BY THE REV. JOHN HAMILTON.IT is well that I should state at the outset, that the Presbytery of Omagh entertained the subject of revivals for a lengthened period, for which purpose several special meetings were held, and a number of important resolutions drawn up and printed for public distribution among the different congregations, to which deputations from time to time were also sent to address the people. On hearing also of the great American revival in 1857, we sent ministers “by two and two "to each congregation in the autumn of 1858, to address them on the subject of that widely-extended religious movement.
The congregation of Cross Roads has been under tolerable organisation for some time past, not only in the establishment of stated prayer-meetings, especially on Sabbath mornings by the elders and members, but also a Monthly Christian Association, regularly conducted by a number of steady, persevering young men of good promise, together with the management of a respectable Sunday school, of from eighty to one hundred scholars. Under those circumstances, a visible prosperity, as well as spiritual life, appeared for at least two years past to be manifesting itself in an increased attendance upon ordinances, and the renewed interest taken in everything pertaining to the cause of Christ. But it was not till the middle of July that a deep, pervading movement seemed to be spreading among us. On Sabbath evening, 24th July, I was called to attend an open-air meeting, in the bounds of the congregation. The attendance was large, and the weather mild and agreeable. After singing and prayer, two young men, recent converts from previous revival meetings in Omagh, desired to be introduced, in order to state the particulars of their individual histories previous to their change. They said that they had been formerly careless and profane, till they were prevailed upon to attend revival meetings, but that sovereign grace had wrought a mighty change upon them. After they had concluded, we commenced divine service; and when engaged but a short time in prayer, a female was instantly stricken down, with a loud cry for mercy, and was immediately carried off sonic, distance to be the subject of prayer. But before we had concluded a very short address, from Hob. x. 22, awful and tremendous outcries were heard issuing from a large barn adjoining, raised by about thirty persons in the deepest distress of soul, calling aloud to God for mercy through the Saviour.On the following evening, Monday the 25th, we had a large attendance in our meeting-house of five or six hundred persons, when, after an able and impressive discourse, listened to with breathless attention, and accompanied afterwards with powerful exhortatory and devotional appeals to the conscience and the heart, a scene of physical prostration ensued, through the length and breadth of the church, which in vain we would attempt to portray. There were thirty or forty persons stricken down, and their rending cries for mercy were such as baffle all attempts at description.
Who will pretend to say that it was not the doing of the Lord, although wondrous in our eyes? For an hour and a half or more, at this solemn crisis, there was a complete interruption of all religious service, though both singing and prayer were attempted, every heart being thrilled and affected by the plaintive wail of the wounded spirits. The meeting was continued until break of day. A young man, who had witnessed the above, on leaving the meeting-house, began to ridicule the matter, and was stricken down on the road, about a quarter of a mile off, and had to be carried home to his master's house, where he lay prostrated for the space of three days. Nor was it unusual, at this time, for individuals to be stricken down at home, who had been at none of the meetings, at least for several days previous. During the subsequent months our Sabbath and weekly prayer-meetings were remarkably well attended. We have had the house on Sabbath evenings, even in November, frequently filled like to a sacramental occasion.
After the first remarkable manifestations, on the 24th and 25th of July, we have had, in tolerably fair succession, similar good results, though not accompanied by the same outward features. But the fruits of this extraordinary movement became practically manifest at our last November sacrament, when we had between sixty and seventy communicants more than what we have had on any similar occasion for the last ten years. To whom shall we give the praise, but to that mighty Power which alone shaketh the heavens and the earth, working wonders and judgments therein? "Not unto us, 0 Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth's sake."
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.