James Caughey Hull meeting - Waltham (1843-1844)

Having received an invitation to the Hull West Circuit, from the superintendent, the Rev. Thomas Martin, I preached in Waltham Street chapel, last Sabbath morning; but in such a “rough and unpalatable manner,” that many were offended. At night, I came forward with a text, which had for some time rested upon my mind, with solemn weight: “This year thou shalt die.” The warning was attended with an unusual influence from God, and about forty sinners were converted. This display of the power of truth, together with the solemn and impressive services of “the watch-night,” have given an impulse to the revival, which I trust it will retain during the entire special services on this circuit.

In a letter bearing date of Feb. 28, (1844,) Mr Caughey resumes his notices of the Hull revival as follows; You will be rejoiced to hear that the revival is advancing with rapidity and power. The great end which every conscientious preacher of the gospel should have in view, is being accomplished daily in this town the conversion of sinners to God. The effects of truth upon scores and hundreds of the sons and daughters of wickedness, are distinct and undeniable. Since the last day of the last year, my labours have been confined to the Hull West Circuit. We continued the services in Waltham Street chapel, from the 31st of December till the 17th instant. During that time, the congregations were large, beyond anything I had yet seen in a revival. The chapel, on the weeknights, was often “filled to overflowing,” long before the hour had arrived for preaching. Every service, during the above period, was marked by a gracious and constraining influence from above. There were seasons, too, when the power of God was revealed in a manner most astonishing. An extraordinary manifestation of this kind occurred in the above chapel, on Friday night, 2d instant, which I shall never forget, nor will the multitudes that were present. During the first forty minutes of the sermon, there was an awful solemnity, “a general calm” not unlike a prelude to one of your American storms of thunder and lightning and rain -“ a silent awe that dares not move,” pervaded the vast assembly. So profound was the silence that one would have supposed the falling of a pin could have been heard in any part of the chapel. From, say, the fortieth to the forty-eighth minute of the discourse, there were occasional flashes of divine power, succeeded by suppressed sounds from different parts of the congregation, indicating emotions of no ordinary character. The preaching was very far from being of a boisterous kind; but when the preacher, arrived at that point where it was strongly, but not with violence, urged that full salvation should be expected every moment, by faith, there was a divine feeling. “If we are sanctified by faith,” said the preacher, “why not now? This very moment, this instant, now?” my brother. If “Your soul breaks out in strong desire, This perfect bliss to prove; Your longing heart is all on fire, To be dissolved in love.” More rapid than thought shall be your transition into a state of perfect purity and perfect love. If you dare to believe, he cleanses now; in answer to your powerful prayer it shall be done. Believe that he does save you from sin now, and just now, the blood of Jesus Christ; his Son does cleanse you from all sin, by the power of the Holy Ghost, and you shall be able to testify, “Let men exclaim, and fiends repine,”- “‘Tis done, thou dost this moment save,

With full salvation bless;

Redemption through thy blood I have,

And spotless love and peace!”

At this moment, an influence, evidently from Heaven, came upon the people suddenly {Acts ii.2}; it seemed like some mighty rushing - like the bursting of a storm of wind upon some extensive forest. The entire congregation was in motion; some preparing to fly from the place, and others in the act of prostrating themselves before the Lord God of hosts.

Cries for mercy, and piercing supplications for purity of heart, were heard from all parts of the agitated mass - on the galleries, as well as throughout the body of the chapel; while purified souls were exulting in the loftiest strains of adoration. The scene was, beyond description, grand and sublimely awful. It was “God’s own house, and heaven’s gate.” Poor sinners were amazed, and fled; but some of them fell down, some distance from the chapel, in terror and agony. Many, however, remained, venturing the publican’s plea, “God be merciful to me a sinner!” My soul, full of holy awe, trembled before the majesty of God. Like Elijah, who covered his face in his mantle when the Lord passed by, I was glad of a place of concealment in the bottom of the pulpit. The superintendent minister, the Rev. Thomas Martin, who was with me in the pulpit at the time, was so overpowered, that he could do nothing but weep and adore. Thus it continued for about twenty-five minutes, when the Lord stayed his hand, and there was a sudden and heavenly calm, full of sunshine and glory. The number converted and sanctified on that night was great. It appears the influence was almost as powerful outside the chapel as within. An unconverted man, who was standing without at the time waiting to accompany his wife home, said when she came out, “I don’t know what has been going on in the chapel, or how you have felt, but there was a very strange feeling came over me while I was standing at the door.”

A few such shocks of almighty power would turn the kingdom of the devil in any place or city upside down, and go far to convert the entire population. I have seen but few such manifestations of divine power during the course of my ministry; that which occurred at the Port Jackson camp-meeting, on the western banks of Lake Champlain, very much resembled it.

On Thursday night, the 17th instant, we held a meeting for the benefit of the new converts, in Waltham Street chapel. In consequence of many being in the employment of others, some also unavoidably detained by their own business, and several belonging to country circuits, who could not attend there were not so many present as some expected. Three hundred and fifty persons came forward to the altar, and in the clearest manner declared they had obtained a conscious knowledge of the forgiveness of sins, through the precious blood of Christ, during the progress of the revival in Waltham Street chapel. The Rev. Thomas Martin, and one of his colleagues, the Rev. William Hurt, spoke to each person separately, and expressed themselves fully satisfied with their experience, and exhorted them, in the most effectual and pathetic manner, to hold fast the beginning of their confidence steadfast unto the end. It was, indeed, a gracious season. Such weeping, praying, and rejoicing, I have seldom seen. More than two hundred persons came forward to be prayed for after the new converts had retired to their seats.

Taken from 'Methodism in Earnest' at www.revival-library.org

Additional Information

Sadly the original Hall fell into decay and was demolished after the Second World War.

The front of the building is on King Edward Street.

Waltham Street Chapel, a brick building of no great pretensions, was opened in 1815. The interior was re-decorated in 1889

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