Lochranza (1812)

The writer of these pages did not reside in Arran till about six months after the commencement of this revival; but he inquired particularly concerning the beginning of it, from such as were best able to inform him, and is satisfied, in his own mind, that the Spirit of the Lord was at work in pre¬paring for it—that his mighty power was revealed in the commencement of it—and that he had a gracious and merciful design in ordering the circumstances of it. Although this revival did in some measure degenerate latterly through the weakness and folly of men, yet the beginning of it was Mr the doing of the Lord, and marvellous in our eyes. Some, who were among the first affected, told the writer, that they had not the most remote idea of crying Mr before they were constrained to do so, So much was this the case, that they said they could not have refrained, even if they had been threatened with instant death. They added that their outcryings and bodily agitations arose entirely from the state of their minds when powerfully impressed and affected with a sense of divine truth. But it is proper to observe, that the writer is here speaking only of such as were lively exercised Christians previous to this revival. On examining others, who knew nothing of Christian experience before the begin¬ning of this work, he found that the first impressions of many of them were accompanied with deep convictions of sin, with a painful sense of their helplessness and misery as sinners, and also with earnest desires after an interest in Christ; which it is to be hoped many of them attained. But it must be acknowledged, that the accounts given by all were not alike satisfactory. Many were deeply affected externally, who could give little account of the matter. Their affections, but convictions of sin did not take any deep hold on their hearts and consciences, and so their awakenings soon passed away; at least, it was so with sonic. But if there be joy in heaven over even one sinner that repenteth, we have reason to think that there must have been much joy, in that world of light and love, over many that were brought to true repentance, in this place, during the progress of that work.

About the beginning of 1812, the awakening became general and continued to make progress about three months. After this, it seemed to be at a stand, till the beginning of the following December, when it again revived and continued to spread considerably for about three months more; during which period it extended over around part of the parish of Kilmorie, which is nearly thirty miles long, and it extended also to some parts of the parish of Kilbride. The writer cannot pretend to give the exact number of the subjects of this awakening; but the number, from first to last, was very considerable. It must have amounted to two or three hundred persons, old and young taken together. He may state them at two hundred and fifty; which is time below than above the real number. But he does not mean to insinuate that the whole of these proved true believers. Mr will appear from the statements already made.

For some months after the commencement of the awakening, the subjects of it manifested an uncommon thirst after the means of grace. Both old and young flocked in multitudes to hear the word of God. His house and the place employed for private Mr were frequently so crowded, that the people, as it were, trod one on another. To travel ten or fifteen miles to hear sermon, was considered as a very small matter; and after sermon was over, it was no uncommon thing for many of them to meet together in private houses, or in barns, and to spend several hours in religious exercises. Some of them spent even whole nights in this way. They also longed for the return of the Sabbath. They rejoiced when it was said unto them, "Let us go into the house of the Lord." They eagerly sought after renewed opportunities of receiving spiritual instruction. Their desire was so great as not to be easily satisfied. In our religious assemblies, at this time, some might be seen filled with divine love, others with fear; some rejoicing in hope of the glory of God, and others trembling lest they should come short of it; some crying out in accents of praise, and others indicating, by their cries, their dread of everlasting wrath. At this time, our meetings were frequent, and well attended; and almost every sermon seemed to be effective in awakening, quickening, or refreshing. Satan and his agents, indeed, made strong efforts to counteract the designs and operations of the Spirit of God, by throwing all manner of stumbling-blocks in the way of his people; but, notwithstanding all the opposition of earth and hell, the word of the Lord grew and multiplied. Some who were lively Christians before, enjoyed at this time much of the refreshing influences of the Spirit and were often filled, in an extraordinary measure, with peace and joy in believing. As illustrative of this, I may mention, that, in the spring of 1813, I was catechising one day at a particular farm, and when speaking of the character of Christ as the Redeemer of God's elect, and at¬tempting to describe the preciousness of his blood, and the riches of his grace, an excellent Christian, who is now in the world of spirits, cried out, in an elevated tone of voice, "O the infinite virtue of the blood of Christ—the preciousness of his blood What am I, what am I, that he should ever spend one thought concerning me! O my nothingness, my nothingness, my nothingness!" And, soon after, she exclaim¬ed, "I shall soon be with thee, I shall soon be with thee—be forever with the Lord!" I have seen others, also, on vari¬ous occasions, affected much in the same way. And these ecstasies of spiritual joy, among the people of God, were generally accompanied with great humility and tenderness of spirit. Instead of being puffed up, they were, on the con¬trary, bowed down to the very dust, under a sense of their privileges. When the glory of the King of Zion was mani¬fested to their souls, in the light of the Spirit, they were ready to exclaim, with Job, "Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes." I have heard others, under awakenings of conscience, cry out, "O what shall we do? what shall we do? Wash us from sin; let us not deceive ourselves, for we cannot deceive thee." It was pleasing thus to see many of them really afraid of self-deception, and earnest in their inquiries after the only sure foundation, the only hope set before them in the Gospel.

In the spring of 1813, this awakening, however, began to decline, and ceased very soon after; but those who were truly Christians, continued to enjoy, both in secret duties and at public ordinances, renewed and manifest tokens of the divine presence and favour. This was especially the case on sacra¬mental occasions; at which they were favoured with the assistance of some of the most pious ministers of the day. Most of these having now departed this life, I am enabled to name the greater part of them, without making any reference to the living. The late Rev. Messrs. Bayne of Greenock, and Robertson of Kingussie, formerly of the Chapel at Rothsay, assisted here constantly for many years. The late Rev. Dr Love of Anderston assisted here occasionally, about the time of the revival; and the late Rev. Mr M'Kenzie of Gorbals, formerly of the Gaelic Chapel, Duke Street, Glasgow, occasionally, but chiefly before the commencement of this work. These, along with the late Mr M‘Bride himself, were considered, and I believe justly, among the most pious ministers of their day: but they have ceased from their labours, and their works do follow them. The more regular or occasional labours of these men, were often blessed as seasons of refreshing from the presence of the Lord. It is doubtless true, that, as the awakening declined, some of those who appeared at one time much affected, and much engaged in religious pursuits, began to grow cold and remiss in spiritual duties, to fall into divers temptations, and to slide back into conformity with the world. Like the stony-ground hearers, the religious impressions of many were slight and transitory —their convictions were not of a spiritual or abiding nature; and, having no root in their hearts, they soon withered away, without bringing forward any fruit to perfection. But although many did thus turn, as the dog to his vomit, and soon got rid of their religious impressions, a considerable number of the subjects of this work continue, to the present day, bringing forth fruit meet for repentance, and manifesting their faith by their works. It is due, however, to acknow¬ledge, that, even in respect of the best of us, the zeal, fervour, and liveliness, manifest during the time of our revival, have suffered some decay; and that, instead of these, coldness, deadness, and formality in religion, are now too preva¬lent among us. We have, therefore, much need to be earnest in our supplications for another season of refreshing from the presence of the Lord—to pray, with the devout Psalmist —" Turn us, O God of our salvation, and cause thine anger toward us to cease.- Wilt thou not revive us again, that thy people may rejoice in thee? Show us your mercy, O Lord, and grant us the Salvation.”

THE above narrative of what is usually called 'the Arran Revival,' was drawn up by the Rev. A. M'MILLAN, Minister of the Parish of Kilmorie, during the summer of 1830.

M’Millan was based at Lochranza, where there was a missions church, and it was on a visit to him in July 1814 that M’Bride took ill and died. This was tragic for the revival. His successor actually stood in the pulpit and said regeneration was not necessary. The faithful refused to be under such a ministry, worshipping in a cave until the minister was succeeded by M’Millan in 1821. This account is taken from ‘Narratives of Revivals of Religion in Scotland, Ireland and Wales.’ Published in 1839.

Additional Information

I do not know where the meetings were held.