WILLIAM BRAMWELL (1759-1818)
William Bramwell was born in Elswick, Lancashire, in February 1759. He was the tenth of eleven children. His parents George and Elizabeth were regular church goers, attending Cop Chapel in Elswick, which was one mile from their farm; however, their Christianity was mainly to do with works rather than faith. They were very insistent that their children should attend church, but George was a very reserved man, giving little love to his children. Bramwell received what education was available in those days, but this did not amount to much.
He helped his father on the farm until he was sixteen, then he went to Liverpool to work for his older brother, who was a respectable merchant, but he never took to the work. Bramwell must have picked something up from his church or his parents, because he was very conscientious about living a godly life, so he was worried about the lifestyle he would have to take on in a lively sea port. He believed that if he had stayed longer he would not have been able to resist the temptations that would have been put in front of him, so he welcomed a call home from his parents. His parents decided that he should become an apprentice to a currier (leather worker) in Preston.
His master placed great confidence in his apprentice as he recognised Bramwell as a young man of unimpeachable honesty and integrity. He did not understand his apprentice’s religious passion, and referring to it said, ‘William Bramwell is mad in these things, yet, as a servant, he is inestimable.’ Bramwell focused his mind to become even more ‘mad’, studying at every opportunity. He attended the local church regularly, fighting sin in his own life and in the life of others. He pressed into God the best way he knew how, and that included praying on his bare knees on rough sand for hours and going into a wood on his day off, confessing his sins out loud. He lived such an austere life that his health began to suffer and he suffered from depression. However, following much prayer and penitence, he finally had a breakthrough while receiving the Sacrament in his church. He received a clear sense of forgiveness and his ‘spirit rejoiced in God his Saviour. ’Darkness and gloom, guilt and condemnation, were at once removed in a manner that was incomprehensible to him and utterly beyond all that he had ever been taught to expect. However, by associating with the wrong sort of people, his enthusiasm waned somewhat.
A Methodist tried to get Bramwell to attend some meetings, but he always declined as his father had always said that the Methodists were despicable people. A fellow worker, who believed Bramwell to be the most strictly moral person he had ever met, was accosted by a woman who had been challenged by Bramwell about her swearing and blaspheming. She was incensed, calling Bramwell a ‘Methodist devil.’ On being told of this outburst, Bramwell decided to go to a Methodist meeting. He remarked that the Bible said ‘They that will live godly in Christ Jesus must suffer persecution,’ and as the Methodists were so persecuted, they must be godly. On attending a meeting, Bramwell knew that these were people he had to fellowship with.
At the end of his apprenticeship Bramwell’s parents moved to Preston to be closer to their son, but they were devastated that he had joined the Methodists; going so far as to threaten to withdraw their financial support. About this time John Wesley visited Preston and Bramwell was introduced to him. That very night he found the full comfort of the Holy Spirit and was again enabled to rejoice in the glorious liberty of the sons of God. He soon received a clear manifestation of the love of God and was more fully established in the way of the Lord. It was from this point that he had an intense desire to see sinners saved, something that lasted for the rest of his life.
Shortly afterwards he was appointed a local preacher, travelling around the local countryside, meeting with some violent opposition and persecution. Bramwell struggled to know what God’s will was for him. He spent hours in battling prayer, including a thirty six hour session inside a sand hole. He travelled up to fifty miles on a Sunday, preaching three or four times on each trip. Under his sermons a great many people gave their lives to Jesus, including Ann Cutler, who became known as the ‘Praying Nanny.’
Having experienced the pardoning mercy of God, he soon became aware that he needed to be cleansed from all sin; so he set his face towards God, asking for ‘sanctification.’ The Lord finally revealed to him that sanctification came through faith and not works. While at a friend’s house in Liverpool he was meditating on different things of God when heaven came down to earth. He told a friend, ‘The Lord for whom I had waited, came suddenly to the temple of my heart; and I had an immediate evidence that this was the blessing I had for some time been seeking. My soul was then all wonder, love and praise. It is now about 26 years ago; I have walked in this liberty ever since. Glory be to God!’ That night he walked fifteen miles to preach and with every step Satan tried to persuade him that he would lose his sanctification if he spoke about it. However, he resisted and testified at the meeting; repeating his testimony over and over again in later years.
Three or four years later the Methodists increased their circuits in Liverpool and Bramwell was appointed as an itinerant minister. However, shortly afterwards his friends asked John Wesley to send him back to Preston, as the work of God in that town was increasing. Not many months after returning to Preston, Dr Coke wrote several letters to Bramwell, asking him to come to Kent as an itinerant preacher. This was a problem for Bramwell, as by then he had started a leather business which had a lot of potential; he was going out with a young lady who had come to the Lord under his ministry, and his parents were beginning to soften regarding Methodism. Having sought the Lord, he bought a horse and left for Kent in the winter of 1785.
On reaching Canterbury, Bramwell found that there had recently been a church split, but that did not stop God using him to bring a powerful revival. He brought passion, love and stability to his work. People found that wherever he went the presence of God went with him. Often during prayer meetings the Glory of God would fill the room. During his travels he often faced danger. On one occasion it was only at the intervention of a stranger on a horse that a mob did not attack him. On another occasion he was warned in a dream that an ambush had been laid for him, so he went a different route and later discovered that an ambush had indeed been set.
After being in Canterbury for eighteen months, Bramwell returned to Preston and married Miss E Byron in July 1787. Because his wife had to stay in Preston due to personal matters, Bramwell turned down an appointment to the Lynn circuit. However, in July 1788 there became an opening for the Blackburn circuit, which included Preston. This was very convenient for the Bramwells, so he accepted the appointment. Even so, due to his travelling, he was only able to be with his wife once a month. On these occasions he usually asked her for money, because he had given so much of his own away.
Bramwell had his usual success in the Blackburn circuit, but he had to undergo considerable persecution, a common feature at that time for John Wesley’s preachers. He often had to go past a tan yard where several bull dogs were kept. These dogs were always let loose on him, so he bought a large stick, with an iron pointed end, to defend himself; nevertheless, he still received several bites on his legs from these dogs.
In September 1788 a son, George, was born. Bramwell had read John Wesley’s thoughts on bringing up children (John Wesley never had any) and was determined to follow them. He therefore made sure that none of his children would cry out loud after they were ten months old unless they were sick. This strict upbringing, together with his frequent absences from home, could have resulted in problematic children, but it appears that Bramwell loved them deeply, and the children were generally none the worse for this. It must have been a very difficult life for Mrs Bramwell, and indeed for the wives of all circuit preachers. She had left her home, family and friends; and being in a strange area, would not even have the compensation of a contented life with her husband as he was invariably away preaching, only being at home one night every six weeks. In addition the poor woman had to move house every two years as most Methodist preachers had to move to a new circuit every two years.
Bramwell was appointed to the Colne circuit in 1789 where he had a successful ministry for two years. In 1791 he was appointed to the Dewsbury circuit, which was a place full of disputes. One of those disputes resulted in the loss of their chapel. He reported that he could not find one person who had received sanctification and few who had received justification. A full explanation of the doctrine of ‘sanctification’ can be found by searching the web. I do not feel that this is a place to discuss it; suffice it to say that Bramwell followed John Wesley in believing that there were two distinct experiences of God - justification and sanctification. The first was that ones’ sins were forgiven through faith in Jesus; the second that by faith one received holiness, either suddenly or as a process. The Methodist Church defines Sanctification as ‘that renewal of our fallen nature by the Holy Ghost, received through faith in Jesus Christ, whose blood of atonement cleanseth from all sin; whereby we are not only delivered from the guilt of sin, but are washed from its pollution, saved from its power, and are enabled, through grace, to love God with all our hearts and to walk in his holy commandments blameless.’ Bramwell believed passionately in sanctification, and I believe it is something the Church needs to re-explore today.
To resolve the problems Bramwell went back to his tried and trusted action - prayer. After a year there was no change so ‘Prayermeetings were established in the morning, and at the early hour of five o'clock, many met to aid him in asking for the desired Pentecost. An able assistant was found in a pious woman then visiting the neighbourhood, Ann Cutler. Well did she live up to her title of "Praying Nanny." By four o'clock in the morning this enthusiastic woman would rise and plead with all her energy on behalf of the parched and desolate church. In another room not far distant, the deep earnest tones of the young preacher's voice might at the same moment be heard in an 'agony' of intercession for the same blessing.’Bramwell wrote, ‘As I was praying in my room I received an answer from God in a particular way, and had the revival discovered to me in its manner and effects. I had no more doubt. All my grief was gone.’ The work of God began and soon great numbers were converted, with people coming to their meetings from all over the neighbourhood. Manifestations must have happened in these meetings that Bramwell had not seen before. He wrote, ‘The more I consulted the Acts of the Apostles and Church history, the more I was convinced that this was no new thing, either in its manner or effects; but that in every great work of God similar effects were produced. I consulted several of the senior bretheren, who exhorted me to use every means to support the revival. Satan began to use his agents in different ways, some said one thing, and some another.’ (Nothing seems to change; religious people will always oppose revival.)
The revival spread in all directions, one hundred were added to one Society (like a church). There had been a year of hard prayer before this revival came. Despite division and contention, the Lord answered their prayers. Bramwell would go from house to house to teach and encourage those who had given their lives to Jesus. He strictly followed John Wesley’s twelve rules for a minister; never be unemployed, avoid all lightness and jesting, believe evil of no man unless proved, speak evil of no man, speak correction plainly and in love, be a servant to all, be ashamed of nothing but sin, be punctual, spend your time saving souls, do everything according to God’s will and not your own, be observant and get up early. Bramwell was a strict disciplinarian and the person he was hardest on was himself.
In 1793 he was appointed to the Birstall circuit. There had already been signs of revival in this circuit the previous year. One of the leaders opposed the revival and influenced others who, as a result, maintained a cautious reserve. (It is likely that the manifestations of the Holy Spirit and the lack of order would have brought the opposition.) On Christmas Day 1793 the Lord poured out His Spirit in a remarkable way. It was this outpouring that changed the heart of one of the leaders. He told a group of leaders who had asked his opinion on what had just happened, ‘We have long been praying for a revival of religion, and now when it is granted to us, shall we be dissatisfied and oppose its progress because it does not exactly accord with our weak ideas and does not manifest itself in the particular manner in which we expected it.’ The leaders went forward in unity and the revival continued past Easter. This was probably the beginning of ‘The Great Yorkshire Revival.’ People of all ranks attended the services, and all the chapels and private houses were crowded.
On his tours around the circuit, Bramwell would visit his congregation in their homes and pray with them. Sometimes he held watch-night services. One was held in Little Gomersal where they prayed until 10.00pm, but when Bramwell was about to close the meeting, he changed his mind and prayed on until midnight. He continued on even longer and by 4.00am fifteen had received salvation.
Bramwell clearly moved in the gifts of words of knowledge, faith and spiritual discernment. One example was a woman who came into the house where he was staying. He looked intently at her and said, ‘Woman! You are a hypocrite! And if you do not repent and be converted hell will be your everlasting portion!’ Bramwell’s host had a good opinion of the woman, and was concerned about his comment, but later that same day the woman asked him to pray for her and she gave her life to Jesus.
The revival spread to the neighbourhood; many were saved, and Bramwell always made sure that he gave God all the glory. Revivals like this always received the criticism that many of those who came to the Lord in the revival fell away afterwards. There would always be back sliders, but on the whole this was exaggerated. The Methodists kept note of the numbers who attended their society each quarter which gave some idea of the success or failure of a revival. However, it was never known how many came to the Lord that went to other Methodist chapels, or indeed other denominations, and they did not account for those who did not like the control and discipline within the Methodist church and who practised their faith at home.
The conference of 1795 sent Bramwell on his way again, this time to the Sheffield circuit. Mr Alexander Mather visited the Sheffield circuit early in 1794; bringing with him the anointing of revival that he had picked up in his travels around the area. The Holy Spirit began to appear in his meetings, and there was an increase in power even after he had left the circuit. In August a Mr Blagburn was appointed to the circuit and in the year before Bramwell’s arrival 380 were added to the church. On Blagburn’s leaving, the leaders asked Mather to find them ‘a man after God’s own heart’; he found Bramwell.
Bramwell preached ‘Christ as our wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption’ all over the circuit. As he preached people would see the fullness of ‘their sinful deformity’. People prayed, and many visited from outside the neighbourhood to receive the blessing. The revival increased with 1,250 added to the church in the first year. Class (a division of a Society) leaders were trained to disciple the new converts and Bramwell also trained the itinerant preachers. This was an important aspect of his ministry as it enabled the revival to spread to different areas. Bramwell visited eight or ten families in the early part of the day; he would ascertain their spiritual condition, pray for each of them and implore blessings on them. If anyone was not truly converted it was thought that he would discern it.
One witness to the revival wrote, ‘…for if ever I was conscious, as far as a human spirit can be, of the presence of supernatural powers, that was the time. Many felt and possessed unutterable things. It seemed that there was but a thin veil between us and the invisible world, and that Satan, for a season, was bound in chains…’
It was while in Sheffield that Bramwell was involved in the controversy of the split away from the Methodists by what became known as the Wesleyan New Connexion. This episode in his life is hardly mentioned in Sigston’s biography from which most of this essay is taken. Sigston makes a passing comment on how honourable Bramwell was over this issue, but there seems to be evidence that Bramwell was more involved, and maybe less honourable than Sigston thought. Alexander Kilham was unhappy with the power that the Conference had over the Societies, and that the lay people had no voice or representation. He decided therefore to form his own Connexion and took around 5,000 with him. Revd Dr Herbert McGonigle (see the end of the essay) points out that Kilham had secret meetings with Bramwell and that Bramwell even produced a paper on Church Government. It appears that he had given Kilham a strong indication that he was going to split as well, but his intentions will never be known because he instructed all his papers to be destroyed on his death. It must have been difficult for him, as on the one hand he was very unhappy with the structure of the Church, believing that this would cause problems in the long term (which it did), and his first hand experience of the damage that splits can cause. Dr McGonigle sums it up by saying, ‘Perhaps the kindest construction that can be put on the whole episode is that when push came to shove, Bramwell concluded that he could affect more reform by staying in the ranks of the Wesleyan Methodists.’
It is interesting to note that this split in the Methodist Church happened just six years after John Wesley died and just six years after the Methodist Church was formed.
The conference of 1798 sent Bramwell to Nottingham. This city had been badly hit by the split of the Wesleyan New Connexion. Bramwell had experienced splits before and overcome them, so he was an obvious choice. The large Chapel in Nottingham was taken by the Connexion, so he had to meet in barns and private houses. He found things flat in Nottingham and few had any idea about sanctification. One of his main objects was to raise money for a new chapel, to this end he went to Sheffield. The generosity of the congregation there was so great that Bramwell had to stop people from giving more than they could afford.
Reports of his time in Nottingham are very similar to those of the other places he ministered. People commented particularly on his faith and the way his prayers were answered. They also commended his holiness, love of the people under his care, his self-sacrifice, and his powerful preaching. One story demonstrates the anointing Bramwell carried. In one of the villages in the Nottingham circuit, several Methodists had joined the Quakers. On one of his visits to the village he deviated from his normal schedule after the sermon. He said, ‘Sit down friends! We will hold a Quaker’s meeting.’ He then encouraged them to lift up their hearts to God, and earnestly, though silently, to pray for the Holy Spirit to come. Soon the Holy Spirit was poured out on them; several fell off their seats, and many were overwhelmed by what the Lord was doing. Bramwell cried out ‘O, my Lord! I never thought of this.’
Bramwell was staying in someone’s home in Watnal. His host’s nine year old boy had an eye disease that meant he had to be in a darkened room. Bramwell prayed for the boy and left. As soon as he went out of the house, the boy pulled off his bandages and declared he was healed.
Having spent three years in Nottingham and having brought unity to that society, the Conference appointed him to the Leeds Circuit in 1801. By this time the ‘Great Yorkshire Revival’ was largely over, but Bramwell’s ministry would continue to bring many to the Lord, although perhaps not in as great numbers as had been the case from 1793 to 1800. Bramwell wrote on November 30th, 1802, ‘I still see greater things in Leeds. Many are saved in the town, not so many in the country. I say sometimes, “Woe is me! For I am a man beset with opposition from all the powers of hell!”’
Dr McGonigle writes that during the years of the ‘Great Yorkshire Revival’ a group of ‘revivalists’ arose, whose ‘enthusiasm’ was frowned upon by many of the Methodists. Many of these were Bramwell’s converts and they looked to him for leadership. Two of the main groups were in Leeds (known as the Kirkgate Screamers), under the leadership of James Sigston; and Manchester (known as the Band Room), under the leadership of John Broadhurst. Those in Leeds were aware of his support of the ‘revivalists’ and his previous support of Kilham, so many looked at him with a lot of suspicion. During his second year in Leeds Bramwell was very depressed about the situation in the Society, believing that there was a conspiracy against him. The reasons are unclear, but he left Leeds suddenly, going to Manchester to stay with his revivalist friends without telling anyone. An investigation was made, but nothing could be found to exclude him from Conference, much to the disappointment of the faction who were opposed to the revivalists.
In 1803 he was appointed to Wetherby. He wrote later that year, ‘I see souls saved nearly every night.’ The following year he was in Hull, and in 1806 he was appointed to Sunderland.
Due to the errors of his predecessor, Bramwell, yet again, found a difficult situation in the Sunderland Circuit. His policy was that he would not get involved with the dispute. By maintaining a profound silence on the subject the problem went away, so he was able to concentrate on winning souls. Later that year he wrote that 400 had joined the society. An indication of how he was feeling can be seen from one of his letters. ‘Our work as ministers of the Gospel is of such importance, that I frequently tremble exceedingly before I go into the pulpit. Yea, I wonder how I ever dared to engage in such work. Yet when I am labouring to speak a little, I am frequently so much overpowered with the Divine presence, that I would not leave my work for all the world.’
The work in Sunderland went well. So many were coming to the Lord that Bramwell needed an extra preacher to cope. He wrote, ‘a revival is beginning in several places.’ Bramwell, like Wesley, believed that a key to revival was sanctification, and he was very worried that the doctrine was in decline due to the opposition of those in authority in the Methodist Church. He called them ‘the rich, the mighty’, and wrote that the young preachers were seeking to gain their respect. This was probably the same type of concern he had back in 1796 and 1801. This is a problem that remained in Methodism for years, leading to the removal of William Caughey and others.
Bramwell was sent to Liverpool in 1808. He found the Society there in bad condition and within three months he had removed 100 members. He was quite strict when it came to removing people who did not follow the rules or display the right character for a Christian. He was criticised for being too strict, but he probably felt that anyone in the Society who was not seeking God or exhibiting the true characteristics of a Christian would bring others down to their level. Despite this he was able to write that 130 had been added by the following quarter. He was also able to bring back the doctrine of sanctification which had been given up several years earlier.
A letter at this time shows Bramwell’s concerns. ‘The reason why the Methodists in general do not live in this salvation is, there is too much sleep, too much meat and drink, too little fasting and self-denial, too much conversation with the world, too much preaching and hearing, and too little self-examination and prayer.’ Over the years little changes.
In 1810 Bramwell went back to Sheffield, but this time as superintendent and not a junior preacher which he was before. The work proceeded as it did in all the Societies where Bramwell worked. The following is one testimony of something that happened while he was there. A soldier in his church was posted with his regiment to fight Napoleon in Spain, but he was very worried about leaving his wife and four young children. Bramwell was very concerned about the situation and often prayed for the family. The day before the soldier was to leave, he was praying with his wife and pastor at a friend’s house. ‘Mr Bramwell who sat in a very pensive mood and appeared to be engaged in a spiritual struggle all the time, until shortly after supper he suddenly pulled his hand out of his bosom, laid it on my knee, looked me in the face, and said, “Brother Riley, mark what I am about to say; you are not to go to Spain. Remember, I tell you, you are not.”’ The following day he learned that the orders had been countermanded and he was ordered to Chichester.
In 1812 Bramwell was sent back to Birstall where the Society was in a low condition. Bramwell made a number of changes to get the Society into a better place. He shortened services, insisted that people turned up on time, told people not to speak evil of anyone, encouraged fervent prayer, arranged regular leader’s meetings, examined leaders every year, made sure that leaders only had one class, and set out rules for how leaders should conduct their meetings. The result was that the Spirit of the Lord was soon poured out. While in Birstall he had an attack of rheumatic fever which left him with problems in his hands that hampered his writing.
1814 found him in the London West Circuit, based in Chelsea. While there he usually walked thirty miles a week in visiting the different chapels under his care. The usual success came from his ministry, but both he and his wife became ill. His wife was so ill that it was considered unsafe for them to remain in London for the winter, so they were posted to Newcastle.
The usual ‘showers of blessing’ came to this new place of labour, but despite this Bramwell’s attentions were more on his future in heaven than the present on earth. For the last several years his letters mentioned his desire to go to heaven. In a letter to his daughter he wrote, ‘…I have received what I call an extraordinary baptism of the Spirit. I do not know that I shall preach any better, or look in anything more like an angel, but my soul has experienced such a fellowship with God and heavenly things as I have never felt before. O the glory which shall be revealed! I am swallowed up in him! When I first came to Newcastle I had, as I thought, reason to believe that I should be taken home from this place…’
The Conference appointed him to his last post in 1817, to Salford. For seventeen years those at Salford had asked for Bramwell to come; they finally had their wish, but he was not to be with them long. Someone wrote of his ministry in Salford, ‘The inhabitants of Manchester, Salford, and Pendleton remember many of those seasons with a mixture of the most exalted feelings. Those of Barton will never forget the love-feast which Mr Bramwell held among them, when upward of thirty souls were set at liberty. On that occasion he informed me that for nearly two hours he did not know whether he was in the body or not. His constant subject was “to live dead to the world, and ever prepare for a dying hour.”’
In 1818 he started to suffer from asthma, and as a result decided to tell the next Conference that he was going to give up itinerant ministry. A letter to his son in April was typical of what he wrote at that time. ‘The heavenly world is more than ever in my view. O the change, the glorious change which must then take place!’ His time was mostly taken up in prayer, but when he did preach there was much power and many came to the Lord.
At the end of July Bramwell went to Leeds to attend the Conference of that year, staying with his friend, James Sigston. He had been worried for some time about the direction the Methodist Church was taking, so he was very interested to hear what was discussed at Conference, giving his own views where appropriate. Many noticed how the Spirit of God was on him those two weeks. He was appointed again to Salford, but he told them that they would never have another opportunity to appoint him to another earthly station. Wednesday August 12th was the last day of Conference; Mr Sigston remarked that Bramwell, ‘advanced with an agile step, like a young man in the bloom of health and buoyancy of spirits.’ That evening he prepared to leave very early the following morning to return to Salford. He had breakfast prepared by a servant, said goodbye and left the house at about 3.00am. A few minutes later someone of the night patrol knocked on the door to say that he had come across Bramwell dying in the lane. He was carried into the house but was dead when the doctor arrived.
On the Friday Bramwell was to be moved to Westgate Hill to be buried. Because Conference had only just finished, many of the preachers had not returned home and so they were invited to walk with the coffin. No one else was told of the plans, yet an immense crowd from all denominations lined the street and joined the procession behind the hearse. First, there were his fellow labourers lined up in pairs by seniority, then a number of local preachers and leaders, with the remainder coming behind. As the hearse proceeded others joined in along the route.
On Sunday, August 16th, multitudes from all parts of the country went to Westgate Hill cemetery to witness the funeral. The service was repeated in the evening at all three Methodist Chapels in Leeds, and in many of the adjoining circuits. In September there was a memorial service outside Sigston’s school, close to where Bramwell died. Nearly ten thousand were there.
Bramwell was clearly a very extraordinary man. The biography by Sigston is clearly biased in his favour, for he does not mention Bramwell’s serious problems with the Methodist hierarchy. However, from the testimonies and letters in the book it is clear that all thought very highly of Bramwell. What was obvious to all was how holy he was. Whether or not they accepted the doctrine of sanctification, which was so important to him, all agreed that he walked a life of great purity. All agreed also that Bramwell led an extraordinary prayer life. Testimony after testimony comments on the amount of time that he would pray and of the power of those prayers. It was the thread that went through all his private and public life. Prayer was the answer to all problems. It was through his close relationship with the Father, achieved through prayer and holiness, that Bramwell was able to minister in such power.
Another aspect of his ministry was his discipline. One of his maxims was never to waste any time in the day. He would always encourage people to follow his example to get up at 4.00am or 5.00am to pray, and then spend every hour of the day appropriately. He would recommend people did not spend more than an hour with any one person, and that one did not need more than six hours of sleep. He also brought discipline to the Societies where he ministered. If anyone did not follow the rules they were likely to be ejected. To Bramwell, discipline was a way of ensuring that people would stay on the path of righteousness and holiness. Discipline was an important factor in improving the state of the Societies. Many of the Societies had either experienced a split or were in decline for other reasons, but he was always able to turn things around.
Apart from prayer and discipline, another aspect of his ministry that helped to bring blessings to the Societies was his love and care for the people. Bramwell made a point of visiting all in his care, however far away they were. He would pray over everyone in the house and give them a word of encouragement. Richard Baxter did the same in Kidderminster, and revival came to that town as well. His concern for his people would go so far as his giving the shirt off his back to someone who did not have one. His pastoral care was exemplary and should be copied by all pastors.
Bramwell was also a powerful preacher. He was not technically a great preacher, but he would nearly always understand the temperament of his congregation and would be able to adjust his sermons so that his words would help bring people to salvation. This was the goal of his life, to see people saved. Through his whole ministry Bramwell was always successful in bringing people to Jesus. He had a lot of critics in his lifetime and since, for being a revivalist. For some extraordinary reason, Christians love to criticise things they do not understand because, of course, if they do not understand it, it cannot be of God. To these people manifestations of the Holy Spirit bring disorder and of course you must have order! These critics believe that their form of order is greater than that of the Holy Spirit. It is so sad. This has to be one of the main reasons why we have hardly experienced any revivals in the last 100 years. Bramwell was a great revivalist. Glory be to God!
This was taken from ‘Memoir of the Life and Ministry of William Bramwell’ by James Sigston. Additional information has been taken from ‘A burning and a shining light, the Life and Ministry of William Bramwell,’ by Revd Dr Herbert McGonigle. See http://www.wesley-fellowship.org.uk/Bramwell.html