The people God used
THE PEOPLE THAT GOD USED
The people that God used during this revival were from a wide variety of backgrounds. Some like Brownlow North and Hay Macdowall Grant, were members of the aristocracy, others like Reginald Radcliffe, Shuldham Henry and William Lockhart, were lawyers or merchants, whilst others like Richard Weaver, Edward Usher and William Carter were ordinary working men such as colliers, chimney sweepers, dockyard labourers etc. Though they were from very different backgrounds and often ministered to different sections of society, particularly the "hallelujah band" ¹ they worked exceptionally well together. Whereas some like Brownlow North and Hay Aitken operated under a denominational banner, most of them, however, had little regard for the differences between what was "clerical or what was "lay" but going back to the Bible as their warrant and commission, they were content to be regarded as "the offscouring of all things," if they might by any means win people for Christ. Like the apostle Paul they knew what is was to suffer for the sake of His name, often being abused and treated with contempt whilst engaged in preaching the gospel. A number of them like John Hambleton and Henry Moorhouse were associated with the Open Brethren, but they were really so entirely given up to principles and methods that united them that they scarcely gave a thought to questions that divided them. Of organisation among themselves they had none and sought none. Reginald Radcliffe being frequently looked to for counsel and guidance would find many an opening for the evangelists. ²
Prayer, the key to their power
Prayer was one of the keys to their exceptional power. As Jane Radcliffe commented in the biography of her husband, Reginald Radcliffe, "the watchword that sounded forth in those days was PRAYER. Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit. "It was another Pentecost" she said, "the children of God waited, but with unceasing and united prayer for the promise; and its fulfilment came in manifested power from on high, that no flesh should glory in His presence."
The following advertisement in "The Revival" dated 10th August 1861 was perhaps typical of the prayer efforts of those days: - "A fourth night of special prayer will be at … in London at 10.00pm until 5.00am to pray for increased power in preaching the Gospel, for the Lord’s blessing on the efforts being put forth for evangelisation among the masses, and especially for the power of the Holy Spirit to accompany the reading of the Word of God in the streets of London. Admission by ticket only!" Is it any wonder that they saw the remarkable results that they did?
Their simple preaching of the Gospel
The preaching of these evangelists was also somewhat different to what we are often accustomed to today. It was very direct and people were left in no doubt that they were sinners going to hell, who needed to repent and accept God’s salvation. I think that William Carter would speak for them all when he made the following statement at a Conference in 1861. "I am a man of one idea, and that is Jesus Christ and Him crucified, risen and glorified. The starting point and the start point is the cross of God’s blessed Son. It is that idea which for the past 10 years has possessed my soul, and left me no time for anything else. I covet more and more to be in communion and sympathy with the heart of Christ in his weeping over perishing sinners and in his love towards the members of his own body. I want to get to the Mount of Olives to learn the secret of power from Him who spent his nights in prayer and his days in service." 3
The results of their labours were truly startling, with multitudes coming to Christ, many responding with great anxiety over the condition of their souls, often crying out to God for mercy, sometimes throughout the night (one woman being confined to bed for 2/3 days). The quality of the conversions that they saw though was very remarkable with some of them preaching in the open air within weeks of their conversion, sometimes within hours or minutes.
A number of them such as John Hambleton, John Latham, and Richard Weaver trusted God entirely for their support (the latter having a family) and like the apostle Paul they knew how to abound and also to be in want, but they were never abandoned, for God never failed them, sometimes providing for them in the most marvellous of circumstances.
We have much to learn from them
I do believe that we have much to learn from these great warriors of Christ. Apart from all the things that I’ve already mentioned there are a number of other impressions that have come to me very forcibly, and I’m sure will come through to any who read of their lives, i.e. their: -
- Powerful anointing in the Holy Spirit
- Great earnestness and faith.
- Little or no fear of man.
- Little regard for the goods of this world.
I do feel that whatever they had we have to some extent "lost" today, and it is my prayer that God will raise up amongst us men and women in our midst with that same spirit who will impact our generation as forcibly as they did theirs.
1. Special services were sometimes taken in theatres, halls, and circuses by a band of men known as "The Hallelujah Band" who had been rough characters before
their conversion, in order to effectively reach people with a similar background to themselves One of these bands was called "The Flying Artillery."
2. Preface by W H Harding to "Henry Moorhouse" by J Macpherson.
3. "The Revival" 7/12/1861. In the "Joy" magazine February 2007 it reported Reinhard Bonnke as criticising the British Church for not preaching the full gospel. He said that the British Church must preach the cross more and rely on the blood of Jesus to bring revival.