A method of spiritual work has been greatly blessed in this town. In the early part of last winter, two rooms, above and
below, about thirty feet each in length were fitted up by Sir Arthur and Miss Cotton to meet various wants of those who were accustomed to resort to other than places of worship. The lower room was prepared as a coffee and reading room, with different friendly amusements. The upper room was adapted for meetings for prayer and exposition of God's Word. The attendance became so large, as to require the erection of two similar rooms, end-ways, with folding doors on each floor.
Men gave up the public houses to attend these rooms, boys forsook the streets to occupy their end of the building, and meetings of a religious character, besides an evening school, were held overhead every evening in the week. Bible classes were well attended, singing classes popular, meetings for preaching were crowded, and good eating and drinking, with an occasional spice of fun went on every day from 6 am till 10 pm except Sundays.
At eight o'clock there is a perceptible movement up the staircases to some gathering, much of the nature of the upper room at Jerusalem of old, some still remain or drop in at their pleasure. The loftier meetings closed, there is a return to the coffee rooms, the boys being sent home to their beds.
At a quarter to ten the portable harmonium is placed in the middle of the room, hymn books are distributed to the whole house, unfinished cups of coffee and games are left in situ, while the company stand and sing a well-practised tune,
accompanied by Miss Cotton on the instrument, who then reads a short portion of Scripture, and the evening terminates
in prayer. The men now drop off, the blind and the deaf man, usually found there, going arm-in-arm.
The whole spirit of this work is the testimony of Jesus. Whatever else is done or indulged in, it culminates in the gospel of full and complete salvation. The hymns and the addresses, and tone of those who lead, are directed to bring men to know the Lord and to possess the liberty of the sons of God. Many are the beautiful instances of those who were before slaves of sin, but who are now rejoicing in the freedom of Christ, having forsaken their evil habits.
The Beckenham rooms have been the chosen result for the working population in summer as well as winter, and the meetings have been continued, although Miss Cotton had been for several weeks absent, but has now returned.
On the 23rd a fellowship meeting was held of those who have, during the year, attended the weekly united prayer meeting in these rooms. Persons of different denominations spoke with much simplicity and earnestness in the language of the Kingdom of Christ; 100 individuals being present.
This is another illustration of the happy results of “the Public House without the drink” to the negative purpose of abstracting men from houses of an opposite character.
"The Christian," October 15th, 1874.