Yeadon (1805)

Of this extraordinary work of God public-house Crosby has left a short account in a letter written to Mr Walter Griffith.

My dear Brother,

With pleasure I give you some account of the good work which our common Lord is carrying on in these parts. From our first coming into the circuit, the prospect was such as gave us good reason to hope there would be a revival, especially at Yeadon. Every successive time we went thither, our hope was increased. Jan. 27th, that hope was realised. Small companies began to meet together for prayer, and several were brought into the liberty of the children of God. But then houses soon became too small to contain the members who ran at the sound of singing and prayer. The vestry was now made choice of as more convenient; but that also being too small, they took possession of the chapel, where from three to four hundred people attended the prayer meeting: many were in great distress, and I think near forty found peace that week. The work still went on and increased. Numbers were struck with deep convictions in their own houses, while at their ordinary employments, whose concern for salvation was such that some persons were sent for to pray with them. Their neighbours hearing the now well-known sound of either joy or sorrow, flocked in, and soon filled the house; there they continued till the close of clay, when the intended dinner was found removed into a corner, or still standing before the fire. On those occasions some continued on their knees for five or six hours together, whilst others were employed in pleading with God on their behalf, till He shed His love abroad in their hearts, and turned their mourning into joy. Three, five, or seven frequently found a sense of pardon before they parted. Some fled from these scenes of confusion, as they were pleased to call them, and went to their work at a distance: but, even there God found them. They were seized with such horror of mind that they threw down their tools, and returned to their neighbours in distress, requesting the prayers of the godly. The alarm was now more general; and though not all the houses, yet the greatest part became houses of prayer. The day being too short, they 'borrowed the night,' and continued the prayer meetings in the chapel until twelve,—sometimes two or three o'clock in the morning ; and even then, though dismissed from the chapel, they gathered together in small companies, and continued their supplications to a yielding throne of grace.

"It is natural to suppose that in such a work there would be some irregularities; one instance of which I give you. A number of men who were employed at a mill, would hold a prayer-meeting one day, at the noon-hour; which was easily begun, but not so readily concluded; for they prayed until night, a conduct by no means justifiable. Yet this gave less offence than might have been expected. The proprietor looked in, but soon returned, saying, 'I dare not disturb them, for God is among them.' You have probably heard of their love-feasts being held in a field, where I suppose 5,000 or 6,000 persons attended." This is confirmed by a letter from Mr David Illingworth, of Keighley, to Mr Allan Edmondson, of Boyle, Ireland, written in 1806 or 7.

"Last Sunday a love-feast was held at Yeadon by Mr Isaac Muff, a preacher in the circuit. The love-feast was held in a field, and it is supposed there were not less than ten thousand people present, and it is said a glorious revival has taken place there, and in that neighbourhood." Mr Crosby goes on to say:

"I was there on the 13th inst and remained a day or two to admit new members. I have seldom been more fully or more agreeably employed, than in meeting them in small companies, for several hours in the day; while I received on trial 353; most of whom professed to have obtained pardon. One hundred and fifty-four were admitted by my colleagues, 506 in the Yeadon society only. We have joined, and admitted on trial this quarter 656; most of whom, there is reason to believe, have found peace with God. They are at least fair blossoms; time only can determine who will bear fruit to perfection. I have just room to add, that I have never seen such a work before. 1st. Where there appeared so much of God, and so little of man. 2nd. Where the work was so great in so small a place. 3rd. Where the work was seemingly so deep in so short a time; nor 4th. Where the people in general were so overawed by the majesty and goodness of God, as they appear to be at Yeadon. Even the jolly huntsman blew his horn in vain; not a man durst follow the sound, though the chase had been their favourite amusement. Those who were not convinced said, ' How can we go hunting when the people are praying on every hand? their prayers will follow us; we dare not go.' "

In this great revival, Mr Crosby was honoured with his share of usefulness. Soon after its commencement, on a Sunday evening, when he was going to preach at Yeadon, there was a man drinking at a public-house, who felt a strong and unaccountable inclination to go to the Methodist chapel; he, however, determined to drink his ale before he went. But when he attempted to do this, his mind was so powerfully impressed with those words of Paul, in his sermon in the Jewish synagogue at Antioch, "Behold ye despisers, and wonder and perish; for I work a work in your days, a work which ye shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you; " that he threw down the tankard and went to the chapel. The moment he entered he was astonished and confounded to hear Mr Crosby read for his text the very words, the impression of which on his mind had driven him from the public-house. His soul was that night deeply awakened, and under that sermon a great number were constrained to cry to God for mercy, and these afterwards joined the society.

This revival continued about three months, during which time there was an increase of three hundred and forty members at Yeadon; which, added to one hundred and forty, the number of old members, made a total of four hundred and eighty; so that the society was more than trebled. The members were distributed in the following manner by Mr Crosby on April 14th, 15th and 16th, 1806:—William Turnpenny, 60; Joseph Dawson, 60; Thomas Dennison, 60; John Yeadon, 60; William Marshall, 60; John Clayton, 60; Joshua Gibson, 30; James Birch, 30; Samuel Kellett, 30; Samuel Booth, 30. The difficulty of finding suitable men for leaders will explain the largeness of the classes.

From, 'Methodist Heroes in the Great Haworth Round 1734-1784, by J W Laycock, 1909, p351-3.

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