When Mr. Asbury Preached

By Jesse Lee (1758-1816)
Excerpt from a Short History of the Methodists (1810 edition, reprinted in 1974 – Academy Books)
September/October 1979
Good News

During the time of the conference, we were highly favored of the Lord, and souls were awakened and converted. On Sunday the 14th of September [1788] at 3 o’clock in the afternoon, Mr. Asbury preached in Mr. Otterbein’s church; and the people were generally solemn and much affected; he then asked another preacher to pray and conclude: and whilst he was praying, an awful power was felt among the people. Some of them cried out aloud. The preachers went among them and encouraged the mourners to look to the Lord, and prayed with them; and in a little time there was such a noise among them that many of the Christian people were measurably frightened, and as there was no opportunity for them to escape at the door, many of them went out at the windows, hastening to their homes. The noise had alarmed hundreds of people who were not at the meeting, and they came running to see what was the matter, till the house was crowded, and surrounded with a wondering multitude. In a short time some of the mourners lost the use of their limbs, and lay helpless on the floor, or in the arms of their friends. It was not long before some of them were converted, and rose up with streaming eyes giving glory to God that He had taken away their sins. This meeting continued about two hours and a half, after the sermon was ended; in which time about twenty persons professed to be converted. This day of the Lord’s power will never be forgotten.

There were about 20 persons more who were converted in the course of that week, and the heavenly flame began to spread through the town pretty generally; and many of the people began to enquire the way to heaven, with their faces thitherward.

The Sunday following there was preaching in the Market house on Howard’s-hill, at 5 o’clock, where some thousands of people attended. The presence and power of God was wonderfully displayed among the people, and hundreds were bathed in tears. We afterwards found out 15 persons that were awakened and brought to the knowledge of the truth by that sermon. From that time the revival of religion became more general in Baltimore.

Some of the young men in Cokesbury college were also stirred up to seek religion.

The preachers were uncommonly zealous; but none of them so much and so heartily engaged as the preachers in the South parts of the connection; where the greatest displays of the divine presence had been made manifest. Yet in every place the preachers were encouraged, and their expectations were raised, and they were looking out for greater depths of grace in themselves, and in their hearers. And the Lord gave them seals to their ministry, and souls for their hire.

Jesse Lee (1758-1816) was a widely-travelled Methodist preacher who was considered the “apostle of Methodism to New England,” traveling companion of Francis Asbury, was elected as both chaplain to the House of Representatives for four sessions, and, in 1814, he was chosen to be chaplain of the U.S. Senate. He was ordained by Asbury in 1790. He preached primarily in New England and his native Virginia. He was the author of A Short History of the Methodists in the United States of America in 1810.





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