Kildalton - Islay (1860)

At the Religious Institution Rooms, yesterday, Sept, 1, Mr Whitefield read a brief extract of a letter to the Daily Prayer Meeting Committee, from the Rev. Mr M'Neill, Campbelton, who had been at Islay. It stated that some time ago Islay was prayed for over and over again in this hall. At that time the island seemed as dead as deadness could make it; but the effi­cacy of prayer, though not immediately-answered, might be seen in the news now received from that island. Mr M'Neill wrote that the whole island, which contains a population of 12,000 or 14,000, was moved to a greater or less extent. Hun­dreds and thousands assembled to hear the Word of God preached. Hundreds had been crying for mercy in all parts of the island, and it was hoped that very many had become new creatures.

At the request of the Chairman, the Rev. Mr Macnab, of Renfield Free Church, who was observed to be present, was requested to communicate what he knew about the movement in Islay. Mr Macnab said—Being a native of that country, I have some information regarding it. The state of Islay about a fortnight ago was by no means satisfactory; it was very much what the gentleman who has just sat down described it to be. I have good reasons to believe that, prior to that time, out of a population of about 14,000, there were not more than 1000 who could be called regular hearers of the gospel. The first appear­ance of the movement was on the 23rd of August when Mr M'Neill was preaching at Bowmore. He happened to quote a remark from one of the sermons of Whitfield, and immediately a woman in the congregation cried out. This was followed immediately by similar experiences in the case of others. On the following Tuesday, at the prayer-meeting in Mr Pearson's church, there was a similar awakening; and on the same even­ing at Kildalton, twenty miles off, and when Mr M`Kenzie (the minister) had spoken only one sentence of prayer, there was the like occurrence. A few days later in Mr Cameron's church at Kilchoman, there was a similar awakening; and I was told on Saturday that in this church of Kilchoman, where recently the congregation did not amount to more than 60, there are now 900 regularly attending the prayer-meetings every day. In Portnahaven, a fishing village, they have prayer-meetings twice a day, and very striking cases have occurred there. Owing to the former dead state of the island of Islay, and the extreme ignorance which prevailed, it now appears that the excitement which is accompanying this revival is terrible—very different from what was experienced in other parts of Argyleshire when the people had more religious knowledge. The excitement and. distress is extreme. The congregations were always very small there, but now they are crowded—at least the Free Church congregations, to which my information refers.

From the 'Revival Newspaper', Volume III, page 91.

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