Findochty - James Turner (1860-1864)

A few young men had been attending a religious meeting at Findochty, a village about two miles east of Portessie, and about fifteen miles west of Banff. So much excited were they, that their employer shut up his workshop -- a Cooper's—and now the greatest excitement is going on. A meeting, which commenced on Friday evening at six o'clock lasted till four o'clock next morning and was resumed at ten A.M. When I called on Saturday, about one P.M., a scene presented itself to my view truly wonderful. Young people stretched out on forms labouring under strange sensations might be seen—indeed, were seen—supported in some cases by weeping parents or distressed brothers. One young man held.

From 'The Revival Newspaper,' Volume ii, p60

At Findochty, I understand that, with but few exceptions, the whole village may be said to have found the truth.

From 'The Revival Newspaper,' Volume ii, p102.

"The next sea-town is called Findochty, about two miles from Port­knockie. At the first three meetings nothing particular took place, but in the fourth, the Spirit's power came down as in the former town, and the Lord saved many souls. Next morning I had another meeting of about two hun­dred, and again the power of God came down in an extraordinary way. About three hundred met again in the evening, and when I was speaking a woman cried out for mercy. In a short time nearly all present were doing the same. My voice was completely drowned. I never saw such a scene in all my life. It was heart-rending to hear the cries of the great numbers who felt that their souls were lost. I question if some of the dear people could have cried louder though they had been in hell, but God gave the witness to many souls that evening.

December 1861. The day following I went to Findochty, where the same power was manifested. I could not describe the scene there, as broken-hearted penitents, many back-sliders returned to the Lord, who healed their backsliding, and the people of the Lord were weeping for joy. This continued for a day and a night, out and out; but I slipped quietly out of the meeting, leaving the people with the Master himself, and went to Portknockie.

From 'James Turner or how to reach the masses,' by E McHardie, page 23.

In Findochty, the converts, like the first Christians, were conspicuous for their holy zeal. In them burned a fire restless to seize upon everything that came within its reach. This they carried with them wherever they went, and set hearts all around them in a blaze. If they crossed the sea it went with them. If in the prosecution of their calling in other villages, towns, or even crowded cities, still it went with them and made them burning and shining lights.


"In 1859, there were six praying men in our village. The people in general had a sort of reverence for the Sabbath as manifested by regularly attending Church at least once a day.

"In the south country, that season, I went into a bookseller's in Bo'ness for something I wanted. There was a heap of loose papers lying on the side of the counter, headed "The Revival'. I asked what kind of papers these were? His reply was, 'I'll give you the whole lot for three pence' These papers I took home, read them myself, then gave them about me to read. The news of the work in America stirred up the dormant feelings of the praying people, while the news of the work in Ireland excited something like a spirit of expectation among them.

"About that time, Mr. Brown, congregationalist minister, came round with Hector M'Pherson, and established union prayer meetings, which were successful as to the outward attendance, and prepared the people for future events.

1860 found the meetings still being carried on, and the people beginning to manifest something like real anxiety. Next came the news of what James Turner was doing along the Buchan coast; which news and the power accompanying, awakened a great desire among us that he should visit this place also.

"At last the time came that he did so, on or about the 7th of February. His text was 'Who is on the Lord's side?' During this first meeting there was no demonstration of the Spirit, only the people seemed to be awe-stricken at the simplicity of his preaching and his solemn appeals. At the close of this public meeting in the hall, he announced a private meeting, at which, he said, he would be happy to see as many as would like to come. I went for one, and another man along with me. He began this meeting by giving out the verse—

'His presence fills each heart with joy, Tunes every mouth to sing;

By day, by night, the sacred courts With glad hosannas ring?'

"Then after having read a few verses of Scripture, he engaged in prayer. As he prayed, several cried aloud, and some professed to find peace.

"'I see the light! I see the light!' cried one man in jubilant tones.

" Another man began to pray, and, in tones that showed him to be awe-stricken at the power which rested on him, said -among other thing 'It's not me that's praying, it's the Holy Ghost in me!' 

"When I came out of the meeting the whole village seemed to be on the move. I saw James Turner taking down names on a paper, of those who were willing to become abstainers. I had got no good spiritually as yet, but when I saw the names going down, I thought 'I can easy do that,' and so put down mine too.

"Next morning, at nine, the meeting opened in the hall, but to describe that meeting is impossible.  Scarcely had he begun the service ere the whole people seemed moved. First came the cry for mercy. One who had loudly boasted before going in, that no power should make him cry out, he was only going in to hear what the little mannie was going to say, was heard above everyone crying—' I'm a whited wall! I have nothing to cover me but leaves!'

"On the 11th of February, I went to the meeting deeply impressed, resolved not to leave until I had found Him whom my soul desired to love. The word that day was clothed with power and many were the slain of the Lord - from the child of eleven years to the hoary-headed man and woman; they were shouting the praises of redeeming love. But no peace to my soul as yet, so resolved still to tarry.

"At the next meeting for the anxious, God divested me of all pride and made me willing to be a target to be prayed for publicly. It was a terrible crisis to my soul. The powers of darkness seemed all engaged to keep me back from finding peace with God. Fifteen years before I had been brought down so far as to weep and pray under Mr Tarras, a preacher in connection with the Methodists, and now this day while on my knees as a penitent, the suggestion was thrust into my mind, 'you have sinned away your day of grace,' and not only was this thought injected, but a picture of myself as I wept and prayed on that day, was placed before my spirit's eyes, with this further suggestion— 'That was the time when you did it?' It was indeed as I have said a terrible crisis to my soul. But the enemy did not get the victory. One of the newly liberated began to pray for me, and he had not been five minutes engaged when the power of God came down on me, and I was constrained to cry aloud for myself. I had not cried long ere the Lord revealed himself to me as he did to Thomas, and like him I was constrained to cry out, 'My Lord and my God!' Then out of the meeting I got, and went round all my relatives telling them what God had done for my soul.

" At the meetings after that, I had in particular, great power with God in prayer, and on the spot obtained direct answers. But sometime after, through ignorance of Satan's wiles, and of the Scriptural way of resisting him, he got the advantage of me so far as to get my mind darkened a little by shoving doubts into it.  And though I still kept close to God by prayer, I lived a powerless life as a Christian until I had as it were a second conversion, which stripped me completely from fear of man.

"It came in his way. A cross was laid before me, so heavy, that the thought of lifting it up made me tremble from head to foot, and to the very centre of my being. I did not stay to reason with flesh and blood, nor to cavil with the devil, nor with men in regard to lining it up; and when I did so at God's command, He was not only faithful in giving me needful strength, but also great blessing to my own soul, and to other souls through me.

"The cross was this. We were at St. Ninian's. I myself and all the crew had given our hearts to God. We attended the meetings. Mr McDonald, the East Coast Missionary, asked me to take his place one evening. When the time came  - to be real honest I went to St. Ninian's trembling like an aspen leaf - the devil had driven me through and through the Bible trying to prevent me fixing upon any passage from which to speak. Still I went on; took God at His word for help in this time of need. He lifted me wholly out of myself; the Spirit took possession of me. I spoke truly as He gave me utterance and that night upwards of one hundred souls professed to come under conviction. The work begun that night went on, but as the details of it are pretty well known, I need not here go into them. I will only mention one little circumstance which happened at that time. Just before we sailed, a young man, clerk in a merchant's store, came down to us and said—'I have been observing you all the time since you came to this harbour. I have not been at any of your meetings, but I have heard of them, and of what has been said, and done in them, and I have just come down to tell you, that you have been the means of my conversion !'"

"James Turner, or How to reach the Masses", by E McHardie, pages 115-118.

Some years afterwards, when at a meeting in Findochty, and looking at the noble band which God had raised up there, I had the same impressions again very strongly. And when I thought of James Riach and his work at Peterhead, and along the Wick coast; and then of Joseph Flett and his crew at St. Ninian's, etc., Fifeshire, and many others, it seemed to me as if Jesus was again, as in the days of old, saying to these fishermen, "Go ye and preach the gospel to every creature." Far, far, and wide, wide, through these men, whom he was the means of bringing to the Saviour, has James Turner's influence for Christ spread beyond the sphere of his bodily presence."

"James Turner, or How to reach the Masses", by E McHardie, pages 154.

About 1864, I visited Findochty along with another brother for the purpose of seeing how the Christian fishermen got on, for we were told by two sisters who had visited shortly before, that this village was overshadowed with the Holy Ghost, and we found it so in very deed. We had never seen anything like the power that was here manifested in prayer; and that by illiterate - but pious fishermen. It had a most humbling effect on me. The people were gathered together to hear us speak for the Master, but speak I could not. My brother spoke and spoke well, and the people were blessed under him; but I could do nothing, I was nothing. I saw myself with all my education and talents as nothing, and less than nothing; and could, and did, sit at their feet, and learn from them of Jesus.

"James Turner, or How to reach the Masses", by E McHardie, pages 235.

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