First Presbyterian Church Donaghadee (1859)

"For the last fortnight, the good work has proceeded steadily here. In the early part of last week there were a great many prostrations, but for the last few days they have been considerably decreased. On Tuesday evening a very large open-air prayer meeting was held with about two thousand people present. The meeting was addressed by several gentlemen. A number of people had to be assisted to their homes, crying out under the weight of their sins and are now rejoicing in the mercy and love of their Redeemer; but, as is the universal experience, these extraordinary cases give but a very imperfect idea of the number of those who are seriously impressed about their souls' welfare and who are led to enquire, 'What must I do to be saved?' A great change, evident to all, has taken place in the whole face of society.

"Our town has a long and unenviable notoriety for drunkenness, but now a drunken man is rarely to be seen. The mouth of the profane swearer is also stopped — Sunday, made the most unholy day of all the seven, is now observed as a Sabbath — and many crowd the houses of worship who were never known to cross their threshold before. Two years ago open-air preaching attempted by various ministers of the assembly had to be abandoned for want of congregations; now anyone who wishes to hold a prayer meeting or preach on the street can, on any evening, have an audience of one thousand to one thousand five hundred people. "Is this state of things like the devil's work, as has been unjustifiably asserted by clergymen? Does Satan stir up the people to erect a family altar, to read the Bible, to attend prayer meetings, to crowd the House of God? Does he induce the drunkard to forsake his cups, the profane swearer his cursing, and the Sabbath-breaker to abide in the Lord's tent on that holy day? Yet these things have taken place and, it is strange to say, there are clergymen here who refuse to endorse the movement and assert, even publicly, that these prostrations are all caused by overcrowded, overheated houses, acting on excitable, nervous temperaments. Notwithstanding all this opposition, the friends of the movement have kept up prayer meetings, both in the open-air and in the churches, and have secured the services of various clergymen from a distance who have had, in every instance, such large and attentive audiences as were never convened in this town before. "Yesterday evening, the 10th, the Rev. Messrs. Thompson of Crossgar and Cather of Newtownards addressed a meeting of fifteen hundred people on the street. Dr Begg from Edinburgh preached in Mr.McCauley's church yesterday and who, for some time has been investigating the matter in the North of Ireland, gave his weighty evidence in favour of the genuineness of the movement. An incident occurred on Sabbath evening last in a neighbouring church which was too good to be lost. The 'powers that be' in that congregation are also unfavourable to the movement, and two young men were brought from Belfast to demonstrate that the revivals were merely a temporary excitement. Well, one of these young Goliaths', when addressing a prayer meeting on the night in question, stated boldly that all these bodily prostrations were nervous affections brought on by exciting speeches and asserted that he could, by the power of his language, so excite them and string their nerves to such attention that he could prostrate every man, woman and child before him! A countryman rose up and, stretching his arms, addressed the gentleman:— 'You have said you can by your own words, prostrate everyone in the house. Now, here am I, try your hand on me. You can't prostrate me.' The minister came and desiring him to sit down and be quiet, reminded him that it was a prayer meeting. 'No,' said he `I will not sit down. He says he can prostrate all in the house: but I believe nothing but the power of the Lord Jesus can prostrate anyone. Let him go on and try his hand on me.' It was, however, considered better not to try the experiment."  

"The Banner of Ulster" 11th August 1859

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