James Caughey Leeds Meeting - Oxford Place (1843)

The evening after my arrival in Leeds, through the kindness of the Rev. William Lord, Superintendent of the Leeds First Circuit, I had the pleasure of taking tea with a few of the principal friends. All appeared to be deeply anxious for a revival of the work of God. My soul was much encouraged by the congeniality of spirit I felt with these excellent persons. It was agreed that we should commence efforts for a revival in the Oxford Place chapel, which we did on the evening of the 23d of April, and concluded on the 5th of May. During that time the congregations were small, an only about thirty persons professed to have found peace. A meeting of the preachers was then called, and the Superintendents of the four circuits, the Rev. Messrs. William Lord, William Kelk, Thomas Harris, Alexander Strachan, with their colleagues, met, and after much conversation upon the work of God, it was agreed that I should visit the circuits in succession, and spend two weeks in each. Although my judgment was averse to such hasty movements, having always succeeded best in staying five or six weeks in a chapel, yet I gave up my will to surrounding counsellors, and our future proceedings were settled on the two weeks plan; at least, until each of the circuits should have had a visitation

The ministers and leaders of the Oxford place chapel have given me a pressing invitation to spend a few weeks with them, which has been accepted. Yesterday morning, (Sabbath, July 2,) we commenced “special services” there. I enjoyed a good degree of liberty on Col. i. 19. In the afternoon, I assisted the Rev. Mr West in the administration of the Lord’s Supper, at Brunswick chapel. It was a gracious season and the number of communicants unusually large. Returned to Oxford Place in the evening, and preached to (some say) four thousand people. Twenty-five sinners were converted to God.

Mr Caughey now resumes his account of the progress of the revival. He had begun a second series of meetings in Oxford Place chapel, and concerning which he says: The congregations were greatly increased, when compared with my first visit. This is the largest chapel I have ever preached in; indeed, I have been informed, it is the largest Methodist chapel in the world. It seats two thousand five hundred persons; but from the spaciousness of the aisles, etc., when crowded, admits one thousand more; and on Sabbath nights it was always full, and many had to go away who could not get in. Such a mass of people was a most sublime and imposing scene. The Lord graciously assisted my voice, so that I was distinctly heard in all parts of the congregation. What a contrast when compared with years gone by!

Eight or nine years ago, my voice was so feeble, it was often with the greatest difficulty I could make three or four hundred persons hear; now God has so enlarged its compass, as to reach the ears of three or four thousand. Perhaps this may tend to illustrate that important sentiment, that the Lord Jesus never calls a person to any great effort, or extraordinary duty, without the gracious intention of imparting a corresponding supply of strength for its accomplishment. I know not which to admire most, this or the society at Bruswick. They are truly a loving, gracious people. In the families of Mr Holt, Mr Dove, Mr Howard, and Alderman Musgrave, everything was done to render my visit to their circuit most agreeable and delightful. Their hospitality, and many acts of kindness, have left an indelible impression upon my heart. Did I not tell you, before I left America, that the Lord would give me fathers and mothers, and brothers and sisters? Nothing of all that God promised me has yet failed. With their ministers, the Rev. William Lord, the Rev. George B. Macdonald, and the Rev. Alfred Brett, I have formed a friendship that will last forever. The results of the four weeks in the above place of worship were very gratifying. Three hundred persons were enabled to declare that the blood of Jesus had cleansed them from all sin, and an equal number professed justification. A considerable portion of the latter were members of the Wesleyan church and several from other churches and circuits; so that the increase to the church at Oxford place, cannot be more than about one hundred persons.

On the following week I preached farewell sermons in St. Peter’s, Brunswick, and Oxford place chapels, with much comfort to my own mind, and, I trust, profit to others. We have taken some pains to obtain statistics of the revival, with regard to conversions, and as correct as possible. We find that upwards of sixteen hundred persons have professed justification. This embraces the work carried forward in the chapels of the Leeds four circuits. In my letters to you and ***, I have classed the new converts, so that you could see what proportion were Wesleyan, and from other churches and circuits in the country, and from the world.

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

Additional Information

This is/was the largest Methodist Chapel in the world, holding 2,500-3,500.

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