Annan Free Church (1860)

The Dumfries Standard says:—The Revival spirit has during the week reached a degree of intensity altogether unparalleled. in the religious history of the burgh. For the accommodation of Mr Hammond, who occupies the most prominent position in the movement, meetings have been held every night, not merely in the United Presbyterian, but also in the Free Church, which is closely adjacent. The two churches have been densely filled by a crowd of anxious inquirers from half-past six o'clock in the evening until two o'clock in the morning. Amongst the young and the old, the rich and the poor, there are many who own to a change of heart and a desire to turn to Jesus. With tears in their eyes they have come to their ministers at these inquiry meetings and asked for advice in this the hour of their sad. extremity; and some there have been who after finding peace from on high, have not hesitated to bear public testimony to what Christ had done for their souls. A young weaver and a sailor have already borne witness to the truth before the people, and a young apprentice in the drapery trade—a lad who had never taken part in a public debate before, and who was not supposed to have even the slightest pretensions to oratory—was so supported by the faith that was implanted in his heart, that before two thousand of his fellow- townsmen he mounted the platform, and told the story of his own conversion with an eloquence which charmed every hearer, and with a fervour which brought a tear to nearly every eye.

But it is not only in the town but throughout the whole of Lower Annandale, that the great religious awakening has spread. From Gretna, from Brydekirk, from Ecclefechan, and from the neighbouring districts, crowds of people have come to Annan, and some have walked even ten miles to see the great revivalist. Throughout town and country a solemn awe prevails. During this week an oath has been seldom heard, a drunkard been rarely seen, while even the ordinary amuse­ments of the people have been temporarily discontinued. The commanding officer of the rifle corps can scarcely get a muster of his men; the managers of the Mechanics' Institute find the reading-room deserted every evening; and, what is most sur­prising of all, at the weekly Wednesday lecture, one of the most eloquent preachers in the Presbytery could not obtain an audience, although the subject of his address was one of the most illustrious princes that ever sat upon the throne of Eng­land. The shops, too, are rarely frequented after six o'clock, so anxious are the people to prepare in time for the Revival ser­vices. Some who were supposed to be confirmed reprobates, the pests of society, the Ishmaels of the town, have, night after night, been attracted within the hearing of the joyful sound, and have listened with thankfulness to tidings of their souls' salvation. Among the well-dressed ladies and gentlemen; do these men sit, hanging as it were upon the words of Mr Hammond, kneeling and praying with him at the inquiry meetings for pardon for their sins. But it is over the boys and girls of the Sabbath schools that Mr Hammond exerts so pow­erful a sway. A hymn-book edited by Richard. Weaver, is generally in his hands when addressing the children, who sing after Mr Hammond with all their heart and soul. It is almost impossible to keep the children at home; every night at six o'clock they crowd to the church, and after an hour spent in religious exercises, they come home, joyously singing some of the beautiful melodies they have learned from their teacher.

An Annan correspondent of the Dumfries Courier says: ­During the addresses, solemn earnest attention is the only fea­ture visible on the audience, but when the public meeting is over, and the ministers and other Christian friends move among the anxious from pew to pew, the power of God's truth in convincing of sin is manifest, and, to an onlooker who has a heart to sympathise with the work of saving conversion to Christ, nothing can possibly be more solemnising than to see throughout all the church, on ground-floor and galleries, groups in earnest close conversation on the great concerns of their soul; and by-and-by the groups kneeling, or, if too crowded, their heads bowed on the book-boards, when prayer is made to God on their behalf. An avowed infidel, who came several miles to see and scoff, was convicted and converted the same night. Several young men have publicly professed their faith in Jesus, and have given an intelligent account of their change of heart. The public mind is deeply moved. A solemn awe seems to hang over the whole community. Scoffers there still are, and likely will be; but many who warmly opposed at first now more warmly approve. The prayers of God's people are asked for Annan.

THE revival in Annan has now been three weeks in progress and is quite equal to anything I have read of as having occurred elsewhere. The labourer whom the Lord has chiefly used has been Mr E. P. Hammond, from America. From 13th to 26th January he has laboured among us, and the effect has been such as no words can describe. No place of worship has been found large enough to accommodate the people, and even at the inquiry meeting there have been as many as five or six hundred. Inquirers have been conversed with often till after one o'clock in the morning by Mr Hammond and his helper Mr Drysdale, by four of the ministers of the town, and by many other Christian friends. That hundreds have been saved there is no room for doubting but of the exact number no estimate can be made. The change in the town is most won­derful; it exceeds four-fold what even the most sanguine expected, and it is spreading widely through the country around. The number of young men and women who are savingly changed is very large. The work among the children is noteworthy. Most remarkable, too, have been the answers to prayer. But were I to go into particulars, a whole number of your excellent paper would scarcely suffice to contain them. It is the doing of the Lord, and we look to Him to send us more of suitable labourers. Mr Hammond is now in Dumfries, where, also, the Lord is working wondrously. And in Lock­erbie, ten miles from Annan, and twelve from Dumfries, a very great work has begun. A large portion of this important county is at length aroused, and though we would not look too much to man, we cannot but feel the importance of having men whose labours the Lord may be expected to bless. Of Mr Hammond it is impossible to speak too strongly. His faith in God, his pointed addresses, his conciliating manner, his pecu­liar lovableness,—all conspire in. contributing, with God's blessing, to his wonderful success. I am, dear sirs, ever yours truly,

E. YOUNG, Independent

The following forms part of an occasional paper published by the com­mittee of the Congregational Union.

Annan—The Rev. E. Young communicates the following interesting information: For more than two years we had prayed for it. A weekly union prayer-meeting had been held, conducted by four ministers, and members of more than four congregations. It was on Sabbath, 13th January that the Revival began. The agent whom the Lord has employed, and whom He has eminently qualified, is Mr Edward Payson Hammond, from America. From the 13th to the 25th of January this devoted servant of Jesus has been working among us, and such has been the divine blessing on his labours that no words can describe their effect. I can only say a little of the meetings held, of the inquiry meetings, of the conversions, of answers to prayer in special eases, and of the work among the children. And when I have said what little I can say on these topics, the reader can have no adequate conception of the great­ness of the work. It has filled us with astonishment. There were those among us who expected something; there were none who expected one-fifth part of what the Lord in his goodness has given. It is the Lord who has given it; it is his Holy Spirit who has wrought, and is yet working; to him be the praise. Already the effect of the Revival is felt, not in the town only but for many miles around it.

The inquiry meeting commenced each evening about ten o'clock. During the first week it was closed about midnight, but on each night of the second week it was one o'clock, and on one of the nights it was two before we could separate. Even at one o'clock there might be, on an average, five or six hun­dred persons present. With many of these, for three hours, a large number of experienced Christians had been earnestly conversing, and not a night passed without a good many enter­ing into peace. Usually before separating some of the ministers spoke a few words to the people, and on the Tuesday night of the second week, when we came from dealing with inquirers in the Free Church, we found in the U. P. Church at one o'clock not fewer than 700, listening to a pointed address by our earnest brother, Mr Machray of Dumfries.

Of the number of conversions I can form no sort of esti­mate. They are of all churches, ranks, and ages. Leading men in the town have taken and are still taking a deep interest in the work. The young have been most abundantly bles­sed. Three days ago I observed to an intelligent Christian friend, "' It really seems as if all the young men were converted." He gave a cordial assent and added that the same might be said of the young women. Of course, I am far from believing that this is literally true of either class. Doubtless, there are many of the young, as well as of the old, who are unsaved still; but I am safe in saying that the number of the saved is very large indeed. That the Lord may still enlarge it is our earnest prayer; it is also what we anticipate.

Requests for prayer in special cases have been very nu­merous. I find that I have in my possession about 120, and these are not nearly the whole. Most striking have been some of the answers. On one Thursday evening a Christian husband asked us to pray for his wife and two sons. The former was then and had been for years, an inveterate opponent. Yet only two nights after the husband could request us to give God thanks because his wife and one son had been converted. One other case I may give. A thoughtless though amiable young man was one evening specially prayed for. He was not at the meet­ing; yet about the time that the petition was being presented, the Lord deeply convinced him of sin; before next night he had peace in believing, and on the second night he was earnestly seeking the salvation of others. He still goes on well. Other cases almost as noted, have rebuked our unbelief, and have shown that if God's people will only trust Him, He will do "exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think." Very blessed has been the work among the children, and especially among such as had been under Sabbath-school instruction. There is ample evidence already, and the evidence, we hope, will accumulate, that not a few of the scholars have passed from death unto life. As the work is in all the churches I should be sorry to speak as if it had any peculiar connexion with one of them. It has not. Yet with deep gratitude I have to say that our own congregation has received large blessings; that our church members have taken, at the very least, their full share in directing inquirers that they have sacrificed much in order to come to the meetings; and, that in blessings bestowed upon themselves and upon their families, their large sacrifices have been amply repaid. To one thing I would ask special attention. It has been where, in time or money, the largest sacrifices have been made that the largest amount of blessing has been received.

I have said nothing of the Sabbath meetings in our own place of worship. These have been such times of refreshing as I never expected to have seen. Sermons have not been required and would have been quite unseasonable. Thanksgiving for the general awakening, and for blessings to families and indivi­duals; brief, pointed exhortations, obviously coming from the heart, and eliciting from other hearts an earnest response; the observance of the ordinance of the Supper with a deeper feeling of humility and thankfulness than we had ever before been able to cherish; conversation with inquirers at the close, and finding that, under some brief address, or during the conversation, souls had been saved; much fervent prayer for the continued progress of the work; this gives only a faint idea of what our Sabbath meetings have been. Often before have we had special reasons for thanksgiving. To the praise of divine grace we acknow­ledge that even in times past the Lord has given us numerous cases of conversion. But now, even in our own congregation, they are far more numerous; and we are only the more thank­ful as we think that, as to conversions at least, other congrega­tions have shared still more largely in the blessing. A writer in the Dumfries Standard, writing of the Revival here, says very truly, " Members and adherents of the various churches, who had borne the character of virtuous and religious, among whom are not a few of the principal inhabitants of the town and neigh­bourhood, have not been ashamed to stay for the inquiry meet­ings, with a view to be conversed with and prayed with. Many of the worst and hopelessly godless characters of the town, who were never known to think about or care for their souls, are in nightly attendance. Several of them have been deeply moved, and some of them, it is believed, hopefully converted. The union of Christian hearts also is very marked."

Of Mr Hammond I cannot speak too highly. He is loved, esteemed, and admired, yet it is not himself but his Master whom he constantly brings into view. There is but one cause for deep regret. He is wearing himself out, and must very soon have a season of rest. To him, for his compliance with our urgent invitation, and for his devoted labours, we render hearty thanks; may we be still more grateful to Him whose servant he is, and who graciously sent him among us.

Since writing the above I have spoken with a Christian brother as to the probable number of converts. He shares in my opinion that it is impossible to number them, but he is firmly persuaded that they amount to some hundreds; and the data which he and other brethren have supplied are such as to show that in the town, and in the country, the number of conversions is indeed very large. "What hath God wrought "

The work of grace is still going on in Annan, and the Revival influence is spreading from that town over the whole of the large county of Dumfries. I went there by invitation of the ministers last week and "saw the grace of God and was glad." I stayed over three evenings. On Saturday there were about a thousand people at the prayer-meeting. On Sabbath morning, at nine o'clock, about 500 assembled in the young converts' prayer-meeting. The ordinary service from eleven to one o'clock was held in the different churches, and at half-past two o'clock about a thousand again met to hear a discourse. The usual service was held in the churches at six o'clock, and at half-past seven o'clock the union meeting for prayer and addresses was held in the United Presbyterian Church. Not a foot of standing-room was left unoccupied. I never addressed a more densely-packed nor a more interesting audience. Many requests for prayer were presented. There were so many inquirers at the close that we did not get them all conversed with when it was eleven o'clock. Some of them had come to the meeting from distances of three, six, eight, and a few as far as thirteen miles. At the Monday afternoon meeting I con­versed with a woman in the deepest anxiety about her soul, who had come in from the country, carrying an unweaned child, and had to go back, at the close of the meeting, a distance of five miles! On Monday evening the meeting was again crowded. The inquirers were numerous, and the last three I conversed with after eleven o'clock told me they were six miles from home. During the evening one of the brethren desired me to go and speak to a man, whom he pointed out, telling me that so anxious was his wife about him that she had gone home and got him to rise out of bed to come to the inquiry-meeting, that he might hear words whereby he might be saved. In the above way the meetings have been going on in Annan for the last eleven weeks, and the interest is not one whit abated. There had been a quiet preparation for this work for two years before it broke out. It was preceded by much earnest believing prayer; and when our fervent and devoted brother Mr Hammond, the well-known American preacher, arrived, he had only to fire a train already laid. His labours were greatly blessed; hundreds were aroused by his earnest appeals, and he lives in the hearts of many believers. But he "rejoiced and all the people, that God had prepared the people; for the thing was done suddenly" (2 Chron. xxix.). It is indeed the Lord's doing, and marvellous in our eyes. There was one thing I greatly rejoiced to find: united action on the part of the ministers of all the different denominations in town. On the platform erected in front of the pulpit sit these devoted brethren, night after night, taking part in the services; and thus they encourage their people to attend. There are only four denominations in the little town: the Established, Free, United Presbyterian, and Congregational churches; and the mi­nisters co-operate lovingly, as brethren ought, for the salvation of the community, and the result is so marvellous that it would be more difficult for a stranger to find an unconverted person than it would be to find a converted person, by speaking to anyone on the public street. Out of the 6000 in the town and neigh­bourhood, a minister assured me, that four-fifths were deeply interested in the meetings, and more hundreds than he would like to name are giving evidence, by a life becoming the gospel, that they are converted. There is no place in our country where such a thorough work of awakening has been experienced. The songs of Zion are sung in almost every dwelling; family worship is very generally observed, and the public-houses are getting next to nothing to do. The glorious gospel of Christ is the only means for thoroughly, radically, and permanently transforming a community. WILLIAM REID,

Edinburgh, March 29. Editor of the British Herald

We quote the following from a letter to the Annan Observer by Rev. E. Young feel neither special call nor deep anxiety to vindicate the Annan Revival. It is its own best vindication. Now that, since its commencement, one year has elapsed, what are some of the good results we may witness? First, there have been many conversions. How many, I have never attempted to say; but that they are very numerous I have no sort of doubt; and speaking of the professed converts whom I have known, I can freely state that the cases of back-sliding, or even of temporary relapse, have been singularly few. With very rare exceptions the professed converts are holding out well, trusting, as I believe, not in themselves, but in "Him who is able to keep them from falling, and to present them faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy." Second, among those who, since the Revival, are taking a deep interest in religion, are a vast number of young men, many of them energetic and active, and some of them persons of influence. Among the young of both sexes, as well as among persons fur­ther advanced in life, the blessed effect of the Revival is visible and abiding. Much, indeed, still remains to be accomplished, but this is no reason why we should not acknowledge thankfullly the great things which already the Lord has wrought. Third, the intemperate have been reformed. I could mention I know not how many, every one of whom now sits at the feet of Jesus, "clothed and in his right mind," Delightful indeed, and un­mistakeable, are cases with which I am acquainted. The temperance movement has effected much: the Revival move­ment has effected more: there is no jarring between them, both are needed, and both are excellent, while they are mutually helpful the one to the other. I would only say further, that, through the Revival, the children of God have had their faith greatly strengthened. Never before did they see so much of the power of prayer, or of God's readiness to answer it. They asked Him for guidance, and He gave it. They prayed Him to send labourers, and He sent them. They asked Him for numerous conversions, and He gave them. In many cases He gave them so suddenly that we could only think of his promise, a promise which in the people of Israel will hereafter have a still more signal fulfilment—"It shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear."

From the 'Revival' Newspaper Vol iv (page 114) and vi

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