It is a bit of a stretch to call this a revival, but it was in revival times and the village was touched by Holy Spirit.
The beanfeast of the Jute factory at Barking was looked forward to this year with some apprehension, lest any of the young converts should be led astray thereat and as the best possible safeguard against temptation, it was determined to spend the day in assaulting some village for Jesus.
Sister Davis, at the earnest request of some of their relatives, had visited one or two old people in a village called Aveley, near Purfleet, and this was selected as the most likely place for a successful attack. Accordingly, a party of about 20, leaving Barking about 10 am went by train to Purfleet. Arrived there and seeing that we were not a large enough company to make up a heavy procession, we formed like policemen in single line and found the plan succeeded admirably in attracting the attention of the villagers.
A walk of about two miles brought us to Aveley and we at once began a general visitation of the people. Every house in the place was called at, the company breaking up into couples and each party taking a small number of cottages.
Our visits were generally well received and in cases people even welcomed us, but a few informed us with great decision, that they went to their own church and seemed to think that a complete settler for us on the score of their religion.
After careful inquiry we could not find half a dozen people in the place who really knew Christ as their Saviour. Surely it is time for someone to visit and arouse such populations, as well as the larger ones in our great towns and cities! The doctor upon being asked whether he found evidence of any religion amongst the people in going his rounds, said, "No, there seemed to be nothing of the kmd, beyond a mere passing feeling on account of the trouble the people might be in." Alas, alas! how generally is this the fact with regard to our countrymen everywhere!
The visitation over we gathered at the top of the village for an open-air service and felt the Lord's presence most blessedly in singing, speaking, and prayer alike, while the faces of the crowd indicated a very deep impression made upon them.
After this meeting, we sat down to refresh our bodies a little outside the village and then knelt again for prayer, in which everyone took part.
Brother Gray of Poplar and some further reinforcements having now arrived, we marched into the village again, this time throwing our single line right across the road, a plan which seemed even more effective and enjoyable than the other, though of course only practicable where there is no traffic. Taking up a stand at the bottom of the village this time, we spent the whole afternoon in addresses, singing, and prayer. The
people listened with great seriousness and respect, with the exception of one man, a shoemaker, who seemed to consider himself far superior in understanding to everyone else. What his own creed was, if any, we did not find out; but one article of it certainly was that we were all wrong. He seemed to look upon us as a sort of light-headed fanatics, well intentioned and tolerably harmless; but he did not succeed in preventing others from hearing us or from feeling very differently, we doubt not.
During the afternoon a second party was met at Purtieet by Brother Russell, and a service held in that village before coming on to Aveley.
.After tea the largest meeting of the day was held and was a glorious time of the passing by of the Son of Man. Many wept and begged for another visit at some future time.
In accordance with this request, a party left Barking on the first Saturday afternoon in September and spent the afternoon and evening in the same blessed work. The evening meeting was even more largely attended than the one before, and many who had never before spoken for Christ gladly testified to the change wrought in them. We have often heard people pray for a moral earthquake, and we returned home thinking how easily such an earthquake might be accomplished in any place if the people of God were sufficiently in earnest. A party of 20 people might go out any evening to thousands of little spots in our land, and come away certain of having, by God's help, deeply stirred every soul in the place.
From, 'The Christian Mission Magazine', October 1875, pages 206/7.