Wellington (1861)

The daily, or rather nightly, union prayer-meeting still continues to be held in the old pawn-broker's shop in New-street, the same place it has been held in since its establishment, Oct. 10, 1839. Scarcely a week passes without some souls being brought to Jesus, and some of the converts are bright examples of love and good works. To God be all the glory. We had last week, a visit from that much honoured and dearly loved servant of Jesus, the Rev. J. Denham Smith. A meeting was announced in the Town Hall, which was literally crammed, numbers being unable to gain admission. The clear and simple truth he preached was much blessed to many of the Lord's dear children. Many careless souls were awakened, and not a few found peace in Jesus. We entreat the prayers of the Lord's children for poor, degraded, sinful Wellington.

From the 'Revival Newspaper', Volume V, page 119.

I am writing from Wellington, in Shropshire, my own native county. God is pouring out his blessing on the people of this town. There is a noise in the valley of dry bones; many souls every night find­ing peace and pardon through Him that died for sinners. I have preached two nights here; and a great many, I believe, have been brought to God. I beg the prayers of all the breth­ren for me for bodily health as well as spiritual strength, for I fear my health is failing me; but God's will must be done in weakness. God is my strength! There is great work to be done; the tide is rising, and the work is reviving, and we can say the latter-day glory is appearing. Let us look for Him that will come and not tarry. Peace be with you, and victory, with me, through the blood of the Lamb, Yours ever in Christ,


The Shropshire News says of the meetings at Wellington---The Revival movement here was initiated by Dr Cranage, of the Old Hall, who had gone to Ireland during its operation there in order that he might judge for himself. Returning fully convinced of its genuineness, he desired that Wellington might come under its influence. His inauguration of the move­ment was the establishing of a daily prayer-meeting, in a small room in New-street, some two years ago; and these meetings, generally presided over by himself, have continued well- attended up to the present time.

Dr Cranage writes:—I am so very much occupied that I have been quite unable to send you an account of dear Richard Weaver's visit. We see the fruits every day—and of dear Denham Smith's, and Henry's, and Ord's. Dyson Smyth comes to us (my.) next week, Oh, pray for a blessing to come with him. I wish I had a scribe at my elbow; I could send wonderful accounts from Wellington.

From the 'Revival Newspaper', Volume V, page 174.

On October 10, 1859, a daily open union prayer-meeting, of all sects, was established in New street, Wellington, in a vacant shop that had been occupied for many years by a pawnbroker. It has continued till the present day, excepting an intermission of a few days in the summer of 1860, or when special services in connexion with it have been held at the same hour, 8-15 p.m. Messrs. Groom, timber mer­chants, of this town, very kindly and liberally fitted the room up with benches without charge. The meetings have been conducted by persons of different sects. On January 1, 1860, a record of attendance, signed by the conductor, was com­menced. This shows for the first year a total attend­ance of 17,739, giving an average of 341 per week. Up to the present date, December 14, the aggregate is 27,875, and the average per week 557. The Town Hall is usually taken for the special services. This only seats 300, and with upwards of 13,000 in the parish, with a densely populated neighbourhood, it is easily imagined how very inadequate is this, the largest room in the town which is neutral ground. Six or seven hundred are often packed in this room, and hundreds more often go away, making it almost imperative to get a larger place. Indeed, the present expenses of the daily prayer-meeting room and the town-hall are enormous.

The manifestation of the power of God's Spirit has been really amazing. We may safely speak of hundreds being converted under these means, scores in one night sometimes; and the tide goes on and increases. The villages around are awakening too.

From the 'Revival Newspaper', Volume VI, page 6.

The following account was given at a private meeting of friends in London.

In June 1859, Dr C. visited Ireland, strongly prejudiced against the form in which the Revival was manifested there; and what he witnessed at first only deepened his dislike. But, as day after day he saw scores brought to the Lord, he was obliged to confess that the work was wrought by the power of the Holy Ghost. He returned to Wellington, bowed down under a sense of his unworthiness. Unable to forbear to tell of the Lord's goodness, he gave at various places, in and around Wellington, an account of what he had seen, while the sense of having spoken in the Lord's name was so overwhelming as to cause him nights of wretchedness. After a few weeks, a little band of Christians, known as the Bond of Christian Brotherhood, sent their secretary to ask him to become a mem­ber of their society. He consented, and a few days after was asked to give them an account privately of what he had wit­nessed in Ireland. About thirty met, to whom he told his story, and it then occurred to him to propose that they should from that time commence a daily prayer-meeting. About a dozen consented, and they again knelt in prayer for guidance as to a place. The next morning Dr C. went in quest of a room and had nearly decided on renting one over one of the worst public-houses in the town, when he was told of an empty shop, which was immediately taken, and a meeting summoned for the same night, Contrary to expectation, the place was crowded., there were no seats, and the people stood closely packed. So for several nights; for they seemed to expect a second Pentecost after a few meetings for prayer. This not being the case; the number dwindled down to a dozen, or less, who continued praying through all discouragements. A gentle­man had provided seats, but those who had first united to esta­blish the meeting had all withdrawn.

It was not known for months, that any conversions had resulted from the meeting, though it was afterwards found there had been several. But the originator of the meeting had so often repeated the promise of Jesus, "Whatsoever ask in my name that will I do," that he seemed pledged that blessing should come if they prayed for it. At Christmas (1859), he went away for a time, and found things deader than ever, on his return. By-and-by there were a few conversions, but they were very slow; some souls were seeking for months before they found peace in believing. But this had its advantage, for others were thus learning, by slow but sure lessons, how to deal with anxious souls.

Last July Dr C. received doleful accounts of the meeting at home; his friends desiring that it might be given up. It seemed as though the blessing they had expected was not to be given, and they had better let the matter quietly die away. This, however, he would not hear of. He begged that on no account might the meeting be discontinued, but that they would wait till his return; for he had never for a moment been permitted to doubt the sure promise of God. On the 1st of August he returned; the place was filled. Within a month of that time not a night passed but souls were saved; no means were used beyond the daily prayer-meeting; but sometimes, six, eight, ten, or twelve, were converted of a night.again went to Ireland, and while there

In Ireland Dr C. had seen Messrs, Radcliffe and Henry, and he had asked them to visit Wellington, he had never thought of Mr Henry coming alone. But when the latter wrote to say he was coming by himself, Dr C. consented, hoping it was of the Lord, though he did not like the arrange­ment. On Mr Henry's arrival, not being able to have the Town-hall, the first two meetings were held in the Baptist and Wesleyan Chapels. They were very discouraging, the second more than the first. The prayer-meetings after the services seemed icy cold, but this sent those whose hearts were set on seeing the salvation of God more earnestly to the throne of his grace. The third night the Town-hall was obtained, and the Spirit accompanied the word with great power; a number of souls were added to the Lord. Mr. Henry then left Wellington, returning, however, for three days during the following week, and not fewer than a hundred souls are believed to have been the result of the meetings then held. The Lord had now mani­festly turned the captivity of his people; they were reaping in much joy the fruit of the seed they had so long and perse­veringly sown in tears. A meeting for men only was greatly blessed; numbers, many of them intelligent, superior men in their class, found peace in Jesus. It was very interesting to see knot after knot of them gathering together to reason and be reasoned with, out of the Scriptures if these things were so. Many of the brightest examples of divine grace in this town owe their conversion, under God, to that meeting.

The Rev. Denham Smith, of Dublin, came, and preached once in the Town-hall; this was the 2nd of October. It was a blessed meeting; the word was with mighty power; many were quickened that found peace after, and many Christians were greatly revived.

On the 12th of November and two following days, dear Richard Weaver preached. It would take a large volume to describe the wondrous cases of conversion under him. One notorious gambler went home deeply bowed down under a sense of sin, and he longed to pray, but shame prevented him doing so before his wife. However, he sat up in bed for some hours, pouring out his heart to God. Next morning he brought his cards, dice, dominoes, &c., and told his wife he was going to play the last game he had ever played! He threw the lot into the fire and watched them burn with joy and gratitude. A number of cock-fighters cut off the birds' heads and ate the fowls for dinner. Poachers made bonfires of their poaching. nets; prizefighters were rejoicing in Jesus. Richard Weaver has received two hundred letters from the town and neighbourhood, telling of his having been the means of the conversion of the writers under the four sermons he preached. Very many, too, were converted who have not written to him.

Weaver's visit has been followed by that of several devoted men of God, all of whom have had souls for their hire.

A second visit of Richard Weaver's was marked by a mighty manifestation of divine power. It took place in the month of February, and, though a bitterly cold day, about 5000 people stood for about two hours in the Old Hall grounds to hear him preach. The after meeting was one never to be forgotten. It would perhaps not overstate the matter to say that hundreds pro­fessed to find peace in Jesus---many of the cases most striking.

There are few towns more debauched and degraded than Wellington. With a population in the parish of 13,000, it has only church and chapel accommodation for about 3,500; and even of these places, many were not more than half-filled. It is worthy of remark that before the manifestation of God's great power, one of the police observed that the prayer-meeting was effecting a good work, for they had never had so little to do. This has been increasingly the case. It used to be awful to pass the public-houses; everyone seemed to vomit forth its filth—drunkenness and quarrelling, dancing and fiddling, licen­tiousness and crime. One Friday evening, a number of the poor fellows who had been rescued from this hideous life were asked if they could do nothing to rescue their old companions from their sin. They immediately said, "Shall we go and meet them before they go into the public-houses, and persuade them to come? Will you have the Town-hall open for us?" This being acceded to, the next night they brought 3.50 of their fellow-workmen from the doors of the public houses, and twenty to thirty of them are believed to have been converted that night. It was left to the working-men who had gathered them to address them. About fifteen spoke, and everyone was sure he was the greatest sinner of them all, and that no one was now so happy as he. Now and then they would strike up singing in the midst of their addresses. A verse that was used to bring many souls to Jesus, was one from the hymn which Weaver had sung there. (Hymn 15 of Richard Weaver's Hymn Book.)

It was very beautiful after this first Saturday night's meeting, to see them rushing down to the door of the Town-hall, be­seeching the men as they left to be saved; even kneeling down to them, and begging them not to go to destruction.

The little shop which they still occupied was so crammed, that when any fainted they could not be removed. The second Saturday night, an hour before the meeting began, the room was densely packed with nearly 200 persons. It was asked, "Is there anyone who will go and ask for the use of the Wes­leyan Chapel." Someone went and obtained permission from one of the officers of the church, and the chapel was soon occupied by from 300 to 400 of the ordinary attendants at the daily prayer-meeting. As they were singing, the minister arrived, went into the pulpit, prayed, and preached a long sermon on penitence. Upon being dismissed, the people stayed in the chapel-yard, and the thought seemed to have laid hold of the minds of all, that a room must be got in which to preach the gospel. They began to sing, as they went into the street. A lad pushed through the crowd, crying, "Where is Dr C.?" and on finding him clung round his knees in agony of spirit, and exclaimed, "O sir, I am a lost soul! do pray for me!" They knelt, and while they prayed for him he got up and glorified God for having delivered his soul from the power of Satan, and given him peace through the blood of Christ. It was now nearly midnight, and Dr C. endeavoured to get the people to go home. As they passed up the road towards his house, a number of people met him, telling him that God had done great things that night in saving souls at the Mission Chapel (a little place belonging to the Wesleyans.)

From the 'Revival Newspaper', Volume VI, page 92.

Additional Information

The Town Hall was built in 1848 and then turned into a Market Hall in 1864. The site is still a Market area.

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