A WEE PEEK – “…The Findochty Revival stands out in my memory as one of the grandest works of God’s grace I ever witnessed. Its full fruit will only be known when the day of glory dawns…”
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The Findochty Revival
THE REVIVAL RIDE SERIES #3
The ‘Seen and Heard’ eBook
Author: Rev. James M’Kendrick
Findochty is one of the largest fishing villages on the Moray Firth, and probably there is a larger percentage of godly people to be found there than in almost any other place. Going back to the year 1860, when the village was visited by the saintly James Turner, a man most mightily used of God along that coast, there had been periodical seasons of great refreshing from the presence of the Lord at intervals of from ten to twelve years. At the date of our visit, about twelve years had elapsed since any special blessing had been realized in the place.
Many young men and women were growing up in a careless manner, and some of that generation were entering on the drunkard’s path. Old Christians were bemoaning the leanness of their own souls and were deeply grieved at the ways of the rising youths. Our first service was in the public hall on Sunday afternoon. Having met numbers of fishermen at other ports, I knew that many of them were fitted to take part in prayer. After our first hymn, I asked if two of them would lead in prayer. Up rose dear old Joseph Sutherland, a man of God and a father in Israel and with a burdened heart he poured out his soul to God. It was prayer, not the form merely, but real prayer. He led us into God’s presence and there confessed the general condition of the village. I seem to hear him now as he cried, “O God, look at our young men, who are rapidly becoming drunkards. And O God, forgive us old Christians; for a long time we have been both lame and lazy”, he meant that they had not been walking well nor working much.
When he finished, another grand old Christian veteran, George Smith, better known as “DodLettin,” took up the same strain, and when he had laid bare the general condition, he cried in agony of soul, “We are helpless Lord, we are helpless! Interfere, Lord- interfere.” The memory of these prayers still lives with me. I felt sure the blessing would come. I then related what our eyes had seen and our ears heard in Rosehearty, and as I mentioned many well-known names who God had saved there, they praised His name and longed for like blessings in Findochty. The hall was filled each night; earnest attention marked each service as the week went on, but as yet there was no manifest blessing. We had half an hour’s prayer before the service and the same after. By Thursday the impression had greatly deepened, and I felt sure the blessing was at hand.
An aged woman prayed after the service that night. I wish the whole world could have heard that prayer, quiet, calm, and most restrained. She named many names to God, chiefly relatives, with a few remarks about the condition and need of each one. Her own six sons she went over, one by one, and all the while the big tears rolled down her face. The other prayers that night were in harmony with this old woman’s pleadings, all so natural and real. That night I could not sleep; my soul was burdened with the lost. I saw men and women passing to perdition, only the beating of their heart keeping their body out of the grave and their soul out of hell. My restlessness awoke my wife. She said, “Are you not sleeping yet, Jim?” I said, “No, Maggie, I can’t sleep, and I am sure there are others in Findochty who cannot sleep either. Let us rise and pray.” And there we poured out our hearts to God, that He would graciously visit Findochty, as He had done Rosehearty. Our prayer meeting prior to the service that night was a hallowed season such as I had never before experienced.
The hall was full, and as I walked to the platform I was never so conscious of the presence of God. As I preached, the power of God fell upon the people, and up jumped a big man and cried aloud, “O God, save me; or I’ll be in hell.” For three or four minutes he continued to cry to God to save him. Turning to J.S and A.S I said, “If any of you know that man, you might go down and speak to him.” He was now quiet and leaning against the wall in an exhausted condition. I did not know A.S was his father. The old man walked down the aisle, but as the seats were long and closely packed and the son was next to the wall, he could not get near to him.
I wish I could reproduce the scene to my readers as it is photographed in my mind. Standing your father’s God. Oh Son, my boy, just trust your mother’s Saviour.” While he was thus talking to his son, up jumped another man crying, “Lord, save me; Lord, save me. I’m a coward O Lord, I was a coward, but I’ll trust you now.” As he sat down, another rose and stood on the seat, and he cried, “Oh God, be merciful to me, the sinner. In the past I’ve been the Pharisee; but O Lord, this night you have let me see I’m a sinner. In the past I’ve seen everybody’s faults but my own; but O Lord, you have let me see this night.” Christian friends pressed to shake hands and rejoice with these converts all those related being especially jubilant, and the hearts of all God’s people overflowed with praise. I gave out a hymn and said all might go who desire, but any still anxious to be saved might wait.
That night eight men professed to have found peace. We had been in the hall from 6.30 and it was now 11, but as we were leaving, the door was suddenly thrown open, and a tall young man came in and dropped full length on the floor before us. His anguish was pitiful; he had gone from the meeting in deep conviction, hoping that by so doing he would get quietness for his troubled mind; but around his fireside, the scene in the hall was the subject of conversation, and this made him worse. He went to bed, thinking that there he would get relief; but the arrow had gone too deep to be eradicated that way. The awful thought constantly recurred to him, “if I die tonight, I’ll be in hell.”
From his bedroom window he could see that the lights in the hall were being extinguished, and hurriedly pulling on his trousers only, he rushed back to the building, without boots or other clothing and entered it as I have already described. Needless to add, God saved him; and for several days he seemed like a man under the influence of drink, as he went about the village telling all he met how God had saved him. He was only one of many who were similarly affected. The conduct of the converts at Pentecost must have suggested to the onlookers that they were under the influence of some intoxicant when it was their conclusion that they were filled with new wine; but Peter in his rebuke said, “These are not drunken as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day.” He showed that their condition arose from their being filled with the Spirit, according to the prophecy of Joel.
The following night the hall was packed to overflowing. I allowed the converts of the previous night to speak, and this they did with surprising power. Their knowledge of the Bible seemed marvelous, and God’s Holy Spirit blessed their humble efforts so that many more were added to the saved. The local minister was unwell, and I took his service on Sunday night. When I had spoken for about fifteen minutes, a woman stood up and cried to God to save her. The leading elder, who was the schoolmaster in the village, but a stranger to grace, rushed up to the woman and rudely ordered her to be quiet. A sinner crying for mercy in the church was to him a breach of the peace. But D. Flett (better known as “Tosh”), one of the finest men that ever graced that part of Scotland, said, “Leave the damsel alone; we understand her condition and will attend to her.”
The schoolmaster, angry and ashamed at the fisherman’s rebuke, left the church in a rage taking the devil’s nest egg for hatching inequity with him. When he had gone, the work of God went on unhindered, and many were added to the redeemed that night. By Monday night the public hall could not hold half the people. We began about 6.30 and continued the first service till 8.30; then asked all to go, and let others in. All the doors and windows were opened for a short time to air the hall, and our second meeting then commenced and would last till about 10.30; again we would ask all to go and make room for others, and our third meeting would last till 2.30. In this way, we continued for five weeks, and during that time about 250 people professed to have passed from death unto life.
To attempt a detailed description of these experiences would in itself require a volume, and we can only mention a few of the more interesting cases and incidents. All fishing was abandoned and the one absorbing subject was salvation. A beautiful custom in that place is that when a person is converted they at once go to the homes of their relatives and tell them of the change. Their friends rejoice with the converts and engage in praise and prayer. A favorite custom, when a number of them are thus gathered, is to join hands and sing a hymn with a rhythmic air, to which they keep time with their feet. This has been called by scoffers the Gospel dance. To see several hundred thus engaged is a scene never to be forgotten. I will here give a verse of one of their hymns and the chorus:-
“I know my sins are all forgiven
And I am on my way to heaven
Praise Him. Hallelujah!”
“We’ll praise Him, we’ll praise, Him,
We’ll praise Him, Hallelujah!
This is the way we ought to do
Praise Him. Hallelujah!”
The old lady who prayed so earnestly for her six sons had the joy of seeing them all converted. One evening as I stood upon the platform I felt as if I could not choose a suitable hymn for the occasion. I closed my eyes in prayer a moment, and an opening them I met the earnest gaze of a young man. Evidently understanding my answering look like an invitation, he jumped to his feet and made his way to the platform. No sooner had he reached it than he burst forth in an earnest appeal to the people. His words were charged with the power of the Holy Spirit to a marked degree. Seeing some of his companions at the back of the hall, he was soon beside them, pleading with them to surrender themselves to Christ. His appeal was irresistible. They dropped on their knees one by one and cried to God for mercy thus once again demonstrating the great fact, which we do not sufficiently realize, that it is not the man, but the Spirit of God in the man, that does the work.
This young man had only been saved about four o’clock that afternoon, and by seven he was God’s telephone, through whom the Spirit was speaking with irresistible power. He was naturally shy and very retiring, but filled with the Holy Ghost he was bold as a lion. It turned out that he was one of the six sons. One of the same family had been a great grief to his parents, his evil ways causing them much sorrow. He had left home repeatedly and gone to foreign lands on sailing vessels. He was truly the prodigal of the family, and his conversion was as surely the prodigal’s return. The hall was in the shape of a cross, and down at the extreme end, God saved him. Standing up with the tears streaming down his face, he cried, “Where’s my father?” Looking all around without seeing him, he cried, “Oh, father, where are you?”
The father was in one of the wings of the hall, and recognizing his son’s voice, came out and began to go down the long passage to him. The son, seeing the father coming, rapidly strode up the aisle, crying, “Oh, father, here’s your prodigal son.” Tears were on the faces of both as they embraced each other. It was truly a modern repetition of Luke 15. The mother had said to my wife two days before, “Your man better not leave this place till all my sons are saved. Four are saved, and I’m praying for the other two.” Now that the other two were gathered in, how the father and mother did pour out their hearts in praise to God for saving all their six sons. As I stood up to preach one night, I could see a person struggling to get in. I had given orders that no more were to be admitted until the second service, we were so uncomfortably packed. But the very man who was deputed to keep the people out, I could see reaching out his arm and pulling this person in.
Once inside the hall, I saw that this individual was a woman and that her tongue was busy, though I could not hear what she was saying. There was no sitting room and all those standing seemed anxious to let her pass as she pushed her way towards the platform, talking all the while. As she came near, I recognized her as a person I had seen during that afternoon, and who by her appearance and manner, I had judged to be half-witted. My feelings may be judged, as I thought of all this commotion to accommodate, as I thought, a half-witted person. I motioned to those on the front seat to pack a little close and make room. They were able to give a few inches, and I said to my supposed half-wit, “Sit down there, please; sit down quick.” Looking at me with a kindly smile, she said, “Oh yes anywhere will do, I’m saved, I’m saved, I’m born again, I’m a new creature, oh anywhere will do me.” I had only spoken about ten minutes when a man at the very back of the hall jumped up to thank God for saving him; and while doing so, another arose near him and did the same.
Their friends gathered around, hands were jointed, and the usual “We’ll praise Him, we’ll praise Him” began. My supposed half-wit sprang to her feet and pleaded with all present to trust in her Saviour. I soon discovered that I had made a mistake. God had saved her that morning in her own home, and filled her soul with peace and joy, as also with a great desire for the salvation of others. She had spent the day going from house to house praising God for saving her and praying God to save others. After pleading with the people, she began to speak to the Lord; but no pen could reproduce the scene. Heavenly light shone in her face as she said, “O Lord Jesus, You saved me; I’m saved. Oh, I’m saved, I’m born again. Lord, I feel it, I’m a new creature, I know I am. O Lord, do with them what you’ve done with me. Give them a sight of yourself, just let them all see you, Lord, and they’ll all be happy. And Lord, humble me”, and suiting the action to the petition she kept stooping down till her hands touched the floor, saying all the while, “Lord humble me.”
It was her husband who called out that night, “Lord save me, I’m a coward, I’m a coward.” My wife and I visited their home a few days later. The atmosphere was heavenly, as they told of their newfound joy in Christ. Their three little children looked on in wonder as the tears of joy rolled down their parent’s faces. I said, “The children can’t understand what has happened.” Putting her arms around the eldest two, she said, “Come here, children. Your mother’s saved.” While visiting at her home one day, a baker called to deliver bread, which Katie retailed. She carried on a small grocery business and I spoke to him about his need of “the bread of life”; but he was in no humor for such talk, for strange though it may seem to the reader, very little food was eaten during the excitement of the revival, and there was but small demand for his bread.
I said to Katie, “You should speak to the baker about his soul.” She replied, “So I do.” “Did you ever ask if he was born again?” I inquired. “No” she replied. “Well,” I said, “You must ask him when he comes tomorrow” This she promised to do. On leaving I said, “Don’t forget the baker, and I will pray God to bless your question.” But the Spirit of God had something to say to Katie, “You ask the baker if he is born again, and you’re not born again yourself, you hypocrite, you hypocrite.” Katie, like many others, had all the form of Christianity, but not the power, the profession but not the possession. There was no sleep for her that night. “You hypocrite!” kept sounding in her ears all night. Morning light brought no relief, the day only echoed the language of the night- “You hypocrite! You ask the man if he is born again, and you not born again yourself. You hypocrite!”
Her godly father had retired to the loft to pray for the service. Her mother and all the others had gone to the service. All these had found peace in believing, three of them the preceding week. As Katie sat alone bemoaning her state, she heard a footstep upon the stair. She thought her end had come, as she didn’t know her father was in the loft. Tramp, tramp came the step down the stair. She sat back in perfect terror, the door opened and lo! It was her father. She cried, “Oh, father, you have given me an awful fright. I thought you were away at the meeting, what were you doing up in the stairs?”, “I was praying to the Lord to save souls,” he replied, and he set out to the service to see his prayers answered leaving Katie all alone. Her misery deepened beyond endurance, and she when to a house nearby in deep despair crying, “I’m a hypocrite! I’m a hypocrite I’m not saved, oh, what will I do?”
During the services, her father was called out and taken to where Katie was. He gladly did all he could to help her, but all efforts seemed unavailing. She cried out, “Oh, father, I can’t see it, I can’t see it” He replied, “I know you can’t see it. Thomas was the last one that saw anything. We have all had to believe without seeing since then.” And then light broke upon her vision and she believed and received Christ as her Saviour, and filled with peace and joy. A little later on, I saw a commotion at the door and could hear a shrill voice and see a person pushing her way in, like my supposed half-wit of the previous evening. As she came inside she called, “Look at the hypocrite, all of you look at the hypocrite. You all thought I was a Christian; I wasn’t a Christian. I was a hypocrite. All of you look at the hypocrite.” Her shrill voice took possession, and we were all compelled to look and listen.
Reaching the seat where her mother sat, the mother stood up and said, “Oh, Katie, I thought you were a Christian.” “No, mother, I wasn’t Christian. I was a hypocrite. You don’t know the rubbishy books I used to read, and hide below the seat when I heard you coming into the shop,” and there the mother could sit down, Katie stepped on to the seat, and again invited all to “look at the hypocrite.” She gave us nearly ten minutes’ denunciation of hypocrites and hypocrisy, and they must have been hypocrites indeed who could wear the mask after that address. She felt that she had a commission from God to visit every home in the district and ask them if they were born again. Leaving her sister in charge of the shop, she set off on her house-to-house visitation and no house or person escaped the question; “Are you born again?” The schoolmaster already referred to ordered her out of the house as an impudent woman for daring to ask him, as an elder in the kirk, if he was born again.
She next went to the manse. The minister was unwell, but Katie told the housekeeper that she only wanted to ask a question if he was well enough to hear it. The housekeeper informed the minister that Katie S. had called to ask a question-could he sees her? “Oh, yes” he replied, “bring her in.” Katie said, “I am sorry you’re not well Mr M, but I just called to ask you are you born again?” “Oh, yes Katie, thank God I’m born again,” he answered. “Well,” replied Katie, “if you are born again, keep better books in your library and not the rubbish things you gave me out of it.” What she called “rubbishy books” were novels. The minister was a good man, and took Katie’s rebuke kindly, and rejoiced with her that she was now born again. She went to the public-house, the only one in the place and put the same question.
The publican said, “I’m afraid there are not many ‘born again’ people here.” His wife, who had nothing but hatred for the work then going on called aloud, “Put her out; put her out.” Looking at the woman, Katie said: “Ah, Mrs, it is the same as of old- no room for Jesus in the inn.” Exactly twelve months from that date, Katie again visited the inn, saying, “You remember I called last New Year’s Day, and this is the first day of another year, are you born again?” He said, “Come in, Katie.” Gathering his household together, he asked them to listen while she faithfully unfolded the Saviour’s love and their soul’s deep need. Eternity will show the result, but the publican told some people afterward that if there was a true Christian on earth, it was Katie S.
My Findochty chapter is already too long, but I must tell the case of Annie F. About 330 am, just as I was undressing for bed, the bell rang. Ongoing to the door, a woman said, “I’m sorry to disturb you, I’m sure it’s your bed you need, but my Annie’s in an awful state. Would you come and see if you can help her?” When we got to the house, a tall young woman lay stretched on the floor. It was a memorable scene, but quite impossible to reproduce by any mere word-painting. She was lying with her face buried in her arms, and crying, “O Lord, have mercy on my poor soul, and don’t let the devil take me to hell. Lord, I’m helpless, you see I’m helpless. Oh, don’t let the devil take me to hell.” Her father, mother and I engaged in silent prayer, while she kept wailing and repeating what I have written and similar utterances. Suddenly the door opened, and a tall young man crossed the floor in about two strides shouting, “mother, I’ve found the Lord, I’m saved”
This turned out to be a brother of the girl who was in such distress. He also had been under deep conviction but had newly found peace in believing and had hastened home to tell his parents. Looking at his sister on the floor, he asked, “What is wrong with Annie?” The mother replied, “She is anxious about her soul George.” He shouted, “Oh Annie, I’m saved. Trust in Jesus, just trust Him.” So saying, he set off to tell his friends in a neighboring village what great things the Lord had done for him. I knelt down beside Annie and repeated some verses of Scripture that I thought might help her, and again we three continued in prayer. After a little, she said, “O Jesus you died for me; oh, save me. But O Lord, make a real job of my soul; no sham, Lord, no sham. Oh, don’t let me be a hypocrite,” and in this strain, she continued for some time.
Then slowly rising, she put her arms around her mother’s neck, exclaiming, “I am Christ’s and He is mine.” She did the same to her father. Then turning to me she reached out her hand, and said, “Thank you; you have done all you could to help me.” I went to bed about 5.15 wearied but happy over the salvation of George and Annie. When I went to the service the next night at 6.30 I could hear that someone had begun to speak, and as I pushed my way in, I saw it was Annie. Truly she was God’s messenger that night. She was speaking of the grace of our Lord Jesus on our behalf. How she depicted Him veiling His glory and assuming our form! She traced the outstanding features of his sojourn with the marvelous ability and called attention to His many wonderful deeds, and every now and again would say in a manner impossible to imitate. “Now, think about that.”
She went on to speak of the Saviour’s agony in dark Gethsemane in a way that thrilled her hearers, invariable finishing each incident with, “Now think about that.” Her description of the journey to Calvary was masterly, and as she dwelt upon the sufferings of Christ upon the cross, “Now, think about that” was uttered with a pathos that melted many hearts. The Holy Spirit of God so fell upon the place and people that she was not able to finish. Unsaved were smitten to the quick, and dropped upon the floor calling for mercy; and as others made the great decision and got peace with God, they shouted and danced for joy. Old Christians were delighted, and rejoiced with the converts, and “We’ll praise Him! We’ll praise Him! hallelujah!” seemed to be the only way to give vent to their feelings, and was sounded out with an abandon that I have never seen equaled.
No doubt my feeble description of that night’s experience may seem to some of my readers like a religious pandemonium. But had they witnessed the scene, I have no doubt they would have heartily joined in the jubilation; for none who saw it could doubt the sincerity and spontaneity of what took place, and in the peculiar circumstances it seemed as natural as the quiet hush of the prayer meeting. The Findochty revival stands out in my memory as one of the grandest works of God’s grace I ever witnessed. Its full fruit will only be known when the day of glory dawns.
BLOG BLURB – Next week, the Portockie Revival!