James Caughey Hull meeting - Gt Thornton St (1844)

We commenced a series of services in another chapel on the hull West Circuit, - Great Thornton Street chapel, - on Sabbath, 18th February; and since then, about one hundred sinners have been converted, to God, and about fifty sanctified throughout - soul, body, and spirit.

On Monday, the 25th instant, an old man, nearly seventy years of age, called upon me for advice, he stated that, during several months past, he had been tempted, in the most uncontrollable manner, to commit murder, by way of vengeance. An individual, it seems, in this town, had wronged him in some lawsuit, by which he lost his character, and it had driven him to desperation. “ When I pass him upon the street,” said the old man, “ I turn round and pray that all the curses contained in the one hundred and ninth Psalm may fall upon him and his family. A few days ago,” he added, “when walking on the Pier Head, I prepared myself to attempt his and my own destruction; and had he not at the moment linked arms with another gentleman, I should have clasped him in my arms, and leapt with him into the Humber. A short time since, I loaded a pistol, and waylaid him, and would have blown his brains out, had he not escaped me by taking another way.” Poor man! I endeavoured to draw aside the veil, and God enabled me to show his amazed conscience how a malignant devil had been operating in the dark, and with a settled and infernal purpose of bringing him to an ignominious end, and his soul into a terrible hell. “My aged man! You are a sinner, and you know it. Your own trespasses against God have been great and many; and, be assured, if you cannot forgive a fellow creature his offences against you, neither will God forgive yours against him. With the Lord’s Prayer, I presume, you are familiar; - forget not that part of it, ‘Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us.’ Remember, also, my dear Sir, that this is the only passage in that beautiful prayer upon which our Saviour thought proper to make any comment; and what he says is most emphatic: ‘for, if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.’ Leave the matter with God. Pray for your enemy, but avenge not yourself, or you will bring your grey hairs with sorrow and dishonour to the grave; neither give place unto wrath; because it is written, ‘Vengeance. belongeth unto me, and I will recompense, saith the Lord.’ ‘Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.’” After prayer, he departed, solemnly affected, and I trust, either delivered from his purpose, or at least firmly resolved to struggle against the horrible impulse. Who can tell but this conversation may save two souls from perdition? - and this is worth my visit to Hull. You will be gratified to learn, that the Lord continues his great goodness to me, with regard to providing me comfortable homes in a strange land. At the house of Mr William Field, Market Place, Mr West, Holderness Road, Mr James Crow, Beverly Road, and at the mansion of Mr Thomas Holmes, where I am at present, I have been entertained IN a most hospitable manner. In the lovely families of these kind and generous friends, I have enjoyed every comfort I could desire. May the God of grace and providence reward them for their great kindness to me, his unworthy servant!

On the night of the 6th March, in Great Thornton Street chapel, an exhortation was given before the text, on the absolute necessity of an increase of the spirit of prayer among the people of God, in order to the continuance of the revival. My soul was burdened and pressed down before the Lord, and I could only find relief, by telling them all that was in my heart - all that I considered as standing in the way of a larger outpouring of the Holy Spirit. The Lord helped me to speak words of fire and that declaration of the Holy Spirit was accompanied with uncommon power, “for as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children.” Isaiah lxvi. 8. The congregation was then requested to kneel down and spend a few minutes in silent prayer. Nearly all bowed, and the spirit of agonizing prayer came down upon the people in a wonderful manner.

Ten minutes had scarcely elapsed, when the cries of penitent sinners began to mingle with the earnest pleadings of God’s servants. The hand of the Lord rested upon the entire audience. None moved from the place, though some looked unutterable things. Earnest prayer ascended from almost every part of the chapel, even from the galleries, to a perfect tempest of human voices. Zion was now travailing for the salvation of sinners, and we were afraid to interfere. We left the people safe with God; although he seemed to say, “Let me go, for the day breaketh.” “They cannot let thee go, my Lord! Hear, O hear their cries, my gracious Master! Hast thou not said, ‘Agonize to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able?’ And hast thou not declared, ‘The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence,’ - that is, permits it, invites to it, ‘and the violent take it by force?’ So far from spurning away the eager multitude, or resisting their vehemence as irreverent, and derogatory to the glory of thy divine Majesty, thou must, thou wilt let them ‘take the blessing from above,’ that they may ‘wonder at thy boundless love,’ that they may adore thy matchless benevolence and love, in Jesus Christ our Lord. ‘Their powerful groans thou canst not bear, Nor stand the violence of their prayer, Their prayer omnipotent.’”

The visitation lasted about three-quarters of an hour. I watched the amazing scene with holy awe and indescribable emotion, till the many hundreds of voices seemed to have arrived at that point peculiar to prevailing prayer - when it appeared as if God was speaking to each stormy soul, “Peace, be still! - What is thy name - what wilt thou that I should do for thee?” And from the gradual descent and mellowing tones of many voices, - softening down like “the noise of many waters,” - there could be no doubt, their subdued answers received his approbation, and that he was saying to every wrestling Jacob, “Be it unto thee even as thou wilt; thy name shall be no more Jacob, but Israel; for, as a prince, hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.” Gen. xxxii. 28.

At this moment, the powerful organ, accompanied by the voices of a triumphant multitude, pealed forth, -

“See how great a flame aspires, Kindled by a spark of grace! Jesus’ love the nation fires, Sets the kingdoms in a blaze: To bring fire on earth he came; Kindled in some hearts it is: O that all might catch the flame, All partake the glorious bliss!”

The chapel was filled with the glory of God, and every face wore the heavenly expression, “Lo, God is here! But how dreadful is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.” Gen. xxviii. 17. Some there were, it is true, who yet groaned, “O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death? God have mercy upon me, a sinner!” but, before the meeting closed, they also were enabled to rejoice in a pardoning God.

The revival is advancing with great power in this town. We are now holding special services in Great Thornton Street chapel, which is the fifth chapel I have visited, since my arrival in Hull. I have preached in the above chapel every night with the exception of Mondays and Saturdays, during the last eight or nine weeks. On the 3rd instant we held a meeting for the new converts, similar to that which I described to you in my letter from Cork. There were present about four hundred persons, every one of whom was happy in the pardoning love of God. This may give you some idea of the rapidity and extent of the work, as all these were converted to God during the previous eight or nine weeks; but there were many others, who had found peace during the same time, who could not be present at this meeting. Some were detained by the business of their employers, some with their own business. There were, also, several sailors saved, who had gone to sea; four in one ship, besides nearly one hundred from the country circuits. Letters from some of these were read in the meeting, which produced an excellent effect.

My labours in Hull were brought to a conclusion during the last week in April, by preaching farewell sermons in three of the chapels. The crowds were tremendous, and the affection of the people unbounded; especially that of the new converts. It was with the greatest difficulty the brethren could extricate me from the multitudes, which surrounded the carriage on my departure from Great Thornton Street chapel.

From 'Methodism in Earnest' at www.revival-library.org

Additional Information

The chapel mostly destroyed by fire, new hall destroyed by bombs in war.

'Great Thornton Street Chapel has a façade of a completeness and beauty unparalled in Methodism. It was erected in 1842, at a cost of £7,000. This splendid structure, which is in the Corinthian style of architecture, is approached by a broad flight of steps. The main front, which is of Hare Hill stone, is composed of a magnificent portico, the pediment being supported by a line of eight finely fluted pillars, with enriched capitals, and the loggia, in which are the entrances, is supported in the centre by two circular pillars. Two wings, at some distance from the centre, are connected by open arcades or galleries, the roofs of which are supported by two lines of handsome pillars of the Ionic order. The entire frontage is 160 feet in length; the portico is 66 feet wide, and the apex of the pediment rises to a height of 56 feet. The columns are 30 feet high and three feet in diameter. Internally, it is elegantly and chastely fitted up, in harmony with the external appearance. It has recently been renovated, at a cost of £2,000. This chapel is known as the Conference chapel, owing to the sittings of the Conference, when in Hull, being held here.' Seated 1,400. One wing survived into 1950's. It was replaced by Thornton Hall.

Great Thornton Street does not exist any more. About half of it is now called Ice House Road; the rest of it joined up with Waverley St (a tiny bit still exists). The chapel lay half-way between Adelaide St and William St, on the west side of Gt Thornton St.

Related Wells