Gartly (1874)

At the Free Synod of Moray last week most interesting reports of God's work were given in from many places. Among other ministers, Mr Mackintosh of Gartly addressed the meeting referring more particularly to the religious movement in Gartly. The parish of Gartly lay about fourteen miles along a narrow glen, between two ranges of hills. Going out of the hills at one end were two openings, the one to Kinnethmont and the other to Huntly and owing to this the work had been entirely confined to his own parish, which had a population of some 970 people. The work appeared in Marnoch, then at Drumblade, then at Rothiemay, then at Cornhill; the interest deepening all along. They had had special prayer on the week before the 5th April and their special meetings began at Gartly Station on the evening of the 5th April, when about 800 people were present. The next evening about 100 attended the meeting in the church, which was a large number, seeing that no people were nearer the chapel than a mile's distance. More than a third of this meeting remained as anxious inquirers. Up til Monday evening the total number that had remained as anxious inquirers was 250, which was about a third part of the population of the parish if they counted off those individuals who could not attend each meeting. Of these 250, 180 had made a profession. It was often, in regard to such a movement, thrown in the teeth of God's people that it was merely women and children that were impressed. He would perhaps be allowed to state, from facts which could not be denied, that the opposite was the case in his parish, where the majority of those who had professed were young mon. At the meetings, the proportion had been about seven men to one woman. There was not a single farm for six miles along in which there were not some who had professed. Families had been largely brought in. There were just seven farms in the whole parish of fourteen miles along in which there were not some who had professed. He had known in some instances of a man coming, after a hard day's labour, some four or six miles to the meeting. He bore testimony also to the quietness of the work, which he could not explain otherwise than by saying that it was God's work; and, with the distinguished Dr Nettleton of America, he would say that if they had not an evidence of God's work in revival meetings, then they had not an evidence of His work on the face of the earth.

"Times of Blessing," April 30th, 1874.

IN compliance with your request to furnish an account of the work of the Lord in this district, I cannot at present, because of the many calls to engage in it, do more than to give you a brief outline of the work in Gartly in order to show its depth and then trace briefly its course in the neighbouring parishes, in order to give some idea of its breadth. Our parish is a long narrow valley lying between two ranges of heath-clad hills. The whole population of the parish, which is about fourteen miles long, is only a little over 900; and as it is so much shut in by the hills, the work was almost exclusively confined to these.
Humanly speaking, all things were ready for a work of grace among us. By the blessing of the Lord upon the labours of a succession of able and devoted men of God. A deep religious spirit had for long dwelt among these quiet glens. Besides, about eighteen months ago, there was a real and deep but quiet work among us, which every week for three or four months brought inquirers to the manse, and which added about thirty members to the church, and latterly the reports of the Lord's doings in other places had awakened a spirit of prayer and expectation among believers, and a desire to hear the word among the people generally. Thus all things were ready, and nothing needed but the breath from heaven to fan the embers into a glorious flame. At length the Lord graciously sent us that, but only in connection with the use of means. These means were evangelistic meetings. Our special meetings began on Sabbath the 5th April, at Gartly Station, where 300 to 400 people assembled in and around a large granary. That night twelve remained to inquire the way to salvation. Our next meeting was on Monday at the church, where a third of the whole meeting remained as inquirers.

The First Fortnight.

The way in which they remained was remarkable. After the first meeting, all left the church except three or four. Having spoken to them for about fifteen minutes, we looked round and saw the door open, and a number of anxious faces looking in. Thinking that they were perhaps more curious than anxious, I went hurriedly to the door, and in an abrupt, stern tone said, "If you wish to come in, you had better do it at once, if not, I am to shut the door." Scarcely were the words spoken, when about thirty of them, mostly young people from twelve to twenty-five years poured into the church, and such a scene of weeping followed as I have seldom or never witnessed - it was indeed a Bochim. The work was now begun in earnest. The tidings quickly spread. Next night the meeting was much larger, and a number of new cases of anxiety. On Wednesday, seven girls from the female school nearby took advantage of the short interval between school hours to come to the manse to get a word about their souls, and to request that thanks be given to God, in the meeting of that evening, for having given them Christ as their own Saviour. On Thursday evening, the Rev. Mr M Phail of Elgin, who was used to give the work a great impulse, arrived, and remained with us over the Sabbath; meetings being held every night. There were new inquirers each night, and by Sabbath the 12th upwards of a hundred had professed to accept of Christ. At the close of the fortnight of advertised meetings we saw that we were shut up to continue them, for the work was just at its height; and instead of two weeks, as at first intended, we had to carry them on for about two months. After the first week, in order to carry the work into all parts of the widely-scattered parish, we held the meetings, except on the Sabbaths, mostly in the districts, in barns and granaries; and in these, with audiences varying from 80 to 150, we had some of our most precious and productive meetings.

Professed Converts Meeting

Every night for five weeks we had new cases of inquirers, besides many continued ones; and at the end of that period we held a meeting specially for those who professed to have got blessing. And although the hour was late, and therefore a goodly number from a distance could not be present and although we had another meeting in another part of the parish at an earlier hour that evening and therefore few from that could come, yet there were upwards of 200 present, almost all of whom proffessed to have been brought to Christ at that time. In all, upwards of 300, that is more than a third of all in the parish that could attend such meetings--remained of their own accord as inquirers, and many of them night after night in the deepest anxiety. How many of these will bring, forth fruit unto eternal life, and how many more unknown to man may have been impressed and saved during this blessed time, the Lord alone knows and the day alone can declare. But that the Lord hath done great things for us is manifest to all. Believers have got a blessed revival. In many cases the most careless and wayward have been made serious and penitent; the callous and indifferent have been led to take a deep and lively interest in spiritual things, those that had only a name to live have been quickened into a new life and those who were practically non-churchgoers have become regular and interested hearers of the word; and in not a few cases profane swearing has been replaced by singing of the Psalms of David and the songs of Zion. 

Practical Effects

Parents have spoken to us of the marked change in the tempers and habits and tastes of their children; masters of the striking difference in the characters and conduct of their servants, and Sabbath school teachers of the remarkable increase in the interest and intelligence of their scholars; and we now find it much easier and more satisfactory than before to deal with people personally about their souls, at their homes, in the fields and on the highways. The work has extended to all classes of the people and has embraced more or less all ages and sexes, but mainly the young, and especially young men. And nothing convinced us more of the reality and depth of this work, than to see farm servants, whom it was almost impossible to interest generally in divine things before, coming in crowds night after night, and week after week, to the meetings, many of them from the distance of four, and some men six and seven miles, after a hard day's work; and to know of children, who in general thought little about spiritual things previoulsy, pleading with their school companions to come to the meetings and to accept of Christ, and in return for much abuse and mockery, only putting in requests that their persecutors might be converted and made happy in Jesus, and to observe the young men, who generally before could with difficulty be spoken to about their own souls, bringing other young men to the meetings, and going out with them after the first meeting, and then bringing them in when impressed to the after-meeting to be shown the way of salvation. My Bible class, which here, as in other places, has shared very largely in the blessing, and which before the work began numbered 90, speedily increased, till by the term it numbered 120; and the marked increase of interest and intelligence amongst the scholars plainly shows how great has been the blessing. But perhaps the best proof of the genuineness of the work was afforded on the evening of the Huntly feeing market, where many were want to go to great excesses. On that evening the meeting, which was held in a small corner of the parish far up among the hills was as crowded as usual with about 80 to 100 people and mostly young men and young women, who had left the market several hours sooner than usual in order to be present at the meeting. 

These, then, are a few of the facts connected with the work of grace in this parish, as a specimen of what the Lord is doing in many parishes of this district, to show the depth of the work. I do not say it is equally great in all. I believe we have got our full share of the blessing, though in several parishes it was similar. And these facts should serve to prove that great though the work of God has been in our cities and large towns, it has been much greater in proportion in many rural parishes. And since in these the work has been carried on almost entirely by the ordinary evangelistic ministers, and by the ordinary evangelistic means, it shows perhaps more conclusively than anything of the whole work of grace at present in our land, 

'This is the doing of the Lord,
And wondrous in our eyes.'

Course of the Movement.

We can now only trace its course in the neighbouring parishes, in order to give some idea of its breadth. Commencing at Portsoy (where a good work is at present being done), on the Moray Frith, not far from the mouth of the Deveron, and moving inland nearly along its course, there is, contiguous to Portsoy, Cornhill; to Cornhill, Marnoch; to Marnoch, Rothiemay. Following, then, the course of the Bogie upwards from its entrance into the Deveron, contiguous to Rothiemay, there is Drumblade; to Drumblade, Gartly; to Drumblade and Gartly eastward, Culsalmond; near the source of the Ury to Gartly southward (following the course of the Bogie), Kinnethmont; to Kinnethmont, Premnay; to Premnay, Oyne; to Oyne, Garioch; to Garioch, Old Meldrum and Inverurie. And now we are on the banks of the Don, sixteen miles from Aberdeen. And thus in
thirteen contiguous parishes, which, following the course indicated above, extend at least fifty miles in length by many in breadth along the banks of these rivers, the God of our salvation has been graciously sending streams of blessing from that river of life the streams whereof make glad the city of our God. 

26th June, 1874.

"Times of Blessing," July 9th, 1874.


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