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July 2011

 from  William Chalmers Burns

William Chalmers Burns (1815-1868) was born in Scotland and died in China. He is indelibly associated with the work of God in both of those countries. His was a life characterised by deep devotion to the Lord Jesus Christ. His last words were these: ‘Thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever’. What follows is an entry from his journal dated August 21, 1840, written from Breadalbane (Scotland).

In the Lord’s wonderful providence, the minister of this dead parish consented to my preaching there this day at twelve noon, and accordingly we went; this morning I felt such an entire vacancy of mind and heart, that it seemed impossible that I could preach. However, in secret prayer before leaving the manse I had hopes of a good day. The people were met at the tent, but the wind being high we adjourned to the church …

The subject was conversion; text Matthew 18:3, and in discoursing upon this I experienced more assistance in attempting to speak home to the very marrow of men’s souls than at almost any other time … Two wicked men could not stand it, as we supposed, and retired from their seats. Many others, and among these the stoutest men, were in tears. At the conclusion, when I had pronounced the blessing I sat down in the pulpit in secret prayer as usual, but to my amazement I heard nobody moving; and waiting a full minute I rose and saw them all standing or sitting, with their eyes in many cases filled with tears, and all fixed on the pulpit … I asked them what they were waiting for, and whether they were waiting for Christ, and then spoke a little from a Psalm which we sung, and then parted at four p.m.

The people retired slowly and most of them in tears. We dined at the manse, when all were very serious, and came away immediately in order to hold a meeting in the parish at six o’clock. As we came along the road we overtook some men and women in deep distress, as their tears and sober countenances indicated, and their iron grasp when we shook hands with them. Many also came to their doors and recognized us with evident concern. At six we had a meeting for an hour and a half in a house at the east end of this parish, when about a hundred were present. Praise to the Lamb!

In the evening I walked up the side of Ben Lawers, until I could command a view from the head of Glen Dochart to Dunkeld, having Loch Tay in the centre from Kenmore to Killin. It was a beautiful evening, and the scene was magnificent. However, all my thoughts of external scenery were well-nigh absorbed in the thought of the wonderful works of Jehovah which I had witnessed during the week that was closing among the poor inhabitants of this splendid theatre of the Lord’s creation. I could have supposed that I had been in Breadalbane for a month instead of a week; the events that had passed before me were so remarkable and so rapid in succession. It has been indeed a resurrection of the dead, sudden and momentous as the resurrection of the last day, nay, far more momentous than it to the individuals concerned. After coming home, I was alone, and felt much my need of a broken and grateful heart.