CHARLES G. FINNEY
March 26, 1856
REVIVAL IN ROCHESTER, N.Y.
All our readers will rejoice at the facts stated below, and we trust will be quickened to earnest prayer.--[Ed.]
New York, Feb. 29, 1856.
REV. H. COWLES:
Dear Brother: I know it will rejoice your heart to know what the Lord is doing in Rochester, and I hasten to give you a report of my recent visit to that city.
I was in Rochester on the 26th inst., and my soul was greatly refreshed, and my faith in the promises of God greatly strengthened, by what my eyes saw and my ears heard of the power of the gospel to move the hearts of men.
There is every indication in the city of a most powerful work. During my visit, I heard of many very bright trophies of redeeming love; but, whatever has been accomplished, I thought I could see clearly that the past is only a pledge of what God will do if his people are "not faithless."
Christians appear to be actuated by a calm, deep, steady and determined energy; a spirit of importunate prayer, also, characterizes their efforts; while men of the world are inquiring seriously respecting the claims of the gospel.
God is truly moving majestically, and I trust he is making bare his arm for one of the most glorious revivals of modern times.
I speak thus strongly and hopefully, because I believe the facts which I have obtained are such as to encourage the people of God to pray, intelligently, that such a blessing--so much above all other things to be desired--should now be given to the American church and the world. I will now state a few of these facts:
President Finney has been laboring alternately in three different churches, until the present time, laboring in those churches, too, not with the sympathy of a few of the members only, but, as far as I can discover, with the entire sympathy of all the members, together with their pastors.
Three other churches have now resolved to co-operate in the good work, and, on the first day of my visit, a daily prayer meeting was appointed in each, and arrangements made by two of them to share with the other churches the advantages of hearing the President in their own houses.
The first service held in one of these two, was announced for Tuesday evening. Advertisements were out announcing, also, the appearance of a popular lecturer on the same evening in the Corinthian Hall, and I feared that the attendance at the house of God would be small in consequence, but I was most happily disappointed.
We were in the meeting-house half an hour before the time of service, and then it was comfortably full, and, during the evening, several hundred persons, I suppose, were unable to obtain seats, and went away in consequence of the crowded state of the house.
When the service commenced, those who had been hearing the President, were affectionately requested to withdraw to the basement, and pray that God would bless his word to others. The small room in the basement was immediately filled, and we were compelled to adjourn to the largest room, where, during the whole of the service, was such a continued wrestling with God as I never before witnessed. I shall never forget that prayer circle.
From what I saw of the disposition of the people to hear the preaching, I concluded that no house, in which the President's voice could be heard, would be too large to accommodate the congregation that would assemble.
But those signs of promise which stand out most prominently and above all others, and which encourage me to hope and pray for a very great work, are the number and character of the prayer meetings. The number of daily prayer meetings held in various parts of the city, is about seven, four of which I attended. One or two of these are sustained exclusively by ladies. As to their character, I would remark:
1. These prayer meetings are well attended. At the first, which I visited, there must have been present at least about four hundred persons, and the succeeding meetings were well filled.
2. The spirit of prayer is general. Several often commence to pray at the same time. This disposition increases toward the end of the meeting. There is an entire absence of mere noise and superficial excitement; yet there is a most earnest and continued pleading of the promises of God. The prayers are short and to the point. They pray not like men manufacturing petitions, but like those who have most earnest and pressing wants, which God alone can supply.
3. The leaders of the meetings, and those most active, are not young men--easily moved, unsettled in character and immature in the divine life; not men occupying inferior stations in society and exerting a minor influence; they are men in advanced life, eminent for piety and learning; men of business talent, men of distinguished professional merit--men that will mould the character and determine the destiny of any city in the world.
4. These meetings are also entirely free from the bondage of a sectarian spirit. In Rochester may now be heard in churches of different denominations, united wrestling for God's blessing to descend upon his common cause in all the churches of the city.
Are not these just such things as we should expect to precede the coming of the Lord to bless his people? May not God have done thus much in this work to show his children, that he is waiting for them to prove him, that he may open the windows of heaven and pour out a blessing, such as there shall not be room enough to receive? Let us be encouraged to open our mouths wide.
Your brother in Christ,
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