Breadalbane in Perthshire had seen a powerful revival in 1803 under the ministry of a student sent there by Mr James Haldane, who was himself used to fan the fires of revival around the neighbouring towns and villages. Then in 1816 revival fires broke out once more. Here is a typical eyewitness account from the text: “There was a vast congregation collected, reckoned between 4000 and 5000; for I spread the information far and wide. He preached two hours and twenty minutes from Isa. LIV, 5, —’ For thy Maker is thine husband.’ I may say, during the whole sermon there was hardly a dry eye. Eagerness to attend to the word preached was depicted on every countenance, while tears were flowing very copiously, and literally watering the ground. The most hardened in the congregation seemed to bend as one man; and I believe if ever the Holy Ghost was present in a solemn assembly it was there. Mr. M’Donald himself seemed to be in raptures. There were several people who cried aloud; but the general impression seemed to be, a universal melting under the word..." This chapter is from William Findlater's 'Memoirs.'
“Surely once thy garden smiled,
Every part look’d gay and green,
Then thy word our spirits nourish’d, —
Happy seasons we have seen.”
IN laying before the public the following account of the remarkable revival of religion which took place in Breadalbane in 1816—1819, and in which the subject of this memoir, in conjunction with some excellent and eminently pious and devoted clergymen, was an honoured instrument; it is to be regretted, that he did not (as at one time he had it in view) give a detailed and authentic account of it himself. During the progress of the work however, and subsequently, the writer has heard him, more than once, express his disapprobation of those accounts which, were published at the time, in magazines and pamphlets, as not only partial and exaggerated, but also inexpedient then, and calculated to do more harm than good, in those localities where many of the subjects of the work were, at the time, under strong mental excitement, whose judgment and experience were not as yet sufficiently enlightened, or who had not arrived at those solid views of the truth which influence the heart and regulate the conduct; and that they also had a tendency to convey a false impression to others—whose affections were merely excited—that they were the subjects of true conversion, if they felt alarming terror, or joyous feelings. Besides, he thought a holy jealousy and watchfulness should be cherished, lest self-gratulation, glorying in men, or attributing to instruments the glory due to God alone, might mix with the zeal excited, and the exertion made by both speakers and hearers.
In consequence, however, of repeated and urgent solicitations made to him, by some excellent and zealous Christian friends in Glasgow, a few years after his coming to Inverness, he thought it might be a call in providence to him, to prepare for the public, an account of the revival he was privileged to witness; and he accordingly wrote to the writer of these memoirs for a perusal of any letters of his he might have preserved, during these years; in order to refresh his memory as to facts and dates; several of these were accordingly sent to him, and which were found after his death carefully marked among his papers. He wrote also to some correspondents in Breadalbane on the subject: But the laborious and ever—recurring duties of his charge at Inverness so occupied his time that he never could find leisure or composure of mind to attempt such a work. Such being his intention, and being directed to the examination and arrangement of his papers, by a respected and highly honoured clergyman upwards of a twelvemonth ago, the writer found materials which he thought it a pity to suppress; the perusal of which excited a pleasing remembrance of brotherly affection, and highly honoured usefulness in the church of Christ—and he resolved to devote some leisure hours, from the professional duties of a comparatively small but scattered population, to lay them before the public.
In the following narrative he shall avail himself of the interesting communications of the correspondents previously alluded to, who, from local and personal knowledge, had access to ascertain minutely the facts stated, and which are corroborated by the private and strictly confidential letters of his brother, both to himself and some other Christian friends. One of them adds, “with these exceptions,” alluded to, in those cases which are more minutely stated in the preceding extracts, “I do not recollect of any thing remarkable as the fruit of Mr. Findlater’s incessant labours further than exciting an uncommon attention and admiration, till the summer of 1816.
“I may state here, however, that for two or three years previous to that date, then a young man in G— was pretty often in the habit of crossing the east brow of Benlawers, to hear preaching during summer, and even in winter, when the weather was favorable—being a computed distance of about nine miles. He got one or two other young men to accompany him about the year 1814. In 1815, two or three more joined the party. In spring 1816, the group increased to the number of perhaps twelve or fourteen; and during the whole of that summer, a goodly number went regularly every Sabbath.
When on their way home, on the Sabbath evening, though perhaps they could not well assign a reason for it, yet the feelings of almost every one in the company seemed to be described in the words of a young Christian poet—
‘I am pleased, but yet I am sad.’
This hitherto unaccountable compound of two opposite feelings continued with some of them through the week, which made them long for the return of the Sabbath, to renew their journey, and join the company who said with the tribes of Israel of old, “Let us go up to the house of our God.” On their way thither, the subject of conversation—which was broached and carried on by —— ——, who, in more respects than one was the leader of the company—very frequently had been, accounts of revivals of religion he had either read or heard of indifferent parts of Scotland, some awakenings that took place in Ferrintosh, and other places the year before, notes of sermons, and those marks of eminently pious Christians which he had heard from a Mr. John M’lntyre, society schoolmaster, originally from Glenlyon, but stationed for some years in Sutherlandshire. * (Footnote: This excellent and truly eminent man resided for twelve years at Erriboll (Sutherlandshire). He emigrated, with several other families, in the year 1815, from the district, to Prince Edward’s Island, North America, where they formed a small colony and called the place “ New Erriboll” Such was the moral weight of his character, that he was employed in conducting worship morning and evening, with his expatriated countrymen, on board the vessel, in which there was a number of truly pious persons. He was in the habit of paying an annual visit to his friends in Glenlyon.)
This I mention merely to show the good effects which such narratives and pious conference may produce on the minds of young persons. For some can speak from experience, of the desire excited in their minds, to see and hear of such revivals in these days.
“After arriving at the church of Lawers, the attention of this little company, as well as that of many more in the congregation, was riveted by the fervour and faithfulness of the minister, which, as well as the doctrines preached, seemed in these places and in those days new to their ears, and altogether peculiar to himself. On their return home, the substance of the sermon was repeated, by putting together all the notes of those who had the moral fortitude to overcome a shyness produced by a practice so little known. The sermons seemed to be getting more and more impressive every day.”
Matters continued so till the month of August of the same year, when the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper was dispensed at Kuhn. The late truly faithful and godly Mr. M’Gillivray, then in the mission of Strathfillan, assisted on the occasion. He preached on the Sabbath evening, in the churchyard of Kuhn, from Zech. XIII, 1, —” In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for uncleanness.” All the Glenlyon people who were in the habit of going to Lawers were present, when they felt a more than ordinary solemnizing influence on their minds under the preaching of the Gospel. The sacrament was to be dispensed at Ardeonaig in about a month thereafter; and Mr. M’Donald from the north, late of Edinburgh, was expected to assist on that occasion, From the second Sabbath of August till the second of September, the feelings of’ many cannot be easily described. Like the Jewish captives after a period of nearly seventy years in abject slavery, and notwithstanding all the evil that came upon them, and the causes of sorrow they had, they did not begin to make their supplications before the Lord, or pour out their hearts before Him, in heartfelt acknowledgments of their sins and backslidings or feel any desire for, or cherish any true expectations of a revival among them, till the time of their deliverance was drawing nigh. It was then they were called upon to go and pray, to seek and search for Him; and He was mercifully found of them. Promising symptoms of returning mercy were beginning to appear—a general thirst for hearing the Gospel—the growing fervency of the preacher—and ardent desires and expectations, for times of revival and refreshing from the presence of the Lord, made the approaching solemn occasion truly desirable.
The same circumstances are corroborated by another excellent and judicious correspondent, who, writing of a particular locality, Glenlyon, says, —” Some went and saw, those who had gone addressed others, as Philip did Nathaniel, —” Come, and see.” By degrees they began to relish the doctrines they heard, Then it was not unfrequent to talk of able preachers, and some names became familiar to their ears, who till then were never heard of. The number who crossed the hill from the glen to Lawers was gradually increasing. On their way home the sermon they heard would be talked over, and pointed remarks taken notice of; but as to any permanent impression being made previous to 1816, I could not learn.
That year, however, early in the spring, there were evident indications of a general desire to hear the Gospel becoming prevalent; and it cannot be denied, but that the word preached had been making impression on some. It was obvious to all, that the preacher was unusually urgent in pressing home truth upon the consciences of his hearers. It was indeed so much so, that some confessed a sense of shame for withstanding so much earnestness. During summer, a growing solicitude for conversion was expressed, in the sermons of the speaker and in the attention given by the hearers. When it was approaching the solemn occasion of dispensing the Lord’s Supper, after intimation at Lawers that it was to be dispensed, the audience were called upon to pray for a blessing on the ordinance. On such occasions it was observed, “that the Lord often in a special manner displayed the riches of His grace by the outpouring of His Spirit, in the conversion of sinners; that it was endeavoured to impress their minds with the important and solemn truths of the Gospel for some years; that it was declared that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word should be established; and as it was expected on the solemn ordinance then in view, that there would be two or three faithful messengers to declare the counsel of God, so it would be at their peril if they allowed the opportunity to slip without improving it.” To some, at least, these words were as goads, and the period was looked forward to with anxious solicitude. The same correspondent then mentions in detail the public duties in which the assistants were engaged on the memorable and solemn occasion, on the several days of this sacrament, and the strong impression made on the minds of many, and the solemnizing influence seen and felt over the large congregation assembled, on which he remarks, “that the place might well be called a Bochim—that this was the month Ahib, the first of all the months.” The circumstances and facts stated are, however, anticipated in the following letter from the subject of this memoir, dated
“Ardeonaig, 21st September, 1816.
“My dear Brother, —I was much disappointed, on several accounts, that you were not prepared in your arrangements to come here on the occasion of our solemn meetings. I assure you, did you carry away some of the spirit which was manifested, it would more than compensate to yourself and your people, though you were away several Sabbaths. Mr. M’Donald, who kindly promised his assistance here, arrived, after going round by Moulin, on the evening of Wednesday, where he met Mr. Russel of Muthil. Mr. Russel preached an admirable English sermon on Thursday. Mr. M’Donald preached after him. A more attentive congregation I never witnessed. All was attention and concern. The people kept quite quiet; but after Mr. M’Donald was done, and the congregation dismissed, one young woman was so deeply affected she could not suppress her feelings. She was brought into my house. Mr. M’D. spoke to her a little, and she got quiet. After taking a bit dinner we crossed the lake. A great number followed us; and there was a similar general impression as in the forenoon. We also had an extra sermon on Friday evening on the other side, in the tent, as the church could not contain the people who assembled. Many were bathed in tears, and deeply affected with the word preached. Mr. M’Gillivray joined us on Friday evening, anti preached an excellent sermon on Saturday. But the Sabbath was the great day with us. ‘The whole services were in the open air. I thought proper to give to Mr. M’Donald the action sermon, to which he readily consented. It may be really said, he came to us in the fulness of the Gospel of peace. There was a vast congregation collected, reckoned between 4000 and 5000; for I spread the information far and wide. He preached two hours and twenty minutes from Isa. LIV, 5, —’ For thy Maker is thine husband.’ I may say, during the whole sermon there was hardly a dry eye. Eagerness to attend to the word preached was depicted on every countenance, while tears were flowing very copiously, and literally watering the ground. The most hardened in the congregation seemed to bend as one man; and I believe if ever the Holy Ghost was present in a solemn assembly it was there. Mr. M’Donald himself seemed to be in raptures. There were several people who cried aloud; but the general impression seemed to be, a universal melting under the word. The people of God themselves were as deeply affected as others; and many have confessed they never witnessed such a scene. It will be a day remembered through the ages of eternity, as many, I trust, have enjoyed eternal good. There was no doubt joy in heaven on the occasion. I could compare it to nothing but the days of the apostles, after the day of Pentecost. I attempted to preach in the evening, from a sense of duty. Mr.
M’D. preached all day on Monday,—his colleague having given up his diet to him at breakfast,—from Luke, XVI, 2,—’ Give an account of thy stewardship.’ It was no ways inferior to the last, though there were not so many who cried out. Several were pierced to the heart, and some came to speak to him after sermon. I have seen and conversed with some of them myself, and have every reason to believe that they are under the gracious operations of the Holy Spirit. Some of them probably I may never see or hear of in this world; but it is a glorious consideration, that real good is done in the conversion of sinners and in the edification of His people. Mr. M’Donald’s own soul was much refreshed; indeed, he could not conceal it, and took a parting look of the interesting spot with pleasing regret. I accompanied him on Tuesday to Dalnacardoch; and we often alluded to it. It must be peculiarly gratifying to him, as the work in a general way seems to stop in his own congregation; for there is not such a public impression as formerly at home. The Lord has honoured him much, and I trust will honour him more and more.
“I trust the impression made here will not wear off soon. Pray for us, that it may be but a beginning of glorious days to Breadalbane; and let our thanksgivings be accompanied with continued and fervent prayers, for His blessing to accompany His own word and ordinances, and that we may not grieve His Spirit to withdraw His gracious influences from us. I trust there are not a few praying for success to His work; and if we get accession to our number then we may hope that it will be a token for good to us in this place. If we are kept denied to ourselves, and give all the glory to sovereign grace, then we may hope he will honour His own work more and more here.
“I preached last Sabbath on the other side, to one of the greatest congregations I ever had on an ordinary Sabbath, from Acts, IV, 13, —’ Now, when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them that they had been with Jesus.’ A considerable impression seemed to remain of our solemn assemblies. There were many in tears; and one or two were so deeply affected, that they were taken notice of: I spoke a few words to one of them, who seemed to be deeply convinced of his lost situation. Appearances of this kind are encouraging; but we must join trembling with our mirth; and I feel afraid of’ speaking on this subject to any; and I trust you will preserve the same caution on the subject, though I am so free with a brother, and that you will keep this to yourself, till we see how the Lord will bring on His own work. Ask the prayers of your people for us, and for the prosperity of His work. —I am,” &c.
The perusal of the above letter excited in the author’s mind peculiar sensations of solemn and joy-feeling. For several days thereafter, the scenes described by his brother were constantly present to his view, and seemed to absorb his mind almost exclusively from every other object. While they were so vividly represented to his imagination, they led his thoughts to the sublime work of the redemption of lost sinners, viewed in connection with the decrees of God’s eternal love and mercy, the glorious triumphs of the Messiah’s reign, and the powerful and saving influences of the Spirit of God, together with the means and ordinances appointed, and the instruments honoured in effecting such a spiritual and moral regeneration of character. These views he endeavoured to arrest, and to record in verse a few days thereafter, which he felt a pleasing exercise at the time, and transmitted them in a letter to his brother, and intended solely for his perusal. As these lines afforded him so much gratification at the time, as expressed in his letter to the author, he has used the liberty of inserting them here, and must crave the indulgence of readers of poetic feeling and taste for their insertion, and to view them merely as a well—meant offering to endeared and affectionate friendship, and a record of vivid thoughts excited in the writer’s mind at the time.
If news be heard ‘midst heav’nly bands,
Of tidings glad from Christian lands,
Methinks a brother’s modest tale
Of late Revival in a vale,
‘Midst Albion’s mountains far among,
Is told ere now, with joyful song,
And moves the harps of th’ heav’nly throng.
‘Mong spirits pure, and just, and free
From clog of earthly dust, I see
By Fancy’s aid. —What thus I write,
O may I realize by sight! —
There two conspicuous shine on high,
Endear’d by more than earthly tie;
By Jesus’ love supremely blest,
Have enter’d now into their rest.
“Methinks in bliss I beard them say
On Sabbath evening’s hallow’d day,
When from Ardeonaig’s happy vale
The angel Gabriel told the tale
Of Jesus’ triumphs by His grace,
In that sweet consecrated place: —
‘‘’Tis meet that we do join the song,
Which sounds so sweet amidst the throng,
And touch our harps of solemn sound,
While Jesus’ throne we thus surround;
And let our loudest anthems swell
The joy sublime that’s ours to tell.
From heaven to earth convey could we
Those joyful scenes which now we see,
(But wisely hid by heaven’s decree,)
We’d send an angel down from high,
To tell our tidings from the sky,
T’ inform that hononr’d man of God, * (The Rev. John M’ Donald.)
Who Whitfield’s path has closely trod,
What joys abound, what honours wait,
His entrance at the heavenly gate
His active spirit borne on high
By choirs of angels to the sky,
When he surveys the views around,
And feels his joys for aye abound,
And sees his Saviour face to face,
And glorious triumphs of his grace,
His labours great he’ll ne’er repent,
Which in his Saviour’s cause be spent.
His faithful warnings, warm address,
In almost every place do bless;
While far and near crowds gather round
To hear the Gospel’s joyful sound.’
“As northern star of glowing light
Shines far conspicuous to the sight,
Amidst the storm imparts new joy
While winds distress and tides annoy,
So have his visits paid below,
Our spirits cheer’d, and soothed our woe,
Confirm’d our hope, inflamed our love,
And help’d our faith to soar above.
Ere long he’ll also reach the shore,
Where friends shall meet to part no more.
On Sabbath’s sweet and sacred morn,
A day which heavenly choirs adorn,
Where secret Council of the THREE
Unroll’d the vast, the sure decree,
To loose the seals the Son began,
(‘Which saints or angels ne’er can scan,)
And thus address’d the Father’s Throne: —
“‘This day is sacred to thy Son;
On it I ask thy chosen ones
To be for daughters and for sons.
To loose their bondage quickly send,
And let thy Spirit downward bend.
Fulfil the promise of thy grace
Which thou hast made unto thy race.
Let joy be heard in earth and heaven,
When sinners feel His power is given.’
“On God the Son the Father smiled,
And graciously He thus replied, —
“‘Their debts are fully paid by thee,
Since thou hast suffer’d on the tree.
Go, mighty Spirit, downwards move,
Reveal to such eternal love.
Where’er the Gospel’s joyful sound
Attracts the Iist’ning nations round,
From Java’s isle and China’s towers,
From Afric’s wilds to ‘Western shores.
Along the wide extending earth,
Let sinners feel the joys of birth.
A new creation thus will rise,
And scenes unseen attract their eyes.
Where symbols of redeeming love
Are spread abroad, thou mighty Dove
Descend. Let sinners feel thy power
And quickening virtue on that hour,
In Britain’s isle, so high renown’d,
With Gospel blessings greatly crown’d.
O’er Scotia’s mountains towards north,
A burning light is shining forth,
Like northern pole or morning star,
Whose beam’s wide-spreading shine afar.
His active labours I will bless,
And warm his soul with heavenly grace.
Meantime his footsteps thou’lt attend,
The hearts of sinners thou shalt bend.
On Tayside’s lake his warning voice
Proclaims this day high Heaven’s choice.
From neighb’ring vale young sinners came,
To hear their Maker’s glorious name,
To feel the power of Jesus’ grace
In that remote sequester’d place,
Who erst in sin and darkness lay,
But now shall see a glorious day.
The angel Gabriel shall attend,
And with him joyful news ascend.’
While thus my thoughts were upward bent
On heavenly scenes with much intent,
I waked with anxious wish to see
The high commands of Heaven’s decree
Fulfill’d on earth. Then down I flew
To eye with wonder such a view.
“‘The mighty Spirit, glad to find
Jesus’ new triumphs of mankind,
Sends forth His influence and might;
Or like the rays of morning light,
Which chase away the shades of night,
So He descends and moves along,
To quicken sinners ‘midst the throng,
Who hear the preacher’s warning voice,
Exhorting quickly to make choice
Of Him who lord and husband proves,
Who ne’er forsakes, but truly loves
Who love His name, and early seek
His gracious face, —he’ll ever keep,
Present them pure before the throne,
Who prove the triumphs of the Son.
“The strong impression quickly flies;
Like lightning from the charged skies,
And draws the tears from sinners’ eyes.
The aged Christians weep for joy,
At scenes which angels’ harps employ.
The sympathetic tear goes round,
And actually bedews the ground.
See sinners trembling cry aloud,
They feel the stroke, they see the cloud
Of heavenly wrath about to pour,
And cry for shelter in that hour.
Happy the souls who warning take,
And choice of Jesus quickly make.
A safe protection they shall find
Front stormy cloud and raging wind.
Alas! for those who sat unmoved,
Whose hearts like adamant have proved:
The day will come when they’ll repent
The slighting of the message sent;
To hills and rocks they’ll call in vain,
For setting light a Saviour slain.
“Methought with Gabriel then I flew
Upwards, and heard the tale anew,
(Which I had seen with wond’ring eyes,)
Rehearsed to parents in the skies.
“Again, methinks, I hear them say,
In realms of bliss and endless day,
In strength of grace proceed, dear boy,
And thus increase our heav’nly joy.
Let tidings still salute our ears,
Which Gabriel, joyful, upward bears,
To publish on the heav’nly coasts
The triumphs of the LORD OF HOSTS.
In faithful warnings instant, still
Ascend thou up on Sinai’s hill.
Let harden’d sinners hear their doom,
And flee for refuge while there’s room.
Pluck them as brands from off the fire,
Lest they should feel His dreadful ire;
Yet ‘midst these warnings never cease,
Though still far off to publish peace.
When wounded sinners cry for pain,
Lead them to Jesus who was slain.
His wounds alone their wounds can heal.
‘Tis yours these tidings to reveal.
As Jacob gently led his flock,
So do thou lead them to the Rock,
Where they’ll defence and shelter find,
From scorching heat and stormy wind.
Beware, howe’er, of Laban’s wile, —
Unstable souls he will beguile.
E’en those of whom you hope the best
Have idols still on whom they rest.
Restore the weak, the wand’ring seek,
The doubting comfort cheer the meek,
With pious converse lead them on,
And meet them often at the throne.
“‘ See that the force of truth divine
May cheer their hearts and also thine.
Let Jesus’ love still warm thy breast:
On ‘s sacred bosom thou’lt find rest.
The joys divine that here abound,
No mortal tongue can ever sound.
Let Jacob’s God be still your guide,
His safe pavilion will thee hide.
Your mortal race when you have run,
Then join our spirits round the throne.
“‘Here, Helen, dearest babe, you’ll meet,
With joy divine at Jesus’ feet.
Her infant tongue could not express
The parting joy her soul did bless,
When her soft smile on earth did chide
Those sorrows which we could not hide.
With myriads bless’d by early death,
She joins their songs with sweetest breath.’
“While thus my muse was soaring high,
In bearing tidings from the sky,
Like lark on wing begun to fade,
I then reviewed the verses made.
What time again her wings may soar
I know not now—perhaps no more!”
This remarkable revival, and the pleasing effects following, soon became known, and were hailed as good tidings by the friends of religion in different places, and ‘excited the thanksgiving and praise of many. The subject of this memoir, it appears, had communicated the same to his intimate and confidential friend, Mr. Russel, whose assistance and society, he enjoyed, for two or three days of the sacrament, and who writes, in return, the following interesting letter: —
“Muthil, 8th October, 1816.
“My dear Sir, —Your last letter was most refreshing indeed. I truly participate in your joy, and desire to join with you in grateful praises to the God of all grace, for beginning a work of awakening, among poor sinners, in your neighbourhood, and giving you so much ground to expect a great accession to the spiritual kingdom of Christ, among the people of your own charge. I need not say that you could scarcely have communicated more gratifying intelligence to me. I wish that I had been a spectator of the interesting scene. What a glorious and affecting sight, to behold sinners in the attitude of flocking to the Saviour! a sight so much unlooked for, and unexpected at the present day, when vital religion is reduced to so low an ebb, that we may well exclaim with wonder, ‘Who are these that fly as a cloud?’ The occasion of the flight—the object of it—the power by which it is produced—the effects accompanying it—and the multitudes who are engaged in it, are circumstances very much calculated to excite the deepest admiration, and to inspire joy into the hearts of all the lovers of Zion. May the good Lord carry on the good work which He has begun, and make you the honoured instrument of conducting convinced souls to the atoning Saviour as their only sanctuary! You will find the tendency of this good work to put a new edge on your own spirit, to quicken your zeal, and to kindle your love for precious souls into an ardent flame. This will also give you a new errand to the throne of grace, and dispose you to wrestle more powerfully than ever, for the salvation of your people. I will rejoice to hear of the work going on; though you must not be surprised or discouraged, though all the favourable appearances, which have been exhibited, should not issue in sound conversion. Wherever there is much real religion, there will be a degree of false religion.
When Satan finds that there is cause to apprehend the loss of some of his vassals, then he will exert all his efforts, to sow tares among the precious wheat. Wait, my dear friend, on the Lord, and entreat Him to carry on His own work in His own way, and to glorify His grace in the behalf of all those who were given to his Son, in the decree of His electing love.
“Now, my dear sir, may I be permitted to ask you to preach for me at Muthil on the first Sabbath of November? that is, the day now fixed for the dispensation of the sacrament at Dundee, where I am engaged to give my assistance. You gave me some ground to expect your services at that time, and I hope you will not disappoint me. I feel most reluctant to ask you to leave your own charge, and to subject you to the fatigue of travelling at that season of the year, but your friendship is so great that I expect great things from it. There will be no sermon in Crieff on that day, and of course you will have a very wide and extensive field for sowing the good seed of the word. May the Lord come with you, and give you a message suited to awaken my poor people—too many of whom seem to be lying in a dead sleep.”
One other extract from the same truly devoted and pious correspondent, may be transcribed here before stating in detail the progress of the work; dated,
“Muthil, 17th December 1917.
“My dear Sir, —I return you many thanks for your kind Christian letter. ....... I am much refreshed by he agreeable accounts, which you give of the progress of conversion work in your part of the country. I almost envy your happy lot. It is pleasant preaching when our people seem to feel the importance of the truths which we preach. You know, by experience, how distressing it is to address thoughtless stupid sinners, whom no warning can alarm. You have my prayers that the pleasant appearances which have presented themselves may issue in solid fruit. O that the same showers of divine influence which are watering your people were extended to my dear charge! But the Lord is sovereign in this respect, and we must wait his time and manner of working. I have reason to think that my labours here are not altogether in vain: though alas! my spirit is grieved with the obstinate unbelief and impenitence of the generality committed to my care. Help us with your prayers.
“My anxieties were much relieved by the accounts you give me of my dear worthy friend Mr. M’Donald: I would fain hope that his leg will soon be restored to strength, and enable him to renew his labours in watering the churches. When you write him give him my kind love. His ministrations here and your own, I trust, have been blessed to many. Since my last sacrament, I have observed a new edge put upon the attention of my people to divine things. I hope this will encourage you both to repeat your visit, and to carry on that good work, which you have been the instruments of beginning. We long much to see you here. Mrs R. and my worthy mother are often speaking of you, and longing for a personal interview. What a privilege is the communion of the saints even on earth! I hope, then, you will surprise us with a visit ere long, when, if spared, I will make arrangements with you respecting the March sacrament. —I am,” &c.
We proceed now to carry on the narrative of the correspondent formerly mentioned, which shall be occasionally amplified and corroborated, by extract from letters of the subject of this memoir. He adds: —
“Mr. Findlater preached at Lawers on the following Sabbath after the sacrament, when two or three more were awakened. It continued so for months thereafter, people attending at Lawers or Ardeonaig, from the parishes of Kenmore, Killin, Fortingall, and Glenlyon, in immense multitudes, and some new eases added to the number of those who were brought under concern about the salvation of their souls. At Glenlyon especially there were scarcely any who were able to travel who remained at home on the Sabbath, during the remainder of September and October. One hundred persons might be seen in one company, climbing the bill separating these two districts of country,’ having to travel a distance of from nine to fifteen miles, and some even farther.
“During the end of 1816 and the beginning of 1817, you could be at no loss, if you saw two or three persons talking together, to judge what the subject of their conversation might be, which was generally about some new acquaintance or relative brought under concern, how those under concern were coming on, or how others who were awakened found relief, &c. Such was the strong interest felt for one another, and for the progress of the work of conversion. Indeed, there were few families without one and some families two or three, professing deep concern about the salvation of their souls. Matters continued so during the whole of spring 1817. Good or bad as the weather might happen to be, and although Mr. Findlater should be at Ardeonaig, which was every alternate Sabbath, the most of the Glenlyon people were present; and scarcely a day but one or two were added to the number of the awakened. He preached for two or three Sabbaths in January and February 1817, from Jerem. VIII, 22, — ‘Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then is not the health of the daughter of my people recovered?’ These sermons were greatly blessed, not only to the spiritual edification of a goodly number who were previously awakened, and were found walking in the way Zionward, but proved the means of exciting others to ask the way thitherward. I believe it was in hearing them that the present minister of —— was first aroused to a sense of his need of a Saviour. “About the end of April of this year, Mr. M’DonaId, on his way to assist at the dispensation of the Lord’s Supper at Edinburgh, visited Breadalbane. He preached at Ardeonaig from Psalm CII, 16, — ‘When the Lord shall build up Zion, He shall appear in His glory.’ On that day several were awakened, and were unable to resist the power of the truth on the conscience. If the present minister of —— ever felt the truth coming home in demonstration of the Spirit and in power, he felt it that day. On his way home from Edinburgh, Mr. M’Donald preached on a Sabbath at Kenmore, in the forenoon at Lawers, in the evening at Strathfillan on Tuesday, and at Glenlyon on Wednesday. Such was the universal desire then to hear the Gospel preached, especially by a man so highly honoured as he was, that immense multitudes of people followed him to all these places, listening with the most rivetted attention to his powerful, and faithful, and eloquent exhibitions of the truth. At each one of these places some appeared deeply impressed, and it is to be hoped, not a few awakened to a sense of their danger. During the whole of that summer, the same concern was manifested, and every opportunity embraced to hear the preaching of the Gospel, and some here and there brought in earnest to say, ‘‘What must we do to be saved?’
“In September following, when the solemn season of the sacrament came round at Lawers, Mr. M’Donald came to Breadalbane. During the whole of the solemnity, there was the appearance of divine influence accompanying the means; the same rivetted and devout attention to the truths delivered, and a degree of the same fervour, and faithfulness, and unction exhibited as on the former occasion, by the ministers. On Monday, however, the last day of the feast, was a great day indeed. The pool of ordinances was moved, and not a few who waited received spiritual healing from its virtue. Mr. M’DonaId preached in Gaelic, from Ruth, 1, 16, —‘And Ruth said, Entreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee; for whither thou goest I will go, and where thou lodgest I will lodge; thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God.’ This appeared to be one of the most powerful and effective sermons he ever preached in Breadalbane. The fervid eloquence and the pathetic appeals near its conclusion seemed to move and to constrain even the most careless. Many were deeply affected and agitated both in mind and body; and it is to be hoped, that on that day it may be said, ‘This man and that man was born there.’ During the remaining part of this autumn, the attendance on the word preached and the impressions made were truly encouraging; and seldom did a Sabbath pass without one or more being brought to ask the way, with their faces Zionward.
“I ought to have stated, however, that about the end of October 1816, Mr. Kennedy (who was then pastor of an Independent congregation at Aberfeldy, in the neighbourhood) hearing of the shaking of the dry bones in ‘the valley of vision, moved with zeal to promote the good work, went to Glenlyon, where in several districts he preached almost every day for two or three weeks. He was the means, I have no doubt, of much good, in rivetting former impressions, keeping awake the attention to the concerns of eternity, and leading not a few to serious inquiry; but as his exertions, and the occasional visits of other dissenting ministers, are already before the public, in the magazines and tracts of the day, I need not state them in detail.
“I cannot, however, forget to state the following circumstance, which took place in November 1817, under Mr. Findlater’s ministry. Hitherto the stronger and more general impressions were produced by Mr. M’Donald’s occasional visits. The Lord, however, was on this occasion to manifest the freeness and the sovereignty of divine grace, not only as to the objects of his mercy, but as to the time and the instruments to be employed. Though Mr. Findlater’s faithful, and laborious, and persevering exertions, were honoured previously in several individual cases, the Lord saw meet to honour him still more, On Mr. M’Donald’s return from Edinburgh by Breadalbane, he was expected to preach on the 23rd November; and Mr. Findlater circulated the information in the full expectation and dependance of his preaching. In consequence, however, of some accident Mr. M’Donald met with, he was prevented from coming forward as expected. A large congregation assembled from several distant parishes. Mr. Findlater’s anxiety was great on Saturday and Sabbath morning, and though quite unprepared as to previous studies, he deemed it his duty and call in providence to go to the tent with no ordinary feelings, and preached to the large assemblage collected, from John, I, 29, —’ Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.’ Such was the holy unction with which he spoke, and the deep interest manifested by the congregation, to the solemn truths delivered, and his truly pathetic address to the different classes of his hearers, that I never witnessed a more affecting scene. There was not so much of that crying aloud and agitation of the bodily frame, as had been sometimes felt and seen under Mr. M’Donald’s preaching; but the greater part of the congregation seemed to be melted into tears—a gentle sweet mourning heard in every corner. This day wilt be long held in traditionary remembrance in Breadalbane—a day, the results of which will never be forgotten, and may not be ascertained till the great day will declare it. It was truly a time of reviving and refreshing to many from the presence of the Lord. God mercifully granted the latter as well as the former rains and refreshed His heritage.
“The work, though not so openly marked, continued for some time, till Mr. Findlater left Ardeonaig in 1821: one now and then was brought under concern, and such as were previously awakened growing in grace, and edified and encouraged, by either the stated or occasional attendance on his ministry, which was peculiarly calculated (and blessed to many inquiring and awakened souls) to lead them to the only true source of solid peace, and to their establishment in the faith of the Gospel.
“To give any idea of the number brought under concern is, I believe, more than any person could even at that time do. But that the number was great is certain, as will appear from a circumstance already alluded to, when there were only five or six families in Glenlyon where there was not found one or more persons apparently concerned; and these families were looked upon as objects of pity. Though chiefly confined to Glenlyon, the revival extended to four or five neighbouring districts partially.”
‘The same correspondent further adds, in a subsequent communication, that “the moral influence of this revival was manifest to all, especially in regard to the Sabbath, in the relish for and attendance upon the means of grace, both public and private, in the perusal of the Scriptures, and in a strong attachment to each other. The low and debasing sins of drunkenness, rioting, especially at fairs and other public meetings; swearing, and irreligious and profane talking, were not for a considerable time so much as seen or ‘named among them.’
“Among those who became subjects of this change were several who were dissenters formerly, or were in the habit of joining at their meetings, and who returned again to the bosom of the Church; yet such was the zeal of their leaders, that a considerable number of those who were awakened were persuaded to join the small congregation of Baptists who resided then, and I believe still are, in the glen. “That a considerable proportion of those who were deeply impressed, and exhibited for a while promising symptoms of a decided change of heart and character, proved like the stony—ground hearers, cannot be denied; but whether their spiritual apathy has arisen from the want of the seed taking root, or to the general stupor which has fallen on others who deeply mourn over it, I do not pretend to determine. A sectarian and controversial spirit, which had been sown and encouraged by men professing much zeal for religion, has been the cause of much evil also. While the lusts of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life, have been the principal causes of their falling from their stedfastness.
“Some of those of whom there was good hope through grace, have gone to America. Others, of whom there could not be the least doubt entertained of their Christian principles and character, have gone where sorrow and sighing shall for ever flee away; while there are a few still remaining, who are a seed to serve Him, and witnesses in their day of what the Lord has done for them. Like the Babylonish captives ‘hanging their harps on the willows, when they remember Zion,’ when at any token of such refreshing times, they are ready to exclaim, — The Lord hath done great things for us, whereof we are glad,’ and to cry, —‘Turn again our captivity as streams in the south.’”
Thus far the testimony of this excellent correspondent, in the very interesting outline he has given of the Revival, and who, from personal and local knowledge, was a competent witness to the facts stated. As some readers may feel interested in the work and desirous to know the views and feelings of one of the honoured instruments employed in it, a few extracts from letters, which the subject of this memoir wrote to the author at the time, are subjoined.
“Ardeonaig, 11th December, 1816. —Since that time there has been an uncommon stir in a certain district in this neighbourhood. For several Sabbaths, few days have passed without one or more being led to cry out,” what shall I do to be saved?’ It was cause of great wonder and humility to me, while at the same time, it was cause of rejoicing to see sinners in the attitude of flocking to the Saviour. Having had to preach lately for Mr. M’Gillivray, I took a round, and spent a night with a number of those who were deeply concerned. It was the most agreeable jaunt I ever had, in hearing the undisguised questions of poor convinced sinners asking the way to Zion. All I have conversed with yet, appear promising; and some of them are now rejoicing in the truth, and are able to draw comfort from the Gospel. It is truly difficult, when the subjects of the work are in another parish, to attend to their interesting situation. When I was at Glenlyon last week, I met with from twenty to thirty young people, almost none of whom I saw before. Mr. M’Gillivray was there lately also. I fear, however, the door is in a great measure ecclesiastically shut against us.
“2nd January, 1817. —The promising appearances of which I wrote you are still encouraging. Our situation often reminds me of John’s hearers in the wilderness of Judea; they were concerned to flee from the wrath to come, and were in the attitude of fleeing; but he informs us, that one was to come after him, whose fan was in his hand, &c. This to us has not come yet; and it becomes us to fear when this process will be effected, that many promising appearances will not stand the test. We ought to pray, therefore, that these appearances may continue, and give evidence of a saving change being produced. There are still some coming under concern about their souls almost every Sabbath. ‘The effects of field-preaching,’ says Mr. Whitfield, ‘will not be known till the day of judgment;’ and I believe that may be said of Mr. M’Donald’s labours everywhere, and here. I saw one the other day, who dated any concern to his preaching here. I wish much he would pay us another visit.”
“7th February, 1817. —You seem to be so much nestled among your favourite so high, and your flight is so far, that you get entirely out of the reach of my short vision. I am happy, however, it is employed in such a way. I read the effusion of your muse, (which I thought you never possessed,) with peculiar interest; it afforded us much pleasure.’ It is truly a subject of wonder: and shows the sovereignty of divine grace, that the Lord has been pleased to visit this cornet in such a remarkable manner. There are indeed not a few in Glenlyon, who have given every evidence of being taught by the Spirit of God; and as yet, I have not heard of one instance of those of whom favourable hopes were entertained, to disappoint such hopes. It is a singular circumstance also, that there has been no open attempt at persecution as yet, which has so invariably followed the profession of the truth. It becomes us therefore to fear, when persecution arises, that some will be offended. Every second Sabbath especially, a considerable number of them come to Lawers, where I have an opportunity of seeing their faces in church, and sometimes conversing with some of them; and it is truly encouraging. I have wished oftener than once to go over to Glenlyon to preach there; but the door is shut: and I understand the minister is risen against me, and blames Mr. M’Gillivray and me for sheep-stealing; but I assure you, I never attempted to do this, either directly or indirectly, except in as far as the truth preached brought people to hear. Mr. Kennedy, an independent minister in this neighbourhood, has been oftener than once in the glen; and his labours also appear to have been much blessed. I am afraid that the work seems to be at a stand here, as I have heard of none being brought under concern for a short time past; and it will truly be a melancholy spectacle to us, if the showers do not fall on ourselves here. I cannot deny, but the Lord has blessed his word in a few instances among ourselves; but they are truly rare. There is a loud and general cry for Mr. M’Donald’s visiting us again. I wish much he could cross the Grampians soon, and the power of his Master along with him, to revive us.”
“July 15th, 1817.
“Next week after my return I had to go to Glenlyon sacrament, where I met Mr. M’Gillivray. It was on the whole an interesting occasion, in seeing a number of young people deeply concerned about the one thing needful.’ They stand much in need of a judicious and solid person among them, as they are at present so unsettled in their minds, particularly about church government and fellowship, by the interference of Dissenters, that they are much injured; while at the same time, they are much staggered about dissenting principles, by the return of some of those who left the Church. I may say indeed, their situation at present is peculiarly critical; and what is a matter of greater concern is, that the work seems to be at a stand. Such seasons in general are of short duration, and it is a matter of deep concern for the situation of those who are left behind. The Lord open the heavens and come down, that the mountains may flow down at his presence! I trust you will come and visit us in September as proposed, and if you carry with you some of the spirit that has been with us some time ago, you will not regret your pains. I trust your heart will be warmed as well as your fancy fired to tune your muse,” &c.
22nd Dec., 1817, —The following interesting extract, giving an account of a remarkable excitement and revival under his ministry, (already alluded to in my excellent correspondent’s letter,) is stated in confidence and with that modesty which was a peculiar trait of his character. He writes as above dated: —“ Since my arrival here, I have been enjoying the society of the dead, and occasionally that of some lately brought alive. I am sure you do not regret your visit here in Sept., and I hope it will be an inducement to repeat it. As a further encouragement, I have to mention another instance besides the young person you saw here, of one brought under serious impressions, hearing you at Lawers the last Sabbath you were here; and who appears to be promising. Now there may be more that have not appeared yet: and if you have cause to regret and lament want of success where you are, it is an inducement surely, to come occasionally to a place where the Lord has countenanced your preaching. I shall give you such accounts of these two from time to time, as shall come to my knowledge.”
“ Soon after I arrived at home, I had a pressing letter from Mr. H—— to visit Edinburgh. I accordingly complied with his request, and gave assistance at the Gaelic chapel, it being the week of the sacrament. I enjoyed my jaunt to Edinburgh, especially the society of kind friends, and our old acquaintances, Drs. Buchanan, Davidson, Fleming, Dickson, &c., all of whom felt much interested in the work going on here. I understand a report of our want of a church on this side the lake was made to the Society. They have taken up the measure; and if they do not get a church, they may remove me. But where? I have no desire now to go north, however desirous I might be at one time. The fact is, it would be the greatest sacrifice to my feelings, to be removed from this interesting spot. But I should say nothing. If the Lord lead, I must follow. I think there is every probability that Lord B will give a church next season, as the other is now nine years in ruins. * (Footnote: This was one of the disadvantages under which he and his people laboured every alternate Sabbath, having preached in the open air. During very tempestuous weather, such as could attend he addressed in the manse. The following season, however, the church was commenced.) I parted with ‘Auld Reekie' with regret, yet felt desirous to be home to my own dear charge. Mr. M’Donald was to remain two Sabbaths in Edinburgh, and intended to preach for me here, on the 22nd and 23rd; but on crossing over to Fife, he sprained his ankle, which has confined him to Edinburgh till now, unless he has left it a few days ago. From the first accounts he wrote me, I did not think it so serious; and he himself expected he would be here, though it would be Saturday night. He did not appear. I gave timeous warning there would be no sermon on the 22nd, though I intimated, but expected him for the Sabbath. You may easily conceive my feelings on Saturday night, and all Sabbath morning, till after twelve o’clock, looking for him. At last I was obliged to go to the tent, and address about 4000 people, met to hear the dear man. It was a solemn scene, to me at least, in the first instance, and I trust it was solemn to others, though our disappointment was great. The Lord was with us indeed. The scene was melting; it was a Bochim, —for I never witnessed such a scene under my own poor preaching. Thus the Lord helped me, and I trust countenanced his own word. There was nothing violent, but a general lamentation; and really I could not discover a wandering or careless eye. It almost overpowered me; and it was all under the free offers of the Gospel; for I had little or none of the threatenings that day. The Lord thus honours his own word. O to feel its influence melting my own heart! I trust the Lord has not left us in this place yet. May He revive us again, that we may rejoice. You would see in the October Evangelical Magazine notice taken of ,Glenlyon, and of some others, by, I believe, an itinerant minister near this, while a very glaring neglect of Mr. M’Donald is made. I regretted much when I read it, that such things are published, till we see how the Lord will carry on His own work.”
Without giving any further extracts in detail of his confidential communications, on the progress of the work, the narrative shall be closed with the following letters, which were copies or drafts of letters sent to R——H——, Esq. of C——‘ whose warm interest in the cause of religion has been acknowledged already by the religious public. They contain a more general and succinct statement of facts, together with some circumstances of a more public nature, than those stated in the preceding letters. Though at the risk of being reckoned too minute, in reiterating the same facts, yet the author is assured they will be read with interest, and a stronger conviction of their truth. And it may be mentioned that the writer of them had no objection to their being conveyed to a few confidential and prayerful friends. The first is dated—
Ardeonaig, 15th Aug. 1817.
“Dear Sir, — I received your letter of the 20th May, by Mr. M’Donald. Though I am a stranger to you, yet as your request was seconded and urged by the honoured instrument whom God has employed in beginning a good work, and principally in carrying it on; and as he informs me you are deeply interested in the prosperity of the cause of Christ in the world, I did not consider it proper to refuse the request. When I received your letter, I found it necessary to go to the north country, where I remained for some time; and since my return was confined by a fall from a horse, and till now had not time to answer your letter. I do not regret the delay, as Mr. M’Donald has paid us a visit since, which I trust has revived us, when we were afraid the work was at a stand. I shall endeavour to give you as short and distinct an account of the work as possible.
“Last year, Mr. M’Donald was so kind as to come and assist at the dispensation of the Lord’s Supper in this mission, in September last. He had the greatest share of the work on that occasion. During the week days there were more than one brought under deep concern; but on the Sabbath day when he preached, the influences of the Spirit of God seemed to be poured out in a wonderful measure; so that many were so deeply and publicly affected, that they could not suppress their feelings on the occasion. This being somewhat extraordinary, though not altogether new in this place, excited the astonishment of some, and the attention of many others, formerly careless. The influences of the Spirit seemed in some measure to remain among us, in giving testimony to the truth of the Gospel in the consciences of sinners, after Mr. M’Donald left us.
During the winter and spring months, there were few weeks in which we did not hear of one or more brought under deep and serious concern, from what they heard at the time of the sacrament being brought more fully to their recollection; and their convictions became deeper and more lasting. In the cases of some of those with whom I have conversed, they endeavoured for a time to resist and to suppress every conviction, till gradually, and in some degree insensibly, their convictions could not longer be suppressed; while, with others they seemed to be arrested as it were all at once, by the power of the truth applied to their consciences. There was evidently a diversity of exercises in their minds, according to their various ages, characters, arid natural dispositions; yet amidst the diversified descriptions of characters among them, I could discover nothing that had a tendency to enthusiasm or fanaticism ; but all of them could give me a rational and scriptural account of the exercise of their minds in their distress, and at the same time of their enjoying peace and comfort from the cross. Among those who dated their first concern from witnessing or hearing their companions being impressed—as they thought, not such great sinners as themselves—one great concern with them was, that since it was not by the means of the word of God, either preached or read, they were impressed, they were afraid it was not a work of grace begun in them. Such was their esteem for the power of the truth. Many of these have been brought from this mistake, and have found in the word of God what they so much wanted. I could here mention several instances of very striking language used by some of them at the time. Among others, there was one whose greatest concern was how she could glorify God in the world, before she was sent to the place of torment, as she assured herself this was to be her portion; and did she know how to glorify God, she was reconciled to whatever was His will. Indeed the various exercises of their minds are living and striking proofs of the truth of the descriptions of Scripture regarding the work of conversion. Some are like those of Jerusalem ‘cut to the heart,’ others are a proof of the fulfilment of the promise, ‘looking on Him whom they have pierced and mourning and in bitterness,’ while others are like Ephraim, 'bemoaning themselves.’ In whatever way they are exercised, they are deeply affected with the exceeding evil and bitterness of sin; and I have not seen any who have been elated with joy on hearing the Gospel, without having first experienced, in some degree or other, the bitterness of departing from God.
“I would also remark, that the moral influence of the Gospel is as much as I have ever seen. They all live in love and union with one another: and what was singular to me, and what tempted me to fear it was not a work of God, ungodly friends, instead of opposing the subjects of this concern, were ready to grant them every indulgence: Masters who would grudge their time on other occasions, would allow their servants to embrace every opportunity of reading or hearing the Scriptures, and would often accompany them, amid in several instances their hearts were opened to receive the truth. Thus the Lord, I trust, has been carrying on a good work in this neighborhood; and as yet I have not heard of one, of whom favourable hopes have been entertained, disappoint these hopes—though there is evidently a difference in the progress they make in divine things. They are also very careful in the study of the Scriptures, and have a particular jealousy, in receiving any doctrine without a sufficient warrant from Scripture. A few of them have joined the dissenters, who are zealous and active, and I trust, some of them, useful also; but their instilling into their tender minds their own peculiarities, when they stood in need of the Gospel being declared to them, was certainly unseasonable; and the consequence is, that one or two of those who have been baptized have left the Baptists, and have acknowledged their error. Mr. M’Donald visited us lately, and his labours on week days have, I trust, been much blessed. Since he went away, I met with a group of young people inquiring the way to Zion, and of whom we may say, that they are in a very hopeful way at present. May the great Shepherd feed them and lead them! It is a singular circumstance, and shows the sovereignty of Divine grace, that the work seemed to be chiefly confined to one district of the country, not in my mission. Of late the showers seem to fall on us also, or in the immediate neighbourhood. This work has been begun by the instrumentality of that much honoured servant of God, Mr. M’Donald, and carried on by others. Mr. M’Gillivray, on the same establishment with me, has been peculiarly useful: having preached in the glen oftener than once; and there is an Independent minister in my neighbourhood, who has been there often, and whose labours have been blessed in no small degree. As to the number of hopeful converts, I cannot exactly say at present; but from a memorandum I have, there appear to be upwards of a hundred persons, with whom, we trust, the Lord has dealt in a gracious manner, including all ages, from eight years old to the advanced age of eighty.
“Thus, dear sir, I have endeavoured to give you an account of the wonders God has wrought among us, and which I trust will excite your prayers and praises for us; that His own work may be increased and carried on; and that “no wild boar out of the wood may waste it, or wild beast of the field devour it.” As I am no stranger to your character, by Mr. M’Donald, I am persuaded your judgment will direct you what use to make of this letter. I have no objections that you communicate its general contents to those of your friends, who will assist us by their prayers; but except in my correspondence with Mr. M’Donald, I have hardly written to any other on the subject, I am therefore unwilling that this letter should be considered in any other light than that of a private confidential letter. I expect Mr. M’Donald to assist at our sacrament on the 7th Sept., and probably a friend or two to the cause of the Gospel along with him. I trust you will pray for us, and engage your praying friends to supplicate in our behalf; that our ensuing solemnity may be a time of revival and refreshing from the presence of the Lord. I also beg a particular share in your prayers for all necessary grace and strength. With kindest regards to Mrs. H. and family though unknown to them, I am, my dear Sir, &c.,
His next communication to Mr. H—— is dated
Ardeonaig, April, 1818.
“My dear Sir, —I should have, long before now, acknowledged the very great kindness shown to me by you and Mrs. H—— and your kind family. I pray you may be richly rewarded in the communication of all spiritual and heavenly blessings in Christ Jesus. Though I have delayed writing you till now, I can assure you, it was not for want of gratitude for your kindness and attention. There has hardly a day passed but I have often thought of my kind friends in the Square; neither was it from a want of confidence, in communicating to you freely, an account of the Lord’s work in this place. My principal reason for deferring to write you, according to promise was, that I might be able to communicate something decisive of the Lord’s work here.
“It is great cause of wonder and thankfulness that the same desire for hearing the Gospel continues as formerly, and I trust also that the Lord continues to countenance the preaching of Christ and Him crucified, by making it the ‘power of God unto salvation.’ Mr. M’Donald would have told you of his disappointment, in his not being able to come forward in November. Notwithstanding the season of the year, there was a congregation of about 4,000 collected, to hear the Gospel from his mouth. The Lord enabled me to go through the duty, and to preach to a disappointed congregation; and I trust the prayers of the Lord’s people were heard, and that our meeting on the occasion was not in vain. It is time that can prove the reality of the impressions made by the truth. It is a token of great mercy, that they continue promising still. During the winter months and the spring, not many Sabbaths have passed, without our hearing of some being brought under deep concern about their souls; and I believe there has not a week passed but I have conversed with one or more of those dear young ones, who are inquiring ‘what must we do to be saved?’ It is remarkable, that almost all of them have been brought under concern by the free offers of the Gospel; and I have often observed, when the terrors of the Law have been declared, they seemed rather to harden the hearers more; and this many of them have acknowledged. Such, however, is the influence of the Cross, when accompanied with divine power, that it brings down the most stout-hearted; for as some have acknowledged, when convinced of sin, however guilty and polluted they felt themselves, when they viewed the guilt, the number, and the aggravations of their sins—it was when they viewed their punishment in the cross of Christ that their sin was exceeding sinful in their eyes. Another striking circumstance respecting them, while under distress of mind is, their great concern lest these impressions should die away, and lest they should return again to their former careless way of living; and lest they should be given up to themselves, as they so justly deserved. This consideration weighs more with them, even when in deep distress, than almost any other, and tends to keep them humble and watchful. I might also remark, that one of their fears is, that their concern is not of the right kind, and are much afraid they may turn back to the world, and become a reproach to the cause of religion, and give occasion to its enemies to blaspheme. There were some who, at first, endeavoured to conceal the concern on their minds, and determined to reveal it to none till they were persuaded they were in the right way; and indeed adhered to their determination, till they were no longer able, or till it was discovered, by some circumstances about them. The Lord, however, supported their minds till directed, by the Spirit of grace, to the only remedy, provided in the Gospel; and what is somewhat remarkable, instead of catching at comfort (if I may so speak) they seemed rather to put it away from them, afraid it was not of a genuine nature, till they were led to see that it was their duty and privilege to come to Christ for pardon and comfort.
“Thus the Lord has been carrying on his own work in this place and neighbourhood for nearly two years. The first converts are much established in the truth, and are useful to their neighbours. If spared, when we meet, I shall, I doubt not, gratify you with an account of the exercises of mind, and experience of some of them, taken down in their own simple and artless manner, which I got done at your suggestion. I have only got a few of them yet, but I hope soon to get more. They continue on the whole steady, adorning the doctrines of God the Saviour by a life and conversation becoming the Gospel. I have begun, even in these trying times, to collect for the Bible Society in Glenlyon. In this place also we have begun to do something; and it was one of the most pleasant days I had here to meet my people—Old New-year’s-day, when we set on foot an Auxiliary Society, and we made up about £7, including donations or subscriptions, from a single halfpenny upwards. I adopted this day, as it was one on which young people spend their money and time, idly and hurtfully: and it was talked of in the country, as a strange circumstance, not recollected in the memory of the oldest inhabitants, that there was no meeting in the public houses that day or on Christmas. When the weather gets warm, I intend having a similar meeting on this side, as the people, according to their ability, are willing in general.
“ Thus, my dear sir, I trust the Lord is carrying on His own work in His own way; but you are not to suppose that every individual brought under concern is promising. Painful experience testifies the contrary: but it has often surprised me, that there are so few as yet who have turned back. It is a comfort that the Lord knows them who are His. I trust, my dear sir, you will pray for us, and engage others to pray, that His own work may be carried on and continued; and that we may not provoke the Lord to leave us. As I am requested by Mr. Munro to go to Edinburgh in May, I expect to have the pleasure of seeing you then by the 5th. —Meantime with affectionate regards to you, Mrs. H. and family. —I am, my dear sir, &c.
While he had to regret, what might be naturally anticipated, the partial falling away of some, among so many under religious excitement, still there were some new cases added, during the winter and spring. Thus writing the author, 13th Jan., 1818, he says, “There is indeed a thirst for the Gospel here; and I trust the effects of it are seen: though, alas! it is to be lamented, there is some falling away among some in Glenlyon. This is what might be expected, and it is wonderful there is not more; but it is grieving when the cause of God is traduced, on account of the inconsistent conduct of some false professors. I trust, however, the work continues here. There are few weeks since the time of the Sacrament but there are some brought under concern; but when I hear and see of such now, it is sufficient to make us tremble for the issue. The Lord maintain and carry on His own work! There are many truly exercised Christians in Glenlyon, who are acquiring knowledge and wisdom by the experience of others. They have instituted a prayer meeting, which is well attended, and have also begun an Auxiliary Bible Society. The Lord will maintain, and carry on His own work in spite of all the efforts of Hell, and its emissaries on earth. Let us be earnest at a throne of grace, that the influences of His Spirit may be poured out in an abundant manner, —then there is nothing too hard to be accomplished.
In a subsequent letter, dated 23rd March, he also adds, “I assure you I feel much attached to Breadalbane, and it would be a great sacrifice to my feelings to leave it at present, even if I should have a call in providence. It is a wonderful mercy that the Lord gives countenance to the word of His grace among us still, particularly among the young, and some of the Sabbath school scholars; and that the rest stand so firm, notwithstanding some partial falling away, and that, almost among those of whom we could only say that they were in a hopeful way. With respect to the older converts, there is a stability and simplicity among them that is truly agreeable. They are now more cautious, and on their guard. I see several of them on good days at Lawers. I got the reading of an interesting sermon by Edwards, on the marks of a true and saving work of the Spirit, preached about the time of the reviving in his own congregation, which has more fully convinced me of the work here being a good work. There was a number of things in his congregation which we have not had, as effects on the body, &e. It is a mercy to us, that nothing has yet appeared like delusion or enthusiastic, fanatical feelings. Indeed it is the Lord that has preserved us from these.”
The next extract gives an account of, the annual solemn festival, which had been much misrepresented, and exaggerated statements made of it, as will be seen in a subsequent letter.
“Ardeonaig, 1st October, 1818.
“We had a number of assistants, some of them unexpected, and consequently we had more sermons than we would otherwise have. Mr. Russel of Muthil came here on Wednesday, accompanied by Mr. Colquhoun of Dundee, (who both preached on Thursday,) Mr. and Mrs. Munro on Thursday afternoon, and Mr. and Mrs. M’Donald on Friday; and Mr. H. from Edinburgh, (who came for the express purpose of being present at our! solemnities,) Mr. M’Gillivray on Saturday—all of whom remained with us till Monday, only Mr. H. stopped at the Inn. It was truly an agreeable time.
There was not an individual with us who did not express the same sentiment. I trust much good was done by the Lord on the occasion. Mr. Russel and Mr. Colquhoun preached on Thursday, our good friend Mr. Munro, on Friday evening, —Mr. M’Gillivray English, and Mr. M’Donald, Gaelic on Saturday. We had an English and Gaelic tent on Sabbath. Messrs. M’Vean, M’Donald, and Russel preached in the English tent. I preached the action sermon in Gaelic myself this year, from Luke XXIV, 26, — 'Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?' with as much pleasure as I have done for a long time past. The day was rainy during the sermon, but afterwards it cleared up, and the people continued wonderfully attentive all day. The first table was uncommonly slow in filling, and Mr. M’Gillivray and Mr. Munro went to it to show a good example. I had much freedom on the occasion. There was a woman sitting by Mr. M’Gillivray at the table much affected; her weeping was heard at a little distance. Mr. Russel served the English table in a most admirable manner. There was none present but was much affected with it. The Lord was indeed with him. We had in all six double tables. Mr. Munro preached a sweet sermon in the evening, and the work was concluded a little after six. Mr. Colquhoun preached in the English tent on Monday, and Mr. M’Donald all day, in the Gaelic, from the parable of the ten virgins. There was a great visible commotion, several were much affected, so that I trust the Lord’s work is not at a stand yet here. There is much cause of humility and praise, in the review of what has happened. May the Lord maintain and carry on His own work unto the day of the Lord! Mr. M’Donald, Mr. Munro, and Mr. H. left us on Monday afternoon, to Strathfillan, where the two former preached on Tuesday. Mr. H. and Mr. Munro returned on Wednesday, and we went down to Kenmore on Thursday, to meet Dr. Henderson, who was to address us on the subject of Bible Societies. It was an interesting and feeling speech. Mr. H. then rose, and addressed the meeting on the same subject, and expressed his hope none would treat the effects of the Gospel witnessed at Ardeonaig as enthusiasm, &c. He spoke from his own feelings, being much excited; and I hope may have done much good —at least in stopping the mouths of adversaries. Mr. H. and Dr. Henderson returned to Perth, and Mr. Munro and I came home that night; and he was so kind as to wait the following Sabbath, and preached sweet and suitable sermons all day and evening. Indeed they were peculiarly seasonable, and were blessed to some —especially his evening address from Jerem. III, 4: ‘ Wilt thou not from this time cry unto me, My father, thou art the guide of my youth.’ I saw some much affected. I trust all my assistants this year were sent of God. May the Lord be with them, and bless them abundantly!
"I returned on Monday last from Muthil, where I was engaged to preach for Mr. Russel on the 28th. I have now, after the enjoyment of so many of my friends lately, time to think and to live solitary enough during the winter, except when employed in the public and private duties connected with my charge. O that I might have a spirit of zeal and devotedness to the important work, and that it may be manifested, that the Lord has not given up working among us yet. May He continue to give the latter as well as the former rain, that His own work may grow as the lily and spread its roots as Lebanon!"
Having returned from Edinburgh, where he assisted at the celebration of the Lord’s supper, at the Gaelic chapel, in November —which were always visits of much enjoyment to him —he commenced his usual important and laborious exercises of catechising. He writes me “3rd February, 1819. Since I wrote you I have enjoyed excellent health, and have been pretty busy during the winter in catechising, which is now nearly over. I have altered my usual mode. I read a chapter of the New Testament in order first, and make some attempts at remarks upon it. It collects the people, and gives an opportunity of declaring the truth, and they seem interested in the exercise. I am now pretty well acquainted with most of the people, so that I may anticipate what answers I get from many of them. They require their minds to be informed, and I think some plain remarks from the chapter may be useful; and the Gospels, with which I have commenced, furnish numerous opportunities for such remarks. As yet, I do not repent having adopted the plan. I have now given up catechising in the nighttime, as I had formerly; and of course I must have a greater number through the day. It is pleasing on these occasions to meet some who have a hopeful appearance; while sometimes it is painful to meet so much ignorance, and to have some anxious fears respecting some promising appearances. They have continued as yet consistent and inquiring, though the concern is not so deep with some as it has been: yet it is a mercy they have been preserved from open immorality. May the Lord preserve them to His heavenly kingdom! It is gratifying to learn that the most of those in Glenlyon who were under concern are walking according to the Gospel. I see some of them occasionally, and it cheers me when I have an opportunity of conversing with them. They are very anxious to have a minister. I wish much the Lord may send them one who will lead them and feed them. I hope the Society will look out for a suitable person for them. It would be a strengthening of the cause, and be a means of preventing the increase of dissenters —or being led astray by such enthusiasts as Finlay Munro. You would see the paragraph respecting Finlay in the Inverness Journal. I hope it may do good. It is a mercy he produced little effect in Glenlyon. I believe he would get no hearers if he came a second time, from the explanation given of his character by some who heard of his previous history.”
Notwithstanding the gratification and high enjoyment he experienced in witnessing the fruit of his active Iabours — in seeing so many brought to the knowledge of the truth, his feelings and fortitude were put to a painful trial, by the efforts of some dissenters around him, who both publicly and privately endeavoured to unhinge the minds of his inquiring flock. This he formerly experienced in some degree, and anticipated further trials, and opposition, in proportion as he might be found faithful: not from such alone, but also from a quarter from which he ought to have received encouragement, in strengthening his hands and encouraging his heart — the Presbytery in whose bounds he laboured. This opposition, however, instead of deterring him from doing what he conceived to be duty, for the spiritual edification of the charge committed to him — tended rather to fortify his mind from a full persuasion, that the revival was a work of the Spirit of God, notwithstanding the cavils, declamations, and profane taunts of moderate churchmen, or dissenters. And while he lamented much, that of late the divine influences attending the preaching of the Gospel were in a great measure suspended,
“He glean'd a berry here and there,
But mourn’d the vintage past.”
It was also a cause of much regret, that men professing to be spiritual guides of others should, without previous correct information, expose their apathy, or aversion to evangelical preaching and its effects, when they could not be altogether strangers to a similar work within their own bounds at Moulin, about fifteen years previously; and ought to have hailed the tidings from the hill country, as an omen of returning mercy and favour to the Church of Scotland. The following extract may be quoted as a fact indicating the spirit of opposition then manifested against zealous evangelical preaching; but which it appears was prudently and providentially suppressed.
“Ardeonaig, 10th April, 1819.
“I assisted at the Sacrament at Muthil on the 14th of March. It was an agreeable time. lt is a treat to me to go down there, and particularly as I am situated here. I have found Mr. Russel always the same firm and kind friend. I indeed consider it a particular kindness of the Lord, that I am so near him; and I am happy now, that he has not been called to Glasgow. It would be a serious loss to the district of country where he is, that he should be called away from it. Next week on my return from Muthil, I had an order from the Presbytery of Dunkeld, to attend a meeting called for the purpose of inquiring into certain reports unfavourable to the interests of religion, particularly in the Highlands of Perthshire, and connected with the Presbytery of Dunkeld. All the Highland ministers and missionaries on the Society, and the royal bounty, were called to appear; and we were all called upon to give an account of our respective charges. The unfavorable reports were: That many of the people in some places, and under the preaching of some individuals, were much agitated and convulsed, —things very much to the discredit of religion; that Mr. M’Donald had preached in parishes without the request or consent of the ministers, and forced himself; that he exercised his ministry in a vagrant manner; that at last Sacrament here I had so many strangers assistants that the parish ministers were overlooked, and not permitted to open their mouths; that in compliment to one individual, the most of the service was in the English language, to the loss of the edification of the bulk of the congregation; that tokens had been given to several strangers, without lines of character, and to people who do not choose to communicate in their own parish churches. All these charges were pointedly and decidedly stated, and the burden of answering them lay on me, which I did the best way I could, and fully convinced the Presbytery they were all groundless. An overture, however, was made to the Presbytery grounded on the decision of last Assembly, to report Mr. M’Donald, as exercising his ministerial functions in a vagrant manner, and to be transmitted to next Assembly, This overture, however, was unanimously rejected. Thus the zeal of the Presbytery of Dunkeld has been roused to act in favour of the interests of religion now. May it be directed to a right end, and exercised in a proper manner! ‘We must therefore be on our guard against any enthusiasm or fanaticism appearing among us, and were cautioned so by the Presbytery. I wrote Mr. M’Donald last week giving him an account of the meeting, and asking him, if he goes to Edinburgh in May, to preach a Sabbath for me; which I hope he will find convenient to do. We stand much in need of being revived again, and of strengthening the things that remain and are ready to die. It is to be feared that the Lord’s work is at a stand, as to new instances of persons brought under concern. I have not met with any new cases for some time, though I see occasionally those who profess to receive benefit by the Gospel; and it is a mercy that they generally adorn the doctrines of the Gospel.”
The only other letter which the author deems of public interest, as illustrative of the history and character of this work of Revival, is of considerable importance, from the circumstance of the date—— being written nearly two years after the last communication to Mr. H——, and thus corroborative of the statements formerly made. Though it records no new cases of excitement and serious inquiry; yet it affords testimony to the reality and permanence of the work —that it was no transient emotion excited at the time, by the fervid and pathetic eloquence of one speaker — or the faithful and affectionate addresses of another —or the mere vibrations of the chords of sympathetic feeling, which after a few hours or days die away and are soon forgotten. The work was real and permanent. Its origin was spiritual and divine; and the fruits produced, in the dispositions manifested and the habits formed, clearly pointed to the living but mysterious and sovereign agency by which it was accomplished. The following is a copy of the letter to Mr. H.
“Ardeonaig, 17th January, 1820.
“My dear Sir, —I received your kind favour of the 11th instant, and also yours of the 7th, and would have written immediately on receipt, but waited till the tracts you were so kind as to send us arrived. ‘We feel ourselves under great obligations for your zealous and frequent concern for the good of the Highlands, and particularly of this neighbourhood. I beg you will also present our grateful acknowledgments to those generous and public-spirited ladies who feel so deeply interested in the spiritual good of the Highlands. I shall do all in my power to forward the object of the pious donors; and at present, there could not be a more acceptable and useful gift distributed among the people. The preaching of the Gospel, and some tracts formerly distributed, have excited a taste for religious reading among the younger part of the people —particularly those who understand the English; for during the last six months, I have distributed upwards of three dozen English Bibles and Testaments, besides a considerable number in Gaelic. I find the demand is not decreasing, as almost all the young people, when able to read the Scriptures, wish to be in possession of a Bible.
It is a cause of much thankfulness, that a spirit of inquiry still exists among many; and though we have to lament that the eagerness of desire manifested two years ago is not so visible, yet most of those who professed to receive the Gospel are adorning its doctrines by a becoming life and conversation. And though there may be some who have lost those impressions under which they were, yet except a very few instances, we have heard of none who have returned to the open practices of sin, to which they might have been formerly addicted. Such of them as may not have continued so hopeful as they were at one time, have still remaining with them so much feeling of the influence of the truth, that they have not as yet returned to their former practices. This is visible, particularly in giving up the practice of meetings, so generally held at this season of the year. There are not a few, however—indeed there is a goodly number—who, I trust, shall continue to be a seed to serve Him in their day and generation. There is a striking tenderness of conscience they manifest in avoiding the follies to which they were formerly so much addicted; and a deep concern for not only knowing more of the Gospel; but also for feeling its power, and growing into a conformity to the image of Christ. The attendance on divine ordinances also continues, notwithstanding the inconveniences of our local situation, —not having a church yet on this side, and having to cross to the other; yet our boats are always full: and were it not that your generosity had given me orders to provide an additional boat, to carry the people to church, I should be ashamed to mention, that according to your instructions there is a boat a-building at Perth for us, and expect it will be ready by the middle or end of next month, to carry about forty people. The carpenter has engaged to make it for about £18 — one of this size being more convenient than a larger one, and it is easier sending it back again if necessary. The tenants themselves will be happy to send their own horses for it when it is ready.
“I heard lately from Mr. M’Gillivray, to whom I shall forward the parcel you sent. I understand he is to be removed to some distance from us, which is cause of much regret: though at the same time, we rejoice the Lord has provided a faithful and zealous minister for Lochgoilhead, which is a more extensive sphere of usefulness; and which, I suppose, stands in need of his labours. I anticipate much pleasure from the perusal of Martyn’s Memoirs when it arrives, a short notice of which I have seen in the periodical publications. I feel deeply sensible of Mrs. H.’s and your continued kindness. May you be richly rewarded in the communication of all mercy to you and yours! the balance of the money for the tracts shall be appropriated as you direct to the Bible Society, which is doing well. With kindest regards to you and Mrs. H., I am, &c.
The writer of these pages would also bear his humble testimony to the truth of these facts stated, by his excellent correspondent and his brother, in the preceding pages. Notwithstanding the lapse of twenty-two years, he still cherishes a vivid and solemnizing recollection of his first visit to Breadalbane, on the interesting occasion alluded to, in September 1817. His anticipations were more than realized. It was on a calm, autumnal evening that he viewed —with that interest which a stranger must feel at first, when he looks around and admires the varied scenery opening before him —the towering grandeur of the mountains bounding the horizon — the beautiful stillness of the lake —the diversified scenery of its banks, adorned with woods —the fields white for the harvest, and all reflected from the smooth surface beneath; circumstances, which, of themselves, were calculated to excite the most pleasing emotions of sublimity and beauty, and might lead a contemplative mind to admire the wisdom and the beneficence of creative power, and to exclaim with an inspired writer, “How great is His goodness, and how great is His beauty!“ These emotions, however pleasing, were interrupted and succeeded by others no less interesting and permanent, —when, as he approached within a few hundred yards of the tented field, he listened at intervals through the opening woods, to the earnest and truly pathetic appeals made to the understanding, the conscience, and the feelings, by the honoured man of God already alluded to; and when he came in full view of the assembled multitude collected on the occasion, and witnessed the arrested look, or heard the heaving sigh of inquiring and visibly impressed hearers, it reminded him that there was a moral spiritual field also "ripe for the harvest." These emotions continued each succeeding day of the feast: when he viewed the crowds collecting together by land and water, gathering around the tent, to hear “the joyful sound” of the Gospel; and heard the united voices of thousands raised in notes of praise, or saw them listening with riveted attention and visible emotion to the solemn truths delivered on the occasion, it was a scene calculated to arrest the eye, and excite the joy of an angel. And could the spiritual world be unveiled, no doubt the scenes then witnessed, at the tented fields of Ardeonaig and Lawers, were such as proved the subjects of joyous acclamation to those multitudes of pure beings who, on the first annunciation of glad tidings of great joy on earth, sung — “Glory to God in the highest, on earth peace, and good-will toward men.”
Instead, however, of attempting further to describe his own feelings, or those of others, he would use the liberty of adopting the following touching and graphic description of a Scottish sacrament, by the late Dr. Waugh of London, abridged from the memoir of this excellent man, and which he is convinced will be deemed a true and faithful representation, mutatis mutandis, of the scene witnessed on this interesting occasion by such as were present. —"O the solemnity of those tent-preachings! ‘But father,’ some of us would say, ‘you would still make an effort to go to Stitchell brae!’ ‘To Stitchell brae?’ (his eyes kindling and his soul lighted up with hallowed enthusiasm,) ‘to Stitchell brae? Ay would I! I should rejoice again to preach from that tent at its base, and to see the hundreds of God’s redeemed people sitting on the face of the hill, above and around me, drinking in with joy the glad tidings of salvation. O that I could again sit among them, and hear good old Mr. Coventry give as much sound divinity in one sermon as is now found in ten volumes! It was a scene on which God’s eye might love to look. Such sermons! such prayers ! —none such to be heard now-a-days! ‘What are your cathedrals, and your choirs, and your organs? God laid the foundation of our temple on the pillars of the earth; our floor was nature’s verdant carpet; our canopy was the vaulted sky, the heaven in which the Creator dwells; in the distance the Cheviot hills; around us, nature in all the luxuriance of loveliness: there fields ripening into harvest; here lowing herds, in all the fulness of supply for man: on the banks of that little rivulet at our feet, lambs, the emblems of innocence, sporting in the shades, and offering to heaven the only acknowledgment they could, in the expression of their happiness and joy; the birds around warbling praises to Him who daily provides for all their wants; the flowers and green fields offering all their perfume; and lovelier still, and infinitely dearer to Him, multitudes of redeemed souls and hearts, purified by faith, singing His praises in grave sweet melody, perhaps in the tune of Martyrs. Martyrs so sung on Stitchell brae might almost arrest an angel on an errand of mercy, and would afford him more pleasure than a’ the chanting and a’ the music and a’ the organs in a’ the cathedrals o’ Europe. * (Footnote: See a most interesting account of a sacrament held, during the persecuting times of Charles II, as recorded in Aikman’s History of Scotland, in a letter by the Rev. Mr. Blackadder, vol. IV, pp. 573—578, and which, if reprinted as a tract, or transferred to the Scottish Christian Herald, would be perused with deep emotion by many thousands who have no access to the above work.
See also Hislop’s beautiful poem on a “Sacramental Sabbath."
Church of England Mag. for Nov 1837. )
In the Narrative of a Revival of Religion, by President Edwards, it has been regretted that he did not publish some more examples of the experience. of those who were the subjects of conversion, of a more general and diversified character —especially a few of those who had arrived at the years of discretion—having only recorded two cases, one of them only a child about four years of age. In the following pages will be found some examples in confirmation of the facts stated in the preceding pages. Some of these are still living witnesses of the power and influence of the truth; but the most of them have since died, and have given (as the author is informed by some who were personally acquainted with them,) decided evidence of the power and permanent influence of religion on their character and conduct; and have departed this life in the full assurance of the faith and the hope of the Gospel. These narratives were written in 1818, nearly two years after the commencement of the revival, at the desire of a respected and pious individual, by an excellent and pious man, who felt much interested in the work from its commencement, and who wrote them down at the request of the subject of this memoir, in the very words in which they were told, and who, from personal acquaintance and previous knowledge of some of the circumstances stated, could not be imposed upon, or have any inducement to impose upon the credulity of others. Indeed his high character and standing, as a man of intelligence, as well as of devoted piety, carries a weight of moral evidence which, with the internal marks of their truth, place them beyond suspicion. Besides, the author finds them corroborated in a small MSS. book, in which his brother recorded, for his own use alone, notes of conversations of experience he heard from several individuals.
These narratives speak for themselves. And from the simple, artless, and candid, as well as clear and distinct manner in which they are written, they are truly interesting, affording such demonstrative and practical evidence of the reality of the work as cannot fail in carrying conviction to every unprejudiced mind: yielding also a practical proof of the influence and effects of the faithful exhibition of evangelical doctrine, in revealing the secrets of the heart; and furnishing a beautiful and practical illustration and comment —to the honoured servants who were instrumental in the work —of 2 Cor. III, 2, of whom they might say as Paul of the Corinthians, “Ye are our epistle written on our hearts, known and read of all men —manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God ; not in tables of stone, but in the fleshy tables of the heart.”
Whatever opinion may be formed of the exercises of their minds by the formal Pharisee, or the modern rationalist, they will be read with peculiar interest, by such as have had their thoughts and affections deeply engaged with the important question, “What must we do to be saved?” —who have felt the influence and the force of truth on the heart and the conscience, convincing them of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. And though there may be diversities of operations, by the same divine Spirit, there will be a similarity as to the great outlines in religious feeling and attainment —especially those who have come to years of discretion —as to their views of inherent guilt, desires after pardon, attendance on the ordinances of religion, and the joys and hopes arising from a view of pardoning mercy through the glorious atonement of Christ. In the experience of others, such will find, that their cases are not singular —that they are wrought by the self-same Spirit, and that as face answereth to face in water, so the heart of man to man.” In these narratives we find no exhibition of enthusiastic or fanatical feelings —nothing but what may be accounted for on scriptural grounds: they afford a practical argument for the truth of Scripture, derived from experience —a key, as it were, to unlock those treasures of comfort and true consolation which the holy Scriptures contain.
As some of the individuals after-mentioned may be still living, the author thought it advisable to suppress their names from the public, from motives of prudence and delicacy, and has accordingly used initials, in alphabetical order, in designating their respective cases.