Though the youthful pastor began his ministry under great misgivings, there were soon evident tokens of the Holy Spirit's presence in awakening sinners under the pointed, faithful preaching of the gospel.The spread of that revival is detailed by Joshua Taylor in his Accounts of Religious Revivals in Many Parts of the United States from 1815 to 1818, the pertinent portion of which I excerpted in this previous post.
There were several seasons of deep religious interest, the most remarkable was in 1817, which extended to both churches, and pervaded the whole town, meetings being held in the schoolhouses. There were very few that were not the subjects of conviction or conversion . . . Large additions were made to both churches.
Rev. Myrick goes on to detail the conversion of a prominent lady in the town whose descendants were presently in the church at his tenure, which I'm sure was a delight to hear about by the family at the time. He then goes on to detail a devastating discouragement in the case of church discipline that divided the church and, in his words, "fell almost as a deathblow upon the church" and "almost bankrupted some of its members, and most of all, greatly discomfort[ed] the pastor, if not shorten[ed] his days."
But just as the light of revival brightened Henry Bigelow's first decade of ministry at Middletown, it brightened his last, as well. Myrick writes:
The revival of 1831 was near the close of Mr. Bigelow's ministry, when he was greatly broken in health but mellowed in spirit. He died while gathering into the church the precious fruits of this revival . . . Mr. Bigelow died June 25, 1832, after preaching here a little over twentyseven years, or after 26 years and 9 months of his pastorate. His grave is here, the only one of any that have administered to this church . . .But what was the man like?
Mr. Bigelow was well-read, and sound in theology and positive in matters of doctrine and discipline. His personal address in the pulpit was said to be commanding. He was endowed with great freedom and ability in prayer, and entered heartily into his subject, and was often affected to tears while preaching.There's more, but all I'll share for now.
Can you imagine having your ministerial tenure bookended by revivals?