James and George Macdonald - Port Glasgow (1830)

In Port Glasgow there were five Macdonald siblings living together. The Macdonald brothers came to Jesus in 1828 and they started prayer meetings for the state of the Church and the world that were held two or three times a week.  Their local minister spoke against them but they continued praying for revival. Having heard Scott preach they were praying for and expecting the restoration of Spiritual Gifts.

One of the three sisters, Margaret, 'for several days had been so unusually ill, that I quite thought her dying, and, on appealing to the doctor, he held out no hope of her recovery, unless she were able to go through a course of powerful medicine, which he acknowledged to be, in her then case, impossible. Mrs -- and myself had been sitting quietly at the bedside when the power of the Spirit came upon her. She said, "There will be a mighty baptism of the Spirit this day" and then broke forth in a most marvellous setting forth of the wonderful works of God; and, as if her own weakness had been altogether lost in the strength of the Holy Ghost, continued, with little or no intermission, for two or three hours in mingled praise, prayer, and exhortation. " At dinner-time, James and George (brothers) came home, as usual, whom she then addressed at great length, concluding with a solemn prayer for James, that he might at that time be endowed with the power of the Holy Ghost. Almost instantly James calmly said, "I have got it." He walked to the window and stood silent for a minute or two. I looked at him, and almost trembled, there was such a change upon his whole countenance. He then, with a step and manner of the most indescribable majesty, walked up to Margaret's bed-side, and addressed her in those words of the twentieth Psalm, "Arise, and stand upright." He repeated the words, took her by the hand, and she arose when we all quietly sat down and had our dinner. After it, my brothers went to the building-yard, as usual, where James wrote over to Miss Campbell, commanding her in the name of the Lord to arise. The next morning, after breakfast, James said, "I am going down to the quay, to see if Miss Campbell is come across the water" at which we expressed our surprise, as he had said nothing to us of having written to her.'

'On Wednesday I (Mary Campbell) did not feel quite so languid but was suffering some pain from breathing and palpitation of my heart. Two individuals who saw me about four hours before my recovery said that I would never be strong — that I was not to expect a miracle to be wrought upon me. It was not long after until I received dear brother James McDonald's letter, giving - an account of his sister being raised up, and commanding me to rise and walk. I had scarcely read the first page when I became quite overpowered and laid it aside for a few minutes, but I had no rest in my mind until I took it up again and began to read. As I read, every word came home with power, and when I came to the command to arise, it came home with a power which no words can describe; it was felt to be indeed the voice of Christ; it was such a voice as could not be resisted. A mighty power was instantaneously exerted upon me: I felt as if I had been lifted from off the earth, and all my diseases were taken from off me at the voice of Christ. I was verily made in a moment to stand upon my feet, leap and walk, sing and rejoice." 

One of the Macdonald sisters wrote a letter on 18th May 1830. 'What wonderful things have taken place among us since I last wrote... I have thought of writing to you every day for some time, but since --- was raised and the gift of tongues given the house has been filled every day from all parts of England, Scotland and Ireland; some of them are people enquiring what must they do to be saved, but the greater part are Christians come to glorify God by witnessing what great things God is doing amongst us, and there are a few who have come to dispute and deny the gifts... One night at a prayer-meeting two persons were brought to know the Lord and are going on making progress in the life of God. Last Wednesday the gift of tongues was given to Miss--- and on Friday to our servant.'

('Memoirs of James and George Macdonald of Port Glasgow' by Robert Norton)

Meanwhile, the annual conferences were continuing at Albury and the news of the revival going on in Scotland came to the group which seemed to possibly an answer to their prayers as they heard that speaking in tongues, healing and prophecy were being experienced there. At the final conference in July they decided to send six people to check it out to see if it was indeed a work of God. 

One of their number, John Cardale, wrote in November 1830 in a Journal owned by the Albury Circle, a first-hand account of the meetings while visiting the Macdonalds.'

'Dear sir,—You have requested me to state some particulars of what passed under the observation of my five fellow-travellers and myself during our recent stay at Port-Glasgow. I do not hesitate to comply; earnestly praying that the mere relations of facts may be made instrumental to the reception and understanding of the scriptural doctrine of the Holy Spirit, both in his power and in his love (for the Spirit is One), without which the manifestations, which we witnessed, of his gifts, will be but as an idle tale.

We spent three weeks, arriving in the latter end of August, in Port Glasgow and the neighbourhood, and attended regularly while there at the meetings; which meetings were held every evening, and occasionally in the morning. The history of one of these meetings is the history of all: I may probably as well relate what took place at the first which we attended. The mode of proceeding is for each person who takes a part first to read a Psalm in metre, which is sung by the meeting; then a chapter from the Bible and he then prays. On this occasion, after two other gentlemen, James Macdonald read and prayed. His prayer was most remarkable. The sympathizing with the mind of our Saviour; interceding for a world which tramples on his blood and rejects his mercy, and for the church which grieves the Holy Ghost; the humiliation for sin, and the aspirations after holiness, were totally different from anything I had ever before heard. He then, in the course of prayer, and while engaged in intercession for others, began speaking in an unknown tongue; and after speaking for some time he sung, or rather chaunted, in the same tongue. He then rose, and we all rose with him; and, in a very loud voice and with great solemnity, he addressed us in the same tongue for a considerable time: he then, with the same loudness of voice and manner, addressed us in English, calling on us to prepare for trial, for we had great trials to go through for the testimony of Jesus; to crucify the flesh; to lay aside every weight; to put far from us our fleshly wisdom, power, and strength; and to stay us in our God. After he had concluded, a short pause ensued when suddenly the woman-servant of the Macdonald's arose and spoke (for a space of, probably, ten minutes) in an unknown tongue, and then in English: the latter was entirely from Scripture, consisting of passages from different parts, and connected together in the most remarkable manner. The meeting concluded with a psalm, a chapter, and prayer from another gentleman. Immediately on conclusion, Mrs. ——, one of the ladies who had received the Spirit, but had not received the gift of tongues (she received the gift while we were in the country) arose, went out of the room and began speaking in a loud voice of the coming judgments. After she had spoken about five minutes, Mr Macdonald commenced also speaking, and Mrs. —— instantly ceased speaking. It is impossible to describe the solemnity and grandeur, both of words and manner, in which she gave testimony to the judgments coming on the earth; but also directed the church to the coming of the Lord as her hope of deliverance. When she had concluded, we left the house.

Although unnecessary to give you a detailed account of suc­ceeding meetings, I will, with your permission, add a few re­marks, in the course of which I shall be enabled to mention various occurrences of which we were witnesses.

The prayer-meetings are strictly private meetings and for prayer. The rules they lay down for themselves do not allow of exposition, but simply the perusal of Scripture. During our stay, four individuals received the gift of tongues; of these, two, Mrs. —— and Mr Macdonald, had repeatedly spoken in the Spirit previously to their receiving the gift of tongues.

The tongues spoken by all the several persons, in number nine, who had received the gift, are perfectly distinct in them­selves and from each other. James Macdonald speaks two tongues, both easily discernible from each other. I easily perceived when he was speaking in the one, and when in the other tongue. James Macdonald exercises his gift more frequently than any of the others; and I have heard him speak for twenty minutes together, with all the energy of voice and action of an orator addressing an audience. The language which he then, and indeed generally, uttered, is very full and harmonious, containing many Greek and Latin radicals, and with inflections also much resembling those of the Greek language. I also frequently noticed that he employed the same radical with different inflections; but I do not remember to have noticed his employing two words together, both of which, as to root and inflection, I could pronounce to belong to any language with which I am acquainted. George Macdonald's tongue is harsher in its syllables, but more grand in general ex­pression. The only time I ever had a serious doubt whether the unknown sounds which I heard on these occasions were parts of a language, was when the Macdonald's servant spoke during the first evening. When she spoke on subsequent occasions, it was invariably in one tongue, which was not only perfectly dis­tinct from the sounds she uttered at the first meeting but was satisfactorily established, to my conviction, to be a language.'

(these last five paragraphs are from, 'The Morning Watch Journal, volume 2, pages 869-71)

I am not sure how long the revival lasts; somewhere it mentioned three years, but I have not seen any confirmation. By all accounts, the Macdonalds were a very godly family; bo one had a bad word to say about them. Sadly, both brothers died in 1835 from tuberculosis. Margaret died the following year aged 25.


Additional Information

I do not know where they lived in Port Glasgow.