Trinity Presbyterian Church Ahoghill (1859)

BY THE REV. F. BUICK. THE Lord, in His abounding mercy, has been pleased to visit us with a gracious revival. The blessed work began quietly in the neighbouring parish of Connor. From Con­nor the revival passed to Ahoghill. Christmas-day, 1858, will ever be memorable in the history of this refreshing time. On that day Samuel Campbell, who had been turned to the Lord in the parish of Connor, came to visit his mo­ther and family in the neighbourhood of Ahoghill: His object was to tell them, with a full heart, what the Lord had done for his soul ; and to exhort them to seek the Lord. He read the Scriptures and prayed with them, ear­nestly entreating them to accept of Jesus Christ as their Redeemer.

That visit made a powerful impression, and was pregnant with the most blessed results. That very night, the mother, and daughter, and son John, were brought under solemn convictions of sin. Mrs Campbell awoke from broken slumbers with a loud cry for mercy. All her family were aroused; and while their neighbours were locked in sleep, this awakened family were crying mightily to the Lord. Nor did they cry in vain. Mrs Campbell and her daughter found the Lord. John, having accompanied his brother Samuel on his return, after solemn parting words and art earnest prayer, when now alone, on the public road, in the dark clouds of night, felt a deep horror creeping over his whole frame. He trembled from head to foot. In an agony of distress he cried to the Lord Jesus; and gathering a little strength, made to his home. Tears, and cries, and prayers followed.

He spent three weeks in an agony of prayer, in the house and out of it, by day and by night, when at the end of that time he obtained a calm and joyful peace in believing. One day, when at his loom, his thoughts intent on the things of Jesus, his heart was suddenly filled to overflowing. He had to leave his work, and, falling upon his knees, he gave vent to his deep feelings before "the throne of grace." Thereafter the glory of the Lord filled his soul. Love, peace, joy, and a strong desire to glorify the Lord in the conversion of souls, took permanent possession of his heart. Since then, he has laboured much for the glory of the Lord, and the spread of this gracious revival.

On the evening after this memorable Christmas, Anthony Huston, son-in-law to Mrs Campbell, visited her, with his wife. They told him of Samuel's visit, and the scenes that occurred during the previous night. The burning words and tears of this relation made a deep impression on his mind. He poured out his soul in tears for his sins. That night he began to pray in his family, and six weeks after this he obtained "peace in believing."

At the house of this servant of God, on the occasion of a second visit of Samuel Campbell to his relatives, a revival meeting was held, consisting of the two families, at which Mrs Huston obtained peace in Jesus. The work now began to spread, and to obtain notoriety. Strangers were then admitted, and the Spirit of God blessed the meeting.

The next meeting was held in the Second Presbyterian Church of Ahoghill. The minister of that church, having had interviews with some of the parties above mentioned, and convinced that the work was of God, sent a special invitation to Samuel Campbell, and the lay brethren of Connor, to hold a meeting in his church. They came—the meeting was held—and deep impressions were produced by their heart-stirring addresses and earnest prayers.

A holy flame was now kindled. A strong desire for a gracious revival began to gain the ascendancy. The dear brethren from Connor were again invited to the neighbour­hood. Thereafter prayer-meetings began to multiply. The new converts, with other Christians whose hearts the Lord had stirred, engaged in the work of prayer and exhortation with fervent zeal. Thus the work spread. Fresh interest was awakened daily. Even large churches were not suffi­cient to contain the multitudes who came; so that often the highway and the open field, in the cold evenings of spring, were the scenes of deeply interesting and blessed meetings. So eager were they that many travelled miles to be present; and they would have remained all night if the services had been so prolonged. There was an uncommon thirsting for the Word of God.

At these meetings many convictions took place. Even strong men staggered and fell down under the wounds of their consciences. Frequently great bodily weakness ensued. It was, indeed, a heart-rending sight to witness. I have seen the whole frame convulsed—every joint trembling— and have heard the cry, as I never heard it before, "Lord Jesus, have mercy upon my sinful soul! Lord Jesus, come to my burning heart! Lord, pardon my sins! Oh, come and lift me from these flames of hell! "

These convictions varied in different individuals, both in strength and duration. While some obtained peace in believ­ing soon, others did not obtain it for several days, and even weeks.

It would be very difficult to calculate with exactness the number of conversions in this district, or to estimate the amount of good which has been effected by this revival. Not only have hundreds hundreds more have been drawn to Jesus privately

Of the blessed revival, the young have largely partaken. A group of children—the youngest not five years of age, and the eldest about twelve—consisting of four girls and two boys, belonging to parents who had been awakened, were asking many questions relating to Christ, particularly as to how and where they might find Him. In these interesting inquiries they were instructed; and then these dear children were seen retiring from the house and going down to a quiet corner of the adjoining field, and there alone they all knelt down on the green grass, and, under the blue canopy of heaven, prayer was offered aloud by the youngest, and was continued by each till the whole six had engaged in it. We know not what the prayer was; but the scene itself must have been intensely interesting in the eyes of Him who has said, " Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God;" "Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings, the Lord per­fects praise."

On another occasion, a company of four children—behind a hedge, in a gravel pit—were engaged in prayer.

Nothing is more wonderful than the unction, fervour, and beautiful simplicity with which the youthful inquirers and converts prayed. An orphan girl—who had been brought up in a circle most unfriendly to vital piety, and had scarcely ever attended a place of worship, and had got little or no education except what she received in a Sunday school — was smitten down one day under a most piercing sense of sin. The anguish had lasted some time, when, as she was emerging from the thick darkness into God's marvellous light, she, with outstretched hands and uplifted eyes, and in tones of the intensest earnestness, poured out her heart thus:—" 0 Lord, have mercy on me, a poor sinner ! Lord Jesus, come to my heart; come andsoften it, for it is hard! Oh, come and warm it, for it is cold as the snow, or as the ice that lieth on the mountains! 0 Lord, I am here at the foot of Thy cross, where none ever perished! Oh, may I never perish! Thou didst suffer Thyself to have a crown of thorns, that I might wear a crown of glory. Oh, send down the Holy Ghost with the arrow of conviction to every individual in this house! Lord, I am a poor sinner! 0 Lord, Thou art white and beautiful! Thou hast a glorious robe. Dress me with that robe, that I may appear spotless before the presence of Thy glory at Thy coming. If ever Thou didst rend the heavens, oh, rend them now, and save me, a poor sinner, before I am lost! Open the windows of heaven, and receive me up to Thyself before I go down to destruc­tion. Lord, I have travelled so long in the broad road that I am tired of it now, and want to give it up. Though I have no earthly father, I have a glorious Father in the heavens, who will never leave me nor forsake me. How beautiful the Lord is! Oh, come to my heart, and speak peace to my soul!"

Lately I visited a young boy about twelve years of age. He was lying in bed under bodily weakness. On asking him what ailed him, he replied, "My sins, my sins." On inquiring if he needed a Saviour, the tears trickled silently down his cheek, and he answered, "Yes, yes." He ex­pressed his desire to love Christ, to give up all his old sins, and to be a better boy than ever he was before. Shortly after visiting him, on returning homewards—not far from their residence—I heard a cry of distress ; and on hastening forward a few perches, there was an elder sister of this boy sitting on the roadside, wringing her hands in deepest agony, and crying out in most pitiable distress for her sins.

This is a sample of the glorious work which the Lord is doing amongst us. Hundreds of cases of a similar char­acter could easily be given. In some families, from one to eight have obtained this divine influence. It has taken hold of all denominations of professing Christians. Several members of the Roman Catholic communion have received the gracious visit of mercy. It is deeply interesting to note that they love the Bible, cling to Jesus, renounce their for­mer worship, and join a purer church. The revival has now extended for miles round the neighbourhood, and is extending still. At times convictions come in like a flood in a district, and then cease, and break forth with astonish­ing power in another. As to the numbers that may have come under the influence of this gracious revival, it is most difficult to speak with accuracy. It may be safely affirmed that they amount to several hundreds; while the good done is not confined to those who needed conversion; hundreds more have been greatly revived in their graces, and powerfully quickened in duty. There has been a great revival of languishing spiritual affections. The whole tone of society has been solemnised and elevated. In these favoured districts where the shower of spiritual rain has fallen most copiously, the improvement in the morals and tastes of the community is most marked and refreshing. The common sports of the young are given up. There is no such thing as cabals for revelry and mischief. The "punch-dances" have given way to the prayer-meetings. From the spot where a man was labouring in the field, singing of psalms was heard from three different directions. The young are engaged in singing and making sweet melody to the Lord. The engrossing topics of conversation are the things of God. Never was there such an inquiry after truth. The Bible is now the man of their counsel. The thirst for spiritual things is great; and nothing else will satisfy but Christ, held forth in His glory. Men that could not be moved by human power to duty in their family, or in the house of God, are now powerfully moved by the Holy Ghost. Their lips are now opened, and their hearts. In their houses is now heard the melody of joy and praise. The objects of life are entirely changed. The things of God are now gloriously in the ascendant, and the world is in its subordinate position. The spirit of prayer most marvellously prevails. It is as often heard in the middle of the day as in the morning and evening. Sometimes, all the family pray one after the other. On the father of a family coming home lately from a prayer-meeting, in which he took a leading part, as he drew near his dwelling he heard the voice of prayer. He halted to listen. It was prayer successively offered up by his son and daughter, and by two young men staying at his house. Hundreds are praying earnestly for the Holy Ghost. Never was there such a time in this locality. The interest awakened is still as lively as ever. Prayer-meetings are now spread wider over the country. The testimony of one who has ample opportunities of judging is this :—That, in returning from the large prayer-meetings in Ahoghill, the deepest solemnity pervades the vast multitudes. There is no levity, no im­propriety, no drinking: but a pervading seriousness and awe rest even upon those who confess that they have not received the Divine call. On former occasions such multi­tudes could not be assembled in Ahoghill for any purpose whatever, without lamentable scenes following. There is little or no mocking now among those who have opportu­nities of witnessing the deep-toned sincerity, the marvellous change, and the holy fruits, in those who were well known before as loose, careless, and ungodly. The work is proving itself to be from God. It is filling our churches, gladdening our heart; brightening the flame of our zeal, giving a solemn intensity to our prayers, strengthening our faith, multiplying our helpers, and lifting us up above the world.

It is the earnest, pointed address which the Spirit em­ploys in wounding the conscience. How essential that ministers of the gospel should be faithful in directing the keenest and most polished shafts of truth direct home to the conscience of the sinner! Felt earnestness, and all-per­vading solemnity in this, are absolutely necessary. Nor must it be forgotten that all human effort, however well directed, will fail without the application of the Spirit's power. It is in prayer, with the accompaniment of the Holy Ghost, that the Word will be mighty to the convic­tion and conversion of sinners.

"0 Lord, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy." "Wilt thou not revive us again, that thy people may rejoice in thee?" "Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, I will do it." "0 Lord, remember the word on which thou hast caused us to hope."

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.

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