Norton-Radstock (1862)

In this village the Spirit's power has recently been witnessed in a very signal manner, resulting in the conversion of sinners not only by scores but hundreds, and including some of the most profligate of the neighbour­hood, the change in whom is the more apparent. The Revival in question has not been confined to any particular section of the church, but the three several branches of Methodism exist­ing have shared largely therein. In connexion with the United Methodist Free Church, it was resolved to hold a series of special services during the early part of the winter; but the brethren felt disheartened at the few persons who came besides the regular hearers and members of the church. Hence it was suggested that something more special and out of the ordinary course should be done in order to bring the outstanding popu­lation under the word, Messrs. Anthony and Smith, who have for some time been labouring in Bath and other places with considerable success, accepted an invitation to "come over and help us." The congregations soon increased, were often crowded, and many hard hearts became subdued under the sometimes pathetic and at other times more alarming ap­peals which were made night after night. Gratifying, indeed, has it been to see youths of both sexes in great numbers en­dorsing practically the sentiment as well as engage in singing those lines:

“Vain delusive world, adieu,

With all of creature good;

Only Jesus I'll pursue,

Who bought me with his blood."

The deep solicitude of many of those young persons who first found peace for the salvation of their old companions was most striking. A beautiful illustration of the Saviour's words to Peter, "When thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren." Thus were these new converts seen in different parts of the chapel quietly exhorting others to come and taste with them the joys of salvation, and conducting those who were so dis­posed to the communion or other place set apart for seeking souls, and then labouring there to point them to the Lamb of God who taketh away the sin of the world. Among many very affecting cases a few may be instanced. A young man who had been the subject of much prayer and many entreaties was, notwithstanding, about to leave the chapel undecided, when three or four of his converted companions surrounded him; and such was the earnestness of their appeals, mixed with tears and audible sobs, that the youth could hold out no more, but sank there upon his knees, and soon after went for­ward as an avowed seeker of salvation, which he soon obtained, and has since been equally concerned in his turn for the salva­tion of others. A man more advanced was spoken to about his soul, who replied, "Well, let me have a few minutes to think about it." He thought, decided, and was soon observed to leave his seat and join the awakened ones at the communion- rail, and the same evening was heard praising God for deliver­ing mercy, and pleading earnestly for the emancipation of others. Another of middle age, whose agony under the burden of sin was intense, sprang upon his feet, and with radiant countenance and uplifted eyes and bands, exclaimed, "Bless the Lord; I am free! I am free! I am free!" One who had been quietly seeking the Lord for some time, but would not consent to make an open confession of it, was at length induced to go with other seeking ones, which he had no sooner done than he said rejoicingly, "The snare and I can now believe that I am saved" On a Monday evening, at the ordinary prayer-meeting, the Spirit's operations were experienced in an overwhelming degree; four obtained mercy, two of whom had been champions in the service of Satan, and almost a terror to the neighbour, but are now regular in the house of God, meekly sitting at the feet of Jesus, evidently anxious to learn all the lessons of his grace. The Sunday-school, also, been favoured with a special visitation. It had been arranged to spend the whole of the Sabbath afternoon in special prayer for the salvation of the children, in answer to which the awakening Spirit was poured forth. An adjoining room was set apart for anxious inquirers, and there about forty, in­cluding some of the junior teachers, were enabled to rejoice in hope of the glory of God, the most of whom are still walking in the light of God's countenance after the lapse of more than three months, some few having, it is to be regretted, grown weary in well-doing. The total number professing at this place of worship to find peace was about 150, eighty of whom have united themselves in church-fellowship here; others elsewhere in this and the neighbouring villages. It is gratifying to add that Messrs. Anthony and Smith are now labouring occasionally in other parts of the county with similar success.

From the 'Revival Newspaper', Volume VI, page 101.

Additional Information

An 1882 map shows a Primitive Methodist Chapel where marked; another in Frome Road, about 200 yds on the right after the junction with Frome Old Road and a Wesleyan Chapel about 50 yards after Buckland Place. The United Methodist Free Church is not on the map, so perhaps it had closed or turned into a Primitive.

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