Cobham (1861)

A few weeks since we published a letter from Mr Bradnack relating to a very interesting work of God at Ockham. The neighbouring village of Cobham has been similarly blessed. A friend tells us that the following is only a small portion of a good work which began with a Revival lecture on what the Lord had done in Ireland. The neighbour­hood is so changed that a man who formerly carried on a busi­ness sinfully conducted, as a hawker of brooms, &c. (in a district dark as heathendom itself, and where the sale of religious books as the source of livelihood would have been looked upon as insane employment) now, as a convert, earns a fair living by the sale of Christian and temperance books, tracts, and period­icals. Mr Bradnack gives the following sketch in a letter tot he Methodist Recorder:—There is a plain building— a barn, in fact; but it is well lighted, and the sounds of cheerful voices induce you to open the door; the words that struck your ear were the chorus of the hymn beginning, " Forever with the Lord." Look at the congregation. They have just poured upwards of 4/. into the box for the relief of the sufferers by the awful colliery accident; and observe the sympathetic looks of the givers. Look at that old man's tearful eye; that aged woman is a recipient of charity, yet there goes the widow's mite; and her neighbour, who is kept at home by sickness, sends her gift. They always do so at Cobham. If you want a crowd, announce a collection, and those who can't come always send their offerings. The gifts and the givers would make misers happy, if our people could impart to such their appetite for giving. But look at one or two—nay, if you please, twenty or thirty—faces there. That man who has just put a handful of coppers into the box was shot by a gamekeeper; some birds that were in his hat were killed, but his life was spared by Him who is rich in mercy." Just listen to another man, who is singing these words:—

"His blood can make the foulest clean,

His blood availed for me."

He is a living epistle; that neat, happy woman by his side is his wife. You see she is happy, but she was not always so; he often threatened to kill her, and he well-nigh succeeded. He was always drunk, never spoke without an oath, until he got to work with Methodists, who would not hear an oath, and he could not speak at all. That man is a loving husband, and a tender, self-denying father. He has not bought a pint of' beer for the last two years. One more picture, and I have done. Look at this noble form by my side. That man has walked twelve miles to see me and to join in this service. He was habituated to drink from his boyhood, when twelve years of age he has been dead drunk for days and nights together; he went with his father to the public-house! He grew up a drunkard, he was such when he married. He has walked twelve miles to bring a token of his gratitude. Ten pints of beer and gin was an ordinary allowance for this man in his slavery, and often has he spent £5at a time in the public-house: and now he is a reformed man, resolved, by the grace of God, to go to that "happy land, far, far away," where there is "no sin or sorrow," which his little ones learned about when at our Sunday-school, and which they are always singing of at home. And now accompany me to the dining-hall. There was not a vacant seat in the chapel—there was no standing room in the dining-hall. It is now nine o'clock. The adult congregation is dismissed, but we cannot get rid of the children; they are crying for mercy. The foremost one is a youth of sixteen; a fearful drunkard he has been. He and twelve others, as far as can be ascertained, last evening found peace with God. The Rev. B. Hellier, of Richmond College, says that the amount already subscribed for a new chapel at Cobham is £630, and they hope to lay the foundation stone before the end of the present month. The City Chamberlain writes thus to Mr Hellier:-

"Heath House, Weybridge, Jan. 14, 1862.

"Dear Sir,—I am not a Wesleyan Methodist, but as a resident in the vicinity of Cobham, I cannot shut my eyes to the blessing which has attended the preaching of the Gospel at that place, and in the dark villages round about, in connexion with the Wesleyan Society. Within about two years a church has been formed of some seventy members, and there are over 200 hearers and a good Sunday-school, also five out-stations for prayer and preaching, weekly, with Bible-classes and schools. Much moral reformation has attended the work, and many drunkards have become sober and godly men. There is, however, no permanent place of meeting, and unless a chapel and schools are speedily erected, I fear that the work may come to an end, for there is great opposition, and my friend Mr Bradnack, in whose barn the Church has hitherto met, has received notice to quit his house in Midsummer next, and his leaving, and the consequent closing of the tem­porary chapel, will, I fear, result in the scattering of the people. It will be necessary, also, that a chapel be erected at a village station in the vicinity, there being no room large enough to hold the people who flock to hear the gospel.

Believe me to remain, yours very truly, BENJAMIN SCOTT. From the 'Revival Newspaper', Volume VI. page 62.

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