Buckie UP Church - James Turner (1860)

James Turner wrote in his diary, "I came to Buckie, and the work was getting quiet. We got up a meeting in the evening, but there did not appear to be much life. Next night we met again, and at first, a little stiffness was felt, but soon the blessing came and the cry for mercy everyone. This was on Saturday night, and the meeting was kept up till about three o'clock on Sabbath morning. A great work of God is getting on there."

From 'James Turner or how to reach the masses,' by E McHardie, pages 25/6

Turner encountered more opposition in Buckie than at any other point in all his labours.

Someone wrote, "Feb. 15, 1860.-I think it is my duty to acquaint you of the existence among us at present of one of the most wonderful works of God I have ever heard of, so much so that I cannot adequately describe it. This revival has travelled from the east along the fishing villages. I first heard of it being in Portknockie two or three weeks ago. After that in Findochty, and then in Portessie, at which latter village it commenced on Thursday last week, and on Sabbath evening last in Buckie. The number of old and young of both sexes and of persons in middle life who have been convinced of sin and brought to seek an interest in Christ is very great. Many are struck down, and the greater part cry out for Jesus to come to them with 'groan­ings that cannot be uttered'. Hundreds of men and women, and boys and girls, after passing through this conflict, have apparently found peace, after which their faces almost beam with joy, indicating the peace they feel within, and they then manifest great concern for the salvation of their friends. The whole work reminds us of the shaking among the dry bones in Ezekiel's vision, or the outpouring of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost. The people have almost to be forced away from the meetings. It is often two o'clock in the morning before all the anxious ones can be prevailed on to leave, and then only when intimation is made that they will meet again at eleven o'clock. They would remain day and night, if allowed; and I believe that a good many who have been here for some days from villages to the east of this, have taken but little food since they came."

." Feb. 23.—The inquiry here has not abated, though the people do not now turn out to the forenoon meetings in such great numbers as at first; of course, that could not last, nor could it have been desired, but the evening meetings are still crowded, and there is still good doing. I have tried to judge of this movement as calmly as possible, and one of its most important features is that almost every individual in this place, old and young, has been brought under concern about their soul's everlasting welfare. This can be seen in conversa­tion with everyone in the town with whom you come in contact. There is also a peculiar feature connected with the crowded meetings that I have been frequently struck with, and that is when some sinner is brought to see his lost condition in such a light that he is constrained to cry aloud for 'mercy, his cry is more eloquent than a hundred sermons, for many, feeling that they are in the same condition, are brought to pray aloud also, so that at times, from these meetings, has gone up one great cry for mercy from all present, suc­ceeded perhaps by a universal prayer for the Holy Spirit to be poured out. It will, of course, require time to try the genuine nature of much that we have seen, but while I fear that many have been but temporarily aroused to religi­ous concern and may soon lose their impressions, I am, at the same time, convinced that very many, both old and young, have really been brought to Christ and will go on trusting in Him."

From 'James Turner or how to reach the masses,' by E McHardie, pages 23-4.

When the meetings began in the Free Church, and souls began to cry for mercy, Mr. S__ called for a constable to close the Church. When John McIntosh began to speak, Mr. S__said, "You have no office in this Church, and are not entitled to speak."

On that, up starts one of the deacons and said - 

"I, as an official of this Church, ask you one question, 

'Do you want to kill or make alive?" 

But there was no reply but "Clear out the Church." 

So some of the U.P. people that were there offered the use of their hall, and John McIntosh stood up and announced that the meetings were to be adjourned to the U.P. Hall, and in a few minutes the hall was crowded. From that time this congregation increased, and now they have a splendid Church, and Manse for their minister also.

At one meeting there was a strange thing happened. A man engaged in prayer, I'm afraid not in the right spirit. While he was praying James Turner came in quietly. After listening for a moment, he kneeled down and cried out – 

"My God, hear and answer me. Shut that man's mouth." 

That moment the prayer was answered. The man had not power to utter another word, but stood immovable for a while - a monument before the people; and to this day that man remains a hardened sinner.

The meeting went on. And as two ministers who had come from a distance to see the work were going along the passage, they were very much attracted by a little girl lying prostrate. While in this state she was either softly ejaculating - "Sweet Jesus, I love thee," or praying for the ministers and people. One of the two bent down and listened with his ear close to her mouth. After a while he turned round to his brother minister and said –

"Sir, I must confess this is the work of God."

Then they went ben towards the platform, examining the cases, and looking at the scenes going on. Then another minister directed them to look into the vestry. When he looked in, there were about sixty anxious souls weeping and crying for mercy. Turning to James Turner, one of them said - “What is to be done with this people?"

"Go in and speak to them," said James, "and give them a word of consolation."

But he seemed struck speechless, for he never answered James a word, nor yet attempted speaking to the people - and that was Mr Dewar of Fochabers.

In that same meeting was a man who had not his match in the parish for power of intellect. He went in purposely to scoff, but before he went out, was both made to feel and acknowledge that the work was of God. Not only so, but he told the scoffers outside to leave the work alone, as it was of God. Before, this man had been almost, if not altogether, an infidel.

From 'James Turner or how to reach the masses,' by E McHardie, pages 194/5.

In compliance with the Moderator of the Session of the U. P. Church at Buckie, Mr Baxter of Banff, in a meeting held by the United Presbyterian Presbytery of Banffshire in Aberchirder, on the 20th of March, 1860, said: 

"I paid a visit to the village when the revival took place, and mingled freely with the inhabitants. I must confess, I went somewhat doubtful of the work when I heard of the physical phenomena connected with it. The first time I went, there was nothing in which the audience differed from any Christian assembly, with the exception of the deep earnestness which pervaded every countenance.

The second time I went to Buckie I was present during one of the most deeply moved meetings which had been witnessed in the course of the work. One girl in particular arrested my attention, and at first made an unfavourable impression. She screamed at the top of her voice, and subjected her body to many contortions; then sunk into a state of apparently unconscious repose. While she lay in this state I spoke to a pious and cautious fisherman, who informed me that this girl was his servant, and for eight days had been smothering her convictions of sin. In a few minutes she rose in perfect composure, and gave vent to her feelings in a prayer - breathing the deepest gratitude to God for his mercy, and otherwise containing many suitable petitions and confessions, clothed in natural language.

After a pretty minute investigation of the whole events of what I saw and what I heard reported, I am firmly of opinion that the God of all grace has poured down his Holy Spirit, and wrought salvation in not a few souls. The following are a few of the reasons which compelled me to come to this conclusion:

There was very deep contrition for sin in the hearts of many hundreds. In some cases it extended over many hours. This repentance was not the sorrow the drunkard feels after a debauch for money spent, character blighted, and health impaired; but repentance towards God. Now this repentance I regard to be the work of the Spirit. 

Again, in a great many instances the deep repentance was followed by faith in the work of Jesus Christ for sinners, and that led not merely to the removal of the bitter agony of soul, but to joy in God through Jesus Christ. This faith, joy, and peace, I reckon to be the work of the Divine Spirit and not the fruit of fanaticism or mere reason.

Further, there is an intense love for hearing and reading the word of God in public and in private, and an abandonment of those sinful courses which were formerly followed. 

If the Lord pointed to Saul as one of his followers from the fact that he prayed, the same may be said of many a blasphemer and wicked person in this village. So far as experience goes, the testimony is in favour of the work; many are growing in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. 

Family worship is observed in the houses of almost every professed convert. Those who were accustomed to do evil or live idly are now doing good in many forms. Hundreds of neglected children are getting religious instruction at home and in the Sabbath school. Those who lived in enmity are united in the bonds of a firm friendship, and the very countenances of the people wear a different expression. 

Errors and defects, arising from previous ignorance and vice, are not more numerous than were to be expected from imperfections inseparable from human nature, and over and above, we have results which must be ascribed to God alone.

Glad I am my eyes were privileged to behold such a work in places renowned for their ungodliness, and with profound gratitude attribute all the glory to the God of salvation.

Time will no doubt sweep away much of the chaff which has mingled with the grain, but I am persuaded that enough of the latter will remain to cheer the spirits of men and angels. To receive so much evidence as I did that the work was of God, and yet withhold my belief; would be, (in my opinion), to commit sin.

In regard to the much-controverted cases of striking down which has raised so many prejudices against the work: -  After giving the matter considerable thought, I confess the subject is involved in considerable difficulty. The fact is that there are two distinct classes of phenomena ever present when we think of them, which we are apt to confound. 

I thought at first the physical results might have originated in the power of sympathy or excitement. I was driven from that position by the fact that they often took place amid the calmest exercises in public, and also in private, when no exciting objects presented themselves. I heard, in the first meeting I attended in Buckie, of a woman who had been prostrate in her house, and who had only been in one meeting some nights before.

Without making the smallest pretensions to the claim of being a psychologist, yet it is universally admitted and felt, that mental and moral phenomena have a powerful effect on the physical frame, but how remains a mystery. 

We have received the testimony of three competent judges present, that the whole of the cases they have seen and heard of, were connected with religious feelings. 

In conversing with James Turner, the principal instrument in producing these awakenings, he was of opinion that in many cases there is first conviction of sin, then perception of the saving truths of the gospel, to which succeeds the prostration, and such returning to consciousness give expression to feelings of joy and faith in God. 

The facts seem to be these, (let us account for them as we may), sin first appears in all its terrible features, which arouses the consciences; the terror on the soul works on the body, calling forth sighs and groans, and often entire unconsciousness, varying from a few minutes to many hours. Some awaken in the enjoyment of peace and joy, others to renew the mental conflict, terminating in faith,  -  and sometimes in indifference to religion. 

We must judge of the change wrought in these prostrate by the fruit they bring forth, and discourage any from thinking that it is an aid to conversion, far less necessary. Let us also restrain from pronouncing a harsh and premature judgment on those who have been the subjects of these physical phenomena, bearing in remembrance that sin and the glorious truths of the gospel are fitted to exert a more powerful influence on the mind than they generally do.

I am quite of opinion that the rule of beginning and closing religious services should only be departed from when extraordinary circumstances demand it. I believe such to have been the case in Buckie and other villages. Considering the agony of soul in which many were placed who sought relief in prayer, praise, and Christian council, to have withheld them would have been an act of inhumanity, not to speak of Christian unkindness. Many of the people thus situated were not able to get to day meetings. Besides, immediately after the Spirit was poured down after the ascension of Christ, those who believed remained for weeks doing nothing but joining in religious services. Banffshire Journal.

From 'James Turner or how to reach the masses,' by E McHardie, pages 196-8

Glory be to God, the work still goes on, and I have no hesitation in saying, that along this coast thousands have been brought to a saving knowledge of the truth, full of heavenly joy and love. I have no sympathy with squeamish persons who speak of the so-called extravagancies, nor with the stiff and precise who cannot see into it, nor with those who are in terror lest they allowed; also taken, nor with thee who, like their masters, are roaring with wild desperation. The Sabbath school at the U. P. Church, Buckie has increased from 50 to nearly 200; at Portessie, a Sabbath school has been opened with 180 children. Prayer meetings everywhere abound here first; and in the neighbouring villages. I should mention that Mr. Turner, the prime instrument in this movement, is a man of true humility and piety; full of faith—deals faithfully with all, be they ministers, elders, or people—high or low, rich or poor—and the Lord has greatly honoured him. Nor can less be said of that truly good man, the Rev. Mr. Barras, of the U. P. Church; indefatigable in his exertions, and evidently sent here by the kind hand of his Divine blaster at this solemn and interesting juncture. And what is change in the town at large! Feuds and animosities done, away with—brotherly love and kindly feeling where before were anger and hatred forgot to mention that prostrations have taken place without coming to the U.P..Hall at all, even in private houses, without any pre-expectation; nay, more, boats' crews have come to shore in a converted state. The Spirit has come upon them while at sea, and they have knelt in prayer at the bottom of the boats.

From 'The Revival Newspaper,' Volume ii, p102

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They had to move from the Free Church because of the manifestations.

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