Portnahaven - Islay (1860)

Mr. M'Neill wrote that the whole island, which contained a population of 12,000 or 14,000, was moved to a greater or less extent. Hundreds and thousands assembled to hear the Word of God preached. Hundreds had been crying for mercy, in all parts of the island, and it was hoped that very many had become new creatures.

At the request of the Chairman, the Rev. Mr Macnab of Renfield Free Church, who was observed to be present, was requested to communicate what he knew about the movement in Islay.

Mr Macnab said  -Being a native of that county, I have some information regarding The state of Islay about a fortnight ago was by no means satisfactory; it was very much what the gentleman who has just sat down described it to be. I have good reason to believe that, prior to that time, out of a population of about 14,000, there were not more than 1,000 who could be called regular hearers of the gospel.

The first appearance of the movement was on the 23rd of August when Mr M'Neill was preaching at Bowmore. He happened to quote a remark from one of the sermons of Whitfield, and immediately a woman in the congregation cried out. This was followed immediately by similar experiences in the case of others. On the following Tuesday, at the prayer meeting in Mr Pearson's church, there was a similar awakening and on the same evening at Kildalton, twenty miles off, and when Mr M'Kenzie (the minister) had spoken only one sentence of prayer, there was the like occurrence. A few days later, in Mr Cameron's church at Kilchoman, there was a similar awakening; and I was told on Saturday that in this church of Kilchoman, where recently the congregation did not amount to more than 60, there are now 900 regularly attending the prayer meetings every day.

In Portnahaven, a fishing village, they have prayer meetings twice a day, and very striking cases have occurred there. There are several indications, especially in Kildalton, of the exceeding healthiness of the work.

The most prominent general experience of the awakened in that parish is a disposition to justify God in all He has done and threatened against sin, an acknowledgement that it would be a good and right thing for God to destroy themselves; there is profound and thorough humiliation before God. Owing to the former dead state of the island of Islay, and the extreme ignorance which prevailed, it now appears that the excitement which is accompanying this revival in Islay is terrible—very different from what was experienced in other parts of Argyleshire, where the people had more religious knowledge. The excitement and distress is extreme, and the whole population of the island appear so far interested that they come in great multitudes to attend to prayer meetings. The congregations were always very small there, but now they are crowded - at least the Free Church congregations, to which my information refers.

"The Scottish Guardian," September 11th, 1860.

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