Ballinderry (1769)

The south of the county of Antrim, including Ballinderry, Magheragall and Aghagallon, was the scene of a glorious awakening during the winter of 1769-70. The chief instrument was John Smith, then stationed on the Londonderry circuit.

Although there are few details of this blessed work, yet such was the impression made by the powerful preaching of the apostle of Christ, that over sixty years subsequently the people of the neighbourhood were wont to recite numerous remarkable incidents in connection with this gracious work. It seems to have commenced with a young man named John Martin, a linen weaver, who was so respected by the family in whose house he boarded that a room was placed at his disposal, where he met with some others for exhortation and prayer, and the attendance at these meetings continued to increase. John Smith soon found his way there, and by means of his devoted labours the work deepened and spread in a most remarkable manner. Numbers were convinced of sin, some constrained to rise in the night and go out to the fields, despite the inclemency of the weather, and continue there for hours together in earnest prayer, until they found redemption in the blood of Jesus Christ. There was much need of Christian workers to lead in prayer and give comfort and encouragement to inquirers and young converts. Valuable help was afforded by that poor, blind, but most devoted woman, Margaret Davidson, and the Lord soon raised up others in two young men as leaders, who were specially adapted to this work. Even some of the public houses were changed from dens of iniquity into houses of prayer. Not long after the revival commenced, two of the converts died very happy in Christ. While strength lasted they continued to entreat sinners to come to the Saviour and exhorted those who were in Christ to "abide in Him." These triumphant deaths proved instrumental of much blessing to the infant Society at Ballinderry.

There are records of the religious experience of some of those who were converted during this blessed work. One was Mr Thomas Finley, who was attracted by the preaching of John Smith. The Word was attended with Divine power, he was brought under deep conviction of sin, and continued for some time in great anguish of mind, until, seeing the simplicity of the plan of salvation, he laid hold on Christ. Encouraged by what the Lord had done for him, he thirsted for higher spiritual blessings and was enabled, by Divine grace, to realise the all-cleansing efficacy of the Saviour's blood. For about nineteen years his life afforded a striking and beautiful evidence of uninterrupted " fellowship with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ." On his death-bed he seemed to exult as on Pisgah's top, and view the celestial land with unclouded vision.

'History of Methodism in Ireland' Volume I, p230-1.

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