South Normanton (1862)

On the 3rd of August, a few of us attended the meeting at Blake Hall, where numbers were rejoicing in the love of God; brother, Hooke, preached after service was ended. We invited him to come to Normanton. He said he’d made engagements up to the last week in October.

Mr Hooke commenced labours here, November 8th. Our readers will soon perceive the very low state of our society at this time, for there were only three individuals to meet him, although he especially invited Christians to give them advice.  At our first preaching service the congregation far exceeded our expectations. The second, like all the following services, was crowded; sometimes hundreds, went away, unable to get into the chapel, but still, little good was done; the sermons were very earnest and powerful, but no souls saved until Wednesday night after our dear brother had been preaching to a crowded congregation, and all rushed out without one soul being saved. Our brother was cut to the heart; silent prayer ensued; God worked mightily upon his children. Brother Hooke stood up and spoke as follows; “brethren and sisters, there are things which I am confident you are indulging in contrary to the gospel. I never found Christians in such a state anywhere as I have here. If you will not give up the wrong and let God work, I pray that He will remove you from the church.“

These few minutes were the most heart-searching and solemn we ever witnessed. One brother arose in the little assembly and said, “I belong to a public house club. God has told me it is wrong and that it has been the curs of Normanton, Christians belonging to public-house clubs. From this minute, I give it up and promise in the presence of God, never to join myself to another.“ Others followed in the same way. Whatever God showed them was wrong. I believe everyone was enabled to give it up for Christ and souls. God's answer to this was that on Thursday night He gave us seven souls, on Friday night 10, on Saturday night 4 and on Sunday about 25 souls were savingly brought to Christ. The work went on so gloriously that on Friday, November 25th, about 70 new converts and old members, (they all declared to have been newly converted) met to take a parting cup of tea with our dear brother. Such partings are seldom with us. You might have seen the old cockfighter, who had lived nearly 60 years in sin, with big tears, rolling down his wrinkled cheek, as humble as a little child, and the rough collier, once the blaspheming and drunken husband, now heaving at the chest, as though his changed heart would force its way through, with his wife, standing by him, not the less affected as they stood to listen to the parting hymn.

Never were affection's ties, stronger, tied in so short a time; but we do not wonder when we look at the glorious change wrought. Our brother found us with a small and very dead society and has left us with a large living one. The number now in society is about 70; the number brought to God during the revival services is about 100, so that neighbouring Societies benefited as well as our own. 

This revival is chiefly amongst married people, those with families; we have 17 men and their wives, now in society; all the means of Grace are well attended, and sometimes we find a difficulty in finding seats for all those wishing to listen to the word truth. Our prayer to Almighty, God is, that our chapel may become far too small for those who know Christ as their precious Saviour, even so, Lord Jesus, let it be. – Original Methodist record. 

"The Revival," March 12th, 1863.

After our brother Hooke left us, in November, many prophesied that the work would go down and that the young converts would be in the world again, but instead of this the work still increased, and the desire became so strong through the village, that we might see the fulfilment of the hymn we so often sung at the commencement of the Revival, ending with-
"if you abide in Me, says Christ, and I abide in you
Ask what you will, but ask in faith-
The glory shall go through,"

that we began to pray that the Lord would send our dear brother again, and, in answer to believing prayer and pressing invitation, he came on his second visit, Jan 18th 1863 and laboured with us until Feb 10th. He preached seven nights in each of the three Methodist chapels and on Feb 9th in a large tent.

We commenced these second Revival services with much prayer and faith that sinners must be saved and according to our faith it was done. At all the services the chapels were crowded and sinners crying for mercy; about fifty on one night professed to find peace in Jesus. 

Our dear brother laboured very much, not only in the pulpit but in the closet and in the private houses with those who were convicted, and not a few found the Pearl of great price by their own fire-sides. For a few days (through our brother being called for, on all sides in the dead of night as well as the day to pray with the sick and the dying) his strength appeared as though it would fail him, and sometimes we were afraid he might not be able to attend the evening's service, but the Lord was his strength. We have seen him go to the pulpit when his legs appeared too weak to carry his body; when intreated to take a little rest and take a little more care of himself, he would reply, "No rest for me while sinners are going to hell. I must, with the help of God, rob the devil of his prey; it will not be long before I rest in heaven with my Jesus."

During the services about 200 precious souls were brought to Jesus; some of these were the worst of our village. The public houses of late have had very little to do; one instance we will give our readers. A very respectable publican accosted one of the Lord's children and said, "When is Hooke going away?" "In a few days, I believe," replied our friend. The publican said in a joke, "It is time he did go or we will be broke." "But he will come again." "Then we shall all be sold up," replied the publican. And it so happened that on the last day of our brother's second visit the publican was sold up stick and stone.

The total number of converts during these two visits is about 300 souls; we have in our own chapel about eighty adult members and a very pleasing and promising class of juveniles out of the Sabbath school of more than fifty, and all are in very healthy thriving condition. What hath God wrought! Praise his holy name, to Him be all the glory!

We have held Divine service every night in the chapel (with the exception of one or two nights when other business has prevented) for nearly five months, and now we have a prayer meeting every day at three o'clock in the afternoon, especially to pray for the whole village, and I am just returned from one of these prayer meetings; about forty of the brothers and sisters were present, and one poor backslider was reclaimed. Praise the Lord! "Original Methodist Record."

"The Revival," April 16th, 1863.

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