Our dear brethren have come among us in dark, wintry weather, but there has been no gloom or coldness in any of their meetings, nor have rain and fog diminished the crowds that have come to hear them. They have evidently come "in the fulness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ," and they have found awaiting them, to all appearance, "a people prepared for the Lord."
The accounts of the work elsewhere given by THE CHRISTIAN, which has been largely circulated, have contributed in no small measure to this.
Many thousands of Christian people have been praying for Manchester and hundreds of thousands of prayers have risen to God from Manchester herself for a blessing on the labours of his servants. The preparatory work, indeed, has been going on all the year, especially since the month of April, when united evangelistic services were held in almost all the Nonconformist places of worship throughout the district. These preparatory meetings were brought to a close last Saturday, with a Communion Service, in which upwards of 2,000 Christians of various denominations joined.
Mr Murray has told the readers of THE CHRISTIAN something of the meeting for workers on Sunday morning. To those who know the ordinary habits of Manchester, the attendance was astonishing, numbering daily, if not quite, 2,500 persons. Most of these had walked distances varying from one to three miles, some far more, though the rain fell in torrents through a thick, cold fog.
Perhaps the first feeling with many, after curiosity was satisfied, was something like disappointment. But soon the meeting was filled with an influence quite distinct from any of the usual effects of oratory. It seemed as if, as in the olden time, "the Holy Ghost fell on them that heard the word." Mr Moody's theme was "Christian Courage," and in dwelling, upon it he evidently sought to strike the keynote for all the services to follow. When, at the close of the address, the hymn was sung, "Hold the fort," few eyes were dry. Many, very many, earnest Christian workers, who have been toiling long in discouragement, felt as they joined in the stirring strain that the much-longed-for, sorely-needed help had indeed come.
The work has been going on since, much as it did during the first week or fortnight in Dublin, and in other places. There is no doubt that Messrs Moody and Sankey have already made a most favourable impression upon a large portion of the Christian public of our city. The charm of Mr Sankey's affectionate nature has been felt by many, as well as the power of his gift of song. The gifts which fit Mr Moody to be the leader of a religious movement like the present are recognised by everyone. Men accustomed to authority willingly put themselves under his orders. He inspires confidence. All feel at once his practical good sense and singleness of purpose. Among his natural endowments is a power of pathos which must tell everywhere, but will tell especially upon a Lancashire audience. It seems to lay hold of the men even more than of the women. In his energetic, vigorous nature there is a great depth of tenderness, which now and then breaks forth in his addresses with extraordinary power. Above all, he feels and speaks as though he felt that the excellency of the power is of God, and not of us.
The crowds which flock to hear our friends, if they do not increase, continue undiminished. Already not a few have found peace in Jesus through their word. Mr Moody has more than once said in public that nowhere, during the first week of his labours, have such meetings been held as in Manchester. Still, it would be folly to suppose that the work is more than just beginning. The masses, the general public, are still almost untouched. Manchester is tenacious of the right of independent judgement and will make up her mind for herself. And more than this, the process with the Lancashire public is somewhat slow. Beneath an apparent mobility, which may easily deceive a stranger, there is a cast of thought and feeling strongly conservative. When one thinks of the enormous population gathered in our city and the circumjacent towns, one cannot forbear the wish that the visit of our friends could be prolonged, at least, a few weeks beyond the too brief month which they have promised us.
FROM REV. C. A. DAVIS.
The first week of the meetings in Manchester has been full of good omen. The work of God for which we have so long prayed and waited has opened with power. God is bending in blessing over the city. An awakening and reviving breath from heaven has for some time been felt on the face of the churches. For months past strong supplication has gone up to the throne from the noon and other prayer meetings in various parts of the city, and the churches have been gradually drawing closer together under the influence of the hope of revival.
This spirit of union found delightful expression in the Communion services held in two central chapels last Saturday week. Over 2,000 members from many churches gathered around the Lord's table to enjoy a hallowed season of fellowship with each other and with the Head of the Church. The heartfelt greetings between brethren of different denominations told how truly the bond of union in Jesus was felt, and how really the Church of Christ was one, though varied in its outward aspect to the world. Christ indicated as a result of the manifested union of his people, the world's belief in his divine mission. We are seeing now an exemplification of that truth. Following close upon these demonstrations of the oneness of the Church, there exists in the city a remarkable eagerness to hear the gospel.
On Sunday week, notwithstanding the drenching rain, the Oxford Hall was filled with Christian workers at eight o'clock in the morning, and hundreds were unable to gain admission. Mr Moody delivered an inspiring address on "Courage, Perseverance, and Love," the three requisites of all workers for God. "All the men whom God used in Scripture times were courageous men. God could not use a man destitute of courage. When Elijah fell into despondency under the juniper tree God had to find another man; Noah worked for 120 years without seeing results, and yet never got discouraged. We were to be sure God called us to the work. When Moses went out to deliver his brethren before God sent him, 'he looked this way and that way;' but a man whom God has sent never needs to look over his shoulder; straight forward is the word for him." Sharp, graphic, clinging utterances like these sparkled out all over this animating address, which was followed up by Mr Sankey singing, "Here am I; send me."
The afternoon meetings were still more remarkable. The incessant rain had not abated, yet the overflow, after the filling of the Oxford Hall, crowded the Free Trade Hall, where the service was carried on by various ministers till the American brethren arrived from the other gathering. Mr Moody's bright and practical exposition of "the gospel" was listened to with lively attention. A mighty interest was gathering, which broke forth with wonderful power on the following evening. That Monday evening meeting in the Free Trade Fail will live long in the memories of those who witnessed it. None could withstand the conviction that the Spirit of God was operating in the solemnised assembly as they beheld, under the influence that swayed the meeting during Mr Moody's appeals, businessmen, one after another, rising to be prayed for. The address had been growing in earnestness; the speaker seemed to come into contact with the souls of the people before him. He requested any who wished to be prayed for to rise. He quietly repeated the invitation...
"The Christian," December 10th, 1874.
Manchester, I am pleased to say, is now on fire. The most difficult of all English cities, perhaps to be set on fire by anything but politics, it is now fairly ablaze and the flames are breaking out in all directions.
Yesterday (Dec. 6) the Free Trade Hall, within whose walls scenes of no common interest and excitement have often been witnessed, presented a spectacle such as those who beheld it will not easily forget. The Rev. Dr McKerrow, my venerable predecessor in the ministry, assured me that he had seen no such sight, even in the most excited political times, during the forty-seven years of his life in Manchester, as that which he saw there on Sunday afternoon.
The building was densely crowded. Not an inch of standing room was unoccupied. Long before the appointed hour, hundreds found it impossible to gain admission. And Mr Moody, in what terms shall I describe his address? Theological critics might have said there was nothing in it, but only eternity will reveal how much there came out of it. I should not be surprised if hundreds of conversions should result from that single mighty appeal. Taking for his text the first question addressed to them, "Where art thou?" he brought it home to the bosom of every hearer with a power and pathos that were simply irresistible. Having referred to the case of a young man who had cried out in the inquiry room on Friday night, "Oh, mother, I am coming!" the young man himself sprang to his feet, and exclaimed in tones of impassioned earnestness, "That was Me!" The effect was electrical. Not an eye but was suffused with tears. The whole vast assembly was impressed with a profound sense of the presence and power of the Holy Ghost.
The meeting for young men in the evening was equally wonderful, no fewer than seventy-one having remained behind as anxious inquirers, not a few of whom went home rejoicing in the peace of God that passeth understanding.
There is only one sentiment, I feel convinced, in the hearts of all God's children in this vast community in regard to this great work, and that is a sentiment of devout thankfulness to our heavenly Father that He has sent among us two such men, full of faith and power, and yet eminent for humility and lowliness of mind. "The Lord hath done great things for us, whereof we are glad."
Dec. 11. -The meetings of that memorable Lord's-day gave a tone of solemnity and a character of power to all the meetings of the week. The tide rose steadily, day by day, until it became full, overflowing the bank in all directions--a very spring tide of blessing; and only eternity will reveal how many immortals are now launching out upon its waters in the bark of a simple trust in the Son of God. Oh, that in the end an "entrance may be ministered unto them abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ!" May every soul whose hope of salvation is now being fixed upon Jesus, when the storms of temptation and sin are all past, be found " safe within the veil!"
"The Christian," December 17th, 1874.