During the past few weeks, the village of Hopeman has been the scene of remarkable religious excitement.
Some time ago, district prayer-meetings, on week-nights, had been established in private houses in the village, under the superintendence of office-bearers of the Free Church. Nothing particular occurred at any of these meetings up till the evening of Monday (1st inst.). On that night, at the conclusion of the ordinary services, in the house of Mr Sclater, a fish curer, a hymn was sung; and immediately thereafter, those present, or the greater part of them, felt their minds seriously impressed. Instead of separating as usual, one after another engaged in praise and prayer; and this was kept up without intermission till three o'clock next morning. From this time the excitement increased and began rapidly to diffuse itself over the village. Similar meetings were held during almost the whole of the next day, and continued during the night, and up till an early hour on the following morning, in Mr Sclater's house. Meetings were also held in other houses; and the services were continued night and day--the houses being crowded, and the people earnest and attentive, and evidently labouring under excitement and anxiety. At these meetings several persons were struck down, and the cries for mercy were loud and frequent. Matters went on in this way up till Friday afternoon. Work was almost suspended, the excitement had spread itself pretty well over the whole village, and the houses where the meetings were held could no longer contain the numbers who pressed in to attend upon and take part in the services.
On Friday afternoon, admission was got to the Free Church school-room, which was no sooner opened than it was crammed in every part, and a great many were unable to gain admission. A deep earnestness seemed to pervade the minds of those present. In the course of this evening the excitement became intense, and occasionally all sense of propriety was likely to be lost sight of in the intensity of feeling which prevailed. While sighs and groans were rising from many in the school-room, a boy (said to be about ten years of age) voluntarily stood up and prayed with great fluence and intense earnestness—confessing his own sins, beseeching an outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and pleading for a number of his relatives. An eye-witness says the impression made by this prayer was thrilling, and the greater part of the audience were manifestly much affected. The proceedings during the subsequent part of the evening were solemnly impressive; cries for mercy rose from almost every part of the school-room; a number fell down, and lay in a state of entire prostration, and had to be removed by their friends. All or nearly all present, seemed to be impressed with a sense of their sin, and a deep wail filled the building. It is impossible to convey to the reader a correct idea of the state of matters throughout this evening; cries for mercy, exhortations to come to the Saviour, prayers for the Spirit, confessions of sin, people falling down in a state of entire prostration; and in some cases exclamations of joy at having found Christ. Hymns were sung at intervals on this as on other occasions, and during the singing all was perfect quiet; but as soon as the singing closed, the excitement was renewed. This was continued throughout the night and during the greater part of Saturday. At six o'clock the people assembled in the Free Church, which was filled in every part. Deep earnestness characterised the whole assembly, and for a time the exercises of prayer and praise alternately were conducted with comparative quiet. By and by the excitement increased—the great body of the people were more or less affected—there was a good deal of external agitation—cries and sobs again resounded through the building --some were giving expression to feelings of joy, others to cries for mercy—while not a few were engaged in earnest and appropriate prayer. This meeting, continued till between three and four o'clock- on Sabbath morning;—the impression seemed all but universal, and many spent the whole night in prayer.
On Sabbath, the church was again crowded. A great earnestness pervaded the audience, but there was no external excitement during the services. No sooner were these concluded, however, than one man in the gallery gave vent to his pent-up feelings in cries and in prayer. This was like an electric shock. The feeling passed from pew to pew; many engaged in prayer, and there was extraordinary excitement. This continued until the pastor returned to commence his afternoon or rather evening services. Again, during the regular service, all was calm and quiet, except in one or two instances in which females gave vent to their feelings by crying out. The greater part of the people continued in church and in similar exercises as we have already described at the previous meetings, till four o'clock on Monday morning.
On Monday, public exercises were again begun in the church at noon. At seven the church was again filled to overflowing. The audience in the church separated soon after ten o'clock; those in the school-room continued till two o'clock next morning in the exercises of praise and prayer. In the school¬room there was a good deal of crying out, many were com¬pletely prostrated, and all appeared seriously impressed. On Tuesday the meetings were continued in the same way. A correspondent writes—"The meetings continue to be as numerously attended as ever, and the people have their own meetings night and day." Another correspondent says¬" There is scarcely a house in the whole village where some are not anxious about their souls. The character of the movement, though not now so exciting, is deepening and widening." Like services were continued on Wednesday; and when not engaged in the public service in the church, the ministers visited the people in their houses, and found a very large number of young and old, but especially the young, under deep and serious impressions, and some in great agony of spirit. The church was as well attended on Wednesday as on the previous days. At the evening meeting there was a good deal of crying out for mercy, and many were entirely prostrated during the services. So intensely earnest were the people, that no effort could persuade them to go home till about three o'clock in the morning. It is proper to state, that so far as we can learn, no attempts were made to "get up" this movement—Elgin Courier.
From 'The Revival Newspaper' Volume ii, p106-8