« VorigeDoorgaan »
THE METHODIST PRAYER-MEETING.
Not long after Israel Knight's conversation with the Congregational clergyman, he was walking, early one evening, in company with a young man of his acquaintance, on one of the less frequented streets of the city. Their attention was arrested by strange, and, as he thought, unearthly sounds, which seemed to issue from a row of lighted windows in the basement of a building near them.
“ Persons in distress," said Israel, in a tone of sympathetic excitement.
His companion laughed. “Look up and see where you are,” he said.
Israel obeyed the suggestion, and discovered that the building was a plain-looking church. His eye fell again upon the lighted windows, and at the moment his ear took in a prolonged sound which seemed composed of pain and exultation, all concentrated in the word “Glory!"
Next he heard the word “Hallelujah!” in an equally remarkable outburst of vocal power.
“Who are they? What is it?” now asked Israel of his friend. " Don't
you know? Is it possible that you do not understand the mysteries of a real Methodist prayer
meeting?” returned his friend, taking him by the arm and turning down the walk which led to those windows.
“I know nothing of them,” said Israel, in a tone of awe, for he perceived that “the combat deepened” every moment. Sounds as of pounding now accompanied strong cries and hollow groans. “Can we obtain admittance?”
“ Certainly; the core of their doctrine is, “Whosoever will, inay come and partake freely.' They deal in a free salvation."
They passed into the outer hall, and seeing other persons waiting about the door, paused there till the favorable moment for entrance. Soon one of the persons within broke out into singing, “ I'm glad salvation's free, salvation's free for you and me;” and all who had been on their knees rose to their seats, while our friends moved in. A person who sat near arose and showed Israel, with his friend, to seats in full view of the preacher's desk.
Israel listened to the many voices in this singing, and saw the expression of the faces of some of the foremost who sat in conspicuous seats, which seemed fully committed to the manner and time of the work, and he thought “This is what is meant by singing lustily.”” As the song went on, some one broke out with the exclamation, "Praise God." This was followed by several voices crying similar ejaculations, till the singing was borne down and stopped.
A person at the desk, who seemed to be the leader of the meeting, now arose, and standing still a moment, looked around in a wild and intense way upon the audience, then said a few words expressive of his hope that they should have a good meeting that night - such a meeting as they never had enjoyed before in their lives. Souls were to be converted by scores, if they only had faith, and were willing to come up to the work of the Lord; but if the drowsy, stupid church members were going to hold back, as they so often did, — just like great leaden cogs on the wheels of the car of salvation, -- they might as well give it up, first as last, and bid farewell to the miserable wretches in that audience who were now swiftly on their way to the pit of damnation. He concluded by calling upon every soul in that congregation who had put himself or herself in the Lord's ranks over against those of the devil, and was willing to keep there by going to work mightily for the Master, to come forward on the front seats around the stand, and consecrate themselves anew to the Lord.
For a moment there was a breathless silence, then each began to look at his neighbor, to see who was going to move and who was not.
“Clear the seats !” now cried the leader, waving his arms on either hand ; 66 clear the track for the progress of the car of salvation! We are going to have a mighty time to-night-a glorious warmingup here. Now while we sing, all who love our Lord Jesus, and are willing to stir themselves for him, come around here."
He then began to sing, while a movement commenced throughout the house.
When the vacated seats were all filled, and others stood near' who seemed to belong to that company,
the leader said, “Now, sister Atkins, we will join with you
prayer. We want every one here in these seats to give himself or herself up anew to the Master. Right here, and just now, expect a blessing. Every one kneel; every one pray now, while the sister calls upon the Lord to fit us up for a glorious work here to-night. Let every soul in this house, saint or sinner, get down on their knees.”
As Israel did not think this injunction to kneel included him, he remained in his position. But he
eyes of this man fixed searchingly upon him from above the chair where he knelt with his face to the audience.
No sooner had the sister began to pray, than voices from every
direction broke out with loud ejaculations, so that it was difficult to catch only broken sentences of her petition. These were accompanied by other loud noises made by their hands. The strong cries of “Just now, Lord!” “O, come right here, Jesus !” “ Yes, yes, that's what we want.” “Amen!” “Come Lord, come right down now and work like thyself!” “Amen!” "Hallelujah!” “Glory!" “Glory to God!” bore down the minor key of the woman's voice, so that it seemed it would have been equally well if she had but commenced praying, and ended when these cries ceased.
No sooner had the weaker voice died out, than there was a momentary lull, succeeded by a roar like the outbreak of waters at the removal of their strongholds.
A stentorian brother now led the mighty current like the afflicted Job when he cried, “Am I a sea, or a whale *
* * ?”
Israel knew not whether to be amused or disgusted. He caught the eye of his companion, who smiled. The contagious glance caused him to turn away to gather new self-control.
The next time he looked towards the leader, he saw his searching eye levelled like an arrow of reproof upon him. In confusion he dropped his head upon the bench before him.
These things continued for a short time, when all were bidden to rise and sing.
The singing concluded, the leader said, “Now all who have got a blessing and are willing to work for the Master to-night, rise right up and show your colors for the Lord.” Most of the persons on the front seats arose, but a few remaining in their positions, he seemed possessed with a spirit of rebuke, and said, “Oye stupid Christians ! who have a name to live, while you are just dead in trespasses and sins, — what, think you, is to be your portion? You are all like woodchucks in your holes. Nothing will ever bark you out but the dog of persecution. You need to be called to straits from the enemy, like the Christians of old, in order to be willing to run and not be weary, to walk and not faint. Here are souls around us to-night going right on to hell, and you a-setting there so stupid and careless ! I see the precious souls of young men here, who are now laughing at us. [Here he gave a terrible look at Israel.] And there are young women, too, right on the Aowery borders of perdition. Yes, brethren and sisters, there is work here for us to do to-night. How can you keep your seats one precious moment