It is not often in this lower world the church can without hesitation array herself in the vesture of praise, but it seems as though during the past week the voice of the Bridegroom has been heard in Stockton, saying, “Awake, awake, put on my beautiful garments, oh Jerusalem.” There had been a general spirit of heaviness before. Throughout the town for months past there had been great searchings of heart and mourning amongst ministers and people because of the evident want of spiritual life and power and with the earnest hope of bringing about a better state of things, special services were arranged and as these went on, the feeling grew in strength that revival times were near.
Then news came of the presence of Messrs Moody and Sankey in Darlington and the indefatigable secretary of our YMCA, Mr. T Whitwell, in conjunction with several ministers, obtained their promise to come on November 7th and spend three days in the town. The intervening week of expectation was consecrated by prayer. Every morning at 7:00 o'clock in the rooms of the Association, an earnest band of young men surrounded the mercy seat and each evening a united prayer meeting was held in turn at the different places of worship in the town, leading up to one of remarkable power on Thursday night in the Presbyterian Church.
At 10:00 o'clock on Friday morning an all-day meeting was commenced in the large new Wesleyan Chapel at the North end of the town and continued until 4:00 o'clock, the interest waxing greater and the hallowed feeling increasing during the unusual length of a six hours service, until at its close the multitude unwittingly dispersed, understanding, as they had never done before, the disciples feeling on the mount of communion, “Master, it is good to be here.”
During the day Mr Moody gave two addresses, one at 11:00 o'clock, full of stirring practical advice to each Christian, to find out his special work and to do it; another in the afternoon, containing a series of word photographs from the life of Daniel in Babylon, so vivid and beautiful that the 3/4 of an hour during which they passed before us seemed but a few moments. Then at intervals during the day, there was the rare charm of Mr Sankey’s singing; stealing, swelling, trembling, by turns, on the spellbound audience, until their strong emotion finds vent in tears.
One hour of the all-day meeting was occupied very delightfully. Mr Moody opening that part of the service by pointing to the impossibility that one of God's word should fail and enforcing it by turning illustrations, and then asking anyone in the congregation to rise and repeat some promise which in his history had been particularly precious and seasonable. The effect was overwhelming, as one believer after another, some with a trembling hand, opened the divine jewel casket and held up to view its radiant treasures; We had not known before how exceeding great and precious they were.
In the evening a meeting was advertised to take place in the Borough Hall at 7:00 o'clock, but half an hour before that time the place was so overcrowded the Brunswick Wesleyan Chapel was used instead and about 1500 people soon filled every available space in the building. It is impossible to describe the power of the service; we might as well attempt to describe light and colour to the blind. Mr Moody's whole manner gives the impression of a sensible, practical man, swayed by a mighty purpose to win souls. The very pith of his preaching is, as he himself says, an endeavour to make Bible truth real; and when he once gains an entrance for the divine Word into the heads of his hearers, he has no doubt of its power.
On Friday evening that power was gloriously released, many were pricked to the heart and not fewer than 30 persons in the after-meeting retired to the vestries for conversation with the ministers and declared their purpose to take the Lord Jesus as their Saviour and Friend. This was only the beginning of a work that has never before been witnessed in Stockton. At the noonday prayer meeting on Saturday, in the Primitive Methodist Chapel, the cloud of the Divine presence manifestly rested, bowing every worshipper in solemn stillness and making it comparatively easy for numbers whose hearts had been touched, to choose that day when they would serve and publicly to avail their choice.
On Sunday three services were held in the Alhambra, a large music hall intended to accommodate 2000 persons; but it is supposed that at least three thousand were present at each of the services. It was most touching to see that vast area of eager, hungry faces turn towards Mr Moody, as the bread of life was so freely and gladly offered by him; and it will not be easy to forget the surging wave of feeling that swept over the audience. The after meeting-adjourned to Brunswick Wesleyan Chapel-was densely crowded and full of gracious influence and very many were wise enough to ” take at the flood” this tide of spiritual feeling and to be led to the best fortune that can possibly befall the human being, even Gods’ gift of eternal life.
Mr Moody was so impressed by the magnitude of the work opening around him in Stockton that he kindly arranged to remain another day, and on Monday the last three services of his visit were held in North Terrace Wesleyan Chapel and good and refreshing as the previous six had been, there was a universal acknowledgement that the best wine had been kept to last. It is impossible in the limits of this paper to speak fully as we would wish of the hallowed noonday meetings and as the instructive and absorbing interest of the afternoon's discourse on” the Blood" as our only means of approaching God; or of the overpowering demonstrations of the Spirit that attended his evening address. At 6:30 o'clock an immense congregation was wedged into every foot and standing room only throughout the building, and at 9:30 it was with much difficulty that the aisles and stairs could be cleared for free passage through the Chapel. At Mr Moody's invitation, between one and 200 persons, who had decided for Christ during the previous services assembled in the school room below and in the different vestries inquiriers were gathered, eagerly receiving the instructions of Mr Moody and Mr Sankey.
This work has been very great and in examining for our own future guidance and the guidance of others into the apparent causes of success, we are struck with the following; first, that preparation of united believers prayer. Mr Moody said, that on coming into the first meeting, he and Mr Sankey felt that they were amongst praying people; and to this and the next cause the united action of the ministers of the town, he mainly attributed the fact, that in no place which they had visited had they witnessed such evident results in so short a time. It was very delightful to see that each of the services come at eight or ten of these devoted pastors, most of them in the vigour of young manhood, strong intelligent men representing various shades of denominational belief, but merging all differences in maintaining affection and the common desire to aid in the glorious work and many hearts were constrained by the sight to give thanks for such a ministry in Stockton. Another very important feature was the absence of noise in the meetings. We dwell on this more particularly, because some good brothers believe that loud prayers and singing are essential to a good meeting and in carrying out their convictions they unfortunately prevent, or make uncomfortable, the attendance of those who believe that noise and fervour are not synonymous. The experience of the past few days will we think have convinced them that the best and most successful prayer meetings ever held in Stockton have been the quietest.
Mr Moody’s tact in conducting is marvellous. Common sense stamps all his earnestness and all his plans, and this wins in a remarkable manner the confidence of all who come in contact with him. Whatever else may be said of him no one can call him a fanatic and this gives to his steady, invincible, untiring self-sacrifice such irresistible power. By bodily vigour and mental and spiritual endowments, he seems to be peculiarly a vessel unto honour, meet for the Master's use.
"The Christian", November 20th, 1873.
Closed and Demolished