Eyemouth Free Church (1860)

Within the last ten days we have been visited with a most remarkable Revival of religion amongst us. The Primitive Methodists have been most actively engaged in the work. At the close of the usual Sabbath evening sermons, it is customary to hold a short prayer meeting. This announcement having been made on Sabbath week (27th ult.), the congregation seemed unwilling to retire, and they remained during the after-meeting; visible impressions seemed to have been made. The truth burst upon the mind of one woman, as she sat in her seat; she had been in an anxious state previously, and could no longer contain her joy, as she then found peace in believing; but standing up in her pew, facing the people, she waved her handkerchief, exclaiming, "Glory to God! Jesus died for me!" The impression upon the audience was most solemn and affecting; anxious inquirers remained spell-bound and were unwilling to retire until they were in the same joyous state. On the following night, a prayer meeting was held by the members and friends of the church, there being no minister present. A deep solemnity seemed to pervade the minds of the people during the exercise of praise and prayer, and at the close, it was intimated, that if any felt anxious regarding their spiritual state, the friends would remain with them, and, as well as they could, direct them to "the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sin of the world." Many remained, and dur­ing the prayers that were offered up on their behalf, they could no longer contain themselves but gave vent to their feelings in crying to the Lord to have mercy on their souls. Some were stricken down, but after having been directed to Jesus as the sinner's Friend, they found peace in believing. I could give many interesting cases, but suffice to say, that these meetings are still carried on nightly, and cannot be dismissed until the people are entreated to leave. Think of a large band of those brave fishermen who used to be found on the side of the devil, now meeting in the house of God in the middle of the day, to pray, and praise that God who had often protected them from the dangers of the deep, pleading with Him now that He would guide them through the storm of life, and at last lead them into that haven of rest where no storm can overtake them. A deep solemnity pervades the entire community. Every day we are hearing of fresh cases of conversion; it is not confined to the places of worship, but men and women are affected in their own houses—fishermen in their boats on the sea. If the work goes on as it is doing just now, it will be the death blow to the liquor traffic. Gladly will we help to bury the hydra-headed monster beyond the power of his resurrection. May God hasten the day.— Correspondent of Christian News, 7th Dec 1859. A correspondent under date Dec. 18, sends us the following extract from a letter:—" The accounts from Eyemouth are truly marvellous. Nothing in Ireland could exceed it. Mr Turnbull (Free Church Clergyman in Eyemouth) spent three days in visiting in the town, and in every house found souls rejoicing, or in great anxiety, or deeply solemnized. He feels that not a remnant but all Eyemouth will be saved. Public houses deserted, no swearing heard; churches open day and night, and all crowded."

Eyemouth is a small town a few miles north of Berwick-on­Tweed.


Eyemouth. The following interesting letter addressed to the Rev. Mr Somerville, was read from the pulpit of Free Anderston Church,.Free Church Manse, Eyemouth, 14th Dec. 1859. MY- DEAR SIR,—My heart is glad, and I would like to tell you why it is that I am glad. God has visited Eyemouth in his mercy. He has revived and He is still reviving his work in the hearts of our people. It was just yesterday three weeks that a young man was struck down in my prayer meeting. At that time (I cannot tell whether immediately before or after) some cases took place in the Methodist place of worship. The following Monday our prayer-meeting started up from 15, 20, or 40, to 120, brought together, perhaps, partly by the idea that Mr. —, the gentleman who had been struck down, would give some account of his experience, which he did briefly, and which I did more at large. The people were very much im­pressed and solemnized. Those who were going about among them thought that there was a growing seriousness and that there was something like the expectation that the Lord would make bare his right hand and his holy arm and show unto them his salvation. This impression was getting stronger towards the Saturday, on the afternoon of which day, my sister, who is here at present, said, I think you should have a prayer meeting tomorrow evening. Though unwilling at first, on account of the fatigue to do so, yet the more I thought of it the more I was led to be of the same mind with her. Accordingly, next day the meeting was announced, and one also for the Monday— Tuesday being the day of our ordinary prayer meeting so that there were three days provided for. On Sabbath evening the church was well filled; it was fuller on Monday; quite full on Tuesday; crowded on Wednesday; on Friday the people were standing in the passages,—all impressed, anxious, prayerful. Ongoing among the people, I found a wonderful softening amongst the most careless. Towards the middle of the week, I went from morning to night, and did not enter one case in which the people were not either mourning and weeping over their sins, or rejoicing that the Lord had had mercy upon them, and given them his peace; and every day the work has been extending, till, I may say, the whole town has been brought under its influence. Young careless lads sitting before you, with flushed face and heavy eye, not able to open their mouth because of their shame,—and young women, as if their hearts would burst because they cannot see Jesus and cannot taste the Lord's peace. God has been dealing very kindly with many of them. He has often taken the cloud off very quickly, and then their faces are shining as that of an angel, and the hand is thrust out to grasp yours, as they haste to tell you what the Lord has done for their souls. Just as a specimen:-- I had three young ploughmen, who were to come to me for conversation previous to communion with us at the Lord's table. I gave them Thomson's Sacramental Catechism, and they brought their books one evening and opened them to read a little. I spoke some few words to them, and immediately I found them in tears—tears which they confessed their sin was causing them to shed. I bade them lay down their books and told them I would rather have them read to me out of their own hearts, and so we began and took sweet counsel together concerning the things which belonged to their peace and then we prayed. Another instance of the Lord’s doing among us:—I have a young women's Bible class. They meet at six o'clock on Sabbath evening. The usual exercises led me to speak of the Spirit’s work, and how He had been doing that work amongst us during the week, and I put it to them, would they let Jesus pass by without crying “Thou Son of David, have mercy on me?” I had to stop for one-half were soon sobbing and weeping. I said, "Shall we pray for you as a class this evening at the meeting?" "Yes," was the reply. I should have said that three of them, at least, before this, had sought and found the Lord.

From 'Revival' Newspaper Vol i BY THE REV. JOHN TURNBULL.

WE had not been without tokens of the Lord's goodness to us in this place for some years past. Drops fell from Heaven and told of the coming of the plentiful shower which was about to descend and refresh the inheritance of God when it was weary.

For many years past, prayer meetings, in connexion with the different congregations in the town, had been established. About two years ago, these meetings seemed to be visited with a new life; not that they were more numerously attended, but that those who attended them seemed to have more of the spirit of prayer—to have more of the wrestling spirit of Jacob—that, like him, they seemed to say to God, "We will not let Thee go, except Thou bless us." This wrestling spirit was still more openly manifested after the tidings of what God was doing in America and in Ireland reached us. After that time, we used to leave the prayer- meetings, saying to each other, "The Lord will hear our prayers: He will give us also a time of refreshing from His presence: the revival will yet reach Eyemouth." About the latter end of August, I went to Ireland and to Glasgow, where I saw the wonderful work of the Lord. After my return, I gave an account of what I had seen to a very large congregation, composed of members of all the churches in Eyemouth, and was struck with the patience with which they listened to a very lengthened address, and by the interest, marked on their countenances, which they felt in the subject brought before them. Other ministers who had been in Ireland and the West of Scotland followed me in giving similar addresses on week-day or Sabbath-day, and told what they had seen of the work of the Lord; and all of them to large and attentive audiences.

The last of these addresses was delivered on the 20th of November, and on the following Tuesday an individual was struck down at my ordinary prayer meeting. During the week, the report of what had happened got abroad; and on the following Tuesday, more than a hundred persons attended our prayer-meeting; and to that meeting, as well as to a smaller one held on the week preceding, Mr gave an account of the way in which he had been affected, and of his experience before and after the period of his prostration. He said that he had been converted more than a year and a half before; that he had never had a doubt of his being called of God. At the moment he was struck, however, he had been visited by such an overpowering sense of the majesty and holiness of the Lord Jehovah, that he could see nothing in himself but sin and could find no words with which to express his feelings, but the words, "God be merciful to me a sinner."

Toward the latter end of the week, I heard that there was a great desire on the part of the people to come together more frequently for prayer. Accordingly, I intimated on Sabbath that the church would be opened that evening for prayer, also on the following evening—Tuesday being the day of our usual prayer meeting. I was both surprised and pleased to find a pretty large congregation assembled on Sabbath evening. On Monday, the attendance was still larger; on Tuesday, the church was quite full and by the end of the week numbers could not find seats but were obliged to stand in the passages—all seemingly impressed, and anxious, and prayerful.

The United Presbyterian and Baptist churches were also opened every night for prayer, and the greater number of the people attended all three meetings in succession. The Primitive Methodists also opened their chapel every night and had a large attendance. I may mention that several cases of prostration occurred there.

On proceeding to visit the people in their own houses, which I did on Monday and following days, I found all impressed and anxious. They all seemed to be asking the question, "What must I do to be saved?" Many were weeping because of their sins; because of the wrath of God, which they found to be a present burden—a burden too heavy for them to bear. And not a few, even at that early date, were rejoicing in Christ Jesus. The manna was lying all round about the camp, and the whole face of the ground was wet with the dew of heaven. I can truly say that for weeks in succession I went from house to house, and during all that time I did not meet a single individual who was not impressed. Even those who confessed that they had received no saving benefit, did not hesitate to acknowledge that what they saw was the work of the Spirit of God; and sometimes added, they wished He would visit them in the same way that He had visited their brethren and friends.


It may be asked, What have been the results of this awakening in Eyemouth?

1st, It has introduced and maintained an almost universal temperance, or rather, I should say, abstinence from all intoxicating drinks. Many of our fishermen have long been temperate men, but not a few of them indulged freely in the use of spirituous liquors. It may be said that, from the end of November, the public houses have been almost closed. I have week after week made inquiry—I have asked others to do the same, and the result is, that I cannot find that a single man who professed himself a converted man has entered a public house or tasted strong drink since that time. Many of them have assured me of this themselves, and have added, "Not only have we not tasted strong drink, but we have no desire to do so." Some time ago a large fishing boat required to be drawn up. On these occasions, from one hundred to one hundred and fifty men assembled to do the work; and, up to that time, they had always been paid for their labour in whisky. The whisky was provided; the boat was hauled up—and the men went away, leaving the owner of the boat to take back the cask or graybeard of whisky, with the seal unbroken, to the public-house from which it had been brought.

The evening of the 2d January last was passed by these men, and by nearly our whole population, not in rioting and drunkenness, but in attending two large meetings, — revival soirees, they were called—one held by the Methodists in the Established church; the other by the combined Free, United Presbyterian, and Baptist churches, in the United Presbyterian church,—where they were addressed by some of our excellent ministers from Berwick, Tweedmouth, Coldstream, Houndwood, &c., the addresses being interspersed with prayer and praise; and so satisfied were the people with the provision made for their entertainment and edification, that they called them heavenly meetings. On that day not more than three men were ob¬served on the streets of Eyemouth in a state of intoxication.

2d, It has increased to a wonderful extent the attendance in our churches. The churches were never so well filled as they have been since this work of revival began. All those men whom God had quickened—in whose heart the Lord had revived His work—found their way on the first Sabbath after that event to the house of God. The Sabbath formerly was a day of sloth, or it was devoted to drinking or idle strolling through the fields. Now they say—their practice says, “It is a delight." They long for it, and when it comes they rejoice in it, and the full-voiced psalm, the loud and sweet song of praise which they raise, and the earnest attention which they give to the preaching of the word—attention which reminds you of the expression of the prophet, " Thy words were found, and I did eat them"—tell you that they have a real pleasure in the service, and make it doubly a pleasure to preach to them.

3rd, Another fruit of the revival is the love which they have one to another. No sooner have they found peace with God—"the peace," as it has sometimes been called here, as in other places—than they run to each other to ask forgive¬ness for former injuries. One woman went at eleven o'clock at night to the house of a neighbour. "Will you forgive me," she said to her friend, "all the ill I have done you?" "Yes, I forgive you," was the reply. She went and kissed the child in the cradle, as much as to say, "I love you now, and I love all that is yours." And then she turned to her friend again, took her by the hand, and said, "Do you really forgive me?" And not till she received a second time the assurance of forgiveness would she leave the house. Not an oath is now heard as the boats depart from the harbour, or return to it. All is quietness, and forbearance, and brotherly love, and in the same spirit of good-will, whenever they have an opportunity, they go to the neighbouring towns and villages, that they may tell their fellow-men of Him whom they call the lovely Jesus, and of what He has done for their souls.

4th, The spirit of prayer is another marked feature in their character as now developed. I have mentioned how the prayer meetings were crowded at the commencement of this movement. Night after night this continued for about six weeks when it was suggested to us, that, as the same persons attended all the meetings, it would be better to combine them; and now they are held in the Free, the United Presbyterian, and the Baptist churches on succeeding nights,— the Methodists have their own meeting,—and all are well attended, (up to the present time.) But our new converts are holding prayer-meetings in each other's houses, and, indeed, in all the houses where they can find admission; and sometimes, independently of our large public meetings, not fewer than three of these prayer-meetings will be held in late-night, each having an attendance of from thirty to forty. In the dark and stormy nights of December, our boys held prayer-meetings in the boats which were laid up at the end of the town; in unoccupied houses, where they had neither fire nor light. They now meet, sometimes to the number of thirty, in the house of a Christian friend. Our young girls have a meeting in a place which has been provided for them in the town. It was only a few weeks ago that the existence of a servant girl's prayer meeting came to my knowledge, from the circumstance that one of my Bible class told me that she had found peace at that meeting. And on one occasion I was surprised to hear that a little girl, not more than twelve years old, at family worship, had opened her mouth and poured forth prayer for father and mother, brothers and sisters, filling them with wonder, and making tears of joy flow from their eyes as they rose from their knees. When our public prayer meetings began, there were none to take part in them but the ministers and elders. Now we get most suitable and excellent help from our converts. Their mouths have been opened in a wonderful manner; we may say of them, they are full of matter. To a remarkable extent the "spirit of grace and supplications" has been given to them. A meeting in which they take a large part is felt by all of us to be a most refreshing one.

Further, their perfect truthfulness is a pleasing feature in their character. They will not be tempted, either by the form in which you put your question or by the more advanced state of those around them, to pretend to an experience which they have not. Indeed, they cannot do it. When they are under the burden of sin, their face is flushed and their eye heavy; they will hardly look up or speak to you at all. Whenever their burden is removed, and they have found peace, their face shines like the face of an angel, and they run to you and tell you that they have found Christ. A desire to be holy has sprung up in their breasts. Without presuming too much, I may say that they do hunger and thirst after righteousness. Their language is that of the Apostle Paul, "Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect; but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." Hitherto their walk has been such as becometh the gospel; they know they are weak—they know they cannot be strong, except in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. Often in their prayers they say, " Lord, make us to stand; give us faith to enable us to stand:" and we join our prayer with theirs; and we invite all those into whose hands these lines may come, also to pray for them, that their path may be that of the just, which, like the shining light, shineth more and more unto the perfect day —that they may go from strength to strength, and every one of them appear in Zion before God.

EYEMOUTH, April 18, 1860

Additional Information

The Free Church is now an Amusement Centre

Related Wells