On this date, July 14, 1868, 147 years ago today, the National Camp Meeting Association for the Promotion of Holiness opened in Manheim. The crowd grew to as many as 25,000 people. Those in attendance included John S. Inskip, Alfred Cookman, J.A. Wood, William McDonald, George Hughes, Phoebe Palmer and Matthew Simpson. Simpson’s friend George Hughes remembered the conclusion of his testimony this way: His hands were uplifted. His voice in mighty tones swelled out upon the night air. Cries and groans of oppressed spirits were co-mingling. Standing thus… his faith grasping the promise, he was a conqueror: he literally pulled down the power. Hallelujahs, like the sound of many waters, rolled through the forest temple. How many plunged into the cleansing stream that night we shall never know until mortality is swallowed up of life.
John Inskip’s biographer wrote that as Inskip was exhorting that “the quiet was rent as one simultaneous burst of agony, and of glory, was heard in all parts of the congregation; and for nearly an hour, the scene beggared all description.”
As the Lancaster Daily Express noted, “the scene was beyond all description. It was one of the most powerful manifestations of divine power we have ever beheld. Several thousand people seemed to be prostrate under the mighty influence of supernatural power.”
As the encampment moved toward its close, William McDonald reminded those gathered that “home will not be Manheim.” Appealing for tolerance and even compassion for pastors and others who had not experienced full salvation, he entreated his audience to avoid controversy and extreme austerity in matters such as dress and even suggested that one should show humility in professions of Holiness. In conclusion, he noted that “in the discharge of your religious duties, do not be governed by feeling, but by faith.”