"About a week after the time just mentioned, on the 23rd of June, he held a love-feast, at Greetland. His own account of that special season shall in the first place be afforded to the reader." As I was going to the place, and after I arrived there, I was led to enquire "What can I say to do the people good?' I committed myself to God, and I hope, he directed me in the choice of subjects. I found liberty in preaching but nothing out of the common way. In the love-feast I bore my feeble testimony to the truth, and spoke explicitly of my own experience; saying, for some time I have found nothing contrary to the love of God and man, and as far as I know, the Lord has cleansed me from all sin; but of this I want a clearer witness. What was said seemed to have a good effect upon the people in general, they were evidently stirred up to lay hold upon the Lord. I was desirous to spend a little time in prayer, and requested several of the brethren to use their liberty. They did so, pleading with God for themselves and others. I found myself uncommonly affected while one of them was praying for me. With my whole heart, with all the powers of my soul and body, I then cried to the Lord for a general blessing. As I prayed and pleaded, my faith was strengthened, and I said, 'Oh Lord, if it will not displease thee, we would wrestle with thee, as Jacob did; and with Jacob, thou wast not displeased,&c.' Immediately my whole frame felt the power of God, and the whole house seemed filled with his glory. I continued praying, or rather praising God. My soul was lost and swallowed up in him. I had before been blessed in a similar way, but never in that degree." The people were amazed, some glorified God; meanwhile the gracious influences waxed stronger and stronger, each individual felt to forget everything, save their eternal interests. The world receded from their view, Satan lost his hold, evil agencies found nowhere whereon to fasten; faith being strongly exercised, a wrestling spirit filled every heart, while every power both of body and mind seemed to be engaged, Then the gates of heaven were opened, the glory of the holy one of Israel filling the very place, and by some now living and by hundreds transplanted to paradise, Greetland Lovefeast will never be forgotten. Many found that peace which passeth understanding, many more proved the full efficacy of the atonement. The chapel was divided into small companies of praying souls, while amid these little bands penitents were groaning for deliverance. The solemn song of thanksgiving was at times mingled with the sinner's cry "Ah wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me?" Prayer for pardon, and a shout of praise for forgiveness ascended together. Every tongue was unloosed-every heart touched, and after continuing together to a protracted hour the meeting was with, great difficulty concluded.
The good which had already been done did not end here; each individual returned to their homes with the holy fire burning and glowing in their hearts. With zealous simplicity they related the great and mighty wonders the Lord had done for their souls; many believed their testimony, others were prevailed to seek the same mercies. The fire stole from heart to heart and speedily the whole circuit was under a similar in fluence. As might be expected, every Methodist found employment; prayer meetings were resorted to with unspeakable ardour, and not infrequently were they kept up through the whole of the night. The chapels were crowded, and the general inquiry was, "what must I do to be saved?" The following letter was addressed to Dr Coke, and appeared in the Magazine at the time.
My dear Brother,
The great work of God in the Halifax circuit and its neighbourhood, is almost indescribable; I scarcely know how to relate the circumstances thereof. It began at Greetland, which for many years had been proverbially dead, so that the preachers had often serious thoughts of entirely giving it up. It was in a love-feast that an uncommon measure of the spirit of prayer was given to my dear fellow labourer, brother Lomas, and also to many of the people. The power of God descended in an extraordinary manner, and the spirit of life from the Holy One visited many mournful hearts "with peace and love, and enabled them to return home rejoicing in the God of their salvation. When these persons returned to their respective societies, and related the great things which the Lord had done for their souls, many believed in their testimony, and ·were excited to seek, with greater diligence than ever the same mercies; and in a little time, the work spread into several other parts of the country.
We have added about seven hundred persons in our circuit since last conference; the far greater part of whom, there is reason to believe, are truly converted to the Lord, and can rejoice in him as their Saviour and Redeemer. The work has commonly been carried on in prayer meetings: which were singularly owned of God. Frequently ten, fifteen, or twenty souls, were either justified or fully sanctified at one of these meetings. Very often, while one of the brethren was earnestly engaged in prayer, the power of God descended, and some began to be deeply affected, and cried aloud for mercy. Many were much agitated in their bodies, and even fainted away. The cries of others were very great indeed, and they remained in distress for several hours, till they were sensibly delivered from their misery, and enabled to rejoice in God. It has been no uncommon thing for six, eight, or ten persons to be in distress together, in the same room. In these cases our friends continued in prayer with them, till they were brought into the liberty of the children of God. I have conversed with some hundreds of them, and have been surprised to hear the clear and distinct account which they gave of the work upon their souls. Some have now evinced the reality of the change upon their hearts, for twelve months, by a holy life; so that the mouths of gainsayers are stopped. I hope this work will spread over the whole earth!
I am your truly affectionate Friend and brother, June 20th,1794. CHARLES ATMORE.
The writer has also great pleasure in inserting a letter written by Mr Lomas, and for the first time made public.
The works of the Lord are great, sought out by all those who have pleasure therein. He generally works at those times and by those means which will cause his hand to appear most evidently; doubtless that he may ham the greater glory. Profane persons who seemed to defy Omnipotence itself, are made monuments of grace: and places which might fitly be compared to wildernesses are made to bud and blossom as the rose. This was the case in a peculiar manner at Greetland, when the late revival of religion in Halifax circuit first began. The chapel was not built in a situation favourable for gathering a congregation, and the preachers laboured for several years with very little prospect of success. In the years 1791and 1792, God blessed and honoured Mr J. Entwistle's ministry, to the awakening of a few who lived at a little distance from the place. These came and brought some of their neighbours so that the number of hearers was considerably augmented. But in the year 1793 the Lord greatly revived his work in Dewsbury circuit, &c. and by degrees into other circuits also, until it reached Greetland. I was present at a Lovefeast at Greetland a little before the conference in the above year, which was a glorious and a blessed season to many, and the beginning of a revival in the places round about. We had several pious and zealous friends from Bradford circuit and other places, who favoured us with an account of the Lord's dealings with their souls and in their neighbourhoods. This, through the Lord's good influence, had an excellent effect on the minds of many of the people, so that they were evidently stirred up to seek God. We had been near three hours together before I was aware how the time went on; however I was determined not to let such a favourable season pass unimproved, so I gave liberty for a few to pour out their souls in prayer to the God of heaven for a general blessing. They did so, and found uncommon access. It pleased the Lord to encourage and strengthen me to seek him and plead with him in a manner I never did before. And he hearkened, and heard, and poured out of his Spirit in a most astonishing manner. I was completely lost and swallowed up in him. What could I do? I gave myself away to him to eternity. And may I never recall what was so justly, freely, and acceptably surrendered! The effect on the people appeared to be almost universal: numbers were filled with the joy of the Holy Ghost, and several deeply awakened to a sense of their past carelessness and neglect, and present danger. Some found peace with God while I staid, and more afterwards. After this, the people had prayer meetings or class meetings every night in the week, when more or less were convinced, or converted, or both, for several months together. There were present at the Lovefeast persons from divers parts of the circuit. These being much quickened in their own souls, were made instruments of a revival in the several places to which they belong. Also, the people of Greetland were invited, or went of their own accord, to places many miles distant, and were made useful to some, wherever they went. This late great work has been chiefly carried on in prayer meetings and class meetings. Indeed the latter have been often so numerously attended, as to force the Leaders to tum them into prayer meetings altogether. At these meetings there have been at times some irregularities: some crying out for distress and fear, while others have been shouting for joy and gladness of heart. Perhaps numbers in distress at the same time, and one or more endeavouring to encourage and help each of them severally. The noise of these unusual proceedings spread far and wide, so that many of the baser sort from all quarters ran together to see and hear for them selves; and I suppose it seldom happened that many went away without having their minds deeply affected with spiritual and eternal things. Some of these came with a set purpose to mock, disturb, and oppose, and they have often entered the chapel in this practice; but before they have proceeded far the hand of the Lord has been heavy upon them, and they have roared out for the dis quietude of their souls. The Lord has often sent these captives deliverance on the same evening, after having wrestled with him in great agony of mind and body for some hours. The mercy of God in this has been truly wonderful, for numbers who had heard of the conversion of their companions, and came with a full determination not to cry out for mercy as they had done, but to mimic the cries of others, were in spite of all their efforts brought down on their knees, and forced to cry out in good earnest. These have generally been delivered from their bonds on the same evening, or rather on the morning after; for such has been the anguish of some, and the zeal of others, that the meetings have often continued all night long. During this revival, numbers of God's children have proved that the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth from all sin, and their conversation has made it evident that they were indeed the subjects of this great grace. It is not possible to ascertain the number that have been brought to God since the work began, there having been many belonging to other circuits; but the number added to the societies is upwards of six hundred, a great majority of whom had received the knowledge of the forgiveness of sins. There have been six, ten, or twelve, and sometimes more, justified in one night. Many new classes have been raised; many societies doubled, and others much increased. The revival is throughout the circuit, one place only excepted. The work still continues, though not so rapidly as in the beginning; and the young converts have stood their ground much better than we expected. Some of our leaders, who are sensible, pious, and vigilant, have been of great use in this respect. There has been and is a similar or a greater work in other circuits roundabout, as Huddersfield, Bradford, Keighley, Birstal, Dewsbury, and Leeds. In Leeds circuit alone, the preachers admitted on trial upwards of one thousand persons; last quarterly visitation! Surely these are times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord! and are they not the signs of those times spoken of in scripture, when the knowledge of God shall cover the earth as the waters cover the face of the great deep? l\Iay the Lord hasten his work, that we may see it and glorify his name!Amen.
Halifax, May 6th,1794. ROBERT LOMAS.
'History of Wesleyan Methodism in Halifax and its vicinity', by J U Walker, pages 190-6.
"Near the conclusion of this year, a very remarkable revival of the work of God began at a love feast which was held at Greetland Chapel; the power of God came down upon the people in a very extraordinary manner, while Mr Lomas was engaged in prayer; there was a general cry for mercy heard through the whole congregation and many were brought into the liberty of the children of God. This blessed work spread into neighbouring Societies and into various Circuits and great numbers were made the happy partakers of redemption in the Blood of Christ."
'Lives of Early Methodist Preachers', by Thomas Jackson, Volume IV, page 59.
Thomas Taylor who was minister in Halifax after this revival, reported that many of those saved fell away very quickly.