard. This is to be the standing testimony which the revival will bear forever in the history of religion. It is this fact which is to make this volume a memorial of the truth and goodness of God in after years. The design of its preparation is to exhibit the faithfulness of God to his promises, and his willingness to give his Holy Spirit to them that ask him. It is to encourage and stimulate Christians in all places, everywhere, to seek the same glorious gifts of grace for themselves and perishing sinners around them. Pastors will read it, and communicate its wondrous records to their flocks. Thousands of the humble people of God, who know the way to the mercy seat, will here find their faith strengthened when they come to pray. In tens of thousands of meetings for prayer, the delightful stories in this book will be rehearsed amid the joyful tears of the people of God, while they will pray that such great things may be seen and done among them also.

Thus the revival is to be extended and perpetuated. Wherever the gospel is preached — this is to be told as a triumph of its love and power. Other trophies of the victorious grace of God are to be brought in, and their records too are to be made and published to the glory of Zion’s King, and the work is to go on from conquering to conquest, until the earth is filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters fill the sea. This volume may be but the precursor of another at the close of 1859, in which the history of the great American revival will be continued.

We will now proceed to give an authentic account of the rise and progress of the work of grace in the city of New York. In the recital of the facts, the foregoing statements will be more than confirmed, and a record will be made, which will compel the reader to give glory to God. The object and tendency of the history are to illustrate the POWER of PRAYER. Every page of this book is a proof that the believer has power with God.

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Chapter II.

2. How The Revival Began, And Where - A Lone Man On His Knees - The First Prayer - Who Was He? - What Has He Done? - The First Thought Of A Daily Prayer-Meeting - The First Meeting - Increasing Interest - Christ Loved And...

In the upper lecture-room of the ‘Old North Dutch Church’, in Fulton Street, New York, a solitary man was kneeling upon the floor, engaged in earnest, importunate prayer. He was a man who lived very much in the lives of others; lived almost wholly for others. He had no wife or children — but there were thousands with their husbands and fathers, without God and hope in the world; and these thousands were going to the gates of eternal death. He had surveyed all the lower wards of the city as a lay-missionary of the Old Church, and he longed to do something for their salvation. He knew he could do many things — he could take tracts in his hand, any and every day, and distribute them. He could preach the gospel from door to door. All this he had done. To reach these perishing thousands, he needed a thousand lives. Could not something more effectual be done? So, day after day, and many times a day, this man was on his knees, and his constant prayer was ‘Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?’ The oftener he prays, the more earnest he becomes. He pleads with God to show him what to do, and how to do it; A vast responsibility had been thrown upon him, of caring for the spiritual welfare of the neglected thousands in these lower wards. He had been appointed to this work without being trammelled by any specific instructions by the authorities of the church, being left to act at his own discretion in much of his labor. The prayer was continually in his mind and in his heart, ‘Lord, what — what wilt thou have me to do?’ He prayed for some way to be opened to bring the claims of religion to bear upon the hearts and minds of these perishing multitudes. The more he prayed the more encouraged he was in the joyful expectation that God would show him the way, through which hundreds and thousands might be influenced on the subject of religion. But though he prayed and believed, he had not the remotest idea of the methods of God’s grace which were about to be employed. The more he prayed, however, the more confident he became that God would show him what he would have him do.

He had been earnestly seeking God’s blessing and aid and guidance in the work which was before him. He had earnestly sought to be directed and instructed; and that he might be willing to follow the teachings of God’s Spirit, whatever they might be. He rose from his knees — inspired with courage and hope, derived from above.

Shall we describe this man? His age is not far from forty years. He is tall, well made, with a remarkably pleasant, benevolent face; affectionate in his disposition and manner, possessed of indomitable energy and perseverance, having good musical attainments; gifted in prayer and exhortation to a remarkable degree; modest in his demeanor, ardent in his piety, sound in his judgment; having good common sense, a thorough knowledge of human nature, and those traits of character that make him a welcome guest in any house. He is intelligent, and eminently fitted for the position which he has been called to occupy, which up to the present moment he has so worthily filled.

Mr. Jeremiah Calvin Lamphier was born in Coxsackie, New York. He became a resident of this city about twenty years ago, engaged in mercantile pursuits, united with the Tabernacle Church on profession of his faith in 1842, and was for eight or nine years a member of Rev Dr James

W. Alexander’s church. He joined the North Dutch Church in 1857, and in July 1st of the same year entered upon his work as the missionary of that church, under the direction of its consistory.

He began his labors without any plan of instructions, and was left to do all the good he could, very much in his own way, the consistory always aiding him as much as was in their power.

We have looked into this man’s journal, which no human eye but our own has read, save the author’s. The very first page is characteristic of the man. We copy the opening lines:

NEW YORK, July 1st 1857.
‘Be not weary in well doing.’ —2 Thess. 3:13. ‘I can do all things through Christ, which strengtheneth me.’—Phil. 4:13.

‘Read the fourth chapter 2d Timothy. Think I feel something of the responsibility of the work in which I have engaged. Felt a nearness to God in prayer, and my entire dependence on him from whom cometh all my strength.’

So began this man his labors, in the most neglected portion of the city of New York, the lower wards. And now for the first idea of a noonday prayer-meeting. He says:

‘Going my rounds in the performance of my duty one day, as I was walking along the streets, the idea was suggested to my mind that an hour of prayer, from twelve to one o’clock, would be beneficial to business men, who usually in great numbers take that hour for rest and refreshment. The idea was to have singing, prayer, exhortation, relation of religious experience, as the case might be; that none should be required to stay the whole hour; that all should come and go as their engagements should allow or require, or their inclinations dictate. Arrangements were made, and at twelve o’clock noon, on the 23d day of September, i 857, the door of the third storey lecture-room was thrown open. At half-past twelve the step of a solitary individual was heard upon the stairs. Shortly after another, and another; then another, and last of all, another, until six made up the whole company! We had a good meeting. The Lord was with us to bless us.’

It will be seen that our missionary sat out the first half of the first noonday prayer-meeting alone, or rather he prayed, through the first half hour alone.

Thus, the noonday businessmen’s prayer-meeting was inaugurated! It was to have new phases of interest. The old, long, cold, formal routine was to be broken up. Everything was to be arranged for the short stay of those who came. All the exercises were to be brief, pointed, and to the purpose, touching the case in hand. This idea grew out of the pressing necessity of men’s engagements. They could come in and stay five minutes, or the whole hour, as they pleased. Staying five minutes, they might have an opportunity to take part, for no one was to occupy more than five minutes in remarks, or prayer.

The second meeting was held a week afterwards, on Wednesday, September 30th, when twenty persons were present. It was a precious meeting. There was much prayer, and the hearts of those present were melted within them. The next meeting was held October 7th. Speaking of this meeting, the private journal says:

‘Prepared for the prayer-meeting to-day, at noon.

Called to invite a number of persons to be present. Spoke to men as I met them in the street, as my custom is, if I can get their attention. I prayed that the Lord would incline many to come to the place of prayer. Went to the meeting at noon. Present between thirty and forty. “Bless the Lord! oh my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name.”

This meeting was of so animated and encouraging a character, that a meeting was appointed for the NEXT DAY, at which a large number attended; and from this day dates the businessmen’s union daily prayer-meeting. The meetings were moved down to the middle lecture-room, as being more commodious. Of the meeting of the 8th of October, it is said, in this same journal:

‘Attended the prayer-meeting at noon. A larger number present, and there was a spirit of reconsecration to the service of Christ, and a manifest desire to live near his cross.’

This meeting, as we learn from other sources, was one of uncommon fervency in prayer, of deep humility and self-abasement, and great desire that God would glorify himself in the outpouring of his Spirit upon them. We are not much surprised to find the following mention of the next meeting, Oct. 9th:
‘Called on a number to invite them to attend the noonday prayer-meeting. Went to the meeting at noon. A large number present. The meeting increases in interest — increases also in numbers. We had a precious time. It was the very gate of heaven.’

Passing on now to Oct. 13th, we find a rapid advancement in the intensity of religious feeling, as the following extract will show; this being, in every sense, a faithful and the only record which is preserved of these meetings.

‘Attended the noon-day prayer-meeting, a large number present, and God’s Spirit was manifestly in our midst.’

And of the next day, Oct. 14th, it is said: ‘Attended the noon-day prayer-meeting. Over one hundred present, many of them not professors of religion, but under conviction of sin, and seeking an interest in Christ; inquiring what they shall do to be saved. God grant that they find Christ precious to their souls.’

It is added: ‘This is a cloudy, rainy day.’

Of the few following meetings, we find such notices as these:

‘A large attendance; a good spirit pervaded the place; a great desire to be humble before God in view of past sins. I feel that God’s Spirit is moving in the hearts of the people.’

And now, Oct. 23rd, one month from the date of the first noon-day prayer-meeting, we have this remarkable passage:

‘Called on some of the editors of the religious papers to have them notice the interest that is daily manifested in our meetings.

Thus the great revival had actually commenced and had been in progress for some time, before any public mention had been made of it, so noiseless had been its footsteps. The religious interest at the Fulton street prayer-meeting, as it was now commonly called, had gone on increasing more and more, till its influence began to be powerfully felt abroad in different and distant portions of the city. During the first month of these meetings, many city pastors, and many laymen, belonging to the churches of New York and Brooklyn, had been into one or more of these meetings, and had been warmed by the holy fire already kindled. And as the sparks from the burning building are borne to kindle other fires, so these carried the fire to their own churches.

We come now to another portion of great interest in this work of prayer. Not only in the Fulton street meeting was prayer made, but morning prayer-meetings began to be established in different churches. The Broome street church was one of the first to open a morning prayer-meeting. Other churches followed, both in New York and Brooklyn, without any preconcert or any knowledge of each other’s movements. Some time before any other was heard of, and nearly simultaneously with the Fulton street meeting, if not before, there was instituted a daily morning prayer-meeting in the Plymouth Church, Brooklyn. In a quiet and unostentatious way, others were commenced, earlier or later. In the second month of the Fulton street meetings, several morning daily prayer-meetings were in existence.

The fear of imitation held back some from moving in the matter. But more commonly there was no thought of this. The place of prayer was a most delightful resort, and the places of prayer multiplied, because men were moved to prayer. They wished to pray. They felt impelled, by some unseen power, to pray. They felt the pressure of the call to prayer. So a place of prayer was no sooner opened, than Christians flocked to it, to pour out their supplications together. Christians of both sexes, of all ages, of different denominations, without the slightest regard to denominational distinctions, came together, on one common platform of brotherhood in Christ, and in the bonds of Christian union sent up their united petitions to the throne of the heavenly giver.

The question was never asked, ‘To what church does he belong?’ But the question was, ‘Does he belong to Christ?’

The early dawn of the revival was marked by love to Christ, love for all his people, love of prayer, and love of personal effort. Never in any former revival, since the days of the first Christians, was the name of Christ so honored, never so often mentioned, never so precious to the believer. Never was such ardent love to him expressed. Never was there so much devotedness to his service. The whole atmosphere was love. It is not strange, then, that those who so loved him, should love his image wherever and in whomsoever they saw it. It was a moral necessity. The union of Christians was felt. It needed no professions.

Hence there was no room for sectarian jealousies. It was felt that all Christians had a right to pray; all were commanded to pray; all ought to pray. And if all wished to pray, and pray together, who should hinder?

This union of Christians in prayer struck the unbelieving world with amazement. It was felt that this was prayer. This love of Christians for one another, and this love of Christ, this love of prayer and love of souls, this union of all in prayer, whose names were lost sight of, disarmed all opposition, so that not a man opened his mouth in opposition.

On the contrary, the conviction was conveyed to all minds that this truly is the work of God. The impenitent felt that Christians loved them; that their love of souls made them earnest. The truth now commended itself to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. They felt that this was not the work of man, but the work of God. They were awed by a sense of the divine presence in the prayer-meeting, and felt that this was holy ground. Christians were very much humbled. Impenitent men saw and felt this. They felt that it was awful to trifle with the place of prayer; sacrilegious to doubt the spirit, the sincerity, the efficiency, or the power of prayer. It began to be felt that Christians obtained answers to prayer; that if they united to pray for any particular man’s conversion, that man was sure to be converted. What made them sure? What made them say that ‘they thought this man and that man would soon become Christians?’ Because they had become the subjects of prayer. And men prayed in the prayer-meeting, as if they expected God would hear and answer prayer. All these convictions, combined, made almost all classes of men approachable on the subject of religion. It was not difficult to get access to their hearts. God thus prepared the way for their conviction and conversion.

We have been speaking of the beginning of the second month of union noon-day prayer-meetings. Concerning them, we find such words as the following in Mr Lamphier’s journal:

‘Attended the noon-day prayer-meeting. A good attendance and a good spirit prevails, for God is manifest in this movement. A blessed spirit pervades the place. Had conversations with awakened sinners. A young man arose in the meeting, and gave in his testimony to the benefit —under God — of coming to the prayer-meeting.’

It is very interesting to look, at this stage of the revival, at the character of the preaching which began to prevail, and the kind of subjects which were presented. The Holy Spirit seems to lead the minds of ministers to those portions of his word which he designs to make the fire and the hammer to break the flinty heart in pieces. He leads in this, as well as everything else which he uses as means of salvation.

Let us for a moment look at some of those passages of Scripture which were the subjects of discourses during the period of which we have been speaking, and see how remarkable they are. They are the foundation of sermons, by a great number of preachers, selected without any preconcert, and distinctly show how the minds of these ambassadors of the Lord Jesus were led. These are the texts of sermons which have never been published, but delivered during this period in the Old Dutch Church:

I Corinthians I: 30, 31: ‘But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption; that according as it is written, he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.’

1 Corinthians 10: 16: ‘I speak as to wise men; judge ye what l say.’

Psalm 30: 6, : ‘And in my prosperity I said, I shall never be moved. Lord! by thy favor thou didst make my mountain to stand strong. Thou didst hide thy face, and I was troubled.’

Psalm 17: 5: ‘Hold up my goings in thy paths, that my footsteps slip not.

Jeremiah 8: 22: ‘Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there?’

Hebrews I0: 34: ‘Knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance.

Matthew I6: 19: ‘And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven.’
Ephesians 4: 30: ‘And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.

Titus 3: 8: ‘. . . to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men.’

Malachi 3: 16, 17: ‘Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another; and the Lord hearkened and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord and thought upon his name. And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels, and I will spare them as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.’

Psalm 4: 7, 8: ‘Thou hast put gladness in my heart more than in the time when their corn and their wine increased.’

1 Samuel 16: 17: ‘For the Lord seeth not as man seeth: for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.’

2 Corinthians 5: 20: ‘Now, then, we are ambassadors for Christ. As though God did beseech you by us, we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.’

Romans 8: 1: ‘There is therefore no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit.’

Psalm 84: 11: ‘For the Lord is a sun and shield. The Lord will give grace and glory, and no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.’

Mark 3: 3: ‘And he said unto the man that had the withered hand, Stand forth.’

Ephesians 5: 25: ‘Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.’

1 Timothy 1: 11: ‘According to the glorious gospel of the grace of God.’

Job 23: 3: ‘Oh! that I knew where I might find him.’

Luke 19: 10: ‘For the Son of man hath come to seek and to save that which was lost.’

John 10: 14: ‘I am the Good Shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.’

We have taken these passages, in course, as they were recorded by a gentleman who heard the sermons preached. Being taken without arrangement, they indicate the class of truths which were felt to be appropriate to the state of things. There is something specially noteworthy in these passages, and anyone who will read them and reflect upon them will see the bearing they have. Doubtless there was much prayer connected with the preparation and preaching of these discourses. What a world of love must have been in these sermons! With what untold anxieties did these preachers strive to win sinners to Christ! We ask the reader to ponder upon these passages as a type of the revival, and observe that in view of that boundless love which characterizes these meetings for prayer, all those sermons were prepared and preached. The great beginning of the revival was love, and love must have been the burden of these appeals.

Before the close of the second month of the daily prayer-meeting, the two lower lecture-rooms had been thrown open, and both were filled immediately. Yet so gradually and unostentatiously had all this wide-spread religious interest arisen, that one meeting for prayer scarcely had any knowledge of what was doing in any other. The religious interest was now rapidly on the increase and was extending itself to all parts of the country. Many men of business from abroad, coming to New York on business, would enter into the noonday prayer-meetings and become deeply impressed, and go to their respective homes to tell what the Lord was doing in New York.

When we come to the history of the third month of prayer, what a change we find rapidly taking place, not only in the city, but all over the land. It was everywhere a revival of prayer. It was not prayer-meetings in imitation of the Fulton street meetings. Those that say so, or think so, greatly err. God was preparing his glorious way over the nation. It was the desire to pray. The same Power that moved to prayer in Fulton street, moved to prayer elsewhere. The same characteristics that marked the Fulton street meeting, marked all similar meetings. The Spirit of the Lord was poured out upon these assemblages, and it was this that made the places of prayer all over the land places of great solemnity and earnest inquiry. Men did not doubt — could not doubt — that God was moving in answer to prayer. It was this solemn conviction that silenced all opposition — that awakened the careless and stupid — that encouraged and gladdened the hearts of Christians — causing a general turning to the Lord. Such a display of love and mercy, on the part of the ever blessed Spirit, was never made before. The religious press, all over the country, heralded the glad news of what the Lord was doing in some places; thus preparing the way for what he was about to do in others. Thousands on thousands of closets bore witness to strong crying and tears before God in prayer all over the land. Thousands of waiting hearts, hearing that Jesus was passing by, begged that he would tarry long enough to look on them.

On the very first days of the present year [1858], the secular press in this city began to notice and publish the facts of this great movement to prayer. With scarcely’ an exception, this was done in the most respectful and approving terms. Most of the secular daily journals of this city spread abroad the intelligence of what was doing. The people demanded it, and the publication of it was a sort of necessity. The revival columns were read with the most eager interest over the whole country, and many thousands were influenced by them, who never looked into a religious paper. God’s hand was in all this.

We give a few brief extracts from Mr. Lamphier’s private journal, to indicate the means which were used.

‘A large attendance at the noonday prayer-meeting. We distributed the tract entitled “Three Words”, and each one was to give it to some friend, and ask God’s special blessing upon it’. Everything was done in prayer.

‘Attended the noonday prayer-meeting. It was fully attended. The tract given out to-day was entitled “One Honest Effort”. It was to be prayed over, and then given away — asking God to bless it on its mission, to the salvation of souls. Distributed tracts, called on several young men, and conversed with them in regard to their souls’ salvation.’

‘At the noonday prayer-meeting a young man, one out of a great number, told what the Lord had done for his soul, by attending the noon-day meetings, which sent a thrill through every Christian heart, and which will be remembered with joy.’

JAN. 5 1858
‘Called to converse with some of the editors of the daily papers in regard to having some of the incidents, which occur from day to day in the prayer-meetings, inserted in them.’

This was, probably, the beginning of the notices of the secular press of the transactions of these meetings.

At the end of the fourth month, the Fulton street prayer-meeting occupied the three lecture-rooms in the consistory building, and all were filled to their utmost capacity. So were all other places filled in the cities of New York, Brooklyn, Jersey City, Newark, and their vicinity.

But the spread of the meetings requires a more special mention, in order that we may trace the hand of God in this revival. The three lecture-rooms at the Old Dutch Church had become filled to overflowing, one after the other, until no sitting room or standing room was left. And scores, and perhaps hundreds, had to go away, unable even to get into the halls. How noticeable is one fact, and it must be noticed in order that we may see that ‘the excellency of the power is of God’. There had been no eloquent preaching, no energetic and enthusiastic appeals; no attempts to rouse up religious interest. All had been still, solemn, and awful. The simple fact, the great fact was, the people were moved to prayer. The people demanded a place to pray.

So noiseless was this work of grace, that one portion of the community did not know what any other portion were doing in the matter. Instead of devising plans, and executing them, to stir up the community, the whole community, as one man, seemed to be already roused. The daily prayer-meeting was not the means of the feeling, but the mere expression of it. Never, since the days of Pentecost, was such a state of the general Christian heart and mind; and never, since the world was made, was there such an important epoch. The more we go into the facts of it, the more is the mind filled with adoring wonder and amazement at the stupendous importance and extent of it. Every movement in it seemed to be following, not leading; not creating, but following the developments of a plan already marked out, the end by no means seen from the beginning, and no part of the plan seen, only as it was unfolded, from day to day, by him who devised it all.

Who would have foreseen the connection of the meeting of six men for prayer in that upper room, in which was one Presbyterian, one Baptist, one Congregationalist, and one Reformed Dutch, with the events which were to follow? When was there ever such a meeting before? made up of such elements? met for such a purpose? at such an hour? and gathered up without the shadow of any human contrivance as to any of the results which followed that haste with which God makes haste — ‘slowly’ — and by which a whole Christian nation was to be shaken from centre to circumference? To this meeting in the upper room no one knew who was coming, or whether any one would come. And yet we find there the very elements of that deeply-affecting Christian union, which was the golden chain by which millions of Christian hearts were to be bound together, as they had never been in all time; by which the true unity of the church of Christ was to be manifested. Whose hand was in this but the hand of God? And this first meeting was a union of different denominations, as represented, there to pray — a union in the blessed work of prayer. Oh, who can fail to see that in this God is to be acknowledged and exalted! His hand has done it, and his name shall have all the glory!

We shall see in the sequel how rapid was the progress of the work from the point where we now are.

But God had a work to do, and his Holy Spirit was preparing the way. Going back to that first noonday prayer-meeting, and looking forward, we cannot see what it was that was to be done. But from our present standpoint, looking backward over the history of the past, we can plainly see what it was.

This revival is to be the precursor of greater and more wonderful things, which are yet to be revealed in the redeeming providence of God. What these are, we cannot tell. ‘But coming events cast their shadows before.’ As this is a law in the kingdoms of nature, providence, and grace, so we may unhesitatingly conclude that however eventful may be the interests of the present times, we shall ‘see greater things than these’.

The time was to be hastened when larger views were to be taken, nobler aims indulged, more far-reaching plans laid, more costly sacrifices made, more lofty designs executed.

The religious press caught the spirit of the day and the occasion, and spoke out as one voice, in the tone of the prevailing and coming interest, and much more — in the beams of the light which was now breaking upon the world. Going back to this period, one paper says:

‘We are doing no more than we should always do, and can easily do, consistently with the performance of every duty.

Have a few weak prayers brought such a blessing, and shall we desist from praying? So long as the promise stands, “Ask, and it shall be given you”, so long as we know that our God “fainteth not, neither is weary”, so long as the “fields are white to the harvest” of immortal souls, shall we cease calling upon God?’

Another says:

‘Shall the work cease? Shall a revival of religion, in some respects the most remarkable the church has ever enjoyed, come to an end because it is no longer winter, but summer? — as though the grace of God were like some compounds, that can endure only one climate. No one can think that God chooses to have it so.

The church, or more truly, individual churches, have often made what might be called exhaustive efforts for the conversion of sinners. They have taxed to the utmost for a few weeks both soul and body of every earnest man they could enlist. Such efforts must be relaxed. Flesh and blood cannot sustain them. But the present revival has had no such history. The church is still fresh, and may labor on indefinitely just as she has been laboring, and that without sinning against any law of mental or physical health. This revival has not overtaxed us; it has only toned us up. It has brought religion into alliance with our ordinary engagements; it has given to our social character a completeness and balance which it never had before. So far as it has gone it is an advance toward soundness and strength, and to fall back from it is not to rest after labor, but to be palsied.’

And another:

‘The awakening is not only progressing in unabated power throughout the country as a whole, and not only extending into new regions, where it has hitherto been less felt, but in this city, if we are not deceived, the real earnestness of the churches for a continuance of the work, is manifesting itself in more deliberate and far-reaching plans for carrying forward permanent labors of the kind so signally blessed.
We must shake off old habits of mind, and arouse ourselves earnestly to the unprecedented demands of the time. God never called any former generation of men on this earth, as we are now called.’

There was preparation all over the city, and all over the land. God had made it. And men began to see it, and to look upward.

Early in February it was felt that these retreating hundreds, who came to the place of prayer in Fulton street, and could not get in, must be accommodated elsewhere. The old John street Methodist Church, only one square removed, was thrown open for noon prayer- meetings by our Methodist brethren, and the whole body of the church was immediately filled every day, at noon, with business men, who would come, and did come to pray. The galleries, too, were occupied, all round the church, chiefly by ladies. No denominational element seemed to be prominent one above another. No one could have told, who had come in a stranger, from the character of the meeting, whether it was held in a Methodist, Baptist, Presbyterian, or Congregationalist church, or that of any other denomination. It was found at once that the audience-room was insufficient, and the basement lecture-room was opened and immediately filled. It was estimated that two thousand persons attended upon these services daily.

There were now five regular noonday services — three in the Fulton street, and two in the John street churches —and yet hundreds would go away, unable to get into any of them, so much were men moved to prayer. Answers to prayer came down speedily, and multitudes were now turning to God, and seeking him ‘with all their heart’.

On the 17th of March, Burton’s Old Theatre, in Chambers street, was opened by a number of merchants in that vicinity for a noonday prayer-meeting. This was thronged to excess after the first meeting. For half an hour before the time to commence the services, the old theatre would be crowded to its utmost capacity, in every nook and corner, with most solemn and deeply affected audiences. The streets, and all means of access, were blocked up before the hour of prayer commenced, and hundreds would stand in the street during the hour. This continued to be the case until the building was required by the United States courts, when the further use of it for prayer-meetings ceased.

Immediately a store (No. 69 Broadway, second storey) was procured and comfortably fitted up for the purpose of prayer-meetings. The room was 25 by 100 feet, and this, from day to day, was filled, and the exercises were solemn beyond description.

After a time the Broadway meeting was removed to No. 175 of the same street. Here it was sustained by Christians in that part of the city of all denominations.

We shall never forget being present at one of those meetings, when it was conducted in the usual manner by the Right Rev Bishop Mcllvaine, of Ohio. We shall never forget the earnestness of his opening prayer, when he kneeled down on the floor and led the devotions, so humble, so urgent, so importunate, so believing, so imbued with the revival spirit. We shall never forget his short, eloquent closing address, full of deep emotion, full of brotherly kindness, full of thankfulness and joy. It described the work of grace as it lay in his own mind — it recognized the hand of God in its inception and every step of its progress - it rejoiced at the spirit of grace and supplication which had been poured out on ‘all Christians’. That address will long live in the memories of those who heard it.
Meetings for daily prayer were held as follows:

MORNING.

Seventh Avenue Reformed Dutch Church, 6 A.M.
Broome and Elizabeth Baptist Church, 7 3/4 A.M.
Church of the Puritans, 8 A.M.
Church of the Puritans (ladies), 10 3/4 A.M.
HopeChapel, 8 A.M.
Fourteenth Street Presbyterian Church, 8 A. M.
MacDougal Street, 9 1/2 A.M.
Home Chapel, Twenty-ninth street, 8 A.M.

NOON.

John Street Methodist Episcopal Church.
Fulton Street Reformed Dutch Church.

Mission Chapel, 106 Centre Street.
Duane Street Methodist Episcopal Church.
27 Greenwich Street.
Broome Street Reformed Dutch Church (corner of
Greene).
Spring Street Hall (colored).
Twelfth Street, near Avenue C (workingmen).
Fourteenth Street Presbyterian Church, and others, in rotation.

AFTERNOON.

69 Broadway (merchants), 3 1/2 P.M.
John Street Methodist Episcopal Church, 3 1/2 P.M.
Mercer Street Presbyterian Church, 4 P . M.
North Presbyterian Church, 4 P.M.
Fiftieth Street Presbyterian Church, 4 P.M.
Central Methodist Episcopal Church, Seventh Avenue,
4 P.M.
Sullivan Street Congregational Church (colored),
5 P.M.
Stuyvesant Institute, 5 P. M.

And besides these, other meetings were established in almost every part of New York and the surrounding cities. The great features of all these meetings were union, and prayer, and corresponding effort.

A careful inquiry in regard to the facts, convinces us that not less than one hundred and fifty meetings for prayer in this city and Brooklyn were held daily at the time of which we are now writing — all, without one single exception, partaking of the same general character.

In February, Philadelphia established a noonday prayer-meeting, commenced, at first, in a church in Fourth Street, but soon removed to Jaynes’ Hall. Soon the entire accessible places were filled — floor, platform, galleries, boxes, aisles, and office. Never was there, scarcely on the face of the earth, such meetings as those in Jaynes’ Hall. The death of Rev Dudley A. Tyng, of the Episcopal Church, a prominent leader in these meetings, gave an impetus to the work. And here again we find Bishop Mcllvaine lending his influence, by his presence and his prayers and preaching.

The work spread, from Jaynes’ Hall, all over the city. Prayer-meetings were established in numerous places - public halls - concert-rooms - engine and hose company’s houses, and in tents, till the whole city seemed pervaded with the spirit of prayer.

Prayer-meetings almost simultaneously were established in all parts of the land, both in city and country- Boston, Baltimore, Washington, Richmond, Charleston, Savannah, Mobile, New Orleans, Vicksburg, Memphis, St Louis, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Chicago, and other cities, shared in this glorious work. The whole land received the ‘spiritual rain’. The fervor of this awakened religious interest had become intense at the end of the fourth month of the meetings, and towards the close of the first month of the current year, the newspapers, both secular and religious, in all parts of the country, speak of an ‘unwonted revival of religion’ in all quarters, far and near. Everywhere men were crowding to the meetings, and the spirit with which they are impressed and which invites them to so general attention to the subject of religion, seems to animate the whole land. The northern, middle, western and southern States were moved as by one common mighty influence. The spirit of the revival spread everywhere, and seemed to permeate every nook and corner of the great republic. The subjects of the revival included all classes - the high and the low - the rich and the poor - the learned and the ignorant. The most hopeless and forbidding were brought under its almighty power. From the highest to the lowest and most degraded in society, the trophies of God’s power and grace were made. Persons of the most vicious and abandoned character, supposed to be beneath and beyond the reach of all religious influence, by having lost all susceptibility, were brought to humble themselves like little children at the foot of the cross. Christians were themselves astonished and overwhelmed at those displays of divine mercy. They felt that God was saying to them, anew, and by a providential revelation -’Before they call, I will answer, and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.’ ‘Open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it.’ Christians became emboldened to ask great things and expect great things. Never before, in modern times certainly, was there such asking in prayer - such believing in prayer; and never such answers to prayer.

The spectacle of such universal confidence in God was without a parallel. It appeared in all prayers. It appeared in all addresses. It appeared in all conversations. It spread from heart to heart. There was humility, and yet there was a cheerful, holy boldness in the spirit and temper of the religious mind, and duty was attempted with the expectation of success. It seemed to be upon all hearts as if written with the pen of a diamond — ‘My soul! wait thou only upon God, for my expectation is from him.’

Is it wonderful, then, that we should find that this state of heart and mind, in all praying places and praying circles - this earnest asking - this humble confiding - this far-reaching faith and confident expectation, should be followed by such a work of grace as the modern Christian world has never seen?

Christians began to feel that they had entered upon a new era of faith and prayer; and is it wonderful that this new joy and hope spread with vast rapidity over the land - that it rolled, like a wave, over the whole country? The numbers converted were beyond all precedent. The great revival in the times of Wesley, Whitefield, Edwards, and the Tennents, was marked by powerful preaching. The present by believing, earnest praying.

In New England, the present great revival commenced almost simultaneously in many cities, villages, and townships. Since the former ‘great awakening’, as it was commonly denominated, and just referred to, nothing had borne any comparison to the present religious interest. This ‘great awakening’ surpassed the former in all its aspects. It entered into all the frame-work of society, and permeated everywhere the masses. Christians gathered for prayer, and asked for large measures of the Holy Spirit to be poured out upon them; and the Spirit was sent down in copious effusions in answer to prayer. The prayer-meeting would be established in lecture-rooms and vestries, and all at once it would be found that scarcely could the largest churches contain the hundreds who would come up to the house of God to pray. Nothing was thought of or demanded but a place in which to pray. Conversions multiplied, so that there was, after a little, no attempt to compute their numbers. In some towns nearly all the population became, as was believed, true and faithful followers of Christ. The number of converted men and women constituted a new element of power. New voices were daily heard imploring the divine blessing on the work, and the moral transformation of those remaining impenitent. The day was breaking that should be gilded by the rays of a brighter sun than had ever shone upon the moral and religious world before. This was believed. It is believed now.

Over all the West and South, so far as the work extended, and it extended almost everywhere, the same spirit prevailed. It was the spirit of prayer. No confidence was felt in the mere use of means. Indeed, in no former revival was there ever such abnegation, on the part of Christians, of themselves; such distrust of all mere human agencies and instrumentalities, and such a looking away from all human ties, and such a looking away from all human aid and up to the ‘heavenly hills’, whence all help must come. Means must be used, and were used; not with any confidence in the use of them, or in those who used them. But with the most diligent and earnest use of means, the deepest possible conviction seemed to be, ‘The power belongeth unto God.’ No wonder, then, that everywhere there was the universal acknowledgment of God’s hand in the revival; and no matter what men did to promote it, to God was ascribed all the glory of it. It was everywhere felt that a proposal of any such meetings for prayer six months before, as were now held all over the land, even in the densest populations, with any expectation that it would be heeded, would have been considered a perfect absurdity. The appointment of such meetings for prayer then would have been a failure; now it was a success. The neglect of the place of prayer by the majority of church members, was felt to be a sore evil. It paralysed the energies of the pastor, and the more active, faithful members. They were drones. They were a weight which had to be carried. They were clogs in the way of progress. ey neutralized the moral power of the church, and so weakened it that it was a constant effort for it to sustain itself. Every man who has been a pastor knows what we mean.

The changes which came suddenly over the church was most welcome. When the majority of the church became Nathanaels, it was soon felt that the church had just begun to find out her real power. It was a blessed spectacle presented to the world, a church alive, a church active, a church of prayer. It was a sublime spectacle, when this was seen to be the moral position, not of one church, but of a majority of churches; not in one place, but in every place, when all the land seemed to be moved by one common impulse. No wonder that Christians felt joyful in the Lord, when this new element of usefulness and power was found.

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Chapter III.

3. Features Of The Work - Ways And Means - Enthusiasm -Catholicity Of Feeling And Action - The Reformed Dutch Church - Union, A Type - Influence Of Laymen - The Ministry Aided And Encouraged.

We have said that many have been impressed with the idea, that it was the late financial revulsion - the severity of the times which followed - by which men were forced into an acknowledgment of their dependence upon a divine being, and their minds made ripe and susceptible to the operation of spiritual influences and the impression of religious truth.

But whether these causes were adequate to produce this result, we need not attempt to determine, for it will be seen, in looking back at the history of this work, that it had actually commenced before the financial revulsion took place. That the commercial distress which followed had its influence to arrest men’s minds, and to make them feel their dependence upon God, we cannot doubt. But all speculations of this kind will fail to reach the cause of this wide-spread work of grace, and all inquiries into causes will resolve themselves into the sovereign grace of him who has promised to hear and answer prayer.

The first union prayer-meeting was held September 23, 1857, in Fulton street. It was not appointed to ‘create a revival’. This was not thought of. God had his own designs in view. The union prayer-meetings all over our country have not been appointed to create religious feeling, but rather to give expression to, and increase the religious feeling already existing. The appointment of these meetings was to meet the demand of religious interest already existing, not to create that demand. There is a wide difference between the two things, which has a significant and emphatic meaning. The revival was nowhere attended nor preceded by any special measures intended and adapted to produce intense excitement on the subject of religion. All these union prayer-meetings have been the effects of a great first cause. God poured out the Spirit of grace and supplication, and to his name be all the glory. As nearly as possible was this awakened interest simultaneous over all this western world. Even ships at sea were overtaken in mid-ocean - knowing nothing of what was transpiring upon the land - by unusual religious anxiety, and came into port bringing the strange news of a revival on board, and of the conversion of some of the men. Who can doubt but the ‘set time to favor Zion had come’? The popular voice spoke of the time of the union meetings, as they sprang up in various places, as the beginning of the revival in those places, when in fact it had begun before. The great feature of the revival everywhere was prayer —prayer by Christians united — prayer constant — each day sending up a cloud of prayer as a volume of incense before the throne of God — prayer that was divinely inspired and divinely answered. Such prayer has power — such prayer must always be heard — such prayer must prevail.

Among the indications of an awakened religious interest in the West was the calling of a convention on revivals at Pittsburgh late in last autumn. This convention continued in session for three days, for the purpose of considering the necessity of a general revival of religion in all the churches represented, and others as well; the means, the hindrances, the encouragements, the demand of the times, the indications of divine providence, and everything relating to this most momentous subject. It was a most solemn, anxious, melting, encouraging meeting. Much of the time of this convention was spent in prayer. There were not present less than two hundred ministers, besides many laymen, led in by the interest of the occasion. It was impossible that such a gathering should not be without a most timely and weighty influence. The ‘obstacles in the way of revivals of religion’ — ‘the means of promoting them’ — ‘the encouragement to seek for them’ — were discussed with signal ability and great solemnity. A committee was appointed, who drew up an address to the churches. It was prepared in the revival spirit, and was earnest and pungent in its appeals. It was timely and suggestive. It was recommended that this address be read from the pulpit by pastors on the Sabbath, so far as they were willing to accept it, and that the official members of the respective churches be called to meet in each church to discuss the same subjects as the convention had discussed, and to spend much time together in prayer; also, that a plan of personal visitation be adopted, according to which all the families of each parish should be visited by the pastor and some of his most experienced members; also, that he should preach on the subject of the importance of improving the present ‘grievous visitation’, and that he urge his people to prayer.

In conformity to this arrangement, on the first Sabbath in January of the current year, multitudes of ministers of the Presbyterian and other denominations delivered discourses on the necessity and practicability of revivals, and the first Thursday of the same month was observed as a day of humiliation, fasting and prayer. All these arrangements told upon the country with great power, and the awakening received an intelligent and mighty impulse.

Immediately after this convention at Pittsburgh, another was called at Cincinnati, having similar objects in view. It was largely attended, and was followed with similar results. The public mind was thoroughly roused, and the ‘great revival’ was the all-absorbing theme in hotels, stores, shops, taverns, railroad cars, and everywhere. The religious and secular press, especially in the rural districts, teemed with items of intelligence on this one great subject, the facts of the revival being the absorbing topic.

So far as this city was concerned, the organized systems of tract and Sunday school visitation had much to do with the beginning of the revival, with its spread, and with its continuance to the present hour. The latter part of last year a more thorough system was resolved upon of searching out and exploring the destitutions of this great city, and inducing the neglected and neglecting perishing thousands to attend upon the worship of God, and to send their children to the Sabbath school. It was determined to push this plan of visitation into the fashionable avenues as well as into the ‘highways and hedges’ of the city. The numbers were greatly increased of those who visited the ‘house of prayer’. All denominations nearly were benefited by this work, and many of them shared in the labor of it. In many Sunday schools the members were doubled, in all increased. In this way, thousands of persons — some from the ‘brown stone fronts’, and some from the garrets and cellars, swelled the numbers, who were seen on Sunday morning wending their way to the sanctuary. ‘High life’ and ‘low life’ were on the street together, and in the house of God together.

This system of visitation was adopted and carried out in New York and Brooklyn about the same time. It was an organized plan adopted by the churches to visit in their respective localities and search out every kind of destitution.

The effect of the revival upon cities, towns and country, is most manifest. That tide of worldliness which destroys the power of all religious feeling and action had rolled over the land. It had gone up to the flood, and threatened to sweep away the foundations. Men were hardly aware what a low, lax state of religious feeling prevailed. There was outward attention to religion, but the power, the vitality was gone. It was not seen so much on the Sabbath as in the week. The congregations did not forget the place where the sermon was to be preached, but they did forget the place where the prayer-meeting was to be held. It is believed that not one-fourth part of our members of the various churches made a practice of regularly attending the prayer-meeting. They might be, perhaps, sometimes in the place of prayer, when there was more than the usual amount of religious interest, and when any extra effort was made to get them there. But as a rule, they never went to the prayer-meeting. They left the burden of sustaining it to that quarter part of the membership who did attend. If any think that we under-rate the number of regular attendants on the prayer-meeting in proportion to those who did attend, taking our churches at large, we will say again, that an investigation into the facts, of which we have been observers for twenty years past, will convince them that we are not far wrong.

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Chapter IV.

4. Preparation - Means Following Certain Results - Remarkable Coincidences - Revivals At Sea - Convention At Pittsburg - Day Of Fasting And Prayer - Convention At Cincinnati - Visitation Of Families - General Influence Of The...

We have said that many have been impressed with the idea, that it was the late financial revulsion - the severity of the times which followed - by which men were forced into an acknowledgment of their dependence upon a divine being, and their minds made ripe and susceptible to the operation of spiritual influences and the impression of religious truth.

But whether these causes were adequate to produce this result, we need not attempt to determine, for it will be seen, in looking back at the history of this work, that it had actually commenced before the financial revulsion took place. That the commercial distress which followed had its influence to arrest men’s minds, and to make them feel their dependence upon God, we cannot doubt. But all speculations of this kind will fail to reach the cause of this wide-spread work of grace, and all inquiries into causes will resolve themselves into the sovereign grace of him who has promised to hear and answer prayer.

The first union prayer-meeting was held September 23, 1857, in Fulton street. It was not appointed to ‘create a revival’. This was not thought of. God had his own designs in view. The union prayer-meetings all over our country have not been appointed to create religious feeling, but rather to give expression to, and increase the religious feeling already existing. The appointment of these meetings was to meet the demand of religious interest already existing, not to create that demand. There is a wide difference between the two things, which has a significant and emphatic meaning. The revival was nowhere attended nor preceded by any special measures intended and adapted to produce intense excitement on the subject of religion. All these union prayer-meetings have been the effects of a great first cause. God poured out the Spirit of grace and supplication, and to his name be all the glory. As nearly as possible was this awakened interest simultaneous over all this western world. Even ships at sea were overtaken in mid-ocean - knowing nothing of what was transpiring upon the land - by unusual religious anxiety, and came into port bringing the strange news of a revival on board, and of the conversion of some of the men. Who can doubt but the ‘set time to favor Zion had come’? The popular voice spoke of the time of the union meetings, as they sprang up in various places, as the beginning of the revival in those places, when in fact it had begun before. The great feature of the revival everywhere was prayer —prayer by Christians united — prayer constant — each day sending up a cloud of prayer as a volume of incense before the throne of God — prayer that was divinely inspired and divinely answered. Such prayer has power — such prayer must always be heard — such prayer must prevail.

Among the indications of an awakened religious interest in the West was the calling of a convention on revivals at Pittsburgh late in last autumn. This convention continued in session for three days, for the purpose of considering the necessity of a general revival of religion in all the churches represented, and others as well; the means, the hindrances, the encouragements, the demand of the times, the indications of divine providence, and everything relating to this most momentous subject. It was a most solemn, anxious, melting, encouraging meeting. Much of the time of this convention was spent in prayer. There were not present less than two hundred ministers, besides many laymen, led in by the interest of the occasion. It was impossible that such a gathering should not be without a most timely and weighty influence. The ‘obstacles in the way of revivals of religion’ — ‘the means of promoting them’ — ‘the encouragement to seek for them’ — were discussed with signal ability and great solemnity. A committee was appointed, who drew up an address to the churches. It was prepared in the revival spirit, and was earnest and pungent in its appeals. It was timely and suggestive. It was recommended that this address be read from the pulpit by pastors on the Sabbath, so far as they were willing to accept it, and that the official members of the respective churches be called to meet in each church to discuss the same subjects as the convention had discussed, and to spend much time together in prayer; also, that a plan of personal visitation be adopted, according to which all the families of each parish should be visited by the pastor and some of his most experienced members; also, that he should preach on the subject of the importance of improving the present ‘grievous visitation’, and that he urge his people to prayer.

In conformity to this arrangement, on the first Sabbath in January of the current year, multitudes of ministers of the Presbyterian and other denominations delivered discourses on the necessity and practicability of revivals, and the first Thursday of the same month was observed as a day of humiliation, fasting and prayer. All these arrangements told upon the country with great power, and the awakening received an intelligent and mighty impulse.

Immediately after this convention at Pittsburgh, another was called at Cincinnati, having similar objects in view. It was largely attended, and was followed with similar results. The public mind was thoroughly roused, and the ‘great revival’ was the all-absorbing theme in hotels, stores, shops, taverns, railroad cars, and everywhere. The religious and secular press, especially in the rural districts, teemed with items of intelligence on this one great subject, the facts of the revival being the absorbing topic.

So far as this city was concerned, the organized systems of tract and Sunday school visitation had much to do with the beginning of the revival, with its spread, and with its continuance to the present hour. The latter part of last year a more thorough system was resolved upon of searching out and exploring the destitutions of this great city, and inducing the neglected and neglecting perishing thousands to attend upon the worship of God, and to send their children to the Sabbath school. It was determined to push this plan of visitation into the fashionable avenues as well as into the ‘highways and hedges’ of the city. The numbers were greatly increased of those who visited the ‘house of prayer’. All denominations nearly were benefited by this work, and many of them shared in the labor of it. In many Sunday schools the members were doubled, in all increased. In this way, thousands of persons — some from the ‘brown stone fronts’, and some from the garrets and cellars, swelled the numbers, who were seen on Sunday morning wending their way to the sanctuary. ‘High life’ and ‘low life’ were on the street together, and in the house of God together.

This system of visitation was adopted and carried out in New York and Brooklyn about the same time. It was an organized plan adopted by the churches to visit in their respective localities and search out every kind of destitution.

The effect of the revival upon cities, towns and country, is most manifest. That tide of worldliness which destroys the power of all religious feeling and action had rolled over the land. It had gone up to the flood, and threatened to sweep away the foundations. Men were hardly aware what a low, lax state of religious feeling prevailed. There was outward attention to religion, but the power, the vitality was gone. It was not seen so much on the Sabbath as in the week. The congregations did not forget the place where the sermon was to be preached, but they did forget the place where the prayer-meeting was to be held. It is believed that not one-fourth part of our members of the various churches made a practice of regularly attending the prayer-meeting. They might be, perhaps, sometimes in the place of prayer, when there was more than the usual amount of religious interest, and when any extra effort was made to get them there. But as a rule, they never went to the prayer-meeting. They left the burden of sustaining it to that quarter part of the membership who did attend. If any think that we under-rate the number of regular attendants on the prayer-meeting in proportion to those who did attend, taking our churches at large, we will say again, that an investigation into the facts, of which we have been observers for twenty years past, will convince them that we are not far wrong.

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Chapter V.

5. One Prayer-Meeting - The House And Rooms - The Business In Hand - Requests For Prayer - News Abroad - The President - From Philadelphia - The Son And Mother - An Answer - Three Sisters - Six Children.

We will now give a brief outline of one meeting, not an unusual one, but such as hundreds of our meetings have been. We might take any one, and it would be a sample of all the others. We do not mean that the exercises are always alike, and always equally interesting; they vary in some particulars, and the incidents of the meetings are always unlike, and give great effect to the spirit of the meeting.

There are three lecture-rooms at the rear of the North Dutch Church, as it is called, one above another, making first, second, and third storeys. All these are comfortably and closely seated; each has a pulpit or desk of its own. The entrances to these lecture-rooms are from Fulton and Ann streets; each room has a clock, and all the appliances of a meeting by itself.

We take our seat in the middle lecture-room fifteen minutes before twelve noon. A few ladies are seated in a row of seats in one corner; a few gentlemen are scattered here and there through the room; all is quiet and silent; no talking, no whispering; all has the air of deep solemnity.

At ten minutes before twelve, businessmen begin to come in rapidly. Ministers and laymen, all are seated promiscuously together, there is no distinction, except in respect to strangers; they are treated with attention and respect, and there are always some to see that they have comfortable seats.

Five minutes before twelve, the leader for the day passes in, and takes his seat in the desk. He is a business man; he has never led before, and a new one will come in his place tomorrow. All his movements are quick and rapid; he seems impressed with the importance of the moment, but seems of not the least importance himself. Two minutes to twelve, the room is packed to its utmost capacity. Many are standing in the hall, unable to get in.

At twelve noon, precisely to a minute, the chairman rises and gives out that beautiful hymn:

Blow ye the trumpet, blow,
The gladly solemn sound;
Let all the nations know,
To earth’s remotest bound,
The year of jubilee is come.
Return, ye ransomed sinners, home.

The leader then calls on all to unite with him in prayer. His prayer is short, exactly to the point; he prays for the Holy Spirit, for the quickening of Christians, for the conversion of sinners here present at this very hour, for the spread of the revival, for the perishing thousands all around us.

Then he reads the seventeenth chapter of John. A word of comment while he stands with slips of paper in his hand. There is a little sea of up-turned, solemn faces. A deep stillness pervades the assembly. These are businessmen, and they address themselves to the great business before them. Oh, what a moment!

‘I will read four or five of these requests, and will call on someone to follow immediately in prayer, remembering these cases.’ He reads:

‘A sister in Massachusetts desires prayers for a brother seventy years of age,’ etc.

‘A brother for a sister in Pennsylvania,’ etc.

‘A mother who has attended these meetings and thinks she has been benefited, desires prayer for a large family,’ etc.

‘I judge’, said the leader, ‘that this mother has lately found peace in believing.’

‘A gospel minister sends a very urgent request for four brothers to be remembered in prayer, that they may be converted, and that they, too, may become preachers of the “glorious gospel of the blessed God”‘.

‘From Philadelphia, for a brother and sister who are trying to be earnest seekers after the grace of God.’

‘Now,’ says the leader, ‘will someone lead in prayer?’

Prayer was offered by a clergyman. When this prayer was concluded, which was very short and in reference to the specific cases before the meeting, a gentleman arose in the back part of the room and begged the prayers of all present for himself and his sister. Prayer immediately followed.

Then all sang one verse of the hymn,

Jesus — my Saviour and my Lord.

A gentleman from St Louis now arose and addressed the meeting with great animation.

‘We have heard of this meeting by the mouth of those who have been here with you. We have heard of you through the religious and secular papers, and we have heard from you by means of the telegraph. Who would have thought of this last as a channel of communication in regard to this great work of salvation? And yet, how did our hearts, away in St Louis, rejoice to be told by telegraph, of what the Lord was doing for you here in New York. Oh, what a bond of union was opened between us. I cannot tell how we are cheered and encouraged by what we hear from you every week. We look along the columns of our religious papers, and especially of those which come from your city, and you cannot tell how eagerly we gather up the revival intelligence which comes from this meeting, and how we are encouraged by it.

We rejoice at the high ground you have taken here, and as you elevate your standard, so other places will elevate theirs. The work of grace has been wonderful among us, and especially among the colored churches in St Louis. We have such churches, and they have colored educated pastors — able men, and sound and thoroughly orthodox preachers of the gospel — and they have their Sunday schools, and day schools, and their children are taught to read. It is against the law, that is true, but the law that forbids teaching a colored child to read, in St Louis, is a dead letter. We want to hear from you, to hear from this meeting, every week. We ask for a kindly remembrance in your prayers.

Another speaker followed. He was a venerable, fine-looking gentleman. We know not who he was, but took him to be an old thrifty merchant. He spoke of our having had signal answers to prayer, and referred to some signal recent cases. He then spoke of the importance of praying for our rulers, our judges, and all in authority. He spoke especially of the gratifying fact, that when President Buchanan was at the Bedford Springs, he attended daily upon the prayer-meetings with most exemplary and respectful attention. And why should we not pray, said he, for Mr Buchanan? Why not send up our prayers to God that he may be a true Christian? When the righteous rule, the earth rejoices. When the wicked rule, the people mourn. As he was resuming his seat, the leader invited him to lead in prayer for the objects he had named. He rose again, and poured out a fervent prayer for President Buchanan by name, in a manner of the utmost respect for him, his character and office; but for him, as a sinner like ourselves, needing an interest in the atoning blood of Jesus Christ; for him as needing the wisdom that cometh from above to guide and assist him in his arduous duties, and under his great responsibilities; for him, whose evening days were coming, and who needed a well-grounded hope of heaven. There was a remarkable propriety in this prayer which touched a chord in every heart.

It is now twenty minutes to one pm. How the moments fly! Time on swift, noiseless wings is passing.
The leader stands with slips of paper in his hand. These have been going up to the desk as the meeting progressed.

‘I have several more of these to read,’ says he. He reads:

‘A lady requests prayer for a profane father and his numerous family.’

‘A church in Dutchess County, that they may not be passed by in this day of salvation.’

‘A church in Keene, N.H., where a few mercy-drops have fallen, asks prayer for the plentiful shower.’

‘Prayer for a young lady.’

‘Prayer for two brothers, sons of a deceased pastor of one of our Dutch Reformed churches.’

And last, but not least, ‘Prayer is asked of the Fulton street prayer-meeting by a daughter of a missionary who died upon a foreign shore, for a brother, unconverted, that he may become a Christian, and if it be the will of God, that he may be prepared to take the place of his father in the ministerial office, and in the missionary work.’

An earnest prayer for these by the gentleman from St Louis. Then one verse of the hymn:

All hail the power of Jesus’ name, Let angels prostrate fall.

Oh, what a power in that ever-precious name. All hearts here seem to feel it, as they sing with united hearts and voices.

Time passes on apace, and we seem to have much yet to do. Several rise to speak. A Philadelphian gets the floor, and tells, in a few brief words, of the wonderful work of grace going on still in that city; now truly a sister city; a city of brotherly love. All the prayer-meetings are filling up. God pours out his Spirit afresh. All are animated with new hope and zeal. We are expecting a great refreshing from on high. Then he made some brief and impressive statements of the state of things in the prayer-meetings at Jaynes’ Hall, the hose-houses, the big tent; the conversion of the firemen; the combination and earnestness of the ministry; the preaching of the gospel in unwonted places; the crowds that flock together to hear; the activity of the Young Men’s Christian Association; and of the encouragement we all have from the accounts we receive from New York. ‘Pan passu,’ said the speaker, ‘we go along with you.’
A leading hardware merchant made some observations of a very earnest character, in regard to the kind of action to be adopted by the 50,000 professors of religion in this city, fitted to reach the 1,000,000 in this city, resident, or who come here to do business from the surroundings, or from abroad. The great point is, for each one to take one individual or a family under his special supervision, and endeavour to lead them to Christ.

Very brief prayer follows for all the objects. A verse was sung, and a man arose and said:

When a person presents a request for prayer, and that prayer is answered, he felt it to be a duty to communicate the fact for the encouragement of the meeting. He said that he presented a request here some six weeks ago, that God would bless his efforts to establish a prayer-meeting at a place in the country, where he was about to spend a season. ‘The first week we had about twenty in attendance, second week about thirty, third week about forty, and last week about one hundred. The meetings have all been very solemn and interesting. There was much deep emotion in the audience. Many were affected to tears, and the Holy Spirit was evidently operating on the hearts of the unconverted.’

One said he felt timid on this matter of so many requests being sent here for prayer. ‘I am afraid of this,’ said he; ‘I am afraid of spiritual pride. I am afraid the Spirit of God will leave us. I have my misgivings about all this. Every request read here is a dagger to my heart.’

Another arose and said, ‘Oh, do not discourage these requests for prayer. Where would my son have been had it not been for your prayers? I have followed him around the globe with mine. He lately came home from sea unconverted. I brought his case right here. I said, “Men of Israel, help.” I wanted you to help me pray for him. I knew you would not do anything for him but pray. God must do all the work. He must bow that stubborn will, and humble that proud heart. Oh! what cause of thankfulness and joy I have, that God hears and answers prayer. That son is today a new creature in Christ Jesus, as I humbly trust, and to him be all the glory. Do not feel tried with the coming of these requests for prayer. Oh! no! no! Let us rejoice that they do come. But let them pray who send them to this prayer-meeting. Let the language of all the hearts in this assembly be, “The power belongeth unto God.” “Turn us, 0 Lord, as the streams of the South.” Let us pray for all who ask us to pray, believing, trusting, hoping, and humbling ourselves low before God.’

A clergyman said he was accosted in the street by a stranger a short time since. He was concerned for his salvation, and had been for some time. He had been to the Fulton street and the John street meetings a great many times, but could obtain no peace. He said at the Fulton street meetings he would watch to see who took an active part, and then the next day he would get a seat beside them, hoping they would say something to him. But all in vain. No man seemed to care for him. ‘One day a request was put in by a mother for a son. It struck me that that was from my mother. After meeting I got sight of that request. And sure enough, it was from my mother, in her own handwriting. She cared for me.’

A youth sent in a request to be prayed for sometime ago; and again to-day a request that we would give thanks to God that he had found Christ precious to his soul. The leader said he knew this young man, and hoped he would be here himself to tell what the Lord had done for him. After a little time he came in and arose and said that he had requested an interest in the prayers of this meeting; and 0, what a change! How was his darkness turned into light, and his sorrow to joy. He called upon all to praise God for the great change. This young man in his boyhood had been a member of a class in the Sunday school connected with this church, and his teacher, who had not seen him for years, was here to meet him to-day.

A gentleman said he met a teller of one of our city banks, who felt greatly concerned for the salvation of those three sisters unconverted. He presented a request at one of our Fulton street prayer-meetings, on behalf of those three sisters, from the brother, asking us to pray for their immediate conversion. ‘And now I am here to say that those three sisters are rejoicing in the pardoning love of Jesus, and are rejoicing with that joy which is unspeakable and full of glory.’

A praying mother died a short time since, leaving six unconverted children. The last of those six children was converted a short time ago. ‘I am’, said the speaker, ‘one of those six children; and I am that last one!’

The time was up; what a brief hour, a heavenly place; the minutes had fled on the wings of prayer and praise, and the precious season was over.

This is but a sketch of one of the many meetings in Fulton street and other places in this city.

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Contents

Chapter 1. The Work Proposed - The Commercial Revulsion - No extraordinary Means - Prayer, and Prayer only - The Story -The Future

Chapter 2. How The Revival Began, And Where - A Lone Man On His Knees - The First Prayer - Who Was He? - What Has He Done? - The First Thought Of A Daily Prayer-Meeting - The First Meeting - Increasing Interest - Christ Loved And...

Chapter 3. Features Of The Work - Ways And Means - Enthusiasm -Catholicity Of Feeling And Action - The Reformed Dutch Church - Union, A Type - Influence Of Laymen - The Ministry Aided And Encouraged

Chapter 4. Preparation - Means Following Certain Results - Remarkable Coincidences - Revivals At Sea - Convention At Pittsburg - Day Of Fasting And Prayer - Convention At Cincinnati - Visitation Of Families - General Influence Of The...

Chapter 5. One Prayer-Meeting - The House And Rooms - The Business In Hand - Requests For Prayer - News Abroad - The President - From Philadelphia - The Son And Mother - An Answer - Three Sisters - Six Children

All remaining on the CD ROM or on the instant download at the shop

Chapter 6. An Infidel Lawyer's Conviction And Conversion

Chapter 7. Surprising Grace - A Successful Merchant - The Magdalens - The Saviour Waiting - A Young Sailor - Danger Of Delay

Chapter 8. Remarkable Answers To Prayer - The Four Great Revivals - Power Of Prayer - 'My Husband Saved' - Twenty Special Cases Selected - A Brother-In-Law - A Drunkard Saved

Chapter 9. Prayer-Meeting At 'Hell Corner' - An Invitation On The Mississippi - A Daughter Converted And Driven Out Of Her Father's House - The Whole Family Converted - Hungry Children Ask A Blessing - An Only Son - The Camp-Meeting...

Chapter 10. Christ Found At Home - The Man Who Found Peace In The Street

Chapter 11. How A Revival Began - Among The Mountains - Astonishing Answers - A Telegram To A Dying Man - A Young Man's Testimony - The Prodigal - A Repentant Student Converted In A Car - A Brother Saved - Another
Conversion In A Car -...

Chapter 12. Individual Responsibility - Personal Efforts - Souls Seeking Souls - A Ten Years' Pursuit Of An Infidel And The Result - A Pledge Signed Twenty-Six Times - Two Widow - An Anxious Mother - A Brother-In-Law - The Prodigal Son...

Chapter 13. The Work Among The Children - Randall's Island - The Romanist's Child, Mary - A Dying Sunday School Scholar - Prayers For A Child - Conversions In A Public School - Columbus, Toledo And Geneva - Father And Children - Sabbath...

Chapter 14. The Revival Of Religion Among Men Of Business - Laws Of Trade - Conscience - A Hardware Merchant And His Customer - A Merchant And His Clerk - The Salesman And His Assistant - Conscience Awakened - Test Of The Revival

Chapter 15. A Man Of Pleasure - Goes To The Prayer-Meeting - Is Sorry For It - Thinks More Of It - Reflects - His Mother's Prayers - Her Bible - He Returns From Newport - In The Prayer-Meeting Again - Deep Distress Of Mind - Despair -...

Chapter 16. A Pastor's Sketch - An Anxious Inquirer - Complains Of A Want Of Feeling - Encouraged To Pray - Relapses And Returns -- Instructed In The Nature Of Faith - Relief Not The Thing To Seek - Christ's Ability To Save - A Glimmer...

Chapter 17. A Roman Catholic Experience - Out Of Employment - Reads In The 'Herald' Of The Prayer-Meetings - Attends - Is Astonished - Power Of Prayer - Contrasted With The Mass - His Deep Convictions - Fascinated - Reveals His State -...

Chapter 18. The Work Among The Seamen - Many Languages Spoken - Prayers Better Than Rum - An Irish Catholic - An Aged Mariner - A Sinking Vessel Saved In The Midst Of Prayer - 'The North Carolina' - 'The Wabash' - A Swedish Sailor At...

Chapter 19. Influence Of The Revival On Crime And Criminals - Orville Gardner - A Fast Man - Labors Among The Poor - The City Missionaries - Grace And Grace Only - A Mother And Two Children - Father And Son - The Widow's Joy - Relatives...

Chapter 20. Wonderful Answers To Prayer - Two Children Of A Widow - A Servant Girl - Nine Men In The Market - Seven Praying Wives - Never Give Up - A German Boy - The Prayer-Meeting Among The Indians - Answers To Prayer In Natchez

Chapter 21. Prayer-Meeting At Aunt Betsy's - Power Of Prayer Remarkably Illustrated - A Visit To The Sing-Sing Prison - The Contrast - Luther And Melanchthon - Examples Of Prevailing Prayer - The Church Awaking - Understanding The...

Chapter 22. Means Of Grace - Preaching The Word - Revival Tracts - Private Efforts - Call To Prayer By Rev J. C. Ryle - Rev Dr Guthrie Of Edinburgh, On Perseverance In Prayer - Rev Dr J.W. Alexander's Tracts: 'The Revival And Its...

Chapter 23. Prayers For Our Children Sure To Be Answered - Rev H. W. Smuller's Thoughts - The Promises Of God - The Vials With Prayers Of The Saints - Visions Of John - Experience Of Daniel - Long Delay - The Old Ladies Meeting - Mrs F....

Chapter 24. The Book Of Requests - Written With Tears - Desire - Affection - Conviction Of Sin - Sorrow - Faith - Conversations With The Drawer - The Converted Gathered Into The Kingdom

Chapter 25. A Year Of Prayer - Review Of The Meetings - Anniversary Of Fulton Street Meeting - Extraordinary Case Of Awakening At That Meeting - Murder And Suicide Prevented - The Sinner Saved

Chapter 26. Prayer Shown to be Efficacious, by The Rev Wm. S. Plumer, D.D., LL.D.

1859  379pp

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