“Thursday, 9th September 1841. At Pensnett, Divine presence overshadowed us. Many were moved, and several saved.”
"Wednesday, 15th September. I preached at Woodside, from Heb. x. 12, 13. The Word was with power. I invited seekers to the communion rail. A poor blind boy groped his way there first; then his sister, weeping, followed; then their mother came and knelt between them. The two children obtained pardon, and the mother went home rejoicing with a clean heart. Others were similarly blessed. As we were separating, seeing a poor woman with very woebegone countenance, I stopped in the aisle to speak with her; she broke down, and her husband by her side literally groaned with agony. They were back-sliders. That night they both set forth afresh."
In a letter dated September 28th, Mr Collins says: "Matters improve here. Souls are brought to Christ every day. There are omens of a great work. Last Wednesday I preached at Darby Hand, from i John v. 9, 12. The first, in the prayer-meeting, that came to the communion rail was a rough navvy, a champion bruiser, whom none of the boxers of the neighbourhood dared to face. My Superintendent, Samuel Dunn, saw him standing one night by a bridge and invited him to chapel. Years had passed since he had seen the inside of a sanctuary: feeling honoured that ' the parson ' had asked him, he came, and continued to come. That night with others, eight in all God set him free.
"Yesterday was our Quarterly Meeting. We began our business at two. In the evening I preached from i Thess. v. 23, 24: ' The very God of peace sanctify you wholly.' After that, Mr Dunn gave an exhortation. As he did so, a woman cried aloud for mercy. 'Let us pray,' said Brother Hickman. So he began, while Dunn, and I, and Father Gill sallied forth among the people. Sinners yielded on every hand. It was really fine. We could not break up until nearly eleven. About fifteen found mercy."
"Wednesday, September 29th. At two o'clock this morning, I was roused from sleep by dreadful cries. I dressed hastily, went into the street, and found men stripped and fighting. The landlord of a miserable beer-house, having taken the last halfpenny, had then refused more drink; hence the quarrel with his drunken customers. I threw myself between them; and, with words of godly exhortation, soon broke up the riotous assembly. No harm befell me, beyond what soap and water would amend; my hands got reddened, but it was with blood from their wounds, not mine. In the evening I preached at Dudley Wood. We retired into the vestry for prayer. Seven mourners were made to rejoice in Christ.
Mr Collins writes: "The mental type of the inhabitants, and all their surroundings, are new to me. Special grace and special application alone can enable me to warn, feed, and guide this people aright." So gloriously did the Lord pour out His Spirit that, for a season, even every week-night service has its record of conversions. Sunday, October l0th, 1841, will ever be dear to me. It was my earliest opportunity of enjoying the teaching of this beloved kinsman. His morning text in Tipton Chapel was Jer. xiii. 27, "Wilt thou not be made clean? When shall it once be?" Unction richer than was wont, even to him, came down. Such power I had never felt under any ministry, nor, after the lapse of these years, have I ever yet again experienced anything approaching to it. The Journal of the date beautifully says: "There was such a shaking and such a cry, that I could not finish my sermon; it seemed as though every child of God would get his Father's image there and then." These simple words I will somewhat supplement." At the urging of the query: " 'When shall it once be?' The loving Father says, ' Now;' what do you say"? "Now" breathed audibly from pew to pew. "The Son who gave His cleansing blood says, ' Now;' what do you say?" At this reiteration of appeal, "Now," louder and more earnest, circled me in answer. "The waiting Sanctifier, the Spirit of Holiness, says, 'Now;' what do you say? when?" Twice the response, though it moved my inmost heart, had passed, leaving me, trained in the school of order, silent; but with that third questioning came a gush of influence irresistible. I could keep my lips no longer, but, like the rest, cried, " Now!" What is more, and better far, my soul, that blessed moment, as certainly said, "Now," as did my tongue. It was no flash of enthusiasm; it was a work of the Holy Ghost. Its force is still unexpended. That "Now" stirs me yet. Nor ever since that memorable time has my faith dared to procrastinate, or say anything but "Now" to all sanctifying offers of the promise-keeping God.' As the Diary, in such simple words, indicates, the sermon was "swallowed up in victory." Seekers left their pews, and trooping, uncalled, up the aisles, knelt around the communion rail. Thus, unexpectedly, that morning service developed into a prayer-meeting one of the most pleading and triumphant I ever knew. The whole day was in keeping with its auspicious beginning. In the afternoon a love-feast yet precious in many a memory was held. Under the evening sermon, feeling so over-tasked flesh that some fainted. Special miracles of grace were wrought. At that date the outlying "Black Country" population was rude and ignorant exceedingly. Doves, bulldogs, and fighting men, about equally attracted attention from the idlers of those parts. Drawn by curiosity to hear "the parson" that turned out of his warm bed to quell a quarrel, a noted pigeon-fancier, the crack trainer of the neighbourhood, was at the chapel. He had been accustomed to waste each holy Sabbath in whistling after his birds, and watching their flight. He did so no more; for that night brought him to the birth-hour of a new life. Nor was he alone; names of seventeen were added to the list of converts. The Journal says: "October 15th. I walk in the light. My Father gives me to see both my work and my way. There is much to be done: but then I am strong to labour; have hold on the heart of the people, and feel that my key fits their lock. The work progresses. We have conversions continually. On Tuesday night we had six at Dudley Port; on Wednesday, seven at Woodside. One of them, a labourer from the fields, with black face, and frock tied over his shoulders, came weeping to the rail, nor would he go till Jesus blessed him. The baptism of fire descends on many. My brethren, and several of the Local Preachers also, hold similar meetings with good success. The revival will, I trust, be wider and longer than many here expect. All within me cries, ' Onward, with the Ark! "
A letter dated October 26th says: "I am in the thick of harvest. So grand a work of God as I am now in the midst of I never saw. My heart leaps at a review of every week's meetings. No sermons now without seals. On Sunday last, two women walked miles to be present, and, when they approached the table to partake of the Holy Communion, were so filled with contrition that their sobs and cries rang through the place. There, to them, as to disciples of old, Jesus made Himself known in ' the breaking of bread.' Last night I preached in Dudley, upon holiness. Such a congregation nobody ever saw there before at an ordinary week-night service. As the people seemed wonderfully to drink in the Word, I requested them to gather for prayer into the large school-room beneath. All seemed subdued. Such a cry for mercy I have seldom heard. Numbers found Christ. How many, I cannot tell; but among them was one poor prostitute from the streets. Glory to God for that! That melts my heart! Altogether, the scene last night was one of the most astonishing displays of saving grace that I ever witnessed."
From ‘The Life of the Rev Thomas Collins, by Samuel Coley, p167-171.