The Orphan House - Bramwell (1815)

His ministry in this quarter was commenced under favourable auguries as to his spiritual achievements. In his first sermon he received 'extraordinary power from God;' and in his second and third, had ample proofs that the Divine influence had accompanied him to his new appointment, and was still operating through his instrumentality. At the first love-feast he held, ' the Lord poured out his blessing;' and six or seven persons emerged from darkness into marvellous light. But at the second of these meetings, a still more decisive manifestation took place. The place was quite crowded. At the beginning all were still, and the suspense continued for about an hour. But in an agony of prayer, as he writes, 'the power of God came upon them suddenly. Cries for mercy were heard in every direction. In about an hour and a half not fewer than thirty-six persons found deliverance.' He never witnessed greater glory; he himself was filled with love and rapture. Many persons stood up, with radiant faces and joyful tongues, to tell of the wonderful revolution which had been accomplished within their souls during those few pregnant moments. Very few, indeed, he believes, were left in darkness amidst such an effusion of glory, 'except some who were groaning for redemption;' and of these, several received it subsequently.

He was not disappointed in his expectations. Scenes like those just detailed frequently occurred under his animating superintendence and produced a feeling of ecstasy in the souls of many, which it would not be extravagant to characterise as one of the very highest stages of human enjoyment.

One of these peculiar ' seasons of refreshing ' has been described in glowing language by a partaker. The occasion was a love-feast; the place, the Orphan-house — a building endeared to Wesleyans, as one of their earliest temples, and still more so, from the remembrances it suggests of the many great and devoted spirits who have made its walls echo to the stirring sounds of the Gospel trumpet. On entering the venerable edifice, the attention was at once riveted by the solemn stillness which prevailed — a stillness which, in a large assembly, is more eloquent and impressive than any laboured utterances; for it showed that all present were bent on some common object and that something important was anticipated. The customary verses, commemorative of the love of the martyrs, were first sung, and Mr Bramwell then bent his knees in prayer. But that preliminary silence appeared to brood over his spirit, and to soften his voice; for in a whisper — it was scarcely more, indeed, than a faint breathing, though perfectly audible — he preferred his addresses to the Throne of Grace. The subdued tones in which he spoke, contrasted sublimely with the fervour and sublimity of his petitions. But subdued as they were, they were fraught with the true spiritual electricity. Instead of the loud and sonorous peals, which sometimes marked the bursting of the cloud of blessing, its charge was now streaming upon the assembly with a gentle murmur — which told that, if less tempestuous than usual, it was fully as copious. The genuine fire pervaded the chapel, and hearts melted like wax in that glowing atmosphere. The responses of the people were modulated into harmony with the minister's tones, but they came fast and fervid and struck upon the ear with extraordinary effect. The spectacle also was singular. Every countenance exhibited proof of the mighty influence which was at work; the streaming eyes, uplifted hands, hallowed looks, and intense emotion of that large company, might have drawn down troops of rejoicing angels to gaze upon one of the noblest sights earth can afford to them — a host of true worshippers. But when the prayer was finished, and the people rose from their knees, there was one person whose heart was completely overpowered by its own rapture; a voice from the midst of the throng, exclaimed, in homely but electrical words, "My friends, I think we're in the very suburbs of heaven!" This sentiment found a prompt confirmation in every breast; one tongue was enough for a large assembly, whose heart was as the heart of one man. —The speaker was William Christer, a pitman by business, but in spirit, a devoted disciple of Christ.

From, ‘Memoir of the life and ministry of William Bramwell by William Bramwell and his family, published in 1848, p129-30.

Additional Information

I am assuming his meetings took place here as the Brunswick Chapel was not built until 1820.

1814 foundBramwell in the London West Circuit, based in Chelsea. While there he usually walked thirty miles a week in visiting the different chapels under his care. The usual success came from his ministry, but both he and his wife became ill. His wife was so ill that it was considered unsafe for them to remain in London for the winter, so they were posted to Newcastle.

Related Wells