Dumfries St George's Free Church (1860)

A marvellous work is going on in Dumfries. During all the days of the week prayer-meetings have been held in the various dissenting churches; and after the close of the regular services in the Free Church, protracted meetings for inquiry have occurred, and several hundreds of persons, old and young, of both sexes, and of all ranks, have remained to be prayed for or conversed with.

In the Free Church last night, after the public congregation had been dismissed, an inquiry-meeting for females exclusively ensued. Nearly 200 were seated in the body of the church, and both the vestries were occupied. Ongoing in at half-past ten o'clock we heard a most impassioned prayer, proceeding from the upper vestry—the unseen petitioner, a lady, lifting up her voice, and sobbing as if broken-hearted, as she suppli­cated forgiveness. She was surrounded by ladies weeping like herself; and, on returning about an hour afterwards, their tears seemed to have been turned into joy, as they were singing

"Happy day! happy day!

When Jesus washed my sins away;

He taught me how to watch and pray,

And live rejoicing every day.

Happy day! happy day!

When Jesus washed my sins away."

The occupants of the pews included several old women, evidently of a humble rank, several mill girls, a few dress­makers and domestic servants, and a considerable proportion of educated ladies—so that nearly all classes of our female population were represented among the professedly anxious inquirers thus gathered together. About eleven o'clock one startling case occurred, which for a while absorbed the atten­tion of all present. A young woman, aged about two-and ­twenty, after kneeling down in great anguish with her kind adviser, in a few minutes started suddenly to her feet, and cried aloud in tones of ecstasy, "I am saved! I am saved! I feel that I am forgiven. Oh, what will my dear mother say when she knows that her daughter has become a child of Christ and an heir of glory:" It is too soon, we think, for anyone to affirm that even a tithe of those who profess to have been awakened are truly changed in heart; but it is high time that those who are throwing contempt or ridicule on the Revival movement amongst us were inquiring fully into its merits, instead of looking at it superficially, or taking offence on account of some of its excrescences.

Dear Sir,—Tine Revival has lately contained frequent and deeply interesting notices of the religious awaken­ing in Dumfries, Annan, and Lockerbie, and the facts which have been stated leave no doubt that the Spirit of God has graciously visited these places and that they have indeed become the scenes of his wonderful and saving power.

From the 'Revival' Newspaper Vol iv


(From the Dumfries Standard,)

The Revival services continue to be well kept up. There is the same earnestness which characterised the movement at its earlier stages, but there is less excitement and there are fewer striking phenomena. On the aspect of our streets in the evenings the Revival has exercised a very manifest influence. Comparatively few people are to be seen idling about, and even on Saturday nights there is much less bustle, many who used to throng the thoroughfares at such periods being occupied in the house of God. We had a very quiet Candlemas fair on Wednesday last; the boisterousness and revelry which often attend such rural gatherings having been checked by the religiousness which more or less pervades both the town and country population. Though the awakening is not yet three weeks old, it has already lightened the labours of the police by greatly reducing the number of cases, as will be seen by the following statistics: —The number of persons brought before the Burgh Court charged with assault, breach of peace, contravention of Police Act, drunk and incapable, malicious mischief and theft during the three weeks commencing 27th January and ending 16th February 1860, was 63. The number of persons brought before the court for the corresponding three weeks this year was 31, showing the number of offences committed to have decreased this year by 32.

At the daily prayer meetings in the Free Church, commencing at 12 o'clock, and lasting for about an hour, much interesting information continues to be given in from towns, villages, and the districts in the neighbourhood; and all the reports tend to show that the work of Revival there proceeds with increased vigour. As appropriate accompaniments, petitions are offered at the throne of grace for a still further effusion of the Spirit on the places to which the reports refer, and that localities which remain dormant may be thoroughly aroused.

In close connection with the Revival movement, and as a gratifying example of its practical bearings, we give the following notice. On the evening of Thursday, a meeting of the Young Men's Auxiliary to the Home Mission was held in the Loreburn Strèet United Presbyterian Church, for the purpose of making arrangements to increase the numerical strength of the association. The meeting was largely attended and included many who date their conversion from the present season of revival. Mr Gregan presided, and after devotional exercises, the business was proceeded with. In order to facilitate the visits in Dumfries and Maxweltown, it was resolved to elect two directors for each of the wards in the respective burghs. Under these, a number of young men were to be organised, and receive instructions from the directors as to the places they were to visit. By these means regularity in the visits would be maintained. It was also resolved that prayer meetings should be held every Friday evening, and a business meeting once in the month. The proceedings are to be conducted in the same manner as the Home Mission, and every effort is to be made for the advancement of religion among the poorer classes.

The services in the Free Church on Friday night were begun about a quarter past five o'clock, by Mr Ross, a young man from the north of Scotland, who for a season accompanied Mr Reginald Radcliffe in his recent evangelistic tour. The regular hour for the meeting was seven o'clock, but before six it was densely packed.

Mr Hammond gave an account of a visit paid by him to Annan on the previous day, and of a meeting there that had been addressed by four individuals from Ruthwell, all of whom had been converted or revived at a meeting held in the Free Church of that parish; two of them were deacons and one of them an elder in Mr Brown's congregation. Coming once more to Dumfries that forenoon, he proceeded with Mr Ross and some young converts to Dalbeattie. He found the Free Church there crowded, but as, in going along, numerous groups were noticed at the corners of the streets, he and Mr. Ross, after speaking in the church, went out for the purpose of giving addresses in the square. A number of persons assembled, and among others a young medical gentleman, Dr. Lewis. He (Mr Hammond) went up and accosted him in a polite, gentlemanly way; but he commenced to pray and was pushed aside by the crowd and others then began to rail against him. Mr Ross commenced to pray and was pushed against by the crowd, and so furious were some of them that he thought they were going to tear the young man to pieces. When he (Mr Hammond) began to speak they got a bell and rung it to drown his voice; and when one was tired of ringing it, it was given to another. The medical gentleman already named encouraged them in this work, and during the disturbance said, "If you get hold of him, I'll take him by the neck and put him out of the town."

But eventually the clamour subsided, and the devil was outwitted, for the ringing of the bell attracted many to the spot, and from the windows around the people looked and listened, and he doubted not an impression was made upon the minds of some who came only to scoff and deride. The Lord was with him and his fellow-labourer, and the Philistines were smitten; if ever he saw men quail, subdued, it was there that day in that public street among the scoffers at Dalbeattie. Let us now, said Mr Hammond, pray for these scoffers, and he accordingly offered up a petition that their hearts might be turned to God. What may be considered a farewell address was then delivered by Mr Hammond. It was throughout a most impressive one, and at times we noticed many of the audience literally in tears.

"The Scottish Guardian," February 19th, 1861.

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