Greenock (1860)

At the meeting of the Free Synod of Dumfries last week, the Rev. Mr. Douglass of Inverkip said: In regard to Greenock, I believe there is one of the most striking works of grace going forward in that town of which we have any example in Scotland There is a very wide-spread and deep work of grace going on, not among one class, but every class of the community. Its influence is seen on those who are members of churches, and those who are not. One town missionary, a very humble but zealous Christian, had on his roll the names of nearly 900 indi­viduals who have waited on him for conversation in regard to their spiritual That of course is but one example of the work. There are other missionaries: and although their lists do not embrace such a large number of names as I have referred to, many of them have several hundred on their roll. The missionaries have discharged their duties in the most unsectarian manner. When they find out the religious connexion to which parties coming to them belong, they at once hand them over to the care of the ministers of such denomination. This is a testimony which the worthy men highly deserve. We have no great union prayer-meetings, and no great gatherings to hear particular preachers. The work has taken the form of small private prayer-meetings. You can go to some parts of the town, especially the east end, and you will find a prayer-meeting of that description in almost every second house. And I may say that it is as remarkable among children as among grown-up people. There are vast numbers of meetings originated and kept up by the children themselves. One large meeting in particular is kept up by boys, but is attended also by ministers or elders, who see that everything is done decently and in order. And then we have prayer-meetings among the workmen in the ship-building yards during the breakfast and dinner hours. Among that class the work is of the most thorough and decisive kind. In one building-yard especially, I am told, not only has drunkenness entirely disappeared, which has been a very common sin among these people, bat you will not hear anything like an oath or unseemly language through­out that large yard. And the prayer-meetings are not only largely attended, but the men in their turn lead in prayer most impressively and most scripturally. I should not like to say much about my own place, but I must say that my heart has been gladdened and my spirit quickened by what the Lord has been doing among my own congregation. Our Sabbath evening meetings have been well attended. Though I have had that Sabbath evening meeting for nine months, I have never preached one sermon at it. We have simply met for an hour for devotional purposes, and I have very much confined myself to reading intelligence of Revivals in other parts of the country. —Scottish Guardian.

From the 'Revival Newspapers', Volume II, page 139.

Another account from Pray Scotland:


The first symptoms of revival in the neighbouring town of Greenock were evident in a meeting held on Sunday, August 7th. From this time on, daily prayer meetings were held, and public services at which distinguished clergymen connected with the revival movement were speakers. The following Saturday, the local papers held reports of “a crowded meeting the previous evening in the Well Park Free Church, when the Rev. S.J. Moore of Ballymena, Rev. Mr Canning of Coleraine, and Dr Denham of Londonderry officiated”. In this way the revival movement in Greenock was endowed from its inception with an air of dignity. Here there was no wildfire enthusiasm stirred by illiterate fanatics, but a movement support by ministers known both for their scholarship and godliness of character. A second public meeting was held during the following week, at which converts from Ireland gave their testimony. After, the nightly meetings were held alternately in the Free Middle Church and the Gaelic Church, and it was a common sight to see the people waiting in the street for the church doors to be opened. After every meeting, anxious enquirers remained behind to seek God’s pardon and peace.

One of the men most notably used in the Greenock revival was Capt. Brotchie, the missionary of the Seamen’s Chapel. At the end of January 1860, he gave this account of the revival as it affected his own ministry. “In the month of August 1859, we saw a particular desire among the people to hear the Word of Life. So we opened the chapel each night for prayer. Since then, I myself have conversed with about 200 persons in an anxious state. I think I can safely say that a thousand people in Greenock have been brought to a saving knowledge of the truth, and these are chiefly among the working people. Young men and others are engaged in holding prayer meetings in the working men’s homes in the lowest streets of the town.” In May of that year 1860 Rev. Mr Douglass of Inverkip stated at a Free Church Synod meeting “In regard to Greenock, I believe there is one of the most striking works of grace going forward in that town of . which we have any example in Scotland. There is a very widespread and deep work going on; not among one class, but in every class of the community. One town missionary a very humble and zealous Christian, has on his roll the name of nearly 900 individuals who have waited on him for conversation in regard to their spiritual interests.”

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