DURING this winter, throughout Dumfriesshire, there has been manifested a great interest in spiritual matters. Indeed, in almost every town and village throughout the county there has been a greater amount of energetic, prayerful effort put forth than for many years past. It. is true we have not had such a manifest outpouring of the Spirit as in 1861, which was to Dumfries, more than to most places, emphatically a year of grace. Neither have we had such a time of ingathering as there
has been in many other places. Still, we have had much to bless God for, and much to awaken a spirit of hopefulness with regard to the future. Indeed, we are firmly persuaded that the Lord is preparing many hearts at the present moment; and the Lord's people should earnestly plead with the Lord of the harvest that He would send forth reapers into the fields, which
are already white unto the harvest.
We have not sufficient knowledge to speak definitely regarding the actual results of this winter's work beyond the town itself; and, consequently, what we shall say in this short notice will be confined to the town and its more immediate neighbourhood. In the town itself, since the middle of November last, there have been held continuous evangelistic meetings with short intervals; and we believe the Lord has been pleased to give blessing in some measure, and in some way, in all these meetings. Messrs. Murray and Gallacher, evangelists of the United Presbyterian Church, came here about the middle of November and wrought for a fortnight. These meetings were blessed to several. Just as they left, two evangelists of the
Scottish Evangelistic Association- -Messrs. Daniels and Wilson--laboured for another fortnight. They held two separate meetings each night, one at six o'clock for the children and another at eight o'clock for adults. These meetings were well attended, and full of deep interest. A large number professed to receive the truth as it is in Christ: there were some striking cases of conversion. The children's meetings were particularly encouraging. The attendance was very large; some nights there were as many as 500 present. We have no doubt that many received impressions that will bring forth fruit unto eternal life.
On two several occasions, during the months of December and January, the Messrs Carr and other Christian friends from Carlisle, together with several ministers of the town, held meetings which were well attended, and productive of much good.
Mr Steel of Broughton visited this district in the month of January and has been labouring now for nearly three months, in the town and vicinity and his labours have been blessed to many souls. For two weeks he held meetings in the Free Church, Lochend when a number professed to have passed from death unto life. Afterwards, he came to a village near Dumfries, and held separate services for the children and the adults. In this district the interest awakened was very great. Young and old shared in the blessing. We may mention, however, that these meetings had been preceded by much labour and much prayer on the part of a number of God's people in the district, who have been for years working and pleading with God that He would be pleased to turn the desert into a fruitful field. We do not judge it wise to say much, but this we can say, that what was done has made many hearts glad.
While Mr Steel was labouring in this village, the Earl of Cavan visited the town and held a few meetings, when several seemed to be in anxiety about their souls, and some professed to have accepted Jesus and His salvation. Just as the Earl of Cavan left, Mr Steel took up the meetings in the town and continued them for nearly a month. These meetings were well attended and the presence and power of God were every evening manifested.
Many remained in the after-meetings to be conversed with, and almost every evening some seemed to get into "the liberty wherewith Christ doth make His people free."
Many cases of interest occurred which might be mentioned; to one only we will refer. One day a stranger passing through the town came to Mr Steel and said: "Last night when I entered the hall, I thought I was in the very presence of God. All my sins came up before me; I was nearly crying out and felt as if I must leave the meeting, but remained. I began to pray that the Lord would save me, and before you were half done with speaking I was rejoicing in having got peace with God by believing in His Son."
Here is an extract from his letter, sent some days after to Mr Steel:-
"Ah! well may I sing His praise. I sought not Him; He sought me, even against my own will. He led me to Himself,-mysteriously, wonderfully led me. ." After me no sinner need despair, no anxious one doubt. The Lord has been leading me to Himself in His own way until at last, He has effected what He purposed, and brought me to Jesus through the instrumentality of your preaching on Tuesday night... Tell every anxious soul how I obtained peace. The same peace is for them; the same Saviour waits. Each one that accepts Him adds to His glory." Many such letters have been received.
Leaving Dumfries, Mr Steel went to Kirkmahoe, where he laboured for nearly another fortnight with much blessing. Thereafter he went on to another village four miles out of Dumfries-Collin; and has been working there day after day for now upwards of a fortnight. The meetings in this place have been very large; numbers awakened, and professing, too, to have got peace through our Lord Jesus Christ.
We understand that in all these places, for some time previous to the visits of these evangelists, there have been much prayer, labour, and expectation on the part of the Lord's people.
In the end of March and the beginning of April, there was held in Dumfries a series of united evangelistic meetings, addressed by the various ministers of the town, assisted by the Rev. Messrs MacMurtrie of Edinburgh, Milligan of Dundee, and Tarnbull of Glasgow. These meetings were well attended, and manifestly many were deeply impressed; but; as there
were no second meetings, we cannot speak of actual results.
On looking upon the work of the past winter, and on the present state of the town and surrounding district, we feel firmly persuaded that, could our American friends, Messrs Moody and Sankey, see their way to visit Dumfries for only a few days, there would be a large ingathering of souls, and that the impulse given to the Lord's work in this whole district would be
"Times of Blessing," April 30th, 1874.