Wednesday, February 25, 2009

1859: The Church of Ireland

While the 1859 revival began and spread primarily within the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, the other Protestant denominations also saw showers of blessing. However, there were mixed responses from the Church of Ireland bishops and clergy.

The Archdeacon of Derry, in an address to the clergy sanctioned by the Bishop, recommended that they should keep aloof inasmuch that the Church of England clergy* could not join other denominations except by sacrificing their principles. Whilst acknowledging that the revival was of God, he advocated the holding of separate meetings. Consequently, services were held in the Cathedral and in the church schools, but they were thinly attended and there were few results... This attitude of the episcopal clergy of Londonderry stood out in sharp contrast to the example of Dr Knox, the Bishop of Down and Connor (and Dromore), and the clergy of his diocese.

Dr Knox called a meeting of the clergy of the united Dioceses, and gave the revival his support and blessing. He then took part in the united weekly prayer meetings in the Music Hall, Belfast.

Throughout Paisley's book there are further incidents of revival striking Church of Ireland parishes including Magheralin, Lurgan (where an extra 500 seats in Shankill Parish Church had to be provided in the years after the revival because of the increased attendances), Portrush, Coleraine, Garvagh, and Monaghan. It seems that 'where brothers dwell together in unity' the blessing was particularly sweet, while in many places, the Church of Ireland clergy condemned or worked against the work of the Spirit.

May we in our day discern what God is doing, and not work against the Lord and his purposes.

* Church of England clergy - at this point the Church of England and the Church of Ireland were united in the Church of England and Ireland, which explains why the Archdeacon of Derry refers to Church of England clergy in his address.

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