The 1879 Revival in the Margaree Valley Baptist Church (Part 4)
The following is last part of our series on the 1879 revival at Margaree Valley Baptist Church and is written by G. W. McPherson, A Parson’s Adventures, (Yonkers, New York: Yonkers Book Company, 1925), 37ff. The headings were created by Pastor Ross Morrison of Alberton Baptist Church. Ross & his wife Wendy were brought up in Margaree Valley, Cape Breton.
- CONVERSION IN THE BACKLANDS
On returning to my home I left my chum at the wagon road and took a short cut across the backlands over a small footpath. It was one of the great nights in that northeastern clime. The milkmaid's path was in full bloom, the sky was ablaze and the myriads of stars seemed like gimlet holes in the sky to let the glory through.
Coming along on the path to where a cherry tree lay across the way, I sat thereon, removed my homespun cap, and looking up I worshipped the good Creator for having made such a wonderfully beautiful world for men.
I thanked God for His marvelous Universe and for, His goodness, but I had not "come into the light." What is that light of which I had heard so much in the revival? My worship, I fancy, was like that of a devout Jew, or Unitarian, or Mohammedan, or member of some secret society, who with the mind seek to worship the great Creator through His works by the aid of those symbols which may suggest in some way the fact of God. I think I was in about the same attitude of mind and heart toward God as are many of those who in their churches worship by means of symbols or ritualism only.
Though I did not feel that I was a great sinner, nevertheless, I had a consciousness of sin, and this was the thing from which I sought freedom. With an intellectual conception of God, I tried to thank Him for His goodness. But to me this was not salvation, for I had no sense of peace, no rest, no consciousness of freedom from sin. Someone has
said that the greatest question that man can ask is: "How can a guilty man be just with God?" This was what I longed for to be right with God and to know this beyond a doubt.
While sitting on the tree across the trail, my mind turned to Jesus Christ. I had now ceased praying. I was quietly meditating on Christ, and in this I thought of His Cross. I lay no claim to having had a special vision, but I did visualize Jesus in the long ago dying on the Cross, robed in blood and awful agony as He cried: "Father, forgive them It is finished." Christ was there on the Cross, as real to me as if I was present when He died. And with/this vision of Him I became aware for the first time of my unbelief, of the sin of not believing in Him who died as my Substitute, and instantly I cried aloud: "Lord, I believe!" As quick as the lightning flash there came a flood of peace, joy, full, satisfying, deep down at the bottom of my life, and I became as restful as the surface of a mountain pool. What was it? It was the voice of God in my soul giving me the new consciousness of forgiveness, salvation, free, full, complete, simply because I believed on Jesus Christ, as I was aided by the unseen Spirit to cast myself upon His finished work. Now I knew I was saved, "born from above," by the power of an endless life. I
was completely satisfied. I know I met God, and I found Him, or better He found me at the Cross.
- JOY IN THE LORD
I arose and went on my way singing as loudly as I could in the silent solemn hour of that glorious night:
"There is a fountain filled with blood
Drawn from Emmanuel's veins,
And sinners plunge beneath that flood,
Lose all their guilty stains.
"The dying thief rejoiced to see
That fountain in his day,
And there have I, as vile as he,
Washed all my sins away.
"E'er since by faith, I saw the stream
Thy flowing wounds supply,
Redeeming love has been my theme,
And shall be till I die,
"Then in a nobler sweeter song
I'll sing Thy power to save,
When this poor lisping stammering tongue
Lies silent in the grave."
On retiring that night I wondered whether I should awake on the following morning with the former feeling of indifference towards God. I feared that the rest of brain and nerves might effect a change in my spiritual enjoyment. But on the next morn the consciousness of God was as real as the night before, and instantly on rising I dropped
upon my knees to pray. I was as changed in the morning as on the previous night, and this confirmed me in the conviction that my experience in the backlands could not have been a mere gush of emotion, self-hypnotism, or the effects of mind influence resulting from my nightly contact with the services. Formerly prayer was forced, now it is perfectly natural, easy, delightful, glorious a very conscious communion with God.
- THE HARVEST IS ENDED-ARE YOU SAVED?
Next to Jesus Christ whom I met on the footpath, I thought of Frank and wondered whether he would give himself to the Master as I did. When Mr. Foster preached the final sermon in the revival from the text: "The harvest is passed, the summer is ended, and ye are not saved," Frank who was present was still rejecting God's call.
Time flew on at rapid pace. Frank, like hundreds of other young men, left Cape Breton for the West. The last I had heard of him he was shot dead in the barroom of a small hotel which he was conducting, and his remains were buried just outside the place where the dear fellow met his tragic end. When I heard of the sad death of this most
promising young life, for Frank was one of the popular and beloved of the youth of Margaree, my thoughts went back to that hour of momentous decision in the Baptist Church when I accepted and poor Frank rejected the invitation to become a follower of Christ. Here came the parting in the way. It seemed a very simple thing for a mere lad, only thirteen years of age, to take a stand for Christ in a religious service, nevertheless that act decided my future life and destiny, for it was the beginning of my acquaintance with God.
Such a decision on the part of children is often looked upon as of no special value. "Don't excite the children. Don't let them go to these revival services. It is only emotion and dangerous to the normal development of the young life. Revivals create false ideas regarding religion, therefore keep the boys and girls away from them."
Perhaps the reader has heard such counsel given, possibly by parents who refuse to permit their children to attend special gospel services. But the little children understand what they are doing; they are usually more normal and true in their desire to know Jesus Christ and follow Him than are full grown folks.
"Youth is the time to serve the Lord
The time to insure that great reward."
Let the children plunge out into the deep sea of God's love and know those rich soul experiences before their hearts become hardened by unbelief and sin.
Yes, that was the most momentous act of my life, simple though it seemed to be, when I publicly confessed to a desire to know and follow the Lord Jesus Christ. Would that I had the power to impress upon those who may read these pages the rich rewards that result from helping boys and girls to a definite decision for the Master. Frank was as
worthy, yea I often thought more worthy than I, but he had made a fatal decision, while I chose the better way. Dear good friend Frank, "Shall we e'er meet again?"
 Jeremiah 8:20, “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved (ESV)”.
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