Abury Catholic Apostolic Church - Henry Drummond (1830)



In 1819 a Christian banker called Henry Drummond purchased Albury Park, Guildford, Surrey. From 1826-30, each year he had a conference made up of evangelical leaders. The main theological input came from Edward Irving, who was the minister at the National Scotch Church in Regent's Square, London. These meetings concentrated on praying for a great outpouring of Holy Spirit. It was known as the Albury Circle.

The news of a revival going on in Scotland (see this website under revivalist tab, the 1830 Tongues revival) came to the group which seemed to possibly an answer to their prayers as they heard that speaking in tongues, healing and prophecy were being experienced there. At the final conference in July they decided to send six people to check it out to see if it was indeed a work of God. 

One of their number, John Cardale, wrote in November 1830 in a Journal owned by the Albury Circle, a first-hand account of the meetings while visiting the Macdonalds.'

'Dear sir,—You have requested me to state some particulars of what passed under the observation of my five fellow-travellers and myself during our recent stay at Port-Glasgow. I do not hesitate to comply; earnestly praying that the mere relations of facts may be made instrumental to the reception and understanding of the scriptural doctrine of the Holy Spirit, both in his power and in his love (for the Spirit is One), without which the manifestations, which we witnessed, of his gifts, will be but as an idle tale.

We spent three weeks, arriving in the latter end of August, in Port Glasgow and the neighbourhood, and attended regularly while there at the meetings; which meetings were held every evening, and occasionally in the morning. The history of one of these meetings is the history of all: I may probably as well relate what took place at the first which we attended. The mode of proceeding is for each person who takes a part first to read a Psalm in metre, which is sung by the meeting; then a chapter from the Bible and he then prays. On this occasion, after two other gentlemen, James Macdonald read and prayed. His prayer was most remarkable. The sympathizing with the mind of our Saviour; interceding for a world which tramples on his blood and rejects his mercy, and for the church which grieves the Holy Ghost; the humiliation for sin, and the aspirations after holiness, were totally different from anything I had ever before heard. He then, in the course of prayer, and while engaged in intercession for others, began speaking in an unknown tongue; and after speaking for some time he sung, or rather chaunted, in the same tongue. He then rose, and we all rose with him; and, in a very loud voice and with great solemnity, he addressed us in the same tongue for a considerable time: he then, with the same loudness of voice and manner, addressed us in English, calling on us to prepare for trial, for we had great trials to go through for the testimony of Jesus; to crucify the flesh; to lay aside every weight; to put far from us our fleshly wisdom, power, and strength; and to stay us in our God. After he had concluded, a short pause ensued when suddenly the woman-servant of the Macdonald's arose and spoke (for a space of, probably, ten minutes) in an unknown tongue, and then in English: the latter was entirely from Scripture, consisting of passages from different parts, and connected together in the most remarkable manner. The meeting concluded with a psalm, a chapter, and prayer from another gentleman. Immediately on conclusion, Mrs. ——, one of the ladies who had received the Spirit, but had not received the gift of tongues (she received the gift while we were in the country) arose, went out of the room and began speaking in a loud voice of the coming judgments. After she had spoken about five minutes, Mr Macdonald commenced also speaking, and Mrs. —— instantly ceased speaking. It is impossible to describe the solemnity and grandeur, both of words and manner, in which she gave testimony to the judgments coming on the earth; but also directed the church to the coming of the Lord as her hope of deliverance. When she had concluded, we left the house.

Although unnecessary to give you a detailed account of suc­ceeding meetings, I will, with your permission, add a few re­marks, in the course of which I shall be enabled to mention various occurrences of which we were witnesses.

The prayer-meetings are strictly private meetings and for prayer. The rules they lay down for themselves do not allow of exposition, but simply the perusal of Scripture. During our stay, four individuals received the gift of tongues; of these, two, Mrs. —— and Mr Macdonald, had repeatedly spoken in the Spirit previously to their receiving the gift of tongues.

The tongues spoken by all the several persons, in number nine, who had received the gift, are perfectly distinct in them­selves and from each other. James Macdonald speaks two tongues, both easily discernible from each other. I easily perceived when he was speaking in the one, and when in the other tongue. James Macdonald exercises his gift more frequently than any of the others; and I have heard him speak for twenty minutes together, with all the energy of voice and action of an orator addressing an audience. The language which he then, and indeed generally, uttered, is very full and harmonious, containing many Greek and Latin radicals, and with inflections also much resembling those of the Greek language. I also frequently noticed that he employed the same radical with different inflections; but I do not remember to have noticed his employing two words together, both of which, as to root and inflection, I could pronounce to belong to any language with which I am acquainted. George Macdonald's tongue is harsher in its syllables, but more grand in general ex­pression. The only time I ever had a serious doubt whether the unknown sounds which I heard on these occasions were parts of a language, was when the Macdonald's servant spoke during the first evening. When she spoke on subsequent occasions, it was invariably in one tongue, which was not only perfectly dis­tinct from the sounds she uttered at the first meeting but was satisfactorily established, to my conviction, to be a language.'

(these last five paragraphs are from, 'The Morning Watch Journal, volume 2, pages 869-71) 

In 1832 Henry Drummond formed his own 'church' down at Albury. A few months later one of them spoke in tongues and prophesied. At the end of 1832 Drummond was ordained by John Cardale, who had been one of the Albury Circle, but who now was an apostle and the 'angel' of Irving's Newman Street church. Drummond began speaking in tongues and prophesied and by 1834 the church was 200 strong. Newman Street and Albury were both part of the Catholic Apostolic Church as they called themselves in 1849. Albury became the centre of government for the new organisation. All appointments and major decisions were made through prophecy. Around 1860 there was a split and the group breaking away called themselves the New Apostolic Church. The Catholic Apostolic Church pretty well died out in the 20th century, but the New Apostolic Church grew to around 500,000 by 1970, and then exploded into Africa so there are now around nine million members.

Clearly the Spiritual Gifts were exercised in the Catholic Apostolic Church after Irving's death, but I have not been able to trace them any further. It would be interesting to know if they continued with the Gifts into the twentieth century, therefore being a link to the outbreak of Pentecostalism.