It was the tidings of the gracious work in Edinburgh that prompted us to seek a shower of grace to descend upon ourselves; and, being disappointed of a visit from Messrs Moody and Sankey to who I wrote, urging them to come to us, since Dollar, with its large academy, containing about 200 pupils, is really a centre of influence extending to all the world, we resolved to hold a series of meetings ourselves, trusting to such help from other quarters as God might send to us. We began with three nights of united prayer for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the attendance being very encouraging, and the expectation of a
blessing deep and strong. Thereafter we held evangelistic meetings in the large hall of the academy every evening for three weeks. The hall was built some years ago, but none in Dollar, I believe, thought of the blessed use it was to be put to for Christ. It holds about 1,100 or 1,200 people. Every week evening we had audiences of from 700 to 900; on Sabbath evenings, from 1,200 to 1,300, till on the last night we had nearly 1,400, every inch of available space being occupied, many standing in the passages outside, some, unable to hear, even there holding a prayer meeting by themselves for a blessing on the large assemblage,--and many going away from the doors, unable to gain admission at all. From the very first, a deep impression was made, large numbers waiting for conversation at the inquiry meetings and very many professing to find peace in believing. The number of those who confessed to having been in a very anxious state of mind for months past was large, but many seem to have been awakened for the first time in the hall. I scarcely ever saw such deep distress under the conviction of sin as was exhibited by some; but generally, it was rather a deep seriousness, with no great excitement of any kind, that characterized the work from first to last. There never was such a time of blessing in Dollar before. Some idea of the extent of the interest manifested by the numbers attending these meetings may be gathered from the fact that the whole population of the place and parish does not exceed 2,500. The movement took a deep hold of the boys and girls attending the academy; and at a closing meeting for those alone who professed to have accepted Christ and His salvation during the three weeks of our meetings, more than 180 gathered together confessing their Saviour. This, however, does not by any means represent the whole amount of good done. We are continually hearing of cases of conversion where there was no waiting for conversation and no sign given of concern at the time. And the blessing did not fall only upon the young: some well advanced in years have been brought to the Lord too, and now confess it with joy. The singing of some of the hymns seems to have been blessed to many, in particular those two, "I lay my sins on Jesus," and "I heard the voice of Jesus say."
Some of the requests for prayer, sent in each evening in large numbers, were very touching, and not less so the many thanksgivings for answers to prayer in personal conversion and the conversion of members of the family circle. In some households nearly every member has professed a saving change, and it has been touching to hear so many of those sent here for education acknowledging the wonderful leading of God, in sending them to this place, often against their own desire, to find Christ and be brought to a saving knowledge of the truth. Some most interesting cases have occurred of pupils detained here by unforeseen circumstances beyond the time at which they expected to leave, and finding the great blessing through this detention which otherwise they would have missed, and now acknowledging with wonder and praise. the loving
guidance of a heavenly hand. Some of these have already left us for other places, both at home and abroad, carrying with
them the peace and the joy and the consecration of a new life.
A good deal of scoffing at the work was exhibited at first; but as the work went on, that was very much subdued, and I am told that several of those who were most opposed to it have had the blessing brought home to members of their own households so that they are compelled to acknowledge the Lord's hand in it after all. One great effect of the large proportions which the work of grace attained among the pupils of the academy has been, that there has been less ridicule of the 'young converts' on the part of their companions than would doubtless have been the case had their numbers been very small, and the fear of that ridicule has also been mercifully less operative as a difficulty in the way of the anxious than it might have been. The boys have started a prayer meeting once a week amongst themselves in one of the classrooms, and the girls have a similar meeting weekly in a private house. I was present one evening lately at the meeting of the boys and felt it exceedingly interesting to hear their simple, artless prayers for their companions still unsaved, and for themselves that they might be all kept steadfast and grow Christ-like. I do not like to speak too decidedly of the fruits of such movements till longer time has been given for testing them; but I have conversed privately myself with more than 120 under concern about salvation, both in the inquiry meetings and in their own homes, and I would cherish the belief that a very large proportion of them have really
decided for Christ, and given themselves to Him. And the blessing they have received, some will carry with them, ere long, to Australia, others to America, others to India; and, indeed, in every quarter of the world there will soon be those who will look back to Dollar as the place of their new birth to God. We were unfortunately compelled to end our meetings after only
three weeks' work, but hope to resume them again, and look for even greater things in the way of blessing yet.
April 10, 1874.
"Times of Blessing," April 18th, 1874.