Portmahomack (1839)

About the year 1839 there was a remarkable movement in Easter Ross under Dr John Macdonald's preaching. It told in particular on Portmahomack in the Parish of Tarbat. In this parish the Doctor's son in the faith, Mr David Campbell, was minister. When this movement was arousing attention Mr Campbell's friend, Mr Stewart of Cromarty, went to visit him to see for himself if it was only a time of sensational and emotional excitement or if it was a real awakening to spiritual conviction and concern. He saw some of the converts and questioned them. One of them told vividly how when he was awakened to concern he felt himself to be shut in by the justice of God as a mighty mountain to an ocean of everlasting destruction. So touching were his words that his querist was ready to cry out himself, and as the outcome of his queries he was more disposed to question his Mrconversion than that of the Portmahomack fisher-folk. At the next Dornoch Communion the fourth table, which held sixty communicants, was wholly filled by the young converts from Tarbat. When the service was over the linen cloth was as wet with their tears as though it had been taken out of the sea. Soon afterwards the plague of cholera visited Portmahomack and made a clean sweep of this crop of young converts. One who remembered them said that the Lord took them home with Him to heaven soft and warm as they were.

Tarbat was prepared to receive the new life. The Rev. William Forbes, A.M., had laboured in the parish since the spring of 1800. He gave himself entirely to his Master's work among the people, but though there were many striking cases of conversion during the years of his faithful ministry, there was not a general revival till he had gone to his reward in 1838. The people, however, had been prepared for a revival. The truth was in their hearts and minds, and only needed the showers and the sunshine to make it spring up. Golspie MacDonald preached at their communion in 1840. He reminded the people of the privileges they had enjoyed, and their consequent responsibilities, and appealed to their hearts and consciences, bringing the claims of the crucified and risen Lord vividly before them, and pressed upon them the necessity of an immediate and full surrender to Him. While he was speaking, a tide of deep spiritual emotion swept over the entire congregation. Consciences were touched, and strong men were moved to cry out, "What must I do to be saved?" Many were born of the Spirit that day.

Revivals in the Highlands and Islands by Alexander Macrea – Republished in 1998 by Tentmaker Publications.

Additional Information

The church is now the Tarbat Discovery Centre

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