St George's Church Fordington (1860)

My Dear SIR,—God is indeed answering our oft-repeated prayers and granting his Holy Spirit to the people of this parish. And our valued friend, Mr Cox, a city missionary from London, has been honoured of God to commence a work, the extent and importance of which has yet to be seen. For many reasons, some of which are special, but others must be obvious to yourself, it would be premature and even dangerous to enumerate or to detail individual conversions. Neither strong feeling, however sincere, no strong expression of feel­ing, either of alarm and conviction, or of peace, is a certain indi­cation of conversion, or of faith. Herod's case, of which, during a long ministry, I have seen many counterparts, is a melancholy instance of the possibility of hearing gladly, and doing many things, but still continuing in a lost condition. But making full allowance for this and much more, the simple, faithful, and most untiring efforts of Mr Cox have been blessed by not a few conversions, which cannot be doubted. Amongst those, humility, love, delight in God's word and in prayer, and a concern for souls are the most marked features. When I say delight in God's word, I mean not a mere delight in hearing it preached, but a love of reading it. And if you think of print­ing this general statement of what is passing now, I hope you will record my solemn testimony to the readers of The Revival, that one of the saddest features of that state of declension and death, from which professing Christians had to be revived, and are being revived, is, that by whatever name they have called themselves, there has been amongst them a general neglect of the study of that Blessed Book. It has not been treated as a revelation from God. Now, one of the marks of the reality of the work of awakening and conversion amongst us, which I most gladly hail, is the readiness to listen to and to read the Scriptures. Cottages are gladly opened everywhere for reading, teaching, and prayer; and at a Bible-class which I commenced last Monday evening, I had more than 130 present. Next Monday I hope to have more. It was thought by many that Mr Cox's powerful, strong addresses produced all the excitement. But in several cottages on Sunday (to say nothing of places of worship), there was the same eager listening, and that to some of my recent helpers, as to him. God is teaching us. Very truly yours,

Fordington Vicarage, Oct. 11, 1860. HENRY MOULE. From the 'Revival Newspaper', Volume III, page 134.

DEAR SIR,—It is due to you and to the many readers of your journal who take a Christian interest in my parish, that I should make another general report of the progress of God's work amongst us. Up to this time, then, that progress has been such as to fill the hearts of God's people with thankfulness, but such, also, as fully to justify that mixture of caution and confidence with which I wrote in my last communication.

Your readers should know that Fordington is one of the four parishes which form the Borough of Dorchester, containing nearly half of the population, and this portion consisting chiefly of the working class. It is divided into two districts, lying on opposite sides of the other three parishes. My district of East Fordington has a population of about 2200 souls. We have no dissenting place of worship in the parish, and I do not believe we have amongst us twenty persons who would be recognised as members of either dissenting congregations in the other parishes. I make this statement in order to account for my speaking solely of the means of grace afforded by myself and my friends and members of my congregation. Let me speak first of these means. Through help kindly obtained by Mrs Weitbrecht, we have started a Bible-woman, who has hitherto, with only one or two exceptions, been gladly welcomed to every house at which she has called. Another friend has supplied me with the means of employing, for a time at least, my assistant schoolmaster and my blind organist as Scripture-readers. These, with my valued schoolmaster and other friends, assist me in holding cottage readings to such an extent that we have divided the parish into twenty-two districts, in each of which we hope to hold readings in succession; and already we have been able to hold two, three, and even four meetings of an evening. These are generally crowded; while some of our female friends are welcomed to similar meetings of their own sex during the day.

The attendance at our Bible-class on Monday evening last was full 250 men and women. Almost all had their Bibles and followed me with fixed attention while, during an hour and a half, I led them to the various passages relating to the Lord's Supper.

At our prayer-meeting on Sunday morning we had from 120 to 150 men and women and while our church was crowded at all three services, three meetings for reading and prayer among those who do not yet come to the house of God were well attended. Among the sixty or seventy persons who, having recently been brought to believe in the Lord Jesus, are desirous to come to the holy communion, forty-five had not made that public profession of faith and obedience which, when it is done in the spirit and meaning of that ordinance of the Church of England, is so fitly done in the rite of Confirmation. I according­ly requested of our bishop (Salisbury) that he would grant them an opportunity of doing this at a time and place, at which the people of their own class could be present. I made the bishop fully acquainted with every circumstance attending the awaken­ing. Ho most kindly entered into the case; and last Tuesday evening he held a confirmation in my church, which will long be remembered by all, and by some will never be forgotten. In the singing of the hymns,

"Come, Holy Ghost, Creator, come,"

in both metres, and,

"According to thy gracious words,

In meek humility;"

and in the use of the Litany and of the Confirmation Service there was an approach to the throne of grace which no believer present could have failed, I think, to experience. The bishop in his Scriptural and stirring addresses from the pulpit regarded it in the same light. There was united prayer for the gifts of the Spirit promised in the presence of Christ, attended with his intercession at God's right hand; and we might be assured that such prayer would be answered. I myself, dear sir, feel quite sure of this, and am persuaded that we are only at the beginning of a great work of blessing; not only as regards this parish, but, as I have long asked of God, this town, this county, and this diocese. The forty-five persons confirmed were almost all above eighteen years of age. Nineteen were married men and women. All this profession, however, I scarcely need say, would be worse than nothing if the inward life of these individuals did not correspond with it. Let me, in conclusion, then, give you one of many answers I have received. After inquiring care­fully into the faith of one young person, I asked the mother privately, "Does her conduct at home correspond with this? " The change is more wonderful there than as you see it." God be praised. Yours very truly, HENRY MOULE.

Fordington, Vicarage, Nov. 5.

From the 'Revival Newspaper', Volume III, page 158.

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