BY THE REV. JAMES HUTTON.
SINCE the commencement of my ministry here I have given a prominent place to the work of the Spirit, and have sought that He might be poured out among us; and now God has been pleased to bestow on us a few drops of the gracious shower wherewith He hath been quickening and reviving others. We have had months of anxiety, deep, heartfelt, prayerful anxiety. Many among us, both old and young, have been stirred up to ask, "What shall we do to be saved?" In the experience of some, the question has been answered satisfactorily. They profess to have found the Saviour, and to have had their sins pardoned, their natures renewed, and their hearts filled with joy unspeakable and full of glory.
Prior to this we had great difficulty in keeping up a week-day evening prayer-meeting. Now we have five during the week, and all of them well attended. Very many are impressed; and we are daily hearing of others labouring under serious convictions—anxious about their souls.
I trust it is a real work of grace. Time, however, will tell; by their fruit we shall know them. Meanwhile, the individuals to whom I refer are very earnest, and deeply interested in the welfare of others,—doing what they can to bring sinners to Christ.
I may here refer to the cases of two young men. The first is that of a youth of twenty years of age. Some five or six months ago, he was brought under serious impressions. He became anxious about his soul. The arrow of conviction had pierced his heart, and the result was, that he became very wretched, and full of lamentation. Matters at last came to a bearing with him. While attending a prayer- meeting one evening, his convictions became overpowering. He had to be assisted to the house of a friend, but before reaching the house his cries were distinctly heard. The inmates of the house requested him to take a little refreshment, in the shape of a cup of tea; but no, he could not eat. They next requested him to retire to rest; but sleep had departed from his eyes. All that night he was in a very agony of spirit. Next morning he was able to go home. I took an early opportunity of calling on him. I found him greatly perplexed. I requested him to describe to me the state of his mind. Looking up, he replied, "Well, sir, all I can say is simply this, that unless the Saviour has mercy upon me, I am lost! I am lost! I'll go to hell!" I endeavoured to comfort him, by reminding him that, though his sins were many and aggravated, the Saviour was all-sufficient; and that the blood of Jesus Christ, God's Son, cleanseth us from all sin. I told him that Jesus came to seek and save the lost, and that He would in no wise cast any out who come to Him. I next exhorted him to look away from himself and from his sins, and behold the Lamb of God who taketh away the sin of the world. After praying with him, I left, and am delighted to say, that the young man obtained peace, and is now a trophy of redeeming love.
The next case is more remarkable still; it is that of a young man of twenty-seven years of age. The individual in question was at one time a poor, careless, silly creature.
Well, about four months ago he was brought under serious impressions. He had been attending the meetings all along. The arrow, however, came home to him in a moment. He was on his way to a meeting for prayer. When within half-a-mile of the place, he was suddenly arrested. He imagined he saw hell before him, and that by taking another step he would land himself in it. The result was, that fear and trembling came upon him. He shook all over. The perspiration ran from his body, while his cries might have been heard at a considerable distance. By this time he could not stand alone. He had to be supported, and half carried to the place of meeting. During the ser¬vice he remained quiet, and had no recollection of what was read or said, save the following line of a psalm: " 0, taste and see that God is good." A few days after this he found peace, and became very zealous in the work of the Lord. But this is not all; the most remarkable part of the case is yet to come. A month had scarcely elapsed when darkness and doubt came down upon him. He felt driven back, as it were—stripped of all sensible enjoyment. In this disconsolate state of mind he attended an evening meeting, but returned home without obtaining comfort. He tried to pray, but could not. He next retired to rest, but got no sleep. Having thus passed a wretched night, he betook himself next morning to the house of an elder, a man whom God has abundantly honoured. This individual conversed and prayed with him, and, by the blessing of God, light and comfort again took possession of the young man's soul. While they conversed together, a change was seen to come over the countenance of the latter. He became perfectly oblivious; his body grew rigid; and in this helpless state he was lifted by the elder and his wife to bed. This was about eight o'clock in the morning, and in less than half-an-hour after the young man began to pray in a very remarkable manner. Having prayed for some minutes, he paused, and then commenced to sing a psalm. After singing he paused again, and then began to pray. This was continued during the whole day. About one o'clock the elder came and requested me to accompany him to his house. I did so, and as I drew near I heard the young man praying. Having entered the house, I went up to the bed and called him by name, but he seemed quite unconscious of my presence. I continued about an hour, and during my stay heard him engage several times in prayer. And what prayers! How hearty—how scriptural—how powerful! I never listened to such prayers before. They took me by surprise. He prayed for his parents, or, as he termed them, his earthly father and mother; he prayed that the scales of unbelief might be removed from their minds. He prayed for his companions, those of them especially whom he had been instrumental in leading astray; he prayed that they might be brought to embrace Jesus the Saviour of sinners. He continued thus to pray and praise from half-past eight in the morning till about seven in the evening. I returned at that time to conduct a meeting. He was then regaining consciousness. During the meeting he lay still. But just as I was about to pronounce the blessing, he sat up, and requested leave to say a word. Having complied, he looked out upon the people, and said, "My dear brothers and sisters, there is a pit, an awful pit, for the wicked. Unless you repent and come to Jesus, you will perish in that pit. But," said he, "there are crowns of glory laid up for those who believe in Christ." Having exhorted them to come to Christ, he again lay down in bed; and the people dispersed, apparently impressed and solemnised with what they had seen and heard.
Next forenoon I called on him, and found him in bed. He was weak in body, but happy in soul. After a week of exhaustion he was again raised up, and is now declaring to all around him what God hath done for his soul.
There is one case, that of a young man, who is remarkably gifted in prayer and with the power of addressing a meeting, whose conversion, although it took place some time ago, we cannot refrain from giving, as it is so clear and instructive. We give the narration in his own words:-
"I went to farm service between eleven and twelve years of age, and for four years I neglected the reading of God's Word.
"About this time, God gave me a desire to read His Word, more especially the New Testament; and by read¬ing it I was led to. reform my life and conversation ; and on reading the sufferings and death of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, my heart was often melted, and my affections drawn out towards Him; and so that, deceiving myself with these feelings, I became a member of the Church; and then I endeavoured to walk in the footsteps of the meek and holy Jesus—striving all in my power to copy His example ; and, by this time, I thought myself better than many people, little knowing the condition of my own wicked heart.
"But the Lord knew that I was yet blind, like Saul on his way to Damascus. I was yet persecuting the blessed Jesus down in the bottom of my wicked heart. But thanks be to God that one night I was led to Dumfries to hear the Rev. H. G. Guinness; and he spoke from these words, John iii. 7, Ye must be born again; and, while he went on to explain his text, and to shew that one might be changed in many ways, and yet not be ' born again' — truly a new creature in Christ Jesus—God poured out His Holy Spirit, and applied his words to my heart, so that I felt I was all sin together, and my heart was a cage of unclean birds. I felt I was under the wrath and curse of Almighty God, and I had been trying to gain heaven by my own works.
"But now I felt that all I could do was just one thing, and that one thing was this—sin against a holy God. I was in this state for about three months, seeking rest, but could find none; and no wonder I did not find it, for I was not seeking it the right way. I was trying to make myself better, and then I thought I would come to Christ. Indeed, I could not describe the state I was in at this time. My heart was so hard that it would not believe. I could not come to Christ, and I did not come to Him until I was taken to Him, for I tried every way to find peace but coming to Christ.
"But, one day, when I was reading in the British Messenger a story written by the Rev. J. Smith, Cheltenham, called "The Right Way,'—while reading and praying over it, light sprang into my dark and troubled heart. Oh yes, the Spirit was poured out, and blessed Jesus visited me with the gift of faith; and with that faith I was enabled to claim Him as my own Saviour—as my all and in all ; and then my heart was filled with a sweet sense of His blessed presence. I could not describe the greatness and the nature of the joy and happiness I then felt. All I will say is this— `My Jesus has done all things well.' "And now my prayer is, that God would give me grace to serve him, and make me the instrument in His hand to win souls to Jesus, and to His own name be all the glory." This young man is now engaging in missionary labours throughout the district, and more especially among persons of his own class. I could have referred to other cases, but conclude by stating, that the work is still going on. We trust that the few drops we have received are but the earnest of better things to come. We pray that God may open the windows of heaven, and pour us out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. I may add, that we are greatly indebted to the exertions of the elder previously referred to, and another young man, an elder's son ; both of whom, though labouring men, were at the expense of going to Ireland to see the doings of the Lord in that land.