Account of the present State of the Revival of Religion in a part of the HIGHLANDS OF SCOTLAND. By ALEXANDER STEWART, Minister of Moulin
Moulin, July I, 1802.
I CANNOT think of Sending abroad this edition of the foregoing letter, at the distance of nearly two years from its first publication, without bearing my renewed testimony to the power and grace of God, manifested in behalf of his people in this part of the country. The experience of years has now confirmed the favourable hopes which were entertained concerning many persons. Their humble, inoffensive, affectionate – behaviour toward their connexions, their neighbours, and each other, has evinced that the grace of God which was bestowed on them was not in vain; that the views they had received of divine truth, were neither delusive nor unfruitful and did not issue in barren speculations, or mystical fancies; or transient raptures, but in sound permanent principles of conduct. The desire of obtaining religious knowledge, and the attention paid to religious instruction, which had begun to spread a few years ago, are now become very prevalent. A persuasion of the necessity of possessing vital godliness, having an interest in Christ, and living a life of faith, is become pretty general; and the less ordinary, as well as the more stated means of improvement, are well attended. Among the numbers who thus frequent the ordinances of religion, with some degree of seriousness, there is reason to fear that many still satisfy themselves with performing the outward service, without attentively considering whether they are accepted in it by God, or have profited by their attendance. They seem to be contented with hearing of God by the hearing of the ear, without their eye seeing him, Job xlii. 5. Still it is ground of encouragement and thankfulness, that they continue to listen to the truth because they are thus placed the oftener within its reach, and in the way of receiving it so as to feel its power, Rom. x. 17.
A considerable number, however, seem to have “received the truth in the love of it,” to have devoted themselves heartily to the Lord, and to enjoy communion with him in his ordinances. The number of these has been evidently increasing since the date of the preceding account. Most of them are found, as before, among the younger sort. The beauties of holiness, shining in their deportment, their language, and their very looks, have been witnessed by several ministers and pious persons who have occasionally visited us; and who, while they were “helpers-of our joy,” have freely testified their own delight in what they beheld, and how they were “glad when they saw the grace of God ” bestowed on such unworthy sinners.
There are also some who appear to be in a kind of intermediate sate, who seem to be inquiring and feeling their way; but from some obstructions, either in their temper, or in their worldly circumstances, or in their domestic relations are making little or no perceptible progress. Of such however we have good hopes, that they may be already under divine teaching, and that the Lord may, in his wisdom, be conducting them by a different course from what we might have recommended; just as he led his people of old about, through the way of the wilderness, and not through the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near, lest peradventure they should repent when they should see war, and return to Egypt, Exod. xiii 17, 18.
We have been permitted to accompany a few of the Lord’s children to the borders of the unseen world. Here we have received from them the last, and, in some respects, the most unequivocal testimony to the energy of the truth which they believed, by witnessing their peaceful, and even triumphant departure. While the avowed infidel, or the practical unbeliever, with affected levity, or forced composure, or stupid indifference, quits this world for another, which is to him an “undiscovered country;” the disciple of Christ, according to the clearness of his views of divine truth, knows whom he has believed, whither be is going, and how he is to fare; that he is not to be banished to a strange land, but to be welcomed home to his Father’s house. We have accordingly seen such on their death-bed, “rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing instant in prayer.” And what is likewise a striking evidence of the triumph of faith, we have seen a surviving widow and sisters, not sorrowing as those which have no hope, but unfeignedly rejoicing in the well-grounded persuasion, that their departed husband and friend was now in glory.
While journeying through a world full of snares, and bearing about with us much remaining corruption, we would request the continuance of our dear brethren’s prayers, that we may be kept from the evil which is in the world, and that our peace and brotherly love may be preserved unbroken. And we would join them in earnestly praying that God could be pleased to pour out his Spirit yet more and more, and gather an increasing numbers into the Redeemer’s kingdom, till the earth be filled with the knowledge of the Lord.
The Baptist Annual Register, page 1100-1.