SOME weeks now have passed since you asked me to give an account of the Lord's work in Dumfries. I did not answer your request then because I had nothing special to record. It is right to say, however, that we have had a pleasant summer - one of the most pleasant I have ever spent in Dumfries. Our prayer meetings have been more interesting than ever I have seen them, and it was plain to us that the Lord was visiting His people. It is true we had no general awakening, yet daily we met with men and women and children seeking salvation. The young, and especially the little children, were particularly interesting. I suppose this was because the little ones had not yet, as older people, learned the art of concealing their feelings. When the teachers took them aside and spoke to them about their souls, and set before them the simple gospel, they seemed to embrace it so readily that we often wondered if their answers were real. But then there was such distinctness and clearness in their answers, and such brightness in their very countenances, that we were constrained to accept their statement whenever we remembered what the Master said. "Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of God."
All the summer, the ordinary means of grace were carried on without any special effort, with this difference, that there were more earnestness and fervency in prayers of God's people, with a greater amount of expectancy, and also that, on the part of some at least, there was a greater freedom and boldness in speaking to others about the things of eternity. God's people were longing for times of refreshing and blessing, and expecting it, but they could not tell how it was to come. I may mention here, that ever since the week of prayer for young men in March last, a number of young men have been meeting every Sabbath morning in the Wesleyan Chapel, pleading with God that He might bless themselves and the other young men of Dumfries. These prayer meetings have been, I understand, very interesting. Allow me just to say here, that I think it would be productive of much lasting good if someone from the Young Men's Christian Associations of Edinburgh or Glasgow were to visit Young Men's Associations in there are hundreds in Dumfries who are disposed to such places as Dumfries, and address them and advise them, and show how such should be conducted, and what kind of work they should engage in. These young men have been for a long time anxious to bring some evangelists to this town. At length, by the kindness of Lord Polwarth and James N. Carr, Esq., the labours of two devoted evangelists, Messrs Dunn and Scroggie, were secured. These two evangelists, whom the Lord has already so greatly blessed elsewhere, visited this town about the middle of August. From that time up till now they have been labouring in this place, and their labours have not been in vain in the Lord. They hold a mid-day meeting at 1:30 pm; a children's service at 6:30 pm; they go to the street and preach there at 7 o'clock. Those of us who have been for years working in Dumfries can say, that seldom have our hearts been more filled with thankfulness to God than they have been at these street gatherings. The crowds that come to hear on the street are large; but what is better, the interest is very deep. It is not seldom that we see the people drinking in the glad message with tears in their eyes. I have no doubt that not a few are receiving impressions on the street that will never leave them, and that they will have to bless God throughout eternity for these street meetings. We have been gathering some of the fruit already. Then they have their regular evangelistic meeting at 8 o'clock. At first the Market Hall was hired - a place that holds, I should say between 400 and 500. In the course of the first week the attendance was so great that the young men had to secure a larger place. The meetings were then taken to the Mechanics' Hall, and there they laboured for about a fortnight. During the last week the meetings have been held in Dr Wood's large church, and have been well attended. Last Sabbath night the crowd was so great that a number could not get admission.
These gatherings are very encouraging, but what to us is the most interesting is the second meeting. From the very commencement there has not been a single night without many anxious souls, and a great number professing to be saved of old and young. The young are intensely interesting. A large number of young men and women, and little children too, are taking their stand on the Lord's side. These inquiry meetings are to me very precious. I have seen a good deal of work in Dumfries during these last ten years, but I have never seen anything like the same amount of blessing as at this present time. God's people are being very greatly quickened, hundreds, are I believe, being savingly converted to God and what is most delightful is whole families are, as it was of old, being saved. It is most interesting to notice, that now the prayers of godly parents and godly relations and teachers and friends, who have been for years pleading for those who were dear to them as their own life, are coming up before God, and He is granting them their petitions for Jesus' sake. What encouragement to us to pray and not to faint.
It is my impression that at this present moment there is a spirit of inquiry abroad amongst the people, even amongst those that are not coming to the meetings, and are seemingly opposed to them. Man cannot get at them, but God can, and really is touching their hearts I have little doubt from what I know but that there are hundreds in Dumfries who are disposed to listen, and are sighing for salvation. But how can we get at them? Oh, that the Master Himself would - for we cannot - command them to sit down in companies, in ranks, by hundreds and by fifties, that we might have the joy of giving to them the bread of life!
"Times of Blessing," Sep 24th, 1874.
I do not know where the Mechanic's Hall was.