Thurso (1874)




The reports of the Lord's work in the south, during the memorable summer of 1874, aroused deep interest and large expectations in Thurso. When it became known that Mr Moody was to visit the north, arrangements were made for special preparatory or preliminary meetings in the town. The local ministers were assisted by the Rev. Dr Kennedy, of Dingwall; the Rev. W. Ross Taylor, Kelvinside; Hugh M. Mathieson, Esq., London; and others. Night after night there were many decisions. On Sabbath, the 16th August, when the remarkable work, above described, was going on in Wick, the town of Thurso was experiencing similar blessing. At the close of the Sabbath evening service in the first Free Church, conducted by the Rev. W. Ross Taylor, Kelvinside, the preacher announced, in the most explicit terms, that only those were to remain to the after-meeting who were either already Christians, or desirous to become Christians that very night. All others were requested to withdraw, along with those whose duties might require them to leave. It was a novel intimation in Thurso, but the result was eminently satisfactory. Three-fourths of the audience remained, making an after-meeting of between 800 and 900 persons ? all of them publicly professing to be either already Christ or decided to yield themselves to Him. It was a most solemn hour one to be long remembered, and one which, we may trust, some will remember, to all eternity, as the hour of their fully resolving and acting on the resolution "I will arise and go to my Father" for not one-half of those present had ever before made a public profession of being decided for Christ.

Next day Mr Moody arrived in Thurso from Wick. The ground had been prepared for him. "From the first he felt his audience in full sympathy with him, eager to hear the Word of Life; and, as night after night he urged the acceptance of Christ's salvation, with all the freshness, pathos, and power which characterise his speaking, even the most careless heart was strangely stirred, and many a head was bowed under uncontrollable emotion. The first meeting, on Monday evening, was held in open-air Taylor's Church, which was densely packed with some 1800 people; and the second, on Tuesday evening, in the Established Church, where upwards of 2000 were accommodated. A large number of ministers and people from the surrounding parishes were present, so that the influence of Mr Moody's work will be felt far beyond the town. The number of inquirers on each night was very large, especially on the Tuesday evening. While Christians remained to pray in the Established Church, inquirers were invited to the First Free Church the young men to the hall behind the church, the children to the vestry, and the others to the church itself. Upwards of 100 men were inquirers that night, and, before the meeting with them ended, more than one half stood up and declared their acceptance of Christ as their own Saviour. It was a blessed sight, for most of them were young men of real energy or character, whose decision and future work for Christ cannot fail to tell most powerfully on the whole town."

Similar scenes were witnessed on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. The Rev. Dr Ross Taylor, Kelvinside, writing in Times of Blessing, August 27, 1874, said: "This has been a memorable week for Thurso. Last week it was clear to every observant eye that the fields were white, and the labourers had cause to rejoice over not a few gathered sheaves; now, however, the glad reaping time has fully come, and many years of patient labour are being crowned with a glorious harvest. Two features which have been elsewhere characteristic of this work of grace? widespread susceptibility to impression, and a readiness, on the part of those impressed, to accept of the simple offer of Christ in the Gospel have been remarkably displayed. The numbers seeking counsel and guidance night after night, at the close of the meetings, have been larger than almost anywhere else, mounting up one evening to nearly 300 persons; and, of these, many, there is good ground to believe, have accepted God's message of love with clear intelligence and cordial trust. Christians, also, have been greatly quickened and filled with unwonted longings after the salvation of those around them. The noonday prayer meeting had to be transferred from the small hall, where it was held, to one of the churches the Free West Church." After Mr Moody had left, the meetings were carried on with great zeal and success for some time. The Established Church and the two Free Churches were used on alternate evenings. The attendance on Sabbath evening was about 1200, and on each week evening averaged between 500 and 600. The churches, the Young Men's Christian Association, and every religious and philanthropic institution in the town and neighbourhood were inspired with new life and energy. Fresh evangelistic enterprises were begun in the open air and in surrounding villages, while the general tone of the community was most manifestly elevated.

'Revivals in the Highlands and Islands' by Alexander Macrea,  Republished in 1998 by Tentmaker Publications.