Scotland's History, Legends, Wildlife and Hunting Practices...because the past lives in us and guides our footsteps.



IS native air speedily restored his health. Not one
day was wasted in needless rest. Often at this
period did he at public meetings tell his Crimean
story amidst torrents of tears; but he always took
care, when the fountains of emotion were stirred, to cast the



bread of truth upon the waters, in the hope of finding it
after many days. Invited by the minister of the Free
Church at Insch, he occupied the pulpit for the first time.
Here he held the first enquirers’ meeting, which was at­
tended by a few, and among the rest an old man who said,
“ I’ve come that ye may search me weel. Oh, dinna scruple
to try me, as it wad be a fearfu’ thing to be deceived for
eternity. Noo, sir, begin.” “John,” said the evangelist,
“ do yöu love the Lord Jesus ?“ “ I dinna doot that,” was
the reply, “but I wad like mair.” The old disciple was
still enquiring. During his three months’ labour at Insch
several persons were awakened. One of these afterwards
became an elder in a Free Church, and another, a young
woman, became the wife of a missionary, and was instru­
mental in winning souls.

In October, 1857, he went to labour as an evangelist in
Whitehaven, at the request of a minister of the Church of
England, who was desirous of promoting the spiritual wel­
fare of his native place. He found the soil of Cumberland
stiff; but his labours were not wholly in vain. It was a
sowing time rather than a harvest Then he began to
preach every day, a practice he followed throughout the
rest of his active ministry. “ To this place,” he says in a
letter, “ I have almost done my duty. Surely, if I go home
I shall get a little rest Rest did I say ? Nay, truly, whilst
health is granted. The days pass swiftly. Soon all will be
gone. Since I came here I have not got half-an-hour to
take my dinner at a time, and the door is widening on
every hand.”

Here he resorted again to the press. When lying at the
point of death in the East, he had prayed that ten years
might be added to his life, and vowed that if spared he
would publish a testimony for Christ The prayer was
answered, and the vow duly performed. The testimony for
Jesus took the form of a little monthly periodical, which
he entitled, “The Herald of Mercy.” After much prayer
he issued the first number at the close of 1857. “ I had no
money to advertise it with,” he tells, “ but I trusted in God,
and cried to Him to spread and bless it for his own glory.”
Under his editorship it held on its way till it reached a cir­
culation of 32,000 a month. It was declared by many to



have been the herald of mercy to their souls. Its aim
was the awakening and conversion of sinners. It was not
designed or specially adapted for the edification of saints,
excepting so far as it kept before the eye of believers the
worth of souls and the realities of the eternal world. Never
did the trumpet give a more certain sound than in the
mouth of “ The Herald of Mercy.” It recognised nothing
on earth but souls: souls in sin, and souls in Christ: souls
going to heaven, and souls going to hell. Every article,
paragraph, and sentence, original or selected, bore directly
and plainly on the great truths—ruin, regeneration, and
redemption. The little messenger was owned of God, as
a few facts will show.

A stranger came to Mr. Matheson one day in Crieff, and
asked him if he remembered a “ Herald of Mercy " with an
article headed, “ Quench not the Spirit.” “ That,” said he,
“was the means of my conversion.”

An English lady, resident in Constantinople, for whose
spiritual welfare much had been done in vain, received from
a friend a copy of the “Herald.” The reading of it re­
sulted in her conversion.

A tradesman in Berwickshire one day finding a fragment
of paper on the floor, picked it up, and as a matter of
curiosity, began to read. It proved to be part of the
“Herald of Mercy,” being a brief article, headed, “Are
you converted?” It was an arrow from the King’s own
bow. Conversion followed.

Two young men stood side by side at an open-air meeting.
One of them held in his hand a copy of “ Special Herald,”
with hymns; but while they sang the eye of his companion
wandered from the verses to a little paragraph put in to fill
a vacant corner. It was enough: both eye and heart were
fixed. The little article spoke with divine power, and
brought him to Jesus’ feet. The young man is now a minis­
ter of the gospel.

A herd ­boy was sitting at the wayside, when some one
passing put a “ Herald of Mercy” into his hand. As he
tended the cattle he read, was awakened, and brought to
Christ. He is now known as a devoted follower of Christ.

Invited by Lady Pirrie, he went to Maivern in the autumn
of 1858, and laboured there for a short time. Here on the



hill­side he held his first open-air meeting, and felt he
received a special call to this kind of work in the blessing
that attended the service. Henceforth he gave himself to
preaching in the open air. By day, by night,, beneatlf the
summer sun, out in the drenching rain or piercing cold of
winter, in the remote glen amidst the bleating of the sheep,
at the sea­side, where the singing of David’s psalms mingles
with the still more ancient harmonies of the great ocean on
the crowded street, in the noisy fair, beneath the shadow of the
scaffold, in the face of the raging mob—everywhere, in short,
as far as in him lay, he strove to preach Christ to perishing
men. In this way his voice reached many who otherwise
would never have heard the glad tidings of salvation.

From Malvern he retraced his steps to Cumberland, and
for a while laboured at Workington. Here by invitation
of the people he occupied the pulpit of the Presbyterian
Church, and combined the offices of pastor and evangelist.
His preaching excited no ordinary interest. Crowds flocked
to hear him, and not a few were impressed.

On February 2nd, 1859, he was married at Weston-super-
Mare to Miss Mary Milne, a Christian lady whom he ever
regarded as an invaluable gift bestowed upon him in answer
to prayer. Not one day was withdrawn from labour. Exube­
rantly social and tenderly affectionate though he was, the
winning of souls was to him infinitely more than the most
endearing relationship or the most hallowed earthly joy.
“We’ll get settled up yonder in the Father’s house,” he
said; “meanwhile let us work and win souls.”

In the spring of 1859 Mr. Matheson returned to Scotland,
and took up his residence in the city of Aberdeen. The
great religious awakening of that period was just beginning.
Tidings of the work ot grace in America and Ireland
stirred the hearts of Christians, and many were in expecta­
tion of a similar blessing. The spirit of grace and suppli­
cation was poured down, and many a blessed scene was
now witnessed. The winter was indeed past, and the time
of the singing of birds was come. The beginning and pro­
gress of the work were everywhere characterized by a real
faith in the efficacy of prayer, and the power that attended
the testimony of Christians to Christ. In answer to prayer
the treasured petitions of years seemed to be granted in



one day. The simplest utterances of even babes in Christ
were instrumental in converting sinners. In fact, the testi­
fying of believers and its effect was a marked feature of the
work. In teaching, the truth is set forth simply on its own
merits. In preaching, there is an authoritative, herald-like
proclamation of the gospel in the King’s name. In testifying,
the speaker bears witness to matters of fact of which he
is personally cognizant. The best preacher, doubtless, is
teacher, herald, and witness all in one. But testifying has
its place and power. Many were saying, “Christ is dead:
Christianity is dead,” when suddenly thousands arose, and
with one voice declared, “Christ is not dead. He lives,
and the proof is this, He has saved us: He has raised to a
new life us who were dead in trespasses and sins.” “ The
Lord gave the word, and great was the company of those
that published it.”

It is worthy of remark that the work began, at least in
its more striking manifestations, in the fishing village of
Ferryden, and quickly extended to the numerous little
towns that dot the north-eastern coast. It reminded many
of the beginning of the Lord’s ministry in the fishing villages
of Galilee; and the recent gracious visit of the Lord Jesus
to our own Galilean regions seemed to some like the return
of an old love.

In Aberdeen Mr. Matheson occupied the pulpit of
Blackfriars Street Independent Chapel. Joining his friends,
Mr. Radcliffe and Mr. Campbell (minister of Free North
Church), he threw himself heartily into the work. Not satis­
fied with ordinary effort, they set themselves to carry the war
into the very camp of the enemy by open-air services in the
streets and elsewhere. In writing to a friend, he says :—

“ I have only time for a few words, and my object in
writing is specially to ask your prayers that at this time
the Lord may greatly bless me in the ingathering of souls.
Yesterday was one of the most remarkable days I have

spent in my life. Mr. F------, the godly man who brought

me to Aberdeen, was well yesterday morning. He went at
two o’clock to the meeting in the County Buildings; read
16th of John, sang a psalm, engaged in prayer for the out­
pouring of the Spirit, sat down, cast his eyes to heaven,
gave a deep sigh, and in a moment his spirit was with



Jesus whom he loved. At eight o’clock Mr. Campbell and
I preached to thousands in the open air. What a night!
We had over and over again to preach. The crowds had
to be divided, for they were too large. We could not till
nearly eleven o’clock get away from the awakened. Mr.
Radcliffe was unable to speak.. Pray, pray for us. The
Lord is doing great things. I believe almost every time
one speaks souls are brought to Christ. Pray for me—for
humility. The Lord bless you. I am weary.
“ Yours in Him,

“ Duncan Matheson.”

Speaking of the work of grace in Aberdeen, in a letter of
date 17th August, 1859, he says:—

“ After a residence of nearly five months in this city, and
having come in contact with the work in all its phases, I
have no hesitation in saying that a great and glorious work
of grace has been felt here, and that it is still going on. It
is impossible to estimate its extent, or gather up one-half
of the results. More, far more, has been done than is
apparent; and yet it is a fact that numbers have been
more or less influenced by the truth, and that many, very
many, manifestly have been brought to Christ. There can
be no doubt of this, and as yet I have not met one case of
any truly awakened returning to the world. The Lord has
given a visible stamp to not a few, and the zeal, love, affec­
tion, prayerfulness, and humility of many of the young con­
verts is remarkable. I never during my life saw more deep
concern for souls than I have seen here, and the close
clinging to each other, though in different churches, is
refreshing—most refreshing. Groups of the young are to
be found here and there throughout the whole city meeting
for prayer; and one thing has struck me almost more than
anything—the holy boldness in confessing Christ, and ac­
knowledging what He has done for their souls. Another
striking thing is this, that few have found Christ themselves,
but they have been instrumental in the awakening of others.
Many instances of this have come under my notice. A
leading feature in the prayers of the young converts is the
prayer offered up for the Christian ministry. One would
often think they were burdened with the care of the minis­
try ; and a high, deep respect for the ministers of the gospel,

SPREAD OF THE AWAKENING.                 115

in so far as they are owned of God and devoted to his
work, is manifest. We have had the revival, and the fruits
are apparent to all who have mingled in the work. Often
has it pained us, many going away and saying, ‘I saw
none.’ Nay, and how could they, if they did not go where
it was, and if they did not ask those who do know it ?

“The grace of God has been much displayed in not a
few instances that have come under our notice, of parties
coming to spend a Sabbath in the city, going away to their
homes deeply awakened, or rejoicing in Jesus, and be­
coming centres of blessing where they lived. I have passed
through many parishes in the county, and found here and
there anxious souls; and one thing is undeniable, that
never was there a time when so many were thirsting for the
Word, and that where ministers have taken advantage of
this, and entered with intensity into this new state of things,
there a blessing has descended. At Chapel of Garioch,
Banchory, &c, the Lord has been working, but with
much power at Chapel of Garioch; and I believe that there
is not a parish around it but has its awakened ones. The
truth that above all others seems to be owned is—‘You
are lost. A Saviour has been provided. It is your duty
to accept Him now.Ruin by the fall, righteousness by
Christ, and regeneration only by the Holy Ghost, are the
leading truths of every address. They are uttered in much
simplicity, from loving hearts (I speak of Mr. Radcliffe and
the ministers well known engaged in the work), and in
much dependence on the Holy Ghost, and the blessing
does descend. We can convince no one if they will not
believe. Hearts leap for joy, and songs of holy triumph are
sung. The Spirit is breathing; the Holy Ghost is working;
the gale is blowing; the tide has risen and is still rising
Blessed they that take advantage of it, and girding them­
selves for the battles of the Lord, go forth to preach Christ,

As dying men unto dying men.’

But how sad to awake and find the opportunity gone, and
hear, in the looks of hardened sinners, powerless sermons,
and unheeded warnings, the voice, deep and solemn—'Thou
hadst a day.’
God bless you evermore.’’

From Aberdeen he went frequently to the country, and
1 2

116                        REGINALD RADCLIFFE.

found many of the rural parishes awakening as out of a
deep sleep. Let us follow him to two or three places of
interest. An awakening took place in the Free Church of
Garioch in August, 1859. Mr. Matheson was present when
the work began. “The prominent characteristic which ever
attracted most our love for Mr. Matheson,” writes Mrs. Bain,
wife of the esteemed minister, “was his devoted and con­
tinual watching and working for the salvation of souls. I
noticed this at my first meeting with him, which occurred in
a stage-coach about 1848, on which occasion I was greatly
refreshed while listening to a conversation in which I found
my two fellow-travellers engaged when I entered the coach.
One, an elderly man, was making objections to the doctrine
of sovereign grace. The other, a young man, although
evidently suffering under severe toothache, was using the
opportunity to plead for truth wisely and lovingly. I felt so
interested as to be constrained to enquire on reaching our
journey’s end after his name, and found it was Duncan
Matheson, then said to be a stonecutter, but evidently being
prepared to use skilfully the hammer of the Word of God
in polishing living stones for the great temple. Some years
afterwards, being employed in missionary work in and
around Huntly, he was asked to address a meeting here,
which, I think, was almost the first of his evangelistic
labours beyond his native district. From that occasion
onward to his last visit, after his illness was far advanced,
many were his kind and stirring visits to us and among us,
and many have cause to bless God for them,

“Mr. Matheson was engaged to preach here on the evening
of August 4th, 1859, Mr. Bain being then in Ireland, drawn
over by the great revival there. Some days before, I received
an intimation from Mr. Radcliffe of his willingness to come
and address our people, and spend some time here, which
being accepted, Mr. Matheson‘s previous engagement proved
a very gracious arrangement in providence for leading him
to be present, and giving his most valuable assistance on
that remarkable night of the outpouring of the Holy Ghost
on the people gathered from the surrounding district, his
previous knowledge of not a few of them giving him an
advantage in dealing with the many souls awakened on that
memorable occasion.


“After the market-preaching began, Mr. Matheson came
to us for several years on the Sabbath nearest the Whit-
sunday and Martinmas terms. These visits were looked
forward to with desire, and much prized by our people. On
one of these Sabbaths the power of God was manifest upon
the souls of many, especially in the afternoon. Mr. Bain
being absent, I was called out of church after the close of
the first service, and while a prolonged meeting was being
held on account of the agitated state of some young per­
sons. I found at the church door a lad who had long been
in my Sabbath Bible-class, and who up to the morning of
that day had been, as far as I could see, entirely hard and
careless, answering questions with perfect ease and indiffer­
ence, so that I found it necessary, in order to keep him in
his own place, to frame questions of some difficulty for him.
My amazement was great to see his usually hard face pale,
his whole frame trembling. And when I asked the cause,
he could only gasp, ‘My sins! my sins!’ I brought him
and his sister, also awakened, to the Manse, and advised
them, after other efforts to help them, to cry to God. ‘ I
cannot pray,’ he said, in great distress. I left them a little,
and then returned, when I found him wrestling in an
agonizing way to find the words which were gradually
coming out of his lips. Mr. Matheson took much interest in
this case, which, after some time of deep distress, appeared
to issue in a new birth and consistent profession. The
young man having left this neighbourhood, I have not seen
him for several years.

“Mr. Matheson’s influence over the people here was great,
as may be judged from the fact that, after the revival in
1859-60, he one day threw out while preaching a suggestion
that the young men of 0ur congregation should agree to
support a native Chinese evangelist under Mr. Wm. Burns.
A few took up the idea, and ever since the yearly salary
has been gathered, although he who suggested and some
who began the work now rest from their labours.

“ Mr. Matheson’s preaching was wonderfully attractive in
most places to some whose position and previous training
would not have led one to expect a Scottish lay-evangelist
to be listened to with pleasure. But I believe the secret of
his power lay in his deep heart-yearning over souls, and


dealing with God in secret for them in connexion with the
sanctified wisdom and tact with which the Master gifted
him as a fisher of men.

“He was engaged in this work in season and out of
season, in secret and in public. On one occasion, while
walking alone in this neighbourhood, a lady passed on
horseback, whose general bearing and talents had led him
to feel interested in her while yet a stranger to saving grace.
He retired into a wood, then and there knelt down, and
cried to God for her conversion; and I doubt not this was
one of the links in the appointed chain of circumstances
by which ere long she was drawn by the cords of divine
love to God, and became for a few years, till called to the
home above, a bright Christian. "

Towards the close of 1859 he began to extend his evan­
gelistic itineracy to Banffshire, preaching for the most part
in the towns and villages along the coast. His labours were
specially blessed in the burgh and seaport of Cullen. This
little town is situated on the brow of a hill looking full in
the face the blue waters of the Northern Sea, where it begins
to narrow into the beautiful Frith of Moray, whose ample
tide is bounded on the southern shore by wild, picturesque,
and caverned rocks; whilst the lofty mountains of Suther­
land and Caithness rise far upon the deep, like giant warders
of the northern coast. Beneath the burgh proper lies the
fishing village in a tumult of houses upon the beach, where
the storm often breaks with Arctic fury, casting clouds of
spray high into the air, and sometimes invading the cottages
that line the shore.

Early in 1860 the whole place was moved as by an
earthquake. Fear took hold on the sinners in Zion; trem­
bling seized the hypocrites. Careless ones, whose shadow
had not darkened the door of God’s house for many years,
found their way to church or chapel; and even worldly
men talked to one another about the great question upon
the streets. At first the awful shadow of an angry God
coming to judgment fell on many, and it seemed as if there
was one dead in every house. Awakening was followed by
conversion. The thunder of Sinai gave way to the peaceful
sunshine of Calvary. Christians who had never known the
liberty of the gospel were suddenly delivered from the spirit



of bondage, and ushered into the joyful assurance of accept­
ance in the Beloved.

Our evangelist visited Cullen just as the work of grace
was becoming manifest, and preached frequently in the
Free and Independent churches, receiving from the pastors
a cordial welcome. On one memorable night he preached
to a crowded congregation in the Free Church. The sub­
ject of his discourse was “The Barren Fig-tree.” From the
beginning of the service a deep solemnity rested on the
people, and the minds of many were in a state of strange
expectancy. Unveiling the truth, the preacher describes a
community favoured with the light and privileges of the
gospel. Privilege after privilege is enjoyed. Sabbath follows
Sabbath in peaceful succession. Opportunity after oppor­
tunity occurs, and sermon on sermon. Mercy presses on
the heels of mercy, like the bright days of summer chasing
time to its wintry close. The sharp dispensations of the
providential pruning-knife come again and again. But all
is in vain. The sunshine and the rain have been to no
purpose; the digging and the dunging have been in vain.
The Father‘s love has been to them as nought. The blood
of the Son has been despised. The grace of the Spirit has
brought forth no fruit in them. Forbearance and inter­
cession have yielded no result but failure. After the re­
sources of the Godhead in the gospel of Christ, what then ?
The people know that He is drawing their portrait with
unmistakable resemblance. Feeling they are found out
among the trees of the garden, they tremble and listen with
breathless attention. The sonorous voice of the preacher
grows thrillingly solemn and tender as he proceeds, till at
length he pours out his last warning in a torrent of com­
passionate feeling. His eye glances with an awful light, as
if he is looking into eternity, while he lifts his hands and
pronounces the sentence with a mighty and judgment-like
voice, “ Cut it down; why cumbereth it any longer the
ground?” Never did woodman aim a better stroke. God
is in the Word. Old rotten trunks are crashing beneath the
blow. One and another are saying with irrepressible alarm,
“It is I! it is I! God be merciful to my soul!” The results
are with Him who knoweth all things; but there is reason
to believe that some of the audience will remember that



night and the felling of the barren fig-tree amidst the songs
and joys of eternity.

On another memorable occasion he preached in the In­
dependent Chapel. The little meeting-house is crowded to
the door. The night is intensely cold and dark. The frost
having rendered the ordinary lights unavailable, the dark­
ness is made visible by a single candle, which the preacher
holds in his hand. His text is “Remember Lot’s wife.”
The narrative receives a graphic handling. The clear sky
of early morn suddenly darkens, a cloud of appalling black­
ness throws the shadow of approaching judgment upon the
cities of the plain. Then a gleam of more than lightning
vividness kindles all the air, a whirlwind of fire sweeps
down upon Sodom and wraps its four corners, its every
street and suburb, its every house and chamber, its every
man and woman, in the very winding-sheet of hell. Ah!
now the inhabitants of the doomed city wake to find that
their damnation slumbereth not. But a little band of four
escapes. An angelic saviour leads them on. Well may they
hasten, for the devouring fire sweeps fast along the plain.
One of the four lingers, only a little; but a little is at this
awful moment decisive of much. God’s wrath is abroad.
Is this a time to trifle ? The fiery tempest suddenly closes
her round, and there she stands under an eternal arrest, a
pillar of salt. Some such picture is before the eye of the
people’s imagination as the preacher proceeds to the more
important part of his discourse—its application to the con­
sciences of the hearers. God enters by little, lowly doors
into men’s hearts. The Spirit uses little things to make
and deepen impressions of the unseen and the eternal.
The darkness of the place; the solitary candle throwing a
dim, pale light on the preacher’s countenance, and giving it
a strange, weird look; the deep silence, broken only by a
sigh or a sob, and the solemn tones of a voice speaking, as
it were, out of the invisible, and warning every trifler with
the soul and with God to “remember Lot‘s wife,’’ conspired,
in the hand of the Holy Spirit, to bring about one of those
supreme moments of crisis when souls must and do decide
their destiny for eternal weal or eternal woe.

Our evangelist made his mark on the young men of the
town. His broad, free, genial manners captivated their



hearts; his talents,magnanimity, and uprightness commanded
their respect. Many of them were converted at this time;
and it was pleasing to see the finest youths of the place
sitting in a company round about their father in the faith,
and receiving his counsels as from an angel of God. For
the young men he had a peculiar love: they were his joy,
and as his very life. He cared for their interests as a
father for his children, and cherished them as a nurse
cherishes a babe. He guided them with skill, warning
them against the errors of his own early Christian days;
and having won their confidence, he strove to lead them to
the highest idea of the life of faith. In particular, he ever
urged upon them entire consecration. “ Be out and out for
Christ,” he would say; “nail your colours to the mast;
labour for God, and live for eternity.” In this way he suc­
ceeded in stamping upon them the impress of his own decided
and energetic character, and through the grace given him
inspired them with an intense longing to win souls. One of
them is now an ordained missionary in China; another
labours in Turkey; a third preaches the gospel at home; a
fourth is preparing to take the field as a medical missionary;
and others are occupying their talent in the quiet corners of
the vineyard.

An instance of the way in which the fire was then spreading
may be here given. James Wilson, a native of Cullen, and
an accomplished classical scholar, was at that time master of
a school at Aberfeldy, in Perthshire. Hearing of the work of
grace in his native town, he was deeply moved. Previous to
this he had regarded earnestness in religion as a mere extra­
vagance; but now “the name to live whilst dead” satisfied
him no longer. The work of God began in the village, and
the minister of the Free Church was frequently assisted
by Mr. Matheson. The teacher was led to take a decided
stand for Christ, and thenceforth all his learning and in­
fluence were given to the work of the Lord. His school
became a nursery for the church and the divinity hall.
Remarkable success attended his labours among the youths,
some of whom, after a brilliant academic career, have en­
tered on the work of the ministry with much promise of
usefulness. The course of the devoted teacher was term
nated by an early translation to glory.



Cullen lay much on the heart of the evangelist. For
years he continued to visit it, labouring to win its inhabitants
to Christ. On his way thither many a weary mile did he
trudge, often amidst the rains and snows of winter, receiving
no pay and seeking no reward but “ souls.” Divining his
motives, the shrewd fishermen said, “That man fishes by
the cran;" that is to say, he is no mere hireling : he labours
not for a comfortable living, but finds his reward in the
number of souls saved. Often was his stentorian voice
heard ringing from the centre of the town to its circum­
ference in the quiet of the evening, when the deepening
shades added solemnity to the preacher’s word; and strong
men were known to tremble at their own fireside as the
question fell upon their unwilling ears, “Who shall stand
before this holy Lord God?”

In most of the villages that stud the Banffshire coast,
a stranger in those days had but to signify his willingness
to preach the gospel, when suddenly, as if by magic, the
whole population, men, women, and children, would assem­
ble to hear the Word of God. To see the great crowd
kneeling reverently on the grass amidst the deepest silence
broken only by a groan, a sob, a loud cry for mercy, to be
followed by fond, enthusiastic demonstrations of love and
hearty songs of praise, characteristic of these impulsive
children of the sea, was a sight impressive beyond descrip­
tion, and never to be forgotten. From such scenes Duncan
Matheson, like one refreshed with the new wine of the king­
dom, was wont to come away singing his favourite Psalm—

" When Zion’s bondage God turned back,
Like men that dreamed were we;
Then filled with laughter was our mouth,
Our tongue with melody.”

The landward parishes were not overlooked by the great
Redeemer as He marched along the sea-coast in glorious
majesty: from his bountiful hand the blessings of his grace
were now being scattered far and wide. The reapers on the
field, from the master to the gleaner, were known to lay
aside at noonday the urgent labours of the harvest to attend
to the more pressing business of the soul. Jesus was gather­
ing golden sheaves into his garner. Matheson at this period,
strong to reap rather than patient to sow, lent his powerful

THE EVANGELIST AT DUNDEE.                123

aid in every place. Few in all that region missed hearing
the jubilant voice of our sturdy reaper, and seeing the gleam
of his sharp sickle among the yellow corn. Prompt in word
and deed, skilful above most men to strike the iron while it
was hot, brooking no restraints of mere policy or empty
form, and impetuous almost beyond measure, he was in his
proper character an Arab in the service of the King.
Hungering after great results, having capacity for work and
fatigue enough for two men, and withal possessing that rare
and dangerous power of will by which strong souls can
indefinitely postpone the season of rest, the unwearied spirit
keeping the wearied flesh up to its own high mark, our
evangelist moved from one place to another with the
rapidity of a courier in the crisis of battle. Seizing the
opportunities that will not tarry for the timid or the too
cautious, he launched on the full tide when others were
laying down canons for discussing the conditions of its ebb
and flow. The very air seemed full of elements deeply
solemn and heart-touching. A divine presence rested every­
where, and men were compelled for a time to breathe the
atmosphere of eternity. Doors that might soon close were
opening on every side, and the energetic lay-preacher was
not slow to enter in. Pushing along the coast as far north
as Moray and Nairn, he bent his steps into the interior, and
visited Dufftown, Tomintoul, and Braemar. Sweeping south­
ward to the counties of Forfar and Perth, he gradually
extended his circuit until it embraced the whole country
from John o’ Groat’s to the English border. To follow him
into every town and parish is impossible : we can only seize
on a few points.

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

124                        "I HAVE FOUND HIM.”

xxv. 46: “And these shall go away into everlasting punish­
ment: but the righteous into life eternal.” In words most
telling and pictures most vivid he described the sinner’s
going away—away from the fair scenes of nature, from the
warbling of the birds and the murmur of the brooks, from
the smiling of the summer sun and the rich glow of autumn
—away from every lovely sight and every pleasant sound—
away from friends and home and social joys, of everything
dear to the heart of man upon the earth—away from the
peaceful Sabbath, with its hallowed services and its heavenly
calm, to hear the sound of the Sabbath bell and the song of
praise no more for ever—away from the affectionate efforts
and touching appeals of the faithful preacher, and from the
sympathies and prayers of Christian friends—away from the
Bible, with its beautiful stories, its comforting promises, and
its heavenly truths, like God‘s windows, letting down light
upon a dark world—away from all the peace and purity and
hope of the gospel—away from God, whose mercy they
reject, for ever—away from Jesus, whose blood they trample
beneath their feet—away from the gracious Spirit to whom
they have done so great despite—away from all joy and
blessing and good, for evermore. To render the truths more
vivid, he described a heart-melting scene he had witnessed
in the East in the departure of a weeping crowd of Circassian
exiles, whose loud and agonizing wail told the love they
bore to their fatherland, from which they were being driven
by the scourge of war. As he went on in his own pathetic
manner, with a certain grandly plaintive music as of eternity
in his voice, to describe the departure of the woe­stricken
exiles of sin and despair into the blackness of darkness for
ever, speaking as feelingly as if he saw them disappear­
ing in that dismal and unknown night, the heavy sigh, the
stifled sob, and the pallor on many a face, revealed the all
but uncontrollable emotion of the people. 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 them­



selves 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

In the autumn of the same year open-air meetings were
held in the Barrack Park in this town. On the second day
several of the ministers and Others, fearing lest there should
be no blessing, retired, on the suggestion of Matheson, in
great heaviness of spirit to pray. Kneeling on the grass,
we continued in intercession for nearly two hours. It was
one of those seasons of agonizing prayer which seem ever
to precede a remarkable display of Divine grace. It was
the slumbering spouse arousing herself with painful effort at
the call of her Lord; the laborious undoing of the bars of
the everlasting gates to let the King of glory in. By the
end of the praying the darkened sky began to pour down
torrents of rain, and the mass of the people, with most
of the speakers, were dispersed. The voice of Duncan
Matheson was heard calling aloud, “ Perhaps God is trying
us by the rain; let us wait a little.“ Gideon’s three hun­
dred remained, and continued in prayer and praise. Mr.
Campbell (Aberdeen), whose labours were so signally owned
amongst us at that time, together with his friend our evan­
gelist, and another, leading the services amidst descending
torrents. Just as the sun was beginning to shine out again
and the rain was ceasing, an extraordinary sense of the
Divine Presence fell upon the whole assembly. Suddenly
the Christians were filled with great joy. Simultaneously
many of the anxious found the Lord, and began to break
forth in songs of praise. Every one began to speak to his
neighbour of the Saviour he was seeking or the Saviour he
had found. On passing through the whole company, we
did not find one who was not either rejoicing in Christ or
seeking Him with intense earnestness. The cloud of glory
rested there for a season; and no visible signs or mira­
culous gifts could have added to the blessed consciousness
and most veritable certainty of the immediate presence
and gracious working of God. Till memory fails or the

126                  REMARKABLE CONVERSIONS.

more “excellent glory” of the unveiled face of Immanuel
obliterates the remembrance of faitrr’s brightest visions on
earth, it is impossible for us to forget the awful nearness of
God at that time, the overpowering sense of blended ma­
jesty, love, and holiness, the solemn gladness, and the soft,
pure radiance of a Redeemer‘s face that chased the dark
shadows of doubt and sin away from many a soul. “We
beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the
Father, full of grace and truth; . . . and of his fulness have
all we received, and grace for grace.” Many of the believers,
if not all, were then sealed anew, and they began hence­
forth to testify to the grace of God with great freedom and
boldness. Some Christians who had never known assur­
ance were then ushered into the full light of the gospel;
their bonds were loosed, and they entered into the liberty
of the sons of God. Many sought and found the Lord upon
the spot. The door of salvation then seemed to be pecu­
liarly near, easy of entrance, and inviting. Whilst you were
praying with an enquirer, he would break out, “ Oh, I have
found Him!” or “I see! I see!” And then followed the
new song. Often, as we sung the opening verses of the
fortieth Psalm, the light broke in upon the distressed soul,
and peace followed.

After this the work went on prosperously; numbers were
found awakened at the close of every meeting. Many
thousands attended the open-air services, and great power
accompanied the word. The way in which many were con­
verted stamped the movement as the work of the Holy
Spirit. A young man entered a church from sheer curiosity,
and stood near the door in order that he might the more
conveniently retire if aught should offend his ear. He
heard the text, and heard no more. That led to his con­
version. Another young man was returning from business
one evening, when a serious thought took hold of him.
Entering his room, he opened the New Testament at the
tenth chapter of the gospel according to John. “ Seeing
the open door,” he said, “I slipped in, and now I find
Jesus to be the Way.” “When I saw that my sister was so
changed and so happy,” said another, “ I was afraid lest I
should be left, and in my alarm I sought the Lord and
found Him.” “ One shall be taken, and another shall be

REMARKABLE CONVERSIONS.                   127

left,” was a preacher’s text at an open-air meeting. A
woman whose husband had been recently converted hearing
that word was pierced to the heart, and thus brought out
of darkness into the “marvellous light.” Another was care­
lessly passing by, and hearing the preacher solemnly repeat
the question, “ How shall we escape, if we neglect so great
salvation ?"was arrested and brought to the Lord. A man
was sitting at his fireside, when his wife returned from a
meeting. Something in her manner cut him to the heart;
the result was his conversion. A young woman scoffed and
swore she would never attend revival meetings. Her wicked
vow recoiled upon her. She feared she had sold herself to
the devil. After a season of mental anguish, she obtained
forgiveness, and led a new life. A young man came with
his companion to an open-air service for the purpose of
scoffing. He was awakened and enabled to receive Christ,
at which his friend went away in a rage. “I wondered why
they were so happy,” said another, in reference to the joy
of the Christians. “ I was resolved to get at the bottom of
it, and had no rest till I found out the secret for myself.”
One day, about the time the work began, a piercing cry for
mercy was heard in a church. That cry was the voice of
God to several persons, who dated either their first convic­
tion or their conversion from that day. It was thus, they
said, things unseen and eternal were made real to them.

A company of men were one night carousing in a public-
house in the outskirts of Dundee, when the sound of voices
was heard singing a spiritual song. It was a little band of
Christian young women on their way home from a religious
meeting, and they were giving expression to their joy in the
Lord by singing—

" One is kind above all others,
Oh, how He loves ! "

The words of the hymn fell with a strange power upon
the ear of a young man sitting at the tavern table. The
others seemed not to hear the voice of the singers as they
passed: to him it was the voice of God. He was arrested
by the Holy Spirit, and became dumb with silence. His
companions were astonished. They thought he had sud­
denly gone mad. In vain they questioned him, in vain



they jeered. He rose and left the house. As he paced the
street m the darkness of night, the words of the hymn kept
ringing in his ears. He thought of the love of that Saviour
whom he had hitherto rejected. The thought pierced his
heart, and he burst into tears. I shall never forget his
subdued and grieved look as he made his way into my study
and told me how God had smitten his heart in the public-
house, and turned his pleasures into wormwood and gall.
He seemed to see his sins in the light of Christ’s love. In
answer to his eager enquiries about the way of salvation, I
did not fail to preach Christ to him, and not in vain, I
trust, as he entered at once on a new course of life.

As contrasting with this case and illustrative of the variety
of means employed by the Holy Spirit to awaken sinners,
the following instance may be given. A young man, well
known to the writer, was living without God and without
hope in the world. He was not conscious of a single
thought respecting a future state, and did not so much as
believe in the being of a God. His Sabbaths were spent in
worldly recreation and pleasure. One Lord‘s day in sum­
mer he was rambling in the fields. The sun was shining
brightly, and nature was clad in her most beautiful array.
As he looked on the smiling landscape, suddenly and for
the first time the thought arose in his mind, All this must
have had a beginning: whence and how did it begin? A long
train of thought led him to the conclusion that the world
must have had a Maker. Then came the question, Who is
He? What is He? Again he launched out on a sea of
speculation, and once more reached firm ground in the
belief that the world’s Maker must be a living, personal
Being, very great and very glorious. By this time he had
lost sight of the beauties of the landscape, and felt as if he
was alone with the Creator. Now another question arose:
What am I to this glorious Being, and what is He to me?
On this line of thought he entered with great reluctance, for
he felt a misgiving as to the result, and feared He would
discover things fitted to render him unhappy. But he dared
not, he could not turn back. He felt he was like a man
Waking up in a dark cave with a solitary ray of light coming
from afar. If he is to emerge under the open heavens he
must follow the light. He tries, he stumbles, he is stunned,


but he rises, and again spying the glimmer of distant day,
he holds on his doubtful course. He now said to himself,
If there be such an one as God it concerns me to know as
much as possible about Him. He then and there resolved
to use all means to find out about God. He went home
and betook himself to reading, meditating, and reasoning.
The next stage arrived at was the painful conviction that
he had never acknowledged this God, or done his duty to
Him, and had in fact poured contempt upon Him by his
negligence. As soon as a sense of guilt thus fastened on
him, he felt he could ramble no more on the Lord‘s day.
Thenceforth he began to pursue his enquiries by prayer as
well as reading and thinking. The light grew; his trouble
increased. He would now see what Christians had to say
in the matter; and accordingly began to attend the ordinary
and special services of religion at a time when remarkable
power accompanied the preaching of the Word. Here he
found God. He found Him in Christ. He found Him at
the cross. Now, this young man’s religious experience has
always seemed to me to be a good practical illustration
of the text, “ We shall know, if we follow on to know the
Lord,” and also of Christ’s word, “ If any man will do his
will, he shall know of the doctrine whether it be of God, or
whether I speak of myself.” He seemed to act up to his
light, yielding to the force of truth, truth in its own native
energy with the superadded force of the Holy Spirit, in whose
light alone we can see light. The logical faculty is strongly
developed in him; and by that door the Holy Spirit saw fit
to enter into his heart. He still goes on reasoning out every­
thing. The other day I found he had just proved to himself
on logical grounds these two things; first, that a Christian
ought to be filled with humility and love; and, secondly,
that no religion but the religion of Christ can make a man
truly humble and loving. After his conversion, he found
recreation on the Lord’s day in teaching a class in the
sabbath-school. He is now prosecuting a course of study
preparatory to the ministry of the gospel.

Listen to a dying man. “ Five years ago I was a drunk­
ard, a profane swearer, an infidel, and little better than a
beast. I heard the gospel in the street. The Lord arrested
me and turned me to Himself. He has kept me ever since,




and I am saved. I am going to be with Christ, which is
far better. Help me to praise Him.” So saying, he began
to sing,
                "Rock of Ages, cleft for me,

Let me hide myself in Thee; "

and he literally sang out his last breath and died.

Look at yon grey-haired mother, whose heart is beginning
to know joy for the first time these many years, as she
clasps to her bosom her only daughter recovered from a life
of folly and sin. “ 0 my Annie ! my Annie ! my ain lost
Annie ! I never thocht I wad hae seen you mair. But the
gude God has been better to me than a’ my fears. Are we
ever gaun to pairt again, Annie?” “ Never, mither, never !
Jesus has saved me Himsel’, an’ He has promised to keep
me, an’ He will never brak his word. We’ll never pairt,
mither; na, by his grace, never, never!“ Nor did they
ever part till the Lord Jesus came and took Annie away.
I saw her depart, and in truth she went home as a bride
adorned for her marriage. The daughter’s recovery led to
the mother‘s salvation.

A young man was one night awakened at a meeting, and
began to inquire the way of life. Night after night passed;
he was constantly present, but no peace came to his heart,
and he grew worse. One evening Duncan Matheson took
him aside into the ante­room of the hall, and said to him,
“ Now, are you really willing to have this awful business
settled? Christ is willing, are you?” The young man
replied that he was willing. They knelt to pray. As they
prayed light and peace suddenly dawned, and the young
man started to his feet in a tumult of joy and praise.
Several of us, and among the rest the father of the young
man, who was greatly alarmed at the son‘s despair, entered
the room at that moment. Addressing the father, a Chris­
tian man, the evangelist introduced the son, saying, “ Sir,
this thy son was dead, and is alive again; was lost, and is
found.” As the son rushed into the arms of his affec­
tionate and overjoyed father, the heart of every one present
was deeply moved.

A woman, mother of a large family, was one day awakened,
and so heavily did the terrors of the Lord press upon her
spirit, that she fled the house of God. She could bear



preaching to sinners, she said, but when the people of God
were addressed, it was too much for her. Some can hear
the law who will not hear the gospel. She became worse
and worse, till at length reason seemed to be giving way.
She dreaded to enter a place of worship because she was
so wicked. At this juncture Mr. Matheson, who had fre­
quently spoken to her, as a sort of last resource, said,
“ Well, I can say no more to you than this: do you as one
poor soul did, who said, ‘ I will just lie doon here till the
Lord lift me up.’” Curiously enough this proved to be the
grand turning-point. She said to herself, “ I will just do
so.” In short, she ceased from her vain efforts of self-help,
and cast herself on the Lord. Great was her joy. She was
a wonder to her neighbours, who had witnessed her previous
“madness;” and, better still, she has these many years
maintained a thoroughly Christian profession, and one after
another of her family has through her instrumentality been
turned to the Lord.

One evening a young lady of great intelligence and per­
sonal beauty, who was perfectly thoughtless and gay, was
induced, as a matter of curiosity, to enter a certain place of
worship. There was nothing new or striking in the service,
she thought; “ It is just the old thing,” she said to herself.
One thing, however, struck her as the service proceeded,
and that was the solemnity of the preacher. “The thing is
evidently real to him,” she said to herself; and she could
not but listen to him, although she imagined she knew all
he had to say. The solemnity of the preacher impressed
her. This impression was the opening of her heart, and by
this gate the King of glory entered in. Her subsequent
life was singularly beautiful. She seemed to walk beneath
an unclouded sky. Always trusting, always hopeful, always
rejoicing, always ready for every good work,—a most rare
instance of childlike, progressive, blessed discipleship. Her
bright career was short. After a few years she took ill and
died. A sharp conflict with the great adversary befell her
in her last days; but she came up from that valley of
humiliation “ more than conqueror through Him that loved
us,” and she felt assured, she said, Satan would never assail
her any more. In her communion, which was singularly
close and elevated, she seemed to speak to her Lord face

K 2

132                       A PHARISEE CHANGED.

to face. Her path from first to last was indeed as the
shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect

“ I was fairly in the devil’s grip,” said a working man, in
his homely, graphic way, as he told me the story of the
Lord’s merciful dealings with his soul. “ But Christ cam’ to
me when I was little expectin’ Him, an’ took a haud o‘ me.
Syne the deevil pulled me ae way, an’ Christ He pulled the
ither way, an’ I had a sair time o’t. But I cam’ to ken that
Christ is far stronger than Satan, an’ that was weel for me.”
I was witness so far to this pulling, which seemed well-
nigh to rend the poor soul in pieces. It was, doubtless, the
tug of war—Immanuel laying siege to the city of Mansoul.

Let a different sort of witness speak,—a gentleman of the
most accomplished type. “ Several years ago I was, I regret
to confess, a pharisee of the pharisees. From my infancy
I was taught to respect religion, and despise everything
vulgar and coarse. Accordingly I attended the house o
God, maintained a fair reputation, fancied I was a good
man, and had the best chance for heaven. Unexpectedly
God opened my eyes. This He did by means of the merest
trifle—a petty act of meanness done to a friend, which
somehow took possession of my thoughts, tormented me,
put me off sleep, and led me to look deeper into my heart
than I had ever done. Thus I was led to discover what I
had never really seen before—my native depravity, and
proud hostility to God. I saw that my own righteousness,
to use the common phrase, was only filthy rags. I saw that
my very religion was full of sin, and that, in fact, I had
been going to church and to the Lord’s table just to patronize
the Almighty and honour myself. I was now in a measure
humbled, and was not ashamed to make my appearance at
the revival meetings, where fresh light awaited me. You
know the rest. I became indeed a new creature. So com­
pletely was my mind revolutionized, that the very hymns I
used to hate as being exaggerated, Methodistic, and ranting,
now expressed the deepest feelings of my heart. But the
change was more than one of mere sentiment. Had I
previously died I should certainly have perished.”

“ Sir,” said a woman to me one day whom I happened to
meet, “I am happier than I was on my marriage day.”



Some time previous to this she had been brought to Christ
at one of the evangelistic meetings when Mr. Matheson was
assisting us. Her husband, a drunkard and scoffer, was
maddened by her conversion, and gave her no peace night
or day. Her godly ways were intolerable to him. He beat
her till her life was in danger; but she bore this brutal
treatment with true Christian fortitude and meekness,
rendering good for evil, and praying for his conversion
without ceasing. “ I am happier than I was on my marriage
day. God has heard my prayer; my poor husband is con­
verted. He is like a lamb, and thinks he cannot do enough
to please me. Oh, sir, if you had but seen him the other
night holding family worship for the first time! It was like
heaven upon earth! There wasn’t a dry eye in the house;
and our little lassie looked up in his face and said, ‘ Father,
ye’ll win to heaven noo. An’ I’ll gang wi’ you; an’ we’ll a’
be there. I never thocht I wad like to gang to heaven afore.’”
Grace, mercy, and peace seem since that day to have rested
on the house.

Yonder, at the corner of Ann Street, early on Sabbath
mornings, you can see a fierce, tiger-like young man going
about among the loungers, and begging a few pence to pro­
cure the drunkard’s indispensable dram. A few years pass,
and the same young man is seen at the same street corner
at the same hour on Sabbath mornings; but what a change!
With his Bible in one hand, whilst the other is stretched out
towards his hearers, he beseeches them with tears to believe
on that Saviour who has delivered his soul from the lowest
hell. The preaching may be poor enough, but the man him­
self is a sign and a wonder. “ I knew the two Robert Annans”
said one to me; “and when I remembered the wild profligate
begging a dram, and saw him now so meek and Christian-
like, nothing ever impressed me so much, and I began to
feel for the first time there must be a reality in religion.”*

There were many striking answers to prayer. One of
the most remarkable I may here give. A young woman
who had found the Saviour at one of the meetings when
Mr. Matheson was with us, requested special prayer one
night on behalf of her brother, a sailor, who had not been

* See “The Christian Hero:—the Life of Robert Annan.” Same
author and publishers.


heard of for a long while. Prayer was offered for the con­
version of the wanderer. Some three months afterwards
the young woman appeared at a meeting, and introduced
her brother in a state of religious concern. Strange as it
may appear, he had been awakened at sea on the very
night on which prayer had been offered on his behalf. His
own account of the matter was this : He was pacing the
deck in the stillness of the night, when a thought about his
soul took hold of him, and the more he strove to put it
away from him the worse he grew. He had no peace till
he returned home. We, of course, preached Christ to him.
Why should we reckon such things incredibly strange?
Does not our Father in heaven answer the prayers of his
children every day? Has he promised, and will He not
perform ? Where is our faith ?

In many ways our evangelist rendered important service
to the cause and work of God in this town. When the
movement had nearly reached its limit, and it seemed as if
the hand of the Lord was being withdrawn, Mr. Matheson,
ever fertile in resources, and panting after greater things,
suggested that a whole night should be set apart for humilia­
tion and prayer. With his wonted energy and promptitude
he arranged the details, and cleared the obstacles away.
Accordingly a goodly company of praying men assembled
in Euclid Street Chapel, and spent the night, from nine or
ten o’clock till six next morning, in intercession. That
night was to many present one of the most memorable
seasons of their life. The sense of the majesty and imme­
diate presence of Jehovah rested on every soul. In the
awful stillness of the night watches we realized eternity.
The fact that thousands of our fellow-citizens were sleeping
on the verge of hell seized our minds with overwhelming
vividness, and the whole company were bathed in tears.
0 Dundee ! Dundee! how hast thou been exalted unto
heaven in the compassionate cries and anguished pleadings
of those that loved thee even when they were hated by
thee ! May thy repentance turn away from thee the judg­
ment of Capernaum ! That night of prayer was followed
by most striking displays of saving power. Instances of
conversion sufficient to fill a volume could be here given ;
but I must forbear.

THE DUCHESS OF GORDON.                     135

Of the converts, some are now in the ministry, some are
missionaries, evangelists, scripture-readers, elders, deacons,
students, sabbath-school teachers, and district visitors; while
a still greater number are embraced in the less known, but
hardly less useful, rank and file of the King’s army. Some
of all those classes were converted through the instrumen­
tality of Duncan Matheson. To his sword, indeed, which
seemed seldom to return empty, ever fell a full share of the
spoils of this glorious war.

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