Parliament Square, Edinburgh (1874)

THE deep feelings of joy and gratitude that filled all our hearts, as week after week during the past nine months continued to swell the list of those who professed to accept Christ as their only Saviour, were ever marred by the thought that so many thousands of our fellow-citizens were allowing the special season of grace to pass away un­-improved. The fact had to be admitted that the class of non-church-goers were not being reached by this revival movement except indirectly. A special effort was seen to be necessary if these were to be brought within gospel influences. Accordingly, two months ago, the Evangelistic Commitee resolved to commence a series of open-air meet­ings in Parliament Square, one of their number to preside. These meetings, as has been already noticed in our columns, are held twice a week, on the evenings of Tuesday and Saturday. They are effecting the purpose intended. At every meeting large crowd assembles, and, mixed up with those whose countenances speak of peace within, are to be seen many whose looks betray either callousness or despair.

Men and women who think that a church is no place for them, or perhaps that they are not the persons for a church, willingly meet with their neighbours in Parliament Square, where the ground is neutral, and where class distinctions have no existence. And thus they hear the gospel with feelings as free from prejudice as may be in their case. Encouraging results have not been wanting.  The other week the preacher's subject was the love of Christ to sinners even the chief. As he fervently and affectionately pressed on all his Master's message, trying to disabuse their minds of a too common misconception of the gospel offer, which would limit its application, a man who had joined the outskirts of the crowd was observed to be attending with eyes riveted on the speaker. Deep emotion strove to find expression in a powerful working of the muscles of the face, and he was heard to repeat once and again the words, 'Does He love me?" "Does He love me?" At the close of the open-air service, some  Christians who saw his anxiety asked him to accompany them to the meeting in the Free Assembly Hall, where he would hear more about this love of Christ. The spell was for the time broken by the new voice, and he refused rather roughly.  They con­tinued to urge him, and at last he said he would follow after them. They went on, and he did follow them, seemingly half-ashamed, sat down in a corner of the ball, and heard the same good news again. The result was that he stayed behind to the inquiry meeting, and was talked to by one of the Christian workers, who still more pointedly tried to show him the way of salvation. Again, a week ago, the subject, in the open air was the new birth, the preacher reading the third chapter of John. A man in working clothes was deeply impressed by the earnest words spokenand by the hymns that were sung, especially by "Gate Ajar." Instead of going to his home, he found himself at the door of the Assembly Hall, where, however, he stopped asking if he would be admitted as he was. He went in and heard the same third chapter of John read by the chairman who had not been present at the meeting in Parliament Square.  After the chairman had finished his opening remarks, Rev. N Wight rose and said that he could not believe it was by chance that the same chapter had been read and commented upon twice that night. After the inquiry meeting, as Mr Wight was leaving the hall about ten o'clock., by one of the doors leading to the High Street, he was accosted by a man standing alone in the shadow. It was the working man. He had not had the courage to stay to the after-meeting, yet he could not go home in his state of anxiety about his soul, which had been deepened, not allayed, since he had gone to the hall. Mr Wight talked to him for a considerable time, trying to point him to Jesus as the Saviour from sin and as the great peace-giver. He now gives good hope that saving change has been wrought upon him.

"Times of Blessing," August 13th, 1874.

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