MOFFAT had already been visited, and a Colportage agency established, in connection with "The Religious Book and Tract Society," from the beginning of 1858. In the same year, there had been a conference of elders on spiritual matters during the General Assemblies; for in August of the same year, a meeting was commenced by some of those who had been present, on the social or from house to house principle.
In September a similar was begun by others; and about November a second and a third, or rather one of the latter, had divided, the major part taking a more independent or public form, by assembling in the Bridge-end school-house, kindly granted them by the proprietor, Mr Johnstone of Alton. Another was got up in the neighbouring parish at Beattock, by the colporteur, Mr Buglass; and another far down in the parish of Johnstone.
In the following September (1859) it was arranged to unite all the Moffat meetings into one " weekly union,' to assemble in the U.P. Church, placed at their disposal by the Rev. Mr Riddell. Mr Rowan, from Glasgow, too, during the greater part of July, held daily noonday and other meetings; while from various quarters were brought tidings of the great spiritual interest being awakened at revival meetings in behalf of Moffat. Early in the present year, with the new colporteur came tidings of the revival at Closeburn, near Dumfries. Then the stirring events at Annan, at Dumfries, at Lockerbie, and even in the neighbouring parish of Wamphry where some had been down on Sunday the 10th February and witnessed a monster meeting. A marked increase in the attendance and earnestness was noticed at all the meetings here and a peculiar solemnity characterised the social evening meetings of Friday and Saturday, conducted by some tradesmen in town, til on Sunday the 17th, the Bridgend schoolroom was crowded to excess, almost before the hour. At the Free Church particularly, that day filled by Rev Mr Percival of Carlisle,both had been very conspicuous. On Wednesday the 13th a letter was received from Mr Rowan of Glasgow expressing a desire to pay Moffat a visit on his return from Lockerbie, where he was to be on the Friday, if there was any prospect of his being of service. This letter, at such a time and under such circumstances, seeming something like providential, an answer was despatched accordingly. On Tuesday evening, a little after dark, three young lads presented themselves, having walked that day over from Locharbriggs, a distance of eighteen miles, and who having waited upon all the ministers and obtained a promise of their being present, had sent the bell through the town for a meeting at 8 p.m., in the U.P. Church. The church was crowded out to the door almost before the hour The addresses, if such they might be called, were short but earnest, and, with the hymns, of which they made a liberal use, seemed to make a very deep impression on the audience, insomuch that it had already become evident that this was indeed the first of the revival. At the close a second meeting with the sanction of the ministers, intimated for the following evening, and to be held in the Free Church, for the greater room. The attendance this, the second night, could not have been far short of a thousand, the stairs, passages, and even the windows, being occupied; nor can a better idea of the densely crowded galleries be conveyed than in the exclamation of a little boy, as he this evening entered the church—" The bees, papa, the bees!"
This meeting was also addressed by the three young men. Next morning several were in deep distress, and one or more screeching in mental agony on account of their now and hitherto estrangement from God. On the Friday Mr Rowan arrived, and also Mr Johnstone from Dumfries. This evening Mr Johnstone addressed the meeting, along with Mr Rowan and Mr Ferguson, This last was the largest of all, that of Mr Hammond, some months after, only excepted. Next week, Mr Bonhan preached to a still full church, and Mr Percival the following week to something less, followed by Rev. Mr Waters, Mr Millar of Edinburgh, and Mr Furlong; and the subsequent visits of Ferguson of Locharbriggs, of Millar of Leshmahago, of Hammond, of Logan, and of Rowan; these having been irregular, and at intervals. The number truly awakened is variously estimated, but to say equal to any ten years preceding, might be less controvertible, without exceeding the truth. There are still three congregational meetings in the town weekly; two or three union, a believers', and a mothers meeting, besides several of a more or less private characier.
From History of the Revival at Moffat, in the Spring of 1861. By R. H. A. Hunter.