Church of St Mary's - John Berridge (1759)



About this time the work of God exceedingly increased under the Rev. Mr. Berridge, near Everton. I cannot give a clearer view of this, than by transcribing part of the Journal of an eye witness: — “Sunday, May 20. Being with Mr. B——ll at Everton, I was much fatigued and did not rise. But Mr. B. did, and observed several fainting and crying out while Mr. B——e was preaching. Afterward, at church, I heard many cry out, especially children, whose agonies were amazing: One of the eldest, a girl ten or twelve years old, was full in my view, in violent contortions of body, and weeping aloud, I think incessantly during the whole Service. And several much younger children were in Mr. B——ll’s view, agonizing as this did. The church was equally crowded in the afternoon, the windows being filled within and without, and even the outside of the pulpit to the very top; so that Mr. B——e seemed almost stifled by their breath. Yet feeble and sickly as he is, he was continually strengthened, and his voice for the most part distinguishable, in the midst of all the outcries. I believe there were present three times more men than women, a great part of whom came from far; thirty of them having set out at two in the morning, from a place thirteen miles off. The text was, ‘Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof.’ When the power of religion began to be spoke of, the presence of God really filled the place. And while poor sinners felt the sentence of death in their souls, what sounds of distress did I hear! The greatest number of them who cried or fell, were men; but some women, and several children, felt the power of the same almighty Spirit, and seemed just sinking into hell. This occasioned a mixture of various sounds; some shrieking, some roaring aloud. The most general was a loud breathing, like that of people half strangled and gasping for life. And indeed almost all the cries were like those of human creatures dying in bitter anguish. Great numbers wept without any noise; others fell down as dead; some sinking in silence some with extreme noise and violent agitation. I stood on the pew seat, as did a young man in the opposite pew, an able bodied, fresh, healthy countryman. But in a moment, while he seemed to think of nothing less, down he dropped, with a violence inconceivable. The adjoining pews seemed shook with his fall. I heard afterward the stamping of his feet, ready to break the boards, as he lay in strong convulsions, at the bottom of the pew. Among several that were struck down in the next pew, was a girl who was as violently seized as him. When he fell, B——ll and I felt our souls thrilled with a momentary dread; as when one man is killed by a cannon ball, another often feels the wind of it. “Among the children who felt the arrows of the Almighty, I saw a sturdy boy, about eight years old, who roared above his fellows, and seemed in his agony to struggle with the strength of a grown man. His face was red as scarlet; and almost all on whom God laid his hand, turned either very red, or almost black. When I returned, after a little walk, to Mr. B——e’s house, I found it full of people. He was fatigued, but said he would nevertheless give them a word of exhortation. I stayed in the next room, and saw the girl whom I had observed so particularly distressed in the church, lying on the floor as one dead; but without any ghastliness in her face. In a few minutes we were informed of a woman filled with peace and joy, who was crying out just before. She had come thirteen miles, and is the same person who dreamed Mr. B—— would come to her village on that very day whereon he did come, though without either knowing the place or the way to it. She was convinced at that time. Just as we heard of her deliverance, the girl on the floor began to stir. She was then set in a chair; and, after sighing awhile, suddenly rose up, rejoicing in God. Her face was covered with the most beautiful smile I ever saw. She frequently fell on her knees, but was generally running to and fro, speaking these and the like words, ‘O what can Jesus do for lost sinners! He has forgiven all my sins! I am in heaven! I am in heaven! O how he loves me! And how I love him!’ Meantime I saw a thin, pale girl, weeping with sorrow for herself, and joy for her companion. Quickly the smiles of Heaven came likewise on her, and her praises joined with those of the other. I also then laughed with extreme joy; so did Mr. B——ll; (who said it was more than he could well bear;) so did all who knew the Lord, and some of those who were waiting for salvation; till the cries of them who were struck with the arrows of conviction, were almost lost in the sounds of joy. “Two or three well dressed young women, who seemed careless before, now felt the power of God, and cried out with a loud and bitter cry. Mr. B—— about this time retired, and the Duke or M——, with Mr. A——ll, came in. They seemed inclined to make a disturbance, but were restrained, and in a short time quietly retired. We continued praising God with all our might; and his work went on as when Mr. B—— was exhorting. I had for some time observed a young woman all in tears; but now her countenance changed. The unspeakable joy appeared in her face, which quick as lightning was filled with smiles, and became of a crimson color. About the same time John Keeling, of Potton, fell into an agony: But he grew calm in about a quarter of an hour, though without a clear sense of pardon. “Immediately after, a stranger, well dressed, who stood facing me, fell backward to the wall; then forward on his knees, wringing his hands, and roaring like a bull. His face at first turned quite red, then almost black. He rose, and ran against the wall, till Mr. Keeling and another holden him. He screamed out, ‘O what shall I do, what shall I do? O for one drop of the blood of Christ!’ As he spoke, God set his soul at liberty. He knew his sins were blotted out; and the rapture he was in seemed too great for human nature to bear. He had come forty miles to hear Mr. B——, and was to leave him the next morning; which he did with a glad heart, telling all who came in his way, what God had done for his soul. “I observed about the time that Mr. Coe (that was his name) began to rejoice, a girl, eleven or twelve years old, exceeding poorly dressed, who appeared to be as deeply wounded, and as desirous of salvation, as any. But I lost sight of her, till I heard the joyful sound of another born in Sion; and found, upon inquiry; it was her, the poor, disconsolate, gypsy looking child. And now did I see such a sight, as I do not expect again on this side eternity. The faces of the three justified children, and I think of all the believers present, did really shine: And such a beauty, such a look of extreme happiness, and at the same time of divine love and simplicity, did I never see in human faces till now. The newly justified eagerly embraced one another, weeping on each other’s necks for joy. Then they saluted all of their own sex, and besought both men and women to help them in praising God. “I have mentioned only one man, two women, and three children at this time justified in the house, but have perhaps omitted some. And it is probable, there was more than one justified at the church, though but one came to speak of it; for all are not equally free to glorify God in the midst of his people. I wish all who find the same salvation with Mr. Coe, were as ready to proclaim redeeming love! “Thursday, 24. Mr. B——ll and I went to hear Mr. Hicks, at Wrestlingworth, four miles from Everton. We discoursed with him first, and were glad to hear he had wholly given himself up to the glorious work of God, and that the power of the Highest fell upon his hearers as upon Mr. B——e’s. While he was preaching, fifteen or sixteen persons felt the arrows of the Lord, and dropped down. A few of these cried out with the utmost violence, and little intermission, for some hours: While the rest made no great noise, but continued struggling, as in the pangs of death. I observed, besides these, one little girl, deeply convinced, and a boy, nine or ten years old. Both these, and several others, when carried into the parsonage house, either lay as dead, or struggled with all their might. But in a short time their cries increased beyond measure, so that the loudest singing could scarce be heard. Some at last called on me to pray, which I did; and for a time all were calm. But the storm soon began again. Mr. H— —s then prayed, and afterward Mr. B——. But still, though some received consolation, others remained in deep sorrow of heart. “Upon the whole I remark, that few ancient people experience ally thing of this work of God; and scarce any of the rich. These generally show either an utter contempt of, or enmity to, it. Indeed so did Mr. H——s himself some time since: Having so deep an aversion to it, that he denied the sacrament to those of his parish who went to hear Mr. B——e. Neither of these gentlemen have much eloquence, but seem rather weak in speech: The Lord hereby more clearly showing, that this is his own work

It extends into Cambridgeshire, to within a mile of the University; and about as farinto Huntingdonshire; but flourishes most of all in the eastern and northern parts of Bedfordshire. “There were three farmers, in three several villages, who violent; set themselves to oppose it: And for a time they kept many from going to hear. But all three died in about a month. One of them owned the hand of the Lord was upon him, and besought Him, in the bitterness of his soul, to prolong his life, vowing to hear Mr. B. himself. But the Lord would not be entreated. “The violent struggling of many in the above mentioned churches has broke several pews and benches. Yet it is common for people to remain unaffected there, and afterward drop down in their way home. Some have been found lying as dead in the road; others, in Mr. B——e’s garden; not being able to walk from the church to his house, though it is not two hundred yards. “I have since received a letter from Mr. B., an extract of which I send you: — “‘On Sunday night a man of Wybersley, a Nathanael indeed, was so filled with the love of God during Morning Prayer, that he dropped down, and lay as one dead for two hours. He had been so filled with love all the week before, that he was often for a time unable to work. “‘On Sunday night last as I was speaking in my hous, there was a violent outcry. One soul was set at liberty. We sung near an hour, and the Lord released three more out of captivity. “‘On Monday night Mr. H——ks accompanied me to Meldred. On the way we called at a farmer’s house. After dinner I went into his yard, and seeing near an hundred and fifty people, I called for a table, and preached, for the first time, in the open air. Two persons were seized with strong convictions, fell down, and cried out most bitterly. We then went to Meldred, where I preached in a field, to about four thousand people. In the morning, at five, Mr. H——ks preached in the same field, to about a thousand. And now the presence of the Lord was wonderfully among us.

There was abundance of weeping and strong crying: And, I trust, beside many that were slightly wounded, near thirty received true heart felt conviction. At ten we returned, and called again at the farmer’s house. Seeing about a dozen people in the brewhouse, I spoke a few words. Immediately the farmer’s daughter dropped down in strong convictions.

Another also was miserably torn by Satan; but set at liberty before I had done prayer. At four I preached in my own house, and God gave the Spirit of adoption to another mourner. “‘On Monday last I went to Shelford, four miles from Cambridge, near twenty from Everton. The journey made me quite ill; being so weary with riding, that I was obliged to walk part of the way. When I came thither, a table was set for me on the Common; and, to my great surprise, I found near ten thousand people round it, among whom were many gownsmen from Cambridge. I was hardly able to stand on my feet, and extremely hoarse with a cold. When I lifted up my foot, to get on the table, an horrible dread overwhelmed me: But the moment I was fixed thereon, I seemed as unconcerned as a statue. I gave out my text, (Galatians 3:10, 11,) and made a pause, to think of something pretty to set off with; but the Lord so confounded me, (as indeed it was meet, for I was seeking not his glory, but my own,) that I was in a perfect labyrinth; and found, if I did not begin immediately, I must go down without speaking. So I broke out with the first word that occurred, not knowing whether I should be able to add any more. Then the Lord opened my mouth, enabling me to speak near an hour, without anykind of perplexity; and so loud, that every one might hear. The audience behaved with great decency. When sermon was over, I found myself so cool and easy, so cheerful in spirit, and wonderfully strengthened in body, I went into an house, and spoke again near an hour, to about two hundred people. In the morning I preached again to about a thousand. Mr. H——s engaged to preach in Orwell Field on Tuesday evening. I gave notice that I designed to preach on Monday night at Grandchester, a mile from Cambridge. “‘Mr. H——s and I have agreed to go into Hertfordshire; afterwards to separate, and go round the neighborhood, preaching in the fields, wherever a door is opened, three or four days in every week.’ Believe me “Your affectionate servant “J. B.”

From Wesley's Journal May 1759.

One can read John Berridge's biography on-line at http://www.archive.org/details/worksjohnberrid00berrgoog

"Sunday, June 22nd, 1759.— At Everton, the church was quite full, and hundreds were without. And now the arrows of God flew abroad. The inexpressible groans, the lamenting, praying, roaring, were so loud, almost without intermission, that we who stood without could scarce help thinking all in the church were cut to the heart. But, upon enquiry, we found, about two hundred persons, chiefly men, cried aloud for mercy; but many more were affected, perhaps as deeply, though in a calmer way.

Mr. B. preached in his close this afternoon, though in great bodily weakness: but when he is weakest, God so strengthens him that it is surprising to what a distance his voice reaches. I have heard Mr. Whitfield speak as loud, but not with such a continued, strong, unbroken tenor.

"Sunday, Aug. 5th, 1759. — During the prayers, as also during the sermon, and the administration of the sacrament, a few persons cried aloud; but it was not from sorrow or fear, but love and joy. On Monday, the 6th, I talked largely with Ann Thorn and two others, who had been several times in trances. What they all agreed in was, 1 — That when they went away, as they termed it, it was always at the time they were fullest of the love of God. 2. — That it came upon them in a moment, without any previous notice, and took away all their senses and strength. 3. — That they were as in another world, knowing nothing of what was done or said, by all that were round about them.

"About five in the afternoon, I heard them singing hymns. Soon after, Mr. B. came up, and told me, Alice Miller (fifteen years old,) was fallen into a trance. I went down immediately, and found her sitting on a stool, and leaning against the wall, with her eyes open, and fixed upward. I made a motion, as if going to strike; but they continued immoveable. Her face showed an unspeakable mixture of reverence and love, while silent tears stole down her cheeks. Her lips were a little open, and sometimes moved; but not enough to cause any sound. I do not know that I ever saw a human face look so beautiful. Sometimes it was covered with a smile, as from joy, mixing with love and reverence; but the tears fell still, though not so fast. Her pulse was quite regular. In about half an hour,

I observed her countenance change into the form of fear, pity, and distress; then she burst into a flood of tears, and cried out, “Dear Lord, they will be damned! they will be damned!" but in about five minutes her smiles returned, and only love and joy appeared in her face. About half an hour after six, I observed distress take place again; and soon after she wept bitterly, and cried out, "Dear Lord, they will go to hell! the world will go to hell!" Soon after, she said, “Cry aloud! spare not!" And in a few moments her look was composed, again, and spoke a mixture of reverence, joy, and love. Then she said aloud, "Give God the glory!" About seven her senses returned, I asked, "Where have you been?” — "I have been with my Saviour." "In heaven, or on earth?" — "I cannot tell; but I was in glory." Why then did you cry?" — "Not for myself, but for the world; for I saw they were on the brink of hell." "Whom did you desire to give the glory to God?" — "Ministers that cry aloud to the world; else they will be proud; and then God will leave them, and they will lose their own souls."

From 'The works of ... John Berridge, with an enlarged memoir of his life [ed.] by R. Whittingham' p57-58.

COMPARISON OF REVIVAL IN EVERTON WITH THAT IN WEARDALE BY JOHN WESLEY.

(it should be noted that Berridge and Wesley did not agree over Arminianism vs Calvinism, so there may have beena little bias here as he seems quite harsh about the revival in Everton).

It was observed above, that this work greatly resembled that at Everton. It did in many respects, but not in all: To instance in some particulars: — It resembled that work 1. In its unexpected beginning. No such work had ever been seen before either at Everton or in Weardale, when it broke out in so astonishing a manner, equally unlooked for by the instruments and by the subjects of it. The latter resembled the former work,2. In the swiftness of its progress, I mean in the persons affected; many of whom were in one day, or even two or three hours, both convinced of sin, (without any previous awakening,) and converted to God. 3. In the number of persons both convinced and converted; which was greater in a few months, than it had been in Weardale from the first preaching there, or in Everton for a century. The work in Weardale resembled that at Everton, 4. In the outward symptoms which have attended it. In both, the sudden and violent emotions of mind, whether of fear or sorrow, of desire or joy, affected the whole bodily frame; insomuch that many trembled exceedingly, many fell to the ground, many were violently convulsed, perhaps all over, and many seemed to be in the agonies of death. And the far greater part, however otherswise affected, cried with a loud and bitter cry. To name but one circumstance more, there was a great resemblance, 5. In most of the instruments whom God employed. These were plain, artless men, simple of heart, but without any remarkable gifts; men who (almost literally) knew “nothing save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.”

In these respects, the work of God in Weardale nearly resembled that at Everton; but in other respects they were widely different: For, 1. That was the first work of God, of the kind, which had ever been in those parts in the memory of man. This was only the revival of a work, which had continued for many years. Now these circumstances are common at the dawn of a work, but afterwards very uncommon. I do not remember to have seen the like anywhere in the three kingdoms, unless at the beginning of a wor. 2. Although the former work was swift, the latter was far swifter. In general, persons were both awakened and justified in a far shorter time. 3. A far greater number were converted to God in Weardale, than about Everton; although the number of hearers, round about Everton, was abundantly greater than in Weardale. 4. Although the outward symptoms were the same, yet in Weardale there were none of the dreams, visions, and revelations, which abounded at Everton; and which, though at first they undoubtedly were from God, yet were afterwards fatally counterfeited by the devil, to the great discredit of the work of God. 5. There was a great difference in the instruments, whom God employed in one and in the other work. Not one of those in or near Everton had my experience in the guiding of souls. None of them were more than “babes in Christ,” if any of them so much. Whereas in Weardale, not only the three Preachers were, I believe, renewed in love, but most of the Leaders were deeply experienced in the work of God, accustomed to train up souls in his way, and not ignorant of Satan’s devices. And hence we may easily account for the grand difference between the former and the latter work; namely, that the one was so shallow, there scarce being any subjects rising above an infant state of grace; the other so deep, many, both men, women, and children, being what St. John terms “young men” in Christ. Yea, many children here have had far deeper experience, and more constant fellowship with God, than the oldest man or woman at Everton which I have seen or heard of. So that, upon the whole, we may affirm, such a work of God as this has not been seen before in the three kingdoms.

From John Wesley's Journal - June 1772.


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