A WEE PEEK – “..When we came to inviting those who were anxious to be saved to come into the granary, the scene was indescribable. People could not have been more anxious to get out of a burning house or a sinking ship than they were to get into that granary. Many had their clothes badly torn in the struggle to get up the stair, and there till early morning all who could help the anxious were busily engaged…”
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The Hopeman Revival
THE REVIVAL RIDE #1
The ‘Seen and Heard’ eBook
AUTHOR: Rev. James M’Kendrick
Hopeman is a large fishing village between Burghead and Lossiemouth. Mr M’Farlane had gone there for two weeks and had seen many blessings. He had to go to Avoch, intending to return to Hopeman later, but circumstances prevented, so he wrote asking me to take his place. He assured me that during his visit many had been saved, and that there was every sign of an increased spiritual revival, and that he would come and join me as soon as possible. I went and found that all he said was true. At least about twenty people had been truly saved, and most of them were longing for the salvation of others. Three young men especially, who were born companions, were showing much zeal and no little ability, and God was using their efforts to awaken sinners. When I arrived on the scene, it was to find a prepared people longing for salvation.
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The services were held in a large granary, which at that season of the year was always empty. About 400 people could be packed into it, and it was filled to its utmost capacity the first the singing was the best I ever heard by a congregation. I did not propose an after-meeting, being tired with my long journey that day from Fort George, but I spoke with many as they passed out, asking them if they had been saved during Mr M’Farlane’s visit. At my lodgings, we sat and talked till about 11.30 pm, when there was a knock at the door. I heard my host say when he had opened it, “Oh, it’s you, Sandy; come in.” The man asked if Mr. M’Kendrick was in bed, “Oh, no,” replied my host, “he’s here.” “Well, I want to speak to him. I went home from the meeting and went to bed, but I couldn’t sleep, and so I arose, and I’ve just hurried over to speak to him.”
I heard all this and called out to him to come inside. He came in looking very distressed. I asked, “What do you wish to say to me?” “Well,” he replied, “when I was going out of the granary, at the top of the stairs you asked me if I was saved, and I said Aye, but I knew fine I was telling a lie, and only said Aye to get past you. Oh, I went home a miserable man for I thought what a wicked thing it was to say God had saved me when He had done nothing of the kind. Oh, to think I told a lie about God.” His grief was great, as the penitential tears rolled down his face. It was with great difficulty I could persuade him that God would forgive and save him, for his sin seemed so awful, and he kept repeating, “Oh, to think I told a lie about God.” Sandy, however, was truly saved that night and became a most devoted Christian.
There lived, in Hopeman a most remarkable Christian, name Archie M’Pherson, known and respected by all in that district. When God saved him he could not read one word, but he soon learned to read the Bible, which was his one book, and the Holy Spirit his only guide and interpreter. He rapidly became a most earnest, able Christian preacher. Evangelical ministers at the various fishing centers were glad to get Archie to take their pulpit, and in every place, crowds would flock to hear him. He was not only a godly man, but he was a man of God, with backbone and grit. The minister of the church with which he was connected was a thorough type of the ‘Moderate,’ who did not understand either the theory or practice the principles of grace. Many a straight talk Archie had given him about his pointless preaching, and its lack of doctrine of atonement and substitution.
Archie was the principal elder in the Church, and the minister found him a ‘thorn in the flesh’. At length, matters came to such a pass that Archie warned him that if he persisted in a certain line of teaching he would rebuke him publicly. If the minister thought this an idle threat, he had mistaken this man. In the middle of his sermon one forenoon, Archie stood up and said, “Didn’t I warn you repeatedly against such preaching, and tell you that if you persisted I would rebuke you publicly? In the name of God, I utter my protest against all such teaching, as I believe it can only have a soul-damning effect upon any who believe.” As may be well imagined, this created a scene. Some approved of Archie’s action, others condemned it, while women rushed out of the church in excitement, and the service ended amid confusion.
The next day the minister and two like-minded elders visited Archie, asking a withdrawal of his words and an apology. But Archie only added to what he had said in the church, and after many deputations, in which others took part, the matter ended in Archie challenging the minister to bring his manuscript before the Presbytery in Elgin, and he would meet him there. The minister, however, declined the challenge, and Archie ceased church attendance for a considerable time. Eventually, he returned, on the condition that such preaching would not be repeated.
All went well for some months, till one day, preaching from the text: ‘Without holiness no man shall see the Lord’, the minister said “Here is the way to Go, by your holiness, by your holy living, and not, as some would teach, by the Saviour’s death.” In a flash Archie was on his feet, crying out “How dare you, sir, say such things in my presence?” And for about ten minutes he denounced the errors, proving all he said from the Bible, and finishing by saying, “I call God to witness and this congregation also, that I have done all I can in public and private to prevent this preaching in our midst. “ Then, turning to his family of grown-up sons, four in number, he said, “Rise and let us leave this place as a protest. Let us wipe the dust off our shoes as a testimony against it.” This he literally did and marched out of the church, followed by his family and others.
All this had happened about twelve months before our arrival. Archie had hired the granary and was about to open it for religious services when Mr M’Farlane arrived. We soon recognized in him a faithful man of God, and guided by his advice, we carried on our Gospel operations in Hopeman, and there, as in other places, the work of God increased daily. Never a day passed without some being saved. The granary and all its stairs could not accommodate the people, but there was a splendid vacant piece of ground adjoining, an amphitheater in shape, and there we erected a platform. The weather was perfect for outdoor meetings, and the people crowded to our services. I had seen in other places fishing operations given up, but nowhere else had I ever seen such absolute abandonment of all other occupations for the Gospel of Christ as in Hopeman.
Mr M’Farlane by this time had joined me, and for four weeks Hopeman was in the throes of a great revival. The Holy Spirit of God possessed the place, the wail of the convicted and the anxious, the praise and rejoicings of the saved were heard throughout the entire village by day and by night. People flocked from Cummingston, from Burghead and from all around. These, with the whole people of the village, would be at our open-air meetings. As I have said, the days were perfect, and people could sit on the light, sandy soil without risk of damp or cold. The evenings were so calm that many heard the singing over a mile away. When we came to inviting those who were anxious to be saved to come into the granary, the scene was indescribable. People could not have been more anxious to get out of a burning house or a sinking ship than they were to get into that granary. Many had their clothes badly torn in the struggle to get up the stair, and there till early morning all who could help the anxious were busily engaged.
Hopeman was one of those fishing villages where drunkenness, with accompanying evils, had a good many slaves. Strangely enough, two of these victims had the same name, and these two were looked upon as hopeless; but when God’s Holy Spirit is working, daily surprises occur, and it was a surprise to all when the news spread that Jock M was converted. A few days sufficed to satisfy the most skeptical that a divine work had been wrought in the man, and as he stood up to tell how God had saved him, the big tears rolling down his face, few dry eyes could have been found that great crowd. He made his appeal with great force, saying “You all know what I was, the sort of life I lived, and if God has saved me, none need despair.”
Without trying to be humorous, he went on to say, “All you good people need to be saved. I often thought, if I was just like some of you good people that didn’t drink or swear, I would be all right; but now I can see from the Bible that you good people are all wrong too. Our own goodness will not save us; we all need to be saved by Jesus our Saviour.” He speedily developed into an active, earnest witness for the Saviour. When we were leaving, this man said to me; “I wish I had some worthy gift to give you, but I haven’t, but I would like if you would accept this silver chain.” I protested, saying he would need it, but he assured me he never wore it, but would like me to have it. I accepted his gift, and have worn it ever since. His namesake was even a more notorious character.
I had seen him at several meetings and had reason to believe that his lost condition was becoming very real to him. I called at his home and found it was as I expected, and there I left and had the joy of seeing him truly born again, his life from that hour giving full proof of the great change. When I went and told our friend Archie that Jock M, of whom he despaired was truly saved, he replied, “If Jock is saved, I would not be surprised to hear of the devil next.” Mr M’Farlane and I were walking towards a wood one day and met four women coming home with bundles of sticks they had gathered. We began talking about the meetings and found that most of them had been saved. Looking at one who seemed uncomfortable, I asked: “Are you also saved?” In a halting way, she said, “Yes.” But it lacked the ring of sincerity.
I urged upon her the necessity of being sure about such an important matter. That night after the service we invited the anxious up to the granary, and the place was packed as usual. I heard a great commotion outside, and a man came to me and said, “A woman that can’t get any further up the stair is weeping and screaming, and says she must see you.” I went to the stair-head and could hear her shouting, “O God, forgive me, I told a lie. Oh, where’s the man I told the lie to? It was M’Kendrick I told the lie to.” They cleared the stairs to get her up, and here I recognized the woman who had told me she was saved. She cried “Oh Mr McKendrick, will you pray God to forgive me, I told you a lie. I told you I was saved, and I wasn’t. Oh God forgive me.” Her distress was deep and her penitence real, but she seemed too excited to be spoken to. I left a friend beside her till she was more composed, and it was then an easy matter to lead her to the Saviour.
These few cases will suffice to show to what extent God’s Holy Spirit was working in Hopeman. About 300 professed to have experienced the saving change at that time. Mr M’Farlane was able repeatedly to visit Hopeman later on, and to see with the greatest joy the consistent lives of those who were converted. The month of May then begun, and all the fisherfolk were getting ready for the summer herring fishing. Mr M’Farlane and I went home, after eight months of incessant labor in addressing meetings and conversing with the anxious every day and at all hours. We were thoroughly wearied and worn out, but oh, so happy in having finished one of the most successful campaigns of our lives. About 1600 people had professed to be saved during these eight months. We left old Archie a happy man.
He often said, “I am like old Simeon. I can now say, ‘Lord, let Thy servant depart in peace, for mine eyes have seen thy salvation.’ I have now seen what I have lived for and long prayed for, Hopeman blessed.” A few months after we left, he was going by train to Aberdeen. He had reached the station, purchased his ticket, and was awaiting the arrival of the train when a strange feeling overcame him as if a fish-bone had stuck in his throat. He tried to clear his throat, but without effect. Now Archie was far from being a superstitious man, but he became possessed with the idea that God had said to him, “Return your ticket; you will never need it. I am going to take you home; you are not to go to Aberdeen, but to Heaven.”
From the knowledge I have of Archie M’Pherson I most firmly believe that by some means God’s purpose as he told it had been revealed to him. He went home. His wife said, “Were you too late? Did you lose the train?” He replied, “No, I am not going to Aberdeen, but have come home to put all things in order, here I go to Heaven”. She exclaimed, “Oh Archie, what do you mean? Are you trying to frighten me?” “No,” he said, “I am telling you the truth. Send for the boys, and get all the family together, I am going to bed to die.” While this conversation was going on he had been busy undressing. The boys were sent for, the doctor also and a thorough examination of his throat was made.
Nothing could be discovered, but so interested was the doctor in his old friend, and so anxious that nothing should be left undone, that he got a specialist to come and assist. Notwithstanding this, all efforts to convince Archie that there was no organic trouble and that he might expect to live for many years were unavailing. His unswerving answer was, “Doctor I am going home. My Father calls me, no power on earth can keep me.” When he had given instructions as to what was to be done with the boats and the house property and the money, and all the family had confessed their satisfaction with the distribution he said, “Now that all is settled, let us worship God together as a family.” They sang a hymn of praise and then he prayed, committing his wife and children to God, naming them one by one like Jacob of old.
After this had been done, he said, “All is now settled, and I am going home tomorrow.” And as he said, so it happened. People came from many miles around to his funeral; from Inverness and Aberdeen people were gathered. The Aberdeen Free Press, a leading paper in the north of Scotland, reproduced his photograph, and devoted about three columns in reporting his funeral, and paid such a tribute to his godly life and character as few people have ever earned. A movement was got up by the Christian public to mark their esteem for the man and his work, and a monument is erected upon his grave, worthy of the man and the esteem in which he was held. Archie sleeps with many more of the Hopeman converts. We, who are still awake and remain, toil on in the sure and certain hope that “We shall meet beyond the river when the surges cease to roll.” This chorus we often sang together in Hopeman, in a way I have never heard it sung elsewhere.
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