Castlecaulfield Presbyterian Church (1859)



BY THE REV. JOSEPH ACHESON.

THE awakening, which commenced in June last, was preceded by the outpouring of the Spirit of grace and supplication on God's dear people. Congregational prayer-meetings were held for the special purpose of praying for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Though these were not numerously attended, yet the brethren were not discouraged. They continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, fervently entreating that power from on high might be given, that sinners might be saved, and believers quickened in the divine life. In answer to prayer, and in fulfilment of God's faithful promise, the Spirit was given. Water was poured on the thirsty, and floods on the dry ground. The plentiful rain was sent. The Lord's inheritance was confirmed when it was weary. The work of the Spirit was powerfully manifested. Persons of all ages, and in differ­ent ranks of life, came under its influence. Young men, strong in body, were affected, as well as delicate females. Both the outwardly moral and the depraved have been visited by the powerful operation of the Holy Spirit. On some the Divine Influence came like a rushing mighty wind, prostrating the powers of the body and faculties of the soul; and on others like the rain on the mown grass, or like the gently-distilling dew.

The meetings are still largely attended, and have been greatly blessed. During the close of the summer more than two thousand were often gathered together, and the arm of the Lord was remarkably revealed. At one meeting more than seventy were stricken; at another, more than fifty. The open-air meetings were usually addressed by myself, and converts from the neighbourhood, or from County Antrim. There is a weekly union prayer- meeting, conducted by the respected and devoted curate of the parish, and myself, which sometimes numbers seven hundred, and which has been greatly blessed by the Spirit in the conversion of sinners, and for the promotion of union and brotherly love. Meetings on every evening of the week continue to be held, either in the meeting-house, church, or Methodist chapel.

The influence of the revival cannot be fully described. All classes and creeds have been reached by it. Four con­verted Romanists are holding out firmly, notwithstanding the severe persecutions to which they were subjected for leaving the Church of their fathers. Others, who were somewhat affected, have returned to the darkness and idolatries of Popery. The change produced upon those who have been awakened appears to be decidedly of an evangelical character. They feel a deep sense of sin. The cry of all is, "Lord Jesus, come and take away my sin! Jesus, wash me in the fountain opened for sin! Jesus, I lay my sins on Thee!" They feel ardent love to Jesus and His people, and an earnest desire for the conversion of sinners. If the converted one be a child, the cry is, "Jesus, save my parents! Jesus, save my brothers and sisters!" If a parent, the cry is, "Save my unconverted children!" They feel also a great delight in God's Word, worship, and ordinances. The houses of worship are now filled with anxious and attentive hearers.

The influence of the revival on the young has been very cheering. Many of them have sought Jesus, and have found Him. Sabbath schools have been greatly blessed and owned by the Lord in this season of refreshing. One of the schools in the village has been doubled, and the other large and flourishing one has been much blessed and increased. In these, the lambs of the flock are being fed with the sincere milk of the Word, by a devoted band of teachers whose hearts the Lord has touched.

On the immoral, the revival has produced in many cases a decided change. Sabbath desecration is not so prevalent as formerly. Profane oaths are seldom heard from the mouth of a Protestant; and drunkenness has very nearly ceased. In many cases the "moderate" drinker has joined the Total Abstinence Society. At the last meeting of the Society in the village seventy-nine names were obtained. In many houses the voice of prayer and praise is now heard, where some time ago nothing was to be heard but the sound of oaths and blasphemy. Relations whom Satan had kept separate for many years have been reconciled. How de­lightful to see those whose hearts have been broken by the Spirit of God, embracing each other, and interchanging words of esteem and love, who have not met for many years, except in courts of law in the character of plaintiff and defendant. Many have been brought from darkness to light—many who a few months ago were living forgetful of God, and the interests of their immortal souls, now find it their chief happiness, and esteem it their chief privilege to serve God. And not a few who were running headlong in the ways of ruin, are now sitting at the feet of Jesus,clothed, and in their right minds

The influence of the revival on God's dear saints has been great. In past times there was too much formality in our religious services; the graces of the Christian character were languid and declining, and a wordly spirit was eating into our life like a canker. The plentiful rain of the Spirit, which God has so seasonably sent, has re­freshed, strengthened, and confirmed His people. The graces of many Christians have been revived by a re-baptism of the Holy Ghost—their weak faith has been strengthened --their love increased—and their humility deepened. When the believer sees so many sinners brought up out of the hor­rible pit, and out of the miry clay, and their feet set upon a rock; and hears the new song of praise and thanksgiving which Jesus has put in their mouths, will he not be filled with a larger measure of filial fear, and trust more firmly in the promises and power of God? Many now hunger for the bread of life as they never hungered before. Many thirst for the water of life as they never thirsted before. Devout attendance on the preaching of the gospel is greatly increased, and gospel ordinances are very highly prized; since the awakening commenced, more have joined my congregation as communicants for the first time, than have been admitted for the previous twelve years, and all these declared they were influenced by the love of Jesus to obey the command, "Do this in remembrance of me."

I am fully persuaded that this is the work of the Spirit of God. His hand has been clearly manifested in the great change that has been produced. It pleased God to afflict one of the converts lately, who was visited by a doctor from Dungannon. After making some inquiries respecting her disease, he asked the young woman if she had been stricken, and how she felt then. She said, "felt that I had no need of you, or any medicine you could prescribe. I felt that it was my soul that was diseased; and that I needed the balm of Gilead, and Jesus to take away my sins. But now," she said, " it is a disease of the body under which I am suffering, and I hope you will be able to prescribe something, with God's blessing, that may remove it." In answer to his inquiries, she also said that Jesus had applied the balm of Gilead, and removed her disease, and was now crowning her with loving-kindness and tender mercies. Cases like this shew the power to which this revival move­ment is to be attributed.

The converts, with very few exceptions, are walking worthy of their high and holy vocation. They have been preserved by the grace of God from bringing disgrace on their holy profession. I believe their goodness will not be like the morning cloud or early dew which soon passeth away, but that their path will be as the morning light which shineth more and more to the perfect day. The change, I doubt not, will be permanent, and the good effects of the revival will be seen many days hence.

The young converts, whose hearts have been touched with a live coal from of the altar, are visiting the neigh­bouring villages and towns, telling sinners what God has done for their souls, and urging them to flee to Christ. Their labour of love has been greatly owned and blessed of God.

Cases of conviction accompanied by bodily manifestations still occur, but they are not so numerous as at the com­mencement of the awakening.

In responding to the call to all Christians to unite in prayer for the outpouring of the Spirit on all flesh, a deeply solemn and interesting union prayer-meeting was held in the village, on the 9th January. The devotional exercises were conducted by Rev S. Carse, of Carland, Mr Hurst, of the Primitive Methodists, Rev R. Hamilton, curate of the parish of Donaghmore, and myself. This meeting, number­ing more than eight hundred, and embracing the most of the upper classes who reside within six miles of the village, spews the pleasing fact that the revival has reached all ranks of society in this neighbourhood. Many whose hearts were refreshed by the interesting devotional exercises in which they engaged then, felt "how good and how plea­sant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity."

From ‘Authentic Records of Revival, now in progress in the United Kingdom, published in 1860, re-printed and edited in 1980 by Richard Owen Roberts.


Related Wells