Hilltown Free Church Dundee (1860)

A very considerable awakening has been going on in Dundee for some time. On the evening of the Lord's day, May 6th, a sermon was preached in Hilltown Free Church, by Mr Duncan Matheson; and at the close of it above 500 remained for the address to the awakened.

The aspect of the whole congregation, from the beginning, was peculiarly serious and interesting. Their ears and hearts seemed to be opened to receive the message of mercy; and some were weeping over their lost condition, while many others were rejoicing in God their Saviour.

Some of the very anxious remained for personal conversation after the rest had left; and, on inquiring, it was found that the most of them had been in an awakened state of mind for a considerable time, and only one or two of them had been seriously impressed for the first time that evening.

There was one, in particular, who arrested our attention, for she was so deeply anxious and alarmed, that we feared lest she would be prostrated by the terrible anguish she endured. Her conscience was awakened, and she had a vivid conception of her guilt and misery; her understanding was enlightened to see divine realities in all their importance; and her anxious soul was longing, "with death-bed earnestness," for Jesus to visit her with his salvation. She could get no relief; and she would continue her piercing cry—" How could I get mercy when I have crucified the Lord afresh and put him to an open shame? I knew the way of salvation, but I have not opened my heart to Jesus, and He is still standing without, and will certainly go away and leave me to perish. I had a good father, who told me the way of salvation. Ministers explained it. I have read it also in the gospel. But I have been a despiser, and I am left to reap the fruit of my own doings and there can be no salvation now for my poor soul. I went to church and mocked God with mere outward service, for my heart was in the world. I have also gone without ‘the wedding garment' to the Lord's table, and there I ate and drank damnation to my­self, not discerning the Lord's body. I have sinned as no person on earth has sinned; I have sinned against the light, against the strivings of God's Spirit, and I have crucified afresh the Lord of glory by my conduct, and there remaineth no more sacrifice for sin."

"But Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; and if you take him now as your Saviour, He will save you, for He has already saved 'the chief' of sinners, and He came on purpose to seek and to save that which was lost. If you feel yourself lost, you are just the very one Jesus is likely to seek and save."

But no argument seemed to be of any avail. As the piercing wail of this awakened one reached the ears of about a dozen of others in an adjoining room, where they were being pointed to the Lamb of God, it seemed to increase their anxiety; and when the clear, shrill cry, "I have crucified the Lord of glory," rung through the room, the person speaking to them stopped short in the middle of a sentence, and quietly said, "Yes, it is too true. We have all done it, we have killed the Prince of life;" when they suddenly and all at once lifted up their voices and wept aloud.

In the meantime the brother who was speaking to the one who was so terribly distressed came in, and the person address­ing went to see the one who had been preaching such an im­pressive sermon by her piercing cries of anguish. She appeared the very picture of despair, kneeling with outstretched hands upon the vestry floor; and, kneeling beside her, and taking her by the two hands, he said: "Now, you must try to be calm" when she looked him in the face with a penetrating look of despair, such as he will never forget, and cried, "Oh Mr.---' how could you bid me be calm when I have crucified the Lord afresh and lost my never-dying soul? "

"I wish you to be calm, that you may be in a condition to hear the voice of Jesus. If any man hear my voice and open the door, I will come in.' The knocking of Jesus to awaken you may be and has been, in your case like the thunder, the earth­quake, and the wind; but the voice by which He speaks peace is 'a still small voice,' and unless you are calm and quiet, it is not likely you will hear it."

On hearing this she calmed instantly, and listened peacefully to the voice of Jesus speaking in such passages as "I, even I, am He that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins."

After all she had to go away without finding peace; calmer no doubt, but intense anxiety was still depicted on her coun­tenance. "Oh, pray for me! will you pray for my poor lost soul? "was her parting request. We called next morning: she looked pale and sad, as if she had passed the whole night in anxious weeping, and come through a great storm of con­viction. She was asked, "Are you happier now? Do you think you have found Jesus? "Tears formed the only reply. Two days after she found peace. It struck her mind that, in the midst of all her earnestness, there was a desire to get up something of her own to recommend her to God; but she gave it all up, and threw herself at the feet of Jesus, as an utterly lost and helpless sinner, and left all to Him; and immediately she enjoyed a consciousness of reconciliation through his blood and the peace of soul which flows from pardon realised.

From the 'Revival Newspaper,' Volume II, page 191.

In the gracious visitations of this period Dundee was not passed by. In the many evangelistic services then held in this town Mr Matheson lent frequent and effective aid. He preached in churches of various denominations, and his voice was often heard in the open air. One winter he remained here three months, every day and night of which was spent in exhausting but fruitful toil. One Sabbath evening, early in 1860, he addressed a crowded congregation in Hilltown Church. An unwonted solemnity, deepening as the service proceeded into a feeling of awe, seemed to rest on the audience. The preacher discoursed from Matthew xxv. 46: "And these shall go away into everlasting punish­ment: but the righteous into life eternal."

At the close of the service the session and vestry were crowded with the awakened. The place was a Bochim. The first person that obtained deliverance started up, saying, "I have found Him! I have found Him! I never saw the way before!" and began to praise and glorify God. This only pierced the hearts of the others with a keener sorrow. Fearing lest they should be left in their sins, they began to charge them­selves with unpardonable hardness of heart and to prostrate themselves before God in the most affecting manner. To one after another came peace and joy in believing, and quickly the weeping was changed into songs of praise. Such scenes as these were afterwards renewed with blessed. frequency; and the gracious character of the work came out in holy lives, patient sufferings, and triumphant deaths.

The last two paragraphs are from 'Life and Labours of Duncan Matheson’ by John Macpherson, published in 1871.

Additional Information

This is a 1912 map which can be found online on the National Library of Scotland's website. It is marked as 'U. Fr. CH' at the end of Dudhope Street.

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