DEAR SIRS, - I have just returned from this lovely place, and though my stay was short, I was enabled, through the kindness of some gentlemen, to collect incidents relative to the recent Revival in Bute, which, I apprehend, cannot fail to be interesting to your readers.
It appears for long the gospel had been fully and faithfully preached, but up to 1858, no general movement was visible. In the February of that year, Mr Brownlow North visited Rothsay and preached three times with marked effect. Many anxious souls called upon him afterwards, desirous of being led to the Saviour, and this, apparently, was the first awakening on the island. It is cheering to know that, up to the present time, those anxious ones, finding peace and joy in believing, continue steadfast in the faith. About midsummer of the same year, a gentleman, who had previously thrown up a lucrative business engagement in England for his Saviour's sake, preached in the open-air for the first time; his heart yearned over the poor perishing sinners in the town, and he could keep silent no longer. About 100 gathered around him, and the power of the Most High was visibly present. From the 20th June, this faithful disciple preached every Sabbath until November, and each service was characterised by Divine blessing. In July a Bible Class for young women was begun, and it was while thus engaged in "searching the Scriptures," that the most mighty showers of blessing descended. These precious outpourings of the Spirit continued for many nights. The class increased to nearly 200, all of whom were either anxious inquirers or were rejoicing in the ecstasy of their first love. The open-air services increased too, till the number exceeded. 1000; and, until the gentleman left for college, every evening was appointed for conversation with the anxious, and frequently during a single night upwards of twenty brokenhearted ones would come to his private residence seeking for the consolations of the Spirit.
The extraordinary effect of this great work upon the factories may easily be imagined—all the mill-owners speak of them as being most salutary. During this gracious season, the common practices of cursing and swearing were completely given up, the general tone of morality became higher and higher, and subjects of impurity, that used to be commonly spoken of, were not now even so much as named amongst them.
Not having mentioned names, I may perhaps be permitted to point to one precious little evidence of Christian consideration and gratitude which burst spontaneously from the hearts of' these poor mill-girls. 'They had become aware that, in throwing up his secular engagement, some pecuniary sacrifices had been made by their benefactor; they consequently commenced a secret subscription, not exclusively amongst themselves, but extending to the higher classes; and when he came to take leave of them, previous to entering college, he was presented, to his no small surprise, with a puree containing forty guineas. Surely this is worthy of record; not indeed that he desired. a gift, but he rejoiced to find fruit abounding to their account. During this Revival, about a dozen little prayer-meetings sprung up in various parts of the town, each meeting conducted by a young woman in her own room. They were held at the same time; during which the hearts of about 100 young women were ascending in prayer and praise to God. During absence at college, the Rev. Mr Webster carried on the blessed work, which became deepened as it progressed. In July 1859, the divinity student visited the north of Ireland, and on his return related what he had seen there. One evening, when preaching in the Victoria Hall, to a crowded audience, from "The kingdom of heaven is come nigh unto you," the stillness of the meeting, towards the close, was broken by a loud cry for mercy; he stopped, and solemnly asked, "Is this the only soul that will seek mercy while Jesus is passing by?" Simultaneously, and from every corner of the hall, there were cries for mercy; betwixt 100 and 200 remained anxious, and now came into requisition the converts of the preceding year—they were everywhere seen pointing poor stricken souls to "the Lamb of God." I fear I have already encroached too much upon your space. I attended two very impressive services yesterday, in the Rev. R. G. Balfour's East Free Church. The former, by the Rev. Mr Webster, already alluded to; in West Free Church, the Rev. Robt. Elder. Many of the congregation were very much impressed, especially one young lady in the morning, who was completely broken down when listening to the full and perfect redemption of those who are in Christ Jesus (Rom. viii.) ; and a very similar case in the afternoon by another woman on hearing of the hindrance to the conversion of sinners by the inconsistency of Christians. During this season of prayer shall not the hearts of Christians be lifted up in praise to God for what He has done for the island of Bute? W. S.
Gourock on the Clyde, Jan. 14, 1861.
From the 'Revival Newspaper', Volume IV, page 28
The Hall was where marked,