Lewes - John Smith (1821)

In the month of June, he paid a visit to his friends at Brighton, and was deeply affected — to use his own words — "with the goodness of God in the kindness of the people." On the Sunday evening on which he preached there, the Spirit of God descended powerfully on the congregation. Many were deeply convinced of sin; fifteen or sixteen persons obtained pardon, and the meeting was continued till nearly midnight. On the following day, he attended the quarterly meeting of the circuit at Lewes. In the evening he preached, and the Lord granted the congregation a baptism of fire. His subject was the love of God to man; and he urged on his hearers the duty of loving God in return, from the consideration that this alone would fit them for heaven. For himself, he said, in his own pathetic style, he did love God, and he intended to get to heaven. He then appealed to the people, whether they would go with him. Pausing as for a reply, there was of course profound silence, and every heart seemed filled with the deepest emotion. Then turning to his friend Mr Calder, he said in a thrilling tone, " Brother Calder, will you go to heaven? " As well as he could articulate for weeping he replied, "By God's grace, I will." — " Hear him," cried Mr. S., with a loud voice, " he says he will; " and then, as if putting a seal to a solemn covenant, he feelingly added " Amen, — and now for all of you; God is here to receive your vow, and help you to fulfil it." The effect was magical: awe appeared to rest on every spirit, and multitudes testified that they had never before observed such an impression from simple and anointed eloquence.

Nothing can convey to the reader who never witnessed the exertions of the man, the degree of intense fervour to which he was wrought, by the time he had finished his sermon. He seemed rapt, inspired; and to a certain degree his auditors were carried with him. He then called on the Rev. John Pipe — who had succeeded him in the Brighton circuit — to pray.

The Spirit of intercession had come on him also, and with extraordinary earnestness he besought God to bless the circuit. Full of confidence and ardour, and forgetful of everything but the amplitude of the petition, Mr S. pronounced an Amen, like the sound of thunder. A second petition that God would bless the nation, elicited a second and still louderAmen. But when he who prayed, extending the exercise of his faith and charity, called on God to bless the world, Mr S. uttered at the extreme of his voice, an AMEN which thrilled through every heart, and seemed to infuse the energy of its faith into those who heard it; — "making," says Mr. Calder, " the three most memorable amens that I or I think any human being, ever heard." When the first service had concluded, and before the commencement of the prayer meeting which succeeded it, Mr S. rushed out into the street and lifting up his mighty voice, so that the people in their houses could distinctly hear him, he called on them to come and receive the blessing of a present salvation. Then returning into the chapel, he proceeded to assist in carrying on the prayer meeting and had the happiness of seeing that night about twenty souls delivered from the burden of their sins as were two more by his instrumentality on the following morning.

R Treffry's 'Life of John Smith' p150-2


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