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The Brighton Convention of 1875

Updated on September 13, 2010
The Brighton Pavilion 1875
The Brighton Pavilion 1875
Keswick, Cumbria, U.K.
Keswick, Cumbria, U.K.
Canon T.D.Harford-Battersby
Canon T.D.Harford-Battersby

The Brighton Convention of 1875

I have been reading a book over the Internet, entitled ‘The Keswick Convention: Its Message, Its Method and Its Men’, edited by Charles F. Harford, M.A., M.D. Here is an extract, which is the response by a Christian lady who had attended the Brighton Conference, held in the Pavilion at Brighton*, a city on the south coast of Great Britain, from May 29th to June 7th, 1875. That was 135 years ago.

You will not find conventions of this kind anywhere in the world today. The so-called Revivals taking place in parts of North America are nothing but a farce and a sham. I believe Iain H. Murray has written a book on ‘Revival and Revivalism: The Making and Marring of American Evangelicalism’ which exposes ‘decisional theology’ (where people who are ‘spiritually dead’ make decisions for Christ!). I am told that the shallowness of Campus Crusade strategies, the superficiality of Billy Graham’s converts, the sterility and oppressiveness of Calvinistic theology, the ‘cheap grace’ of evangelical Christianity, the horrors and evils of modern charismatic revivalism, are all exposed in that book.

What a refreshing contrast to modern hype and hypocrisy is the account what took place in Brighton in that wonderful convention of 1875. Truly the Spirit of God worked in those days, because people sought the Lord with all their hearts, according to promise in Jeremiah 29:13.


Here is what was written in Harford’s book.

There, in Brighton, some 8000 people, the greater part earnest well-instructed Christians, met together for 10 days in prayer and meditation and for the purpose of personal consecration to God. Addresses were given there during those days which live to this day in the memories of those who heard them, and have been the means of lasting blessing to thousands.

Everywhere – at home and abroad – we come across the abiding fruits of this truly memorable gathering. It was at this Convention that Canon Battersby arranged for the first Convention at Keswick, to take place in the the following month of July of that year 1875.

Among those present at the Brighton Convention was the gifted author, Mrs. Elizabeth Rundle Charles. She had reputation as a linguist, musician, poet and hymn-writer, but her most famous work was ‘The Chronicles of the Schonberg-Cotta Family’ (1863). The following suggestive thoughts were penned by her immediately after the Convention: -

1“It is no new thing. Yet now it seems to me as if I had only half believed it.

2“I never believed in any Saviour but a Saviour from sin; I never dreamed of any salvation, but a salvation from sin. Yet now, everything, every word of the Bible, every relation of human life, everything in nature – old familiar hymns, the Creeds, the services of the Church, the Holy Communion – glow, become translucent, with a new glory and significance.

3“I should not choose the phrase ‘higher life’. It seems to me the life; the normal natural Christian life, which we all ought to be living, not merely a few of us; which we ought to be living always and not merely now and then.

4To walk in the light is surely the simple natural order – it would seem almost the inevitable order of true Christian life.

“Our Sun is not a Revolving Light, alternately bright and dark. Why should our path be through alternate streaks of light and shadow?

5“It is simply, I think, the translation of the past and the future into the present: in other words, of then, and by-and-bye, into now; of Time, with its alternations and its decadences, into the Eternal with its ever-living youth.

6“The tenses of the Christian life are not mere narrative tenses. They are perfect and present.

“ ‘Thou hast redeemed us to God by Thy blood; and hast made us kings and priests.’ That is, we are redeemed, and do belong to God now; we are not our own, but His; dominion over sin is not a vague promise in the future, but a possibility and possession, now, in and through Him who lives in those who trust Him. The consecrated, sacrificial, sacerdotal (*priestly) life is not for a future age, or a limited number, but for the whole Church every moment now and for ever.

7“It is simply the translation of possibilities into acts. As Coleridge said, ‘To restore a common-place truth to its first uncommon luster, you need only translate it into action.’

“That is: when the Master says, ‘Abide in Me’, we are not vague to reply ‘Enable me to abide in Thee’’ but I do abide in Thee’’ not only ‘I will’ far less ‘I fear I shall not,’ but ‘Now, at this moment I do.’

“And the Master’s response is, ‘He that abideth in Me, and I in Him, the same bringeth forth much fruit.’

8The beneficences (*acts of kindness or charity), and endurances, and sacrifices of the believing obedient life are not constructed painfully as works, but spring forth naturally as fruits.

9“As Alexander Knox said: From the sentence in the Litany ‘That we may diligently live after Thy commandments’, which is much, we should go on to the following petition, ‘for increase of grace to hear meekly Thy word, and to receive it with pure affection, and to bring forth the fruits of the Spirit,’ which is more.

10It is not, ‘Without Me ye can do but little,’ but ‘without Me, ye can do nothing.’

11It is not ‘That ye may have a little broken interrupted joy.’ But ‘That My joy may abide in you; and that your joy may be full.’

12“And then, if we continue, as we continue beholding Jesus, the Spirit Who manifests Him will reveal depth after depth in Him; the Babe in the Manger, the Child ‘subject to His parents,’ ‘coming not to be ministered unto, but to minister,’ ‘obedient unto death, even the death of the Cross.’

13This is the Christ who lives in Christians. This is the life which through His disciples He would manifest to the world, ‘that the world may believe.’ Holy, Immaculate, patient Lamb of God, to each one of us, can it indeed be possible that Thou has committed this, even this? To manifest Thee, by our living, by Thy life in us!

14Can it indeed be true that Thou hast not only promised, but commanded this? For Thy command seems to me to involve, if possible, even a stronger assurance than Thy promise.

15“Tremendous responsibility, unutterable blessed possibility – to manifest Thee!”


Pratonix: Oh, that we would have the patience to meditate on what Elizabeth Charles is saying in her response to the Brighton Convention! I have emphasized her key utterances in numbers and italics. It is quite obvious that the 'higher life', the 'spiritual life', is the normal Christian life. To walk in the light is but natural and inevitable for a Christian. It is important to note that the tenses in the Christian life are 'perfect and present'. We have been redeemed; we have been justified; we have been sanctified; we have been perfected (made complete); we have been glorified; we have been made kings and priests unto God.

Pratonix: Dominion over sin is possible as we continue to abide in the Lord by faith, trusting in Him to work out His will in us. The fruit of the Christian life is to spring forth naturally, as we continue to abide in the Vine. We don't have to strain ourselves, with 'pushing and pulling'. Apart from the Lord Jesus Christ, we can DO NOTHING! How much we have to depend on Him, every minute, every moment! He wants to make our joy full; our cup should truly overflow. The Christian life is Christ living His life in us! What wonderful words: that the commands of Christ carry a stronger assurance than even His promises! And finally, that Christ should reveal Himself in and through us!


(Extracted from the book, 'The Keswick Convention', edited by Charles Harford. Cited in the opening paragraph of this hub.)

*Footnote: It is really sad and shocking that today, 135 years later, Brighton boldly and without shame declares itself to be the gay (homosexual) capital of the United Kingdom. It reminds me of how Rehoboth Beach in Delaware has been taken over by homosexuals. Rehoboth, by the way, is a name from the Bible! It was a site for Methodist camp meetings, when it was founded in 1873.



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    • lifegate profile image

      William Kovacic 7 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      For sure America has fallen away. I still believe God can do a work, but we have to want it the way these folks did. Thanks for sharing. I love reading about revivals and God working in powerful ways.