Thursday, 19 March 2009

4. Highland Revivals (Rogart and Rosemarkie)

This post follows on from 3. Highland Revivals (Golspie)

A weekly lecture at the request of the converts was held on Wednesdays, and a day of solemn thanksgiving was kept for the good work of grace vouchsaved to the parish. In the neighbouring parish of Rogart, where Mr. John Munro was minister, fifteen persons were awakened in 1740. In the following year these and other serious persons felt themselves ‘fallen under sad decays of soul’; and sorrowed over the indifferences that prevailed around them. Thereupon ‘they associated for prayer, and at their meetings mourned and wept over the cause of the Lord’s withdrawings from their own souls, and prayed earnestly for powerful days of the Son of Man.’ In 1743-44, about fifty more were awakened, who, in 1745, continued in a hopeful way.

In several parishes in the Black Isle there were showers of blessing at this time. Rosemarkie, eleven miles north-east of Inverness, was the site of a Columban church Romanised by Boniface in the eighth century, and there about the year 1128 the bishopric of Ross was founded by David I. Several worthy ministers laboured in the parish after the Revolution. In 1734, Mr. John Wood, chaplain to Sir William Gordon of Invergordon, received a call to the benefice, and for forty-one years laboured with signal faithfulness and success. On the 1st May, 1744, he wrote to Mr. Robe:

‘The least [last?] gracious revival is the more remarkable to me, as I had been groaning under the burden of labouring in vain as to any considerable appearance of success for several years before. Of the few professors of serious religion in the place, the most lively and judicious were removed by death. In such melancholy circumstances it must be peculiarly refreshing that the Lord, of His own mere goodness, should in any measure have visited us. His coming was not, indeed, with observation, being attended with none of those more extraordinary circumstances, as in some other places, but in a gentle, gradual way. Since the communion here in July last, the bulk of the congregation seem to have a desire after instruction and the knowledge of the Gospel much greater than formerly. And this holds with respect to the more private as well as more public ordinances; for in the course of my examinations (catechisings) last winter and spring, I never had so little reason to complain of absentees, being crowded wherever I went by persons from other corners of the parish besides those assembled to be catechised. There are now about thirty persons of different ages and sexes who have come to me under convictions and awakenings of conscience through the Word. Upon conversing with them, I found several had been under some gradual work of this sort for a good time before -- some of them for two years -- though they never disclosed it till now. There are now four praying societies in the parish.’

He goes on to tell of other fourteen or sixteen persons who have given promising appearances of spiritual concern, but like the rest of the awakened, they were reluctant to make known their convictions ‘so long as they were able to conceal them’. He trusts that present appearances, owing to the intense and increasing earnestness manifested throughout the congregation, give promise of greater blessings to follow in the parish. He begs an interest in ‘the prayers of the friends and children of Zion’. He then refers to the revivals in Nigg, Logie-Easter, Kilmuir and Rosskeen in the presbytery of Tain. In the presbytery of Dingwall, Alness and Kiltearn -- so greatly blessed in the days of the Covenanting struggle under Hog and M’Killigan -- ‘revived as the corn, and grew as the vine.’ In his own presbytery of Chanonry, he writes that ‘there is at Cromarty as good number of lively, solid, and judicious Christians, gathered in by the ministry of their godly, judicious, and now aged pastor, Mr. George Gordon, and their number has considerably increased of late. The work of the Gospel is also advancing in Kirkmichael (Resolis). I hear likewise of some promising stir beginning in the parish of Avoch.’

The movement thus described by Messrs. Sutherland and Wood proved to be a genuine revival by the truly abundant and enduring ‘fruits of the Spirit accompanying’. The wave of blessing passed over a large part of the North, and the districts surrounding Inverness, Dingwall, Tain, Dornoch, and Thurso were pre-eminently favoured. A high-toned morality, a strict observance of the Sabbath and of family religion prevailed. Prayer and fellowship meetings sprang up everywhere, and in almost every parish there were many ‘men’ of fervent zeal, prayerfulness, spirituality of mind, and deep Christian experience, ready to take part in religious conference, and ‘speaking to the question’ with remarkable ability, and to the undoubted edification of the hearers. Of some of the ministers who carried on the work thus happily inaugurated, we hope to write in succeeding papers.

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