First Lurgan Presbyterian Church (1859)

Rev L E Berkeley himself writes:

“The first meeting for united prayer in which any of the Episcopal ministers took part, was held in the Presbyterian church, on the 28th June. Hitherto the brethren had rather kept aloof, doubting the real character of the movement, but from this period, their doubts seemed to vanish. At that meeting, one public conviction took place. It turned out a case, as far as man could judge, of real conversion to God. The court, in which the individual who was the subject of it dwelt, resounded for many days with the voice of singing and prayer. It had produced a solemnising effect upon the whole neighbourhood, and it became evident that if Satan was working, it was for the overthrow of his own kingdom.

“I left for the Assembly in Dublin on the 4th July, having made arrangements for the meetings during that week. On Tuesday evening the second meeting for united prayer, in which all denominations were represented, was held. A student of theology addressed it. There were six cases of public conviction. On their way home, and after reaching it, many were brought to their knees. The next day the people were giving way in all directions. No meetings had been announced for that evening, but the young people and others assembled voluntarily, filled both the schoolrooms as well as the church and continued till two or three o'clock in the morning in singing and prayer. On Thursday it was the same. United exercises were almost impossible. Every pew was a prayer meeting. Some were prostrated under agonising conviction. Others were rejoicing as having found Jesus. As in Israel of old, it was almost impossible to ‘discern the noise of the shout of joy from the noise of the weeping of the people.’ It is believed that hundreds were impressed during those two nights, and many of them truly converted to God. The labours of the Rev. Matthew Murphy, the licentiate previously referred to, on this occasion and subsequently, were eminently useful and much blessed.

“From him I heard, whilst attending the sittings of Assembly, of what was going on, and concluded at once that duty called me home. I had left on Friday morning, before a telegram arrived conveying the anxious wish of some of my people for my return. They feared that excitement was going too far. They knew the inflammable materials by which we were surrounded. The enemy would speak reproachfully, if any occasion should be given. The multitude came together that evening as usual. I had gathered up, as far as possible, the counsels of the brethren as expressed in the conference at the Assembly, and was prepared to act upon them. The people were exhorted and prayed with, and those who had found Christ were advised to ‘go home to their friends, and tell them how great things the Lord had done for them, and how He had compassion on them.’ With difficulty they were persuaded to disperse and after the church was closed, many assembled in the schoolrooms adjoining and continued for a time in devotional exercises.

“The next Sabbath was a high day indeed. The courts of God’s house were crowded. I read the second chapter of the Acts. ‘No,’ said a woman to herself, as I read on, ‘I am not drunken,’ and she bowed down on her knees in the pew, pouring out her heart to God, and had shortly to be removed. Another in the gallery cried aloud to God, but the singing of a psalm quietened the people and left time for her removal also. At the close of the service a young man was helped out, whom I found shortly after in the school-room in a very agony of prayer, wrestling with God, and asking help against Satan. He continues steadfast in the faith and hope of the gospel.

“The movement passed from one part of the country round here to another, and in some places, of course, the impression was more marked and manifest than in others. I remember one day in the beginning of harvest driving out to see a person in a rural district. No work was being done in the neighbourhood. The people were gathered in groups on the public roads, literally walking, and leaping, and praising God, or assembled in their houses engaged in exercises of devotion. No manner of labour was being attended to, though the fields were white to the harvest. The concerns of the soul and eternity were occupying exclusive attention.

The rector of the town, Rev. Thomas Knox, lists the immediate results of the revival as follows: “First, congregations, both in church and at cottage lectures, greatly increased. The increase is composed, in a great measure, of young men and women who were formerly indifferent to spiritual matters. Secondly, the communicants nearly doubled, and from the same class of persons. Thirdly, adult classes have sprung up of persons anxious for instruction. Fourthly, a young men’s Society, established by the exertions of my curate, the Rev. T. Cosgrove. They assist in district visiting and distributing tracts that we supply them with.

“I may also add, that a more religious tone pervades the entire neighbourhood. Drunkenness has declined, and we have observed no case of relapse in those who had really been affected at the period of the revival. Two or three Roman Catholics who had then joined our congregations, have been with us ever since, and are daily studying Scripture and attending the classes. These are the principal features. We require accommodation for five hundred more, at least, in the church, which I hope will be ready for them in about eighteen months.”


The revival broke out at Lurgan on Sunday morning, July 3rd, in the Presbyterian meeting-house, where a young woman was stricken. In the evening, at the Primitive Wesleyan chapel, there were eight similar cases, including one young person who went, to mock and was carried out calling aloud for mercy. The work soon extended to other Protestant Churches, and the Methodist ministers, both Wesleyan and Primitive, threw themselves into it most fervently, preaching in the open air, holding special services in the chapels and other preaching-places, and visiting the penitents in their houses. At one of these meetings, in the Wesleyan chapel the power of God was so manifest that the Rev. John Armstrong exclaimed, "Pentecost returned! Pentecost returned! Glory! glory! Hallelujah!" The Wesleyan chapels at Bluestone, Ballynacor, and Bannfoot were also the scenes of many glorious displays of Divine power and grace. In the middle of October, it was estimated that more than a thousand souls had been converted in the Lurgan Primitive 'Wesleyan chapel alone.

From 'History of Methodism in Ireland', Volume III, by Crookshank, p516

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