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Scotland Ablaze—The twenty-year fire of revival that swept Scotland 1858-79

By Tom Lennie
October 2019 | Review by William Horsburgh
  • Publisher: Christian Focus Publications
  • ISBN: 978-1-52710-267-5
  • Pages: 630
  • Price: £14.99
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Book Review

This is a truly incredible book. The well documented research would indicate that many hours have been spent in preparing and writing it. I think every literate believer should read it, especially those who are Scottish.

It’s a detailed reference to God’s work of revival in that land as the result of the revival in Northern Ireland in 1859. My heart’s cry is that a similar book would be produced about the 1859 Revival’s impact in the other three countries of our great nation.

The first chapter wrestles with the academic debate as to the impact of the 1859 Ulster Revival on Scotland. The second reviews the genesis of revival in the United States which spread to Ulster.

Chapter three covers the initiatory movements and preachers, like Brownlow North and Hay McDowell Grant, before chapter four introduces the reader to the breakout of revival in Glasgow in 1859. Page after page follows, with incredible details of the Lord at work across the West of Scotland, naming churches, towns and communities, before spreading throughout the country (there is a seven page index of places at the end of the book).

There is an appraisal of the movement, assessing three differing revival traditions which manifested themselves. It concludes that ‘the revival of 1859-60 was very widespread, constituting the most extensive evangelical revival in Scotland’s history’ (p.385). The book then goes on to record what it calls ‘revival afterwaves’ from 1866 into the 1870s, before turning attention to the Moody revival of 1873-75 and beyond.

Finally, an insight into the kind of information stored in this grand volume. At Carrubbers Close, Edinburgh, ‘it was October 14 that, suddenly, “the shower came on” and an extraordinary… work of grace commenced. Nightly meetings were held for upwards of six months and people flocked to them in droves. New premises had to be rented to accommodate the increasing number of classes and enterprises’ (p.162).

May the Lord be pleased to shake his church again before he returns in glory.

William Horsburgh


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