Healing and Revival


"Social Reform, Revival and Prayer"

William Weston Patton was born in New York City, in October, 1821. He was the son and a grandson of pastors and vocal abolitionists. He graduated from the University of New York City in 1839 and the Union Theological Seminary in 1842. His first pastorate was a Congregational church in Boston, Massachusetts, where he stayed for three years. He was an ardent anti-slavery advocate and was a member of the Anti-slavery Society. He then moved to Hartford, Connecticut in 1846. He wrote "Conscience and Law" in 1850 and "Slavery and Infidelity" in 1856. He is famous for writing the words to the antislavery song "John Brown".

Being a Congregationalist, he was very familiar with the "perfectionism" theology taught by Asa Mahan and Charles Finney. In 1851 he invited Charles Finney to hold revival meetings in Hartford. Finney says "Very soon after I began my labors there, a powerful revival influence was manifested among the people." In 1857 Patton took the pastorate of the First Congregational Church in Chicago, Illinois. At one point he drilled Union troops in his church. In September 1862 he was the chairman of a committee from Chicago that met with President Lincoln asking him to issue a proclamation of emancipation for all slaves.

While in Chicago Patton came into contact with D. L. Moody. He was involved in a debate with Moody and a Unitarian pastor about leading soldiers to Christ on the battlefield. Oddly enough the question was whether ministers should care for soldiers' physical needs or lead them to Christ and then take care of their needs. Moody, as an evangelist, believed you should always lead them to Christ first. The Unitarian pastor believed you should care for their physical needs. Patton stood in the middle and believed that if they were dying you must lead them to Christ, but if the issue was not critical then one should care for them and then lead them to Christ. (It was during these years that Moody with the Young Men's Christian Association was leading thousands to Christ on the battlefield.) Patton himself took on war responsibilities as vice-president of the Northwestern sanitary commission. He traveled to the battlefields reporting on conditions there.

From 1867 till 1872 Patton was editor of "The Advance" a religious magazine published in Chicago from 1867 to 1917. In 1874 he was lecturer at both Oberlin College in Ohio, and at the Chicago Theological Seminary. Patton was a man who believed deeply in prayer. Once the war was over he turned his attention to the works of God. He wrote several books including "Spiritual Victory" in 1874 and '"Prayer and its Remarkable Answers" in 1875. D. L. Moody was so impressed with the book on prayer that he would recommend that people should read it in his sermons. One of the sections included an extensive coverage of prayer for healing with discussions of Charles Cullis' work in Boston. This was an extremely popular book and was printed in Chicago, Illinois New York City, New York, Cleveland, Ohio, Toronto, Canada and Hartford, Connecticut. Patton's obituary states "Answers" was so successful that there were twenty editions printed. It helped popularize the understanding that God was still answering prayer. Those prayers included healing prayers. Carrie Judd (later Montgomery) read this book while ill, and it gave her hope that God could heal through prayer.

Patton was President of Howard University, in Washington, DC, from 1877-1889. This was a college designed to provide higher education for African-Americans, including coursework in medicine and law. He remained President until his shortly before his death in 1889.


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