The City Missionary
I have included Richard Weaver as one of the people who have impacted Merseyside and Chester in a special way. Although he was born in Shropshire he spent a lot of his early Christian life and ministry here under his mentor and life long friend and colleague, Liverpool solicitor Reginald Radcliffe, and after a while came to live in Prescot, Liverpool with his family, where he worked as a town missionary. He was undoubtedly one of the most powerful evangelists in the UK in the 19th Century, winning many thousands to Christ through his ministry, but he was also a wonderful personal worker. I have included in this booklet a number of anecdotes from the two books written on his life i.e. "Richard Weaver's Life Story, the English Evangelist" by James Paterson (1900) and "The Converted Collier" by R C Morgan (1863) relating to the time he was here in Merseyside. The simplicity of his faith and his great earnestness are truly inspiring and although I don't think we could really emulate the methods he used in evangelism today, I do think that we can learn a lot from his simple childlike faith.
One of the people who greatly admired Weaver's ministry, by whom he was baptised, was Charles Haddon Spurgeon, who is often referred to as the 'Prince of Preachers.' This is what he said of him in a sermon given to his congregation at the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London on Christmas Eve 1863 when Weaver was only 36 years of age:
"I would not mind asking the whole world to find a master of arts now living who has brought more souls to Christ Jesus than Richard Weaver. If the whole bench of bishops have done a tenth as much in the way of soul winning as that one man, it is more than most of us give them credit for. Let us give to our God all the glory, but still let us not deny the fact that this sinner saved, with the brogue of the collier still about him fresh from the coal pit, tells the story of the cross by God's grace in such a way that right reverend fathers in God might humbly sit at his feet to learn the way to reach the heart and melt the stubborn heart. It is true an uneducated brother is not fitted for all work - he has his own sphere - but he is quite able to tell of what he has seen and heard, and so it strikes me is every man in a measure."
The following is an extract from the American edition of the "The Converted Collier" written by Daniel Wise, which was during the lifetime of Weaver:
"Those who are familiar with Richard Weaver and his preaching will not think any of the anecdotes here related very improbable, but some of them are so unusual as possibly to impress others with the idea of invention or exaggeration. In order to assure myself of their reality by the testimony of eye and ear witnesses, I visited Prescot, where some of the most remarkable events occurred, and there read to Christians of various ranks in life, that which had been written. Their common testimony was that nothing had been stated which was not true, and that indeed much more should have been said, in order to convey an accurate conception of his sojourn there."
In the biography of Reginald Radcliffe written by his wife, Jane Radcliffe, she refers to Weaver on many occasions, as one so beloved by them, and how God so powerfully used both of them. What she made clear, however, was the underlying factor behind their great power and anointing, and I give below some relevant quotations from her book on the importance of prayer in their lives and ministry:
"The watchword that sounded forth in those days was PRAYER. Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit. "It was another Pentecost" she said, "the children of God waited, but with unceasing and united prayer for the promise; and its fulfilment came in manifested power from on high, that no flesh should glory in His presence." (Preface)
"In those days the spirit of prayer so fell upon the pleaders that the flight of time seemed forgotten. Strong men would be found stretched on the floor crying to God till bodily strength was exhausted. They had, however, the spirit of Jacob, and the language of their inmost soul was, ‘we will not let thee go except thou bless us.’" (P36)
"Prayer is the one word to be written in large letters on the whole of this work, and the Saturday evening prayer meetings before referred to were very living ones. Poor and rich met together in our dining room; and sometimes at a room not far off. "(P20)
I do think that we all need to take careful note of what she has said, particularly in these days when people are praying a lot less than they used to and many churches have ceased holding prayer meetings all together.
For a full account of his life please see my website www.1859.org.uk