Across the Continent

 

Paris

Shuldham Henry

The invitation for Radcliffe and Shuldham Henry to go to Paris was given by Madame Andrè Walther, whose son, a banker was converted in one of their meetings soon afterwards. Radcliffe’s first address was given in a Wesleyan Chapel and was translated by a William Monod. His heart was so full that he burst into prayer in the middle of the address. Monod also prayed, after explaining to the people that Radcliffe had felt constrained to do so, longing that God would Himself touch the hearts of those listening to a language they could not understand, and let it be manifest that his Spirit was working amongst them.

Address to 3000 children

On the following morning at the Napoleon Circus they addressed three thousand children, who with their parents, filled the vast enclosure. In the Assembly-Room of Hert in Paris one of the large halls in the capital, which was used for concerts and mercantile meetings, there were huge queues of people waiting outside the hall long before the meeting started, anxious for the beginning of the service. On each side of the platform was a large committee room, and a full hour before the meeting started both these rooms were filled with men on the one side and women on the other calling out to God for his blessing on the meeting. Radcliffe spoke with great simplicity and earnestness and with a commanding power, which they were not used to. When the appeal was made some 400 people remained for counselling.

Policemen weeping at doors

Over the next few weeks a number of other meetings were held with powerful results. Huge notices were placarded through the city announcing that a revival meeting would be held, the subject being the love of God to sinners, with the text underneath being John 3:16. Not one of them was torn or pulled down. There wasn’t a single meting without conversions, and the very policemen at the doors were seen weeping on account of sin and gladly received the New Testament and tracts which were given to them. Distressed that he could not speak to them in their own language Radcliffe would cry out "you cannot understand me, but I feel as if I could take each of your souls and carry you to the feet of Jesus, declaring to you in his name how ready he is to receive and pardon you."

Not only did the meetings bring numbers of people to Christ but they also had a marked influence on the churches in Paris. Before the crusades a spirit of coldness and worldliness had crept into the church but after the crusades many of the Christians lives were transformed with a renewed desire to devote themselves to God’s service. The chapels and churches were, thereafter, better attended with numerous houses being opened for prayer meetings.

Unbeliever opens door for preaching of Gospel

Sadly, orders were issued shortly afterwards by the Prefect of Police prohibiting any further meetings in public halls and meetings thereafter had to be held in churches and chapels. So incensed was an unbeliever in Paris at the closing of the halls by the Prefect of Police that he opened his gymnasium for the preaching of the gospel, saying that he was doing good for the bodies of the people, but that they were trying to do good for their souls. Responding to the closure of the halls, Radcliffe responded that the police had been stirred and that they had wanted to clip his wings. He sent a letter of appeal to the Minister of the Interior and asked to speak to the Emperor if necessary.

A great harvest

Nevertheless a good work was done by Radcliffe and Henry. Dr Monod said that he had seen more people converted in the 5/6 weeks of their ministry than in 42 years of his own ministry there. Lady Harriet Cowper, who spent a lot of time in Paris remarked that during the previous three years, often with eyes dim with tears, they had in France, Elijah like, looked into the skies, seeking the "little cloud" which would indicate a coming blessing, but during the long season of waiting nothing appeared. They continued, however, with their supplications for an awakening in Paris, and in France with unceasing prayer to the Throne of Grace. With the coming of Radcliffe and Henry all their years of crying out to God bore fruit with great blessing.

Pastor Fred Monod remarked that the general effect produced by these meeting in Paris had been very remarkable and were the subject of every conversation. From 27-30 weekly prayer meetings had been organised to take place in private houses on different days, at different quarters, and their prayer was that the awakening would live, extend itself and would be consolidated in Paris, in the whole of France, and in the neighbouring countries.

Frederic Monnier summed up their efforts in Paris by saying "these missionary laymen, whose words were so powerful and who traversed England in every direction, found their strength in prayer. They were men of prayer. This was their grand method – praying.

Radcliffe and Henry left Paris in June 1861. On the last night that Radcliffe spoke in Paris, people of all ranks were running in crowds to one of the greatest church in Paris, to hear once more the lawyer from Liverpool. "I am not a preacher," said Mr Radcliffe that night to eleven or twelve hundred people hanging upon his words, "Nor am I capable of being one." It was an amazing meeting and there was certainly joy amongst the angels in heaven that night.

Mr Radcliffe visited a number of European countries, including Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland, Norway Germany and Russia, again seeing great blessing with crowds of up to 5000 people gathering to hear him in Sweden. The following is an account of some of the ways in which God ministered through him.

Switzerland

During his two month stay in this country Radcliffe spoke on a number of occasions in open-airs, but on one occasion whilst in Geneva the police arrived and ordered him to stop preaching. Radcliffe, informing the crowd what was happening invited them to follow him through the town to another venue, a private field, where he told them no power on earth could stop them. There followed a time of clapping by the crowd and then they moved very slowly through the town. Many who saw them thought that they were escaping from a fire. Every few minutes they stopped whilst he spoke to the people in the streets informing them that he had been stopped from preaching by the police, but invited them to come and hear about the wondrous love of God. The enemy had certainly outwitted himself, because the crowd increased during their slow progress up the streets of Geneva. On the way they passed cafes, shops, markets and hotels; on by Protestant churches; on by Roman Catholic churches from which emerged black-robed priests, to gaze and wonder at the strange procession, and eventually addressed a somewhat larger crowd than he first addressed!

One young girl from a village near Vevey called Chexbres went to work in Manchester as a nursemaid and whilst there was converted under Radcliffe’s ministry. When she returned she prayed every day that he would come to her country. When she heard that he was in Paris she thought that her prayers were going to be answered. Then she heard of him being in Geneva and she rejoiced at that. Then she heard of him being in Crassier, but that he had left and gone back to Paris, which left her feeling discouraged. However she continued praying and eventually he turned up in her own village of Chexbres!

On one occasion when speaking on the subject "the water of life" he said in a moment of solemnity and power, "Oh that I could speak your language! Oh that my voice could resound through Geneva, across Switzerland, across Italy, across beloved France, to cry to all, Drink, drink, drink at the fountain of living water! Oh the love of God! May the Holy Spirit give you to understand this love!"

Denmark

In Copenhagen daily noon prayer meetings were held which were well attended and the people were urged to bring their Bibles with them, but they did not do so. Mrs Radcliffe, tying to encourage somebody to do so by offering to buy a pocket Bible for him found that no such edition existed. The smallest Bible available weighed 2 ½ lbs and was quite expensive. They therefore organised a petition to the British and Foreign Bible Society to print one and initially ordered 7000 copies. This led on eventually to the purchase of many thousands which were used extensively throughout Denmark in Sunday Schools and Bible meetings.

Norway

When he arrived in Norway he found that the churches were not generally available for laymen to speak in., One minister told him that he could not conscientiously give a layman the church for meetings, to which he replied that he knew that God had called him to Norway and that the "iron gate" would open of its own accord. The minister was astonished at his confident words. When he arrived in Bergen he could not find a church to minister in and furthermore the police would not give permission to speak in the open air. He therefore went with his host to an Army General stationed in Bergen and asked permission to use the Military Parade Ground, and this was given for two services on a Sunday. The iron gate did therefore open of its own accord as he predicted. When Sunday came it seemed as if the whole town came out to hear him.

At Arendal he had the same problem with nobody being willing to open either a church or mission hall. Eventually the rector of a school who was a "Free Thinker" gave one of his halls for a meeting. However the rector was so roused in the meeting to hear the bad interpretation that he got up himself and interpreted Radcliffe’s message. God moved so powerfully with great numbers of people responding to the appeal that Radcliffe said that it was reminiscent of the revival that took place some years’ previously in Aberdeen.

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