Leith (1860)

THE POOR MAN’S CHURCH.—A friend in Leith has just sent me a letter containing jottings of a meeting held there by "The Working Men's Mission" on Sabbath last. They read as fol¬lows:—"Usual meeting, afternoon, preaching outside. Meet¬ing for evening intimated at half-past six, but the meeting place was so crowded by a quarter-past six that no more could be admitted ; indeed, the crowd waiting on the street until the door was opened filled the place, the others corning after getting standing-room where they could—all grown-up people, with the exception of a very few young believers who managed to get inside; and these came flocking as doves to their windows, not to hear a popular speaker or great man, but to hear the Gospel proclaimed by men like themselves, with all the affectionate earnestness of a sinner saved by grace; ' as those who loved much because they had been forgiven much,' telling that Christ would save the blackest and vilest among them because he had saved them. The people still kept coming to the meeting-place; and then, as the number increased, a meeting was held in the street, a little way from the place, which lasted till the other one was closed for the night; no fewer than two or three hundred standing there three hours listening to the word of life. At six other different places were open-air meetings held, and the same spirit was manifested in each, unwillingness to leave even when dismissed; and the speaker had just to begin again; would again dismiss them, and have to begin for the third time, if no other was near to assist. One man spoke at three different places in one street to deeply attentive audiences, who followed him, and when at last he went to another meeting in the next street, they went to the indoor meeting to see if they could get admission. The meeting in the street was by this time much moved. Then the eager, breathless attention of some, the hanging heads of others, and the little anxious groups gathered here and there, were so affecting that he spoke until nature could scarcely support the wearied frame, and pain attended the effort to speak. Still the crowd moved not. Word was sent to the meeting-place to see if there was room to invite the anxious to adjourn; but the sad news came back, ' No room;' and as the speaker gazed on the crowd, to whom he was now unable to speak aloud, the full heart overflowed, and he wept like a child, and said, ' What would I give to get a place to take these poor people to; but it may not be. The good Lord keep them.' Another had spoken three times, still the people would not go away. At last he also said, ' I can speak no more, and must bid you good night; but remember, the Lord will not say to you good night as I say it; nay, but He will go with you and be with you for ever.'

Each meeting as it, came always to the door of the place of the indoor meetings to see if they could get in, but none could be admitted. Yet they would not leave until they saw the gas put out. The crowd being so great, fears were apprehended whether they could he dispersed quietly. They lingered long, but the speakers could do no more. Some of them were scarcely able to walk without support.

"The meeting inside was also densely crowded, and deeply attentive. About 130 left at the end of the first meeting, and about 80 remained for conversation—as many as could be accommodated with any convenience for conversational purposes. Many anxious ones seeking, others impressed, and some weak believers needing to be built up; but owing to labourers being so much scattered outside, exhausted and worn-out when they came in, and the immense crowd waiting outside, it was imperative that this meeting too should be closed; and we could only look to Him who worketh in the hearts of all to carry on the work in the hearts of those affected."

This is truly wonderful when we consider that all the speakers at these meetings (which, I believe, are held every night), are working men, who spend five hours almost every night (the time most of them formerly spent in the public-house) to seek the salvation of their fellow-workmen. I saw their meeting on Friday last and it was quite crowded; and many were coming downstairs saying, with rueful looks, "There's no room!" I know numbers of the men who form the committee, and have heard them speak, and I am persuaded they are doing a great amount of good. W.REID. Edinburgh, Jan. 31, 1861.

From 'The Revival Newspaper,' Volume iv, p52.

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