Extracted from The Life of General William Booth – Chapter 25
The following article from The Christian Mission Magazine for September, 1878, gives an account of “A Night of Prayer,” lasting from the 8th to the 9th of August:
Compelled from want of space to omit a full report in detail, we must endeavour, as briefly as possible, to describe what was undoubtedly the most wonderful meeting ever held in the history of the Mission.
The whole company, amounting to three or four hundred, settled down for the whole night — a very great advantage over meetings from which many have had to retire at midnight or early morning — and from the beginning to the end, weary as almost every one was, after four days of almost ceaseless [previous] services, the interest and life of the meeting never diminished.
Scarcely had the first hymn been commenced, when a company of butchers assembled in a yard next door, with the avowed intention of disturbing us, commenced a hullabaloo with blowing a horn, rattling of cans, and other articles, so as to keep up a ceaseless din, which was heard even whilst the whole company sang aloud. But nobody was disturbed. We felt we were fighting, that was all, and every one seemed to sing all the more gladly and confidently,
Glory, glory, Jesus saves me,
Glory, glory to the Lamb.
But the enemy had a new device. By burning something placed near open ventilators, and in a stove-pipe which passed through that wall, they filled the air all through the building with an effluvium which set every one coughing. Two or three sisters in delicate health had to go out for a few minutes. Singing and praying became for a while all but impossible. There was a rush of strong men to close up every aperture.
The stove-pipe was not only stopped but pulled down in a few seconds, and a watchman was soon at a top window with a bull’s-eye ready for identification and defence, should they again come up to the attack.
Throughout, we saw no ruffled countenance, no clouded brow, heard no harsh word. The disturbance was met even more promptly within the minds and hearts of the company than in its outward forms, and then, with a relieved atmosphere and an increased joy, we betook ourselves again to the business of the night.
We give up all attempt to even sum up the addresses delivered by Mr. Booth, Mr. Bramwell and Miss Booth. Bros. Robinson. Dowdle, Corbridge, and Sister Dowdle. The great object of the meeting was to address God, and it was in prayer and in receiving answers that the meeting was above all distinguished.
Round the table in the great central square Satan was fought and conquered, as it were, visibly by scores of persons whose names and number no one attempted to take. Evangelists came there burdened with the consciousness of past failings and unfaithfulness, and were so filled with the power of God that they literally danced for joy.
Brethren and sisters who had hesitated as to yielding themselves to go forth anywhere to preach Jesus, came and were set free from every doubt and fear, and numbers whose peculiar besetments and difficulties God alone can read came and washed and made them white in the Blood of the Lamb.
That scene of wrestling prayer and triumphing faith no one who saw it can ever forget. We saw one collier labouring with his fists upon the floor and in the air, just as he was accustomed to struggle with the rock in his daily toil, until at length he gained the diamond he was seeking — perfect deliverance from the carnal mind—and rose up shouting and almost leaping for joy.
Big men, as well as women, fell to the ground, lay there for some time as if dead, overwhelmed with the Power from on High. When the gladness of all God’s mighty deliverance burst upon some, they laughed as well as cried for joy, and some of the younger evangelists might have been seen, like lads at play, locked in one another’s arms and rolling each other over on the floor.
Well, perhaps there was something besides the genuine work of the Holy Ghost there, perhaps there were cases of self-deception and presumption, perhaps there were some carried away by the contagion of the general feeling.
How could it ever be otherwise while Satan comes up with the people of the Lord? But, at any rate, God wrought there with a mighty hand and with an outstretched arm, so as to confound the wicked one and to raise many of His people into such righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost as they never had before, and thousands, if not millions, of souls will have to rejoice for ever over blessings received by them through the instrumentality of those who were sanctified or quickened between the 8th and 9th of August, 1878.
The usual unintoxicating wine not having been prepared for sacrament, we managed uncommonly well with water, and in fact everybody seemed to have got into a condition in which outward circumstances are scarcely noticed, and the soul feasts on God, no matter what passes outside. We had been drinking the best wine for hours.
After sacrament only a quarter of an hour remained for the love feast, if we were to conclude, as intended, at six; but under Captain Cadman’s energetic leading eighty-one bore their clear simple testimony to the Blood that cleanses from all sin in a very few minutes over that time, and after a little prayer we parted.
Of course some felt sleepy when all was over; but so little exhausted were most of the evangelists, that a business meeting, commenced at 7 o’clock, was kept up with energy for nearly two hours, while many remained and transacted business with Mr. Booth until one o’clock.