Sheffield Methodist Chapel - Bramwell (1795-1798)

A letter from Bramwell to Rev George Marsden

‘there was a general outpouring of the Spirit. We desired all in distress to come into the vestry, when eight souls were delivered from the bondage of sin. Eight more received pardon on the Sunday. Monday was our love-feast, and near the close of it, the power of God came upon us. We concluded at the usual time, but begged of all in distress to stay, and before eight o'clock, it appeared to many good men that more than twenty souls were delivered from guilt: the work has gone forward every day since, more or less. I have had clear evidence, and, to speak within bounds, I am persuaded of more than a hundred persons having found liberty in three weeks.'

From, ‘Memoir of the life and ministry of William Bramwell by William Bramwell and his family, published in 1848, p49. Another valuable correspondent gives the subjoined account of those glorious days! "When M. Bramwell was announced as the preacher appointed for Sheffield, there was a degree of expectation excited in the society, that the Lord would come and revive the work of Divine grace by his instrumentality. Mrs Cooper had been very useful in the conversion of many individuals and had provoked a spirit of prayer and exertion that had been blessed of God. Of the number of those that had been brought to God was Mr Edward Miller, and a few others, who seemed prepared to enter into a revival, and to second it with all their powers. Mr Bramwell was no sooner heard than the genuine power was experienced. A kind of electric sensation was felt in the whole society. Present effects were looked for, and present effects were received. The clearness of justifi­cation and sanctification were decidedly and constantly preached. A present enjoyment of both of them was so ardently pressed, so unceasingly offered by faith, and faith alone, to be received, felt, and enjoyed now,—that the whole circuit seemed soon to catch the flame. Seven­teen or eighteen hundred persons, in the two years, were joined to the society. Entire sanc­tification was pressed upon believers as their undoubted right. They were constantly pressed into the enjoyment or it, and numbers professed to enter into the possession of that state and brought forth all its precious fruit. "From various parts of England people arrived to judge of the truth of this work. Many were strongly opposed to the mode in which it was carried on, and violently objected to it, but they were so overcome by the spirit of the laboUrers and the effect of the revival, that they repeatedly acknowledged their full conviction of its being a genuine and undoubted work of the Spirit of God. From, ‘Memoir of the Life and Ministry of William Bramwell, by James Sigston, published in 1836, p109-110

A TESTIMONY Mr George Smith was that year stationed at Ashby de la Zouch, and had heard wonderful things about the revival at Sheffield. Having been long in search of the blessing of sanctification, he resolved to go to the place where it was reported many others had received it. He accordingly set out for Sheffield in company with Messrs. Crimson, Shakespeare, and Keecher. They arrived early on Saturday, and repaired in the evening to the band meeting, in Norfolk-street chapel. Messrs. Bramwell, Pipe, Longden, and Miller, were present: and while they and other able witnesses gave a clear and Scriptural account of the manner in which they received the gift of sanctification, the strangers (Mr George Smith and his friends,) were much affected. Mr Miller perceived it, and going up to Mr Smith, inquired who he was. When he had been told, he said, "Here is a travelling preacher, who is come to Sheffield, and has brought three of his friends with him, above seventy miles, for the purpose of receiving a clean heart.' "He exhorted all the faithful to lift up their hearts in behalf of these earnest and sincere seekers. They be­gan to pray for them; when Mr Smith was so overwhelmed with the power of the HIGHEST, as instantly to "enter into the sanctifying rest, which remains for the people of God." He then adopted the advice which our Lord gave on a different occasion to Peter—" And thou, when thou art converted, strengthen thy breth­ren." He united in prayer for those whom he had brought with him; and while in the act of entreating " the very God of peace to sanctify them wholly," and that their whole spirit, and soul, and body, might be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord spoke the word, and they were made par­takers of the blessing. "Being cleansed from, all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, they were enabled to perfect holiness in the fear of God “On returning homeward, "their hearts burned within them while they talked" of this great salvation. Two of them (Messrs. Shakespeare and Crawson,) died in the following year, enjoying all the glorious fruits of this sanctifica­tion. The other two are yet living, "and stand fast in the same liberty wherewith Christ had made them free." From, ‘Memoir of the Life and Ministry of William Bramwell, by James Sigston, published in 1836, p117. In 1797 there was a huge split in the Circuit, about 1,000 leaving to join the New Connexion. However, the revival returned. On another occasion, the Rev. James Wood, a colleague for the year 1798, gives the following account: "A few weeks before Christmas in that year (1797), the work of the Lord revived; sinners were awakened, and the mourners in Zion comforted…

On the first day in the new year 1798, the members of the society met to renew their covenant with God. From the commencement of the service, a holy awe appeared to rest upon all present; and while the directions for renewing our covenant engagements were read, deep seriousness and fixed attention were evinced by the whole congregation. When we had ended the reading of the directions, the people were urged to pause, to consider the importance of the subject, and to pray for strength of grace, that they might be enabled to vow unto the Lord, and then to perform their vows. A proper space of time was given for this purpose, that all might sit in silence before the Lord, and breathe out their desires to him. During this silence, the power of the Lord was generally felt, and Mr. Bramwell was so filled with the holy influence as to break forth into the following exclamation: 'Glory, glory, glory be to God! He is coming!' The whole assembly felt the overwhelming power of Divine grace. I afterwards heard of seven persons who found peace with God, during the time we sat in silent meditation and prayer, and many others afterwards. Such a time of refreshing from the presence of the Lord, I had scarcely ever known in a large congregation. This was not a transient visit, but an abiding blessing; it was not a superficial touch, but a gracious stamp of the moral image of God upon many precious souls. Some of those persons who were then present, are still [after Mr. Bramwell's death] living, and will recollect the season with holy gratitude to the God of all grace. It was, indeed, a faint emblem of the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit was poured on the disciples of Christ in Jerusalem. It proved that it was effected, not by human might or power, but by the spirit of the Lord."

Another instance is related in the journal of Mr Longden: — "July 3, 1798. — This quarterly meeting of the preachers far exceeded every other that any preacher present ever witnessed in a fullness of love and glorious power. Mr Wood wished to speak his experience, but could not, he was so much affected. Mr Bramwell was so dissolved and overpowered, that he could not pray; and Mr Pipe shouted 'Glory, glory, glory to God in the highest!' All the local preachers (two excepted) had a clear evidence of sanctification, and these two received the blessing before we parted."

From, ‘The Christian Minister in Earnest’, by Thomas Harris, published in 1847, p74-5.

Additional Information

Despite there having been a considerable revival just before Bramwell arrived, the move of God had died down, but under Bramwell it exploded with three times the number of people being saved. He was leader of the circuit 1795-1798. 1,250 were saved in the first year.

This was part of the Great Yorkshire Revival.

Bramwell's building stood on this site. He returned here 1810-12.

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