A few weeks ago, I asked prayer through your paper, for Ashbourne and three adjoining villages. Doubtless the Epaphrases, who "labour in prayer," and who delight to take that favourite corner of "Requests for Prayer," and lay them before the Lord, will be rejoiced to hear how far the Lord answered their earnest cry of faith. Two of these villages had been notorious for their open wickedness. Well may we joyfully say, "What hath God wrought?" for there are but few houses now where you will not find one or more asking "What must I do to be saved?" or triumphantly singing
"Bless God for what He's done for me; Once I was blind, but now I see."
The preparedness I found amongst the people to listen to the simple story of redeeming love, was principally owing to the dear clergyman and ministers of different denominations, who work heartily together in the gospel; and the reading of the Revival led to earnest desire on the part of some for showers of blessing. I heard of four who entered into solemn covenant to pray until the Lord gave them the desire He had laid so heavily upon their hearts. God spoke in solemn notes, as death stalked through the parish, and laid low the young and tender ones, and every death-knell seemed to say to each, "Prepare to meet thy God." Any allusion to death-bed scenes (so fresh on the memories of many) would bring the silent tear to the eye, as they thought of the loved ones gone. We had some twelve or fourteen services in the Established Church, in which the clergyman, myself, and others took part. There was much blessing. Some of these meetings will never be forgotten; especially two would I mention, held in separate churches. After speaking, there was a meeting for prayer and conversation. As soon as we began to speak personally to them, they began to weep bitterly upon account of sin and cried for mercy. Several decided that night, and on the following night others found Jesus or were found of Him. Not infrequently they left the meetings, and Christ was revealed to their hearts as they walked home, or when at work in the shop, fields, or at home; thus proving that the work is not ours but God's. A woman who had heard the unpalatable truth that no ordinances, attending church or chapel, or any such things, could save a soul, but that each one " must be born again," did not like such things, and was on the following day complaining to a friend, said, "Did you hear that man last night? ' "Yes, I did," was his reply. "I don't think it is right for a man to state such things." "Why? are they not true? don't we find them in the Bible? "He then began to speak personally to her about her soul. She listened and was on the spot convinced. They both went upon their knees, and he prayed; she wept and asked for mercy. Before she left, he promised her to call on the following day. That day passed; on the second day he went. He was met with a joyful exclamation, "Oh me I have had such a night! I could not sleep for very joy of heart. The Lord pardoned me last night, and I am so happy." We heard of another who had been convinced while listening to the clergyman, and then went to a Primitive Methodist prayer-meeting, but did not find peace there, but says, "I went alone with God, and Christ was revealed to my heart as my Saviour." The other meeting was one of marked power. The speaker was so overcome with a sense of God's love, that during prayer he had frequently to stop. Truly the Lord passed by, and He declared "God is love." It was just one of those peculiar manifestations of God to the soul, when the heart melts like wax before the heat. Many were deeply affected that night. In Ashbourne, we had meetings for little children. On one of these nights there were seventy or eighty weeping upon account of their sins. That was on Tuesday; we could not have another until Saturday, when about 100 little ones came to an anxious meeting, and many pleasing cases we met that night. Two little girls were sitting together, calm, peaceful and happy. I said to the elder "Well, what has God done for you?" Please, sir, He took all my sins away on Tuesday night," was her sweet reply. "And are you happy now? Oh yes, I am very happy, but sometimes a wicked thought comes into my mind, and it seems as if all my sins were coming back again, and that does trouble me so." "What do you do then?" "Why I go to Jesus, and He relieves me." "Is this your sister?" I asked, looking at the little one sitting by her side. "No, sir, she is not, but I go to her house every day, and this one has a hymn-book, and we sing from it (the little one pulled an old Weaver's hymn-book from her pocket), and then we have a little prayer that God will keep us during the day; we then part to go to different schools." "I suppose you tell your schoolfellows about the love of Jesus, don't you?' "Yes, sir, we try to speak for Jesus, but they call us all kinds of names, and it's so hard to bear." At this, her little companion burst into tears. I remember overtaking this sweet babe in Jesus one day. She spoke of better things with such heavenly wisdom that one could not but remember it is written, "Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings God hath perfected praise and ordained strength, because of his enemies." Amongst other things, she said, "Satan sometimes tempts me to do some wicked thing." "What do you say to him?' "Well, sir, I go upstairs, and pray about it, and then I have grace not to do it." "But supposing you are in the streets, how do you get on then?" "I pray where I am." We had a week of special services in Ashbourne. We began outside in the market-place at seven o'clock. Had half-an-hour's service, at which working men spoke, who had been known by those around as faithful servants of Satan, but they know them now as men who have been translated into the kingdom of God's dear Son. We then sang into St. John's Hall, filled with the poor—not only poor in circumstances, but poor degraded drunkards, poor slaves to sin, and, thank God, some of them were made poor in spirit and happy in Jesus. Some of the devil's aristocracy were dipped in the "fountain filled with blood," and made heaven's true nobility.
From the 'Revival Newspaper', Volume V, page 141/2.
There are two Established churches in the town - St Oswald's and St John's. As they used St John's hall, I am assuming that St John's was where the main meetings took place.