Comber, famous for its whiskey, is four miles from Newtownards and nine miles from Belfast. In this small town the revival in Co. Down first broke out in all its powerful manifestations. Many hundreds were savingly converted to God. On May 30th a vast multitude packed the First Presbyterian Church to hear the converts from Co. Antrim. On Thursday evening, June 9th, when the Presbyterian minister Rev. J. M. Killen was addressing a crowded prayer-meeting, the revival burst forth with power. Many were in tears, several cried out, and some fainting away had to be removed. On Sabbath 19th the scene was overwhelming and scores were smitten down by the power of God.
Mr Killen, in a statement on the awakening, says:
“Our congregation, having been the first in County Down to be blessed with the outpouring of the Spirit, when the work commenced, a great sensation was produced. The whole town and neighbourhood were roused. Many did not retire to rest the first night at all, and for several days great numbers were unable to attend to their usual avocations, but gave themselves almost unceasingly to the study of the Scriptures, singing and prayer; and for the first month, with about three exceptions, I did not get to bed till morning, such was the anxiety of the people for pastoral instruction and consolation. For twenty-one days after the revival commenced we had on an average more than ten cases daily, and altogether we have had above three hundred and fifty cases of visible awakening in our congregation, not to speak of the still more numerous instances of a silent character, of which no proper estimate can yet be formed. The revival too, has embraced those hitherto beyond the pale of the church altogether; and drunkards have been reformed, prostitutes reclaimed, thieves have become honest— Sabbath-breakers, profane swearers, scoffers, neglecters of ordinances, and worthless characters of all descriptions have been awakened or converted. No sex or age has been exempt. Our converts include children of seven and old men and women of upwards of seventy years of age. Those renewed, too, especially the females, manifest a wonderful power in prayer and fluency of expression, and as yet I know no case of apostasy amongst them.”
'The '59 Revival' by Ian R K Paisley, page 91/2.
The good work still continues to progress here. The evening prayer meetings in 'First Comber' are attended by crowds, and awakenings are of daily occurrence. Upwards of two hundred 'cases' in connection with Mr Killen's congregation have already occurred, and the whole aspect of society is changed. Prayer and praise may be heard in every quarter, the public houses are nearly empty, profanity has ceased and the great topic of conversation is the salvation of the soul. Scoffers have mostly been silenced, and some of them converted.
"Comber Fair on Tuesday presented such an aspect of sobriety, morality and seriousness as was never before witnessed. The Rev. A. Moody Stewart of Edinburgh and the Rev. Milne of Perth visited Comber on Friday last and, in company with Mr Killen, examined a great many of the awakened and converted with whose condition they seemed greatly solemnised and gratified. They mentioned that they considered the state of matters in Comber much more desirable than anything they had seen in Belfast. Mr Milne addressed an immense audience in the evening, in Mr Killen's church. There is to be a large open-air meeting this evening (Thursday) in the Market Square, Comber, at which it is expected ministers from various districts will deliver addresses."
"The Banner of Ulster" 29th June 1859