Portessie (1871)

The fruit which this work of grace bore in 1871 is thus described by William Smith—I copy the following account from notes taken by him at the time.

"This year, 1871, begins with a descent of the Holy Ghost upon the people of Findochty. The first was a stirring amongst God's people. In a very little next was a desire with the ungodly for the means of grace. many became anxious and by-and-bye got savingly converted to God. The Spirit wrought mightily, and many souls were saved. Night after night, the meetings were crowded; addresses were delivered, and prayers offered from many a heart that every soul in the village might receive the blessing.

"The work got on favourably. After the meetings were dismissed from the church, the anxious met in private houses, and persons interested met with them and gave them suitable directions, which they received, and, by the power of the Holy Ghost, were enabled to lay hold by a simple faith on Jesus as their Saviour. Indeed, it was a special time of God's power, every day sounded forth its new song of praise to the God of love for souls saved. This blessed state of things continued until young and old professed to find peace through a Saviour that was willing and able to save them. There were many striking and wonderful manifestations connected with this blessed work of grace; but, thanks be to God, it all bore His own finger-marks, and the fruits were peace, love, joy.

"One thing especially that took all considerate Christians by surprise was the dance. It was never for once dreamed of, and at first seemed to many very unseemly. But a prayerful consideration of the source whence it sprung, and the spirit in which it was performed, and the fruits which followed and was manifested by those under the power, at once excluded all doubts regarding its propriety as an act of worship acceptable in the sight of God.

"Its first appearance was among the children, and then among persons more advanced in life, and perhaps stranger still, many advanced in the Christian life also came under its power, and in many cases irresistible power. And the persons thus engaged showed symptoms of the greatest joy— and truly their very appearance bespoke them to be under a high divine impulse. This state of things still continues, but not to the same extent. The power of God is still with the people, and some are visiting the place every night from other places, and generally the Lord blesses them, and they go home rejoicing with joy unspeakable and full of glory.

"An impression came that they must visit the neighbouring villages. Accordingly arrangements were made for an organized demonstration. They got dressed for the occasion, and started with banners waving, all of them bearing suitable inscriptions. The day was fine-the weather being mild for the season —and the long train marched on to the westward, each with uplifted heart shouting forth with all their might the praises of that loving Saviour who had so filled, and blessed their souls with His love. I think I shall never forget that day from an incident closely connected to myself personally - my own child coming to a saving acquaintance of the truth as it is in Jesus; that, and circumstances connected therewith, made an impression on my mind that eternity will not efface.

"When the procession reached Portessie they formed into a circle at the east end, and at the request of the brethren stayed in that position for some time until they got ready to join our ranks. This being done, we again got marching orders, and away to Buckie we went, our people in the front, and the Portessic people in the rear, with our banners raised and singing as we went along. We soon came to Buckie, halting for a short time while some bread was distributed to the young people and others also; Mr Mitchell bearing all the expense of this entertainment.

"After this we went on through part of Buckie; onlookers were very much affected, and we learned afterwards that a most powerful effect was produced. After sometime we turned our course homewards, the people all the time praising the Lord; and, as they did so, the power of God upon them waxed stronger and stronger amongst them. Many were overcome by the mighty power of God, and began to exhibit such manifestations as we had never before seen. Men and women were to be seen in numbers, from one end of the village to the other, who, to a stranger, would have appeared to be under the influence of drink. All appeared to be moved by one great but common impulse, and with a quick pace their long irregular train moved on, multitudes now having joined them without any preparation, dressed just as for household work - and thus they marched along singing out of an overflowing heart the praises of God.

"As soon as they reached Portessie, the people of God in that place caught the flame and came under the same power. Onwards to Buckie they went, and every one, male and female, preached the gospel; both warned the sinner, and invited them to Jesus.

"I will now state what effect the demonstration had on Portessie. Previous to this an idea had been circulated by some persons, that all that they had experienced in conversion went for nothing, unless they came to be baptized by immersion. The minds of the people had been so disturbed by this, that all their early joy was gone, and marks instead, of mental anguish appeared on many a countenance. As soon as the great train of rejoicing believers entered their village, the same mighty influence quick as lightning, spread, throughout the whole place, and many cried as they joined our ranks: 'No more water for me! nothing but the blood of Jesus! nothing but the blood of Jesus!' We believe this movement was wholly of the Lord, because the people of Findochty knew nothing whatever of the state of mind in Portessie, and it was begun by an instantaneous impulse, which could not be restrained but by physical interference, and they were blind to the purpose for which they were led there.

"A short time after, the people of Portessie under a similar impulse, came along to Findochty. The people turned out in great numbers and went to meet them. When they did meet they embraced each other in the most loving manner, and without any stop, the multitude set their faces toward Portknockie; and very soon they arrived there, preaching the gospel to every creature they could get at, without doors or within, And such was the powerful effect of these simple means, wielded, I believe, by the Holy Spirit, that the whole of the people were awakened, and for several days there were great convictions of sin, and many seeking the way of salvation — and praise God, many found it, and like the lame man who was healed, leaped for very joy, and almost all who spoke their experience at that time, testified to the power that accompanied the demonstration, generally, in these words 'Praise the Lord for the company that came over the hill the other day, for He has saved my soul and filled me with His love. Glory! Halleluiah to God and the Lamb!'

"In a very short time these people were to be seen in great numbers passing through the villages, singing, shouting, and dancing; telling all with whom they came in contact of the love of God, and how happy they were, that it seemed as if all things around them were changed —as if old things had pased avay, and all things had become new —and certainly new and striking incidents were occurring every day. The departure of the boats, on going to sea, was very grand. All the people gathered out from every part of the village, singing and dancing, and waving their hands to the men in the boats. While the crews themselves, as soon as the boats were under weigh, joined in, every man, with the people along the shore, and continued until distance hid them from our view. It was the same at their return, young and old turned out and gave them a hearty welcome."

"James Turner, or How to reach the Masses." by E McHardie, pages 136-39.

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