St Margarets Church, Brighton and Rottingdean (1875)

ON Thursday evening a ten days' mission, conducted under the superintendence of the incumbent of St. Margaret's Church, was brought to a conclusion by a final meeting at the building known as The Dome. St. Margaret's has long been the home of evangelical truth. There the lamented Edmund Clay, who died two years ago, proclaimed the gospel with much fidelity; and now a man of kindred spirit, the Rev. Filmer Sulivan, still sets forth to his earnest people the truth as it is in Jesus. He has been instrumental in originating and completing the mission services, which appear to have been blessed by God in a very marked degree for turning many from the world to Himself.

The church has been for ten days filled, morning and evening, with eager listeners to the proclamation of the gospel by the  "mission-preacher," the Rev. W. Hay Aitken of Liverpool; and it is no exaggerated statement to say, that never in this large and fashionable town has been witnessed so intense an interest in the great and urgent question, "What must we do to be
saved?" as has been manifested by the large numbers of persons who have flocked to St. Margaret's Church to hear the glad tidings of great joy, and to learn more perfectly the way of peace with God.

"The Dome" is a building within the Pavilion grounds and was part of the original establishment of the Prince Regent, who devoted it to the purposes of horse training, a riding school, and stabling. 

Some years ago the Corporation of Brighton transformed this place, at a great cost, into one of the finest halls in England, since which it has been the favourite rendezvous of the Brighton people. On Thursday evening last the beautiful building was filled to its utmost capacity, 3,000 persons, and probably more, of all sorts and conditions, filling up every sitting and occupying every foot of standing ground, to the utmost limit of floor, balconies, and orchestra, listened for an hour and twenty minutes to the eloquent urgency of the preacher, as he discoursed from the text, "We then, as workers together with Him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain" (2 Cor. vi. 1).

The service was commenced by the incumbent of St. Margaret's, without prayer book, by a few sentences of earnest supplication; then followed a hymn from Messrs Moody and Sankey's collection and the sermon was succeeded by more singing. The solemnity of the whole service, stripped of every accessory which the ritual of the English Church attaches to its ordinary ministrations, was very marked, proving among other things, the utter delusion that in certain quarters prevails as to the value of what is called "ornate" worship. The solemn character of the occasion became still more apparent as the preacher announced an after-meeting; to which all who desired further instruction were invited. A very few minutes afforded sufficient time for those who then retired to do so when still nearly four-fifths of the people retained their places. The proceedings were then resumed with earnest prayer by the English Presbyterian minister, the Rev. A. B. Mackay, who was requested by the courteous and large-hearted president, the Rev. Mr Sulivan, to take this part in the services of the evening.
Another affectionate and fervent address followed, after which took place an event which has never before occurred in this town. The preacher invited all those who had believed the message they had received from God, and who had given their hearts to Him during the past ten days' mission services, to stand up, and as a public testimony of their conversion to sing, "Safe in the arms of Jesus." At the least 300 persons rose to their feet, and professed to have done so by joining in the hymn.
Of these, many were men and many young men. There was no excitement, all appeared calm and deliberate. The Rev. Mr Sulivan then asked the congregation to engage in silent prayer, further inviting those who were "anxious" to remain a little
longer for prayer and advice. It was not till midnight that the meeting was brought to a close by a few parting words from the mission preacher.

To many an onlooker of the whole proceedings thus feebly described must have occurred the fact that no common attraction has brought at one time to the splendid hall so great a throng of people as were attracted to the mission service; and the thoughtful Christian man must, in looking at the scene, have found a new significance in the words of Christ: "I, if I be lifted up, shall draw all men unto me."

Much desire has been expressed by people of the Church of England, Presbyterians, and Dissenters of Brighton, that Messrs Moody and Sankey should be requested to visit the town, and it is earnestly to be hoped that they may be induced to do so. In addition to its one hundred thousand resident inhabitants, there are always many thousand visitors from all parts of the country, staying in the place in search of health or pleasure. It is easily accessible to the numerous towns of the south coast and is amply supplied with commodious halls. Were Mr Aitken's labours followed up by Messrs. Moody and Sankey, it might be the means of a much-needed revival.

"Times of Blessing," Feb 11th, 1875.

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