Ballynure (1859)

The following private letter contains some matters of interest in relation to religious movements at Ballyclare, Ballynure and the neighbouring districts:—

"'We went to Ballyclare last Thursday night to attend a revival prayer meeting and truly I cannot understand it. I can only say and feel that it was the Lord's doing and marvellous in our eyes. The scene when we arrived baffles all description. Imagine a large meadow, with an immense multitude of people in all attitudes — some praying, weeping and crying for mercy, others lying in utter helplessness only able to utter feebly their entreaties for pardon, surrounded by groups of friends and strangers all interceding for them and urging them on to call on Christ and, again, others with their faces gleaming with a more than earthly light, listening to the speaker with rapture or eyes raised, eloquently praising God with fathers, sons, mothers, daughters, tender children and strong men, the infants of a few years and the grey-haired women, all equally struck, all equally earnest and eloquent. “I saw stalwart men led away as if they were helpless children. During the singing of one of the Psalms the voice of praise was ascending in the still evening air, when there was nothing of an exciting tendency being said, a man beside us suddenly burst out into the most terrific cries, running round and round in circles in such a wild manner that it was dangerous to be in his way — when his cries changed suddenly into calls on the Name of Jesus and, in a few minutes after the most awful suffering, he fell, unable to stand or even speak. The public houses are empty all through the town. There is a prayer meeting in almost every second house. Groups about the streets are praying or conversing on the all engrossing topic. Public works are stopped in consequence of these strange and awful manifestations of Jehovah's might. All places, all hours are alike, people are struck down while following their daily vocations, or resting on their beds, crossing the fields or transversing the streets — all are alike and all characters are converted instantly. "`I cannot pretend to give you any accurate account of it. Words cannot describe the thrilling scene we witnessed yesterday evening. There will be a meeting at Ballynure this Friday evening and one here DV on the Sabbath. The most wonderful feature of all this is that there is no enthusiasm or excitement. Among the people the visitation is sudden. The person is removed to a distance by those around but, beyond a mere mention of the name by those who know it, there is no curiosity or wonder manifested and from being one of the wildest towns in the neighbourhood, Ballyclare has become one of the most religious."'

"The Banner of Ulster" June 7th 1859.

On Friday, June 3rd, an open-air service was held at Bally­nure to which about three hundred converts marched, singing hymns, from Ballyclare. At least one thousand persons were present, addresses were delivered by Mr Vance of Connor and the Rev. Robert Collier, and results similar to those already described followed. One and another were stricken, and carried into the Wesleyan chapel or some friend's house, to be prayed with and spoken to, until scores were thus removed. When the clay closed it was with difficulty the people could be induced to leave the field, and some would not do so, while all along the different roads homeward people sang, prayed, and in other ways endeavoured to encourage the penitents. From 'History of Methodism in Ireland', Volume III, by Crookshank, p511

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