Unst - Shetland (1863)

There was a large attendance upon the morning services in the Independent chapel and upon the evening services in the United Presbyterian Church on Monday. These services are chiefly devotional, yet the number of enquiries was not diminished. These enquiries are of all ages and from the state of the population are generally females. We observed three cases of great spiritual distress, while a good many other cases disclosed the deepest contrition. Some were present to offer thanks to God for their deliverance from the power of sin and to bless their dear Saviour for the peace they enjoyed.

The Tuesday morning meeting was well attended and several enquirers remained for conversation with the Brethren. The Wednesday morning meeting was about the average and several young persons remained with Dr Craig at the close of the public exercises. The evening meeting was all that could be desired for numbers and solemnity. A good many persons waited after the public services for special prayer and the list of enquiriers at the close was considerable. It is exceedingly pleasing to see the young taking a deep interest in these sacred services, especially since one pastor has thought fit to warn them against attending such meetings. It is certainly deplorable to find Christian men and ministers of religion speaking lightly of and acting coldly towards a movement so obviously of God and glorifying to God.

The number of requests for prayer which are continuing to be presented at the meetings is great and present in a strong light the conviction felt of the power with which prayer is accompanied. It has prevailed in time past and is prevailing beyond all question here now.

The morning meeting for special prayer on Thursday was well attended. The open-air meeting at the Market Cross at 3 o'clock, not withstanding the high wind and cold, was very large and the demand for tracts at the close was such as to make anything like an orderly distribution impossible. The private meeting in Barnet Lane was crammed to the door and the evening meeting at the church was about the same as former occasions. There seemed to be more than the usual average of men present and a few from country District's formed part of the large audience. The interest in these divine meetings remains unabated. The presence of the Divine Spirit is felt to be near. Saints are refreshed ad animated and sinners are melted and humbled low at the cross.

Among the layman, there is a move for continuing these solemn meetings after the departure of Our disinterested and devoted friends. No cordial cooperation is to be looked for, however, among the teaching elders of the church and it will be impracticable for the two ministers, whose entire sympathy is with the movement and whose aid has been given to the leaders of it in a variety of ways, to carry it on alone. Therefore, the move made by the laymen of the Presbyterians and independent connections is one which cannot fail to enjoy the blessings of heaven. For their direction the friends of Jesus here, and we trust elsewhere, will not cease to pray and the prayer of faith will be heard and answered. Still, the visit of some other friends from the south is anxiously to be wished, to consolidate the movement and confirm the faith of those who may require the help and influence of the living voice, while a more extensive tour through the islands would not fail to be stimulating and blessed to all classes of our people. 

On Friday the meeting is continued with unabated interest. In the evening Mr Fraser gave one of the most searching address we have ever listened to. At the close, a goodly number of persons, young and old, waited for a conversation. 

From, 'The Revivalist', Volume via, December 4th 1862.

This work (as mentioned above) continued for many months until the spring of 1863, spreading from the town to the rural district. There was some extravagance at first, but this slowly gave way to more profitable procedure. 

in March 1863 the interest in the great and good work was increasing every week and extending more widely in every direction. Whatever doubts existed regarding the character of the awakening when it began were entirely removed after its extensive diffusion through Mainland. By the summer of 1863 the other islands of Unst, Fetlar and Yell were affected and in the tiny island of Foula more than half the population of 280 was converted. With regard to the perseverance of Shetland converts, in three parishes under observation, "not one of them whom we regard as the children of God had fallen into sin or turned to their former ways".

From, "The Second Evangelical Awakening in Britain" by J Edwin Orr, page 69. "The Revival", 12 February 1863.

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