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James Caughey was born to Scottish parents in the north of Ireland on 9 April 1810. His family immigrated to Troy, New York in the early 1820s. Caughey was converted to Methodism at a revival in Troy in 1830, and in 1832 was accepted as a probationary preacher by the American Methodist Episcopal Church. In 1834, he received a deacon’s orders and was made a minister in Burlington, Vermont. Caughey belonged to the Holiness movement. He, therefore, thought that justification and sanctification, in which a person’s sins were forgiven and they became pure in God’s sight, could be obtained instantly from a seeker who requested them from God in faith. He would appeal to the unconverted to make a first commitment to God, and to the converted to make a re-committal so as to receive the fullness of God’s blessing.
In 1835, Caughey made a three-month evangelist campaign in Montreal In 1836, he was ordained as an elder of the Methodist Episcopal Church. He experienced a personal baptism of the Spirit in July 1839. He moved to Quebec City in October 1840 and served as a minister there for three months, and then as a minister in Montreal. Caughey left Montreal in March 1841 and sailed to England in late July 1841. He preached in Britain with much success from 1841 to 1847. He mainly preached among Methodists in the midlands and north of England, and came to be called the “King of Revivalist Preachers”. During this spell in Britain, Caughey claimed that he saw “20,000 profess faith in Christ and 10,000 profess sanctification.” William Booth encountered Caughey in Nottingham during this period and later founded the Salvation Army
His example and influence laid the groundwork for the holiness and Pentecostal movements. Caughey, like other American revivalists such as Charles Grandison Finney and Phoebe Palmer who preached in England in the 1840s, followed a “scientific” approach to converting sinners. They rented halls, advertised their meetings, preached and prayed for defined ends, encouraged sinners to confess openly at the communion rail, and trained their converts to bring others to the faith. He was the first professional evangelist to campaign in the Canadas and established a model for successors such as Dwight L. Moody. He influenced young men such as Albert Carman and Nathanael Burwash to become ministers, and thus had a lasting influence on the Methodist church in Canada. However, Caughey is best known for his revival activity in Britain in the 1840s. Through the guidance he gave to Booth and others he had a huge influence on evangelism in that country. Caughey died 30 January 1891 in Highland Park, New Jersey.
- Bush, Peter (1990-01-01). “CAUGHEY, JAMES”. Dictionary of Canadian Biography, 1891-1900. Springer Science & Business Media. ISBN 978-0-8020-3460-1. Retrieved 2014-10-11.
- Cauchi, Tony (January 2009). “James Caughey – 1810-1891”. Archived from the original on 2013-06-24. Retrieved 2014-10-11.
- Caughey, James (1855). “Earnest Christianity”. Archived from the original on 2013-04-24. Retrieved 2014-10-11.
- Murdoch, Norman H. (1996-08-01). Origins of the Salvation Army. Univ. of Tennessee Press. ISBN 978-0-87049-955-5. Retrieved 2014-10-11.
- Rawlyk, George A. (1993-01-01). Wrapped Up in God: A Study of Several Canadian Revivals and Revivalists. McGill-Queen’s Press – MQUP. ISBN 978-0-7735-1131-6. Retrieved 2014-09-22.
- Smithers, David (2014). “James Caughey”. Awake and Go!. Retrieved 2014-10-11.
ALSO ON THIS DAY
1669 – Paul of Aleppo, an Archdeacon in the Syrian Melkite Church; died in Tiflis, Georgia. He wrote a chronicle The Travels of Macarius, Patriarch of Antioch, an important source of information for events of his time. He also wrote a History of the Patriarchs of Antioch.
1867 – Members of the newly organized Evangelical Alliance elect William E. Dodge, a leading merchant, industrialist, and philanthropist to be their president. In their charter, they affirmed their belief in “the divine-human person and atoning work of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ as the only and sufficient source of salvation, as the heart and soul of Christianity, and as the center of all true Christian union and fellowship.” The alliance will organize prayer gatherings and conferences, and issue appeals on behalf of persecuted Christians.
1877 – After reaching Uganda, C. T. Wilson and Alexander Mackay, (both) of the Church Missionary Society begin their missionary work because of a request made by King Mutesa who requested “I am like a man in darkness. All I ask is that I be taught how to see.”