Due to the errors of his predecessor, Bramwell, yet again, found a difficult situation in the Sunderland Circuit. His policy was that he would not get involved with the dispute. By maintaining a profound silence on the subject the problem went away, so he was able to concentrate on winning souls.An indication of how he was feeling can be seen from one of his letters. ‘Our work as ministers of the Gospel is of such importance, that I frequently tremble exceedingly before I go into the pulpit. Yea, I wonder how I ever dared to engage in such work. Yet when I am labouring to speak a little, I am frequently so much overpowered with the Divine presence, that I would not leave my work for all the world.’
The work in Sunderland went well. So many were coming to the Lord that Bramwell needed an extra preacher to cope. He wrote, ‘a revival is beginning in several places.’ Bramwell believed that a key to revival was ‘sanctification’, and he was very worried that the doctrine was in decline due to the opposition of those in authority in the Methodist Church. He called them ‘the rich, the mighty’, and wrote that the young preachers were seeking to gain their respect. This was probably the same type of concern he had back in 1796 and 1801. This is a problem that remained in Methodism for years, leading to the removal of William Caughey (see this website) and others.
Excerpts from two letters by William Bramwell.
‘A great prospect soon opened before him in this circuit. 'Cooke's chaff,' he writes, ' had nearly blinded the people, but crowds were coming to hear, and their eyes beginning to open. In one love-feast, there was a great shower — ten persons were brought into liberty. I do not know how it may end; if as it begins, we shall have a great work.' A few weeks afterwards, he states that he had seen 400 brought into the society — nearly all saved from evil, as he believed— and that the work was still advancing. The prospect, he adds exultingly, is great. A few weeks more, and the total number enlisted since the last Conference was found to amount to 500: the movement was active in the country.’
From, ‘Memoir of the life and ministry of William Bramwell by William Bramwell and his family, published in 1848, p76.
‘I have seen more than one hundred souls brought into liberty. About two hundred joined us the last quarter, sixty of whom were soldiers, — lions turned into lambs. Such a work of God in the army I have not seen before; and it spreads. I wonder at the power of God among these men. Seventy now meet in class, and are proved to be quite changed. A revival is beginning in several places.’
From, ‘Memoir of the Life and Ministry of William Bramwell, by James Sigston, published in 1836, p219.
At the end of two years Bramwell saw 1,000 added to the society.
The chapel was built in 1793 and stood approximately in the middle of these photos.