Corn Exchange, Berwick - D L Moody (1874)

D. L. Moody did one meeting here through John Cairns and Cairns then spent over two weeks dealing with the salvations.

Toward the end of January, they paid a short visit of one day to Berwick where Principal Cairns was labouring. During the course of the entire mission, it was frequently noticed that the greatest results were often achieved after Moody and Sankey left the place where they had been working. It was so at Edinburgh where the revival seemed to grow in intensity after their departure. This same thing proved true at Berwick where the movement they inaugurated lasted for the next two years. In November 1874, Dr Cairns wrote, "Our work here survives though it is quieter. Some blessed fruits remain and I have seen no evil." Meetings were held nightly as well as a noon prayer meeting, in all of which there was cooperation between the ministers and laymen of the town. Much more was done than what was apparent at the public services. Cairns realized that many did not have the courage required to face the inquiry room so followed them to their own homes. He wrote, "My chief labour has lain in going to people's houses and entering on serious dealing with them." The results were conspicuously seen in the numbers of young people gathered into the member­ship of the church.

From, 'Scotland Saw His Glory.' edited by Richard Owen Roberts.

Two meetings were held on Tuesday at both of which Messrs Moody and Sankey were present. The former was held in Wallace Green Church, beginning at six o'clock. As soon as it was opened, the great hall of the Exchange was filled in every part. While Mr Moody was addressing the meeting in Wallace Green the Rev Messrs Mearns of Coldstream, and Leitch of Newcastle, addressed the meeting in the Corn Exchange. The male part of the audience in the Exchange seemed to preponderate. It was a vast mass of earnest listeners. We observed ministers of all denominations present from the towns and villages of the neighbourhood, extending over a wide district, many of whom remained for the evening meeting. Many anxious inquirers waited for conversation after the afternoon meeting and a mother who, by believing, entered into peace in the afternoon requested the prayers of the meeting in the evening for a prodigal son. The case of this first convert was referred to in the Corn Exchange in one of the addresses and seemed to make a deep impression on the audience. When Messrs. Moody and Sankey left Wallace Green for the Corn Exchange, a number of people accompanied them in the vain hope of obtaining admission, but many of them returned to the church. The second meeting was adjourned from the Exchange to Wallace Green when the large church again became extremely crowded. Altogether, Tuesday was a memorable day in Berwick; the like of it, as Dr Cairns remarked, had never before been seen in the memory of its inhabitants.

"The Christian", January 22nd, 1874.

After the visit of Messrs. Moody and Sankey, meetings were held nightly in the Corn Exchange and addressed by Revs R. Leitch and D. Lowe, of Newcastle, and several local ministers. The attendance varied from 1,000 to 1,500. The interest in the town is deep and widely spread. Dr Cairns stated at the noon prayer meeting that he had asked the superintendent of police what effect the movement had on their work, and received for reply "Sir, we have nothing to do." The following sketch is by Rev Robert Scott, in a local paper:

The attendance at the noon-day prayer meeting, and at the evening meeting in the Corn Exchange, continues large. The requests for prayer at both meetings on behalf of relatives and friends are becoming very numerous, and not unfrequently thanksgiving are presented for the blessing received. The appearance of the audiences is marked by great solemnity earnestness, and quietness. There are no demonstrations any kind. The addresses consist of a clear exhibition of the way of salvation, with earnest appeals and exhortations to embrace it at once. At the close of the addresses, a short prayer meeting is held in the body of the hall, presided over by one the officiating ministers. Inquirers are conversed with ministers and well known Christians in four side rooms. The number of inquirers is very great. At first they belonged chiefly to the Sabbath schools and Bible classes, but now many of riper years are among their number. Many can now give satisfactory reason for the hope of salvation they cherish and bringing others to a knowledge of the truth. The ministers with great prudence avoid publishing the history of particular cases. It would be a mistake to suppose that the interest began with the visit of Messrs. Moody and Sankey. It existed a long time before though unquestionably they gave it a mighty impulse and introduced the method by which it has been so efficiently directed and increased. It is known to many that since the month of April last, a remarkable work of grace was going on in the young men's Bible class conducted by Mr Nisbet, missionary and also in one or two other classes for the young.

During the summer months, the ministers of the town organised and conducted a series of open-air services. Mr Steel, evangelist, during a visit of some weeks, attracted large audiences, and the Sabbath evening services recently conducted in the Town-hall by the ministers of the town have been well attended. The large attendance at the daily meeting during the week of prayer showed that there was an earnest desire and expectancy for the divine blessing which has been so largely bestowed. Arrangements have been made to continue the meetings in the Corn Exchange during next week.

The following testimony appeared in the Edinburgh Daily Review:--


I feel constrained to add my testimony to the profound impression which has, by the blessing of God, been made on the town. I trust it will be as solid and permanent as it is at present visible. I cannot attempt to describe the appearance of Wallace-green Church at the evening meeting on Tuesday, when the overwhelming meeting in the Corn Exchange was dismissed, and those who gathered for prayer, with the anxious inquirers, crowded in to fill up every corner of the spacious church. The shadow of eternity seemed cast over the great congregation. Many were observed to be in tears and as the inquirers, with hurried and trembling step, passed into the vestry (though others found a more private entrance), the deepest awe and sympathy pervaded the meeting. This continued for a full hour, and such a gathering I hardly ever expect again to see in this world. I will not speak of the experiences of the anxious, as I am averse to the publication of such details, at least in the beginning of a movement. It is believed that nearly fifty in all were converted within the Corn Exchange in the afternoon and in the church in the evening. Last night (Wednesday) a considerable addition was made to this number, after the addresses of Mr Leitch, of Newcastle, and Mr Chedburn, of this town. I would only suggest to friends in Edinburgh and other great centres, whether it is not worthwhile more frequently to acquiesce in the absence of Messrs Moody and Sankey, in order to reach districts in the country (as on Tuesday), embracing a radius of fifty or a hundred congregations and I would close by commending to all brethren in the ministry a movement which, so far as I know it, is so full of blessing, and so remarkably free from irregularity or counteracting elements of any kind.- I am, etc.,Berwick, Jan. 15, 1874.

"The Christian", January 29th, 1874.

At a crowded meeting in the Corn Exchange, Berwick on Sabbath evening, the 5th inst., presided over by the Rev Dr J. C. Brown, of Berwick, and attended by many of the ministers of the place, the Rev Dr Cairns read the following statement as to the work which had been going on there for the last four weeks, The chairman then called on the meeting to give thanks to God by singing one of the well-known hymns used at the meetings, "We praise Thee, O God, for the Son of Thy love," and the audience was afterwards addressed by the Rev A. Ritchie, of Yetholm.

Dr CAIRNs read as follows:-The interest in the work is still great, as those special services have now lasted a month; and as they are to be continued henceforth in a somewhat different form, it is judged advisable to give at this point a brief narrative of the origin, progress, and results of this work of God among us. For this statement I alone am responsible, but I anticipate for it general concurrence, and the facts which I state are gathered from my own knowledge or other authentic sources.

As to the origin of this movement, it is not necessary to say much. It undoubtedly preceded the visit of those honoured American evangelists, who were mighty employed by God to give it so mighty an impulse. Mr Nesbit's Bible class had been for months the scene of anxious inquiry. The evangelistic services by Mr Steel had been attended with blessing. The out-of door preaching of the ministers of the town in summer, followed up by their Town Hall meetings in winter had evoked an ever deepening earnestness of spirit. The tidings of revival in Newcastle and Edinburgh had stirred many hearts. A largely attended and impressive evangelistic service in the newly-opened Wallace-green Mission-hall, in which accounts of past and present religious awakenings were given by Dr Brown, of this place, and Dr Bruce of Newcastle had deepened the interest. And the institution of a mid-day prayer meeting, in concert with the Evangelical Alliance Union for Prayer, which needed almost immediately to be transferred from the Church-street Hall to the adjoining place of worship, expressed, while it nursed, the spirit of dependence and of waiting on God for the working of his power.

Favoured by these circumstances, the visit of Messrs Moody and Sankey, on the 13th of January last, was blessed to produce an awakening unexampled in the history of this town, and which has far extended to the surrounding district. The great gatherings in the Corn Exchange on the afternoon and evening of that day, and the prayer meeting which followed in Wallace-green Church can never be forgotten by those who were present, and it is believed that many souls date their first impressions from that occasion. It was not as in great cities, where such movements propagate themselves by degrees. The whole town--a sixth or seventh part of whose population was gathered together--was struck at once; and all that has followed has been more or less the continuation of that first mighty impulse. For days a shadow of awe rested upon the place. Inquirers hastened to ask the question, ''What must I do to be saved?" The movement thus visibly and signally begun has been carried on by the constant preaching of the word in the Corn Exchange whenever it could be obtained and by meetings with inquirers in its various rooms.

Brethren from a distance have come to the help of the ministers of the place. Messrs. Leitch, Lowe, and Pope, of Newcastle; Messrs. Morgan, J. H. Wilson, John Young, and Arnot, of Edinburgh; with Messrs Brodie, missionary from Trinidad; Stevenson, of Melrose; Nicholls, of Lowick; and Mr Miller, of Dunse; Mr Christie, of Mordington; and Mr Ritchie, of Yetholme; and at the same time the Earl of Cavan, Lord Polwarth, Dr Ritchie, and James Balfour, Esq, of Edinburgh, have contributed their valued services. I speak the deep feelings of all Christian hearts here when I say that the word of God has been published in these evangelistic services with a clearness, a fulness, an urgent and melting earnestness, which set forth in all its glory the Saviour's love and sacrifice, and shut up the sinner to an immediate and absolute surrender of his soul to the compassionate and Almighty Redeemer,

I have now been a minister of Christ for more than twenty-eight years, and have listened to all varieties of preaching- in many sanctuaries and in other places--but more powerful, passionate, soul-stirring exhortations and appeals than I have heard night after night in this place, I do not expect to hear in this world; and I feel how tremendous will be the responsibility if all this has been passed through by anyone in vain. It has been to the glory of our God and Saviour this Exchange - so often filled with other echoes - has resounded with the glorious gospel, that the walls and roof have given back the hallelujahs of multitudes, not a few of whom have joined in the praise as a "new song" and that nightly on the floor and in the retiring-rooms there have knelt with their spiritual advisers, those who were struggling out of darkness and sin into the marvellous light of Christ's kingdom. Whatever becomes of the future, these things belong to the history of the past; and they will be memorable as showing the power of a revived Christianity to lay its hand upon all things, and subdue and consecrate all to Christ,

Truly wonderful has been the attendance for nearly a month on these nightly meetings. With a very few exceptions, the Exchange has been filled and repeatedly crowded with more than fifteen hundred auditors; nor has this been dependent to any marked degree on the presence of strangers, for some very large meetings have been addressed by local brethren alone; and the unfailing attendance and deep attention can only be ascribed to the presence of the Spirit of God. Let it be remembered that a congregation of a thousand represents in Edinburgh or Newcastle one in a hundred of the population: but here one in twelve or thirteen; and the testimony thus borne by God to the word of his grace will be appreciated. Through the ten days of the elections the attendance never declined; and on the night of the termination of the contest, a minister from a distance told me that he passed through a crowd of four hundred, addressed by one noble lord on the issue of the poll, to enter the Exchange, and found to his joy a crowd three times as large, listening to another member of the peerage preaching Christ and exhorting his hearers to make their own calling and election for eternity sure. 

These things are mentioned to the glory of God, who heard the earnest prayers of his people that the election might not sweep away spiritual impressions, and made it pass without a single case of intemperance chargeable to any resident in the locality coming before the magistrates in the election week. In the preceding week there was but one case, and in the first week after the awakening, there was none at all. These facts open up a vista into the future of the most cheering kind and show that Christ's name needs only to be exalted to banish every crime and vice from the face of the earth.

...As to the number of those who have been conversed with at the after-meetings, our statistics, though tolerably full, are not complete. No minister has reported those conversed with by him that belonged to his own congregation, but only those belonging to other congregations, and even in these returns there are a good many blanks. It is therefore a matter of joy that, of persons reported as conversed with, the number is upwards of two hundred in the past four weeks; and it cannot be doubted that those conversed with by their own ministers not reported will make up at least a hundred more. At each of the deeply interesting and delightful meetings held with professed converts, the number has approached a hundred, and the hour was, from necessity so inconvenient that many, especially young men, found it impossible to attend. In addition to these, there are many who have experienced a saving change without ever coming near an inquiry-room, or having a conversation with any minister or representative of the movement. I am afraid to say how many of this class I believe to exist, and therefore confine myself to those who have made, more or less directly, some declaration; and of these, it is enough to say, that while generally young persons, and trained in Christian families, they are by no means exclusively so, for some are heads of families themselves, and others occupy positions of some responsibility. Amongst those conversed with are also backsliders reclaimed, and undecided persons who previously, and doubtless with good reason, passed as Christians, but in the deeper working of the Spirit of God lost their confidence in their state, and required to build again from the foundation. Still, with all this working on persons of maturer years, and a general risible quickening of older Christians, the characteristic stamp of the work here has been its prevalence among the young, who have grown up, in not a few cases several in a family "as among the grass, and as willows by the water-courses."  Nor is this confined to opening manhood and womanhood, but it extends to earlier years; in proof of which, in addition to much other evidence, may be mentioned the cheering fact, publicly stated by Mr Willetts, of the British School, that a spontaneous prayer meeting of the boys in attendance there, conducted also as an inquiry meeting among themselves, risen week by week from eleven to fifty-one present.

It would be easy to add to these facts and to open up some remarkable narratives of hopeful conversion, but it is judged better to pause, and simply to dwell on the increased spirit of prayer, as in the noonday and Saturday evening prayer meetings, and on the moral effect already produced on society, and on the people in a large workshop which I lately heard of as a place of peace and quietness, and where an oath would no longer be heard. These are the outward seals of this revival, and God grant that they may be permanent and that the same blessed force of conversion would lay hold on many more, making old things pass away, and all things become new.

The time seems now to have arrived to pursue this great movement into detail and to carry it into regions somewhat remote from its headquarters, that the whole town may partake of the benefit. With this view, retaining the Corn Exchange meeting as a rallying point on successive Lord’s day evenings, it is proposed to hold smaller meetings in the greens of Castlegate, in Tweedmouth, in the lanes of Berwick and in Spittal, devoting a whole week to each of these localities, but so concentrating labour, that the whole may be overtaken in a fortnight. The ministers and other labourers will be subdivided and we expect also help from a subdivided choir, which has hitherto so nobly supported this great movement. And we cannot doubt that the zealous cooperation of the numerous friends of the Saviour, older and younger, that has never failed us hitherto, will also attend this new effort and in the continued prayer meetings and other forms of service, assisting gathering in more souls to Christ. Sooner or later we must fall back on the ordinary agencies of the Christian Church, improved and invigorated, not only by new and fresh material to work with but by precious experience gained in dealing with the souls of men. But, meanwhile, we are called to additional and united special exertion and oh that God, in answer to our prayers, may bless the work of our hands! Oh that he may employ it for his own glory! And oh that the souls already so often and so earnestly appealed to hear, but have still resisted and others not yet reached, may now be effectually brought in and that this new step, preserving so much the old and yet breaking out into “regions beyond,” may be that of the Reaper going forth after a harvest well begun, into other whitening fields, to return again with rejoicing, “bringing his sheaves with him.”

"The Christian", February 19th, 1874.


On Sabbath evening (15th), notwithstanding the severity of the weather, every seat on the floor and in the gallery of the Corn Exchange was occupied, and a great number stood near the door. The Rev. Dr Cairns presided, and read the requests for prayer, which were numerous. The Rev Robert Scott took as the subject of his address the meaning of the name Jesus. Rev John Young, of Newington, Edinburgh, also addressed the meeting. Large meetings have been held this week in the British School, Spittal, and in the Mission hall, Hatter's-lane. Though the inquirers have not been so numerous as formerly, there are many proofs that the blessing is spreading in the Bible classes and in the community generally. There are instances of aged persons who have been acquainted with the truth all their days, but who have never experienced the liberty it bestows, coming to know it not in word only, but in power, and in the Holy Ghost and much assurance. The churches are now reaping the fruits of the work of grace in the unprecedented numbers who are observing the ordinance of the Supper for the first time.  the work. At the noonday prayer meeting on Tuesday, the Rev. Dr Brown stated he had received a letter from his daughter in St Petersburg, in which he said that a great interest in Divine things had been awakened there, and that daily meetings were being held which were largely attended. It was also stated that the accounts of the work in this country had awakened a great interest in Calcutta and Australia  It is intended to have some meetings next week for the special benefit of young men. - The Berwick Journal,

"The Christian', 26th March 1874.

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