The gracious revival of '59, '60 thoroughly aroused the Campbeltown district. The Rev. Alexander Munro gave a report of the work in the Free Church General Assembly. He said: "During the first week of September 1859, the Free Synod of Argyll met at Campbeltown, and at the evening sederunt certain members were requested to give an account of the work of God as they had seen it in Ireland. Several ministers successively addressed the meeting. There was a large attendance of the congregation, and a deep interest was shown in the remarks made. Some time previous to this there was great anxiety among our people. We heard of what God had been doing in America and Ireland; and especially when the revival came to Portrush, which is only about three hours' sail from the port of Campbeltown, the anxiety became very great. About three weeks after the Synod we opened one of our churches, which is one of the largest in the Free Church. We opened that church for prayer from eight till nine each evening. About a fortnight after we saw that a great many frequented the meetings who were not in the habit of attending church. We accordingly came to the resolution that we should have short and pointed addresses between the prayers, and it pleased God, in the most remarkable manner, to pour out His Spirit upon our people. A great many were made to cry out, 'What must we do to be saved?' I am not going to describe individual cases of conversion. .. Suffice it to say that young men and women, old men and women, and even children, were brought under the influence of this gracious movement. Yea, and those who had been utterly regardless for a long time in regard to religious things, the outcasts and the waifs of society, were, I am happy to say, through the marvellous grace of God, brought to the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ since the commencement of this movement in Campbeltown. The number of such cases is very considerable. As to the size of our meetings, the large church which I have just described was frequently filled to overflowing. Sometimes we had to open both our churches, and we had several addresses to the people delivered in each church, and the usual results followed in each instance.
"What I would like to speak to for a little is the results of these revival meetings. I am not going to speak of the physical results which followed the preaching of the word. I am not going to speak of prostrations, although we had some of them. To these things I attach no great value. But I would like to speak of the spiritual results. It is now nearly two years since it commenced, so that we have had some experience of it, and I think I can, with all humility, say something of its results. For example, we know that when any great work of the Lord begins in any place it will be the means of calling a large number of people to attend the house of God. If we take that as the test, then, we find that at Campbeltown a third is added to the congregation, and it is a significant fact, which I should not forget to mention, that our English Church is at this moment about 100 sittings too small for the congregation; and at the last annual meeting, finding the difficulties we had to contend with in consequence of this increase, we had some intention of providing additional accommodation and building a new church. We know, as another test of the work of God, that when one comes under its influence the natural result is that he gives to God a larger portion of his substance. Let me then advert to the fact that we are at this moment £17 above what we ever reached before for the Sustentation Fund in Campbeltown. Another proof that a work is of God is when it is the means of inciting God's own people to greater zeal; it makes them not only living but lively Christians. Now, what is the consequence with us in Campbeltown in this respect? Why, one of the results of the revival was the quickening, in a most remarkable manner, of God's own people. When Mr M'Nab, my predecessor, visited Campbeltown and saw the elders with whom he had been long familiar, and when he had heard their prayers, he confessed to me that he thought they were new men altogether. Then, again, the increase in our Sabbath Schools is very great. In some of them we had to get additional teachers. But there is one fact in particular which I would like to mention as a result of the revival, and that is the wonderful increase of prayer meetings. Three years ago there was only one prayer meeting, attended by an average of forty people; but I believe that I am within the mark when I say that there are now no less than eighteen prayer meetings held weekly within the parish."
One who was signally owned in the work was John Colville, of Burnside. When multitudes in his native town were heard saying, in deep earnestness, "What must I do to be saved?" Mr Colville went among them praying with the anxious, speaking to the careless, holding kitchen meetings, and distributing tracts. Of his kitchen meetings a lady wrote:—*
"On Saturday night again we all met with several who were anxious in Mrs. 's house. It was indeed the very gate of heaven to many a soul there. After Mr Colville had finished speaking, we had such a shaking of hands together— 'rejoicing with those who did rejoice, and weeping with those who wept.' In one corner of the room was Mr Colville speaking to two 'old disciples.' In the opposite corner was—with some other anxious one praying. Then there was one young lady telling how the light first broke in upon her soul, and another threw her arms around my neck, saying, 'Oh, Jesus is precious! I am happy, happy now.'
"Went to Mrs. 's, where Mr Colville was to have a meeting, and though I was there exactly at the hour, the room and passage were crowded with anxious inquirers, both male and female, old and young, and many who had found peace, but who were hungering and thirsting for the bread and water of life. "Went to Mrs. 's house. The two rooms and passage were crowded, and the most affecting sight I witnessed (it was a glorious sight) was to see the strong policeman kneeling in the lobby, when Mr Colville was at prayer, beside a very little boy, and another (sic) very wicked woman—all with broken hearts on account of sin, seeking forgiveness. The policeman was a scoffer when the work began in the town, and now he is brought low. He could not contain his feelings, and he spoke to Mr Colville privately after the meeting dispersed."
During this season of impression throughout the town he was often engaged in dealing with the anxious till near midnight, and for a time left his home that he might not disturb his father by going in so late, and might give himself wholly to his work.
‘Revivals in the Highlands and Islands’ by Alexander Macrea – Republished in 1998 by Tentmaker Publications.
On a week-night, lately, 4000 people were in attendance at prayer-meetings in the town of Campbelton a town with a population of about 9000; and on Saturday week, it was ascertained that twenty public-houses in that town had only sold seven gills of whisky during the whole evening among them; such a marked change had come over the people in the habit of frequenting these places.—Herald
From 'The Revival Newspaper,' Volume i, p115
The good work still continues and will continue, as evident from the unabated zeal of those ministers who have hitherto laboured so zealously in the work. 'There is no cessation. Night after night, thousands are going up to the "house of prayer." It is now six weeks since nightly prayer-meetings were commenced in the Free Gaelic Church, and that church— capable of containing 1,700 with ease—has been nightly filled, sometimes to overflowing, large numbers going away, not even finding standing room. Conversions are taking place of such a nature that even gainsayers are silent. Some who doubted of the work are now its hearty promoters. They stood aloof at first, not quite sure. Now their language is, "This is the doing of the Lord." And what has led ourselves to the firm conviction that this is not a work of man, is, the results that have been produced—the fruits manifest to the eyes of all but the wilfully blind and prejudiced. In the Free Church, on Tuesday evening, such a testimony was made—humbly, sincerely, earnestly made—by one who acknowledged that, as he was too well known already, he had no need to say what he had been—he was there to tell what he now was. And those who heard his statement are not likely to forget it. The same power that brought this stalwart farmer to the knowledge of the truth, and the public confession of it, has been equally effectual in many other souls.—Argyleshire Herald.
From 'The Revival Newspaper,' Volume i, p134. (I am assuming this is Campbeltown and not Campbelton in Ayrshire. I cannot find any church in Campbelton during this period.
I do not know where the Free Church was.