James Caughey Sheffield meeting - Ebenezer (1844)

I rejoice to inform you, that the special services in the Ebenezer Wesleyan chapel of this town - Sheffield - have been remarkably owned of God, in the conversion of sinners and the sanctification of believers.

At first, my congregations were small, but they increased more and more, and so did the number of the saved. Unlike most places I have visited, where I have been compelled to lay close siege to sinners, long and continued before they yielded, the sinners of Sheffield began almost immediately to surrender; for, although the first prayer meeting on Sabbath afternoon, May 12th, resulted in the conversion of one only, twenty-nine were converted at night after sermon. Considering the neighbourhood and in the circumstances of the society at Ebenezer, I felt at first a little surprised that the Superintendent, the Rev. J. P. Haswell, his colleagues, the Rev. J. Stinson, T. Dickin, and B. B Waddy, with the leading men on the Circuit, should have fixed upon this as the most suitable place to commence special efforts for a great revival - a decision, in which, I believe they were unanimous. I would have chosen the heart - Carver Street chapel - as the most likely place to find that warmth of temperament, and energy of talent, so necessary “to make a beginning.” The results, however, proved the propriety of their choice. The official brethren at Ebenezer entered into the work with their whole souls. The members, though generally poor in this world, but rich in faith, assisted us in mighty prayer. The noise was sometimes tremendous, but God was in it. No attempts were made abruptly to put it down; but by prudent management on the part of Mr. Haswell, when present, and others who had charge of the services in his absence, it was kept within bounds, and under a scriptural and judicious control, and was rendered subservient to arouse the careless and prayer-less to perceive and feel that religion was a subject worthy of the attention and energies of their fellow-townsmen. The influential and talented leaders of Carver Street, instead of standing aloof to see first how the battle would go, came up nobly to the help of the Lord. Reports spread like fire through all parts of the town; sinners of every grade of character crowded to the place. Some fled in terror, looking unutterable things - illustrating vividly that passage in the book of Samuel: “And the Philistines were afraid, for they said, God is come into the camp. And they said, Woe unto us! for there hath not been such a thing heretofore.” Every meeting brought more and more together. The noise was heard afar: “And when the Philistines heard the noise of the shout, they said, what meaneth the noise of this great shout? For, when the ark of the covenant of the Lord came into the camp, all Israel shouted with a great shout, so that the earth rang again.” 1 Sam. iv. Some people were “offended” at the tremendous “amens” and shouts of victory, which prevailed on every side. But such were exhorted to patience, and to beware of temptation - to remember also, that it was impossible, unless the lungs of the zealous people were as substantial as leather, or as Cicero expressed it, their bodies were “chiselled out of the rock, or hewn out of the oak;” or their voices were endowed with the unchangeability of the trumpet, that they could stand, for any considerable length of time, efforts so violent. The prediction proved too true. Toward the latter part of the second week, they began to flag; and there were evident marks of a humiliating and rapid tendency to the opposite extreme. Some had quite exhausted their strength, others had broken their voices; the “amens” were “few and far between.” This was the reaction some of us anticipated. Anyone, not acquainted with the secret power to which we owed our success, during the tempest of human feeling - the constraining and overpowering influences of the Holy Ghost - would have said, “The revival is at an end - the sparks of their own kindling are quite gone out - it is likely they will close the doors now and recruit ere they can muster another such exhibition.” But the work of God, which is not dependent upon much noise or little, but upon an influence from heaven, advanced without a pause. The hearts of the people were right with God. Wickedness was not in our camp, nor division of feeling or opinion. Many seemed, in their looks, to say: “Our hearts are with you, but we are weak; our strength is gone; we can do nothing but exercise faith, and pray in silence; go on, the Lord of hosts is with you, the God of Jacob is our refuge!” In the course of a week or so, they regained their energy, and were as ardent and zealous as ever; but, learning wisdom from the things they had suffered, they now prudently “husbanded their strength,” appropriating their “amens,” “hallelujahs,” &c., to those points of “onset or Victory,” where they could be used to the greatest advantage and effect. Their zeal being now according to knowledge, and guided by it, burned with a bright, steady, and ever-during flame - not a blue one night and extinguished the next, fitful and uncertain as the lightning in the evening cloud; but it kindled and ascended like the morning sun, advancing upward till it attained its meridian glory: as the sun, in the days of Joshua, it tarried over our Gibeon, “in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down;” I shall not say, “for the space of a whole day;’ or even during the remainder of the services in Ebenezer chapel, but it also extends, thus for, in Carver Street, until the Lord has avenged himself on his enemies and ours, gloriously. Many were the slain and healed of the Lord at Ebenezer. The meeting for the new converts, for the wounded also, and the slain, was a season never to be forgotten. The Ebenezer chapel was a symbolical Ebenezer to the vast assemblage of people on the night in question. By many tears and various expressions of joy, they seemed to say, almost universally, “This is our Ebenezer, for hitherto hath God helped us.” Perhaps the following report, or table, of the progress of the revival, which was handed to me, at the close of the services in the above chapel, by the secretary, Mr John Jepson, will afford you as good a view of the steady progress of this great work of God, as any other medium I could adopt: -

“DEAR Sir. The following is a faithful report of the numbers saved in Ebenezer chapel, from the 12th of May to the 3d of June, twenty-one days inclusive. In Jesus, affectionately yours,


Sheffield, Ebenezer Chapel, May 12 to June 3, 1844

Justified out of the World 323

Justified in Society 163

Blessing of Sanctification 262

Totals 748

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

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