Workers, Friends, Home Church, The Truth, The Way, Meetings, Gospel, Cooneyites, Christian Conventions, Hymns Old & New
Newspaper Articles
1909-August 12-19
Revised Dec. 28, 2008

Newspaper Articles for August 12-19, 1909

About The Church Without a Name, The Truth, Two By Twos, 2x2s

August 12, 1909, p. 8

August 12, 1909, p. 5

August 12, 1909, p. 3

August 19, 1909, p. 8

August 12, 1909, p. 8
Established 1808
Newspaper for Enniskillen, Northern Ireland



The Tramp Preachers’ convention at Crocknacrieve, Ballinamallard, continued with unabated interest on Sunday last.

Mr. Edward Cooney, who was the principal speaker at the afternoon meeting, adhered to his usual course of pouring out torrents of denunciatory and repulsive language on all who differed with his views, heading the list, of course, with the clergy, and leaders of the different denominations, one and all of whom, together with all their supporters, he consigned to that place where there’s no snow.

He proceeded to drag such personalities as his father and mother, Mr. W. Copeland Trimble, Dean Ovenden, and numerous others into his line of fire, and some were subjected to Mr. Cooney’s rancour and denunciation, while he condemned in the strongest manner the clergyman who, he said, was making £12 a week by damning his father and mother, and those whom he (Mr. Cooney) loved.


The discourses at Sunday’s meetings would on the whole lead one to conclude that there was no real Christian love or sympathy manifested in their line of thought, which is apparently devoid of all true Christian charity, brotherly kindness, and Christ likeness.

An address was delivered by Mr. Wm. Irvine, the recognised leader of the sect, who in his remarks criticised very strongly the work carried on by the workers, during the holding of mission services over all parts of the country and United Kingdom.  He blamed them for allowing the flesh to have too much influence in the work, with the result that numbers of converts were allowed to join the testimony who were nothing more than


Mr. Irvine’s remarks seemed specially directed towards two prominent members of the sect, whether he intended it or not, and seemed to include Messrs. Cooney, Ben Bowles, Bill Carroll, John Kelly, and others, and were made applicable to all the other workers, with the exception of one or two. It is understood that Mr. Irvine’s strong views in this respect have accounted for his conspicuous absence at all the public meetings held during the present convention up to the present.


After a few hymns and prayer, the first speaker was ‘Bill’ Carroll.  He proceeded to read part of the 33rd chap. of Job. The gospel, he said, that the world loves and appreciates is a gospel which brings no reproach, but allows of respectability and the flattery of the worldlings, but God’s gospel is not a gospel to trifle and please men, but it was a gospel that led men out from the world, the flesh and the devil, and brings them to the place where they become victims of the workings of the Holy Spirit in their hearts.  We, he continued, are here for the purpose of delivering God’s message and gospel.  We are not here to flatter and trifle with men’s lives, but to convince that eternity is drawing near.  We’re not here for passing a pleasant afternoon or for a time of recreation, but we’re here to get men and women to choose between heaven and hell, death and life, blessing and cursing for ever.  The vast majority of the world


today, because they neglected God’s offer, while the few of us whom he was desirous of saving are going to heaven.  We don’t want men to get into this matter lightly; we want them to feel that it’s the tremendously important matter of today.  It will bring loss and reproach, but we’re glad of the fact that when we responded to God’s call we found out His will and we’re proud to know that God calls us his brethren.  Many of you are convinced, he proceeded, that the ‘Jesus way’ is impregnable.  It cannot be assailed.  It stands as an invulnerable rock against every wile of the devil, and the fiery arms of flesh that fight against and try to destroy God’s authority in the creation, the power of the Bible, and the gospel.


Speaking of the clergy he said—I believed such preachers to be honourable and upright men, trying to preach the gospel, but their gospel never moved my heart.  They continued to rave ‘as it was in the beginning, it is now and ever shall be’ until God sent one across my way that caused me to ponder over these things, and moved my heart, and caused me to consider my ways and make my choice between heaven and hell, life and death, blessing and cursing.  He then warned the people that they were ‘going to the pit,’ and told of his personal experiences.  Many of you, he said, are taught to be hypocrites and deceivers, though I don’t say always willingly.  You see the hypocrisy of the men that preach to you, and you naturally run in the same direction, and instead of being God possessed on earth and throughout eternity, you are in


devil possessed in life, and devil possessed throughout eternity.  When a man lives in the world and comes under the voice of a preacher of the gospel, whether he be true or false, the one makes him a tabernacle for God, and the other a tabernacle for the devil.  By the influence of the


the deceiver, the anti-Christ, you become tabernacles for Satan and his angels, rather than tabernacles for God and the angels.  We didn’t bring this message to you to leave you without hope.  We want to ring out this note that there is stronger than the devil—a power mightier than the power of Satan—a stronger man that’s able to cast out the strong man, one who can make you fit for the tabernacle of the God of Hosts.  He then spoke of God’s messengers as His interpreters, pointing out that they were His interpreters, and said that the devil deludes people into talking about being saved by the blood (of Jesus) the wide world over, when they have no right to even mention his name.


Mr. Edward Cooney was the next speaker, and his address, which occupied almost two hours in delivery, was as we have already intimated, absolutely devoid of the slightest indications of that spirit of love and sympathy which is supposed to characterise the true preacher of the Gospel.

He commenced by quoting the text ‘God willeth not the death of a sinner, but rather that he should turn from his wickedness and live.’  That’s plain enough, isn’t it?’ he queried.  Its not the purpose of God that any man or woman should go to hell.  It’s the purpose of God that every man and woman should be born again to become partakers of the divine nature.  It’s the purpose of the devil, he continued, that man should be deceived, and remember, the devil has thousands of years’ practice in deceiving the human race.  Let them remember that!  Let them also remember that the best woman that ever lived—Eve—he (the speaker) had never seen a woman with such a perfect human nature, so thoroughly deceived by the devil, and surely when a perfect woman with a perfect human nature could be thoroughly deceived by the devil, it’s enough to cause every one of them to ask ‘Have I been deceived by the devil or not?’  How does he deceive us?  By getting us to call evil, good, and good, evil.  Once he can get you to set up a standard of your own, of good and evil, of right and wrong, heaven to hell, surely it’s time to get your eyes opened.

Mohamedan preachers believe in the perfect Mohamed.  They will tell you what sin is from their standard.  The Buddhists will tell you what sin is from their standard.  The Wesleyan Methodists will tell you what sin is from John Wesley’s standard.  The Episcopalians will tell you what sin is from the standard of Martin Luther.  The Presbyterians will tell you what sin is from the standard of John Knox.  The Salvation Armyists will tell you what sin is from the standard of General Booth.  The Plymouth Brethren will tell you what sin is from the standard of John Darby.  But friends, he proceeded, if you are wise you will seek with your own heart and find out what I have found out some years ago—find out and see something of God’s standard.  We don’t want you to go along this way without examining and proving what we say from the Scriptures.  We don’t ask you to shut your eyes and open your mouth and drink in all we say.  We don’t want you, Roman Catholics, to believe what we say without first examining your R.C. Testament to see who is right.  We don’t want any of you, members of the Protestant sects, to believe what we say apart from searching the scriptures.  I never met a man or woman yet who honestly searched the Scriptures, whether we were right, who didn’t cast in their lot with us.

If you Protestants and Roman Catholics here search the scriptures the result will be that you will throw in your lot with us, because we have cast ours in with Jesus.  The divine life of Christ was manifested in Jesus 1909 years ago, but remember Christ was in the world before that.  When the Roman Catholics say that Mary was the


they blaspheme, and you Roman Catholics never say that again.  (Laughter.)  Mary was not the mother of God, for God never had a mother, unless you, Roman Catholics, say that God had a mother and that Mary brought forth God.  You blaspheme!  Mary is never called the mother of God in the Protestant or Roman Catholic testament.  She was not the mother of Christ, but she


and Jesus had human nature.  Jesus had a divine nature before Mary was ever thought of. Some people say, he proceeded, that we tramp preachers are very impertinent.  You say, he added, you tramp preachers say that all the Catholics and Protestants are going to hell except a few who are going to heaven.  You know, he continued, we are not all going to heaven; there are


Judas was a hypocrite and professed to be in fellowship with Jesus.  But you say:  ‘Is it possible, Cooney, that there is only a little flock going to heaven.’  I say ‘Yes,’ he added.  In the Bible times there never went a big crowd.

In the days of Noah there were only eight people; in the days of Elijah only a handful.  Elijah sat on Mount Carmel and the 850 prophets of Baal and there were only a few to take side with him.  There were 850 clergymen, Rev. gentlemen with nice homes, nice families, and patronage of the King and Queen.  Which side would you have been on?  Be honest, now!  We’ll suppose you were a cattle dealer, a big draper or grocer in that country, and here’s this Elijah, a man without a salary, and with a far hotter tongue than Cooney.  (Laughter.)  A man that called a spade a spade, a hypocrite a hypocrite, a fraud a fraud.  He got into hot water of course, as we do sometimes, but I have never suffered anything like what Elijah suffered.  Elijah came to the place where there was neither supper, breakfast, nor bread, nor would the people give him any work.  ‘It has not come to that with us’ he continued.  Which side would you have been on?


Some people say we tramp preachers are loafers.  I say we’re not loafers.  We believe in working hard on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.  We do.  And Elijah was not a loafer.  They boycotted him:  I suppose you know what that is in Ireland.

Elijah said to the people ‘Why halt ye between two opinions?’  After all, the speaker continued, there are only two opinions in Fermanagh.  We don’t believe there are 20, we believe there are just two.  Some say we’re right, the majority say we’re wrong, and if they don’t say it they act it.  There were just two opinions in the days of Elijah, and there are just two today, and there will be only two in the day of judgment.  The sheep will say he was right and they took sides with him.  The goats say (mimicking):  times have changed.  Would not suit today.  All right for the early days.  Must have salaries, incomes, superannuation funds.  (Laughter.)  That’s the goat (Laughter.)  They will all be on the left hand side.  They must get saved in another way than God.  Abel believed in God’s way and got saved in God’s way.  Abel says to Cain ‘There’s only one way, I have got saved that way, and because you have not got saved that way you will go to hell.’  And Cain said ‘If you say that again I will give it to you.  (Laughter.)  He said it again and he gave it to him—(laughter)—and Abel went home because he took God’s way.  Why are we so much persecuted and


Because we believe as Abel believed.  We believe there are only two opinions and that God’s is right and that every other opinion is wrong and of the devil.  Jesus preached in God’s way instead of becoming a Presbyterian clergyman, a Baptist Pastor, or a Salvation Army colonel.  He gave up his home and became a destitute wanderer on the face of the earth, dependent upon God.  All the people said he was mad.  (Mimicking as he spoke).  Isn’t it surprising about this young man Jesus leaving his home, his dear mother and going out without a salary, going out liable to be hungry, going out liable to lie out at night, going out in a very unheard of way?  Why not become like the scribes and chief priests?  What a splendid job—a priest—a climb-up one—a high priest in the palace—so the people say—(laughter)—and they still say.  The speaker next proceeded to deal with the baptismal question.


sometimes, he said, and you are perfectly right for baptism means dipping or immersing.  John the Baptist never took a mug or a cup and sprinkle a few drops on the forehead of Jesus, and God was well pleased with Jesus.  It was not what the people said.  We look to Protestants and Catholics of County Fermanagh who say (mimicking a countryman) Ridiculous!  Ridiculous!  to think that a preacher can go without a home.  You ask, he continued, a Protestant clergyman or a Roman Catholic priest to live without a salary liable to suffer hardship (mimicking), Never.  What do you take me for?  Going towards the Archbishop of Canterbury with £15,000 a year, going towards the Pope—You take me for a fool—No.  Never—The speaker continuing, remarked your reply to him should be ‘you’re going to hell.’  (Laughter.)  Every man who climbs up in the world in the name of Jesus is


Jesus came down, John the Baptist came down, Peter came down, Judas tried to climb up and went to hell.  If you are on the side of the climb-up preachers, he continued, you are on the side of the greatest hypocrites in the world, and you will go to the hypocrites’ hell unless you repent.


Professing his love for the people, Mr. Cooney went to say—Do you think that if I had hated the people that I would have taken a step some few years ago that left a gulf fixed between my father and mother, sisters, and brother, whom I love dearly?  Do you think that if I loved the world I would have turned my back on it and live contrary to my human nature?  When you hear a clergyman who is making a fortune out of damning men and women say that I don’t love you, turn round to him, he proceeded, and say ‘You hypocrite and son of the devil, you call light darkness and darkness light.’  Of course you would get into hot water if you did.  If I was a professional whitewasher like the clergy, and got a good salary, I would be going to hell myself and everyone whom I influenced in the same direction would go with me to hell.

I follow Jesus and Jesus was right, and if I went by my own judgment, I would go to hell.  I am what I am in spite of my Cooney judgment, in spite of my intellectual knowledge and personal tastes.   I am what I am because of what Jesus was, and if you fight against that you fight against God.  Though you are looked upon as the most religious man in Enniskillen by Catholics and Protestants, every man who fights against God goes to hell, and God grant you may never taste the


‘Do you know’ the speaker added,’ ‘that the life that suits you will land you in hell.’  Every man that does what suits him goes to hell and every man that does what suits God goes to heaven.  Jesus pleased not himself, for Jesus says ‘you must take up your cross and deny yourself if you are to be my disciple.’  I was born into this world some 42 years ago and my brothers and sisters were pleased at being with me.  We delighted to go home in the evening, delighted to play with one another, delighted to associate together because we were of one family and had one father and one mother and we all loved one another.  There are some of us here (referring to his co-religionists) and we love one another, and we love to associate with one another, because we have the same father—God and the same mother the Holy Ghost, and we enjoy each other’s company, and that the way you must walk if ever you get to heaven.  Only one Lord, one faith and one baptism.  Roman Catholics, he continued, are in many ways sounder in their doctrines than Protestants, for


If you could get them all into one field, say with a few thousand acres in it (the Protestants he meant) as there were some 560 different sects professing to be christians, you could get a sample of them all together, and you fire off a gun and shoot.  ‘Now, fire away—(laughter)—with your religious performance.’  Then goes the Salvation Army band, you get the organ from the Cathedral and the bishop in his petticoats—(laughter)—and you get all the machinery to go—(laughter)—and you say ‘Go on now, you are all right.’  (Laughter.)  What an awful confusion!  The Roman Catholics believe there is


In the New Testament only one true church is recognised, and the Roman Catholics recognise that God has not changed, and that there must be only one true church, theirs, and that outside it no one can be saved.  That is true, but you may be inside it and go to hell.  You may be a hypocrite inside and go to hell, but if you are outside the true church you are bound to go to hell.  In the days of Jesus there is only one true church, and so there is only one true church today.  I would like to point out to the Roman Catholics that theirs is


It is false, the falsest of the lot.  How do you know the true church?  Jesus said to Peter, ‘Thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.’ Jesus and the old prophets were like each other.  But Peter said ‘Thou art Christ’ and Christ said ‘Thou art Peter.’  He had the Christ nature in him, and that’s why Jesus said these words.  What are the gates of hell?  All the Protestant and Catholic sects, Mahomedans and Buddists and all the other sects that seek to bring you to Christ in their way.  We stand here today, he continued, in spite of the fact that all the gates of hell are let loose on the testimony of Jesus, and as we believe they will continue to be let loose till the end, but we’re to get the best of it.  Mr. Cooney than said it might be the last time he might be able to address them.  He had sacrificed his home without the possibility of ever having a hearth of his own, but he


were making money by damning them, and he said that because he loved them.  ‘I love my dear old father, ‘ said he, ‘and my dear old mother, and I took a run in this week to see them, and it makes the blood boil hot in me when I see them sticking up to the clergy who are making fortunes by damning their souls.  Of course, the IMPARTIAL REPORTER makes me out some sort of a brute, with a brute character, without any human affection for parents or relatives.  I am not a brute; I am a man, and I love my father, and mother, and sisters, and brother, and all my fellow-men.  Is it fair representing a man like that as a brute? (We fail to find one line in the IMPARTIAL REPORTER of any description as warrant for this statement.—ED. I.R.)

As I spoke to my mother, she said she had not read the IMPARTIAL REPORTER yet, because ‘I knew’ she said, ‘it would misrepresent you.’  She believes in me despite what is said about me.  The dirty, filthy way that Trimble has of representing me as some of you know—and those of you are here today will perhaps see another report of the same mean horrible character in next Thursday’s REPORTER, as perhaps there’s a secret reporter in the tent again today.  I don’t know. 

Continuing, the speaker said the Dean Ovenden knocked £12 a week out of the County Fermanagh, in trying to get people saved in his way, according to the scriptures.  I said to my mother, he proceeded, ‘why don’t you come out and take your stand by your son, who has given up all to live for his fellow-men?’ and my poor mother, he added could not say a word.  When I think of how the clergy have got their horrible chains around my poor mother and father whom I love and would be willing to die for if that would get them saved!  Do you think, he continued, that I could look cooly on a man


Do you think a man could look on and not feel hot about it?  Nay, you will feel hot, too, some day, and when your eyes get opened may God grant that you may be better than ever I have been, and may God deliver you from these men who get hold of you from your infancy and so blind your eyes that it’s just 100 to 1 if ever you get delivered from them.  The speaker then announced a hymn and before singing it, he proceeded to speak for a further period of 15 minutes, during which time he referred to a conversation on religious subjects which he had some time ago with the late chairman of the Enniskillen Town Commissioners (Mr. H. R. Lindsay) and at the end of the conversation Mr. Lindsay walked away without a word to say.  At the close of the address MR. COONEY ASKED the would-be converts to stand up, when two young girls and a middle aged woman responded to the request.  One or two others signified their willingness by raising the hand, but declined to get to their feet, while two or three older converts expressed their willingness to be baptised, and Mr. Cooney advised them to get into touch with the nearest ‘church,’ and get arrangements made for their baptism.

Tea was subsequently provided for all who cared to partake.


The night meeting commenced shortly after 7 o’clock, when there was again a crowded attendance, the audience being composed for the most part of members of the sect and outsiders from the immediate neighbourhood, most of those from a distance having left for home.

The speakers at the closing meeting were Miss Garret, Miss Barton, Miss Mary Knox, Tom Betty, and Ben Bowles. Miss Garret, headed the list of speakers and referred at the outset to the circumstances of her conversion to the ‘Jesus way,’ and spoke after their usual fashion.


Miss Barton, who followed, referred to expressions made by some people as to being ‘saved’ by the blood, but she didn’t believe this, as the blood only cleansed after the new life had been imparted by Christ.  Some people blamed them for saying that such GOOD PEOPLE LIKE AS MARTIN LUTHER, JOHN KNOX, JOHN WESLEY AND SUCH LIKE HAD GONE TO HELL, but, she said that these people had all lived in the popular way and did good works, which were commanded by the world, but good works could never save a man or woman, and she was a strong believer in good works, but she needed to be ‘saved’ before good works could count for anything.  Miss Barton proceeded to show the errors of every sect but her own, which was right. Miss Knox’s address was of a rather mild nature, and was confined for the most part to the Gospel story.


Tom Betty’s address was characteristic of earnestness, and was principally Gospel, but he yielded to the temptation of drifting into a line of thought of a personal and abusive nature.  He thanked God at the outset, for the day he met the tramp preachers, and was willing to walk as they walked.  One of the greatest snares the devil laid for him, he said, was the false prophet, and the false gospel which could not change his life and finally would land him in hell.  The speaker proceeded to relate a conversation he had a short time ago with a Pharisee friend of his in Enniskillen, whom he said, if it had been possible that there was a saved soul in Enniskillen it was that woman, but she needed to come down to be saved and be made willing to walk as he walked, and if she didn’t she would land in hell one day.


Ben Bowles in his address, which was also of a denunciatory tone, declared that he never expected to see anybody in heaven who supported the clergy here, and continued to support during their life, they would go to hell where all the clergy were going.  The clergy, nor their clergy houses, nor their houses built for the purpose of worshipping God had no place in the ‘testimony’ of Jesus.  The Salvation Army barracks, nor the Plymouth brethren hall, had no place in God’s way of salvation.  ‘Institutions for the blind,’ as John Kelly had remarked.  ‘We,’ he continued, ‘have given up everything, so that we might love to follow Jesus (meaning the leaders of the sect), and we are not a bit mad or excited, and I tell you that the five of us here on the platform, (Eddie Cooney, Bill Carroll, John Kelly, Tom Betty, and himself), if we started again on the world today, we could make our mark in it just as well as any of you.’

At the close of this address, Ben asked for those desiring to be converts to ‘stand up’ or ‘raise their hand,’ and as far as could be seen there was no response, and he concluded the meeting with prayer.

It is expected that next Sunday’s meetings will bring the convention at Crocknacrieve to a close, and Mr. Cooney leaves during the week for America to take part in conventions and missions there, and it is understood that he will not return to Ireland for the next three or four years.

SIR:—I was much interested in reading Mr. Cooney’s address published in your paper to the conference at Crocknacrieve, and with your permission, sir, I would like to make a few remarks about his subject, all creeds going to hell and Jesus way.  Now, sir, if as Mr. Cooney says we are all going to hell it’s time we should consider what this hell is as Mr. Cooney does not tell us.

Hell is translated from the Hebrew word Sheol, and the Greek word Hades, and means the grave.  Hell occurs many times in the Old Testament, the greater part of which means grave.  See the Marg. reference in Psalm cxxxvi. 13.  The belly of the fish was a grave to Jonah; hence he called it ‘The belly of hell’ (Jonah ii.2).  Gehenna which is also translated Hell, is the name of a place situated near Jerusalem (see the revised version of Luke xii 5).  The punishment of the rejected will end in the second death.  It will be final, and therefore everlasting, but not never-ending misery, (Rev.xxi. 81.; Matt. xxv. 46; Psalm xxxvii 20.  The wicked will not be preserved (Psalm cxiv 20.)  Heaven is God’s dwelling-place (Psalm cxv.16).  No man has ascended there (John iii 13; Acts ii, 34.)

Nowhere is it promised to the righteous.  Their reward is on the earth  (Matt. v. 5, Rev. v.10).

Man is not immortal.  No man hath immortality (Tim. iv. 16).  He is a mortal being and without the interference of Christ, will like a flower have an ending as well as a beginning, (Job iv. 17 John xvii. 2); Phil iii. 21.)  Immortal soul is not scriptural, Moses and the Prophets, Jesus and the Apostles used the word soul many times in the languages which they spoke, but never once with the prefix immortal.  It simply means a natural body which is of earth earthly, (Gen. ii 17; 1 Cor. xv. 44,45,47).  It cannot be immaterial or immortal, because we read of a priest buying souls, of souls being destroyed, of souls being in the grave.  We also read that animals have souls.  Now, sir, from this definition of hell, how can Mr. Cooney hope to escape following all the other creeds there.

Let us see if Mr. Cooney following Jesus way.  I find Jesus preached the Gospel of the Kingdom of God.  Jesus went about all Galilee teaching in the synagogues and preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom (Matt. iv. 23), and Jesus went about all the cities and villages teaching in their synagogues and preaching the gospel of the Kingdom (Matt. ix. 35).  Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom of God (Mark xi.14).  There and several other such testimonies clearly state that the subject matter of the preaching of Jesus was of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God.

The Kingdom of God existed for several hundred years in the land of Canaan, and David, Solomon, Rehoboam, Jehoshaphat, Zedekiah, and others ruled over it for God.  The Kingdom of God was overturned many hundred years ago on account of iniquity, but it will be set up again when Jesus Christ returns from heaven (Dan. ii. 44).

The resurrection of the body is absolutely necessary to a future life (John xi. 23-25, Luke xiv. 14), and apart from a resurrection all are said to have perished (1 Cor. xv. 13-18).

I have not heard Mr. Cooney preaching in that way; Mr. Cooney is quite right about baptism, for Peter said ‘Repent and be baptised, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and so shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost’ (Acts ii. 38).  In fact the Scriptures show no other way but immersion accompanied by faith in the Gospel.

George Allen, Levaghey.



A bicycle accident took place a short distance beyond Kilakeery Church on Sunday morning.  A young woman, from the neighbourhood of Dromore, was proceeding to the Pilgrims’ Convention at Crocknacrieve, when at a turn of the road in Mr. Lendrum’s demeane her machine collided with a motorcar.  The bicycle was completely wrecked, and the rider’s leg was broken.  The occupants of the car rendered her every possible assistance, and afterwards conveyed her to hospital.

August 12, 1909, p. 5
Established 1808
Newspaper for Enniskillen, Northern Ireland


I went to the Convention (writes a correspondent) with an open mind, determined to view the proceedings, impartially, as one apart and outside.  The evident earnestness of the preachers at once struck me.  Here are men who believe they hold all the truth, who have given up many worldly comforts for the sake of conscience.  Whether you agree with their interpretation of the Gospel or not, you can hardly fail to credit them with pure motives.

If one can judge by numbers, there was no sign of an abating interest by the public in the proceedings of the preachers known as pilgrims or ‘Dippers,’ on the evening of 5th last, at Crocknacrieve. There may have been 2,000 people present.

Mr. Edward Cooney
led the Convention on the occasion.  On the previous Sunday it was a Mr. Gill who led, and he lacks the qualities that attract and hold an audience.  When the latter spoke he might have been an ordinary evangelical missionary, so impersonal was his discourse.  But the individuality of Mr. Cooney was apparent all the time on Sunday in his strong denunciations of the clergy or ‘clergy houses,’ and indeed, of all who are outside the fold of the ‘Go-preachers,’ or whatever name they chose to be known by.

Mr. Cooney
called upon some of the sisters to sing hymn number 49,—in response to which a young lady sang the well known hymn ‘Be in time.’  Solo singing is a comparatively new departure, as is also the division of the sexes in the tents, the men sitting on one side and the women on the other.

Then he proceeded with his discourse.  He spoke with marked earnestness and at times many of the people were visibly moved, and although he continued for an hour and three-quarters, there was hardly a stir, and certainly no indication that anyone was tired.  He remarked that there were many good points in all religions, of which we had between 500 or 600.  ‘A Mahommedan, for instance, will not drink whiskey or sell it, and that is more than can be said for a good many Christians,’ he declared.  ‘A Mahommedan is prepared to die in defense of the tenets of his religion, and he is then a martyr—‘sudden death, sudden glory.’  But this did not make Mahommedans right.  He said that ‘Satan was the first dissenter or non-conformist,’—(laughter)—for he refused to obey the rule of the Almighty.

Referring to the churches, and the absence of the Christ spirit from them, he said that whether they had blue blood in their veins—or common blood—(laughter)—one thing was certain, they all had a relative who was a labourer—a man that worked in a garden.  It was the plan of God that men should earn his bread in the sweat of his brow.  The churches or clergy had very little respect for the poor—they always dined with the rich.  He knew a bishop of the Church of Ireland who drove about with pet dogs in his carriage, who had a nice room, and a bed for his dogs.  People who were too enthusiastic about horses and dogs were totally hard to influence for Christ Himself and brother Gill recently passed through a certain town in England which was noted for race horses, but they did not preach there.  A horsy man is easily recognised—‘he gets like a horse,’ he added.

He struck a personal note when he got back to his boyhood in Enniskillen.  He was brought to the Enniskillen Parish Church, and sprinkled with water, and somebody wrote his name in the register, and that was how he became a member of the Church of Ireland. (Laughter)  He supposed ye yelled—most babies did—but he remembered nothing about it.  He went to church as a boy, not liking it at all—he never met a boy who did, for it took years to train them into the way of it.

In the Sunday school, the swells taught the swells.  There were three classes, the aristocracy, the middle, and the lower.  ‘A man named Smyth, Lord Enniskillen’s agent, taught the swells.  We were taught by a man of the shopkeeper class, but a poor man taught the corduroy class.  You could see the dirty pride of the devil in that place,’ he said vehemently.  Who would dare to say that that was after the pattern of the Carpenter of Nazareth?  ‘I had a lot of that dirty pride put into me, too.’  And if a badly clothed individual chanced to stray into the pew of the rich, the sexton would hear about it, and that common person would soon be driven out.  Anybody could see that this was wholly opposed to the life and teaching of the lowly preacher, Jesus.

For 200 years after Christ there were no churches and no paid preachers.  The first Christians met in the homes of saints, or disciples went forth, as Christ commanded them, without money, scrip, purse, or certain dwelling place.  Christ was a homeless man; Peter was a very poor man, but the Pope, who pretended that he was a successor of Peter, was the richest man in the world, and lived in a palace with 1001 rooms.  The Archbishop of Canterbury had £15,000 a year.

In order to point a parallel to show that the building of churches was unscriptural, he took the case of a family.  God advised that each family should live together in one house.  He set a limit to that family.  Suppose some reformer suggested gathering hundreds of the children of these families into a building and putting in charge of them a man or woman with a big salary, would that not be at once recognised as an unnatural system?  Yet they gathered the multitude together in a big building to pray, and got a man at a large salary to superintend.  Love was the highest motive in life, and the parents’ pure disinterested love for their little ones, was the most beautiful thing on earth.  The parents wanted no pay—it was just love.  And the true church was a man’s home.  They could show no authority for their churches and paid clergy in the Bible.  ‘We are the poor homeless preachers,’ he said amid a professed hush.  ‘We have given up everything that we possess—all that men hold dear, and we have gone out to preach Christ’s word.  The disciples were common men in common dress; so are we.  They had no home; neither have we.  We have given ourselves to God to do with us as He will, and see to it then you do not bring condemnation to yourselves by hearing the truth and hardening your hearts to it.  The world say we are fools.  So said the world in Noah’s time.  Many a wise worldly man had an eye on Noah’s farm in the days when the ark was being built; what a fool they must have thought him!  But when Noah came out of the ark, he had a bigger farm than the one he had lost, and nobody to dispute about the fences.’

Tea and cake was passed around to everyone in the tent, and when those inside had finished, those outside were invited to come in.  The brothers and sisters sat at the same tables, and there was manifest amongst them a marked spirit of love and kindliness and self-sacrifice both to each other and to the general public.

August 12, 1909, p. 3
Established 1808
Newspaper for Enniskillen, Northern Ireland



The writer of the article in the proceeding columns also supplies the following as to the first Sunday at the Tramps’ meeting.

When people in these days start out penniless and poor, as the early disciples did, with ‘no certain dwelling place,’ their lot is not likely to be cast in pleasant places.  This is what the Pilgrims do.  ‘We take up no collection,’ they say at every meeting.  Indeed, instead of taking anything from those who come to their convention, anyhow, they provide food and refreshment for all.

Crocknacrieve, the residence of Mr. John West, is a spacious farmhouse, with a square yard, ranged around which are the stores and outhouses, which the Pilgrims utilize as a sort of commissariat.  For instance, one house is utilized as a baker, another as a laundry, another as a boot repairer’s shop, and the ‘orders of the day’ are duly posted up, and the doors of the various departments bear notices giving the names of the brothers or sisters in charge.  Everything is orderly; there is no confusion anywhere.  There is a post office and railway inquiry office, each under the control of some brother or sister.  The men mostly sleep in tents or are accommodated with lodgings in the houses of friends in the district; the women have their quarters in Crocknacrieve house.

What strikes one most is the cheerful demeanour of the preachers; they are kindly and friendly with each other and everyone.  They are recruited from classes the most varied socially, from professional men and from women who belong to good families, to farm hands and servants.  To outward view, at least, they are all a great family now, with no right one above the other, and no privileges or distinction.  One worker spoke on Sunday of the manner of his conversion.  It happened one day when he was hunting with the hounds in Meath.  Their accents are as varied as their styles and grammar; a worker from Scotland will be followed on the platform by a mill hand from Belfast; and she, in turn by a lady of culture whose family is highly respected in Fermanagh.  It is, perhaps, the strangest gathering of people—there are over 300 in all—that one could see, their social status differing materially and yet bound closely together by the ties of the fellowship in which they had themselves.

To feed and clothe such a number—and there are very many workers who are not present —a large amount of money must be necessary.  A visitor put the cost at about 50 a week, which is not an extravagant estimate, being only 3s 4d a week per head, and this, making no allowance for the quantity of food which is consumed by visitors to the meetings.  From friends in different parts of the country come gifts of money and food.  For instance, an associate from Derrygonnelly sent in the first year five stone of flour, whilst a large quantity of meat came from Belfast.  The workers do not believe in eating the bread of idleness; to get a living they are occasionally obliged, as they say, ‘to earn their bread in the sweat of their brow,’ and while at Crocknacrieve they engage in different occupations—box-making, tree-cutting, hay-making, and dairy work.

One may easily recognise the brethren and sisters by their dress, which is of a sober hue.  In no way do they exhibit any trace of worldliness; their looks are rapt and strange, as if their communing upon their work had given them an appearance uncommon.

On the first Sunday one missed the familiar face of Edward Cooney, the one whose personality is most inseparably associated with the new Church. 
The majority of the Pilgrims would find fault with me for describing them as belonging to a ‘new church’—whereas they claim fellowship with the oldest. Mr. Cooney was in England at Keswick where the ministers of the various Protestant denominations hold the annual great week Convention.  Another, who did not appear was Wm. Irvine.  Lacking the culture of Mr. Cooney, the rugged sincerity of the other is always a strong factor in missionary work such as the brethren engage in.

Sunday evening was notable, to my mind, by the address which a Miss Jennie Gill delivered.  There is nothing of the platform pew-woman type about this young lady.  She does not declaim, neither does she excite, but she talks easily and eloquently—sometimes fluently.  She is good-looking and clever, and can treat any subject with intelligence and grace.  ‘We are peculiar people,’ she said, ‘just as God’s people were always peculiar.’  Other sects joined together at times such as revivals, differing as they did only in minor doctrinal details.  The church people often asked those in the fellowship ‘Why not let us help you, and you help us—let us work together?’  But referring to her Bible, she pointed to their gratification in the text where the sons of God were forbidden to mate with ‘the daughters of men.’  The disciples were always reckoned queer,’ and apart from the world and the things which people of the world esteemed.  It was, in part, the true mark of their mission, and their message.  Beautifully indeed she elaborated a text which spoke of One whose white feet were upon the mountain.’

Miss Gill
also spoke of her early spiritual experiences in Meath.  She was a fervent church goer, one seeking the truth.  But all the while she walked in darkness until the grace of God descended upon her, and her eyes were opened to the truth.  Since then—11 years, I think [Editors Note: equals 1898] —she has walked with those of whom it may be said, ‘Thou feedest them with the bread of tears,’ the despised followers of the greatly despised man.
The singing shows a marked improvement upon former years.  There was harmony in the hymns on Sunday.  In the tent were many voices of power and sweetness, and as the chorus rose above the calm and rolled out in a charming unison upon the pastoral country around, one, indeed, could hardly fail to be impressed.  A woman with a lovely contralto sang a solo, and it was as if a spell had fallen over the crowd.  The hymn was called, ‘The End of the Way,’ and might in itself be taken for the Pilgrim’s rule of life.  Sweetly the voice of the singer rose and fell in its charming modulation and clearness of enunciation.  It produced a marked effect.

A girl with a Belfast accent next went upon the platform.  She related the story of her conversion.  A poor despised preacher came by the way, taking ‘neither scrip nor purse’ for his journey.  She had often heard men preach the doctrine of Christ, eloquent men and learned, but for the first time she had saw one who lived the life he preached about ‘in whom the life of the Master was manifested.’  ‘I thank God for poverty and suffering,’ she exclaimed, ‘they are our hallmarks and credentials.’

There was an interval then.  From the platform came in a deep voice the invitation to everybody, ‘Keep your seats for tea!’

In a moment the brethren are at work.  From the barns and spacious outhouses attached to Crocknacrieve, came white-aproned bakers bearing pretty currant loaves, others came carrying cans of tea.  The brethren were kindly with us all; whether we were regarded as belonging to the Fellowship or outside of it, they were equally nice.  No distinctions prevail.  Those, like Mr. Jeffers, who are Bishops and overseers, partook of the same fare as the casual passer-by; ladies in fine clothes and poor girls in plain attire were shown a like attention.

There are three hundred of the Fellowship at Crocknacrieve.  They come from all parts of the United Kingdom, but although they are also represented in America and Canada, none of the workers from those countries were present.  The brethren, who in their manner of life, as well as in the spirit, eschew fine appearances, are much more tidily dressed on the present occasion than in the past.  Only, there are no white collars, except rubber collars.  The women wear plain white sailor hats with black bands, and blouses of a sober shade.  But while, far from ‘dressy,’ the majority were tastefully attired—male and female.  In former years the people sat anywhere in the spacious tent without distinction of sex, but on Sunday the women sat on the right and the men on the left.

Mr. William Gill
, the worker, who spoke of his conversion in a Meath hunting field, told of his labours in the East of England.  People always said when they heard him preach, ‘Oh is this true?—we have never heard it put like that before.  In their own lives they bore witness of their testimony.
The contrast between all the churches and the Fellowship in a monetary sense is always impressed upon the listeners.  ‘Christ bestowed His Grace without money; we give it without money,’ they say.  The speakers animadvert upon what they term as ‘the worldliness of the churches’ and their love of money, and contrast it with their own practice in this respect.


Mr. Wm. Stuart, Ballinamallard, who is nearly four-score years, writes in the course of a letter respecting the Tramp preachers, that it is 68 years since he first purchased a copy of the IMPARTIAL REPORTER, when it was not half its present size, at 6d, for Mr. Edward Beggs, of Tulnaguiggy, Irvinestown, and he has read it, like thousands of his fellow countrymen, ever since; and he offers congratulations that the IMPARTIAL REPORTER has triumphed over all difficulties so as to hold its own position.  He becomes playful in his letter when he says that the Devil is kept busy with the number of people that the Go-preachers are sending to him, for when he turns up his registry he cannot find the names of all whom the Tramps would consign to his flames.

The correspondent who writes the article which we head as being from one disinterested, and seems to deal as fairly as he can with the Tramps, giving them credit for all he can think of, adds this, which we freely publish, in the spirit of fair play—‘I did not care much for the insistence upon God’s wrath as an inducement to sinners, instead of God’s boundless love and mercy, but then, it is also a doctrine of the Church.  We must always remember, when we are inclined to find fault with the strong utterances of Mr. Edward Cooney, that he has a precedent to guide him in Paul, who calls people outside his preaching ‘whited walls.’  Paul’s accusers, too, did not mince their words; Tertullius termed him a ‘pestilential fellow and a mover of sedition.’

When everything has been said to account for the crowds which go to the preachers, I don’t think the term ‘abuse’ will explain it.  In the main, people like honest living.  If a man today practices what he preaches, the public admire that type of man, be it so rare.  It is easy preaching, it is hard to practise.  And one can see that these men and women are out of the world and not of it, and don’t care a straw for it—‘We are fools for Christ’s sake.’  When they were recently assailed in posters, they did not, as they might have done, invoke the law.  Instead, the direction in Corinthians 6.7:  ‘Why not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded’ than invoke the law, guided them.  They err somewhat, however, when they speak of all christian preachers as salaried men, for many of the regular orders of the Roman Catholic church as apart from the secular priests) get no salary and can possess no worldly goods in virtue of their vows, and many of them, like the Trappists, earn their bread in the sweat of their brow.’

August 19, 1909, p. 8
Established 1808
Newspaper for Enniskillen, Northern Ireland



The closing stages of the annual convention of Tramp preachers at Crocknacrieve, near Ballinamallard, were reached on Sunday.

As was stated in last week’s IMPARTIAL REPORTER, Mr. Edward Cooney, who has figured prominently as leader this year, left during the week for America, where he is expected to remain.
He was badly missed at Sunday’s proceedings, for they lacked the interest which his personality imparted.  At a previous meeting of the ‘brethren,’ addresses were delivered by Wm. Irvine and Miss Gill, both of whose remarks were confined to expounding the gospel, and instructing those present how to ‘walk’ when they left that convention.
At the afternoon meeting, attendance showed a considerable diminution from that of the previous Sundays.  It was thought, however, that Wm. Irvine might have a word to say, but he was again conspicuous by his absence from the meeting altogether.

Some people were curious to know why Mr. Irvine elected to remain so much in the background, and the only reason that can be assigned for his extraordinary reticence is that provided by his own utterances, that he has been quite disappointed and dissatisfied at the result of the past year’s work, and which he referred to last Sunday at the meeting of the ‘brethren,’ when he denounced right and left the work carried on by almost every one of the workers, leaders and all, with the exception of one or two including Willie Gill, whose work, he said, was the only work that would stand the test all the others having given away too much to fleshly influences, with the result that many of those who had joined the testimony during the year were merely acting the hypocrite.

At the afternoon meeting the principal speakers were Miss Barton, Miss Gill, and Willie Gill, but all three seemed to be lacking in the power of holding the audience.

Miss Barton
was the first speaker, and her address was punctuated at intervals by denunciating references to the various denominations and sects which the she believes are all on the straight road to hell.  She had tried to find out if she could by any means serve God by belonging to any other sect other than the tramp sect, but among them all, and she knew more of them than most of them to whom she was speaking, but she could not see how she could serve God and be a member of any other sect.

Miss Gill’s address seemed more of a gospel aspect, and in it she referred to some pathetic incidents of some people whom she knew who had died with out a hope to cheer the tomb.


Willie Gill prefaced his address by remarking that many of them had attended the convention for mere curiosity’s sake, to hear the clergy getting a raking up by Eddie Cooney and. ‘I don’t vary,’ he continued, ‘one iota from what Eddie has said about them, for I


in heaven, nor anyone who supports them.’  There’s any amount of curiosity-hunters in Fermanagh, he added, for the County of Fermanagh is cursed by such people who try to make light of the truth, and it is set aside by the great majority of the people, and if you see a man or a woman bearing in the body any of the marks of Jesus, you look down upon them and despise them.  The churches are deceiving you people, but


with its nice holy way is the most deceitful of all, as most of you know what the Roman Catholic and Episcopalian churches are, and therefore they are not so deceitful.  The man that was being deceived by the clergy was the man who was saving up his money and putting it in the bank and paying 20s in the £ and who was honest in all his dealings.  The clergy got none out of such a man.  My mother, he continued, refused to send her children to Sunday School, because she believed that their teaching lay in her own hands.  The clergyman, however, prevailed with her, and got her to send us, and from the first time I ever went to the Sunday School and to church I never could respect the way the things of God were being abused by the clergy.  My father used to preach to me to be honest, and get on well in my business, but my mother was all inclined towards the religious side.  The world wants nice preachers, with good salaries, a nice gospel and a nice house for worshipping God; and you would rather have the ‘well done’ of the clergyman and the praise and applause of the IMPARTIAL REPORTER than to follow Jesus here and hear his ‘well done’ in heaven.
At the close of this meeting, Willie Gill invited those who were anxious to be saved to stand up, when the only one to respond was a young fellow of almost 16 or 13 years.

At the closing meeting, when Willie Gill again assumed the leadership, Mr. Irvine took a seat on the platform, but even at the closing stage he elected not to speak.  A testimony meeting followed. 

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