NYC, New York
Revived backslider leads family to Christ
It has been said that the Awakening of 1857-58 was a revival of prayer. It was more than that; it was a chain-reaction of the working of Providence in answering believing, persevering prayer.
For instance, in New York City a restored backslider was so impressed by the need of conversion of his still impenitent relatives and friends that he decided to return post haste to his native state, Massachusetts, to plead with them about the all-important matter of their souls' salvation. Miller went home by steamer, spending the night on board the ship wrestling in prayer for the salvation of his father, now aged and infirm. Judge his wonderment when his mother informed him that on that very night his father started to show a concern about his spiritual condition and found peace.
One prayer answered, Miller became concerned about his sister, traveling east through Massachusetts to see her. Once there he was successful in leading her to Christ also. At her home, Miller wrote to his uncle and informed him that all the believing members of the family were praying for his conversion together. A letter came back announcing that while they were praying for him at eighty miles' distance, the uncle began to pray for himself, and was born again.
Exultantly, Miller led two other friends to Christ before leaving for New York City. There he sought out his cousin to inform him of the united prayers of the newly converted family. The cousin smiled broadly, only to say that meanwhile, he too had become a disciple of the Master. This cousin made the great decision just in time, for a few months later, he passed away. Even in bereavement, at the cousin's funeral, Miller spoke seriously and long to his cousin's sorrowing friend, urging him to follow their mutual friend's example in accepting Jesus Christ as Saviour. Some weeks later a letter arrived for Miller saying that the writer had followed his urging and had not only become converted, but that he had entered a seminary to prepare for the ministry. [From The Event of the Century by J. Edwin Orr, page 286]
Three Sons Converted
More striking still was the case of a father who had three sons residing in different parts of the country. As they were all three unconverted, he brought them as subjects of prayer before the noon meeting. They were prayed for as only those who believe can pray. What was the consequence? Although all communication with and between the sons and lapsed, each son in turn wrote to the father to give an account of his conversion in answer to the prayer. [From The Event of the Century by J. Edwin Orr, page 287]
The Man Who Found Christ at the Lamp Post.
This deeply interesting case belongs here, because although the man regularly attended the Noon meeting, yet it was one of the evening services at the Globe Hotel which seems to have been the immediate means of leading him to the Saviour.
In the early part of the month of August, a man was seen walking back and forth on the sidewalk, in front of the North Dutch Church, while the Prayer Meeting was going on. He was dressed in the very plainest attire, with a pea-jacket hanging on his arm. His countenance bore the very legible characteristics of a "hard case." After walking for some time, he paused, and coming up the steps to the second story lecture room, said to the lay Missionary at the door, whose daily care it is to see those who come get comfortable seats,
"Will you let such a miserable-looking object as I am have a seat in your Prayer Meeting?"
"Certainly we will," was the reply, "and we are very glad to have you come."
He went in. Daily, for several weeks, he attended the meeting. He had been a man of very intemperate habits. He left off the use of intoxicating drinks at once. He became interested in the subject of religion; and the more he came the more interested he appeared. After four weeks of total abstinence, he signed the temperance pledge and kept it. He grew more neat in dress; his clothing was washed clean, though no man would have given fifty cents for all he had on. He often was without food, having no employment. But Providence seemed to make special provision that he should not suffer with hunger. In several instances he found small packages of meat and bread wrapped in paper as he was walking the streets. In other cases, small sums of money were given him, though never at the Prayer Meeting.
His convictions became more deep and pungent. He had a very sad expression on his face. He was often conversed with—often urged to repentance—often invited to come to Christ. But still he held back. One evening he went to Washington market to lodge. He had been that evening to the prayer meeting at the Globe Hotel, where he had been spoken to on the duty of immediately yielding to the claims of the Lord Jesus. His distress kept all the time increasing. At two o'clock in the morning he betook himself to the streets to see if he could not feel better by walking. His sins lay like a heavy burden on his soul. He could not find the Saviour. He walked and walked, and no relief came. At length he stopped at a lamp post, and reaching out his hands, grasped it. He bowed his head upon his arm, and poured out his heart to the Saviour of sinners, and Christ revealed himself to this poor, miserable man. The burden of sin was gone; and tears of penitence and joy flowed apace.
How long he remained in this position at the lamp post, he does not know. He walked the streets during the remainder of the night, his whole soul filled with joy. As the day dawned, he longed to meet some one to whom he could tell his new experience. He went to various places, but could find no person whom he knew. Early in the morning he went to the Battery, and sat down on the grass. He took a small New Testament from his pocket, and began to read. He was reading the Saviour's own words, and as he read shed tears which he could not restrain. At length a gentleman who had stood silently observing him, said:
"My friend, what little book are you reading?"
“ I am reading the New Testament."
"Where did you get it?"
"It was given me at the Fulton street prayer meeting.”
"Do you attend the Fulton street prayer meetings?"
"I do. I attend them every day."
"Do they do you any good?"
"Well, I hope they have done me great good. I hope I have found the Saviour."
And then, in his perfectly artless and simple, earnest manner, he narrated the story of the preceding night.
"Well," said the listener, "I have heard much of the Fulton street meetings; I believe they are doing a world of good. Now I will tell you what I want. At ten o'clock tomorrow, I want you to come to my store." And he gave him the name and number in Broad street. They then parted.
Meantime he sought the kind Missionary at the Old Dutch Church. He ran up into the upper Lecture room, where he found him and two or three brethren with him, His whole face was beaming with inward peace. In a few brief words he told the story of the lamp post and the great change.
"Oh! blessed be God" said the Missionary, and in a moment all were on their knees. "Now let us all pray in turn" said he, and he lifted up his voice to God in thanksgiving and praise for his unspeakable mercy to his dear brother in Christ, in thus meeting him in his pardoning mercy and renewing grace. One after another followed in prayer, and last the voice of this new creature in Christ Jesus.
Punctual to the minute, the next morning he was at the store in Broad street. There he found a new suit of clothes throughout, which had been provided for him, and a place where he could have constant employment at fair wages.
He is a native of the city of New York—a ship carpenter by trade. He was fourteen years at sea and is forty-six years of age. A few months ago, his case was almost hopeless; he was in the most abject and forlorn condition, and seemed to be sunk past all redemption. Now he gives abundant evidence that he is a new creature in Christ Jesus. "Old things have passed away; all things have become new." [From The New York City Noon Prayer Meeting by Talbot W. Chambers, pages 54-57]
The following narrative was given at one of the Globe Hotel meetings by a gentleman from the West. He said that six months ago as he was standing on the west bank of the Mississippi river, a hand bill was put into his hand, inviting him to attend a prayer meeting in the city of New York. " It was the Fulton street prayer meeting. You can scarcely imagine the influence of such a little event as that upon the feelings, course, and eternal well being of an individual. I was invited when one thousand miles away, to attend a Noon day prayer meeting of business men."
He said that on coming to the city, he complied with that invitation, which he had still in his pocket and intended to keep, and he should always have reason to be thankful that he ever attended one of those meetings. He had visited the cities east of us, and he every where found the daily prayer meeting.
He then went on to speak of revivals in places at the West. He spoke of one in particular of great interest. "In a neighbourhood where there was a large population but no church, the people built a large school house, and when it was finished, they resolved to hold in it union meetings for prayer. They were commenced and were largely attended. And when all who came could not get in, they would crowd around the windows to hear. The Lord poured out his Spirit in great power and many were converted.
"Living in the neighbourhood of that school house was a very wealthy and proud infidel. Some of his family were inclined to go to the prayer meeting. He called his family together, and said that if any of them went to that prayer meeting and 'got religion,' as he called it, they were to be disinherited and banished from the house. His wife was included with the children. She had attended, and so had his oldest daughter, which put him in a rage. The daughter continued to go to the prayer meetings and soon found peace in believing in Jesus. When an opportunity was given for those who had a hope in Christ to make it known—she meekly arose and spoke of the 'great change' in her heart and her humble hopes of salvation through a crucified Saviour.
"There were those standing at the window outside who immediately went and told the father of the young lady of the professions she had made. When she went home that night, she met her father, standing in the doorway with a heavy quarto Bible in his arms.
" 'Maria,' said he, 'I have been told that you have publicly professed to night that you have 'got religion.' Is that so?'
" 'Father,' said the girl, 'I love you and I think I love the Saviour too.'
"He opened his Bible to a blank leaf, and pointing with his finger, he said:
" 'Maria, whose name is that?'
" 'It is my name, Sir.'
" 'Did I not tell you that I would disinherit you if you got religion?'
" Yes, Sir.'
" Well, I must do it. You cannot come into my house.' And, tearing the leaf of the Bible, 'There,' said he, 'do I blot out your name from among my children. You can go.'
"She went to the house of a pious widow lady in the neighbourhood, and heard no more from her father for three weeks. One morning she saw her father's carriage driving up to the door. She ran out and said to the driver, 'What is the matter, James?'
" Your father is very sick, and thinks he is going to die; and he is afraid he shall go to hell for his wickedness, and for the grievous wrong he has done you in disinheriting you and turning you from his house. He wants you to jump into the carriage and come home as quick as possible.'
"She found her father sick, indeed, on going home; but she soon saw he was only sin sick. She talked with him; she prayed with him; she endeavoured to lead him to Christ. In three days the father, mother, two brothers and a sister, were all rejoicing in hope, the whole family together made heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ to the heavenly inheritance. How faithful God is to those who put their trust in him." [From The New York Noon Prayer Meeting, by Talbot W. Chambers, pages 58-60]
The Infidel Lawyer.
The meetings at the Globe Hotel were always attended, and sometimes conducted, by a gentleman whose history is very remarkable. A member of the New York bar, he was distinguished by his legal acumen and erudition, his eminent abilities, and his infidelity. For many years he has been a skeptic on every point in religion except the existence of a God. He was not a scoffer in the common acceptation of the word. He professed and meant to be a gentleman. But his prevailing opinion was, that Christians generally did not know enough to be infidels; that it required a man to have some brains to be a thorough going, consistent infidel, well able by good a guments to maintain his position. Such was he.
One Thursday evening in August, he arose and said, with great modesty of manner: "I am young in Christian experience. Not many months ago I would have scorned to have been in this place. Now it is my greatest delight. I looked upon Christ as setting an example of benevolence unexampled in the history of the race. I had no fault to find with his character. He was a good man, a man of spotless character, who gave utterance to some of the most beautiful precepts and maxims for human conduct the world has ever seen. So I regarded him once.
"But oh! how differently now. I did not think of Him as the Crucified, as bearing my sins in his own body on the tree, as suffering, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, as wounded for our transgressions, and bruised for our iniquities, and the chastisement of our peace being upon him. I am here a sinner, hoping I have been pardoned through him as my Saviour. The Holy Spirit brought arguments to my heart that made me feel my need of him. And when I was almost in despair, the same Holy Spirit revealed to me his Divine and glorious nature, and his ability to save to the uttermost. Oh! what a sinner I have been, and what a miracle of grace I am. I have no words to express my thankfulness and gratitude, no tongue to tell the preciousness of Christ to me. Ages hence I can tell it better."
This gentleman had long been known to the Missionary of the North Dutch Church, who admired his abilities and his fine social traits, and had often tried to do him good. The first time they personally met was about ten years ago, when Mr. L. found the lawyer at a street corner, far gone in intemperance, bloated, soiled, ragged, unfit to appear in decent society. He ascertained his lodging place and promised to call on him; did so, but could not find him. He repeated the attempt frequently, and at last succeeded on a Lord's day morning in finding him at home, but not yet risen. He left word he would call after the services. These repeated manifestations of interest on the part of a total stranger awoke a train of serious thought in the lawyer's mind. He could not imagine what it all meant, but in his perplexity concluded on one good thing, viz: that he would not drink anything that day. In the evening Mr. L. came, invited the lawyer to take a walk, got him some refreshment, and finally brought him to a prayer meeting in the Broadway Tabernacle, where the services affected him deeply, especially the singing, which revived many old associations.
After service the lawyer held out his hand to his friend, as he now regarded him, to say "good night," but his friend insisted on taking him home with him, and at last won his consent. The poor man having so suddenly broken off from his cups, suffered a terrible attack of delirium tremens, but his good friend watched with him through all the unspeakable horrors of the eventful night and the succeeding twelve hours. At times it seemed impossible for the sufferer to survive the struggle. But God was gracious to him, and he was spared. Having passed the crisis, he was restored to himself and to the community, but not to God. In 1848, he became a reformed, a sober man, but was far as ever from being a Christian. Even the beautiful exhibition of Christian love and self-sacrificing benevolence which he saw in the friend who sought him out so perseveringly, helped him to break the chains of intemperance, nursed him through the agony of deliverance, cheered him with sympathy and put him in the way of employment, position, and friends, had no effect upon his fixed, icy infidelity. Nor indeed was that friend at all instrumental in the change when it did come. Although he laboured in various ways to this end through the period from 1848 to 1858, yet all without effect.
The means employed were the very last that infidel himself would have imagined. It was the services of a body of Christians, with whose peculiarities he never had any sympathies, and whom of all others he was most inclined to despise. [From The New York Noon Prayer Meeting, by Talbot W. Chambers, pages 60-63]
The Intending Suicide Converted.
On the 23 rd of last September, the day on which the anniversary of the Noon Meeting was held in the North Dutch Church, a man passing along the street had his attention arrested by the crowds streaming from every direction into the venerable edifice. Curiosity led him to follow them, and entering the building what he saw and heard there changed the whole current of his thoughts. He had been contemplating two awful crimes. But now he was awakened to a sense of his condition. He became convinced of the wickedness of his heart and life. The next day he came to the Noon Meeting and also on the following day, Saturday, when of his own accord and in his own handwriting he sent up to the desk this request:
"The prayers of this Meeting are respectfully requested for G.B-----, who has lived all this life in wickedness, and only a few days ago contemplated suicide, and the great crime of murder, in hopes of ending his misery."
The next evening he attended the Prayer meeting, which, conducted in much the same free and spontaneous manner as the Noon Daily Meeting, is held in the lecture room. In the course of the exercises, one of the brethren was delivering a fervent exhortation and urging the duty of repentance, when suddenly he was startled by a despairing cry from one of the audience, "Oh! what shall I do to be saved!" It was the poor would-be murderer and suicide, fallen on his knees and crying for mercy. Just then another poor creature near him rose, and with tears streaming down his cheeks, asked the Meeting to sing for him the well known hymn of Toplady: "Rock of ages, cleft for me, Let me hide myself in thee."
At the conclusion of the exercises, both these men were privately conversed with and directed to go just as they were, with all their load of guilt upon them, to the Lord Jesus Christ. There is reason to believe that both have done so.
G.B., although a very ungodly man, was not a convict or a criminal. But in intention and purpose he was guilty of the highest crimes. He was asked once, "Did you really intend to commit murder and then suicide?"
"I really did."
"Whom did you intend to murder?"
"A woman who has greatly wronged me; and to be revenged I intended to kill her."
"And what then?"
"Suicide and eternal damnation."
"Have you any such feelings now?"
"Not the least."
"What saved you from the crimes you intended to commit?"
"The recollection of my poor mother's prayers." And now his chin quivered, and his eyes filled with tears.
"Have you ever committed a crime, and been imprisoned?"
"Never," said he, with great emphasis and firmness. The author has recently conversed with this man, and found him in a very humble, peaceful state of mind, as far removed as possible from the gloomy, bitter, revengeful, despairing frame in which he was when the anniversary meeting arrested his downward course. He always speaks with great tenderness and gratitude of the prayers and counsels of his mother, who died when he was very young. For a long time the influence of her early inculcations had passed from his mind, so that he was wholly without God in the world, but at the critical moment the memory of them revived and he was made sharer of like precious faith with her own. [From The New York Noon Prayer Meeting by Talbot W. Chambers, pages 95-97]
“Hell Corner”, NH
The Prayer Meeting at "Hell Corner."
Few chapters in the history of the Holy Spirit's workings are more surprising than the one under this title, which a gentlemen from New Hampshire related some weeks since in Fulton street. He said: "In the locality of which I speak there are about twenty families, isolated and cut off from all association with the surrounding neighbourhoods. They have no communication with any body beyond themselves.
"These families are distinguished for their profanity, wickedness, gambling, and almost every vice. They have no respect for religious institutions. They are shut out from all means of grace. They are a reckless, hardened set of people.
"On a late occasion, one of these men was in at a neighbour's house, and while there indulged in the most horrid oaths. The woman of the house said to him,
" If you don't stop swearing so, I am afraid the house will fall down over our heads.'
" 'Well, I should think,' said the man, 'that you are getting very pious, from what you say.'
" ' Well, I should think it time for some of us to be getting religious.'
" 'If you feel that way, suppose that we have a prayer meeting in your house,' said the man.
" Yes, we will have a prayer meeting; we will have a prayer meeting,' chimed in from many voices. And a prayer meeting was agreed upon, and the time was fixed. They got a man to lead the meeting—the only man living in the neighbourhood who had ever been a professor of religion. He was a notorious backslider, and of course answered their purposes all the better for that; for all this was meant as a burlesque upon prayer meetings.
"The time came for the meeting, and all assembled. The backslider undertook to lead the meeting, but broke down in his prayer, and could not go on. They undertook to sing, and could not make out any thing at that. They determined not to give up so. They appointed another prayer meeting, on the next Sabbath at five o'clock P.M. They sent to a deacon of a Church living three miles off, saying, 'that there was to be a prayer meeting at 'Hell Corner,’ the common name by which the place was known, on next Sabbath afternoon, and wanted him to come down and conduct it.’ The good deacon did not dare to go. He thought it was either a hoax or a plan to mob him. He however spoke to a neighbour about it, and asked'
“ 'Had I better go?'
" 'Go, by all means, and I will go with you’ said the neighbor.
" So on the next Sabbath afternoon they went to the prayer meeting at 'Hell Corner.' All were assembled, preparing to give solemn and serious attention to the services.
" 'I had been there but a few minutes,’ said the deacon, 'before I felt that the Spirit of the Lord was there.' Four or five of these hardened, wretched men, were struck under conviction at this first meeting. Another meeting was held, and more were awakened. The prayer meetings are continued," said the speaker, "and many of those who were brought under conviction have since been converted, and have become praying men and women. The work is going on with amazing power. At the last meeting heard from, more than one hundred were present. Here was a case where God’s Spirit went before any man’s efforts – showing us this one fact, that He can work without them. It also shows us the wide – spread range of the Holy Spirit’s influences.” [From The New York Noon Prayer Meeting by Talbot W. Chambers, pages 98-100]
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