Stronsay - Thomas Collins (1836)

The Rev. James Harris writes: "At Stronsay he gave himself to prayer. As his lodgings furnished no convenience for vocal freedom, he was accustomed to retire to a sheltered cave in the cliff. Though he knew it not, loving people observed his frequent resort thither, and wonderingly found that their pastor often spent successive hours communing with God in that cold closet on the shore. Sometimes a whole day passed in fasting, intercession, and meditation. After one such season, returning home, he met an unconverted hearer. Conscious that a well of power had gushed up in his own soul, he longed that it should flow out upon others. 'Donald,' says he, ' I wish to pray with you.' Though quite unconcerned, the man respected his Minister too much to refuse, and, therefore, led the way to his humble cot. Mighty influence came upon him; and as his Pastor urged the reiterated prayer, Lord, break Donald's heart! Lord, break Donald's heart! ' the great rough fisherman sobbed for mercy, nor did he get up from that floor until he arose in the conscious joy of a new creature."

The Journal of January 25th, 1836, records: "I went to my lonely retreat among the rocks. Having to form a new class this evening, my heart was broken with desire for conversions. I wept much as I besought the Lord to give me souls. I felt unusual nearness, sweetness of intercourse, and strength of faith; and came away sure that my covenant God had engaged Himself to me to make bare His wonder-working arm. Nothing wavering, in that belief I commenced the meeting; and that night Robert Williamson, Lawrence Irwin, and Miss Farquharson were set free."

At the beginning of February 1836, his colleague joined him at Stronsay. During their first night together, there was more talk than sleep. "Brother," said Mr Collins, "we must have souls, or I can't stay." Next morning, as they sat over their breakfast of fish, he proposed that they should go down to the shore for what John Smith used to call "knee business." "We went," says Dr Knowles; "and never shall I forget the power of his prayer. The following Sabbath I preached in the morning; drops of blessing fell. He preached in the evening; and, for the first time in Orkney, sinners cried aloud for salvation." Within a fortnight from that date, forty-two known, clear cases of conversion had occurred.

From ‘The Life of the Rev Thomas Collins’ by Samuel Coley p99-100.

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