Buckie (1871)

" FINDOCHTY, 26th June, 1871.


I received your note this morning with great pleasure. May God bless your visit to this place, and that not only to your own soul, but also to all the dear brothers and sisters in Peterhead. The Lord can work without any of us, but it is the way He has promised, and that we have to look to, and that is through human agency, and to Him be all the glory.

"Dear brother, the work is still widening —Portessie (Look at Portessie 1871) is subdued almost to a man. There is a good work going on in Buckie and in Cullen, also, there was a call from Portknockie last night, and the P— with some of his crew went over and had a good beginning. We had a demonstration on Saturday, when all the people of God went over to Portsoy in marching order, singing as we went the praises of God.

"When we arrived there we halted for a short time, then all the Portessie people came up in the rear, and marched on to, and through Buckie. It had a powerful effect on that place. Many were seen weeping as we passed through. Such a multitude, and all converted, you never saw ! none could join but those who have the witness within.

"We had a glorious day on Sunday. The chapel was crowded. Only one hour's interval the whole day, and such testimonies given of the grace of God, you never heard. Glory be the name of the Lord for ever and ever.

I have been out at sea for two days and nights, but singing and prayer was the most of the work that was done. The young men you saw on the platform were my crew, so you may judge.

"James Turner or How to reach the Masses," page 139.

In 1871, I got a very pressing invitation to come and help them at Buckie, and I was only too glad to respond.

I went on the Saturday evening, and we had a good meeting, a very good meeting. It was quite evident from the solemn countenances before me that the truth had been taking hold of the minds of the people for some time, and from the prayers of the people one could see that the blessing was nigh at hand. Several of the local brethren, along with the East Coast Missionary, and the late James Riach (a Prince in Israel) had been labouring zealously, and with good effect, for it now only required the slightest fanning to put all in a blaze.

In the afternoon of Sabbath we had a precious meeting in the East Coast Mission Hall. While addressing them, I was three times interrupted by people, grown up, stout, hardy men and women, crying for mercy to their souls. I was quite a stranger to this sort of thing, but I was only too glad to stand still and dumb until they got their cry out, for I knew it was the work of the blessed Spirit. Whether these tidings got to the ears of the clergy I know not, but one of the Established clergy appeared at the evening meeting, for what purpose we knew not then, but we were not kept long in ignorance.

While the address was being given, one woman got up saying she could wait no longer, and she very intelligently prayed to God to have mercy upon her and save her soul; that she had long professed him but had never possessed Him. This woman sat down blessed, and I believe saved. While she was praying, his reverence seemed very uncomfortable.

Thinking my former address was too arousing, and that I was somewhat to blame for harrowing up the feelings of this female, as soon as she was done I changed my text and subject, but, had only spoken a few sentences when other two, a man and a woman, both at once cried beseechingly for God to be merciful, and save their souls. This was more than the rev. gentleman could stand, and he got up and endeavoured to interrupt.

By this time both were about finishing, and some friends remonstrated with him not to interfere with the meeting, saying that he would grieve the Holy Ghost; and for fear the people should hear the bantering between him and them, I struck up the chorus of a hymn. During the singing of this hymn or chorus rather, I witnessed such a sight as I trust my eyes shall never behold again. 

Those of his people who were in the body of the hall wished him to get a hearing, while those of us who were near enough to hear his arguments, would not allow him to interfere, and kept on singing the chorus. His people were up standing on the tops of the seats, gesticulating dreadfully, and others beside them were pulling them down.

As soon as I could get the chance (for I had always to keep the chorus going), I said, 

"You see, Mr___, what havoc you have made of the work of God."

"Ah, but is it the work of God?" was his reply. "It is nothing but witchcraft and hysteria."

"If it's witchcraft and hysteria," I replied, "the sooner you are out of it the better; but if it's the work of God you will find yourself in the awkward position of fighting against God; and for His sake go home, for I'll sing this chorus till midnight, in order to prevent you getting a hearing."

A minute or two afterwards he vanished, but his baneful influence he left behind. The work of God seemed marred, every soul was downcast. We appealed to the common sense of the people whether it was right or not to allow this man to try to stop the work, merely because he thought it was witchcraft and hysteria. Like the disciples of old he would rebuke poor blind Bartimaeus for seeking mercy. I asked the people if they would consider it right or fair for the East Coast missionary (Mr. Grant) to go up to this man's church and interfere with his services, the more especially that he was never sent for. Then I asked those who were to follow Mr____ to go and those who wished to follow Christ to remain.

All sat down except one lad, who went out, but not to remain, as will he seen presently. We commenced that meeting again, but with little apparent effect, every soul seemed wounded, thus Jesus was pierced in the house of His friends. One prayed after another, but there was no power. I prayed, but I might as well not have done so. At last an old woman, Janet Murray or Duncan, prayed in her mother tongue, but with such plainness of speech, and close dealing with God, as I had never heard before. God answered this prayer at once. I was much blessed, so was James Riach, who told me she was one of James Turner's converts, as he was one himself, that he had watched ever since she was converted, and that her life was in every way consistent; to use his own words, "she never took a step back".

The meeting was somewhat better now, but our faith for the night was exhausted, and Mr Grant proposed closing, to which we were all agreeable, for none of us saw any good of continuing it any longer. Now, however, was God's time to work, and when He works, who dare hinder?

The blessing was pronounced just about twelve o'clock at night, and the parting hymn being sung, when the mighty power of God came down, as a mighty rushing wind; never shall I forget it, nor do I wish to forget. Of all the sights I ever looked upon in this world, to me it was the most solemn and interesting. 

I saw about forty men and women all at once, at the pitch of their voices, weeping, as they cried for mercy; the men, strong men, bowed down, or rather bent back, for their hands were outstretched upwards, with their faces, full of agony, looking heavenwards, and their backs bending backwards. Such was their desire for mercy, each called for himself or herself; and all at one time, none heeding the prayer of his neighbour.

To the world, to those of the world there, this must have appeared a Babel, but one feature I noticed in this work was that everyone who thus humbled himself or herself to seek it openly, generally sat down rejoicing or satisfied that they had got the blessing. 

Talk of an after-meeting, this was one led by the Holy Ghost; no need for other workers, although there were eight or nine of us there, willing to work, or direct anxious souls, our services were not required. The Lord seemed to say, "Stand aside and behold My glory".

For a considerable time this went on without the slightest intermission, and without interruption, for none of us dare put a hand to it to guide it the one way or the other. We were in no fear of the Ark of God, although it seemed to rock to and fro, and to suffer from apparent confusion and want of order, we were all fully persuaded this was the work of God, and it was perfectly safe in his own keeping.

By-and-bye there was a calm in the meeting when a young man (a seaman) stood up, and now there was perfect silence in the hall, and all eyes were fixed upon him when he stretched out his hands heavenward as if imploring God's mercy, but sat down without uttering one word. Again he stood up, and did the same, with the same result, his face indicating a soul on the borders of despair. The third time he stood up, he got his mouth opened, and I will give you his own words as nearly as I can remember them:-

"Oh God, hae mercy upon my soul! Oh Lord, will ye no hae mercy upon my soul? I'm the guiltiest sinner in a' Buckie. Lord, will you no save my soul? Oh Lord, save my soul! Lord, I have scoffed at yer work for the last six weeks. Lord, ye ken, we gaed four o' us th' day to Portessie tae scoff at yer blessed work, we took four glass o' whisky tae steel our hearts against Thee. The Lord bless the lad that spak tae me aboot my soul at the door o' the chapel, but Lord, ye ken its nae saved for a' that. Lord, will ye nae save my soul?"

His cry, poor fellow, was piteous. It was enough almost to break one's heart to hear it. We were all broken down, and we all shed tears of compassion for the poor fellow in distress, and sent up our silent petitions along with his, that God might be merciful to his soul. He sat down without relief, and with a face black with despair.

A hymn was struck up. We were well acquainted with speaking to anxious souls, but none of us felt inclined to put our hands to this work or to go and speak with him. But before the hymn was done he rose up again, and this time it was to praise his God for mercy received, and to testify, as he did testify to everyone there, that God had been gracious and had saved his soul.

He preached for half an hour, and during his speaking a young man was seen to come in from outside the door and take his seat at his feet. This young man (a mason) was weeping like a child, and we all marvelled, for he was a scoffer, and had withstood us all. He had been preached to and warned of his evil conduct, and spoken to lovingly by our beloved brother Riach, now in glory, but all apparently without effect; yet under the preaching of this new-born child of God, who was yet a few minutes before a child of the devil, he was broken down, confessed his sin, and professed to find peace. Shortly after this, the meeting broke up at twenty minutes to four o'clock, a.m.

This was a long meeting, from 7 p.m. till 4 a.m., yet none of us wearied so much as we have done during one and a half hours of the dry orthodox preaching we too often get from some of the clergy, thank God not from all.

"James Turner or How to reach the Masses," pages 236-9.

BUCKIE, 4th February, 1871.

"DEAR BROTHER C__, I received yours. Am sorry to have been so long in writing, but I have been very busy since you left. God is still working in a wonderful manner in Buckie, and many are inquiring the way to be saved. 

I do not know how to begin telling you about God's marvellous workings in this place, but amidst all the reproach and ridicule of men and ministers, He is still working in great power. Our great loss is the want of a place large enough. You will be astonished to hear that I was asked to preach in the Free Church on Wednesday night. I wanted the church into our own hands but they would not give it. Still I went and preached, and after I had done so, Mr. S__ dismissed the meeting.

I am almost knocked up. Tell brother H. I would need him and yourself; for what could God not do by us when filled with the Holy Ghost. Had we a town hall large enough we would have a glorious work, but we must submit. There are three or four meetings in different places every night; the mission hall crowded to overflowing, and many outside. On Sabbath night I had to preach on the street to Papists and all sorts, and had this, that, and the other objection thrown in my teeth, and you would have wondered how God gave me a word to them in return. The Papists are wild, but I believe the truth has laid hold of some of them, although I have not heard of any decided case yet. I cannot describe the state of this place. ___ is even bolder than myself - has spoken several times, and has got the right thing I assure you, and is manifesting it, too, in the best of all ways - the daily life. O that every soul were saved! I hope you are having faith in Peterhead. If brother H__ were here, he would get plenty to do. God's people have been greatly blessed. Love to all.—Yours in Jesus, "JAMES RIACH."

James Riach was a wonderful revivalist who was to tragically to fall overboard and drown later in the year.

"James Turner or How to reach the Masses," pages 207-8

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