Ferryden (1860)

After the great Irish revival of 1857, the praying people of the village were stirred up to more believing prayer, and the dry bones began to move. The things of eternity became more felt; and among the first conversions was one so peculiarly careless that she described herself thus,  I ate, I drank, I slept, and never thought I had a soul; '' and week after week inquirers after the way of peace grew more numerous. Mr Grant thus describes the work in its remarkable progress: —

Arndilly, Nov, 21, 1869.
"My dearest M., — The last fortnight I was in Aberdeen, Montrose, Fyvie, and Laurencekirk. In a village opposite Montrose, called Ferryden, containing about twelve hundred inhabitants, a most wonderful work commenced. The whole population there seemed aroused. I visited them first on Wednesday with a layman (Mr Mudie) who has been very earnest among them since his return from Ireland, and I found men and women everywhere anxious about their souls. . . .

" On Saturday night I went over to give an address, and whilst speaking calmly of the love of Jesus for sinners, one or two were so affected as to shriek out for mercy. I stopped, and we quieted them by singing a psalm, and then I continued for a quarter of an hour when five were struck down one after another, just as in Ireland (Mr Mudie says). We remained to speak about their souls, and several very interesting conversions took place. One woman was borne down under a sense of sin, who had not been at church, and her husband was nearly as much affected. Many remained all night praying for mercy. On Sunday evening I returned, and the crowd was immense, as many had come from Montrose and the country round. The inquirers were very many, and several could do nothing but cry, "Jesus! save me;" all the words spoken to them seemed to be unheard. On Monday and Tuesday nights, several were stricken down, and some fell into trances from which it was difficult to recover them, and others found salvation in their boats at sea."

These meetings, with the house-to-house visitation by Mr Grant, were remarkably blessed. A narrative written at the time thus describes his work: —

"Mr. Grant spoke from the platform at the pulpit. His subject was Luke V. 1-11. His manner of address is slow and quiet, rather than warm and exciting; his language is chaste and simple, but very fervent; and he speaks as one who feels that life and death hang on the reception or rejection of the truth he proclaims.

"In his address, he spoke of the love and condescension of the Lord Jesus, and His interest in the fishermen on the lake of Galilee. Meanwhile, the church was turned into a Bochim, many left weeping, and many remained in the church, unwilling to go home till their burden was removed, and many did go home lightened."

This work was the first time that Mr Grant had ever come into personal contact with the spiritual and physical phenomena of " trances " and cases of " striking down," which were quite as much features of the Ferryden revival, in its limited sphere, as that of Ireland; the fisherman population possessing something of the same excitability as the Irish. Too often a work is spoken of either as necessarily real and great or necessarily as false and superficial, because of these strange manifestations; whereas a quiet and even balance of opinion seems peculiarly needed. I find on another occasion Mr Grant's opinion upon this subject so clearly and wisely expressed that I insert it here: — " here has been conviction of sin shown by floods of tears even in public as well as in private; but no crying out in an excited manner, which so often influences nervous people, who are impressed to cry also, and which leads some to imagine that crying out in that manner is a necessary step to obtaining forgiveness. If the soul feels deeply its heavy burden of sin and on that account cries out because it feels constrained in a manner to do so, well; but if the cries are uttered merely from excitement without deep feeling, it is a kind of hypocrisy, or at any rate, a mixture of the flesh in the work of God.'' It must be remarked, however, that the work in Ferryden was peculiarly deep, well-grounded, and lasting. For long, "a cloud of blessing seemed to rest over the village, and casual strangers shared its reflective influence." Since that wonderful year there have been several special revival seasons, and Mr Grant's first visit was by no means the last. I believe, however, that on these after occasions there was little or no external excitement.

From, "Hay Macdowall Grant, his life, labours and teaching," by Margaret Maria Gordon, pages 71-73


Ferryden (a small fishing village about two miles from Montrose) has been much more blessed than Montrose; a great number have been deeply convinced and savingly converted unto God. I have been across to Ferryden tonight and such a glorious work is going on there. I have read the fullest accounts or the work in Ireland and other places, and I am sure it could not be surpassed by what I have seen tonight. There was a meeting in the church, and Mr M. asked me to go and see a girl who was in awful distress; such mental agony I never saw; she remained in this state for nearly three hours, and then the joy was unspeakably great, and as soon as she found peace she began to tell to others around the way to be saved. I prayed and sang, and prayed, and the house was filled with people; and what a glorious time! You distributed many tracts in the village, and tracts are now received with eagerness. Dear brother, I would take it very kind if you would send me a number of tracts for distribution, if you have them to spare; do send, and pray that they may be blessed. God is visiting us in mercy, may He still do greater things. My bodily health is very weak, perhaps I may he soon called away to be with Jesus; oh, pray for me that I may be ready to depart at any moment. I hope God is giving you work to do, and blessing your labours. I would be very glad if you would send scene tracts soon—the people would take thousands gladly.

"I remain, your loving brother in Jesus, A lady writing from Montrose, adds:—

"I feel assured it will cheer your hearts to hear there has been a great awakening. at Ferryden. For some time there had been evident tokens of the Spirit's power in awakening careless souls; many were in an anxious state, and meetings have been more frequent for prayer. Mr M. has been closely engaged dealing with souls. Mr Grant, of Arndilly, went to Ferryden to visit, one day, and was so warmly received, there was quite a stir in the little place, and he collected all the people into the church, and in a very short time about 300 were gathered there. On Saturday, again, he preached at Ferryden; there was large attendance, and Mr G. was addressing from Luke V. 1-11, when, suddenly, a loud cry was heard, then another, and another, until the whole congregation were weeping and wailing, such a scene was truly overwhelming; it was indeed a solemn sight to see the Spirit working and convincing of sin. After the service, Mr G dealt with them individually, many found peace before they left the church; and others, after they got home, although many still remained in great bitterness of soul. It was a night long to be remembered in Ferryden; many who laid themselves down weeping, rose to thank and praise the Lord as they had never done before, saying, ‘Bless the Lord O my soul.’”

On Sabbath last (Dec. 11), the communion was celebrated, and no fewer than ninety were admitted, for the first time, to the ordinance, most of whom are well up in years. The whole village, with its population of about a thousand, has been stirred to its lowest depths, and scarcely a house can be entered without finding someone—a man, woman, or child—under deep distress about the soul. Meetings have been held nightly, for some weeks, hundreds being present even before the com­mencement of the services. At present, it would scarcely be judicious to give details. The place, a small fishing village, near Montrose, is not much known, and the work has, con­sequently, been allowed to go on without interruption from parties coming from a distance.

From Volume i of The Revival Newspaper p140/172

A friend has favoured us with the following interesting letter regarding the awakening in Montrose and Ferryden.

"Having been at the north on a visit to Montrose about a week ago, I there saw something of the work of the Lord, both in Mon­trose and also in Ferryden (a small fishing village a short distance from Montrose). I may state in the outset that the revival movement commenced in that part of Scotland in a village called Auchinblae, by a young man who had visited Ireland during summer. He went there to visit a brother, who previous to his visit had found the Saviour. This young man not knowing the change that had been wrought upon his brother until he went, was greatly surprised and rather disap­pointed, having no relish for religion, he being a very wicked lad and much addicted to swearing. I cannot give the full par­ticulars of the case, but I believe he went to a meeting to scoff, and ere he left he was deeply convicted. He afterwards found peace and returned to Auchinblae rejoicing in Jesus. He no sooner reached home than he began to tell the great wonders he saw in Ireland, and the truth of his remarks no one could gainsay, the change upon himself was so manifest. He got crowds of people to listen to him while he addressed them in a powerful though simple manner. At this time he visited Montrose, spoke at meetings, and stirred up the people there, until meetings were held every night, and in some of them many were stricken down—in one seven, and in another fourteen. I will only mention one case—the first in Montrose. It is that of Mrs. ---, a woman who was the means of convert­ing her son and husband, besides many more. She was seriously impressed by a sermon she heard and was in darkness and distress for three days. On the fourth morning she went to the cellar for coals. She was stooping down, and crying for mercy, when light broke in upon her soul; and so great was the joy she felt that she could not wait to finish her errand, but ran upstairs to her husband crying., 'I have found Him; I have found Him.' He thought she had gone mad. So great was her joy that she could not stay in the house, but ran to tell others of that precious Saviour whom she had found. This was the commencement of the Revival in Montrose. There is not the same amount of excitement at as first, yet the pray-meetings are well attended, and there are always a number of precious souls, especially among the young, waiting to receive advice. "The movement then reached, Ferryden, the inhabitants of which, about 1200 in number, are chiefly fishers. They were, till the commencement of the Revival, a wicked and Godless people, and the minister seemed almost to feel that they were in a hopeless condition. But who can stand before the breath of the Almighty when the command has gone forth? I visited a number of houses, and was made most welcome; and I am sure I am quite unable to describe what I both saw and heard. The joy that some of them expressed was most wonderful, and this after some weeks from the time they had found peace. I and two or three others went to see a young woman lately married, who, with her husband and her sister were all rejoicing in Jesus. One day he was lying in distress with his head on his wife's knee. She said to us, Oh, that was the happiest day in my life when I saw him with his heal in my lap, and the tears streaming down his cheeks, for I knew he was getting. Jesus.' He is now away at sea, and his wife prays that he may be the means of leading the others in the ship to Jesus. We visited another house, where the husband, wife, and an old father of about 80 years of age had all newly found peace. Oh, if I could only describe to you the joy and peace that beamed in each countenance as they spoke to us: The old man was standing at the fire listening to the others. I went forward to him and asked him how he felt, when the woman said, has found peace about a week ago.' I said---Only a week ago! Oh, you ought to praise God a thousand times more than the others, for you have been, like the thief on the cross, saved at the eleventh hour.' He did not answer, but the tears streamed down his furrowed cheeks. There was also a little girl, about eleven years of age, in the same family, listening with deep attention. The tears were ice in her eyes. I said, ' Are you anxious too? 'She answered, ‘Yes.' I told her to seek Jesus, and she would be sure to find Him. Another most remarkable instance in the same village is that of a whole family being brought to Jesus about the same time. Two servants of that family went to two different prayer-meetings, in the same village, at the same hour, and both were stricken down. The daughter, about 17 years of age, became also alarmed about her soul, and then the work went on in that family until master, mistress, daughter, and servants, all have found peace and have been instrumental in leading a great number to the Saviour. I mentioned the minister before who had been among that people for many years and saw no fruit of his labours among them. When the Spirit began to be poured out, he had so much mental anxiety, bodily fatigue, and excitement that he sunk under the weight. His mind became seriously affected, and he had to be removed from the place, but he is now getting better.—Scottish Guardian

THE following succinct and illustrative narrative of the work at Ferryden (which, our readers will remember, is a small fishing village near Montrose, with about 1200 inhabitants), is extracted from An Account of the Work of God at Ferryden. By Rev. W. Nixon, of Montrose. Published by Messrs. Nisbet and Co.

If one thing has been more remarkably characteristic of the work than another, it has been the little man that has had to do with it. The hand of man has scarcely been seen in it. The Lord has signally taken and kept the work in his own hands. And the folly of attempting to confine the Spirit of God to this or that man, or to any half-dozen men, has been emphatically rebuked, in this instance, by the sovereign way in which the Lord has done his great and gracious work, without much direct and ascertainable use of any specially extolled, or any other human instrumentality whatsoever. There were two remarkable weeks in the history of this work of the Lord at Ferryden—the first from Monday, 7th, to Saturday, 12th of last November; the second from Saturday, 12th, to Sabbath, 20th November. The first of these weeks was one of deep, wide-spread conviction of sin and misery, during which they were, in their restlessness, constantly going into each other's houses, speaking of their burdened and intolerable state, declaring that they could not live if they did. not get Christ, and salvation in Him; and, by all this incessant intercourse and outspokenness, exciting a deeper sense of sin and misery in each other's hearts, till, towards the end of that first week, they reached such a state of general excitement, as to be ready, on the first occasion of any gathering, for an unrestrainable outbreak. Such an outbreak accordingly took place in the church on Saturday evening, without anything to excite it in what was being said by the excellent and earnest layman from the north, who was then addressing them. And then, on the Sabbath, and at some subsequent meetings, this effervescence of their wrought-up feelings' gradually spent itself. These and some other outward and physical manifestations were, however, mere accidents of the work, manifestations of it. The Lord was graciously pleased to deliver and preserve the susceptible 'people, to a great extent, from confounding these accessories with the substance of the work, and to direct their minds to the trite nature of that great, salvation which they needed, and were led to seek for in the Lord Jesus Christ. And therefore, 'though, in the crisis of their overwhelming excitement, some were shaken, and even prostrated, yet, in the great majority of cases, there was happily little or nothing at all of this bodily prostration in those who passed from death to life. The week beginning with Saturday the 12th, and onward to Sabbath the 20th November, was a week of deliverance, as the other had been one of conviction woman, who had been at no meetings, and, as she said, sought and found the Lord in her own house, was to appearance savingly converted shortly after midnight, on Saturday morning, the 12th. The report of her having got, as it were, the start of the burdened sinners around her, brought them in crowds to her house, during the Saturday, from an early hour, and caused them to feel greatly increased distress, as they gazed on her emancipated state, and contrasted it with their own continued and terrible bondage. She was thus the most powerful of all the sermons they heard. It has been stated. that from Monday to Saturday, November 7-12, were days of extraordinary anxiety and alarm, and soul-heaviness under the felt burden of sin.

From Volume ii of The Revival Newspaper p138/9

More than twelve months ago, as your readers will remember, the Spirit of the Lord was working mightily in this fishing village. In one week many souls were awakened and found joy and peace in believing in the Lord Jesus Christ. In many instances whole families were turned to the Lord. The saved members of a family gave the unsaved ones no rest, daily and hourly were they preaching Jesus to them, dragging them, as it were, out of the fire (Jude 23).

We remember well one instance; the mother and daughter and then the father, were brought successively to rejoice in the Lord as their own Saviour, and one daughter alone remained unmoved, determined to resist the power which was bringing down so many souls all around. She saw her sister stricken down repeatedly, but she stood by her and scoffed. No words of warning or entreaty seemed to touch her hardened heart. At last her father said, "Betsy, if you go on as you're doing I must turn you out of the house." She took his words to heart, and the same evening, sitting by the fire, she said to her sister, "Does my father really mean he will turn me out?" She was evidently beginning to see how odious her conduct must be to those in whom she could not help seeing now the Spirit of Christ. Her sister spoke to her about her danger if she con­tinued in her present state, and besought her to come to Jesus.' She read and prayed with her, and was glad to see some anxiety now manifested about her soul's salvation. Both retired to rest, but in a little while Jane was startled by a piercing cry, and getting up she found her once-careless, scoff­ing sister, prostrated by the power of that Spirit she had so obdurately resisted. In agony of soul she now remembered the words of the minister then labouring among them, the Rev. Mr Wilson of Fountainhridge, and how he had besought her to put up this prayer, " Lord, show me myself." With all her heart she used these words, and in answer to her prayer the Lord showed her hell. She saw the flames bursting upwards close beside her, In terrible distress and alarm she prayed, "Lord show me Thyself," and immediately she was turned around and shown the cross, and Him who died upon it. She saw the blood streaming from his wounded side, and so near was she to the foot of the cross, that she washed her hands in the blood so freely flowing. When consciousness returned, towards morning, she rose up in the joyful confidence that that peace was hers which He had made through the blood of his cross. And ever since that memorable night she has gone on her way rejoicing, in her own humble sphere, serving Him who has loved her and washed her from her sins in his own blood.

From Volume iv of The Revival Newspaper p68

Among the many changes induced by the revival, it was said that no swear word had been heard in the village for months and one notorious blasphemer said he couldn't swear now even if he tried. Where previously there had been much emnity between neighbours, everyone now eagerly sought reconciliation. Children were also treated far more reasonably, affectionately, quietly, christianly and they are not like the same creatures. Theft, so prevalent before, was now non-existent. Even on the boats, men dis entangling lines used to help themselves to fish from the lines of their neighbours. All this is ceased and they are become rather ready to give what is their own than to take what belongs to others. The poor used to loudly proclaim their wants; now they submitted cheerfully to the Lords will. One house which furnished a meeting place for low and depraving amusements, was now utterly abandoned. Such had been the solemnity among the people for months that every day was now a Sabbath day; they showed little concern for anything compared with the things that belonged to their peace and one felt that the intrusion of ordinary conversation would be offensive trifling.

From a booklet by William Nixon, quoted in Scotland Ablaze, by Tom Lennie, page 213.


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