"O for a passionate passion for souls,
O for a pity that yearns!
O for the love that loves unto death,
O for the fire that burns!
O for the pure prayer-power that prevails,
That pours itself out for the lost!
Victorious prayer in the Conqueror’s Name,
O for a PENTECOST!"
Amy Wilson Carmichael
The power of Christianity in the world is a miracle power. God help us to realize that ours is a high and holy calling.” John G. Lake
“How do we know when we are humble? When God speaks, we tremble. God is looking for a man who trembles at His word. Such a man will find the Spirit of God resting upon him; he will become a dwelling place for the Almighty.” Francis Frangipane
“A holy minister is an awful weapon in the hands of God!” Robert Murray McCheyne
“I…count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I might gain Christ.” Paul o
“We prayed and struggled through the hours of the night, refusing to take a denial. Had He not promised, and would He not fulfill? Our God is a covenant-keeping God, and He must be true to His covenant engagements. Did He fail us? Never! Before the morning light broke, we saw the enemy retreating, and our wonderful Lamb take the field.” Peggy Smith, Hebrides Revival intercessor
That power of prevailing prayer is what defined the life of J. H. Weber. He would wrestle with God, in prayer, all night and even throughout the next day until he gained victory. That fortitude is extremely rare in today's church. It's so sad that the motto hanging on must church prayer rooms is, "we wrestle not." For centuries God would send men equipped to challenge the moral slackness of His church. They would succeed in restoring the fire and purpose of the "Bride" only to have her slip back into complacency. Over a period of time worldliness filters into the Church and the Laodicean attitude of "we have need of nothing" prevails when in actuality it is wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked (Revelation 3:17). Sound familiar. As Scripture tells us, a LUKEWARM Church makes God sick!
As I was researching the life of J. H. Weber and the condition of the Church in his time, I remembered a true story I once read about a criminal named Charlie Peace. Please, bear with me one moment. There was not a law that Charlie Peace did not break, man-made or of God. After being arrested he was condemned to death by hanging and sentenced to Armley Jail, Leeds England. On the day of his execution, he was led on his death-walk by the prison chaplain. As they were walking to the scaffold , the chaplain very unemotionally and routinely was reading Bible verses. A few of the verses stirred the heart of Charlie and he asked the preacher what he was reading. "The Consolations of Religion" was the sleepy reply. What shocked Charlie was the way he professionally read about hell. Could a man of God be so unmoving as to lead another fellow-human to the scaffold and not even shed a concerned tear for his soul? How could a man of God read so nonchalantly of a pit that has no bottom into which this fellow must fall? Then with the emotion of one reading a weather report of a far off city that no one cares or wants to know about, the preacher came to the sentence , "You will be eternally dying and yet never know the relief that death brings." This was too much for Charlie. As he reached the step of the scaffold he turned to the chaplain and those around him and PREACHED:
"Sir, if I believed what you and the church of God say that you believe, even if England were covered with broken glass from coast to coast, I would walk over it, if need be, on hands and knees and think it worth while living, just to save one soul from an eternal hell like that!"
Leonard Ravenhill said it so elegantly, "Because the Church has lost Holy Ghost fire, men go to Hell-fire!"
Almighty God is looking for a Church that when it is facing the evil of the day, having done all, to STAND (Ephesians 6:13) eye to eye defying the devil and shouting, "NO MORE!" The Church needs men and women who when faced with a slumbering church will "exhort and rebuke with all authority" (Titus 2:15) knowing the "terror of the Lord, persuading men, on Christ's behalf, to be reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:11/20) and with compassion, love the sinner while hating the sin and save them with fear, snatching them out of the fire (Jude 1:22-23).
That was the heart of J. H. Weber, a life marked by Godly urgency, zeal and compassion. In preaching, it wasn't the words of his message that impacted people it was that he had actually become the message. Revival historian David Smithers writes:
"Like all true revivalists, J. H. Weber's ministry transformed whole communities. Often in the midst of a revival he would march through the town with hundreds of believers following him singing and praising God. ‘Saloon keepers trembled, businessmen feared; but God was in it.' When Mr. Weber left the town, the church was revived and the last saloon was closed."
Escaping from the slums of Cincinnati, Ohio and, by the earnestness of the Holy Spirit, breaking away from Roman Catholicism he went on to be one of the most successful soul-winners of any age. Weber would go to the "most desperately wicked places and often in the presence of a church membership, a large portion of which was unconverted, and in a few days hundreds would profess conversion and show it by their lives." The marvelous success that followed Weber is easy to explain, he was a man of prayer. He fasted often and spent whole nights in prayer. One person writes:
"He is a man of prayer...he prays not ‘for Jesus' sake,' but ‘in Jesus' name, and at once gets an audience with God. He says that for one hour before appearing in public he would not leave his place in private prayer, should his own mother call him...I listened to prayers that fell from his lips...as he addresses our Supreme Being. When he was done, it seemed as though I had never heard any one pray before."
Martin Knapp writes:
"At a camp-meeting many were present who came for novelty or pleasure. It seemed at first as if the ‘recreationists' were to win the day. The walls were like granite. Weber left the meeting and went into his tent and prayed by the hour. In answer, soon a wave of salvation came, prostrating everybody. Hundreds lay on their faces with tears at the awesomeness of God, and many were saved and sanctified."
In 1884 Mr. Weber wrote in his journal:
"Began this year as the previous one, on my knees in the house of God."
At one revival meeting alone, thousands were brought to Christ, broken and crying for mercy. An Elder Bray writes:
"I have seen him in the greatest agony for souls, and he would not give up (praying) until he received an answer...On one occasion, he said to me,' I will have success! I'll wear the knees of my pants out and tear a hole through heaven. God must come to me."
When J. H. Weber preached, it was with the "witness of the Spirit." Martin Knapp continues:
"(When he preaches) he aims to hit. All of his sermons have a ‘ thou art the man' ring to them. His listeners , like those of Jesus, ‘perceive that he speaks of them."
Weber tells the congregation:
" I do not preach for fun, I always shoot at something and always shoot to hit, and, as I said last night, if you do not like it just get up and go out...I am not here to please people. I will not tickle your ears. I want to tickle your heart, so that your heart will get right with God...I am not going to talk about the instability of Peter, but the instability in you and you and YOU."
He was dead earnest. He pulled no punches. Eternal salvation was slipping away from many and they knew not what was happening. He preached to (as he called them) Mr. Formality and Mr. Hypocrisy sitting in the pews who would grow furious with rage at him. He would preach to the Rev. Mr. Lost His Experience, who once was a saved man but now is spiritually dead. He would not leave out Deacon Pride and his wife, Miss Haughty and her brother Mr. Vanity, who would snarl their lip at his confrontation. Since he was the man in the pulpit he had a responsibility for their souls and it was either there or at the judgment they would be humbled. He would never water down the Gospel. He called sin, satan and hell by their Scripture names. The alternative was two choices, a LIFE for God or an ETERNITY in hell. Read this newspaper article that was written by a reporter who came to criticize him during a revival:
"There is not a lazy bone in his whole frame; and, while his manner of conducting a meeting is often amusing and even ludicrous to the ordinary mortal of this every-day world, there is a strong evidence of sincerity and earnestness in his work...He will labor so hard with sinners that great beads of perspiration will roll down his face...During the meeting he is all over the church. One time he is in the pulpit, and another, down on the altar, and again among the audience all the time speaking, pleading, handshaking with the people, exhorting them to stand up and be saved...His burning zeal is a quenchless fire, that soon causes a mighty conflagration wherever God calls him to labor. It scorches terribly BROTHER AND SISTER LUKEWARM AND PROFESSOR AT EASE IN ZION, but it wakes them up from the deep sleep into which they are falling, and then they are thankful. Large numbers of the ICEBERG FAMILY, including some high in ecclesiastical position, have been melted by it."
As one writer says, "It is a source of rejoicing that we are not compelled to seek the records of the promoted to find deeds of apostolic power and examples of genuine...zeal, but that in such men as this Evangelist...Pentecost and the early days of Methodism are being repeated in our midst."
Martin Knapp in his biography of Weber said that his preaching was of an "earnestness that in all ages has led men to defy fire and flood, human opposition and satanic might, only that they might please God and win souls. It is the ‘old religion' revived with energy, and heated, as if the minister really meant what he said."
Rev. L.S. Matthews was pastor at a church where Weber brought revival:
"(In one night) one hundred and fifty-six professed conversion. A great work...was wrought among the young people. Their bondage to the card-table, rink, opera, and kindred amusements was broken, and the service of God's house was substituted instead. Congregations throughout the city more than doubled, attendance to prayer and class-meetings increased three-fold, and one year afterward it was said that only five or six had gone back."
On December 11, 1887, J.H.Weber began a revival at a small Methodist Episcopal Church in White Pigeon, Michigan. Even though the church membership was small they were all united and ready to support a reviving of Spiritual power. One member wrote about what happened over the next couple of weeks:
"The church was filled to overflowing night and day. It was no uncommon thing, too, for members to come ten or twelve miles, only to find the house crowded, and many others like themselves, were unable to gain admission. For seven weeks the meetings continued with interest unabated. The country for miles around was stirred as never before, and the question ‘What shall I do to be saved?' seemed to be agitating the people everywhere. The Spirit of God was manifested in mighty power. Not a single invitation to the altar was given without a response, sometimes fifteen or twenty seekers spent the entire meetings in front on their faces... One hundred new members joined the church. Nearly all of these are still good and faithful members. Before it was over the church nearly doubled in membership and greatly strengthened in its spiritual power."
Sister McGowan, one of the members, at whose house Weber stayed while he labored at White Pigeon writes:
"There never was known in southern Michigan such a revival. For seven weeks he held the fort through threats and slander. But men, women and children came to the Lord Jesus and were saved. Brother Weber brings a blessing wherever he goes. He is pure hearted and kind, gives his money like water to those that are in need, as those who know him can testify. I have been in his meetings six months altogether and have seen over thirteen hundred conversions. Some have asked me, ‘Where is the secret of his success?' I can tell you, he is on his knees for hours pleading with our Father, in the name of Jesus, to send the Holy Ghost to convict of sin, of righteousness and judgment. Thus like Jacob he wrestled with God and like Jacob prevailed, and many in White Pigeon rise up and call him blessed."
Revivals like this erupted everywhere Weber traveled. Churches in cities throughout the country were changed dramatically. In one city called Coldwater it was stated:
"The effect of Mr. Weber and the revival was to deepen the piety of our members, enlarge our congregations on the Sabbath, and increase the interest in and attendance upon the prayer services of the churches. Indeed, the work was so deep, searching and awakening that souls have been coming into the kingdom almost constantly since our brother was here, nearly four hundred being converted during the winter of the present year, two hundred and eighty of whom have united with our church, the largest revival in the history of the church...It may be truthfully said that Brother Weber's coming to our city left an already prosperous church in a far more prosperous condition than ever, numerically, financially, socially, morally, and spiritually. He is, we feel, a heaven-commissioned minister of God."
Charles Finney said, "I never knew a person who was filled with the Spirit that was not called eccentric." Webster's dictionary defines "eccentric" as deviating from the usual practices. Finney goes on to say, "All who would be and do like Jesus must be in this sense of the word eccentric. How true that was of J.H. Weber. He was also entirely consecrated--- giving himself "without reserve to God." He was baptized of the Holy Spirit and testified of His keeping power. He believed in being "led by the Spirit", Expecting God to guide him in all things, "Oh for more of the Holy Ghost', he prayed, "with gentle swiftness lead me on, dear God, to see Your face and in my narrow heart make thyself more space!" He preached " full salvation." His great mission was to call sinners to repentance, yet he realized the relation of the sanctifying baptism of the "Holy Ghost to revival work." And to God he would give all the Glory.
At Ft. Wayne, Ind., he found the spiritual atmosphere as cold as the January weather outside, away down below zero. The meeting there lasted five weeks and was one of the most successful of Mr. Weber's works. Catholics claimed about two-thirds of the city's population. Weber ,who was once a professing Catholic , knew exactly how to preach against the "teaching as doctrines of God the commandments of men" (Matthew 15:9). They were among the most converted. A correspondent of the Ft. Wayne Evening News, referred to Weber's work:
"He preaches against the sins of the people; Card-playing, dancing, worldliness, public wrong, and secret sins are all rebuked. His plain preaching does much to aid in drawing crowds, and then pierces them with conviction as with an arrow."
Another reporter relates about the revival in the city of Berea:
"...He delivers his blows direct from the shoulder...He warns vehemently of an eternal hell. He believes in a literal hell, just as awful and eternal as the Scripture portrays it...It has been truthfully said of him, ‘He preaches a whole Gospel, dwells largely on the doomed of the damned, the trickery of the devil, and the deceitfulness of sin. His portrayals of the condition of the lost are at times awfully vivid and impressive...his critics say that his ‘harping on hell' is grating to their refined sensibilities, and that the ‘ good Christian thinking' people...have no particular belief in a literal hell fire and that this legend ‘ has long been exploded...They say the speaker should be more dignified and talk of the ‘ love of Jesus' and not the damnation theory. Yet Mr. Weber keeps right on like Jesus, Wesley, and Finney, in declaring the truth just as it really is."
The power of the Holy Spirit on Weber was not just manifested in the meetings. During the Coldwater Revival the evangelist was staying in the home of Mr. and Mrs. R. G. Chandler. While there the family was exposed to the measles. Mrs. Chandler was attacked with congestion of the lungs and was rapidly sinking. The family physician said, "You are now coming down with the measles, you are a very sick woman, and this will go hard with you." This alarmed the children so Mr. Weber , with his great sympathetic nature said to the children, "don't you worry, your mamma is not going to have the measles, for Brother Joe is going to pray for her." That was about nine o'clock in the morning and as Mrs. Chandler herself witnesses, "At noon I was sitting up, and before the day closed I was well!" Weber tells us of another incident:
"A man was swearing by God's name in the barbershop, while I was in the chair, so when I was through I knelt before him and prayed and said, ‘ I heard how you talk to my God, now this is the way I pray to my God.' The man was very much moved and tearfully shaken." Another incident follows:
"One evening a man and a woman were disrupting the meeting so we were compelled to ask them to leave. This enraged the man. One day, I saw him and he wanted to whip me, so I fell on my knees and began to pray for him, when I was finished he had sneaked off."
When spoken to about his soul, a young man said to Mr. Weber, "I just came to see the monkey show." Weber replied, "Here is the monkey, and he will pray for you." The young man ran away as fast as his feet could carry him."
Martin Knapp writes:
"He (Weber) is fearless of the threats of men. Often Romanists, saloonists, and hypocrites are furious in their rage, and as their brethren of old, stir up ‘ fellows of a baser sort' to threaten deeds of violence...Weber wrote, ‘ A lot of roughs followed me home this evening. Some friends were afraid they were going to tackle me. I would not be afraid of a whole town of these sneaks. They know that God is with me...I am safe anywhere!' Truly has it been written of him, ‘He is bold and fearless in his attacks upon sin, it matters not when or where he finds it."
On one occasion when Mr. Weber was preaching on the Judgment Seat of Christ, "the people became terrified and some came very near rushing the altar before the sermon was done. When the invitation was given it seemed a race as to who should get there first....the presence of God filled the place." Weber's father and mother were present...at this meeting and for the first time heard their son speak. "Lou, Ida, Laura, George, and Cliff," all the members of his family, still Catholics, "came to the altar and were saved by the power of God!" One Elder remembers:
"I saw him talk to a mother and daughter, at the meeting, at which time the daughter spit on him and slapped his face; he then turned the other cheek, and still continued to labor with them, until both mother and daughter went to the altar in repentance."
Rev. Bennett Mitchel describes another revival scene:
"The entire community was greatly stirred. The house was packed from the first to the last service. The devil raged. Men got mad. Some wanted to whip (Mr. Weber), others to tar and feather him. Others stood aghast with mute astonishment, while many came to the Lord and were saved. For the first week his preaching was directed toward the church, and he scored the Christian people almost unmercifully. This was fun for the irreligious. They greatly rejoiced while he exposed hypocrisy and denounced the sins in the church. But he suddenly turned attention to them. Some of them were maddened, some slunk away in shame, while many were subdued and brought penitently to the cross. In the congregation men would threaten to strike him, when he would calmly look them in the face and say, ‘You dare not do it, I am in God's Hands,' and then put his arm around them and prayed for them. Women would threaten to spit in his face, but he heeded it not, and persisted in pleading and praying for them. He visited every family in the town and prayed in nearly every home."
A newspaper reported asked him, "You held no services Monday...Do you usually rest on Monday?" Weber answered, "Oh, bless you no. I go hunting!" The reporter said, "Go hunting! Why, what do you mean?" Weber explained, "I have been in many of the workshops of the city, and I intend to visit them all...stores, factories, shops, residences...everywhere, and make a personal appeal for the souls of men. That is what I mean by going hunting. I do not shoot to kill, but to save."
J.H. Weber had one mission; to warn the sinner and saint alike of the eternal hell brought about by rejecting the love of Jesus Christ. His ministry brought men to the decision to choose life or death, there was no in between choice, the "Self life or the Christ life."
While preaching in the city of Adrian he received this following note, from whence it came no one knows:
February 22, 1889
OFFICE OF HIS SATANIC MAJESTY
Mr. Weber, dear sir,
Your consignment of sinners received. Will place them in pit No. 549. Your current work is now spoiling my business. You have converted a number of persons I had marked as my own...I am prepared to make it hot for you should you ever backslide.
51 Bob Ingersoll Street
2 Corinthians 5:20 " Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God."
JJ (Dark) Di Pietro
Cane Creek Church