From Henbury, our kind host drove us to Congleton on Saturday morning (24th ult.). This town is memorable in Weaver's history, for when the arrows of the Almighty were in him nine years ago, he fled from the presence of the Lord and tried to drown his convictions of sin in drink, a public-house in Congleton being the scene of his impious but vain endeavour. As he staggered home to Biddulph he feared every moment he should drop into hell and promised that if spared till morning he would decide for God. And by the grace of God he kept his word.
On the afternoon of our arrival, as he was passing by one of the public-houses two men stood at the door, and one of them (belonging to the house) scornfully pointed him out to his companion. Weaver turned around and spoke to them, and asked if they would give a Sunday's dinner to the wives of the men whose money they took on Saturday night. He afterwards sent round the crier, announcing a lecture in a neighbouring field, on "Drunkenness and its effects," at five o'clock. Very quickly a congregation of 4000 or 5000 was gathered, and some who went through the town during the lecture said they scarcely saw a person in any public-house in the place. It looked to me as if half the town was there, and indeed, this was not far from the actual truth. He told many a harrowing tale of the terrible effects of drink, which mightily moved the people. He had been sent for once to visit a dying publican. He kept the "Windmill," the sails of which were turned by a wind from hell; where men were ground into beggars, girls into harlots and good clothes into rags; and whither men and women went with health and strength and good looks and were sent away with a bag of bones. The mischief he had spent his life in doing so lay upon the conscience of the landlord when on his death-bed, that he could not rest in his house, and had to be removed to die elsewhere. Weaver also told them that in a village in Scotland the children went through the streets singing, "Christ for me!" and a landlord's wife hearing them was made to sing it too. The husband was very angry; but just now God spoke to him, and he got someone to help him to pull down his sign, and when that was done he said, "Now jump upon it and break it up, for it's ' Christ for me!' "There was only one other public-house in the place, and the landlord said, now the other publican was converted, he should have all the custom. But very soon the Spirit of the Lord wrought such a change in his soul that he had to pull down his sign and join the little singing band, that shouts aloud throughout the land, "Christ for me! Christ for me!" "I'll tell you how to pull down the signs of the public-houses. Do like Joshua and the Israelites did to Jericho, walk around the place, but never put your foot inside; and if all the people will do that, just now you shall see the Pig and Whistle,' and the Bear's Head,' and the Hole in the Wall,' and all the rest of them, come tumbling down. But mind, I didn't get delivered from the roaring lion by going to temperance meetings, but by coming to my Saviour."
From the lecture in the meadow, we adjourned to an experience meeting in the chapel, which was opened by Rev. Mr Duke, the minister, who told the people they didn't want preaching then, but to hear from one another what the Lord had done for them. Weaver told them of his visit at the farm we had left that day, how he had preached with a lamp called the moon, and a little star peeping out between the white clouds, as much as to say, "I'm looking at thee, Richard," and how he looked up at it as much as to say, "And I see thee, and just now I shall be up above thee." "They put me to plough," said he, "and everyone could tell which was Weaver's furrow. And so I want to leave a furrow behind me, and an old drunkard turned up here, and a Sunday saint and every-day sinner turned up there, and a publican in this place and a pharisee yonder, shall mark Weaver's furrow. Let us be determined to live for a purpose, so that when we are taken away there may be a loss after us as if the world was short of somebody."
A woman who had received blessing through Mr Duke said, "I make a practice of talking in the house to the Lord. My soul delights to lean on Jesus, and rejoices in his all-atoning blood." A. girl; "Two years ago I found Christ. But I was a backslider, till five months since I was restored through Richard Weaver. May the Lord help me to keep on. I feel Him nigh to-night "A young man; "I'm not ashamed of the gospel of Christ.
'My heart is fixed, eternal God;
Fixed on Thee.'
I feel Christ hath risen; I feel the power of his resurrection, and because He lives I shall live also. Oh Jesus I want to meet Thee! Show thy power. Lord save just now!" A grey-haired man: "I feel for myself that Jesus Christ has power on earth to forgive sins. You know me; I was a backslider; then none need despair. What a mercy God didn't cast me to my own place when I turned my back upon Him " Another: " It's six weeks since Mr Weaver came here, and I wouldn't give up what I have received through him for a million of money. I never intend to give my religion up." A young man: have a sweet hope of glory in my soul. It was here," laying his hand on the communion-rail, "God pardoned my sins. It was the best day's work I ever did, to believe in Jesus. Some say it's excitement. But it's an excitement that lasts a. long time, one that brings me to my knees. It's made an alteration in Joe Randall inside and out; in my home, my temper, my clothes, and everything." "Six weeks to-night," said a girl, "Mr Weaver asked for volunteers. I put up my hand. May God keep me. I've a father and mother not brought to Christ; will you pray for them?" "I've been a great gambler," said one; "but, thank God, I've found Christ. I'm a happy man now, and I've got a happy home, which I never had before these last six weeks. I can work with joy now. It's a way I wish I'd got into twenty years ago. I don't think for ten years I ever got a Sunday's dinner at home; now I get home on Saturday at two o'clock, and. the wife knows the difference." "Bless the Lord," said another, "for what He did for me six weeks ago. A friend asked me if I was one of Weaver's converts. I told him, No; it isn't Weaver or any man that can save a soul. But I hope God will convert you, and bring you to heaven. Only believe and you shall be saved! "A young man: "Can you remember, Mr Weaver, what you said to me when I was standing by that door? My dear young fellow,' you said, 'What are you going to do with your soul? "I don't know,' said I. You asked me, 'Should you like to go to heaven?' I said I should, and you said, Come, and we'll show you the way.' Some here that night told me I ought to go to the gallows, but I found Christ my Saviour. Many of you are looking at me. You've seen me looking different, but you never saw me looking better, did you? One day since then a woman came and told. me I oughtn't to smile; but I told her if my conscience was free to smile, I should smile. It's no good making a long face. I like to have it genuine. ...If people want to argue with you, give them the logic of your heart. Tell them Christ is precious to you; you feel his love in your soul. They can't get behind that." "If over there was a young scamp,' said a lad of seventeen or eighteen, "I was one. One of my shopmates came here the other night and told them all next morning that I said I had my feet on a rock. And he's come here to look on to-night. There he is," pointing to him in the gallery, "and he may go and tell them all to-morrow that my feet are on the rock, and my heart is on the rock too." A pleasant-looking young man said: " I was always a chapel-goer; but I've found, out that a man may go to hell reading his Bible. I have sought happiness in the concert and dancing-room, and have found my sister praying for me on my return, and then I couldn't sleep. Nothing in the world will make one happy but the blood of Christ. I used to ask my sister to pray for me, for I intended to turn to God. When Mr Weaver came I went to hear him. A brother spoke to me in the vestry, but I didn't believe it. I went away and found peace after I got home. If there are any sinners here to-night they can be converted before they go." A sailor: " I used to sing, Mary, link thy arm in mine,' but I'm linked to Christ now I don't like this doctrine of saying, 'Lord, have mercy on us, miserable sinners,' every Sunday. No, no—
“The Lord has pardoned all my sin,
And now to praise Him I'll begin;
I never praised the Lord before,
But now I'll praise Him more and more.' I was sent the other day to a farm-house where they knew me as I used to be. They told me they were going to have a fine spree. They asked me to sing, and I struck up, Christ for me!’ How they stared Now,' I said, I'm going to have a word with the Lord. Down on your knees.' Father, mother, and daughter all knelt down, and I prayed the Lord to convert them. Present salvation was all I talked about. As I came away a man with an intelligent face but without shoes begged of me. I relieved him, saying, ‘Don't thank me; thank the Lord.' He said, 'He that knoweth his Master's will and doeth it not shall be beaten with many stripes.' It struck me he was a backslider. I talked to him about the Lord, and he said he believed before he got home he should find pardon. I heard after that he had been seen kneeling down by the side of a pit wrestling with the Lord." "My name's Jim Cayton," said another; "you know what I've been, and you see what I am. ....A few of us were coming by a cottage the other Sunday evening and one knocked at the door and asked if Jesus Christ lived there. The man looked astonished and said he didn't know. We asked if we might come in and pray with him. He allowed us, and the prayers drew tears from himself and his wife. We went along singing ' Christ for me! 'till we came to a public-house, and asked the landlord to let us pray there. He said it was the wrong place. We said if it was a wrong place to pray, it must be a wrong place altogether. Well, said he, `go in and pray there as long as you like,' We went into the room he pointed us to, full of people, and we did pray, till the people came in out of the road." I particularize these two last cases to show the energy of some of these young converts. They have known no shame in their service of sin, and they seem equally unabashed in the service of their Saviour. How important that this activity should be wisely directed, and be sanctified by the word of God and prayer. There were numerous other speakers, most of them concluding with a benediction on clear Weaver as the means of their conversion. Young girls and matrons, young men and fathers, telling, some plaintively, some almost boisterously, the story of the great salvation. One had been a preacher, but had fallen through drink, and been restored within the last six weeks. One young man said his father and mother had been converted and himself revived. They were now a family going to heaven. Some were drunkards and gamblers, others were more outwardly reputable, but they all spoke well of the Lord and of his servant, finding in the hymns which have been so opportunely given us for this Revival time, forms of expression most suitable to their condition. The following afternoon another meeting of the same kind was held, and Mr Duke told me there was not a dry eye in the place. He had never attended a meeting where God was so sensibly present.
From the 'Revival Newspaper', Volume IV, page 117.
I have not been able to find which chapel Rev Duke was the minister. Probably the Wesleyan, but not certain.