What would the abbots have said if, centuries ago, while they were building the Abbey and church in the valley, and the chapel for pilgrims on the hill, the Lord had sent them a prophet and told them what has just taken place there?
A Conference of the followers of Christ, not for penances and self-mortifications, to gain holiness of heart through self-inflictions upon the body, nor for masses in the church, nor for pilgrimages to the shrine, nor for rites and ceremonies, but simply to wait on God in prayer together, and confer with each other, Bible in hand, concerning the precious things of the kingdom, and to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit in fulness, through simple faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, in full consecration to Him. Impossible as such a thing would have seemed to the abbots, it has just now come the Lord has brought the Abbey with its beautiful domain into the possession of those who have thus been using it for Him. The Baron Hambro, to whom it now belongs, after having expended, as I understand, some €25,000, about one half in the restoration of the Abbey church, and the other half upon the Abbey itself as his residence, has, in conjunction with his excellent wife, the Baroness Hambro, opened it for weekly Bible readings, and last week for a Conference for promoting deeper spirituality in the churches, and for the salvation of the before unconverted
Necessarily the number invited from a distance was small because the Abbey is about seven miles from the nearest railway station--Blandford-and there are no villages near in which lodgings could be obtained. Therefore, no more could be invited than could be conveniently cared for as guests at the Abbey. Rev. G. A. and Mrs Rogers, from Dover, Rev. G.Howard, from Derbyshire, Mr Mildmay, and others from various parts of the kingdom, with myself and wife from America, enjoyed the hospitality of the Abbey, and the clergy and people of the region attended from day to day. Rain set in the first day and continued till the last, but we were enabled from the first to thank God for it and ask Him to accomplish his own purposes by it. The attendance was large, all things considered, and the interest deep and increasing from the first.
Monday evening the Conference was opened by a prayer meeting in the Abbey church, quite full, and full of interest and promise.
'Tuesday morning at eleven we gathered in the ample library of the Abbey, and during two hours spent in prayer, praise, and close conversation, our hearts burned within us whilst our invisible Head communed with us and opened his Word to us, and opened our hearts to receive Him more fully than ever before. The afternoon was spent in a similar manner, in the beautiful hall of the Abbey. And the evening in evangelistic services in the church. Thus passed the days, day after day, until Friday noon, when we separated.
The scene in the church the last evening of the Conference was wonderfully impressive. Special invitation had from the first been given to the poor of the villages, who would be free in the evening, and they came in large numbers, regardless of the rain which fell heavily. And the last evening, when opportunity was given to all who had not already been converted and were now desiring to seek the Saviour, to manifest it by rising, nearly all the large assembly, except those already Christians, arose. And when the services closed almost all remained for the after-meeting. And when that was brought to an end, many still lingered to be spoken to. "Quite like the gate of heaven!" was the remark which fell on my ears from more than one.
W. E. B.
"The Christian," October 22nd, 1874.