Portessie (1874)

ON returning home a few weeks ago, after a residence of five months in Edinburgh, I received a pressing message from my old friends on the coast to visit them without delay, as the fishermen were on the eve of leaving for the Lewis fishing grounds. I had been in the habit of meeting with them from time to time, ever since 1860 when the special work of grace began amongst them which has given new life and hope for the future of that whole population. We had rejoiced together at the various periods of special evidence of the Lord's power in reviving His own work and refreshing His people in 1862, 1864, 1867, and 1871. And now, when they had again been sharing in the more extensive work of grace throughout the land in this present year, they were anxious for me to meet with them, and to learn from themselves what the Lord had done for them. I need not say how pleasant it was to hear from those who had themselves shared in the blessing granted in previous years, how they had felt this time that the Lord had come with greater power than at any of these former times of visitation.

And I feel that I am not at liberty to withhold a brief testimony of this, for the encouragement of those who have been looking hopefully to the outlying districts of the country, and who will welcome the tidings, which come back as an echo to Edinburgh, responding to the glad news which has been sounded out thence and awakened a full sympathy in many Christian hearts in all parts of the land. 

Occurring at the season when the fishermen are all at home, the work of grace in Edinburgh roused a spirit of expectation among them which led to continued earnest prayer until the Lord himself came in power to quicken His people, and to bring the unsaved into His kingdom. As on all former occasions, except at the first beginning of the work in 1860, the absence of any special human instrumentality was very marked. The hearts of believers were stirred, the work of prayer went on, and the power of the Lord was present to heal. It appears to have been greatest in the town of Buckie, the most important centre of the fishing population on the Moray coast, whose importance is likely to increase greatly by the construction of the harbour which is now projected. At first, there were great fears that the town was to be passed over. On either side, at Portessie and Portgordon, the work of revival had begun and been apparently completed, before any spiritual movement could be discerned. Evangelistic meetings had indeed been held, and considerable interest excited, but the power from above was still wanting. These meetings had ceased when the spirit of grace and supplication was poured out upon believers, and then the fire came down from heaven. One Christian man, not a native of Buckie, who has known the town well for thirty years, and has spent his best days in it, said that he had prayed for this for twenty years and that the actual reality had far exceeded his highest expectations. Many of those who had determinedly opposed the work of grace in former years were now entirely subdued under the mighty power of God and were the first to acknowledge their former blindness and to tell what the Lord had done for them. As soon as the meetings became overcrowded, the different churches were opened, and the Free, Established, and United Presbyterian churches were in succession occupied on different evenings, and their ministers took an active part in conducting the meetings, along with Mr Rogers, who was acting as a missionary in connection with the Free Church. These meetings were continued almost daily until the men left for the fishing. A separate meeting for women was organized by Mr Rogers, which proved a specially interesting and profitable one; and this will be continued, along with such other meetings as seem to be required. All agreed in saying that, with exception of a very few occasions, when excitable human accompaniments of a work of the Spirit were attempted to be introduced, chiefly by strangers, the meetings were characterized by great solemnity and deep feeling. I am not without hope that when the earnest Christians along the coast become thoroughly persuaded that the same work of the Spirit of God in which they have rejoiced can be carried on in crowded meetings, without any of that outward excitement with which they have sometimes associated it, they will learn to put restraint upon their own natural temperament, and avoid that which has a tendency to mar the work. I have often had painful experience of the way in which the occurrence of such manifestations, in connection with long, protracted meetings, has acted in serving as an excuse to those who were not inclined to favour such a work of the Spirit, and in preventing the success of efforts for promoting it in the country districts. Mr Moody has done much service in establishing right methods in the conducting of meetings, as well as in giving the right tone to them; and I feel sure that the results will prove that they are fitted to promote the continued permanency of the present blessed work.

Times of Blessing

PORTESSIE - The wonderful work of grace at Portessie and the adjoining villages still continues and spreads. 

Ever since the opening of the new chapel at Portgordon it has been steadily enlarging and growing. Almost every day there have been new and clear cases of conversion. Among others, an elder of a neighbouring Presbyterian church has been heard crying for mercy in the prayer meeting. 

Many persons from Buckie have caught the flame of revival at Portgordon and Portessie, and the fire has broken out among them at home. In the house of the Methodist class-leader at Buckie, many scores have during these last few days found pardon. So deep was the anxiety for salvation throughout the town, (Buckie is a place containing several thousand souls), that the Presbyterian churches were constrained to throw open their doors, and the unwonted sound of sinners in distress crying loudly for mercy have been heard there. 

Many who have been railing at the work, are now unwillingly compelled to own that it is of God and not of man. I could fill pages with further accounts of the glorious movement. 

Yesterday (March 15), -will never be forgotten at Portessie. Even at the morning service, the church rang with cries, and rejoicings, and hallelujahs. Such widespread and profound anxiety for salvation, I never saw before. We ascribe all glory to God, who by his quickening Spirit has wrought so mightily among us.    W. B. L.

A few days later the same gentleman again writes-

PORTESSIE, March 30, 1874. - At our communion service yesterday, the results of the recent revival were very manifest. A considerable number sat down with us at the Lord's Supper for the first time, and the season was one never to be forgotten. There would, I think, be few, if any, short of 300 persons who thus solemnly joined together in showing forth the Lord's death, according to His Divine ordinance. Never, I  believe, was such a sight witnessed in Portessiechapel before. 

A fellowship meeting followed in the afternoon, when one after another of the young converts, in homely but touching terms, told of their new-found peace, and of the mighty change which God had wrought in their heart. 

In the evening the chapel was densely crowded, and the power of God to save was felt to be present by the waiting worshippers. Altogether it was a day of grace, a season of spiritual refreshing from the Lord. 

At Portgordon, the new chapel, which is about the same size as the chapel here, is rapidly filling with regular hearers. During the few weeks since the opening, many have been born again of the Holy Spirit.  Methodist Recorder.

"James Turner or how to reach the masses," by E McHardie, page 177



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