This is a very useful work, written fairly early in this revival, which was initially ignited by a cable from the revival that had already broken out in America. There were tens of thousands of Irish-Americans in America at this time and it is no surprise that the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland sent two of its most prominent and trusted ministers to visit the scenes of awakening. Professor William Gibson (the author) and Rev William McClure returned with wonderful stories of a 'Pentecost,' a quickening of believers and the evangelising of sinners.
More reports, sermons on Revival and prayer meetings for Revival sprung up everywhere. The first known was begun in Kells near Ballymena by a young man named James McQuilkin who had been strongly affected reading the testimony of George Muller, the man of great faith, as well as hearing of the American outpouring. He said to himself: 'Why may we not have such a blessed work here?' Then the revival began. Upwards of a hundred thousand converts were won to Christ in Ireland during this great revival. Gibson here records the early period of this tremendous move of God.
We have included 5 of the 19 chapters and 3 appendices.
A HUNDRED years ago the cause of evangelicalism stood very low in Ulster. A general indifference and deadness reigned throughout the Protestant Churches; and the goodly vine which had been planted in the seventeenth century suffered under a withering blight, and was to a lamentable extent shorn of its foliage and fruitfulness. Yet it was not forgotten by the heavenly Husbandman; and now, after having stood the shock of many a tempest, it has been graciously revisited by the genial influences of the Sun of Righteousness, and multitudes are rejoicing in its pleasant fruits.
It is well known that the natives of the north of Ireland bear in their intellectual features the stamp of their Scottish ancestry. Unlike the Milesian Irish of the south and west, they are a shrewd, calculating, and eminently practical people. Superior in education to the generality of their fellow-countrymen, and abjuring the superstitions by which the majority are enslaved, they have ever had a keen appreciation of the strong points of the argument for Protestantism; and as often as a controversial disputation has arisen between the champions of the respective systems, they have looked on with eager interest, and have not failed to honour and reward the victors. The delusions, under the guise of religion, by which the popular mind in England has sometimes been taken captive, had no charm for them—their strong sense and logical discrimination being proof against the impostures of pretenders and the fervours of enthusiasts.
Says the Rev. J.A. Canning of Coleraine:
“In disposition and temperament the people are calm, thoughtful, and far from impulsive, and their habits, amusements, and usages strongly indicate their Scotch descent. Among such a people, thus circumstanced, the organisation of Christ’s Church has for many years been very complete. Church-courts have been vigilant, ordinances have been regularly and faithfully dispensed, and nothing seemed wanting but a power to bring home an offered gospel to the hearts and souls of the people. Some of God’s children have therefore been saying of late years that one of two things was likely soon to occur, namely, either that gospel doctrine, preached by ministers and professed by the people, but apparently without much life, would, like everything which becomes stagnant, sink into putrefaction, and that heresy would supplant the truth; or, that a gracious God would honour His own truth by supplying the power of the Spirit to impart to it a vivifying energy. That God has been pleased to shed abroad this power the wondrous awakening which has characterised the history of the summer and autumn of 1859 abundantly proves.”
“It is right it should be known,” says the Rev. S. M. Dill of Ballymena, “that this movement has not come upon us so suddenly as people at a distance might suppose. There has been a gradual but perceptible improvement in the state of religion throughout this district for some years. Ministers were led to speak to the people with greater earnestness about ‘the things, which belong to their peace.’ Attendance on the public ordinances of religion had considerably increased. Open-air preaching was extensively practised. Sabbath-schools were greatly multiplied. Prayer meetings were growing up in many districts. Sacred music, which had been much neglected, was cultivated with ardour and success. And altogether the people were in a state of preparation—a state which passed into one of earnest expectancy, when the glad news of the American revival reached our shores.”
IN more than one locality in Ulster, notwithstanding the general deadness, symptoms of awakening began to indicate the approach of a better era. Public attention, however, was soon concentrated on a rural district in County Antrim, which more than any other has been identified with the early history of the movement, and from which, as a common centre, it spread with unprecedented rapidity over the entire north of Ireland.
The place was one, which had long enjoyed the benefit of an evangelical ministry. Even in days of darkness and defection Connor had been a favoured district; and under the oversight of a faithful pastorate and vigilant eldership, zealous for the purity of communion and the maintenance of a wholesome discipline, the flock were taught alike by precept and example the necessity of separation from the world. Some eighty years ago the venerable Henry rested from his labours, extending over half a century, and was succeeded by one who, in the wider sphere to which he was subsequently called, acquired an influential position in the Presbyterian Church. For about nine years the Rev. David Hamilton, late of Belfast, plied his congenial task among a plain people in that rural region, and sowed much of that precious seed which has subsequently borne abundant fruit. His successor, one of the ablest and most devoted ministers in Ulster, laboured for a length of time with little visible result, expounding and enforcing the old theology, training the rising generation in Scripture knowledge, using no flattering words with any, and fearing not to testify of the dread realities of the world to come.
In the spring of 1855 a movement was commenced in faith and prayer, which was destined ere long to spread over the neighbourhood a hallowed influence. At the close of a Sabbath evening at that period, at one of his Bible-class examinations Mr Moore addressed a young man present, and affectionately urged upon him the duty of doing “something more” for God. “Could you not,” he said, “gather at least six of your careless neighbours, either parents or children, to your own house or some other convenient place, on the Sabbath, and spend an hour with them, reading and searching the Word of God?” The young man hesitated for a moment, but promised to try. From that trial, made in faith, originated the Tannybrake Sabbath-school, and in connection with it, two years subsequently, a prayer meeting, which yielded some of the first-fruits of the great awakening. In the course of the winter following, a devoted Christian layman came to reside in the vicinity, with whose co-operation, in the spring, the school, which had been closed during the months proceeding, was reopened under more favourable auspices. During the summer it greatly flourished, a marked seriousness and earnestness being discernible both among the teachers and the taught. Seeing the good effects produced upon the children, the teachers anxiously considered whether an effort might not be undertaken on behalf of the parents also. Accordingly they resolved to commence a special meeting for prayer and reading the Scriptures each evening, after the closing of the school, to which the parents and others were to be specially invited. “One Sabbath evening early in August,” to use the language of a student for the ministry residing in the district, “found the expectant teachers engaged in their new work, with only one solitary visitor present. Nothing discouraged, they resolved to persevere, and a second meeting showed a more decided measure of success, for about thirty persons, besides themselves and a few scholars, attended. From week to week the numbers continued to increase, till at last the house was filled. Prayer, praise, and reading of the Bible, with plain observations on the portion read, were the exercises engaged in. Everything sectarian was strictly prohibited, and promptly checked as soon as it appeared. Questions that might have given rise to controversy were not discussed, while the one great and absorbing topic, ‘Christ and the Cross,’ seemed to occupy the attention and steal the affections of all present. The Sabbath-school teachers’ prayer meeting, for so it was called, became more and more interesting, till the knowledge of its existence spread throughout the neighbourhood.
“Among others who were associated in the Sabbath-school prayer-meeting, were four young men whose names have been much before the public in connection with the subsequent revival. These four rejoiced together in the glorious work, and took great delight also in each other’s society, enjoying sweet communion with each other and with their common Lord. But as they lived some miles apart, and could not come together so often as they desired, they resolved to meet at a central place for Christian fellowship, and for this purpose they chose an old school-house in the neighbourhood of Kells, where, in the month of October, about two months subsequent to the commencement of the Sabbath-school prayer-meeting in Tannybrake, those exercises were conducted which have been generally regarded as the origin of the revival. It will be seen, however, from what has now been stated, that the first stirrings of life were exhibited in connection with the Sabbath-school prayer meeting. Three, at least, of the converts were born there; two of them were scholars, and the third a teacher, while the gracious answers to the prayers offered on their behalf gave a powerful stimulus to prayer itself. From that time the gracious drops began to fall thicker and faster, until the rushing shower descended which has refreshed so many, and left behind verdure and beauty in the heritage of God.”
“For a considerable period,” Mr Moore adds, “before any general interest in religion was manifested by the people, there had been a growing anxiety about salvation. And some cases had here and there occurred of an unwonted character: a sinner, anxious about the state and prospects of his soul, experiencing a sudden, startling visitation of dread, followed by a peace and joy unspeakable—a protracted season of perplexity approaching to despair, succeeded by a view of Christ as a Saviour, full, sweet, restoring. About the spring of 1858 a very interesting work began to manifest itself, and to move onwards over a certain district of the congregation. For more than a quarter of a century the ‘prayer-meeting’ had existed in that locality, while similar meetings had in other districts, after many ineffectual efforts to maintain them, languished and revived, languished again, and died. Once the meeting in question was so far reduced in numbers that only two came together to call upon the name of the Lord. Still they continued to pray on, and by degrees the little company increased until it became ‘two bands.’ In the same district, also, the Bible training of the young in connection with the organisation of Sabbath-schools had been most successful; the class which had been established there being more promising than any of the others in the parish.”
The “fellowship-meeting” above referred to, was established almost simultaneously with those concerts for prayer begun by a similar agency in America, whose influence was so extensively felt throughout the great Western continent. “The society,” to adopt the words of the Rev. S.J. Moore of Ballymena, “soon ceased to be a secret one; and slowly one kindred spirit after another was introduced on the recommendation of some of the original members. For a few months they had to walk by faith, but the seed was not long cast upon the waters till the tender blade sprung up. The first observable instance of conversion occurred in December following. A young man became greatly alarmed. After some time, in answer to earnest prayer by himself and others, he found peace and confidence. Early in January a youth in the Sabbath-school class taught by one of those young men was brought to the saving knowledge of Christ as his Saviour. Special prayer about the same period was frequently offered in the fellowship meeting in behalf of two persons, who some three months afterwards joyfully professed their faith in the Lord Jesus. Faith grew. Hope brightened. ‘The power of prayer’ began to be known and felt and seen. The spring communion came on. Throughout the extensive parish, consisting of some thousand families, it was generally known that lately persons had been turned to the Lord among them, some moral, and some wildly immoral. The services were peculiarly solemn. The Master’s presence seemed to be recognised, and His call heard. The old prayer meetings began to be thronged, and many new ones established. No difficulty now to find persons to take part in them. Humble, grateful, loving, joyous converts multiplied. The awakening to a sight of sin, the conviction of its sinfulness, the illumination of the soul in the knowledge of a glorious Saviour, and conversion to Him - all this operation, carried on by the life-giving Spirit, was in the Connor district for more than eighteen months a calm, quiet, gradual, in some cases a lengthened process, not commencing in, or accompanied by, any extraordinary physical effects, more than what might be expected to result from great anxiety and deep sorrow."
It is a striking fact that it was not till more than twelve months subsequently, in the summer of 1859, when the work was spreading generally over Ulster, that some of the other districts of the congregation were blessed with the gracious visitation. Once begun, however, the movement rapidly extended. The great concerns of eternity were realised, as they had never been before. People, when they met, talked a new language. Many walked about in anxiety about the one thing needful, while others rejoiced in the realised experience of a present peace and a complete salvation. Meetings for Christian converse and prayer began to spread; in a short time the community was altogether changed in its outward aspects, and a pervading seriousness prevailed; and at the meeting of the General Assembly in July 1858, Mr Moore was publicly requested by the Moderator to furnish some account of the awakening, the tidings of which elicited an expression of the deepest interest on the part of the supreme judicatory of the Presbyterian Church.
During the succeeding months and throughout the winter a silent work of grace was gradually extending over the whole congregation of Connor, insomuch that when spring arrived it was believed that some hundreds had been savingly brought under its benign influence. As yet no physical excitement had appeared; the process was a purely spiritual one, carried on in the sanctuary of the mind—the Spirit of God acting through the medium of His own truth upon the spirit of man. Conversion-work, however, of the purest type had been going on; a total transformation had been effected in the hearts and lives of those who were the subjects of the change and throughout all the neighbourhood was heard “thanksgiving and the voice of melody.”
It was early in the month of May 1859, that, having heard of the great events that were being transacted there, I resolved to make a personal visit to the scene. Arriving on a Saturday afternoon at the manse, I found my excellent friend the pastor in the bosom of his family; his mind, which had for such a lengthened period previously been strained to the utmost, now somewhat relaxed into repose, as he was relieved for the time from preparation for the public services of the morrow. I had not long arrived till an intimation was sent from the neighbouring village, from a little company of praying ones, whose custom it was to meet on the evening before the Sabbath to invoke a blessing on the ministrations of the sanctuary. The place of meeting was the same, which on a subsequent occasion was visited by the Rev. Dr Edgar, and was thus graphically described by him: “It was a butcher’s shop. The butcher two years ago did not know A from B. God converted him: he taught himself to read, and he is now a large tract-distributor at his own cost, and a chief hand in the revival work. The secretary was a working shoemaker—another Carey. Others present were day-labourers, a stonebreaker, and a blacksmith’s boy. The stonebreaker, who sits on the roadside breaking stones to earn his bread, is one of four brothers, lately converted. Their mother was sister of a notorious pugilist, to whom she used to be a bottle-holder, and when she entered a shop she was watched as a noted thief. Her sons were pests, but God’s grace has made them vessels of mercy, overflowing with goodness for not a few.”
The services on the Sabbath were attended as usual by an immense audience. The congregation being one of the largest in Ulster, comprising nearly a thousand families, the church, at all times well filled, was thronged by a mass of devout worshippers. During the service there were indications of an unusual solemnity, the most intense earnestness being depicted on every countenance, and many being melted into tears. The singing of the psalms was a perfect outburst of melodious sound, the greater portion of the people having for some years previously been trained in the practice of sacred music, and their hearts being manifestly engaged in the enlivening exercise. When the service, which had been somewhat more protracted than usual, concluded, the pastor requested as many as could find it convenient to remain for an additional half hour, for the purpose of invoking the Divine blessing on the statements, which they had then heard. ‘The greater portion of the audience remained, when, after a brief exposition of a psalm, a request was made that some member of the church would engage in supplication. The call was at once responded to, and our devotions were led with much appropriateness, by an individual who as his pastor afterwards informed me, had not on any former occasion taken such a part in the public services of the house of God.
In the evening of that Sabbath I took the opportunity of visiting one of the many meetings for exhortation and prayer in the vicinity, selecting that (as being nearest) in the adjacent village of Kells. The exercises had begun and were going forward when we entered. The house in which the meeting was held was filled to inconvenience, the greater portion occupying the available space above, while the ground floor was crowded, and the very stair was occupied in every part. There was the utmost order and decorum, and for some twenty minutes we sat listening with much interest, unobserved by the speaker, who was overhead, to a very touching address delivered by one of comparatively tender years, in which he dwelt with pathetic earnestness on the necessity of an instant closing with Christ on His own terms, as the only and all-sufficient Saviour. After he had concluded, and prayer had been engaged in, it was agreed that, in consequence of the crowded and uncomfortable condition of the apartments, an adjournment should take place to another house hard by; which being done, the exercises were resumed - Mr Moore himself presiding. There were many present who appeared to be in deep mental concern. It was now nine o’clock, and we took our leave, the benediction having been pronounced. We left the majority, however, still in a state of apparent expectation, and showing, from the way in which they lingered outside, a disposition to engage once more in exercises, which were manifestly so much in unison with their feelings. I have little doubt that they did resume in the same place the congenial occupation.
A short time after we had returned to the pastor’s dwelling, an intimation was made to us that in the course of the morning service a young man who had for some time been under anxiety of mind had obtained “ peace in believing”; — “But that,” said my excellent brother, “is nothing uncommon, for scarce a sermon is preached or meeting held in which some such results are not realised.”
Next morning I took my departure. On passing through the village, Mr Moore alighted from the vehicle on which we were conveyed, and entered a respectable-looking dwelling. On his rejoining me, he said, “Yes, it is even as we heard last night. That is a house, which is visited by almost all our younger converts as soon as they have obtained peace. They are all in Christ in that habitation, and there others are attracted by the assurance of their sympathy. Late in the evening, the young man referred to, a holder of land in the neighbourhood had called. He told them that at such a part of the service his burden was lifted off, and when he came to them, as they expressed it, “the tears were trickling down his cheeks for very joy.”
Continuing our drive, we passed two houses by the wayside, referring to which my friend said, as he pointed to them, “There are seven in that little nook,” meaning thereby that these had also through grace believed. Had time and opportunity allowed me to accompany Mr Moore in some of his pastoral rounds, I have little doubt that he could have pointed out hundreds of such cases.
In regard to the results of the revival, as witnessed in the improved state of the district, one or two statistical facts may be mentioned. Of nine public-houses, two are closed by the conversion of their owners, and a third for want of trade; while the quantity of drink now sold by the six that are open is less than that formerly sold by one. In 1857 there were in the parish thirty-seven committals for offences connected with drunkenness in 1858, eleven in 1859, four, of whom two were strangers. And whereas in 1857 there were twenty-seven paupers in the Union Workhouse, there are now but four, while the poor-rates are only half the amount they were before.
ALTHOUGH, as has been already stated, the work of pre paration was going forward in some of the neighbouring congregations, it was not till near the close of 1858 that any striking results appeared. On the 9th of December that year, an event occurred which was destined to exert a widespread spiritual influence. On that day a young man who had been led to attend the Connor fellowship meeting was for the first time penetrated with a sense of sin and induced to cry for mercy. No sooner had he tasted the joys of pardon and of peace than he began to bethink himself of the state of his relations, resident a few miles off, in the Ahoghill district; and with all the fervour of a young disciple he solicited some three or four of his fellow-converts to unite with him in prayer on their behalf, that they also might be made partakers of his abounding happiness. A few weeks after, he visited his mother and family, to communicate to them his own experience of the loving-kindness of the Lord, and to excite them to a kindred earnestness about the “great salvation.” Once and again he came with the same anxious and prayerful aim; nor was it long till he was gladdened by the tidings that, after an exercise of conviction, his mother had been made a partaker of like precious faith, and was rejoicing in the hope of glory. Another member of the family, a brother, was the next object of his solicitude. At the time when he went in search of him, the brother was at a shooting match, and there, amid the excitement of the scene, fell on his ear the startling words, “I have a message for you from the Lord Jesus.” A strange effect soon followed, and he was brought under the subduing influence of a Divine agency. It was amid the clouds of night that after parting from one another the brother resident at Ahoghill was all at once immersed in the horror of a deeper darkness, his whole frame trembling as in the immediate presence of the Invisible. In the midst of a soul-conflict, in which he experienced the pangs of unutterable agony, he found a measure of relief in prostrating himself before the throne of mercy, and though still much agitated and enfeebled, made the best of his way home. Day after day he groaned under the weight of his heart-sorrow, and sought deliverance with awful cries and supplications. At length his burden was graciously removed, and, rising from his loom, he fell upon his knees, and gave full vent to his rejoicing in rapturous thanksgivings. Thenceforward a new life was infused into him, and he burned with an unquenchable desire to glorify the name of his Almighty Saviour. One of his first impulses was to rush directly to his minister (the Rev. F. Buick), to whom he communicated his whole soul in the glad utterance, “I am saved.” And then, as he found opportunity, he wrought unceasingly both night and day, and even to the neglect of his daily task, in seeking to win others to a participation in the same immortal hope. In a short time several members of the same household experienced a gracious change.
An anxious desire having been expressed by Mr Buick that others of the lay brethren from Connor should visit the neighbourhood, a meeting was held in his own church, to which they were invited. “It was,” as he testifies, “an earnest, heart-stirring meeting. A holy flame was kindled. A strong desire for a gracious revival began to gain ascendancy. The brethren from Connor were again invited. The house-school, where the meeting was to be held, was altogether too small to accommodate the hundreds that were in attendance. It was accordingly adjourned to the Second Presbyterian Church, Ahoghill, where similar stirring appeals and prayers of burning fervency moved the vast assembly. Thereafter, prayer meetings began to multiply. The new converts, with other Christians whose hearts the Lord stirred, engaged in the work of prayer and exhortation with unquenchable zeal. Thus the work spread, fresh interest being daily awakened. Common houses, and even large churches, were not able to contain the multitudes that assembled, so that often the highway and the open field, in the cold evenings of spring, were the scenes of deeply interesting meetings. So eager were the multitudes to hear the services of the converted brethren that many travelled miles to be present, and, without any weariness, they would have remained even all night, if the services had continued. There was an uncommon thirsting for the Word.”
In the statements, which follow, the physical affections, which henceforward characterised the movement, are thus noticed in their early manifestations: -
“At these meetings many convictions have taken place. From one up to ten and twelve have been arrested by the Spirit of God through the word and prayer of these honoured brethren. Even strong men have staggered and fallen down under the wounds of their conscience. Great bodily weakness ensues. The whole frame trembles. Oh! It is a heartrending sight to witness. With wringing of hands, streams of tears, and a look of unutterable anguish, they confess their sins in tones of unmistakable sincerity, and appeal to the Lord for mercy with a cry of piercing earnestness. I have seen the strong frame convulsed; I have witnessed every joint trembling; I have heard the cry as I have never heard it before, ‘Lord Jesus, have mercy upon my sinful soul; Lord Jesus, come to my burning heart; Lord, pardon my sins; oh, come and lift me from these flames of hell!’
“These convictions vary in different individuals, both in strength and duration. While some obtain peace in believing soon after their conviction, others do not attain it for several days. It is after many a conflict, with conviction oft returning, with much prayer and reading of the Word, through which spiritual light makes great progress in the mind, that a settled peace and holy joy take possession of the soul.”
While the bodily prostrations above referred to have been generally regarded as originating in connection with the awakening in Ahoghill, there is reason to believe there were occasional instances of a similar description, and at the same period, in other parts of Ulster. Thus, in the county of Down, in a rural district called Crossgar, the following case is narrated by the Rev. J. G. Thomson, the young minister of the place: -
“In the middle of the month of January 1859, I was called upon early one morning to see a previously strong, healthy young man, who supposed himself to be dying. On my arrival, I found him lying in bed, and evidently in a state of great bodily weakness, although his sickness did not seem to be unto death. Entering into conversation with him, I learned that he had been sick of soul previous to his being sick of body, and that the former was the cause of the latter. He told me that he had been very much impressed by a sermon I had preached on the last Sabbath afternoon, from these words, “I have a message from God unto thee.” (Judges iii. 20.) Alarmed on account of sin and the punishment due to it, he could get no rest day or night. Loudly did he cry for mercy, and did not cry in vain. He obtained pardon and peace after a severe struggle, by which he was left in a state of great bodily weakness. He was unable to walk for a number of days, and not until two months had passed was he able to pursue his ordinary business. Strange to say, when affected first, he complained of there being about his heart, unattended by any pain, a heavy weight, which he considered in some way to be associated with the idea of sin. This was removed, as he said, when the Holy Spirit came into his heart, and produced within him that faith which enabled him to lay hold upon Jesus, and to fly to Him from the wrath to come. His features indicated the gladness of one who had found some great and lasting treasure. You could have seen the very joy sparkling in his eye; and more than once did I hear him say that, if the Lord willed, he would rather depart and be with Jesus. His case was, in many particulars, similar to that of many I have seen since the great religious movement came among us. While his weakness remained, I frequently read the Scriptures, conversed and prayed with him. In all such exercises, he took, and still takes, the deepest interest. He is still growing in grace, and by his walk and conversation in the world gives every evidence of being a son of the Lord Almighty. This and similar cases have been like drops before the shower.”
Many interesting incidents might be narrated, illustrative of the wonderful effect, which was produced upon the public mind. Take the following as an instance, narrated by the Rev. David Adams: —
“I may quote a statement respecting a meeting at Creaghrock, midway between Ahoghill and Randalstown, a place where ever since, at the request of the people, a monthly religious meeting has been held in the open-air, attended by hundreds. This place has become famous, or rather infamous, as a cockpit, especially on Ahoghill old fairday, when thousands would assemble for the degrading sport of cock fighting, thereby making it a scene of lying, blasphemy, drunkenness, and all manner of profligacy. In these ‘revival’ times a number of the awakened, some of whom, perhaps, were ‘cockers’ themselves, resolved on this occasion to make it a far different scene, and therefore invited several ministers to attend, and address the meeting against all manner of vice, and for the promotion of all manner of holiness. The meeting was at ten o’clock A.M., and even at that early hour, crowds in all directions, and of all characters —in many cases from a distance of five or six miles— were seen wending their way gladly to the Rock, and at one time there could not have been much less than two thousand present. The meeting was addressed by four ministers, and pious prayers were offered up by fervent laymen. A most solemn impression was produced on all, from the grey-haired man of ninety to the merry child of a few years, and many of the old and young were deeply and visibly impressed by the Spirit’s power.”
A twelvemonth has elapsed since the blessing came upon the neighbourhood of which such things have been recorded. Have the results disappointed expectation? Or has the impression died away with the occasion that gave it birth? Let the following statement written at the close of the past year supply the answer. It is by the Rev. F. Buick: -
“The grace of God is visible in its effects in producing light and knowledge, prayer and praise, attendance on ordinances, holiness of life, and reformation of manners. Great gladness has been obtained by hundreds who have come to the enjoyment of pardon and peace, and are now rejoicing in the Lord. Great gladness has been introduced into families. Men that were coarse and savage, and a source of untold misery to their wives, are now so altered, so mild, so pleasant, so God-like, that the change in their domestic happiness is like heaven on the earth. There is great gladness in the Church because of the increased attendance in the courts of the Lord’s house, the lofty strains of her praise, the deep-toned earnestness of her services, and the life and power of her devotions.
“It is the general impression that a work of grace has been going on silently, and without observation, on the heart of hundreds throughout the country, who have had no bodily prostrations. It is known by the feeling of deep solemnity that pervades the neighbourhood—by the vast increase of family religion— by the absence of hitherto prevailing sins—by the keeping up of prayer-meetings in almost every locality—by the great increase in the attendance on the ordinances of God’s house—and by the large accessions which have been made to the communicants’ roll in all the churches. The three Presbyterian churches in Ahoghill are full; and the Second and third are contemplating large additions to their accommodation.”
BALLYMENA is three miles distant from Ahoghill. It is one of the most flourishing inland towns in Ulster, with a population of about 6000 and a principal seat of the linen trade. Here fifty years ago the work began early in April.
I shall narrate its progress in the words of a young friend who took part in the movement in his native town:-
“The week which began with May 17th can never be forgotten, though it cannot easily be described. When the great outpouring came, worldly men were silent with an indefinite fear, and Christians found themselves borne onward in the current, with scarce time for any feeling but the outpouring conviction that a great revival had come at last. Careless men were bowed in unaffected earnestness, and sobbed like children. Drunkards and boasting blasphemers were awed into solemnity and silence. Sabbath-school teachers and scholars became seekers of Christ together; and languid believers were stirred up to unusual exertion. There was great earnestness with all, and enthusiasm with some, but little extravagance or ridicule was known. Ministers who had often toiled in heartless sorrow suddenly found themselves beset by inquirers, and wholly unequal to the demands, which were made. Every day many were hopefully converted: passing through an ordeal of conviction more or less severe, to realise their great deliverance, and to throw themselves with every energy into the work of warning others, or of leading them to the Lord.
“All this came suddenly, and many thought it strange. It was little marvel that the world was astonished, but the incredulous wonder of many Christians showed how much we needed a revival. We were astonished that God took us at our word, and sent at last the quickening grace for which we had been dreamily praying so long. The theory of asking and receiving was common, but the getting of a blessing for which there was no room was rare. ‘Thy kingdom come’ was familiar; but the coming kingdom was the wonder of the day.
“It was in the opening summer that the revival came, when the daylight lingers so long, and the bright morning break so soon. We can remember how many lighted windows there were though the night was far-gone, and how prayer meetings were prolonged till the day had returned again. Every evening the churches were crowded, and family worship became almost universal. In the country large meetings were held in the open air, and hundreds were often visibly impressed by strong conviction. Part of the dinner hour was generally devoted to singing and prayer, and the sound from numerous groups of worshippers could be heard afar borne on the summer breeze. Thousands of tracts were circulated and read with avidity, and long-neglected Bibles came into general use. The order of an accustomed formality was gone; and while exhausted ministers were compelled to leave the meetings, the people reluctantly dispersed—some to pray over unimpressed friends, others to feel the workings of an awakened conscience, and many to rejoice in their new liberty, and to glory in their King.
“The order of procedure at the town meetings was little varied, yet the interest never failed while the summer lasted. Each evening had its own incidents, but one general sketch may give an idea of all.
“For some time before the appointed hour, many of the younger converts assemble to sing together some favourite hymns. A little later the people pour in rapidly and soon every seat is occupied, men of business sitting beside their workers, all in their usual attire. A large proportion is made up of the scholars in the Sabbath-school and of the lower classes, who were specially visited during the awakening. Some seem very anxious, and all are solemn. On the faces of the recent converts there is such a beaming gladness that even a stranger can tell their story at a look.
A few minutes after the single stroke of the hour is heard, the minister ascends the pulpit stairs, and reads the opening psalm, which is sung with thrilling fervency. The prayer, which follows, bears greatly on the three classes of worshippers, the converted, the anxious and the unawakened, and contains earnest pleadings for the Spirit’s presence and for the spread of the revival work. Very often as the petition passes, there is heard, far above the speaker’s voice the thrilling cry of some who were arrested as they prayed. And as many a conscience trembles at the arousing call, others silently offer a prayer to the Great Physician of souls, that the broken-hearted penitent may enjoy the healing of His grace.
“The addresses which follow from lay members or others are practical and earnest. The master-truths pressed home are the guilt and danger of every unconverted listener, and the full and present salvation of Jesus. Recent incidents are quoted, and each is brought to bear on the pressing appeal. At the close, the leader usually gives a short summary of the revival progress in the surrounding districts, and then reads the first line of the favourite hymn, ‘What’s the News?’ Then follows the closing prayer, and the benediction. On several occasions this had to be announced twice, and, though at midnight, all had not dispersed.
Experiences have varied greatly. Some have escaped so gently that they scarcely knew when their chains fell, and the freedom came. Others have writhed and struggled in their bonds so long that reason almost sank in the strife. We have heard of some who wandered about in morbid gloominess for months, while on a brother or sister the light has broken in a day. One can tell how he has hardly been saved from his diabolical enemy, whom a racked imagination made almost visible; and another can speak of nothing but the story of a wondrous Deliverer, and how He brought light and liberty to the darkened soul. When the mind has been stored by previous training, there is needed only the quickening life; but when conviction of peril finds no trust to fall back upon, there is a fearful groping in darkness and in doubt. This brings us many lessons in reference to the early teaching of the elements of truth. These life-seeds cannot perish; they lie till the life swells them, and the springtime of the soul comes round. ‘God’s Word,’ says Samuel Rutherford, ‘will come to God’s harvest.’ The psalms and lessons of the Sabbath-class have been reproduced so clearly that many thought the revival miraculous. A minister was astonished to hear a woman of his charge, who had been convicted, repeat with great feeling and striking accuracy the instructions of a communion class at which he had laboured about thirty years before. This quickening of the memory brings back the truth, when every nerve is strained in the grasping after safety, and fits workers for their duty when the need is felt.
“Another lesson may be inserted here. It is the power of urgent, personal dealing. We who work for the Master are too slack and listless with perishing men.
“As the work progressed, every rank felt its power, and shared in its good fruits. The labouring classes were first and largely impressed; but the awakening seemed as great among the rich and respectable. Among the young there has been a decided and special quickening. In a denominational point of view, no Church has been so favoured as the Calvinistic Presbyterian, though sectarian differences have been greatly overlooked. Many Unitarians and Roman Catholics were convinced of their errors, and hopefully changed. It would be untrue, on the one hand, to describe the sudden and complete check, which was given to current vice as a lasting change; and unjust, on the other, to consider the reflux of the interrupted current as an evidence of universal defection. Deep, real, enduring the work has been. A few abuses we admit, but unnumbered blessings we maintain. Christ’s credit is in it, and He will guard His own.”
WITHIN about three miles of Ballymena stands the village of Broughshane, the centre of a densely inhabited and almost exclusively Presbyterian district. At an early period the awakening spread in that direction. One morning a number of young women were affected in a spinning factory hard by. Immediately intense excitement spread among the workers, and within an hour twenty or thirty persons of both sexes were laid prostrate. The business of the entire establishment was interrupted, and, as a matter of necessity, it was closed. When re-opened two days after, nearly half the usual hands were absent. About the same time a congregation of several thousands assembled in the open air in front of the Presbyterian church, and the services were not concluded till an advanced period of the evening. In the village itself and all the country round such meetings were of frequent occurrence throughout the summer months, and hundreds, there is reason to believe, were brought in connection with them under the power of a Divine influence.
A visitor, at the beginning of the awakening, thus describes the presence and address of a Brougshane convert at a meeting in a quarry pit, at which there were several thousands in attendance
“Near the end of the preaching one old man stood up to address the multitude. He was a remarkable-looking man. I was beside him before he rose. A dealer in rags would not have given more than sixpence for all the clothes he had on his person. He bore the marks and tokens of a ‘hard liver,’ a confirmed drunkard. He spoke something to the following effect, as nearly as I can remember: - ‘Gentlemen,’ and he trembled as he spoke - ‘gentlemen, I appear before you this day as a vile sinner. Many of you know me; you have but to look at me, and recognise the profligate of Broughshane. You know I was an old man, hardened in sin; you know I was a servant of the devil, and he led me by that instrument of his, the spirit of the barley. I brought my wife and family to beggary more than fifty years ago; in short, I defy the townland of Broughshane to produce my equal in profligacy or any sin whatever. But, ah, gentlemen, I have seen Jesus; I was born again on last night week; I am, therefore, a week old to day, or about. My heavy and enormous sin is all gone; the Lord Jesus took it away; and I stand before you this day, not only a pattern of profligacy, but a monument of the perfect grace of God! I stand here to tell you that God’s work on Calvary is perfect; yes, I have proved it, His work is perfect. Had it not been so, it would have been capable of reaching the depths of iniquity of, the profligate nailer of Broughshane.’”
The following statement, dated 26th April 1860, by the Rev. Archibald Robinson, of Broughshane, sets forth the character and progress of the work in that important district.
The First Case — “The first case of awakening here was of a very peculiar and solemn kind. It was in 1858. It was that of a man who had been a drunkard. He was drunk the week before. In the middle of the night he awoke and roused the family out of their beds—said he had had a dream—an angel came and told him to be up and busy praying for mercy, for he would die at one o’clock, or, if not at one, decidedly at four o’clock next day. He dressed, and gave himself up entirely to reading and prayer. People thought he was mad—in delirium tremens. He refused all solicitations to induce him to drink—went about wringing his hands and entreating mercy, till about one o’clock—went to his bed, and died happy about four!
The Full Outpouring —” It was not, however, till May 1859 that we were visited with a most gracious and abundant outpouring of the Holy Spirit. We had been praying for and expecting some such precious blessing, but were, notwithstanding, taken by surprise, so sudden, powerful, and extraordinary were the manifestations of the Spirit’s presence. Persons of every shade of temperament and character were mysteriously affected, overpowered, prostrated, and made to pour out the most thrilling agonising cries for mercy. Most of those thus impressed and awakened found peace and comfort in a very short time, and then their countenances shone with a sweetness and glory beyond description. Very many of them received a marvellous fluency and power of prayer. A hatred of sin, a love for the Saviour, a zeal for His cause, an affection for one another, and an anxiety about perishing sinners, took possession of their hearts, and literally ruled and governed their actions. For about six weeks almost all agricultural operations, and indeed every kind of secular employment, were suspended, no man being able to think of or attend to anything but the interests of his soul. Night and day the sound of praise and prayer never ceased to float upon the air. An overwhelming sense of awe and terror held in check the boldest sinners, while thousands who till now had lived as if eternity were a priestly fiction seemed for the first time to realise its truth and presence, and to feel as if the end of all things was at hand. I should say about one thousand people were suddenly, sensibly, and powerfully impressed and awakened. Fully one half of this number, if not more, have profited by their experience, and are as fair and hopeful cases of conversion as one could well desire, while not less than five hundred were silently, gradually, and without observation brought, I may say, from death unto life, or from a state of stupor and coldness into a state of activity and warmth, and are now rejoicing in the peace that passeth understanding. Not less than twenty Roman Catholics came under the power of the truth, and were made to acknowledge the errors of the Church of Rome. Three of these were re-baptized at their own urgent request, and afterwards admitted to the Lord’s Supper. The others still attend the prayer meetings, and now and again the public worship of the sanctuary.
The Praying Matrons — “In one district of country almost all the matrons within an area of more than two miles were graciously visited and converted in the most satisfactory and conclusive manner, if we can so speak about another’s conversion at all. These women have exercised a mighty influence on their families and neighbourhood; and if one wishes to see the religion of the Cross in its loveliest features, in the simplicity, beauty, and power of primitive times, he has but to pay this district a visit and see and hear for himself. I have no doubt he will return, saying that the half has not been told him.
“The gift of prayer bestowed on these matrons is beyond conception, and certainly it is not left to rust. They have a prayer-meeting of their own—none but females being admitted—the exercises of which are praise, prayer, and reading the Scriptures without note or comment. This meeting has tended greatly to fan the flame of love in their own hearts, and kindle it in others who come. We have many such female prayer meetings, and I am satisfied of their utility.
“About the month of August the physical features of the revival in a great measure passed away, but we had abundant evidence that the work of the Lord was still going on, more silently but as progressively as ever. The Holy Ghost, we rejoice to say, has not been as a wayfaring man with us. His gracious operations have not as yet ceased. From time to time we have been constrained to note unmistakable signs of His presence and power. Seldom does a week elapse without some groping, hoping, praying soul finding Christ, pardon, and peace in a way more or less marked and visible. Frequently our prayer-meetings have experienced a sudden, mysterious, overpowering impulse, swaying the whole assembly as one man, and leaving all weeping, praying, rejoicing. Men have felt as if the Lord had breathed upon them. They were first affected with awe and fear—then they were bathed in tears—then filled with love unspeakable. Such a scene as this occurred about a month ago in the midst of the ordinary services of the Sabbath.
General Results. — “True and undefiled religion has received a mighty impetus here. Since May 1859 it has been progressing in the most satisfactory and cheering manner. Never in the experience of the oldest members of our church were the spiritual interests of the people of this parish so far advanced and so promising. Without any fear of exaggeration or disappointment I may say we can count true and decided cases of conversion, not by tens, not by fifties, but by hundreds. The house of God is filled Sabbath after Sabbath by an overflowing congregation of anxious worshippers. Temporary seats occupy the passages, and these are crowded, and many are content to stand at the door during the whole service. The very countenances of the worshippers declare the anxious and the happy feelings they possess, some seeming to say, ‘Sir, we would see Jesus,’ and others, ‘we have tasted, and are now come to drink—we have found Him whom our souls love, and He is indeed precious.” The thirst of the young for Sabbath-school instruction is intense and insatiable. Not less than fourteen hundred children attend every Sabbath morning, desiring the sincere milk of the Word, while my own class averages some eighty young men and women. We are reading the ‘Confession of Faith,’ and have circulated through the congregation some two hundred and fifty copies of it, with about an equal number of Paterson’s Shorter Catechism. Social meetings for prayer, reading the Scriptures, and exhortation, are held throughout the parish, each district having it’s own prayer meeting, and each prayer meeting its own staff of conductors. No person is allowed to engage in the services unless approved of by these managers. The meetings are attended by the whole population, with very few exceptions— young and old, rich and poor, Episcopalian and Roman Catholic taking pleasure in listening to the simple prayers and earnest exhortations of their Presbyterian neighbours. The interest in them is still well sustained, and in the darkest, fiercest nights of winter, and now in the busiest days of seedtime, the number of those who meet together to thank and praise the Lord has not diminished.
“Previous to 1859 the voice of family prayer was seldom heard. Urgent appeals from the pulpit to erect a family altar were unheeded. Now family worship is rather the rule than the exception. There is a marked improvement in the public morals of the community. Men are ashamed of doings that formerly were considered things of course. Two public houses have been obliged to close. The owners of others have assured me their trade is gone, and two more intimated their intention not to renew the licence. One of them said it was unsafe to himself and injurious to others. A deceased publican told him, he said, “that it was a cursed trade; that he knew many in it, and, with two exceptions, he never knew one but the devil got a hold of, and these two had to give up and run, or he would have gotten them also.’ Sabbath desecration, profane swearing, drunkenness, uncleanness, unseemly strife, and such like sins, are much abated and decreased, not one instance for every five we had in previous years; while temperance, meekness, brotherly kindness, a holy reverence for the name and glory of God, have started into new life, and are putting forth new vigour. The Bible is the book of constant study. Many carry it about with them and read it by the wayside, or at intervals in their labour, and refer to it for the settlement of every disputed point. Two of our National School-houses have been enlarged, in order to make them capable of accommodating the prayer meetings, and we have subscribed about £550 for a new church.
“It has been said that lay agency has done more harm than good in the successful promotion of revival work. My experience is the very reverse. I have seen indisputable proof that the Lord greatly honoured and blessed the zealous self-denying efforts of the Christian people. He touched their hearts, opened their mouths, and then rewarded their labours. Here they have been most useful auxiliaries to the ministry, and through their aid an amount of work has been overtaken which no half-dozen ministers could have performed. These young men deserve the highest praise, and I bear testimony that I have seen literally nothing of that overweening conceit and spiritual pride, so natural and so much feared by some good men.
Illustrative Cases. — “On the 12th of July the Orangemen of the district asked me to preach them a sermon; about four thousand assembled in the open air without beat of drum or any insignia of their order, and after engaging in religious exercises, returned peaceably to their homes, no drink and no disorder appearing among them. On the Broughshane June fairday a band of strolling players as usual made their appearance; a prayer meeting was immediately convened opposite their showy platform. The players had but two visitors in the persons of two Roman Catholic policemen. The business of the fair was summed up by a prayer meeting of not less than five thousand people.
“I saw a young girl in great distress about her soul, weeping bitterly; her mother stood by and said, ‘Oh, dear, why do you take on so?’ The girl threw the shawl from her shoulders, dug her long bony fingers into the flesh of her naked bosom, and cried out, with bated breath, ‘ It’s sin, sin, sin, cursed sin, here.’ The mother, ‘Oh, no, you were always a good girl.’ ‘Mother,’ said the girl, ‘don’t talk that way to me; I’m tempted sorely enough to think I’m not so bad, but oh, I am bad, very bad; oh, what a great sinner I am; Lord Jesus, have mercy on a poor, wicked, guilty wretch.’ A young woman was forbidden by her employer—a minister of the Church of England—to go to the prayer meeting, but if she was very anxious she might go down the back way and listen to what was said, through the wall of the churchyard where the meeting was held. That night she was awakened, and found peace. The next day the minister rebuked her, saying, ‘How’s this? Did I not command you not to go there? ‘ She replied, ‘Yes, sir; but you said I might go down the back way, and God found me by the back way as well as if I had gone by the front way.’
“A lady remarked that she thought the presence of the Lord was very near to her; she almost felt as if God was in the air beside her. A man at the close of one of our prayer-meetings asked us to remember a poor stranger from Dungannon, who was in the midst of us, and anxious about his soul. Next night he came back and told us that he came to see the work of the Lord, and had found the Lord Himself; ‘and this,’ said he, ‘was the way I found Him: I went up to my own little room, and took my Bible, and then went down on my knees and prayed over what I had read, and then read again, and then again prayed, and this is what I said in my prayer: ‘Thou art a great God, and I am a poor sinner; I would come to Thee, but I have no offering to bring, no sacrifice to present, and Thou wilt not accept me without a sacrifice; O Lord Jesus, Thou hast a sacrifice; Thou hast offered Thyself a sacrifice; oh, present Thyself before the Father for me, and take me by the hand and lead me to Him, and make peace between us by the blood of Thy cross.’ And then,’ said he, ‘I felt a movement in my soul, and the Saviour came and took me near, and I found there was peace between my Father and me; and now I am so happy.’
“A young man was passing along one day, and heard voices on the other side of the dyke. He looked and listened; three children were there, and one was in the exercise of prayer; when one finished another began; the third boy said he could not pray, and when urged, burst into tears; his two companions put his hands together, and said, ‘Pray, mon; try it, if it be only the publican’s prayer; say, God be merciful to me a sinner, and that will do.’ The boy repeated the words, when one of the others said, ‘There, now, may be that was the best prayer of the three.’
“A social tea-party met one night in a farmer’s house. His wife, a very zealous Christian, felt that one of the guests had no right feelings about his precious soul. Something said to her she must not let this man away without faithfully warning him to seek the Lord. She retired to her closet and inquired of God what He would have her to do, but no plan was suggested to her. There was family worship; she felt the prayer was cold and not sufficiently pointed to warn her friend, about whom she was so suddenly interested. Just as they were all rising up from their knees, she could restrain her anxious feelings no longer, and, though contrary to her notions of female delicacy and duty, she burst forth in the most earnest and impassioned supplications, throwing out such warnings, and imploring such mercy for the careless, thoughtless ones of the number, as not only relieved her own breast of a burden, but sent a thrill to the heart of him for whom she felt so strongly.
“A poor man, after finding peace, said, ‘Yesterday I was a poor, lone, desolate, friendless creature, caring for no one, and no one caring for me, without father or mother, house or friend; this day I am rich and happy, and would not exchange places with the Queen on the throne, for God is my Father, Christ Jesus is my Brother and Master, heaven is my home, and all God’s people are my friends.’
“It was towards the end of May 1859,” says the Rev. H. W. Carson, “that the first symptoms of the great awakening began to discover themselves in the parishes of Lochguile, Kilraughts, and Dunaughy.
“The first in these parts deeply moved about her sins and eternal interests was a middle-aged woman. After six years’ absence from the house of God, she felt a sudden inclination to return. The Word of God that Sabbath proved sharper than a two-edged sword. Her distress of mind grew deep; and never shall I forget the picture of misery she presented, as I found her sitting by the roadside wringing her hands, and, with upturned, tear-dimmed eyes, suing for mercy. Her sins were indeed many and dark, but she never saw them before in the same colours. Let us trust we can add, ‘Her sins, which were many, have been forgiven her.’ This woman may be regarded as the type of a large number who have passed ‘through fire and through water into a wealthy place.’
“No doubt the Lord drew not a few gently under the shadow of His cross. There was a youth of fourteen who attended a monster prayer-meeting in the village of Cloughmills, when there could not have been less than 2000 present, and when the arrows of the King flew thick, so that many fell down before Him in penitence; and, as he afterwards related, he felt his heart opening to Christ, while tears flooded his eyes. Another, somewhat older, who has since often told the story of his conversion, and earnestly invited others to taste the grace that was so abundant to himself, acknowledged, ‘Oh, He drew me in gentleness and love!’ The hearts of these youths, and others like them, opened like the leaves of a rose to the light of morning. Sitting in the sanctuary ere the exercises commenced, a middle-aged man began to think of the blood of Christ, (to use his own description of his blessed experience,) thought he saw blood, and then his heart, in a stream, flowed towards Christ. He went quietly home, retired to thank God for the revelation of His Son in him, and soon began to experience joy unutterable. His exclamation, on first meeting me afterwards, was, ‘Lovely! Lovely!’ ‘What?’ said I He replied, ‘Jesus is lovely.’ This was indeed a revival, or a vivid revelation of Divine things. The man had spoken of Christ, thought of Christ, but never before had he such a clear and lively impression of Christ. He was ever to him an historical personage, but now He is a living reality with him, on the right hand and on the left.
“But while these were drawn gently, God dealt differently in the majority of conversions. Most passed through a terrible ordeal, and received, like Bunyan, a fiery baptism. Spectral-like, their sins affrighted them; mill-stonelike, their sins pressed them down. As the prisoner in the dock, hearing his sentence, and realising his awful death, has been known to shrink and swoon away, so, awakening to a sense of their condition, beholding the pit opening, and the devils come to drag them down, they have uttered doleful cries, heartrending shrieks. They have been carried out from the church; we have followed them to the green, and marked the writhings of the body, expressive of the commotion within; and we remember, while standing over the quivering frame of a youth, a convert, turning round to a stout man, a somewhat unmoved spectator of the scene, and saying, ‘If sin does that in one so young, what must it do in the like of you, sir?’
“A noticeable stage in the spiritual history of the converts has been frequently that of severe mental struggle with infernal power. Satan, tenacious of his prey, has contended with the Saviour, and in the rage of disappointment and mortification of defeat, has thrown down, as in the days of Christ’s sojourn on earth, the sinner coming; yea, has torn him in expulsion.
“Is liberality to missions a token of grace? There is a poor farmer who once gave only his sixpence on a day of missionary contribution, but now he lays down his pound note, and feels it more blessed to give than to receive. It was thought this was done out of gratitude to God for reclaiming a vicious son. This may have been one reason, but the chief reason is that his own once-niggard heart has been enlarged—his once-closed hand has been opened by the Spirit of God. Are daily communings with the Host High significant of conversion? There are fifty houses which a heathen might have visited, and only discovered their inmates not to be heathens by the absence of everything like heathen devotion; lo, now they are ‘the tabernacles of the righteous, in which is heard the voice of joy and rejoicing.’ So strong is the testimony borne by the Spirit against the use of intoxicating drinks, that four public-houses in the parish have closed, and those publicans who remain in the trade find their occupation almost gone.”
The Rev. Robert Park, for upwards of forty years the esteemed pastor of one of the Presbyterian churches in Ballymoney, writes as follows
“At nearly the close of a lengthened ministry to be permitted to see many of my charge brought to the Saviour, to know that some, over whom my heart has often yearned, are rejoicing in Jesus, and to believe that there are others in a hopeful state for eternity, has been not only gratifying, but greatly encouraging.
“As in other districts, the Divine sovereignty was exhibited here in the conversion of some of the despised of the people; but the larger proportion of those who have given evidence of a real saving change were connected with our Sabbath-schools, either as teachers or receiving instruction, or were members of families well instructed in Divine truth, and more or less regular attendants on the means of grace. It was not the least interesting fact in the history of God’s work here that He so touched the hearts of many young men who have since been zealously active in religious things.
One most interesting case occurred in one of the country parts of my district. A man, about thirty years old, born deaf and dumb, who had been educated at the institution of Claremont, near Dublin, and who is in attendance on my ministry, was working in the bog, preparing fuel for the winter. He was alone, with no exciting appliance. The Lord touched his heart. He felt the pangs of sin and intense anxiety to have it removed. He endeavoured to make his way to his sister’s house, where he resided. So prostrated was he in bodily strength, that he required to lie down and rest twice before he reached his home. During the night, and until the family were at breakfast the next morning, and preparing for public worship, it being the Sabbath, he was not relieved. The description of his manner and appearance, as given by his sister, was most striking. Literally, he jumped some height from the ground clasped as if some person to his bosom, his countenance beaming with delight, and his whole person indicating gratitude and love.
“In my conversation with him afterwards by fingers, he made me to understand that the first text of Scripture that impressed his mind and awakened comfort was Luke xv. 7, ‘Joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth;’ the second, I Tim. I. 15, ‘This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.’ And again and again he laboured to show me ‘how happy he was in coming to Jesus.’ In this, and in many instances that are before me, I fancy myself with Christ in the days of His ministry on earth, and almost see before my eyes the miracles that testified that He was the Messiah.”
Chapter 1. The Scene of the Revival--The Preparation
Chapter 2. The Birthplace of the Revival
Chapter 3. The Revival Proclaimed as Having Come
Chapter 4. The Revival in Its Development
Chapter 5. The Revival in Its Progress Northwards
Chapter 6. The Revival in Northern Antrim
Chapter 7. The Revival in the Capital of Ulster
Chapter 8. The Revival Around Belfast
Chapter 9. The Revival and the General Assembly
Chapter 10. The Revival and the Orangemen
Chapter 11. The Revival in County Down
Chapter 12. The Revival in County Down--Continued
Chapter 13. The Revival in the City and County of Derry
Chapter 14. The Revival in County Tyrone
Chapter 15. The Revival In County Armagh
Chapter 16. The Revival In Donegal, Monaghan, And Cavan
Chapter 17. The Revival and the Roman Catholics
Chapter 18. The Revival and the Pathological Affections
Chapter 19. Revival Lessons
Appendix A. The Revival And Public Morality
Appendix B. The Revival and Insanity
Appendix C. Congregational Returns