Portgordon (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.

Deskford, May 9th.

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