On the Lord's day and Monday evening (Nov. 6th and 7th), I preached in the Congregational Chapel, Bicester. After the morning service, eight young persons sat down for the first time at the Lord's table, and every eye was suffused with tears. On Monday evening, a prayer-meeting was held in the schoolroom; the place was crowded. In the course of the evening, two young converts engaged in prayer, and while they were praying, a change came over the whole meeting; the place seemed filled with the Holy Ghost. Several were struck down in a moment. Some fell upon the floor, others into the arms of their friends, crying out in the deepest distress—"O, save me! Lord Jesus, save me! Lord Jesus, have mercy upon me! I am a great sinner; Lord, do have mercy upon me!" The older members of the church seemed paralyzed. We did not know what to make of it. It was so strange—so new—we never expected it, and yet we were praying for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit; and when and while God was answering our prayers, we could hardly believe what our eyes saw, our ears heard, and our hearts felt. We remained silent and still for some time, as if not knowing how to act, the thing had come upon us so suddenly. There was still the same cry for pardon. I went to the other end of the room, where about half-a-dozen young ladies were in the deepest distress, crying out "O my sins! my sins! I shall be lost! I shall be lost! What must I do? Tell me what I must do to be saved." I pointed them to Jesus, told them that He was able and willing to save them there and then. Another hymn was sung, and three or four brethren prayed; never shall I forget those prayers, or the feelings produced: the cry of the penitent sinner rose above the voice of prayer. I tried to pronounce the benediction, as it was getting late, but no sooner had they heard the words " The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God," than one cry came from every heart, "O do not go, don't leave us: O don't go, please do not leave us." There seemed to be this kind of feeling:—If we leave this room without obtaining salvation, we shall be lost forever. I could not, dared not close the meeting, and therefore we commenced afresh with singing, prayer, and exhortation; but peace did not come, the penitents were still weeping and crying out for mercy.
About eleven o'clock, with some difficulty, we closed the meeting. Most of the persons struck down in the room were young ladies belonging to a boarding-school, conducted by the excellent wife of the Rev. W. Ferguson, minister of the Congregational Chapel. All the way from the prayer-meeting to the seminary, the newly awakened ones were sobbing aloud, crying as they went along the street, as if their hearts would break. Persons heard them in their houses, opened their doors, and asked what was the matter; so loud was the cry, so deep the distress.
Some may ask, what means had been used, under God, to produce such results? What led to this Revival? On the 12th September 1859, being the memorable day on which the Congregational Union of England and Wales met, in Aberdare, South Wales, for religious purposes, the Congregational Church in Bicester held their first Revival prayer-meeting. These have been continued since, on Sunday morning and evening, and also every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday evenings. They have been well attended, and a considerable number of the young belonging to the congregation, have been brought to the knowledge of the truth. Three young ladies, from Mrs Ferguson's boarding-school, as soon as they had obtained peace with God, began to speak to their companions about the love of Jesus; they were advised by Mrs Ferguson to establish a prayer-meeting in the school-room. On Monday evening (Nov. 7) they held their first meeting— eight were present, of whom three came to Mrs F. for advice, crying for mercy. At eight o'clock they all went to the Revival prayer-meeting, and the result was as stated above. There were others also present at this meeting—men of stout hearts and strong nerves, who trembled, shed many tears, and felt that their sins had found them out, and saw that "none but Jesus can do helpless sinners good." I confess I was rather sceptical; and even now, it is to me a mystery. But facts are stubborn things. I speak the things which I saw, heard, and felt.
Winslow, Racks. JOHN FOGG, Independent Minister.
I beg to add, that the work is still progressing; the nightly prayer-meetings are as well attended as ever. Sinners are still anxious to be saved. The young believers hold on, rejoicing in the Lord. A large number of The Revival is taken in weekly, and earnestly read by many of our people; and we have disposed of more than fifty copies of that remarkable book, The Power of Prayer. To God be all the praise.
Bicester.W. FERGUSON, Congregational Minister. From 'The Revival Newspaper,' Volume i, page p156/7