Findochty (1871)

The fruit which this work of grace bore in 1871 is thus described by William Smith—I copy the following account from notes taken by him at the time.

"This year, 1871, begins with a descent of the Holy Ghost upon the people of Findochty. The first was a stirring amongst God's people. In a very little next was a desire with the ungodly for the means of grace. many became anxious and by-and-bye got savingly converted to God. The Spirit wrought mightily, and many souls were saved. Night after night, the meetings were crowded; addresses were delivered, and prayers offered from many a heart that every soul in the village might receive the blessing.

"The work got on favourably. After the meetings were dismissed from the church, the anxious met in private houses, and persons interested met with them and gave them suitable directions, which they received, and, by the power of the Holy Ghost, were enabled to lay hold by a simple faith on Jesus as their Saviour. Indeed, it was a special time of God's power, every day sounded forth its new song of praise to the God of love for souls saved. This blessed state of things continued until young and old professed to find peace through a Saviour that was willing and able to save them. There were many striking and wonderful manifestations connected with this blessed work of grace; but, thanks be to God, it all bore His own finger-marks, and the fruits were peace, love, joy.

"One thing especially that took all considerate Christians by surprise was the dance. It was never for once dreamed of, and at first seemed to many very unseemly. But a prayerful consideration of the source whence it sprung, and the spirit in which it was performed, and the fruits which followed and was manifested by those under the power, at once excluded all doubts regarding its propriety as an act of worship acceptable in the sight of God.

"Its first appearance was among the children, and then among persons more advanced in life, and perhaps stranger still, many advanced in the Christian life also came under its power, and in many cases irresistible power. And the persons thus engaged showed symptoms of the greatest joy— and truly their very appearance bespoke them to be under a high divine impulse. This state of things still continues, but not to the same extent. The power of God is still with the people, and some are visiting the place every night from other places, and generally the Lord blesses them, and they go home rejoicing with joy unspeakable and full of glory.

"An impression came that they must visit the neighbouring villages. Accordingly arrangements were made for an organized demonstration. They got dressed for the occasion, and started with banners waving, all of them bearing suitable inscriptions. The day was fine-the weather being mild for the season —and the long train marched on to the westward, each with uplifted heart shouting forth with all their might the praises of that loving Saviour who had so filled, and blessed their souls with His love. I think I shall never forget that day from an incident closely connected to myself personally - my own child coming to a saving acquaintance of the truth as it is in Jesus; that, and circumstances connected therewith, made an impression on my mind that eternity will not efface.

"When the procession reached Portessie they formed into a circle at the east end, and at the request of the brethren stayed in that position for some time until they got ready to join our ranks. This being done, we again got marching orders, and away to Buckie we went, our people in the front, and the Portessic people in the rear, with our banners raised and singing as we went along. We soon came to Buckie, halting for a short time while some bread was distributed to the young people and others also; Mr Mitchell bearing all the expense of this entertainment.

"After this we went on through part of Buckie; onlookers were very much affected, and we learned afterwards that a most powerful effect was produced. After sometime we turned our course homewards, the people all the time praising the Lord; and, as they did so, the power of God upon them waxed stronger and stronger amongst them. Many were overcome by the mighty power of God, and began to exhibit such manifestations as we had never before seen. Men and women were to be seen in numbers, from one end of the village to the other, who, to a stranger, would have appeared to be under the influence of drink. All appeared to be moved by one great but common impulse, and with a quick pace their long irregular train moved on, multitudes now having joined them without any preparation, dressed just as for household work - and thus they marched along singing out of an overflowing heart the praises of God.

"As soon as they reached Portessie, the people of God in that place caught the flame and came under the same power. Onwards to Buckie they went, and every one, male and female, preached the gospel; both warned the sinner, and invited them to Jesus.

"I will now state what effect the demonstration had on Portessie. Previous to this an idea had been circulated by some persons, that all that they had experienced in conversion went for nothing, unless they came to be baptized by immersion. The minds of the people had been so disturbed by this, that all their early joy was gone, and marks instead, of mental anguish appeared on many a countenance. As soon as the great train of rejoicing believers entered their village, the same mighty influence quick as lightning, spread, throughout the whole place, and many cried as they joined our ranks: 'No more water for me! nothing but the blood of Jesus! nothing but the blood of Jesus!' We believe this movement was wholly of the Lord, because the people of Findochty knew nothing whatever of the state of mind in Portessie, and it was begun by an instantaneous impulse, which could not be restrained but by physical interference, and they were blind to the purpose for which they were led there.

"A short time after, the people of Portessie under a similar impulse, came along to Findochty. The people turned out in great numbers and went to meet them. When they did meet they embraced each other in the most loving manner, and without any stop, the multitude set their faces toward Portknockie; and very soon they arrived there, preaching the gospel to every creature they could get at, without doors or within, And such was the powerful effect of these simple means, wielded, I believe, by the Holy Spirit, that the whole of the people were awakened, and for several days there were great convictions of sin, and many seeking the way of salvation — and praise God, many found it, and like the lame man who was healed, leaped for very joy, and almost all who spoke their experience at that time, testified to the power that accompanied the demonstration, generally, in these words 'Praise the Lord for the company that came over the hill the other day, for He has saved my soul and filled me with His love. Glory! Halleluiah to God and the Lamb!'

"In a very short time these people were to be seen in great numbers passing through the villages, singing, shouting, and dancing; telling all with whom they came in contact of the love of God, and how happy they were, that it seemed as if all things around them were changed —as if old things had pased avay, and all things had become new —and certainly new and striking incidents were occurring every day. The departure of the boats, on going to sea, was very grand. All the people gathered out from every part of the village, singing and dancing, and waving their hands to the men in the boats. While the crews themselves, as soon as the boats were under weigh, joined in, every man, with the people along the shore, and continued until distance hid them from our view. It was the same at their return, young and old turned out and gave them a hearty welcome."

"James Turner, or How to reach the Masses." by E McHardie, pages 136-39.

"But, dear brother, I must tell you something about the Lord's work in this locality; but how to do it I know not. It is very difficult to find words to describe it, for the same features or manifestations of revival work were never known here before. It seems to me as if a cloud of glory were hanging down, hovering over the whole village- the whole of it I may say is blessed. Oh, my brother, there are new manifestations of God's love and power, yes, every day we have to gaze upon them with wonder and solemn awe.

"Since you were here the work has assumed another aspect. Nothing is attended to but praise to God, which never ceases night nor day. I can see groups of men, women, and children, through every part of the village, dancing before the Lord for whole days. Perhaps you will think this is going a little too far. But Oh, dear brother, if you were here you would say at once—"I never thought there could be so much love on earth!' O, hundreds have the blessing of perfect love! I have seen strong powerful men, of great experience, laid powerless with the love of God-yes, I have seen it today! Glory! glory! be to our God and the Lord forever and ever! JS has been filled these three days, and marvellous to relate her deafness is all gone. And many other cases, which have been confined to their beds for a considerable time can now be seen on the streets, every day and at any hour, dancing before the Lord and shouting His glorious praise with all their might, from a heart filled ready to burst with the love of God.

"James Turner, or How to reach the Masses." by E McHardie, pages 140

This testimony shows that the Presence of God was probably in the town for years.

About 1864, I visited Findochty along with another brother for the purpose of seeing how the Christian fishermen got on, for we were told by two sisters who had visited shortly before, that this village was overshadowed with the Holy Ghost, and we found it so in very deed. We had never seen anything like the power that was here manifested in prayer, and that by illiterate - but pious fishermen. It had a most humbling effect on me. The people were gathered together to hear us speak for the Master, but speak I could not. My brother spoke and spoke well, and the people were blessed under him, but I could do nothing, I was nothing. I saw myself with all my education and talents as nothing, and less than nothing; and could, and did, sit at their feet, and learn from them of Jesus.

After my first conversion, if I was converted, I had a prayer, a very pretty prayer, not learned from a book, but well studied and put together by myself; this prayer I could suit for births, marriages, or deaths if need be, just as it was required. This prayer was often favourably commented upon by other people, but what was it? It was but the prayer of self-conceit parroted off in order to please man more than to make any requests known unto God. Well, what I want to say is, that this prayer God robbed me of that night in Findochty, and from that day to this I never could repeat it.

The power of God so came down on me in answer to these dear men and women in prayer, that I was confounded and ashamed, thus I was humbled and blessed through the instrumentality of these fishermen and women, all of whom professed to have been brought to a knowledge of the truth through the instrumentality of the late James Turner. 

Well may I revere the memory of that man of God though I never saw him; for did not the reading from the Banffshire Journal of his mighty work (though not intended) smite my conscience and convince me mightily of my awful position; and now was I not robbed of my hypocritical prayer, humbled and made willing to be nothing for the dear Lord, who did so much for me, through the instrumentality of his children in the faith?



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