Lady Hill, Elgin - D L Moody (1874)

The Elgin Courier devotes two columns to the two days' visit of Messrs Moody and Sankey to that ancient town, where meetings were held with results similar to those which have attended them elsewhere; but nothing is recorded which would
be new to our readers. We, therefore, content ourselves with quoting the concluding paragraphs:-

"Last evening, 23rd, at seven o'clock, an open-air meeting was held on Ladyhill. The weather was very favourable. Nearly all the shops on the High-street were shut at about seven o'clock. The sun, as he sank to rest in the west, shed his dying glory over the most picturesque scene on the hillside. It was estimated by some that there were between five and six thousand persons present, it being the largest gathering of the kind we ever remember having seen in Elgin. Tempted by the fine evening, all classes of the people turned out, many arriving from all parts of the surrounding districts. At the foot of the hill, a platform was erected, which was occupied by the choir and speakers. The whole hillside for a great distance up and around about was covered with the dense multitude, that presented, with their varied dresses, a most imposing spectacle. On the Market Green, there was also a large number of people.

"The meeting having been opened with praise and prayer, Mr Moody spoke for about an hour on the words, "Ye must be
born again,' with characteristic earnestness, and graphic description. Several hymns were then sung, after which the meeting was dismissed, it being intimated that another would be held in the parish church, for which there was a great rush. The gates having been opened, the church seats were completely filled in a few minutes. The meeting was devoted to praise and prayer, Mr Moody leaving to speak with the anxious in the New Evangelistic Hall.

"The Christian," July 30th, 1874.

Sabbath 26th July

This was the last day of the special meetings held by the evangelists, and certainly it was the greatest. The whole neighbourhood was thoroughly interested in the great work going on, and multitudes who had only heard and read about this soul-stirring preaching of the gospel came from very long distances seeking a blessing. The scene was one which will long be remembered by all, owing to the peculiar circumstances attending it. It is true that during the two days last week on which Messrs Moody and Sankey were in Elgin, the attendance at the various meetings was extremely large; but they were as the "small dust in the balance!" as compared with those of Sabbath last. During the intervals between the different meetings, the streets were thronged with people of all classes from all parts of the surrounding districts. Sabbath, of course, is the only day when "the sound of rural labour" is mute, and consequently the influx of people from the country parishes round about was great. The number of people from the coast towns - Lossiemouth, Hope - in the morning the road between Lossiemouth and Elgin was perfectly studded with parties on their way to the meetings, carts and vehicles of every other imaginable description being largely in requisition.

Morning Meeting.

The first meeting was held at 9 A.M. in the large Parish Church, the area of which was well filled, there being also a few in the gallery. The meeting was specially intended for Sabbath-school teachers and Christian workers generally, all classes of whom were well represented. Before Mr Moody and Mr Sankey arrived, the choir sang several of the best known hymns. Punctual to time, the evangelists entered the church, accompanied by most of the clergymen of the town. A few verses of the 126th Psalm having been sung, the Rev. James Anderson, Congregational Church, engaged in prayer. Mr Sankey then
sang "Here am I, send me," in his own beautifully clear, distinct, and impressive manner. Mr Moody read the Parable of the Talents after which Mr Sankey sang the beautiful hymn, in the singing of which he so much excels, "Nothing but leaves." The hymn is one which, sung as it is by Mr Sankey, never fails to produce a feeling of sadness, as it did on this occasion. 

Mr Moody then proceeded to address the audience as fellow workers in the Christian field. Thoroughly practical and pointed he was throughout, the anecdotes used to illustrate his subject being most appropriate and telling, both in keeping up unflagging attention on the part of the listeners and in clenching the important lessons he wished to impress forever on their minds. He urged all before him to use for good the talents God had given them. They were morally bound to do so as responsible beings and they should wake up to the fact that their powers of body and mind, whatever they might be, great or small, were not given but to be used for the glory of God. It was a common thing to suppose that a few ministers and elders were to do all the work, - a spirit most unwise to cherish. Because one man cannot do so much as another is no reason why he should do nothing at all. God could use weak men as well as strong He had something for us all to do, if we would only do it humbly but honestly. If they would all use what God had given them, in a few years their talents would increase, for out of their weaknesses God would make strength. This part of his subject was admirably illustrated from the Old Testament. Mr Moody earnestly appealed to all to come out boldly and talk and work for Christ. It was no want of ability which prevented them doing so, but lack of heart. If they were willing to go heartily into Christian work, God would provide the exact work for which they were specially fitted. He closed by advising all to show love and sympathy in their work, as the two great essential requisites to success in the mission field. 

After some further exercises, this most interesting and useful meeting was brought to a close.

Afternoon Meeting.

The second meeting was held at half-past one o'clock, when Mr Moody again preached in the Established Church, which was crowded to the utmost extent. The area and gallery were crammed, whilst the passages were occupied by those who could find no sitting room. Many stood outside the open door all the time of the sermon, whilst others were fortunate enough to get
a seat on the shelvings of the windows in the gallery. The heat caused by the overcrowding was perfectly

The Rev. Mr Stewart gave out the opening psalm and engaged in prayer, after which Mr Moody (Mr Sankey was not present) went into the pulpit. As he rose to speak, each eye was fixed upon him, manifesting deep attention, which became if possible more earnest as in powerful and graphic language the speaker handled his subject in a manner well fitted to impress the most careless. The discourse, which teemed with those anecdotes which Mr Moody so thoroughly and effectively tells, was listened to with rapt attention by the vast concourse of people, who seemed eager to absorb all that was said. As Mr Moody was telling some of his ever-appropriate anecdotes, the audience seemed to hang upon his lips in breathless expectation. Some of the stories were of a description to move the most stolid.

Farewell Meeting.

At five o'clock in the evening the farewell open-air meeting was held on Ladyhill, which was, literally speaking, one huge black mass. For about an hour or so before the time of meeting, a perfect stream of people kept pouring onwards up the High Street towards the hill. Ere the hour had arrived, the crowd had grown densely large. Looking from the platform to the hill, nothing was observed in all directions - from top to base and from side to side of the hill - but human forms. The market green was also partly covered. The spectacle was one which has hitherto been unparalleled at any meeting of this description in Elgin, it being calculated that there were between seven and eight thousand persons present. Some of these, who could not get room on one side of the hill, had to go to the other. The weather was, at the commencement of the meeting, rather gloomy looking, and a slight shower of rain caused a perfect array of umbrellas to be raised.

"Times of Blessing," Aug 6th, 1874.

The following has been sent by one of the Edinburgh Young Men's deputies:

How the Elgin people pounced upon Mr Moody when they heard, three days after he had left them, that he had one more free day in the midst of his busy life! Of course they never dreamed of him taking rest, and there was great joy on Wednesday afternoon when it was flashed through the countryside that on the following evening there was to be another of those great open-air gatherings which everyone had enjoyed so much. The following notes of this meeting, by far the most remarkable and solemn of the Elgin series, give an idea of what those open-air meetings in the Highlands really are.

It was a strange contrast last Thursday - at five o'clock in the busy Show at Inverness, at seven in the streets of Elgin, quiet at all times, but that night altogether passengerless and deserted. Surely something unusual was going on - the streets abandoned, the house doors fast, the shops closed. Through half a mile of the empty streets ours were the only footsteps that echoed on the pavement, and everything was silent and desolate as a plague-stricken city. At last, just on the verge of the town, the stillness was broken by the distant sound of a voice, and the turn of a lane revealed a sight which time can never efface from the memory. There stood the inhabitants, motionless, breathless, plague-stricken indeed - plague-stricken
with the plague of sin. The sermon was evidently half over, and the preacher, with folded arms, leaned over the wooden rail of the rude platform. Oh the sin upon these faces round him! How God was searching the heart that night! I cannot tell you who were there, or how many, or what a good choir there was, or what Mr Sankey sung, or which dignitary prayed. I cannot tell you how beautifully the sun was setting, or how fresh the background of woods looked, or how azure the sky was. But these old men penitent, these drunkards petrifed, these strong men's tears, these drooping heads of women, these groups of gutter-children with their wondering eyes! Oh, that multitude of thirsty ones what a sight it was! What could the preacher do but preach his best? And, long after the usual time for stopping, was it a marvel to hear the persuasive voice still pleading
on with these Christless thousands?

One often hears doubts as to the possibility of producing an impression in the open air, but there is no mistake this time. No; there is no mistaking these long concentric arcs of wistful faces curving around the speaker, and these reluctant tears, which conscious guilt have rung from eyes unused to weep. Oh the power of the Living Spirit of God! Oh the facination of the gospel of Christ! Oh the gladness of the old, old story to these men and women hurrying graveward! The hundred-and-one night in Glasgow excepted, never have we seen the Holy Spirit's nearness more keenly realized. These thousands just hung spellbound on the speaker's lips. It seemed as if he daren't stop, so many hungry ones were there to feed. At last he seemed about to close, and the audience strained to catch the last solemn words; when the preacher, casting his eye on a little boy, seemed moved with an overpowering desire to tell the little ones of a children's Christ. Then followed for fifteen minutes more the most beautiful and pathetic children's sermon we have ever heard; and
then, turning to the weeping mothers and fathers, concluded with a last tender appeal, which must have sunk far into many a parent's heart.

Inquiry Meetings.

Long before the close of the address it was evident to all that the Lord of the harvest was going to give us a glorious reaping-time that night. We had not, indeed, been ten minutes on the ground when a stranger whispered, in the very middle of the address, "Will you come and speak to a woman about her soul?" at the same time pointing out a drooping figure standing near, with the face buried in her shawl. We were not surprised, therefore, at the great crowds which entered
the inquiry meetings - in one church for women, another in a large hall for men, while the Christians went apart by themselves to another church to pray. The arrangements connected with these after-meetings were all beautifully managed, and shortly after nine o'clock the whole three were well under weigh. The women's inquiry meeting was supplied with relays of workers from the prayer meeting. The work was on a very large scale, and the workers' report was, that the cases were of a very hopeful character. But the work amongst the men - and this is a splendid testimony to the depth and reality of the impressions - was even on a larger scale still; and the sight in the Evangelistic Hall, where the men's inquiry meeting was held, is not soon to be forgotten. The whole hall was filled with men, broken up into little groups of two's and three's, talking in hushed yet earnest voices on the great subject of the one thing needful; while behind, in the committee room, half-a-hundred young men were gathered in prayer for their groping brothers. Many of these had themselves but newly decided for Christ, and were the fruit of the week's meetings for men, which have been blessed by God far above all expectation. Mr Moody, with his usual masterly generalship, took advantage of this splendid nucleus to start a Young Men's Christian Association, into which the young men are entering with great spirit. Some of the leading Christian workers of the town have been formed into a board of directors, and it is expected that the Association, starting on a thoroughly evangelical basis, will soon become
a living power in the north of Scotland.

It is useless to attempt to give even an approximate idea of the extent of the blessing which fell upon Elgin on Thursday night. The whole of Morayshire has shared it, and a powerful hold has been gained in nearly every farmhouse and village throughout the countryside - a hold which, it is earnestly hoped, the members of the new Young Men's Christian Association will take immediate steps to develop, and which, with the prayers of the Christian friends of this corner of the vineyard, may yet be fertile of great and enduring blessing.

NOTE. On Friday Mr Moody rested, after his trying labours, and then went to Banff, where he commenced a series of meetings on Sabbath.

"Times of Blessing," Aug 6th, 1874.


The following, it will be seen, refers only to one congregation in Elgin, that of the writer of the letter. But our readers will agree with us that its contents claim a place for it in this series. We invite the special attention of ministers to the last paragraph.]

Mr DEAR SIR, - In accordance with the wish you expressed to me recently, I send you a few notes of the present state of things connected with the blessing received last year. It is now fully a year since the good work began here, and quite seven months since much the greater part of the good done became apparent.

I am not able, and shall not attempt, to describe what may be found in other congregations in town, in all of which, I have no doubt, considerable blessing has been manifest. It will be more satisfactory, as you specially desire facts, to relate what I personally know and particularly in my own work.

Additions to Church Membership.

During the past twelve months I have had 110 young communicants, a very large portion of whom ascribe their conversion to Christ to the influence of the work carried on in the town during the seven months of united effort among us. I know of at least as many more who will, I expect, ere long take the same step. There are various ways in which it were possible to give some idea of how the blessing abides and works. For instance, of 96 names, now before me, of those who met me at a special meeting which I called, and all of whom professed to have been brought to the Lord last year, I find there are 52 who have not yet made a public profession. Of the 96 mentioned, 53 are engaged in active Christian work; while several more are
practically so occupied in caring for young families. Of these 96, 24 were previously members of the congregation, showing that the work was not confined to the young, Indeed, of the young communicants specified already, several are about 40 years of age, and a few above 60. I find a very large proportion of those blessed got salvation in connection with special services. Fully two-thirds received good previous to Moody's visit to us. This was to be expected, seeing that we had five weeks of our seven months' united effort in this town, when there were, on an average fully 20 cases of anxiety every evening. The influence of Mr Moody's work elsewhere was, however, throughout a great means of blessing among us. It was during February, March, and April that most was done among the young in our Sabbath schools. We have now in seven of our classes several church members.

Revived Life in Ordinary Means.

The real impulse given by revived life is perhaps most frequently tested by the use made of ordinary opportunities of improvement. The most emphatic testimony thus yielded, in my own work, is in connection with my Bible class, which this winter numbers 431, of whom 213 are males and 218 females, exceeding my class of last year by considerably upwards of
100. In our two churches for the young, the necessary working staff is complete, which has rarely been the case in the past.
In our mission work of 45 districts, we have almost a sufficient number of visitors, nearly all the districts having each two visitors. In every department of work suitable for young converts and requiring any self-denial, there is meantime little difficulty in getting willing and hearty aid - even at early morning, as for daily free breakfasts. There are certainly disappointments in the case of some, particularly where the home influence is very bad. The temptation to light and questionable amusements and entertainments has not diminished in energy, especially among the class just mentioned. The greatest difficulty is to provide means of profitable occupation in the evenings for young women, who will otherwise be on the streets. An evening school has been carried on with considerable success. But this is a very partial remedy and misses many cases most needing care. The General Christian Association, formed by Mr Moody during his visit has done much to secure and encourage young men, It has now a reading room, with newspapers and most of the religious periodicals of the day. A daily prayer meeting, a prayer meeting of members to study Scripture, a weekly joint-fellowship meeting under its management, also several weekly cottage meetings by its members, together with a course of popular lectures under its auspices, indicate the occupation of a large sphere of usefulness, which, with God's blessing, must be of great benefit to the town and neighbourhood. Already, for some time back, I have heard that there have been inquirers at the close of some of the cottage meetings in the country districts.

The Apostolic Way.

To those who have watched the beginning and progress of last year's blessing, and who know the present impulse in all departments of congregational work, the greatness of the divine goodness in the showers sent among us is matter of deepest gratitude. It were, indeed, easy at any time to stand aside and watch suspiciously, yea, even dishearten our converts, by unceasing warnings, into halting. But I have always found that a superintendence which develops the activities of Christian life is attended with comparatively few disappointments; though, when they do happen, they are indeed the more sad and humbling that they are not merely from profession but from activity in Christ's cause. Still, this is manifestly the apostolic method and experience. I have seen more influence on older people, in creating among them an interest in God's cause, generally through the agency of their children who have got occupied with some little department of activity for Christ, than I have ever seen by preaching on these matters. I have not a few such cases in my view at present in different parts of the country. Thus indirectly the blessing to the young is still a preaching and prevailing power in many homes, and many, who are perhaps not willing to acknowledge the manifestation of mighty divine power, are compelled to acknowledge that some great
transforming power has been at work. 

How to set about it.

It has often struck me that were you to give from time to time a paper, from tried hands in the field, of the most successful methods of conducting various departments of Christian work, you would supply a great desideratum, and draw out much latent energy in provincial districts. How to set about it is a question often asked regarding many schemes of usefulness which might be tried in other than large centres; and more than I have often been deterred from trying, because of not knowing how to begin to arrange.

"Times of Blessing," Feb 18th, 1875.

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