Members of Carnmoney Presbyterian Church presented me with a copy of Robert Bonar’s history of the congregation, Nigh on Three and Half Centuries. It is a lovely gift and is much appreciated.
The book is a very competent piece of work, and given the long history of the congregation, an account of its life is really a social history of south-east Antrim over 350 years. Putting such a massive amount material together was a big challenge. Yet, Robert (“Bobby”) Bonar has done a great job of organising and condensing many years of activity into 350 pages.
The first minister was called to Carnmoney in May 1657 and I was honoured to be the sixteenth minister of the congregation.
There is much that is noteworthy in this history, but in this year what was of particular interest to me was the minute from the Session Book regarding the 1859 Revival. The minister in Carnmoney in those days was Joseph Barkley and James Moreland was the Session Clerk. This is part of what the Session said:
“The Session record with unfeigned gratitude to God that he has been graciously pleased to visit the congregation with a blessed season of Revivals during the present year…..On Thanksgiving Monday (the day following the midsummer communion), June 27th, while Rev Mr Pollock of Ballyeaston…was preaching, two, the one a male the other a female, cried out in the church under his sermon and at a meeting addressed on the evening of that day by Mr Pollock, Mr Ormsby from Rothesay in Bute and two young men from Connor, so abundantly was the Spirit poured down on that meeting that not fewer that fifty persons were “impressed” that night and during the week at least fifty more were either “stricken down” or so deeply convinced of sin s to affect their bodies and in the course of a brief period were rejoicing in Christ. The chief characteristics of these who professed to be converted at that period were first a sense of sin, resulting in great weakness of body, crying out loudly for mercy, looking to Christ alone for salvation and then on believing on Him, a most ecstatic joy accompanied by a sense of sin pardoned and usually though not universally, the parties so pardoned were possessed of a wonderful gift of prayer, a readiness to forgive injuries and an intense desire to see all their relatives and others cemented to Christ. It is computed that during the summer and autumn of 1859 not fewer than 400 within the bounds of the congregation were thus brought to Christ while the indirect influence on the Lord’s people and the entire neighbourhood cannot be calculated.”
“It has assuredly been a blessed time of refreshing from the presence of the Lord and their earnest united prayer to God is that He will be graciously pleased to carry on His work of grace in our midst until no man shall say to his neighbour “Know thou the Lord” but all shall know him from the least to the greatest, even so, Amen.”
Thank you, Bobby, for making this material available to us. It inspires and warms our hearts.