This Sunday in Baptist History
In a letter to a friend, written on this day (October 23) in, 1801, a man named M’Gready described the revival which had gripped the Baptist churches in Logan County, Kentucky. When Pastor Lemuel Burkitt, of North Carolina heard of the pouring out of God’s grace, he determined to visit Kentucky to see for himself. Abbreviating his account, when he got home he reported –
“The first appearance that was discovered was, great numbers of people attended the ministry of the Word, and the congregations kept increasing… The audience was more solemn and serious than usual… The Word preached was attended with such a divine power that at some meetings two or three hundred would be in floods of tears, and many crying out loudly, What shall we do to be saved? … Old Christians were so revived they were all on fire to see their neighbors saved. The work increasing, many were converted and they began to join the churches. Some churches, which had not received a member by baptism for a year or two, would now frequently receive at conference meetings, several members, sometimes 12, 14, 18, 20 and 24 at several times in one day… Some of the churches in the revival received 200 members each.
“The Lord was pleased to make use of weak and simple means to effect great purposes, that it might be manifest that the work was His and not man’s …. And when the ordinance of baptism was administered, nothing had a more solemn effect …. To see fifteen or twenty persons suitably attired, to go in the water, in a row, hand in hand and the minister at the head, march down into the water regularly, like soldiers of Jesus, singing as they went would make a solemn effect on the numerous assembly. Numbers would be in floods of tears, and so greatly affected [they] could hardly stand while… Sometimes they had the pleasure to see the father and the son, the mother and her daughter, the wife and the husband, go into the water together hand in hand.
“Union meetings have also been attended with a blessing. A Union meeting consists of several churches, being convenient to the other and of the same faith and practice, who meet at stated times to confer in love about matters relating to peace, brother union and general fellowship. The time the meeting holds is usually three days …. At times three or four thousand people would meet, and sometimes fifteen or sixteen ministers attend. Great numbers were solemnly affected and at times, we have reason to believe, many got converted. At the Union Meeting at Parker’s meeting house, August, 1803, it is supposed 4,000 people were present. Elder Burkett ascended the stage to preach… it was expected from the appearance of the clouds it would rain every moment, and before he was done preaching it did so. Yet notwithstanding the numerous congregation still kept together… we believe 1,000 people were exposed to the rain without any shelter, some crying… some begging the ministers to pray for them.”
When this report was presented in North Carolina, people began crying out to God for such a revival in their state. But what do we do, when we read of such things?