Reports from the Revival of 1857-58:
In Albany the following Union prayer-meetings are held daily; two in the morning, two at noon, two in the afternoon, and one in the evening. There is a number of church meetings every evening beside. A correspondent writes:
"The meridan prayer-meetings have commenced in this city with the same crowds that attend elsewhere. Other hours have been added. At 4 p.m. to 5 meetings convene in the Fourth Presbyterian church, and from 5 to 6 at the rooms of the Young Men's Christian Association. Many are added to the churches. In Troy and Schenectady, near by, similar movements have been made, with similar gracious effect."
A prayer-meeting for the Legislature of this State has been instituted in the rooms of the Court of Appeals, at Albany, which is continued every morning. A correspondent of the New York Commercial Advertiser, after referring to the crowded daily prayer-meetings held in Albany, speaks of the remarkable movement in the Legislature as follows:
"Yesterday, [March 19th,] some members of the Legislature commenced meeting for prayer at 8˝ in the morning, at the room of the Court of Appeals. It is opposite the Senate Chamber, and the voice of supplication and praise to the Almighty, is now heard early in the halls of our capitol. It was commenced with but six persons, but at the fifth meeting the number present filled two rooms, and the interest has increased from that time until now."
In Troy, the prayer-meetings of the Young Men's Christian Association, and one held in the meeting house of the Rev. Dr. Duncan Kennedy, on Second street, are well attended by merchants, clerks, and professional men, all seeming to exhibit a deep and abiding interest in their spiritual welfare. Meetings have been held in the various churches daily and nightly, and it is estimated that several hundred converts registered upon the rolls of membership. It seems to have taken a decided hold upon the young men of the city, very many of whom, it must be confessed, stood sadly in need of some redeeming influence. Among the most marked of the conversions is that of a man, well known in our city, who, after a career of hitherto unsubdued social recklessness in this community, being likewise regarded as wholly irreclaimable, is said to have earnestly taken up the standard of the cross. I instance this particular case because I deem it a perfect parallel with that of Mr. Orville Gardner, it having attracted comparatively as much attention hereabouts.
A letter from Hudson states:
"I am happy to state that the four evangelical churches in this city—the Reformed Dutch, the Rev. Dr. Demarest; the Baptist, the Rev. Mr. Smith; the Methodist Episcopal, and the First Presbyterian, the Rev. Mr. Leavitt—have inaugurated a Union prayer meeting for each day in the week, from 4 to 5 o'clock, and that with one accord. The people came to them as doves to their windows. The room was thronged yesterday beyond precedent, and near 100 had only standing places. The scene was one of solemnity, deep and strong. Men, women, and children fill the seats to their utmost capacity, in an orderly and devout manner.
At Poughkeepsie Union prayer-meetings are held daily at 4 p.m., and are largely attended. It is now nearly three weeks since these meetings were commenced, and still the numbers in attendance increase daily. Religious service is held in several of the churches every evening, and all the others are holding extra meetings. Up to this time, about three hundred persons have confessed conversion, in the several churches in this city, and many more are seeking the Saviour.
At Peekskill, eight weeks ago, a 5 o'clock prayer-meeting was commenced in the lecture-room of the Methodist Church, which has since been very largely attended. A week subsequent to the appointment of these meetings, evening exercises were appointed, which, owing to the large attendance, have been held in the body of the church. A number of young men and women connected with the Sabbath School were the first converts, since which the work has progressed with greater power, and the number of conversions, including both old and young, has reached 300. Of these many are connected with the fire department, and others are workmen in foundries. In the New School Presbyterian Church about fifty conversions, have taken place. Peekskill has had the name of having a larger number of irreligious persons, who were openly wicked, than any other town of equal size along the river.
In Kingston, Ulster County, New York, a Union prayer-meeting was recently established in the basement of the Methodist church, which soon drew an attendance too large to be accommodated by the room, and which has since been transferred to the large lecture-room of the Reformed Dutch Church, which in its turn, has also become too small.
A correspondent in Rondout writes: "The Presbyterian church is now having meetings daily, between 12 and 1 o'clock; the principal business men of the village attend."
In Utica, in December last, the pastors of the various evangelical churches united in holding weekly Union prayer-meetings in the different churches. The interest and numbers in attendance increased so rapidly that, at the third meeting, held in the First Presbyterian church, the house was filled, including the galleries, with a deeply-interested audience. Such was the feeling in the community that, two or three weeks since, daily morning prayer-meetings were appointed in one of the large churches in the central part of the city under the direction of the Young Men's Christian Association.
The meetings have continued with great interest and a constant increase of numbers. Now, every morning the body of the house and galleries are filled full with worshippers, and frequently some have to stand. All evangelical Christians are united in this work as one man.
At Schenectady, two daily prayer-meetings are held. The revival has been in progress for nearly three months, and is still continuing with success. Every bell in the city has sounded evening after evening, and every church been filled during this time. Converts have come in with surprising rapidity. Union College has been blessed in a manner never known. Places of resort for dissipation have been thinned out. Many of the oldest inhabitants say that there was never such a time known.
At Syracuse, a daily meeting is held in Convention Hall, a place which has been heretofore the scene of much political noise and strife.
In Buffalo, Grace church has been opened for daily prayer-meetings, from 8 to 10 a.m. Similar meetings are also held every day inthe Lafayette street church. Among the Presbyterians, at Dr. Thompson's church, as many as fifty have professed faith in Christ. The interest is largely increasing in Dr. Chester's, Dr. Heacock's, the Rev. Mr. Corning's, and the Rev. Mr. Rankin's churches. For months past, in the Rev. J. Hyatt Smith's church, Baptist, there has been much interest. In the Methodist churches the revival has been quite powerful. Between forty and fifty have professed religion inthe Niagara street church; about the same number in Grace and Pearl street church; and about one hundred in the church at River Side. In the German church some fifteen or more have professed religion.
In Geneva a revival of great stillness, depth, and solemnity has manifested itself in the Presbyterian church under the pastorial care of the Rev. H. Winslow. About an equal number of each are subjects of the work, including many in the Sabbath school who are quite young. The revival is extending in the other congregations in this place, and a daily Union prayer-meeting is held in the Dutch Reformed Church, which is filled every morning.
A correspondent in Pen Yann writes: "For about three weeks we have had what is called a 'People's prayer-meeting,' from 8 to 9 o'clock a.m., in the basement of the Methodist church. The room has been crowded with Christians from all our evangelical churches.
During the last four terms nearly two hundred and forty academy students have united with some of the churches of Canandaigua.
The Baptist pastor in Union Village, writes that he has baptized 111 converts, and is expecting soon to baptize more.
"I never witnessed a revival of such extent where there was manifest so little of what may be regarded as mere sympathetic excitement. More than fifty of the number baptized are heads of families ranging from 25 to 50. One man has been hopefully converted in his 83rd year."
In Westerloo, more than a hundred conversions are reported.
A letter from Catskill says, that since the revival commenced, 115 had been received into the church; more than half being heads of families. The revival commenced at a time of religious indifference, by the conversion of a young man who was a member of the Bible-class. A prayer meeting was established, and every member of the Bible-class has been brought to a knowledge of the truth, and made a public profession of religion.
In Olean there have been very recently 140 conversions.
The Rev. J. R. Kennedy, of Geneva, writes:
"Our little Congregational church last spring numbered only thirty, now ninety. Thus under the providence of God this church has been trebled in less than one year."
At Genoa a Union prayer-meeting is held every morning at the Dutch Reformed Church, at which the various pastors alternate in presiding. The meetings are largely attended. At the Methodist church there are three daily meetings. At 9 o'clock a Young Men's Union Prayer-meeting is held by a class of young men, mostly new converts. At 2˝ o'clock a prayer-meeting is held. At 7˝ o'clock the large church is filled, and the altar and seats adjacent are crowded with inquirers.
A revival is in progress in Cold Spring, which all the different denominations have shared. I cannot state the exact number who have professed to have been converted, but I should think about 200, of whom 80 have joined the Methodist Church. The work goes on yet.
Since the commencement of the present term, a very great interest has been manifested by nearly every member of Union college, Schenectady. Public services are held in the college chapel two evenings each week, and hardly an evening passes but some one of the four classes holds a social meeting for prayer. Between thirty-five and forty attend the lectures of the Vice-President (Dr. Hickok) to young converts. But a much larger number than this, it is estimated, have met with a hopeful change.
In Rockaway, L.I., the religious influence has been so generally felt that almost every adult person in the place has become a member of a church, and three hundred fishermen have been recently converted.
The Methodist Churches along the Hudson River report extensive revivals. Peekskill, Rondout, Poughkeepsie, and Hudson are specially noticed.
At East Greenwich, in the Methodist Church, one hundred conversions are reported, and more than fifty of them are heads of families.
At Nassau, a very powerful work has been witnessed. A clergyman writing from this place, says:
"Never since the days of Nettleton, whose labors were eminently successful in this region of country, has such a work of grace been witnessed. Over one hundred have attended the meetings for inquiry, and have sought an interest in the prayers of God's people."
In Clinton, the churches have had upward of one hundred additions. A correspondent writing from Salem, says:
"Without any alarming event, without any extraordinary preaching, or any special effort or other means that might be supposed peculiarly adapted to interest the minds of the people, there has within a short time past been, in several towns and villages in Washington and Warren Counties, and the towns and villages along the western parts of the State of Vermont, a revival so extraordinary as to attract the attention of all classes of the community. In one town over one hundred have been brought to conviction and conversion, and the glorious work is still going on. They expect the whole town will be converted—for this they pray. This work does not appear to be confined to the churches; hundreds are converted at prayer-meetings, in private houses, in the workshops, and at their work in the fields. Men of fortune and fashion, lawyers, physicians, and tradesmen, and, indeed, all classes, ages and sexes, are the subjects of it."
Some 200 towns are named as sharing in the revival, with 6000 specified cases of conversion.
From Narratives of Remarkable Conversions and Revival Incidents by William C. Conant (1858)