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to venture without eliciting vehement demonstrations. A friend of mine, who had come from some distance on a visit, went with me on one occasion to an afternoon Bibleclass. I asked him to address the people, and in a quiet way he proceeded to talk of heaven. As he described the city of gold, with its pearly gates, its walls of jasper, its foundations of sapphire and precious stones, and to tell them that "the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it; for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof" (Rev. xxi. 2-3), I began to feel somewhat uneasy, and feared that he was venturing on tender ground, when all at once there was heard a shriek of joy, and in a moment almost the whole class was in an ecstasy of praise. My friend was greatly dismayed, and also frightened at the noise, and seizing his hat, he made hastily for the door. "Stop! stop!" I said; "you must stand fire better than that." I quietly gave out a hymn, and asked some of them to help me sing, and then we knelt down to pray. I prayed in a low voice, and soon all was still again, excepting the responsive "Amens," and the gaspings of those who had been thus excited.
It may be asked, why did I permit such things? I lived amongst a people who were accustomed to outward demonstrations; and by descending to them in their ways I was enabled to lead many of them to higher things, and to teach them to rest not so much on their feelings, as on the facts and truth revealed in the Word of God. But theorize as we would, it was just a question, in many cases, of no work, or of decided manifestation. We could not help people being stricken down, neither could they help it themselves; often the most unlikely persons were overcome and became excited, and persons naturally quiet and retiring proved the most noisy and demonstrative. However, it was our joy to see permanent results afterwards,
REV. W. AITKEN.
which more than 1econciled us to any amount of inconvenience we had felt at the time.
When the power of God is manifestly present, the persons who hear the noise, as well as those who make it, are both under the same influence, and are in sympathy with one another. An outsider, who does not understand it, and is not in sympathy,' might complain, and be greatly scandalized. For my own part, I was intensely happy in those meetings, and had become so accustomed to the loud Amens," that I found it very dull to preach when there was no response. Prayer-meetings which were carried on in a quiet and formal manner seemed to me cold and heartless. "They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; these see the works of the Lord, and His wonders in the deep" (Ps. cvii. 23, 24). Some spiritual mariners never venture out of a calm millpond, and rejoice in very quiet proceedings; they do not look like rejoicing at all. They resemble the people who are going through a formal duty, and, "like a painted ship upon a painted ocean," they are never tossed. Most undeniable it is that many trying things happen in the excitement of a storm.
I was hardened against criticism, and only wished that my criticizing friends could show me a more effectual way of working, and a way in which God's glory might be advanced, without giving offence.
The very remembrance of these times warms my heart as I write; and though I do not know whether I am still young enough to enter into such things in the same way, yet I am sure that the manifest presence of the Lord, under any circumstances, would still stir and rejoice my spirit. My friend Mr. Aitken used to rise above it all most majestically, and shout as loud as the loudest. It was grand to see his great soul at full liberty rejoicing in the Lord. He was
quite at home in the noisiest and stormiest meetings, and no doubt he thought me a promising disciple, and a very happy one, too.
Oh, what tremendous scenes we witnessed whenever Mr. Aitken came to preach at Baldhu! The church, which was built to seat six hundred, used to have as many as fifteen hundred packed into it. Not only were the wide passages crowded, and the chancel filled, even up to the communion table, but there were two rows of occupants in every pew. The great man was king over their souls, for at times he seemed as if he was endued with power whereby he could make them shout for joy, or howl for misery, or cry aloud for mercy. He was by far the most effective preacher I ever heard, or ever expect to hear. Souls were awakened by scores whenever he preached, and sometimes the meetings continued far into the night, and occasionally even to the daylight of the next morning.
To the cool, dispassionate outside observers and the newspaper reporters, all this vehement stir was very extravagant and incomprehensible, and no doubt they thought that it was done for excitement; certainly they gave us credit for that, and a great deal more. They did not esteem us better than themselves, and consequently we had the full benefit of their sarcasm and invective.
Cornish revivals were things by themselves. I have read of such stirring movements occurring occasionally in different places elsewhere, but in Cornwall they were frequent. Every year, in one part or another, a revival would spring up, during which believers were refreshed and sinners awakened. It is sometimes suggested that there is a great deal of the flesh in these things-more of this than of the Spirit. I am sure this is a mistake, for I am quite satisfied that neither Cornish nor any other people could produce revivals without the power of the Spirit, for they would
never be without them if they could raise them at pleasure. But, as a fact, it is well known that revivals begin and continue for a time, and that they cease as mysteriously as they began.
Sometimes I have known the children of the school commence crying for no ostensible reason; when a few words about the love of God in giving His Son, or the love of Christ in laying down His life, would prove enough to kindle a flame, and they would begin to cry aloud for mercy forthwith. I have seen a whole school of more than a hundred children like this at the same time. An awakening of such a character was generally a token of the beginning of a work of God, which would last in power for four or five weeks, if not more; then the quiet, ordinary work would go on as before. Sometimes, for no accountable reason, we saw the church thronged with a multitude of people from various parts, having no connection with one another, all equally surprised to see each other; and the regular congregation more surprised still to see the unexpected rush of strangers. After a time or two we began to know the cause, and understood that the coming together of the people was by the Spirit of the Lord, and so we prepared accordingly, expecting a revival to follow.
On these occasions it was very easy to preach, or pray, or sing; we had only to say, "Stay here, or go to the schoolroom;" "Stand and sing;" or, "Kneel and pray;" and it was done at once: such was the power of the Spirit in melting the hearts of the people into entire submission for the time.
N the midst of these things, we had a scene quite characteristic of Cornwall, which was the funeral of my late gardener and friend, John Gill. This man's conversion, it will be remembered, was the event by which it pleased God to bring my religious state to a crisis. After my sudden exit from John's cottage, which I have already described, he continued to pray for me, as he said he would, until the following Sunday, when he heard of my conversion. Then he praised God, and that with amazing power of mind and body for a dying man. Day by day, as his life was prolonged, he was eager to hear of the progress of the work.
At last the day of his departure arrived, and he was quite content and happy to go. A large concourse of people assembled at the funeral, dressed in their Sunday best. They gathered by hundreds in front of John's cottage, several hours before the time fixed for the service. During this interval they sang hymns, which were given out two lines at a time. Then they set out for the church, singing as they went along.