Lisburn (1859)

The marvellous incidents which have taken place in other parts of the country, in connexion with the religious awakening in the Christian church, have hardly had an existence in Lisburn. If, however, few of the more wonderful cases can be recorded, there is abundant proof that much good has been done—that proof being the change which has come over the people. Men and women who had never before been regular, and some hardly occasional, attenders at a house of worship, are now to be seen among the most decent of the members of the different congregations. This does not alone form the practice of the Sabbath-day, but on week evenings there may be seen hundreds of the working ranks, who, after the hours of labour are over, assemble in groups, and join in the prayer-meetings held at the several places of worship, as well as in many private houses. At the cathedral, on Sabbath last, the Rev. B. Stannus addressed a very large congregation. It had been a common observation, the rev. gentleman stated, among those who were either opposed to or stood aloof from the present religious movement, that none of the upper classes had yet been influenced by it. He was aware that, to a great extent, the statement was correct, and, so far as he could see, it appeared that the reason was simply because those classes had rarely exhibited the disposition to take part in the Revival. They had not asked for the bless­ing of conviction of sin, and hence so few of them were found taking interest in the great reformation.

From ‘The Revival Newspaper,’ Volume i, p42, Sept 3rd. 1859.

"A correspondent states:- 'The wonderful spread of renewed vitality in sacred things has, at length, reached Lisburn; and, though no great manifestations have yet been exhibited, there are ample evidences that the good work has commenced. On Sabbath last the Presbyterian Church was crowded to excess and the new church (Episcopalian) was so thronged that numbers had to go away for want of room. The Cathedral was also very largely attended, and the congregations at the different sections of the Wesleyans were much above their ordinary numbers. "At about three o'clock in the afternoon a public meeting was held in a large field immediately adjoining the spinning mill of Messrs. R. Stewart & Sons. At this meeting an immense crowd attended. After an introductory address by Mr. R. Stewart one of those individuals who had lately been aroused into active life in ministerial affairs stood up and delivered a very remarkable discourse to the assembled multitude. His sermon was plain and practical without anything exciting in its language, but there was an earnestness of feeling, in the form of delivery, which spoke effectively to all within sound of the preacher's voice. Four people were suddenly arrested in the unusual manner, calling aloud for the grace of the Spirit and the mercy of God. Many others gave evidence of the great work which has begun It the town of Lisburn. The evening services in all the Protestant places of worship were attended by increased numbers, all seemingly anxious to hear the Word of truth, and over the face of each congregation was a degree seriousness such as has hardly ever before been seen in this place. in the meantime all the ministers are up and doing. The Dean of Ross and curates have taken up the subject in right earnestness. The Rev. Mr. Breakey, who has carefully guarded against all attempts to create any undue excitement, will hold a meeting in his church on Friday next, on which occasion two of the young men from the neighbourhood of Ballymena are expected to address the people on the present remarkable stirring up of Christian worship in all the churches. The Methodist congregations have also purposed to have special services during the week." "The Banner of Truth" 21st June 1859

Now the work spread southward. At Lisburn it appears to have commenced in the Primitive Wesleyan chapel. Mr. George Hamilton preached in the street, night after night, and then invited his hearers into the house, until it was unable to accommodate the crowds, sometimes amounting to two thousand persons, who desired to be present. Cries for mercy were heard in all parts of the building, and there were numerous cases of physical prostration. Amongst those converted were persons of every religious denomination in the town, including Roman Catholics, who at once repudiated the errors of their Church.

From 'History of Methodism in Ireland', Volume III, by Crooksank, p515.

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