Linenhall Street Presbyterian Church (1859)

Rev. Robert Knox, Moderator of the Belfast Presbytery and minister of Linenhall Street Church invited the converts to address his evening service on the first Sabbath of June. A colleague of Mr Knox describes the service: “On the first Sabbath in June, a meeting was held in Linenhall Street Church, and was addressed by two lay converts from Connor. The meeting was very large. The converts were intelligently acquainted with the Bible, and had felt the power of grace in their hearts: they possessed little learning beyond their knowledge of Divine truth and but for their great earnestness would not for five minutes have been listened to by any assembly in Belfast. But God hath chosen the foolish things of this world to confound the wise, and the weak things and things that are despised hath God chosen to overthrow the mighty. And God owned them. He signally put His approbation on their testimony. One woman fell down in a pew as if she had suddenly been smitten by an invisible but resistless energy. She cried out for mercy. The meeting was impressed indeed, but the impression was not very deep. Incredulity, despite our expectations, was very great. The woman may have been excitable. She may not have been a person of very strong mind, and other imaginations started up to account for her prostration, independently of the Spirit of God. And so the meeting dissolved.”

On the Tuesday following the same two converts, along with Mr Knox, held a revival meeting in Berry Street Presbyterian Church. At this service a young woman and a young man cried for mercy. Dr Hugh Hanna, the minister of the church, reports:

“After the meeting was formally dissolved, the people were reluctant to depart. The meeting was reconstituted, prayers were offered, and two others were brought to a deep conviction of sin, and expressed their feelings in such a way as made a profound impression on the audience.

The hand of God was visibly at work and acknowledged in our midst.

“The next evening was that of the congregational prayer meeting, conducted by the elders and other praying people in the congregation. There was no minister present: there was no exciting address, but God made bare His arm in a most marvellous way. Many were convinced and converted. The meeting was large, and great fear fell upon all the people. It was resolved to continue every evening the meetings that God had thus signally owned.

“There had been, for many months, in Great George’s Street Church (the Rev. Mr Toye’s) a faithful band who, on every evening of the week, besieged the throne of grace. They waited, like the believers of old, for the ‘Consolation of Israel.’ With the exception of these, the meetings in the Berry Street Church were the first assemblies identified with the revival movement in Belfast. And so they continued for six weeks on every evening of the week. The church was literally crammed; every available spot within and around it was occupied. Many thousands of souls must have been brought within the influence of the truth under the most solemn circumstances during those six weeks. Not only from the population of the town were their audiences drawn, but many earnest souls came from great distances in the country. It was now no uncommon thing for persons to travel forty miles for the sole purpose of seeking God where he was pleased so marvellously to manifest himself, and an incalculable good was done. During that period nearly eight hundred souls were visited at their own houses by the minister and office-bearers of the church—all brought under conviction of sin at the revival meetings. Many more, and by far a larger multitude, there is reason to believe, were overtaken by the grace of God, and brought to Christ by the silent inspiration of the Spirit. We are receiving proofs of this every day.

“The whole population was aroused. The Lord’s people rejoiced greatly. The churches were opened to accommodate the thousands that thronged with deepest earnestness to hear the word of God. And so the wondrous movement continued until flesh and blood could stand it no longer. The great excitement that worked the first stage of the revival subsided, and the gracious work continued, but under a quieter aspect. The world that walks by sight thought it external and said it was so. The irreligious press gloried in preaching the fiction to be a fact, as it had done all it could to disparage and misrepresent it during its more active manifestations. But the work continues very auspiciously still. In the churches of Townsend Street, Eglantine Street, Great George’s Street, Berry Street, among the Presbyterians; in Christ Church, Trinity, St. Paul’s, and St. John’s, among the Episcopalians, where faithful ministers labour; Donegall Place, Wesley Place, and Salem, among the Methodists, the Spirit of God has been mightily manifested. Many trophies have been rescued from the hands of Satan. In Belfast alone some tens of thousands have been brought under serious impressions. There is probably no evangelical church in the town where the attendance is not greatly increased at all the services. It was somewhat difficult once to get the ear of the people for the Gospel. But is open now, and hearts are open also. Wherever a minister chooses he may have a congregation in a short time, the great majority of whom will listen to him with the most reverent attention. It is undeniable that a mighty change has been effected in the character of society; that a mighty good has been accomplished. Multitudes, I believe, have been savingly converted to God, and the gracious work is progressing still. Every day we are accosted by some in tones and terms of heavenly rapture, as they tell of the same struggles of soul they had heard of in others, and of the precious Saviour they have found.”

Additional Information

I do not know where the church was.

Related Wells