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



HE Huntly meetings played an important part in
connexion with the work of grace in the north of
Scotland. They had their origin in a thought of
Duncan Matheson’s, and to him under God they
owed no small part of their success. One day, pondering
the best means of promoting the good work, the thought of
gathering the people from the surrounding country for a
great field-day of the gospel in the Castle Park flashed
across his mind. After prayerful consideration of the scheme,
he mentioned it to his fellow-labourers, Mr. Williamson and
Mr. Bain, as they were all three returning from Cullen feeing
market, where they had been preaching. They resolved to
lay the matter before the Lord. There and then, wearied
though they were, they betook themselves to the throne of
grace, and as the train was speeding on its way, they cried
to God for light to guide them. Light was not withheld:
the scheme was settled at the mercy-seat. The use of the
Castle Park, with suitable aid in other respects, was freely
accorded by the Duchess of Gordon, and preparations were
made, the burden of which mainly rested on Mr. Matheson
and his pastor. The labour thus entailed was extremely
great, and our evangelist was well-nigh crushed beneath the
load of responsibility and care. After a sleepless and prayer­
ful night on the eve of the Huntly meetings, he said to me,
“I feel as if I were breaking down. I have been putting
up blood, and feel very ill. Sometimes Satan tempts me to


take it easier, and do less for souls: he whispers when I am
speaking in the open air, ‘ You had better take it easier, or
you’ll burst a blood-vessel.’ But I just reply, ‘Never mind
if I do; I could not die in a better cause.”’

The object of these meetings was stated in a printed
request for special prayer. “ We do not believe,” said the
pastor and the evangelist, “ in any special virtue in meetings
in the open air. We put no confidence in any peculiar
form of address, neither in any instrument. But we do
believe in the power of prayer: we believe ‘the hour is
coming and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of
the Son of God; and they that hear shall live.’ We believe
it a good thing and ground of hope to see a number of the
Lord’s people met together ‘with one accord in one place.’
And we most firmly believe that the God of all grace may
be expected to honour such meetings and efforts, when
preceded and accompanied by earnest and united prayer for
the outpouring oi his Spirit.

“We, therefore, most earnestly ask secret, social, and
united prayer, that the arm of the Lord may be revealed;
that Jesus may be lifted up, and draw all men unto Him;
and that throughout eternity many may have cause to bless
God that they were present at these meetings and found

The first meetings were held on the 25th and 26th July,
1860, and were renewed for three successive summers.
Many thousands assembled year by year in the Castle Park,
with its hoary ruins towering amid the softest scenes of
sylvan beauty. Here ot old the Gordon clan were wont to
gather in preparation for some distant and bloody raid.
Now another clan assembles for very different ends. The
children of Zion gather themselves together to meet their
King; the soldiers or the cross rally around the standard of
Christ. The coming and going of the people to serve God
amidst the loveliest retreats of nature reminded one of the
conventicles of the Covenanters in some remote glen or
dewy hollow, and of the still more memorable scenes when
multitudes gathered round the Prince of open-air preachers
by the shores of the Sea of Galilee. Here nature and grace
embrace each other in true fellowship, and the works of
God throw a peculiar charm around his word and worship.


The lofty canopy of heaven reminds you of the true taber­
nacle which God hath pitched, and not man. The fair
landscapes on every side picture heavenly things to the
sense, and shadow forth in natural form and hue the in­
visible glories of the spirit-world. The grassy plains suggest
the green pastures where the Good Shepherd feeds his flock,
and makes them rest at noon. The sighing of the wind
among the trees, and the warbling of the birds, seem like
the rustling of angels’ wings, and the stir of ministering
spirits sent forth to minister to the heirs of salvation. The
pure air comes to wearied pilgrims like deep, refreshing
draughts from the Creator‘s wine-cup. The sweet sunshine
is to faith but the visible radiance of the Redeemer’s face;
and the alternations of light and shade are like the mysterious
comings and goings of our God in his sanctuary. The very
sound and shock of the falling rain carry into the believers
heart symboled thoughts of grace far more true to nature
than the peal of organs or the swell of pompous choirs.
Altogether there is a naturalness, a simplicity, and a freedom
more akin to the spirit and privilege of new-covenant service
than is often realized in those dull artificial caverns in which
custom and the rigours of climate compel us to worship.
Sitting under the shadow of cumbrous roofs and dingy walls,
and too oft fettered by form, truth, love, joy, and praise,
pine away like caged birds; but out in the open, unbounded
expanse, where form is simplest and sense is purest, worship
is the more free and unrestrained.

It was pleasing to witness the assembling of the people
in the Castle Park; old and young, rich and poor, master
and man are there. Yonder the honest cotter, with his
wife and bairns in the rude cart consecrated to the service
of God, it may be for the first time, jogs cheerfully along
not far behind the gig of the well ­to ­do farmer, whose wife
and daughters are looking forward to the ongoings of the
day with deeper and stronger feelings than any they ever
felt on their way to kirk or market. Some are trudging on
foot, and all are talking with more or less personal interest
in the great event of the time—the Revival. Listen to yon
knot of ploughmen and farm-lads. One wonders “what
it’s gaun to come tae.” Another “kens weel aneuch what
it’s a gaun to come tae, for he has fan’t in his ain hert; it

138                   SOME OF THE CONVERTS.

has brocht him to Christ, an’ it’ll bring him to heaven.” A
third admits that “ a wonderfu’ change has come o’er Jake
Tamson; for there was na a rocher chiel in a’ the country
side, an’ noo he’s as hairmless as a stirk, an’ sings an’ prays
instead o’ swearin’ an’ fechtin’ as he used to do.” “Eh,
mon,” says a half-grown lad, “gin ye only heard my brither
Jock! he prays like a minister; in fack, his prayer is ilka
bit as gude as the pairish minister‘s prayer on the Sacrament

“ Do you ever take God’s name in vain ?" asks a minister
of the gospel of one of these herd laddies.

“Na, na, sir; God’s children never sweer.”

“You are one of his children, then? When did that
come about?”

“ Weel, sir,” says the lad, “ it was at the Mertimiss term
last year, when I gaed hame to see my father’s fouk. I
wonnert when I saw a’ things sae sair changed. My father
was changed, an’ the hoose was changed-like. An’ my
father, he prayed afore the supper an’ after the supper, an’
he never used to say a grace at a’. An’ syne he said, ‘Fesh
ben the buik;’ an’ he read, an’ he sang, an’ syne they a
gaed doon upon their knees, an’ I never saw that afore.
An’ my father he prayed, an’ I grat, an’ we a‘ grat, an’ I was
convertit that nicht. That was Mertimiss last year, ye ken,
an’ I never could sweer sin’ syne.”

The full meaning of all this can be comprehended only
by those who know what a northern bothy used to be.
There, if anywhere on earth, Satan was wont to have his
seat; now, however, to some extent the “strong man” has
been displaced by a stronger than he.

The greater number came by rail, which, in this way
serving God as well as man, seemed to anticipate the day
when “holiness to the Lord” shall be upon the bells of the
horses, and doubtless also on the whistles of the engines.
In one carriage prayer is being offered for a special blessing
on the meetings. In another the Word is read with com­
ments, homely enough, but well seasoned with a devout
spirit and a gracious experience. In a third a distressed
soul is being lovingly dealt with; difficulties are cleared
away, and the cross lifted up before the eye of the afflicted
sinner. High over all, and above even the din of the train,

TESTIMONY OF AN EYE­ WITNESS.              139

is heard the voice of holy song. One group is singing
“ Rock of Ages, cleft for me;” in another part of the train
you can hear the splendid burst of the ancient church,

" All people that on earth do dwell,
Sing to the Lord with cheerful voice.’’

A traveller who has left his religion at home—perhaps
because it was scarcely worth the carriage—is to be pitied,
for in escaping from one compartment to another he finds
that he is only out of the pan and into the fire. It would
be a curious turning of the tables if some day this poor
foolish world should be so filled with purity, goodness, and
the love of God, that the few remaining sinners, to escape
the gentle persecution of light and grace, should flee for
refuge to dens and caves of the earth. Then, indeed, the
church would be “ fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and
terrible as an army with banners.”

The services were characterised by the fervour and sim­
plicity of the prayers, the heartiness and jubilance of the
praises, and the variety, directness, and power of the
addresses, full as these were of the richest truths of the
gospel, and fragrant with the perfumes of the one great
In love, joy, and unanimity, the believers seemed
to anticipate the general assembly of the Church of the
first-born in heaven, and the triumphant services before the
throne. On the other hand, the deep shadows of eternal
verities seemed to rest on the minds of the unconverted,
not a few of whom found Him whom they sought after, and
sometimes, ere the tears were dry on their cheeks, were
beginning to “rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of

The testimony of an eye-witness, a venerable minister of
Christ, may be here given. “ During each day,” he writes,
“ numbers were personally spoken with and specially prayed
for, in every stage of religious concern. Not a few were
awakened for the first time during the time of the meetings,
principally by witnessing the great earnestness manifested in
prayer in behalf of the unconverted, as well as by listening
to the pointed and soul-searching appeals addressed to the
various classes. Others, who had previously been under
great spiritual distress, had come some of them twenty and

140                          INTERESTING CASES.

even thirty miles, as well as lesser distances, seeking relief
to a conscience ill at ease. In the case of others who came
under our notice, former convictions that had well-nigh
died out were revived with double power. The superficial
observer could form no correct estimate of the amount of
impression by merely looking at the appearance of the
assembly; for there was comparatively little manifestation
of emotional excitement; nor by simply looking at those
in the tent and marquee, who professedly took their place
among other enquirers. We found numbers of the most
interesting cases of this class at a distance from the crowd,
either holding intercourse with God alone, and breathing
into his ear their noiseless grief; or in some by-corner hold­
ing close conversation with some godly friend who sympa­
thized with them; or in the midst of little groups among the
trees, where spiritual things were freely talked over by those
with open Bibles in their hands, following up conversation
with prayer. We conversed with several persons, some of
them considerably advanced in years, upon whose minds
something like the dark shadow of despair had been brood­
ing for months. They could distinctly tell what was the
matter with them, and what they needed; but somehow
they stumbled at the simplicity of entering upon the way of
life as sketched in the charter of human salvation. Of the
above-mentioned cases a considerable number, before they
left the meetings, were enabled to leave their sins and their
sorrows within the shadow of the mercy-seat at the foot of
the cross, and went home in possession of a good hope
through grace. All who took pains to make themselves
acquainted with what we have stated are firmly persuaded,
and on good grounds, that in connexion with these meet­
ings, ‘ to Satan many captives were lost, and to Christ many
subjects were born.’”

The meetings were held for two successive days every
summer, from 1860 to 1863 inclusive. Duncan Matheson
was the presiding genius of the arrangements: he was
everywhere and in everything. Here speaking to an afflicted
soul, there encouraging a young Christian; now pouring out
his quaint, spirit-stirring speech amidst a group of youths,
and a moment after gravely settling some deep experimental
question with an aged pilgrim. Almost at the same point of

THE BOW OF PROMISE.                        141

time he is providing lodgings for his friends, and making
suggestions of the most sagacious character as to the pro­
gramme of religious services. Now he is leading the de­
votions of the great assembly in his own impressive and
Elijah-like manner, and in less than five minutes he is in the
outskirts of the crowd, endeavouring by wise, kind words to
hush some rising controversy. At every juncture he knows
what to do. When the people were hurrying away on
account of a thunder-storm, he stopped them by reminding
them that the Covenanters could stand a shower of bullets,
and that God can stay the rain in answer to prayer. Prayer
was offered, and the rain ceased. “Look!” exclaimed the
evangelist. “ Behold the bow of promise spanning the
heavens! emblem of God’s good­will to earth.” All eyes
were turned to look on the rainbow, “ like unto an emerald
around the throne of God.” Revealing itself just as the
thunder-torrent swept over the horizon of the distant hill, as
if chased away by the sudden outburst of sunshine, it sym­
bolized to many the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ,
in whose cross mercy and truth are met together, righteous­
ness and peace have kissed each other. Many who have for­
gotten the preaching, remember the lesson of the evangelist,
who, with hand uplifted to heaven, bade the vast multitude
read the gospel in the sky, and see the beauty of Jesus in the
bow with its matchless hues.

It was a good work to bring together so many thousands
of Christians to sing the same song, to mingle faith, hope,
and charity in the same prayer, and to encourage one
another in the common Lord. It was the gathering of all
the live coals into one great fire, whose flames were bright
enough to illuminate no small part of Scotland. In this
way the evils of sectarianism were mitigated, and the bonds
of Christian brotherhood strengthened. Young converts,
suffering from isolation and the lack of fellowship, were
refreshed and sent on their way rejoicing. The poor starved
sheep of Christ’s flock were fed on green pastures and
strengthened to endure. Persecuted believers, reproached
by friends, scorned by neighbours, cast off by companions,
and frowned upon by carnal pastors, were emboldened to
fight the good fight of faith. Many who were halting between
two opinions, being uncertain as to the nature and tenden-

142                                 DOUBLE GRACE.

cies of the great movement of the time, had their doubts
and fears cleared away. Many earnest and faithful ministers
of the gospel went home from those happy scenes to labour
in their own quiet vineyards with a still holier zeal, livelier
hope, and deeper joy. Many saints returned to walk more
closely with their God; and some whom we knew received
at the Huntly meetings a double meal, like Elijah in the
wilderness, in the strength of which they went, and came
even to the mount of God. To many it was the starting-
point of their pilgrimage to Zion, and the sweet memories
of those gracious espousals and first loves will merit and
inspire “ nobler songs above.” In short, thousands live to
praise God for the open-air meetings in the Castle Park, and
similar meetings elsewhere, of which the gathering at Huntly
was at once the parent and the broad distinct pattern.

Thus the little germ of thought arising in the mind of our
evangelist bore choicest fruits in marvellous abundance. It
was part of the arduous and honourable work assigned him
by his Master. A double grace was bestowed upon him in
it—grace to do the work faithfully and well, and the grace
of abounding success. For this kind of work he was pre-
eminently well qualified. His powerful physique, his cheer­
ful countenance, his exultant voice, his overflowing humour,
his innocent and childlike egotism which carried in it some­
thing of the charm of genius, his practical sagacity and
swift decision, his fertility of resource and power to grasp a
multitude of details, his keen-eyed intuition of human cha­
racter, his ability to inspire and command, his invincible
ardour in the presence of difficulties, his great faith, large­
ness of heart, and Christian self-sacrifice, combined to fit
him in an extraordinary degree for the masterly and success­
ful management of a great undertaking such as this really
was. There were many witnesses to the grace and truth
of Christ at the Huntly meetings, ministers of every name,
learned professors, eloquent divines, lawyers, physicians,
lords, landowners, merchants, officers of the army and navy,
and many others down to the fisherman and the butcher,
who said, “ I canna write my ain name, but it has been
written by the finger o’ Anither—written in blood in the
Lamb’s book o’ life,” one of the truest and noblest of
them all was the old stone-cutter, Duncan Matheson. His


it was not merely to speak for Christ, but to gather up this
great united testimony, which illustrated the unity of the
true faith as it has seldom been illustrated in our own day
or in our fathers’. His it was to concentrate as in a focus
the scattered rays of the glorious sun that was then pouring
his golden floods upon our favoured land, alike on hill and
dale, on barren moorland and fruitful field.

At a “conference on the subject of the present religious
awakening," held in the Free South Church, Aberdeen, on
August 15th, 1861, we find our evangelist saying : “ Revival
is an established fact. It is a great fact Thousands, many
thousands, have felt the power of God in their own souls.
I do not, perhaps, know of one place in the county of
Aberdeen where there are not living witnesses to the power
of God‘s grace and the might of his Spirit. There is one
thing that has always struck me with wonder: it is this—Why
should we think it a strange thing to see a work like this
work of revival ? If we believe God’s Word at all, we must
believe that He is able, willing, and mighty to save. Why
wonder, then, that He is saving so many? Might we not
rather expect that He will do far greater things? A man
said to me, ‘Are you in the revival?’ ‘No, sir,’ I replied,
‘the revival is in me; it is in my heart.’ I believe that
many of God‘s people feel this. We never did feel so much
joy, and blessedness, and gladness, as since these blessed
days when the Lord has been pouring out his Spirit—plant­
ing flowers in his garden that will bloom through an endless
eternity. I could hardly tell you where I have not seen
God’s work. I have been wandering for nearly four years—
north, south, east, and west—and the Lord is doing great
things everywhere. We see the sheaves being gathered to
God’s harvest-home; and what can we do but say, ‘ Our God
reigns; verily we have seen the salvation of Israel; verily
we have seen answered the prayers of the men whose blood
was shed in defence of our faith—the witnesses whose souls
have been crying under the altar.’ And we have only seen
the beginning; the end is at hand. Why, I ask again,
should this be thought a strange thing? What is the great
end of the Christian ministry? There is no antagonism
between us and the ministry; we go as breakers-up of the
way, and God has been pleased to own us. We do not in­



terfere in the least with the constituted ministry; for I
believe, as solemnly as I do in any part of God’s Word,
that He has appointed a ministry for the conversion of
souls, and the upbuilding of his people; and the cry of our
heart day by day is, ‘ Oh, would that all the Lord’s people
were prophets !’ We look and see day by day souls going
down to perdition; and if we believe in a heaven and hell,
in an unending eternity, we will go forth like men going to
quell fire, saying, ‘ Stop, poor sinner ! come with us, and we
will do thee good; for the Lord hath spoken good concern­
ing Israel.’ I might tell in this meeting what I have seen
in many places. I might speak of what I witnessed in

S------ during the last few days; of the awful solemnity

upon our spirits, when it seemed as if we felt the immediate
power of God in our hearts ; and we were almost afraid to
speak, as if one felt very near the gates of heaven. Some

of us felt so at S------. And when we saw the Lord working

and the slain so many, we lifted up our hearts and sang,
‘ Hallelujah! for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.,

“ One thing I have seen, and I have thanked the Lord for
it; it has done immense good; it is the deliverance of the
last Free General Assembly on this great and glorious work.
The results from that deliverance, the good it has done, we
cannot estimate. I have seen members of the Free Church
lifted up in their souls, and thanking God for that noble
testimony. Since it was issued it has given a great impetus
to the work. It has been true, and always will be true to
the end, ‘Them that honour Me I will honour.’ I have
seen the objections of many scattered to the winds since it
was given. And since it was read from the pulpits of the
churches, I have seen a manifest blessing upon the ministry
and the people. Let me remark this other thing,—that
some people always find fault. Well, we cannot help it;
and we admit that there are very many things that we our­
selves cannot prevent, that yet we do not desire. A great
many things have been said about enquiry meetings. I look
upon these as the most solemn part of the work—just deal­
ing with souls face to face. It is of great importance that
all who thus speak to the anxious should be known—that
their real state and character before God should be tested.
We should know also that they have something of that



wisdom that cometh down from above. I believe there are
many of God’s people who fail in this work. I have seen
them giving the comforts of God‘s children to the anxious.
I have heard godly persons saying to such, ‘Wait God’s
time;’ and, ‘ You are in a very hopeful state,’—just strang­
ling their convictions. Oh, if there is one part of the work
in which we need more than in another the aid of the Holy
Spirit, it is in dealing with anxious souls. Mr. Ross has
spoken about the coast. I know a great deal about the
coast, and upon this coast no one has been more honoured
than Mr. Turner, of Peterhead. That man’s footsteps,
speaking after the manner of men, I have been able to
trace all round the coast. Look at Banff—what a work he
has done there; and at Portknockie, Buckie, Portgordon.
You see the Lord taking that instrument and using him;
he was used for a time, and then put aside. It is a solemn
thing when God uses a man for a time, and then puts him
aside. It is not the opposition of man we fear. I was
never able to do anything till I was opposed, and so it has
been with others. I would remark, in closing, that I have
always seen the work produce greatest fruits under the
soundest teaching. An old Highland minister said, ‘ It is
a dangerous thing for a child to get bad milk;’ and you
generally see where there is not sound teaching they are
like the young thrushes, ready to eat mud if given to them.
They have no discernment. But where there is sound teach­
ing they grow up like calves in the stall; the grace of God
is in them, and we see it shining. There is just this in it,—
the good old doctrines will stand the test, for they are built
upon the Rock of Ages. Oh, may we hold them fast; and
when we depart hence, leave behind us ‘ footprints on the
sands of time,’ or, rather, on the shores of eternity.”

Not content with scouring his native country, he some­
times crossed the border, and everywhere the strong voice
and steady hand were raised to point men to the cross. In
the autumn of 1862 he visited his old friends, the soldiers,
at Aldershot, and described his visit in the following letter,
which appeared in The Revival:*

A weekly periodical now incorporated with “The Christian.”

146                  HIS VISIT TO ALDERS HOT.

“ My dear Friend,—Swiftly has the time passed since I
came here, and never throughout eternity shall I forget my
visit to this place. There is not a spot in Britain around
which such interest clings, and for which more prayer has
been offered up.

“ My heart thrilled as I saw a camp once more, heard
the strains of martial music, and gazed on the red coats,
either singly, or in groups, or regiments marching along.
The past was brought vividly before me, but the contrast
could hardly be realized. In the Crimea, day and night,
nothing was heard but the roar of the cannon, or the din
of battle; and during a long dreary winter, nothing seen
but misery, that made the heart bleed, borne with calm
endurance and heroic valour, giving English history a page
it never had. It is true that at Aldershot the bugle sounds,
but it calls only to parade, or to take part in mimic fights.
Regiments march, but not to battle. The gun fires, but only
to mark the hours as they pass along. The scene is bustling
but peaceful, and order reigns in the camp supreme.

“ I have met few old friends, for death has done his work,
and the heroes of Alma, Inkermann, Sebastopol, have passed
away—yes, away like the snow-flakes before the summer’s
sun, or the leaves of the forest before the wintry blast. In
the lone graveyard here, on the bleak moor side, lie many
who escaped unscathed amidst the iron showers and the
deadly pestilence. With constitutions impaired, they re­
turned to die, leaving as an heir­loom in many a home the
medal and its bars of glory, worn but for a little, and then
laid aside for ever. Sic transit gloria mundi.

“It is estimated that during the summer from 15,000 to
18,000 men are stationed here, and the influence of such a
mass on the town of Aldershot is of the most ruinous
kind. Much has been written about it, and yet it is im­
possible to make the picture too dark, or to bring out in
relief its degrading aspects. Just think of upwards of
seventy public-houses outside the camp, and you will realize
in some measure the seething mass of iniquity behind. The
camp has made the town what it is, and the town sends
back to the camp the curse intensified it has given. Many
a daughter comes here to die, over whom a mother, it may
be in the far north of Scotland, is weeping day and night.


One was asked lately if she had a mother; and, as if stung
by a serpent, she fled out of sight. Another says she is
dying fast, but asks what she can do. A third laughs; but
it is hollow, coming from a heart torn with anguish, from
burning fires within, fed by the memory of home and days
gone—never more to come back again.

“ Blessed be God, all is not dark. The cloud has a silver
lining! There is much to quicken and cheer; for the great
God is visiting the camp, and drops of blessing have de­
scended. Witness after witness is being raised, and the
prayers, so long lying on the altar, are being answered.
Hardly a week passes but there is an accession to the
little army, and twelve prayer-meetings are held weekly
by the men themselves. At some of these I have seen
sixty men and a few officers present. What songs from
your ‘ Hymns of Prayer and Praise’ they sang! With what
a heart did they peal out ‘ Rest for the weary,’ and with
what holy pleading did they cry for their comrades drifting
to perdition! The leaven is working; the seed is springing
up; and many are halting—lingering at the gate.

“ Mrs. Danieli, so well known for her labours in the cause
of Christ, has founded a mission for Aldershot, and forty
officers and men have come forward as volunteers to help
her on. The United Presbyterian Church is organizing a
congregation, and will, I doubt not, succeed. May God
speed them, and may their church be the birth-place of
many a soul. May He also bless the labours of the chap­
lains and scripture-readers, whose work is so arduous, and
who need more than common wisdom and zeal. Night
after night I preached outside the camp in the open air,
with a body­guard of Christian soldiers around me, some of
whom, with much feeling, have addressed their comrades
passing by.

“What noble missionaries these soldiers, if converted,
would make ! How would their influence tell amongst the
heathen abroad ! What a sight to see Britain sending forth
an army of living men displaying a banner for the truth!

“I feel assured there is many a Hedley Vicars, Ham­
mond, Vandeleur, Marjouram amongst them, and that God,
by his Spirit, will soon bring them out. Aldershot is the
cradle of the British army. The fire here is kindled. The

L 2


work has begun. The Prince of Peace is saving souls, and
God is calling on his people to bestir themselves. England,
Scotland, Ireland, your sons need help. Will you cry for the
army, and forget not Aldershot ?

“ Yours in the Lord,

“ Duncan Matheson,
“ Late Soldiers’ Missionary in the Crimea.”

The Rev. H. M. Williamson, Belfast, who was at once
the pastor and fellow-evangelist of Mr. Matheson, writes:

“ Confining myself to what I have witnessed, I would
like to give you a brief sketch of his labours in the north of
Scotland. He used to map out a district, and arrange for
an evangelistic tour, extending over six or eight days. I
frequently accompanied him on such expeditions. Starting
perhaps on a Monday, we were accustomed to preach gene­
rally twice each day, holding meetings in all conceivable
places,—in barns, on the squares and streets of villages,
under the trees of the woods, sometimes in various churches
placed at our disposal. He thoroughly knew the feelings,
habits, and prejudices of his countrymen, and with singular
sagacity he employed that knowledge to gain the attention
of his hearers and a favourable hearing for the gospel. He
was never at a loss, and full of hope; he had a remedy for
every difficulty, and was ready for every emergency. Let
me give you as an illustration a scene which occurred on
one of our preaching expeditions. We had arranged to
hold a meeting in the streets of a certain village. The
place was drowned in drink, and consequently spiritually
dead above most places. At the appointed hour we made
our appearance, and having made our way to the square of
the village, and having borrowed a chair for a pulpit, we
were prepared to proceed; but audience there was none,
save two or three ragged children, who gathered round and
stared at us as a curiosity. It was certainly a situation
exceedingly trying to flesh and blood, and one that gave
ample room for the exercise of faith. Matheson, by the
grace of God, was equal to the occasion. I think I hear
his cheery words, as he said to me, speaking in his broadest
Doric, ‘ Haud on, haud on, Mr. Williamson, for a wee bit

OF WORK WITH MR. MATHESON.               149

as weel as ye can, an’ I’ll fetch out the folk wi’ the help o’
God.’ He started off, leaving me on the chair—no envied
position, I assure you—with the children for my audience.
He started off, and beginning at the extreme end of the
village, he knocked at every door, and cried aloud as ht
could cry,
‘ Come awa‘ out, come awa’ out; the gospel is
come to the town;’ and using at the same time, with his
usual sagacity, the children he met as his agents, he said,
‘Rin, laddie, rin; and tell yer mither to come awa‘ to the
square, and hear the preaching.’ We had a meeting—a
successful meeting—we adjourned in the evening to a church
in the village; and I have good reason to believe that re­
deemed souls in eternity will bless God for that meeting.

“ There are few parishes in Aberdeenshire and Banffshire
in which the name of Duncan Matheson is not known and
loved, and very few in which he has not preached the gospel.
The extent of the blessing which rested upon his labours
shall only be known on that day when the secrets of all
hearts are made manifest. I regret exceedingly that the
account of all these labours is now lost for ever. Had he
been spared to give it, it would have been a record of the
Lord‘s doings of thrilling interest, and well fitted to strengthen
every labourer in the Lord‘s vineyard. Many incidents
attending his work were of a very remarkable nature, and
if they had been recorded would have been pregnant with
instruction and encouragement. I remember while holding
a meeting one night in a certain place an occurrence which
made a deep impression upon me at the time, and which I
had occasion to mark afterwards. The meeting was crowded,
and better still, it was full of spiritual power. Many souls
were deeply wounded under the sharp strokes of the Holy
Ghost. Some smitten ones were crying out, ‘ What must we
do to be saved?’

“While we were going about among the anxious, seek­
ing as we were enabled to point them to the Lamb of
God, the individual who had control over the place of
meeting began to urge the people to go home, and to crown
his advice he proceeded to put out the lights. I think I
hear Matheson as turning to me he said, ‘ Mr. Williamson,
mark my words, you will see something happen to that man
—the Lord will put out his candle !Matheson, though

150                 THE GATHERING AT HUNTLY

pretending to no spirit of prophecy, knew how dangerous it
is to meddle with the work of the Holy Spirit. And so it
came to pass. Matheson lived to see that man disgraced
and dishonoured, and driven from his position. But if I
persevere in calling up the events of these years of blessing
my letter will swell into a volume.

“The great gatherings for Christian fellowship and for
preaching the everlasting gospel with which Scotland, and
especially in the northern parts, was favoured in past years
are closely connected with Duncan Matheson.

“ Shortly after the work of the Spirit began to be manifest
in the awakening and conversion of sinners in Aberdeenshire
in the years 1858-9, a conference of ministers was held at
Huntly Lodge, under the auspices of the late Duchess of
Gordon. That conference brought out the fact, that the
work of God was much more extensive and thorough than
any one had supposed. The work still made progress under
opposition of various kinds and from all sources. Matheson
traversed almost every parish of Aberdeenshire and the
district around, everywhere preaching the gospel, and much
blessing was added.

“ Returning from one of these preaching expeditions, he
proposed to me the idea of a grand gathering at Huntly,
seeking the aid of men of all churches, both lay and clerical,
whom God had honoured in the work of revival. The pro­
posal took shape. It was approved of by the Duchess of
Gordon, and by others whose good judgment, spirituality of
mind, and zeal for the cause of God we could trust. The
whole arrangements of the meetings were put into Matheson‘s
hands, and the results were great and blessed. Multitudes
of believers from every corner of the land were refreshed
and strengthened, and multitudes of the unsaved brought
to Jesus.

“He had a singular gift for organizing such meetings.
He thoroughly knew the people, as I have stated,—their
mode of life, their habits, their prejudices on religious sub­
jects, their wants, and their religious position. And with all
this knowledge, when the meetings were assembled, he
arranged accordingly with wonderful tact—he put the right
man in the right place. He aimed at the conversion of
sinners as the great end of the meetings, and in carrying out



this end he exhibited marvellous spiritual instinct in select­
ing the right speaker at the right time to give, under the
Holy Spirit, the message which would bring about the
blessed end. He knew too the men that were mighty in
prayer, and endeavoured to keep them, with praying com­
panions, lifting up holy hands without wrath and doubting.
And in this matter he suffered no respect for persons to
interfere. The men he believed were likely to be the in­
struments in the hands of the Spirit to do the work needed
at any particular time in the services, these he brought

“You and I have seen, in other cases and at similar
gatherings, the whole work marred, and the fruit almost
completely lost, because those who conducted such meetings
deemed themselves bound to put forward speakers in a pre­
scribed order, because of their social position or ministerial
standing in church connexion.

“ Matheson never for a moment allowed such consider­
ations to influence him. The result corresponded. As he
sought to honour the Holy Spirit, and kept a single eye
on the great end, the salvation of souls, much fruit ap­

“ His efforts in preaching the gospel in the feeing-markets
of Aberdeenshire were also altended with a very abundant
blessing. It is a question upon which, perhaps, Christian
men form different opinions. I think it admits of no con­
troversy with all who are taught of God, that whenever men
are willing to hear the gospel, then the gospel should be
preached to them. Now, it is also a fact beyond dispute,
that for some years the Lord poured such a spirit of hearing
upon the people that they were willing to hear; and this
also I may add, I have seen as marked and manifest fruits
of the Spirit‘s presence and power attending these market-
preachings as I have ever witnessed on the Sabbath and in
the most solemn assembly. This market-preaching was a
department of labour for which Matheson was in many ways
singularly fitted. Ready for every emergency, and with a
tact which usually disarmed opposition, with a courage that
never faltered, and with a voice like the tongue of a trumpet,
he laboured in this field most laboriously, and in it I feel
persuaded reaped many sheaves of the harvest of the Lord

152               THE GOSPEL AT VILLAGE FAIRS.

I have met many in later years who have testified that they
would have cause to bless God for ever for these market-

“Alas, the band of labourers in that field are now widely
scattered! What sweet and solemn memories of these days
and of the beloved fellow-labourers who wrought in this
work with us! The saintly Macgregor and the good soldiers
of Jesus Christ, Colonel Ramsey and Major Gibson, and
the fearless Matheson—a prince of evangelists—all gone to
their rest and their reward. The devoted pastors, Bain and
Forbes, and Fullarton and Campbell (tried and true helpers),
Tytler, and Macpherson, and Anderson still with us, and
many other beloved brethren who have never been ashamed
of the gospel of Christ.

“ But this letter is drawn out far beyond what I intended,
and yet I feel as if I had said almost nothing concerning
the labours of our departed friend. Let me add, he was
one of the most unselfish of men; he would and often did
share his last shilling with a poor saint. He was ever ready
to commend the gospel to the careless and the scoffer by
deeds of generosity and liberality. What the church owes
to Matheson has never been acknowledged. His share in
elevating the standard of religious profession in the land,
and especially in the northern part, has never been justly
estimated. But his reward is on high. ‘ They that be wise
shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and they that
turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.’”

An important part of our evangelist’s mission was the
preaching of the gospel in village fairs. The feeing-market,
at which farmers engage their servants from one half-year
to another, is a long­ established institution in the northern
counties of Scotland. It is usually held in the street or
neighbourhood of some little town or village. Early in the
morning of the market day there is a wonderful stir in the
erection of refreshment-tents, booths for the sale of sweets,
trinkets, and all things dear to a ploughboy’s heart, shows,
and all the other paraphernalia of a village fair. Soon after
breakfast the market is crowded by farmers and their wives,
ploughmen, female servants, and all who have business to
do. Besides these there is a general assembly of all the

DESCRIPTION OF THE FAIR.                    153

idlers and ne’er-do-weels in the countryside : tramps, tinkers,
ballad-singers, fiddlers, rogues, beggar-women with starving
babies, the man who is “ out of employment” because he
will not work, the shipwrecked sailor who never was at sea,
the veteran soldier who has seen no service but the devil’s—
in short, all the scoundrels within a radius of thirty miles.
No time is lost; the whole machinery of the market is set
a-going. All the animal spirits of half­ a ­score parishes and
villages are now crowded into one place. There is no
restraint ; universal freedom reigns. Wild hilarity, roaring
frankness, outrageous demonstrations of friendship, charac­
terize the scene, and a tumult of varied sounds fills the air.
Underneath all this, however, there is an eye to business.
Yonder in the open air, at the end of a tent, a fat, red-faced
dame is piling up a blazing fire of peat, over which a huge
pot is boiling with the farmers’ broth. Close by a master
is higgling with a ploughman about five shillings more or
less of half-yearly wages ; and the bargain, after an im­
mense deal of manœuvring as if both parties were perfectly
indifferent to the matter, is settled in the good old Scotch
way of “ splitting the difference.” Then follows the indis­
pensable dram. A young swain has just spent his “arles”
in treating his sweetheart with rude demonstrations of
attachment. Another, already drunk, is dancing and caper­
ing to the wretched strains of a fiddle. Sailor Jack moves
along with a curious limp as he sings his favourite ditty.
The showman is doing his best to entertain the people and
obtain their pence. Cheap John, with incredible generosity,
insists on enriching the public to his own certain ruin,
mixing his jokes and lies in due measures to meet the tastes
of the gullible portion of market ­goers. A recruiting ser­
geant is describing to a knot of young men the glory and
blessedness of a soldier‘s life. On the outskirts of the fair
a crew of drunken carters are bargaining with an unscru­
pulous horse-dealer for an old nag, which is being trotted
up and down at the utmost speed possible to his wooden
limbs. A tall, villainous one-legged speculator in human
simplicity tempts to a game of chance, which is yet no
chance to himself; whilst his one-armed brother offers to
teach the young idea how to shoot by means of bow and
arrows which Tell himself could not have shot straight. A

154                   DIFFICULTY OF THE WORK.

hundred voices are crying their wares. As the day advances
men and matters become more and more lively. Suddenly
the crowd begins to surge to and fro, everybody knocking
into his neighbour, no one knowing why. There is a fight;
strong drink is master of the situation. A score of voices
are raised with a score of hands; hard blows are dealt; but
the greatest sufferer is the poor old woman whose “ sweetie
stand” is overturned in the scuffle, all her gingerbread cakes
and coloured sweets are scattered in the mud. The same
commander-in-chief is marshalling his hosts in a neighbour­
ing tent, where a fierce conflict rages around the rude board.
You can see the whole affair from without by the moving of
hostile heads and arms against the canvas, which at length
gives way, and the entire tabernacle of Satan, with a loud
crash of bottles and glasses, rolls over upon the ground.
Still the business of the fair goes on as before, its very life
being in noise, excitement, and uproar. Towards evening
the more respectable people take their way homewards,
carrying with them all sorts of useful household articles
purchased at the fair. Among the remaining portion the
drinking and quarrelling go on apace; coarseness, profanity,
and violence increase, till at length the deepening shades,
not a moment too soon, cast the mantle of God over a very
hell of riot, charged with all the elements of misery and ruin.

It was a bold idea to introduce the gospel here. It was
like David’s attempt to save the lamb by attacking the lion
and the bear. For men of fine feelings to stand upon a box
or barrel, occupying as it were the same platform with all
that is coarse, sordid, and villainous, and amidst the bawling,
the laughing, the blaspheming, the singing, the fiddling, the
fighting, the ribaldry of mockers, the rage of the ungodly,
and in the very atmosphere of blackguardism, to raise the
“ still small voice " of the gospel and speak to men heated
with every passion, of “righteousness, temperance, and
judgment to come," was a work of the most trying kind.
Sometimes they were made to feel that it were easier to face
an armed host than bear the calumny and the shame. Often
were they threatened, often assailed, and sometimes well-
nigh put to silence; but they trusted in Him who hath all
power in heaven and on earth; and sometimes, when they
thought the Word was only like water spilt upon the ground,

HIS FELLOW-LABOURERS.                       155

they were amazed and overjoyed to discover rough, burly
ploughmen breaking down under the truth, weeping like
children, and asking what they must do to be saved. All
over the north-eastern counties you come upon strong,
hard-headed, tender-hearted, God­fearing men, who tell you
that they were “ brocht tae the Lord " at such and such a
market, giving you place and date of their second birth.
Besides that, the general improvement in morals, particularly
in the matter of sobriety, decency, and order, at some of
the feeing-markets, was so marked as to draw forth expres­
sions of wonder and admiration from even men of the
world. If a sufficient number of suitable labourers were
found for this work, a thorough reformation should be
effected, as the experiment proved; but men possessing the
necessary courage and zeal appear to be few, and such
gigantic labours soon exhaust or kill them.

Nature and grace conspired to make Duncan Matheson
a prince of market-preachers. His handsome, well-knit
form impressed the sons of the soil with a sense of his
great strength; his frank, straightforward manner com­
manded their respect; his ready wit captivated a people
whose genuine humour is proverbial; his voice, rising above
the din, summoned them as with a trumpet to listen; his
manifest superiority to all fear made him a hero in their
eyes; and the grace of the Holy Ghost with the truth as it
is in Christ Jesus, did the rest. In this rough, self-denying
work he was nobly assisted by several ministers of the
gospel and other right-hearted servants of Jesus Christ.

Sometimes when a hearing could not be obtained, and
further prosecution of the work seemed an utter waste of
energy and time, Duncan would start up and begin thus—
“ I will tell you a thing that happened when I was in the
Crimea.” Immediately there is a respectful silence; the
audience seem as if spell­bound while the preacher proceeds
to tell his story, which is only an introduction to the gospel.

In a certain town a gentleman well known in the place
came up to him as he was preaching in the market, and
mockingly said, “Well, what is the word of the Lord to­
day ? " Our preacher turned with a piercing glance of his
eye, and promptly replied, “ O earth, earth, earth, hear the
word of the Lord!" Shortly afterwards that same scoffer



lay at the point of death in a room right over the corner
where he had assailed the servant of God. He had been
suddenly seized with what he believed were the pains of
death; and in his alarm he cried, I am dying—run, run

for Mr.------; get a Bible—quick, quick ! " But ere human

aid was procured, or the Bible brought from the shelf where
it lay neglected, the accomplished scoffer had passed to his
final account. This incident, with others of a similar cha­
racter, tended to lessen the hostility at first shown to
preaching in the market, and to pave the way for a respect­
ful hearing of the gospel.

In another town the preachers were one day furiously
assailed and subjected to much personal indignity and
violence by a mob, led on by the paid agents of tavern-
keepers, whose profits were diminished by the effective
preaching of the gospel. For hours the preachers main­
tained their position in the outskirts of the market; towards
the close of the day, led on by Matheson, they pushed
their way into the centre of the fair. Here they were set
on by the entire rascality, hired and unhired, of the town;
but a shower happening at that crisis, the stentorian voice
of our evangelist was heard high above the clamour shout­
ing, “ Off hats, men, and let us thank our Father in heaven,
who sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust, for this
refreshing shower, instead of fire and brimstone to consume
us.” The effect of this appeal was striking. Every voice
was hushed, and every head uncovered, and one who was
present describes the prayer of the evangelist as overwhelm­
ingly touching and solemn. The battle was now turned to
the gate, and the preachers carried all before them.

On another occasion the showman of a penny theatre,
finding that his sarcastic merriment did not shame the
preachers into silence, challenged them to come up to his
platform, and see if they could speak there. The challenge,
contrary to the expectations of the showman, was accepted,
and our evangelist, accompanied by Mr. Hector Macpherson,
took possession of the stage, to the astonishment of the
whole market. Mr. Matheson began; the showman was put
to silence, and went away, leaving the evangelists in posses­
sion of his platform, from which they addressed an immense
crowd with remarkable effect

SPECIAL CALL FOR PRAYER.                   157

Prudence and tact were needed as well as courage. Some­
times he deemed it right to buy up the showmen; by giving
them a fair day‘s custom he procured their silence.

In a “Special Call for Prayer," he says: “These markets
are fields of deepest trial. For long they have been left in
the power of the wicked one, and thousands of souls have
been ruined for eternity. Surely, we shall not ask for
prayer in vain; and when the banner of Christ is unfurled,
shall there be one living soul found shrinking from the
fight, or refusing to cry from the depths of their hearts,
‘Awake, awake, put on strength, O arm of the Lord’?”

The “special call for prayer” was accompanied by the
use of other means, such as the following advertisement in
a newspaper:—


“If the Lord permit, the Everlasting Gospel will be
preached at Longside, Ellon, Aberdeen, Turriff, Inverury,
and other feeing-markets.


“ How long do you think it would take you to count a
billion ? A billion is a million of millions; and if you were
to count at the rate of two hundred a minute, it would
require more than nine thousand years to finish it. Now, you
must live a billion of years either in heaven or hell, and
when that billion of years is past, you must live another
billion of years, and then another, and another; and even
then your life will only be, as it were, beginning. You must
live for ever, whether you will or no.
Is it not an awful
thought that you are an immortal being, and that there is
no escape into nothingness? Dear friend, you are making
an awful blunder if you are living for this world only; and,
if you die unsaved, it is a blunder that can never be re­
medied. Jesus offers to save you now. He died to save;
and if you come to Him as you are—no matter how great
a sinner you may be—He will save you; for He says, ‘Him
that cometh to Me, I will in no wise cast out.’ The time is
short, your soul is precious, and eternity is near.—D.M.”

Mr. Matheson frequently assisted his friends in preaching

158                    PREACHING AT THE FAIR.

at the Dundee annual fair. In those days this fair was held
in a quarry-pit in the centre of the town, and for crowds,
excitement, dissipation, and ruin to the souls of the gay
and thoughtless revellers, was equal to forty country mar­
kets. Here, as we too well know, many of the young
tasted for the first time the devil’s sweets. Here receiving
their first great impulse hell-ward, they went bounding down
the steep of dissipation until they disappeared amidst the
darkness of a living death, or were wrapped in the deep
shades of a premature grave. Here I have known the girl
of fourteen disappear; and no tongue could tell the father
and the mother‘s agony as they prosecuted for days and
nights the saddest search on earth, in the hope of plucking
from the jaws of ruin some fragments of their lost child‘s

In this very place, where Folly was scattering wide the
seeds of death, handfuls of the good Word of God were
cast in, not without yielding fruit. To preach here seemed
mad enough to many, and useless enough to most. Amid
such sounds and scenes it was hard to sustain the voice and
maintain composure of spirit; but exhaustion, loss of voice,
violent opposition, occasional peltings with stones and other
missiles, mockery and scorn, only served to inflame zeal,
deepen compassion, and rouse every energy in the interests
of the divine glory and of the souls of men. The pains
thus taken were amply rewarded in the snatching of brands
from the fire. “ Let us raise the banner once more,” our
evangelist used to say. Accordingly, after much prayer, we
sallied forth with joyful hearts, and, surrounded by a little
band of singers, we continued preaching, praising God, and
praying till the latest hour of night. We were often assailed
by “lewd fellows of the baser sort;” but in the most
tumultuous moment of danger prayer never failed, and fre­
quently at the worst a sense of the Lord's presence sud­
denly filled our hearts with joy, so that we spake the word
with boldness.

On one occasion a burly Yorkshireman attempted to stop
the preaching by driving his horses and caravan in amongst
us. Matheson, who was speaking at that moment, turned
his face to the adversary, and in his solemn way, thundered
out these words, “Prepare to meet thy God!” The show­


A STRUGGLE.                                    159

man drew up his horses, listened for a few minutes, and then
turning deadly pale, quickly beat a retreat.

One night a showman, thinking we had taken our stand
in too close proximity to his tabernacle, fetched his magic
bottle, and with a significant glance in our direction, said,
“Talk of revivals! Here is something that will revive
you! " Shouts of derisive laughter followed. We paused a
moment, then began to sing the twenty-third Psalm. As we
sung, the people began to leave the showman, and come
to our side: there was a charm for them in King David's
song. Prayer was offered: more of the people came over.
A simple exposition of the Psalm followed: the larger por­
tion of the showman's audience left him to hear about the
green pastures and the still waters. Ere we finished the
show was well-nigh deserted, and we could see the tears
trickling down the cheeks of some as they listened to the
story of the Good Shepherd coming into the wilderness of
this world to seek and to save the lost.

Patience and love always prevailed. One Sabbath evening,
at the time of the fair, we were resting ourselves in the
house after a service in the open air. Suddenly four young
men, maddened with strong drink, rushed into the room,
and furiously assailed us, while a fierce and numerous re­
serve remained at the door. The object of their wrath was
the person of the writer, who had reproved them in the
street for scoffing. A violent struggle followed. Matheson
interposed, and seizing the ringleader by the arm, said, “ Let
us pray.” We both dropped upon our knees, and fervently
entreated God to bless and save the young men. For a
moment they were paralysed by astonishment or fear. Again
and again, for nearly two hours, the battle was renewed ;
again and again we resorted to prayer, striking no blows
but those of faith and love. At last the victory remained
with us; the young men became as quiet as lambs. We
preached the gospel to them, and ere they went away we
formed an alliance of peace and friendship that has never
been broken. Such incidents were not infrequent, and the
result often illustrated in a striking manner the sovereignty
of the grace of God. Men who were at one time leaders
of the mob in their most violent attacks on us in the open-
air meetings are now, as the writer can testify, ranked among



the peaceful disciples of Jesus, and distinguished for their
zeal in the cause of the gospel.

One night at Perth, while we preached in the street we
were set on by an infuriated crowd. We sang the hymn,
“There is rest for the weary;” but as we sang matters grew
worse and worse. Not contented with hooting and yelling,
they rushed upon us, and gathering the dirt of the street,
bespattered us freely. Matheson, who never lost his self-
possession, frequently whispered in my ear, “ Never mind;
perhaps a soul will be saved.” We continued to sing until
we reached the door of the hall where a meeting was being
held. Our strength exhausted, our pride in the dust, we
turned to address a word of affectionate entreaty to our
victorious assailants, when suddenly the Spirit of God fell
upon us and upon all those people. Our hearts were filled
with a new and wonderful joy, heaven seemed to be opened
above us, the awful verities of eternity were disclosed with
soul-piercing vividness, and with bleeding hearts we besought
them all to repent and believe the gospel. At the same
moment the great crowd ceased its fiendish rage and mock­
ing; the stillness of death followed; and as we urged them
to flee to Jesus from the wrath to come, many burst into
tears. The people seemed ready to cast themselves at our
feet as we preached Christ to them. It was a memorable
night, the issues of which are with the Lord. Thus we
learned that Satan rages when his kingdom shakes and his
victims are about to escape.

One night at the fair in Dundee a young man bent on folly
stopped for a little to hear the preaching. Stung by the truth,
and angry lest he should lose his pleasures, he tore himself
away, and rushed into the next street, saying, “Now I’ve
got rid of them.” Scarcely had he turned the corner, how­
ever, when he came upon another preacher, was arrested,
and brought to the Saviour. A policeman on his rounds
stood for a moment to hear “what in all the world those
preachers could have to say in the fair,” when suddenly a
ray of light shot through the darkness, and he too was con­
verted. Two young women, bent on pleasure, stopped as
they pressed through the crowd to hear the singing of the

THE VOICE OF JESUS.                          161

" O happy day that fixed my choice

On Thee, my Saviour and my God!
Well may this glowing heart rejoice,
And tell its raptures all abroad.”

“Come away,” said the one to the other; “we’ll be too
late.” “ I dare na gang,” was the reply.

They strove, and parted; the one going to the pleasures
of death, the other remaining to seek the protection of
Jesus, and to join the society of his people.

A poor woman, a drunkard’s wife, steeped in poverty and
clothed in rags, was coming along the street with a babe in
her arms. Happiness had forsaken her long ago; desperate
struggles with want made her weary of life; hope, that most
patient of angels, had disappeared in the clouds; and all
her days and nights seemed but steps to deeper woe. A
voice strange to her fell upon her ear. The one utterance
that fell like dew upon her weary heart was the word of the
Lord—“ Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy
laden, and I will give you rest.” She stood still upon the
pavement, far off from the preacher; and as she listened,
the voice seemed to come nearer and nearer to the heart.
“ Rest! " she said to herself, as the preacher went on to ex­
plain rest in the Lord Jesus—“rest! that is what I want.”
Jesus heard the groaning of that oppressed spirit, and came
to her relief. There and then she believed on Christ; there
and then she entered on the rest of the gospel. Peace and
joy, like birds of Paradise, began to sing in her soul. She
carried the blessing home, and the light that filled that
mother’s heart illuminated the drunkard’s house, and trans­
formed it into a Bethel. Years have passed; she still hearkens
to Jesus, and still hears Him saying, “ Come unto Me, and

rest.                     “I hear the voice of Jesus say,

' Come unto Me, and rest;
Lay down, thou weary one, lay down
Thy head upon my breast. ‘

"I came to Jesus as I was,

Weary, and worn, and sad;
I found in Him a resting-place,
And He has made me glad.”

These are a few instances out of many: the day alone
will declare all the results. To the wise and prudent the
preachers might appear to be fools; but the gospel was


162                       SOME OF HIS HELPERS.

preached to the poor, evil was prevented, good was done,
souls were saved, and God was glorified. From strange
quarters, and in ways too strange to find an explanation in
the philosophy of the rigidly systematic Christian, God
gathers his elect. It does seem meet, that from amidst those
scenes where Satan has his seat, and those ongoings where
the destroyer of souls enjoys his proudest triumphs, the
Redeemer should gather the trophies of his matchless grace.
When in glory the ransomed shall tell each his strange story
of a Saviour‘s love; and one shall say, “He found me in the
nursery;” and another, “ He found me in the school;” while
others tell how they were found in the house of prayer, the
sick­bed, the workshop, or the field; one will say, “He found
me mad upon my idols, amidst the revels of the fair,—there
He cast the charm of his love around me, and thence He
drew me to Himself.”

Several of the Christian helpers in this work have gone
to be with the Lord. Mr. Johnstone, pastor of a Methodist
church, fell like a true soldier at his post, and passed from
the hallowed services of the Lord‘s day on earth to the
joys of the everlasting Sabbath in heaven. He was mighty
in prayer, and it was the practice of our evangelist to ask at
the commencement of his meetings, “ Is Johnstone here to
pray?” Robert Annan, the stoutest of street preachers, is
also at his rest. Dan Collison, a young man of remarkable
faith, said one night as he left the fair, “ I am gaun’ hame
to tell my Faither,” meaning that he was going to spend
the midnight hour in prayer. In a few hours afterwards
he reached the Father’s house of many mansions. When
charged, like Paul, with madness, Dan was wont to say,
“ If I’m mad, I’ll get heaven for an asylum.” “ The Luck-
now Hero,” a Christian soldier of gigantic stature, who had
fought in the Indian mutiny, used to assist in these services
by marching in front to clear the way. He could not preach,
but he could help in his own way. Drawing himself up to
his full height between the preachers and their opponents,
he seemed to say, “ If you dare meddle with these men,
you see what you have to encounter.” He also has received
the palm of victory. Mr. Nairn, merchant, an unwearied
helper in the work of the Lord, is also numbered with those
who have crossed the flood. Amidst the ravings of the fever



that closed his earthly career, he spoke only of the Saviour
whom he loved. Others, whose chief part was not to speak
or act, but to watch and pray, we have accompanied to the
border­land, and have seen them depart, leaning on the arm
of their Redeemer.

Dr. W. P. Mackay, pastor of the Presbyterian church,
Hull, who accompanied Mr. Matheson to the feeing-markets
and assisted in the work, writes as follows:—“Among the
very first times I spoke with him was at a railway station.
We had been speaking of entire consecration to the Lord,
and the noble work of preaching Christ and getting souls
saved. My mind was not very clear as to my own path. I
was seeking light as to my future course—whether I should
give myself entirely up to preach the gospel or enter a pro­
fessional course. Many young men are similarly placed,
and often require an encouraging word when all around
seems doubtful or dark. We had to go in different dire
tions. He crossed over to the other side of the platform,
and his last words before our trains came up were in his
manly accents, ‘Go, and read George Müller, of Ashley
Down.’ I had never heard the name before, but I put it
down in my memory. On the first opportunity I read his
history, and for the first time in my life saw the meaning of
practical every­day faith. I had known about faith to save
my soul, but this opened up quite a new aspect of God’s
glorious truth.

Time wore on. I was often in his company, and always
felt in his presence, There is a man in real earnest, and his
one word is ‘ Eternity.’ He used to say to me, ‘ Stick by
what God has blessed to your own soul. Every evangelist
has a something that God has given him as a great reality,
and God uses the evangelist to carry home that truth to
do his own work. One, for instance, has this word, God
is love;
another is used to impress on his audience, It is
a third has to preach Oneness with Christ; and
a fourth, Believe and live; and so on, just as God has
burned the truth into their own souls.’ ‘Well, Duncan,’ I
said, ‘What is yours?‘Ah, mine is plain, Death, Judg­
ment, and Eternity;
and by God‘s grace I mean to hold by
it.’ And so he did.

m 2


“Well do I remember my first introduction to the fee-
ing-market campaign under his guidance. It was in May,
1862. On the 13th we went to Ellon, in Aberdeenshire.
Here, supported by a number of earnest pastors, we preached
till nightfall the words of eternal life, Duncan‘s voice reach­
ing well over the whole fair in an earnestness all his own.
Next day we went to Potarch market, up Deeside, and there
we met with strong opposition. A goodly number of la­
bourers, pastors, and evangelists—several of whom, as Major
Gibson and Colonel Ramsay, are now with the Lord—drove
down to the fair. This was about as hard a battle-field as
we were on in all the campaign. We had had much prayer
about it, but the opposition, or rather indifference, was very
marked. We could hardly get a dozen at a time to listen.
But Duncan was determined they should hear. ‘Come,’
said he, ‘ let us blow the rams’ horns outside the city.’
We all went to the outskirts of the crowd, and knelt round
in a circle, and began to pray to God, as we felt we had no
power with men. Many of the men inflamed with drink came
round and looked at the rare spectacle. There were more
than a dozen uncovered heads of kneeling men, who were
entreating God to have mercy on those who had no mercy
on themselves. As the spare grey locks of several of the
veterans waved in the summer breeze, and the tones of
entreaty went up to the throne, there was something that
seemed calculated to calm the wildest opposer; but Satan
appeared let loose. They danced, and whooped, and yelled
round the circle of prayer like so many fiends. One coarse
fellow deliberately came beside Major Gibson and spat in
his face while he was praying. The gallant soldier merely
took out his handkerchief, wiped his face, and prayed for
the poor sinner. We rose from our knees. ‘ Now,’ said
Duncan, ‘let us again unfurl the banner,’ and turning to
me, he said, ‘ Strike up “ Rest for the weary,” and let us
in to the centre of the camp.’ Then we got an audience
indeed, and the word seemed to be with power. I spoke
at least to two who were stricken with great conviction of
sin. Duncan would not stop preaching even when the
horses were being yoked to drive us from the fair, but from
the conveyance preached, exhorted, and entreated sinners
to come to Christ.

CHEAP JOHN.                               165

On Friday, the 16th, we went to Insch, where there
seemed many attentive hearers, several of those who had
been converted under Duncan and other labourers rallying
round us. On the Monday following we were at Alford,
where constant preaching went on all day, many dear
brethren from Aberdeen and elsewhere taking part. I
have letters in my possession from those who profess to
have been benefited for eternity from this day’s work, be­
sides having seen several who had been brought to the
truth at former preachings there. On Wednesday we went
on to Huntly, where such wonderful things had been seen
in years gone by, when Duncan, Radcliffe, and others, ga­
thered by the Duchess of Gordon, were so owned of God
in the market. Here, assisted by other brethren, the gospel
was proclaimed, and there were many attentive listeners.

“On the following Friday we went to Elgin. In the train,
as Duncan and I took our seats, a man sat down beside us,
whom we recognised as a very prominent Cheap John in the
fairs, and who we supposed was going to Elgin. He recog­
nised us also, and said, in a very hoarse voice, ‘ Are you
going to Elgin ?‘ Yes,’ said Duncan. ‘ Like ourselves, you
seem to be very hoarse; here is a lozenge for you. But, man,
if you would use that splendid voice of yours in the service
of our Master instead of the service of Satan, it would be
worth living for.’ He was about the smartest in the whole of
the markets, and he smiled at us as he took out a handful
of pound notes and shook them before us, saying, ‘ Ay, but
you could not bring me that with your preaching.’ ‘No,’ said
Duncan; ‘but what shall it profit you, if you gain the whole
world, and lose your soul? Ah, Jack, perhaps you had a
praying mother, who took you to her side as she knelt and
taught you “ Our Father,” and who prayed that she might
meet you in heaven. Shall we not see you preaching in the
markets yet? When God converts you, send for me, and
I’ll join you, wherever it is.’ The poor fellow seemed quite
solemnized, and took it all in the spirit in which it was
given ; but the Searcher of hearts knows if Duncan‘s desire
was realized.

“A week after this we went to a fair in the south, up­
wards of a hundred miles from where we parted with
Jack, and no sooner had we taken our stand than the first

166                NOTHING ELSE BUT CHRIST.

man we saw was our railway friend. He immediately
recognised us. He had his large hand­bell ready to begin
operations, when Duncan said, ‘Let us pray.’ The man
stopped his bell, bowed his head until the prayer was done,
and then began to scatter coppers to draw a crowd. Cop­
pers were, of course, more attractive than the gospel ot
eternal life, and so he gathered the large crowd, and we
the small ; but Jack, noticing this, and, as if not to interfere
with our work, wheeled his platform away to the furthest
end of the fair, and left us undisturbed.

“ Duncan had a rare gift of getting respect from even the
unconverted by his manly, open-faced manner. The lame
sailors, with their shipwreck picture before them, and other
itinerant beggars, lifted their hats to him as he gave them
a word of warning and gospel.

“From Elgin we went to Turriff, and met with considerable
opposition, but also considerable attention to the gospel
preached. In private we had a meeting on our knees here,
that brought us so closely into the presence of the Master,
and showed us the worthlessness of all flesh, that it will
never be forgotten by many of us.

“These scenes happened eight years ago, and it is difficult
to recall particulars; but many will have to thank God
through eternity for having raised up Duncan Matheson,
who with living voice and his Special Herald carried salvation
home to their souls. It is a noble and fruitful work. One
man came to us saying, ‘ I at least hear the gospel once a
year, and that is at the fair.’ Another said, rather from
sarcasm than anything else, ‘Your sermons here seem to
have nothing in them but Christ. It seems to me that you
can speak of nothing else but Christ—Christ from beginning
to end. Ye let us hear more about Christ than we get in a
whole year.’

“Duncan used often to say, ‘Keep the Word at them;’
and when he could scarcely be heard in a continued dis­
course he launched out short, pithy, telling texts of Scrip­
ture. As a man would be pushing his merchandise, he would
sound in the ears of buyer and seller, who were thinking of
profits, ‘ What shall a man give in exchange for his soul ?
He would come in front of a man being weighed for a
penny, and in his solemn tones and earnest manner, making


the man tremble all over, he would say, ‘ Thou art weighed
in the balances, and art found wanting’

“ Many other places we visited in company during the
happy years I had the privilege to labour with him; but I
have no doubt you have fuller information than I can give.
His warfare was no easy warfare. He never thought of rest.
‘Rest!’ said he, ‘no, I can’t. Eternity! eternity.’ I’ll rest
there; and you can gather the northern converts, and over
my grave sing, “Rest for the weary”’ Often he got the
opposite of a kind reception, of course, as did his Master.
At one place we were going to get our tea at a temperance
hotel. A woman came after us, saying, ‘ You shall not go
there as long as I have a house;’ and she did give us a
hearty reception. He was too independent of men’s smiles
or frowns to be universally acceptable. He rejoiced to do
God‘s work in God‘s way. The water of life flows as a river,
not as a canal; and many men quench the Spirit by deter­
mining the exact shape, depth, and width of the canal, in­
stead of taking the winding, irregular river as God sends it.

“ The life of Duncan Matheson may well stir us all up to
live more in the light of eternity, working to please but One,
working to gather souls to that glorious One, and build them
up in the knowledge of Him who is the light of eternity.”

For two or three years—from 1862 to 1865—there was a
slight and natural reaction in many places where a real
work of grace had been wrought. This lull was not plea­
sant, but it was profitable. Heaps of stones having been
gathered from the quarry, the work of selection and rejec­
tion, polishing and building, had to be carried on. Reaping,
with its sunshine and its songs, is delightful work; but after
it comes the work of the barn, with its din, its dust, and its
stern process of separating the chaff from the wheat. At
the same time new fields were opening to the indefatigable
evangelist; slumbering communities here and there were
moved by the voice of the awakening Spirit. During those
years his labours were without ceasing. “We must not
lower the standard” was his constant saying. If the field
was ever widening, his power for work seemed to grow in
equal measure. Wherever a religious interest was awakening
he hastened to render help. Where no work was wrought



and no testimony raised, true captain of the forlorn hope as
he was, thither he bent his steps, and there, to use his own
martial style, he “ unfurled the banner.” He was seldom at
home. One evening, before a meeting, he said to his wife,
“ Mary, this is a royal night with you. How long is it since
you took tea with me on a Sabbath evening?” “Just three
times the last three years,” was her reply. Solemnly and
tenderly he said, “ There will be plenty of opportunity in
eternity to speak together.” At another time he said, “Wife
and children must be nailed to the cross; I must go and
preach the gospel.”

In carrying on the work he was opposed on various
grounds. A minister of the gospel in a certain town was
accustomed to offer prayer for a revival of religion. The
great awakening in America took place; but it was “too
American,” and the minister went on praying as before.
The work of grace in Ireland followed; but it was “too
Irish,” and he went on praying as before. Remarkable
movements occurred in various parts of Scotland; but it
was “ wild­fire, and he would have none of it.” The Spirit
of God began to work in his own town, very much through
the instrumentality of our evangelist; but in the opinion of
the minister the instruments were contemptible, and the
whole thing of doubtful tendency, and he now began to
pray for a true revival. At length members of his own
congregation were converted under the preaching of Mr.
Matheson, who said to them, “Go and tell your minister
what the Lord has done for your souls; it will cheer his
heart, and do him good.” They went; some to ask direc­
tion, and some to acknowledge grace received. The minister
was angry. Next Sabbath he said it was all excitement and
delusion, and he stamped with his foot as if he would stamp
out the spiritual rinderpest. The excitement and delusion
seemed to be all his own. His prayer had been answered;
but he would not accept the answer in God‘s way. The
work of grace stood before him, but he knew it not. Jesus
came to his own, but his own received Him not, because
his visage was so marred. The Holy Spirit came to the
minister but the minister disowned and rejected Him be­
cause He came in a garb of humiliation offensive to human
pride. A work of grace without a flaw must be an impos-

AN OFFENDER FOR A WORD.                 169

sibility so long as God is pleased to work by means of
imperfect tools on the corrupt material of human hearts and
lives. The minister would accept no revival but one accord­
ing to his own ideal. What a pity that ministers should go
a dreaming when the world is perishing!

Some opposed the work because they had no scruples of
conscience, and others because they had too many. Certain
religious people have more scruples in their conscience than
conscience in their scruples. To those who in effect said,
“ Sermons, sermons are our business,” his reply was, “ Souls,
souls are mine.” His constant cry, “ Eternity! eternity!
souls are perishing!" was a cutting rebuke to mere sermon-
makers and sermon-hearers. He did not practise trumpet-
blowing for a bit of bread. His was not the soft serenading
of lovers, but the sounding of shrill battle blasts. He re­
fused to say, “ Peace! peace!“ when he ought to cry, “Fire!
fire! “ To gratify carnal tastes, he would not put the devil’s
butter on God‘s bread. In this way he offended both the
lullaby players and the lullaby lovers. Moreover, his zeal
sometimes carried him beyond the bounds of prudence;
and Mr. Perfectly Small—the same who is denounced in an
ancient prophet for making a man an offender for a word—
could not tolerate the evangelist on account of his blunders.
Does he never blunder himself? No; no more than a
periwinkle blunders. Small, heartless men do not usually
blunder so much as men of much feeling and soul. Heart­
less people keep to the arithmetic of everything. But love,
zeal, courage, feeling, heart, soul, rise above vulgar-fraction
rules of mere carnal policy. Some men can gauge the tear
of penitence, and weigh as in a balance the breath of a
dying saint. There is a crow‘s nest in the great oak;
therefore, hew down the tree. There is a cobweb in a cor­
nice; rase the temple to its foundation. The watch­dog
barks out of season; slay him. There is a crook in the
furrow; hang the ploughman. Let a man live a holy life;
let him toil for the good of others till life is shortened by
his self-denying labours; and let the broad seal of heaven
be stamped upon his work; yet one word amiss shall, in the
estimate of some, outweigh the whole. Shall a single particle
of dust outweigh and render of no value a hundred talents
of fine gold ? Well, shall the warrior stop the battle because

170                           A MINING VILLAGE.

the grasshopper is chirping ? I trow not. So this soldier of
the cross went on.

At this time a handsome offer was made him by the
Presbyterian Church in New Zealand. They proposed to
ordain him as their first missionary, with the status of a
minister in the Presbytery, and offered him a suitable
salary. This offer he declined. Ordination by the laying
on of the hands of the Presbytery he did not despise; and
although to a high-spirited man, such as he in the best
sense was, with an increasing family, a stated income was
to be preferred to his uncertain and precarious mode of
living, with its inevitable humiliations, he could not leave
his own country, where his labours were so much blessed,
and over whose spiritual necessities his patriotic and Chris­
tian spirit brooded with a singular love. “ So long as God
is blessing my labours here in the conversion of sinners,”
he said, “ I cannot on any account go away.”

During the rest of his active ministry his work, both in
its character and results, was very much of a piece. A
few facts, therefore, in illustration will suffice. To gather
the people in obscure and out ­of­ the ­way places, he pro­
cured a hand­bell, which he was not ashamed to ring up
and down the streets, announcing to the astonished inhabi­
tants that he, the bell-ringer, was going to preach at the
cross or market­place. Curiosity brought many to hear
him ; and frequently those most unlikely, in man’s estimate,
to come under the power of the gospel were awakened and
saved. The bell-ringing and similar devices he felt to be a
humiliation, and he sometimes said, “ I never knew I had
so little grace till I began to do that.”

One summer evening the quiet little mining village of
Stevenston, in Ayrshire, is startled from its centre to its cir­
cumference by a strange voice, whose loud sonorous tones
waken the echoes and compel men to ask, What is this?
The people rush to their doors; a hundred windows are
thrown open, and the heads of eager listeners are thrust
out. Even the public ­house is emptied of the drunkards,
who come out in stark amazement. The stranger, like
Jonah in Nineveh, has come no one knows whence. He
stands alone, calm, bold, and solemn, as if he had just come
out of eternity. With prophet-like authority, he cries, “Pre­

INFIDEL MOCKERS.                             171

pare to meet thy God! " As night falls, the voice waxes
louder and louder, and many of those rough miners tremble.
The service closes with an appeal to the great I Am, and
the people somehow feel they are in the presence of God
as they have never been. The preacher then takes his way
along the street, and improves the awakening interest by
speaking of Christ and eternity to every man, woman, and
child, as they stand at their doors. Coming to the public-
house, he goes up and says with great tenderness, “ Ah,
men, prepare to meet your God !" Words cannot describe
the feelings of the villagers that night. The whole affair
is so novel, so unexpected, so conscience ­moving. It was
as if God had suddenly come to the village, as He was
then coming to many a village in the land. What was too
little considered, He was come not to stay, but to pass on.

In another mining village, known to the writer, he was
violently opposed by a band of infidel mockers, who came
to the meetings for the purpose of turning the evangelist
and the work into ridicule. For a time, it seemed as if they
should carry everything their own way. Strong in the hard­
ness of their hearts and their unholy league, they laughed
and jeered. The evangelist marked their conduct, and
having offered prayer for their conversion, drew his bow at
a venture. One of the scoffers was arrested and turned to
Christ, Henceforth he separated himself from his com­
panions, who only seemed to grow more profane. Next
night they returned to the meeting to scoff. Again one of
those high­handed sinners was prostrated by grace, and the
mocker began to pray. Again and again was this advanced
guard of Satan thinned by the sword of the Spirit, till at
length only one remained, and he the worst of all. It
seemed as if he would hold out. At last, however, the
thought took possession of him, “ Am I to be left to go to
hell alone?” That led to his conversion. This triumph of
grace made a profound impression on the unconverted
people of the district, and the work of God made remark­
able progress at that time, the fruits of which are strikingly
apparent at the present day.

He found his way into places where gates were barred
against all evangelistic effort. “ You need not attempt to
go there,” said his friends, speaking of a certain country

172                    EXTRA ORDTNARY POWER.

town in the north. “The ministers have told the people
that the revival is a delusion; nobody wants you, and you
will get none to hear you.” Not discouraged by the failure
of attempts made by others, he resolved to go. After praying
for a blessing, he went, hired a hall for a week, announced
his meetings, and commenced at the appointed hour. Not
a soul appeared: undisputed victory seemed to remain with
spiritual apathy. Most men would have looked on the
empty hall as an intimation of the will of God to depart
and seek a more promising field; but our evangelist opened
his book, and saying, “Let us praise God,” sang one of
David‘s psalms, with somewhat of David’s spirit. There­
after he said, “ Let us pray,’’ and proceeded to pray aloud,
as if all the town were there. As the prayer was closing, a
little boy dropped in, and sat down with all a child’s wonder
and simplicity. The Word was read, the text announced,
and the sermon preached, the great voice ringing and re­
verberating strangely in the empty hall. Ere the close, two
or three men came stealing in from sheer curiosity, to see
a man preaching to nobody,” and sat as near the door as
they could. The service ended, and the preacher announced
that having made an engagement with the great God to
meet Him for prayer, praise, and preaching of his gospel in
that hall on every night of the week, he would be there,
God helping him, at the same hour on the following evening,
come what might, come who may. Next night more came
from curiosity, and ere the week closed the hall was crowded
by an attentive, and in some instances awakened audience.
Faith triumphed. Bolts and bars of triple steel gave way
before the invisible artillery of believing prayer. Our evan
gelist once more realized our Saviour’s words—“All things
are possible to him that believeth.”

In another part of the country, the name of which I for­
bear to mention, an extraordinary power attended the word
one night. The distress of the awakened was exceeding
great, and the individual who presided at the meeting, be­
coming alarmed, ordered the people to retire to their own
homes. It seemed a hard case for those weeping enquirers
to be sent away without an opportunity being afforded them
of stating their difficulties and hearing an answer to the
great question then and there. The meeting-house was



cleared, and as the key turned heavily in the lock, these
unsophisticated children of the soil stood about the door
and wept. “Go home,” it was said to them. “Go home.”
they exclaimed. “ We are going down to hell; and what
are we to do ?" Seizing the arm of the evangelist and his
companion, they begged them as servants of Jesus Christ
not to leave them. That night the woods resounded with
their cries to God for mercy as they went away.

Duncan‘s labours were much blessed at Hillhead, a mining
district near Glasgow, where there was a considerable move­
ment in 1865. This place has been singularly favoured of
the Lord. Here that Christ-like missionary, David Sande-
man, preached and prayed and wept for souls. Sometimes
he tarried at the throne of grace all night, and towards dawn
he could be heard saying, “ The whole district, Lord,—the
whole district! I cannot ask less.” “He made everybody
love him,” say the people still. Here too James Allan, who,
like David Sandeman, went to an early rest with Jesus,
preached with Baptist-like solemnity and power. Of him
the people say, “ He brocht eternity doon about us.” It
was Matheson’s privilege largely to reap what these faithful
men and other earnest labourers still living had sown in the
unpromising soil of Hillhead. Night after night he con­
tinued the services there amidst striking displays of divine
grace. At the close of the meetings, often near the hour
of midnight, when he tore himself away from the group of
men in the agony of conviction, he trudged his weary way
for miles through the deep snow to the neighbouring city of
Glasgow, where necessity compelled him to lodge. Next
night, however, invariably found him back at his loved work
as cheery as ever.

His circuit was now a very extensive one. At one time—
July, 1864—we find him preaching at Dover, where several
officers of the army are converted, and ere the month is out
he is in the extreme north labouring amongst the highlanders
at the herring-fishing at Wick. Now he is raising his voice
on Glasgow Green, where during the last ten or twelve years
many a soul has been saved; by and by he is ranging the
lonely glens of Sutherland in search of the lost sheep. Here
the proclamation of free grace is blessed. “ I have heard
that Mr. Matheson was riding very high, that he was preach-

174                     NEW YEAR’S ADDRESS

ing assurance to the people of------," said a pastor, who ‘

seemed to think that the Christian is safe only under the
shadow of Doubting Castle. “Is it not a matter about
which we should be sure?” was the reply. “Oh, you
women ! " was all the good man had to say in defence of
his system of ultra-Calvinistic exclusiveness.

In 1856, when lying at the point of death on the scene
of his exhausting labours among the soldiers in the East, he
had asked from his God ten years more of life to preach
the gospel and win souls. He was now entering the tenth
and last year; and as if conscious that his more active
career was about to close, he inserted in a newspaper the
following address:—



DEAR READER,—The sand-glass is running out. Another
year is gone! Three hundred and sixty-five days past!
How silently—yet how quickly again—has grain after grain,
particle after particle, hour after hour, dropped in this glass.
Deathless hours they are; uncounted, unnoted, and forgotten it
may be by man, but every falling grain has been noted by God.
The busy pen of Heaven has been marking every moment.
Ask thyself the searching question, “ Has it been with me a
happy year? It has brought me nearer Eternity; but has it
brought me nearer God ? Does it find me better fitted for
Heaven, with more of the pilgrim spirit than I had when the
year began?”

What a time for serious thought! Another new year summons
thee to a Pisgah-Mount—from the top of one of life’s memor­
able eminences solemnly to review time past—consider time
present—and prepare for time to come. Cast, then, thine eye
on the past year‘s journey, and how full of impressive recollec­
tions is the retrospect!

God has been dealing with thee individually, and speaking to
thee surely, in language not to be misunderstood. Hearest thou
not the rustling wings of the Angel of Death ? Have not his
arrows been flying fast and thick, and thousands made his
victims? Look back ! Seest thou that crowd of fresh-made
graves?—they are silent preachers to thee! and this is their
silent text and sermon, “ Be ye also ready."

Many of those who slumber underneath these sods were cut
down without a note of preparation. One was busied in the
market­ place ; the Angel of Judgment met him there, and
before evening he was DEAD! Another was seated at his fire­
side, planning bright thoughts and schemes for the future—he

IN A NEWSPAPER.                              175

never saw the morrow’s sun. Another was in company, loud in
godless merriment, and breathing out his blasphemies—a few
hours more, and he was arraigned at the bar of God! Another
flung himself prayerless on his nightly pillow—next morning he
awoke—but it was—in Eternity !

And, reader, has He spared thee? What! cut down others and
left thee to count in the review of a past year—fig-tree after fig-
tree blighted and fallen—and yet thyself the most “barren” of
all—a fruitless cumberer—still “spared!”

Canst thou calculate on another year? Let these green
graves answer. Another year ! Thine own grave may be among
the number of these silent preachers on another anniversary.
Who can tell but the summons may even now be on the wing,
“ Get thee up and die ! “ Thou mayest this time next year be
reading to others the solemn lesson now read to thyself, “ The
race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong.”

Dear reader, if this be a possible thing, take one look for­
If the arrow of death were indeed during this coming
year to mark thee out, how would it fare with thee ? Couldst
thou say with exulting Paul, when he had the prospect of death
before him, “I am NOW ready”? (2 Tim. iv. 6.) Are you at
peace with God ? Are you resting your eternal all on his dear
Son? Are you in that blessed state of holy weanedness from
this world, and holy preparedness for another and a better, that
“living or dying” you can say and feel that “you are Christ’s”?

Would the angel-summons, “ Behold ! the Bridegroom Com­
eth,” find you exclaiming in joyous rapture, “ Even so ! come
Lord Jesus ! come quickly” ? Would you be ready to pass from
a death full of hope to a judgment divested of all terror—a
God reconciled—an immortality of endless glory? These are
solemn things and solemn thoughts ! Answer them on thy
knees—with the solemnities of the past year behind thee—an
unseen God above thee—a great eternity before thee. Answer
them speedily !

And as ye begin to descend the mount and commence the
journey of a new year, let the feeble voice of the old one whisper
its dying accents in thine ear, “ Seek ye the Lord while He may­
be found: call ye upon Him while He is near;” for He who
testifieth these things saith, “ Behold I come quickly!”

" Time is earnest, passing by ;
Death is earnest, drawing nigh ;
Sinner, wilt thou trifling be ?
Time and death appeal to thee !
Christ is earnest, bids thee ‘ Come ;’
Paid for man a priceless sum !
Wilt thou spurn the Saviour’s love
Pleading with thee from above?”

Inserted by D. Matheson.
Perth, Jan. 1, 1866.



Early in the year we find him in the north-west Highlands,
whence he writes :

“Balmacara House, Lochalsh, January 5th, 1866. I am
here! What a place of beauty, yet of tempest and storm!
I left Dingwall yesterday in an open gig, and came on
here through a range of mountains covered all the way
with snow. Now and then it was grand going along lake
sides and then down mountain steeps. It was very cold,
and we had at the end of our journey very heavy showers.
I am none the worse. I think we came sixty-five miles in
an open gig. When I reached, the thunder was rolling and
lightning flashing. The rain fell in torrents. In summer it
must be a glorious place. The people are scattered, and
my work is laid out for next week. May the Lord guide!

Captain O------, his wife, her sister, and daughter, are here.

They are kind to me. He is a good, good man. My work
will not be amongst large companies, for few understand
English. Pray that the Lord may bless my efforts. I have
a meeting to-night, and to­morrow, Sabbath, here.

“ Balmacara House, January 8th. Yesterday Mr. Colville
joined us. We drove to church—a most uncomfortable one.
No plaster, no roof—only the bare boards, no flooring. The
minister is a good man. It was a good sermon. We drove
back, singing all the way till the very hills rang again. At
five we dined, and at seven we met in a shed. It was
packed with people, some having come six or eight miles.
I preached first, and then Mr. Colville. The people were
intensely interested, and about twenty waited after the
meeting. At ten o’clock we left. We meet there to-night
again. It is a poor, poor country, but very beautiful to look
upon. You see nothing but green mountains and mountains
covered with snow. I am to be very busy. I wish you were
here. I always like you to see anything that is grand.

“ January 9th. We are working away. The people seem
very dead. It is a lovely spot; but how sad to see people
going down to hell unmoved! I feel deeply for the people,
but as yet have no power. . . . Oh for a blessing! Life is
ebbing fast away. Eternity is near. Pray for me.

“January 10th. At 4 p.m. yesterday we started with the
carriage over the hills. It was a grand drive. Now and
then we had to come out and walk, as the hills were so



steep. Coming to a ferry, we crossed, singing all the way in
the boat. In a village on the other side we got a school,

and held a meeting, Mr. C------- and Captain 0------ with

me. I preached; and, blessed be God, I had great freedom
and power. The Lord helped me. I was happy in my soul.
Mr. C------followed. In the second meeting we saw awak­
ened souls.

“January 13th. I have to go some six miles over the
hills to Plockton, the place of my father’s birth. I have
seen some poor highland girls here. It would be a good
thing to get places for them; they are so faithful and trust­
worthy. Poor things, I feel for them. In the snow many of
them have no shoes. I am glad I am come to this place. I
have seen much of the country and people. It shows me
the value of my work among the highlanders.” The work to
which he here refers was chiefly the religious books which
he was getting translated into Gaelic, and circulated freely,
or sold at a mere nominal price, throughout the Highlands.

In course of the summer we find him in Nairn, Inverness,
Ross, Sutherland, and Caithness. Returning south, he
preaches at the fair in Glasgow; and from that city he pro­
ceeds to Laurencekirk, Bervie, Kirriemuir, and other places
in the eastern and central counties.

On August 4th he went to Forfar, whence he writes :—
“ I have only fifteen minutes, passing through. We had good
meetings last night, open-air and indoors. I hope God
blessed the word; but the place is hard, and the people
sadly indifferent. The whole land seems at ease. Few are
seeking God; few are caring for God. I often feel it
deeply. Cholera is not apparently decreasing. The voice
is loud and solemn. Nothing, however, will do but the
Holy Ghost.

For Forfar he had often prayed. Frequently, as he passed
it by rail, he raised his voice in prayer for the salvation of
its people. “When I die,” he said, “you will find Forfar
written on my heart.” “ If God would only bless Forfar,”
he said, characteristically, “ I would be content to stand and
hold Harrison Ord’s hat while he preached.” His prayers
were now to be answered, and his longings in measure grati­
fied. Early in September he went to Forfar, took lodgings,
obtained the use of a school­room for his meetings, and



commenced in the open air and within doors. For paying
the necessary expenses means were liberally furnished by
Christian gentlemen whose sole interest in this town was
the salvation of the lost.

“ Forfar, Monday, September 10th, 1866. Praise the Lord,
He has begun his work. We commenced at seven on the
street on Saturday. A great crowd gathered round. They
listened breathlessly. It was a blessed meeting. I have
seldom seen such a solemn meeting on the streets. At
eight we went to the school. A good company were present.
At close some waited in anxiety to be spoken with. We
did not leave till ten.

“ Yesterday Hopkins, Boswell, and I, went through the
streets giving tracts and speaking. We had solemn talk
with the people. At six we met on the green. About one
thousand were present. God helped us all wondrously. He
gave a very solemn address. The people hung on our lips.
We then went to church. About four hundred came. It
was a very solemn meeting. Rarely did I ever feel such
power at a meeting. About a hundred remained to the
second meeting. Some ten or twelve were really anxious.

We could hardly get the church cleared. Mr. C------, who

had been preaching in a village, came and had a meeting
for the anxious in the street. Some one asked them in. He
had to speak till eleven o’clock. Some evidently found the
Lord. Is it not blessed? I praise the Lord. The Lord
send floods. It is sweet to see such fruit at first.

“September 13th. What a night we had last night. I
shall never forget it. We met at one o’clock, and spoke in
a small street; at seven H. Ord at the Cross, and Hopkins
and I took another place. We then collected all into a
school. It was packed. At close, going out, they laughed
swore, and mocked. Within we spoke to anxious souls, a,
few : and outside I tried to control the rabble. Oh, how
obscene they were ! It seemed as if the devil had entered
into them. At ten o’clock we could hardly get the gate
shut. We go to Mr. M‘Phail’s church to-night, as the school
is too small. This is a fearful place. No tongue can tell its
sin. I do pray that God may convert many. Nothing is too
hard for Him.

“September 14th. The work goes on. God will work


here yet, I do believe, wondrously. We wait, we long, we

“ September 18th. We had good meetings last night. We
only want more power,—more power from on high. A
breath would fan much that is now smouldering into a
flame. We had some anxious ones last night. Pray for me,
and very specially for Forfar. The time is short. It is
passing away. It will soon be done. Some thirty attend
our daily prayer-meeting at noon.

“ October 3rd. We had a blessed meeting last night. I was
very ill yesterday, but to­day am quite well. It was a very
solemn meeting, and several were brought to peace at close.
One, a farmer’s daughter, was a very decided case. All yes­
terday I had much freedom. The work here is truly a very
decided one. We find every night some new cases. It is
a great thing to get something to cheer. Oh, rejoice in the
blessing descending ! We have trial, but we have many bless­
ings. We shall have a kingdom yet and a crown of glory.

“October 15th. We had a very remarkable night at the
Cross on Saturday. About one thousand came to hear. We
went to the school at eight o’clock. Last night (Sabbath)
was a great night in the church—great every way. I had
much freedom. Truly the Lord spoke through me. I never
left a place with such regret, never in twenty years.
The work
seems only beginning."

In November he went north to the feeing-markets, and
on his return visited Forfar, to find precious and abundant
fruits of his trying labours there. The end of the year found
him at home, making preparations for an evangelistic journey
to the Orkneys.

But first, if you want to come back to Scotland's History and Legends again, just add to your bookmarks or favorites now! Then you'll find it easy!

Also, please consider sharing our Scottish History and Legends website with your online friends.

Our Privacy Policy can be found at
Copyright © 2000-present Donald Urquhart. All Rights Reserved. Designated trademarks and brands are the property of their respective owners. Use of this Web site constitutes acceptance of our legal disclaimer.