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made with much prayer, there has ever been a most unmistakable blessing. So much for human agencies, which are necessary to us, though God is not bound to them.
There had been no preparation for the mission I am about to tell of, no visitation, nor any special prayer; and yet it pleased the Lord to give in this little village such an outpouring of His Spirit and demonstration of His power as is rarely known. There was a great running together of the people, notwithstanding the difficulties of access to the church. Some had to come several miles from the towns by road, some by sea, and others across a tidal river where mud abounded; and after landing, they had to climb a steep hill. None of these things, however, deterred or discouraged them; they came, and they would come, in spite of everything which was urged at other times as an excuse for staying away, even on dark nights. It was the day of the Lord's power, and He made them willing; so much so, that in some places work was suspended, and people came even three times a day.
On the Monday evening, when I arrived, I found that the church would scarcely hold the people who had gathered to hear the Word of God. It was a time of much blessing, and we remained there hard at work till eleven o'clock, when, having four miles to go in order to get home, I closed the service, offering to meet any anxious souls there at halfpast ten the next morning. This I did, and was surprised to find a number of persons waiting, even at this early hour. There were too many to speak to individually, so I addressed them collectively, giving the ordinary instruction to seeking souls. In the afternoon we had a still larger number, and in the evening a crowded congregation; in this way the work continued, with three services a day throughout the week, accompanied with remarkable conver sions every day.
Among the number of those who attended were a surgeon, his wife and brother, and the wife of a respectable yeoman. These, together with several more from the village on the other side of the river, were converted to God. Their rector was amazed to see them so changed, and wondered by what process this was accomplished. He attended an afternoon service, and was astonished to see so many people present on a week-day. Afterwards introducing himself, he asked me very politely, "What is the secret of all this?" He said, "I have heard you preach, and certainly do not agree with most part of what you said, nor do I see anything either in your manner or matter which can account for this effect and work amongst the people. I must say, I cannot ask you to my pulpit, but I should much like a talk with you. Will you come over to luncheon with me?"
I liked the candour and gentlemanly bearing of the man, and wished to go, but could not fix a time while I was so much occupied; so I promised I would write, and offer him a visit when I had more leisure.
In addition to the three services in church, we had another in the morning at seven o'clock, in the town where I slept. There we gathered the anxious ones who had been at the church the night before, and had come away early on account of the distance. The little town was all in a commotion, and the vicar in this place was beginning to get furious about my holding this meeting in his parish; his daughter, in particular, went about warning the people against attending it. Some young men hired a four-oared boat to come to the evening service, intending to disturb the congregation. They arrived in good time, but, for all that, they were too late to get a seat. One young man, the ringleader of the party, instead of causing a disturbance, stood still and listened most attentively. I preached that evening from the words, "And the door was shut," referring
THE NIGHT STORM.
to the ark, and the awful desolation and doom of those who were shut out. All the time I was preaching, I could see this same man standing before the pulpit, with his elbow leaning on the end of a high pew. He maintained this position throughout the service, and at the end of the sermon was still there, rigid and stiff, looking at the pulpit as if in a trance. He would not move or speak; there he stood, till we feared he had gone out of his mind. His companions were awed, and took him away as well as they could, but did not embark on their return journey till after midnight, and then the tide was against them.
Soon after they had started, the wind rose, and there came on a great storm; the thunder was loud, and the flashes of lightning awful. The wind became so strong and violent, that, in spite of all their efforts, the boat was stranded; they managed, however, to get out and pull it out of the water, and took refuge for a time under overhanging rocks on the shore. The young man continued as one stunned, and said nothing. There they remained till between four and five o'clock in the morning, when the storm abated, and they were able to set out again. At last they succeeded in reaching home.
While these unfortunate young men were battling with the elements, we went home by land and had a night's rest, though it was but a short one. I rose and went to my meeting at seven o'clock, and on arriving found the room quite full, there being only one chair unoccupied. As I stood to speak, this seat remained vacant, so I beckoned a young man who was standing at the door to come and take it. He looked worn and sad, and I thought I recognized in him the same young man I had noticed the previous night, and who, I was told, was the ringleader of the party who came in the boat with the purpose of disturbing the meeting. He sat down, sighing heavily several times.
Almost directly a man came forward and whispered to me, "You have a wolf near you—take care!"
"All right," I said: "he is tame enough now; there is no more bite in him."
"Yes, yes,” said the young man, overhearing us, “no more wolf. O God, change me to a lamb !"
Poor fellow! he was in great trouble all day, and fainted away several times before he found peace, which he did very clearly. He came to the evening meeting, shouting Hallelujah!" and stirred us all greatly. Several others of the same party were also converted.
The news of this made some of the town's people furious; and, being the fifth of November, they consoled themselves by making a straw effigy to represent me. They put on it a sheet in place of a surplice, with a paper mitre on its head, and, setting it on a donkey, carried it through the town, accompanied by a crowd of men and boys, who shouted at the top of their voices, "Here goes the Puseyite revivalist! Here goes the Puseyite revivalist! Hurrah! Hurrah!" In this complimentary sport the curate and one of the churchwardens took part.
That same night this churchwarden (who, I should say, had been one of the boating party two nights before) had a dream. He dreamt that his house was full of people, just like the church he had been in; all the rooms, the staircase, and even his own bedroom, were filled with people standing. There was a tremendous storm of wind and rain; the thunder rolled, and the lightning flashed. In the midst of this a voice said to him, "This is all about you, you sinner!" He awoke up out of his sleep in a terrible fright, and began to cry to the Lord to have mercy on his soul.
I was sent for before five o'clock in the morning to come and see him, for his friends said that they thought he would go out of his mind. Instead of this, he came to his right
THE CURATE OFFENDED.
mind, for the Lord heard and answered his prayer, and brought him from darkness into light, and from the power of sin and Satan unto God. He went with me to the early morning meeting; there we had the two chief leaders of the riotous party in a changed condition, for which we heartily thanked God.
Their friend, the curate, was very excited and angry about this, and did not quite know who to blame. He said that he would write to the Bishop and tell him what was going on; and I believe he did not fail to carry out this intention. As there were many who, from various causes, were unable to go four miles to an evening service, I managed to secure the Town Hall for a course of lectures on the "Pilgrim's Progress." The curate came to the first, and, after hearing the lecture, stood up to speak, and gave vent to his feelings by saying a great many very angry things. The people were so indignant, that I could scarcely restrain them from laying hands on him to turn him out.
Some of the old forms and seats in the Town Hall (which was not accustomed to be so crowded) broke down with the weight of people. The vicar's daughter suggested that most likely they should hear next that "the forms and seats were converted, for she had been told already that they were broken down." This little straw will show which way the wind blew in that quarter, and what was the drift of this lady's mind.
My friend with whom I was staying was evidently much perplexed, and found himself let in for far more than he had calculated when he invited me. He certainly would never have asked me had he foreseen such an upset as there was everywhere, especially in the town in which he lived, and the country parish of which he was vicar.
At last he made up his mind to take me with him to consult a clerical neighbour, upon whose judgment hẹ