The Oberlin Evangelist
April 11, 1860
The Revival in Bolton.
The special revival services are still continued in the Temperance Hall, and the interest is manifestly on the increase. The attendance night after night is, on the average, not less than 1,200 to 1,400, while the Hall is never large enough for the accommodation of the multitudes who wish to be present at the Sunday evening service. Time after time hundreds have been turned from the doors unable to enter the building at all. The ante-rooms, passages, and every standing-place within reach of the preacher's voice, have been occupied by anxious hearers of the word of salvation; and the breathless attention, the murmured prayer and response, and the falling tear, have shown not less the preacher's power over his audience than their earnest sympathy with his message.
These services have now been held for two months, having commenced in Duke's-ally Chapel in December last; and the fact that they are sustained with such interest must be held to be conclusive evidence of their character. Audiences such as those assembling in our Temperance Hall are not usually found, night after night, and week after week, attending religious services, or, indeed, meetings of any kind; and it must be looked upon as an augury of great good to the community that moral and religious subjects are felt by so many to be thus important.
The Rev. C.G. Finney, by whom these services are conducted, is a Theological Professor of Oberlin College, Ohio, United States. He is close upon 70 years of age, though, in appearance, he would pass for a much younger man. His figure is tall and commanding; the lines of the face give it an aspect bordering on the severe; the eyes are deeply set, and their glance penetrating; indeed, the entire contour of the well-set head impresses the beholder with the idea of intellectual power, and at once ensures respect. The style of address is singularly direct. There is a total absence of display, and a complete forgetfulness, in most occasions at least, of the graces of elocution. The preacher's aim evidently is to interest his hearers, and to this everything is subordinate. There is a most rigid exactness of statement, the severest simplicity, the closet reasoning, and the discourse proceeds step by step, the judgment of the hearer forced along with it until the end. Having succeeded in this, the preacher appeals to his hearers at once to permit the practical power of this conviction. In doing this he allows the play of his imagination and the force of his sympathy to come to his aid; and description, recital of fact, and the most earnest persuasion, are brought to bear upon the hearer to secure his instant submission to the truth.
The effects of these services, it need hardly be said, cannot be at once ascertained. It is cheering, however, to know that in many instances they have produced the most pleasing results both in individual cases and on whole families. Upwards of 400 persons have applied for advice or instruction in reference to the beginning of a better life in a single week. Probably not less than 2000 persons have been awakened to the claims of God and religion; and of these large numbers have given up their evil course of life. The names and addresses of between five and six hundred of such persons have been taken within the last three or four weeks, in all of whom, there is no reason to doubt, a real change has taken place. Had a register of such cases been taken from the beginning of the movement it is supposed that this number would have been nearly doubled; as it is, the result is one in which all true Christians must greatly rejoice.
It is beyond our province as journalists to make mention of special cases in which good has resulted through these services, but we know of many instances in which it has been said by persons intimately acquainted with those who have been impressed-- "I scarcely knew him again, he is so changed." In one instance a father said this of his own son; and similar testimony is given in reference to whole families. After careful enquiry and observation, there appears to be no reason to question the reality of the good which is being effected among us, and we trust the work will go on until all classes of the community are brought under its influence, and drunkenness, and dishonesty, and crime, and irreligion are banished from our town.
Mrs. Finney's meetings for ladies have been held in the Temperance Hall four times a week, at three o'clock in the afternoon, at six o'clock in the New Connection School-room; and on Saturday evening in Duke's-alley School-room. The attendance has been from four to seven hundred on each occasion in the hall. On Thursday afternoons her address have been mainly directed to mothers, and on Fridays afternoons to young ladies, on their personal and relative duties. It cannot be denied that what has been heard in England of "woman's rights," and their advocates on the other side of the Atlantic, has created a prejudice against this particular form of usefulness here. No one, however, who has attended Mrs. Finney's meetings could for a moment identify her or her proceedings with those eccentric exhibitions to which we have referred. A christian lady, of gentle demeanor and winning address, meets those whom she rejoices to call her sisters, whatever their rank or station in life, and after bending at the footstool of the Divine Mercy, and pouring out her heart in prayer for them, speaks with them of their common duties to husband, children, and home; of their common joys, their common sorrows; their common interest in the sympathy of the Divine Redeemer, the influence of the Gospel upon their position and prospects, and the claims of the Saviour upon their reverential love and service. Nothing could be conceived, as more seemly or appropriate; and we are informed on unquestionable authority that the results of these meetings have been of the happiest character, both as it respects individuals and families.
There is one extraordinary evidence of the power which has accompanied some of the services, and to this we have more than once referred. We allude to the hundreds--indeed it is believed thousands--of pounds which have been restored to parties from whom they had been wrongfully obtained or withheld, since the deliver of Mr. Finney's sermon on "Restitution." It requires more than ordinary moral courage for a man to step voluntarily forward and confess himself to have broken no less a commandment than the eighth; and yet, in all honor be it said, scores of such cases have come under the direct and personal knowledge of gentlemen connected with the services, and restorations, in sums varying in amount from mere trifles to no less than £300 at once, attest the genuineness of the good impressions which have been produced, and silence the cavillings of those who have been accustomed to regard and speak of the movement itself as one of mere evaporative excitement.
Another significant feature we must not omit to notice, and that is the union of Christians of every denomination in it. Episcopalians and Nonconformists, belonging to every branch of the Evangelical Church, meet on common ground, and blend together their sympathies, prayers and efforts on behalf of the moral and spiritual elevation of their fellow-townsmen. Minor differences are for the time entirely lost in view, and men who have never supposed before that they could work together, now find themselves without a semblance of difference, heartily engaged in a common cause, and in every practical respect one. While many laymen connected with the Established Church acknowledge the movement and take part in it, one of the clergy, of high standing in the town, has personally attended the services; others have expressed their good wishes for its continued success. And surely, if good can be accomplished through efforts such as these--and there is no reason to doubt that it is so--ought they not to receive the sanction and earnest co-operation of all--clergy and laity--who profess to be anxious for the spiritual improvement of our town and the evangelization of the world?
Bolton Chronicle, March, 1860
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