(From Aspects of the Religious History of Lewis by Rev M. Macaulay, pages 169-187.)

In 1823, Alexander MacLeod was, through the patronage of Mrs Stewart MacKenzie, appointed to the vacancy at Uig. He visited Lewis in January, 1824, and wrote Mrs MacKenzie on the 5th of February as follows: "I have heart-felt satisfaction of giving you good tidings of great joy. Through the whole island there is a great thirst for religious instruction and information." He was settled in Uig in April, 1824, and was therefore aware that the revival in the island had already begun. Here and there the Gaelic teachers had been at work for more than ten years, but as yet any impressions made were confined to the isolated localities in which the teachers laboured, and very little of this had appeared in Uig.

It was round Mr MacLeod's ministry that the most important occurrences in our religious history took place. This period shall, therefore, be dealt with more minutely.

Until the Edinburgh Gaelic School Society began its work in Lewis, the densest intellectual and spiritual darkness held universal sway in the island, and Uig was by no means better than the other districts in this respect. Although the ground-work had begun with these teachers in instructing the people to read the Bible in their own tongue, we hear of no apparent effect before 1820, after which we notice some movement among the dry bones through the preaching and evangelical zeal of Finlay Munro and John MacLeod, Galson.

Before Mr MacLeod was settled in Uig, it was reported that when he would come he would not baptize a single child unless the parents were exemplary in conduct, and stood a searching examination in Scripture teaching. The entire parish discussed the situation, and all the parents crossed the moor to Harris with their unbaptized children, and Mr Bethune, the minister of Harris, sprinkled them all without ado.

When Mr MacLeod landed in Stornoway on his way to Uig, he was accosted by that stalwart Christian, Murdo MacDonald, locally known as Murchadh Mor nan Gras. Murdo had been converted while listening to one of the Gaelic teachers reading Boston's "Fourfold State". He bluntly asked MacLeod where he came from, to which MacLeod replied, "Who gave you authority to catechise me?" Murdo replied "The Holy Spirit". "Oh if that is so" said Mr MacLeod, "I came from Stoer, in Assynt. There I was born and brought up. I have been a minister in Dundee and Cromarty, and I am on my way to be the minister of Uig, where I hope to preach the gospel in its glory and wonder." MacDonald replied, "It is sorely needed there, for there is not a soul in that parish who knows anything about it, except one herd laddie, and they think he is stark-mad." The herd laddie referred to is supposed to have been Malcolm MacRitchie, who later became the minister of Knock.

In 1818, there were only two Bibles in Uig, one in the church and one in the manse. That year Malcolm MacRitchie got a loan of a New Testament in Gaelic from a friend in another part of the island, along with Baxter's 'Call to the Unconverted', and Alleine's 'Alarm'. Through reading these his conscience was pricked, but he had no one to guide him to the fountain of salvation. He had a great desire to procure a complete Gaelic Bible. In 1820 he heard it was on sale in Stornoway, so he travelled thirty miles across the moor to procure one. When he arrived he discovered the price was five shillings, a sum which he did not possess, so he had to return without it. Shortly after this he salvaged a cask of palm oil on the shore, and having reported this to the Custom-House at Stornoway, he received five shillings for it. He immediately set off again for the Bible, and duly returned with the desired treasure. This was in 1821, but before that MacRitchie had obtained another treasure, even the forgiveness of his sins.

News of the Bible soon spread, and the neighbours gathered to hear him reading it. Mr Munro, the minister, was not too pleased when he heard this, and threatened to remove MacRitchie's father from the glebe land, as he was the minister's man. The father replied, "You can take the land from me, but you cannot take grace from Malcolm."

When Malcolm was under conviction he went to the manse to see if he would get some comfort from Mr Munro: but when he went a second time all the doors were locked, and the maids were peeping through the windows, being terrified as Mr Munro had told them Malcolm was insane.

In 1823, at the age of twenty, MacRitchie taught at Aline, Lochs, and a work of grace began among the people there. Night and day, children, parents and even grandparents attended his school together. He used to say in later years that he would be happy if he saw as much fruit of his labours in the three congregations of which he was a minister, as he had seen in that small township alone.

Whatever hopeful impressions were made on Mr MacLeod's mind during his visits to Lewis, in January 1824, as soon as he was settled in Uig, he was made suddenly aware of the stark reality of the darkness that prevailed in his new charge. However strange it may appear to us now, when he held his first prayer meeting in Uig, he was shocked to hear one of the former Elders of the congregation, on whom he had called to pray, beseeching the Almighty as follows: "0, Lord, thou knowest that we have come a long way to this meeting. We have put ourselves to a good deal of trouble, and we hope that thou wilt reward us for it by casting some wreck on the shore on our way home." Another requested God to grant them a large catch of cod and ling in return for their good service in attending the meeting today; while still another spoke of the death of our Lord as a great calamity, "Is latha dubh dhuinne an latha bhasaich Criosd." MacLeod said, "Sit down man, Sit down! You have said enough." After the Sabbath service he was appalled to discover that whisky and tobacco were being sold outside the church, even on the Lord's day, and this abuse he attacked at once.

There were more than the herd laddie who longed for MacLeod's advent. At least one ardent soul in the parish, whose eyes waited for him, saw his figure silhouetted against the sky, surrounded by a golden halo.

Mr MacLeod did not hold the Sacrament in the Summer of 1824, but postponed it for a year. At the end of the year he postponed it for another year, claiming, as we shall see from his letter to Mrs MacKenzie, that he had in the parish no sacramental tables or cloth, or any of the things needed for such a solemn occasion. He said such a postponement would be a great disappointment to him and to others.

This postponement for a second year of the Sacrament raised a storm, and Mr Cameron, Stornoway, who had been inducted there in 1825, decided to send a bag of tokens to the Uig communicants through a messenger. Word reached MacLeod of this, and he consulted Big MacRae, who was one of his teachers in 1825, and Francis MacBean, who had also been a teacher, but was now, after being an Inspector of schools, acting as a road-contractor and school-builder. As the parish schoolmaster, MacRae was under the jurisdiction of the Presbytery, but MacBean was not, so it was agreed that the latter should deal with the man carrying the tokens. He met the man with a fierce and sudden demand, "The tokens or your life, Sir." So the tokens were quietly handed over, but the matter did not end there. MacLeod was called to task at the next Presbytery meeting, not only for the action taken to keep the tokens from the people, but also for his disturbing sermons. MacLeod refused to keep the Sacrament, and was sentenced to a year's silence for contumacy.

MacLeod stated at the Presbytery that it mattered not what they would say or do to him, so long as he had the Lord on his side. The term he used for the 'Lord' was the "MINISTEIR MOR". Simson of Lochs, who was a giant of a man, was in the chair, and he thought Mr MacLeod referred to himself as the "ministeir mor". Taking this as a compliment, he blurted out, "That's right MacLeod, I am with you, and we shall defy them". He then pronounced the benediction, and there the matter ended.

It may appear difficult to explain this spiritual desolation in Lewis, and the darkness that prevailed in Uig in particular, especially when we remember that a stated Protestant ministry had for a considerable time been settled among the people. The answer is that the Lewis ministry was not an evangelical one, for Moderatism held sway, and a secular selfish indifference to the eternal interest of souls, with its blighting effects on the moral and religious nature and susceptibilities of men was the fruit reaped.

Mr MacLeod discovered that nearly all the people on attaining a certain age flocked to the Lord's table as a matter of course, and eight or nine hundred were actual communicants. Family worship was unknown among the people, and even at the manse. The large majority attended his services, but at best they only indicated that "Stupid attention", as John Wesley used to call it, which reveals the vacant mind and the unsympathetic heart.

This attitude continued for about a month. The poor people could not help noticing the difference between the earnest and faithful preaching of the gospel by Mr MacLeod, and the monotonous repetition of the meagre and almost meaningless stock of less than half a dozen discourses which formed the tread-mill round of pulpit exercises in former days. Here was a preacher who preached the eternities, warning them of the wrath to come for Christless sinners, and proclaiming a way of escape through a crucified and risen Saviour. At first he returned from the pulpit to the manse with a heavy heart, but decided that he must visit the people in their homes, not to gossip, but to press home the truths he had preached. After two months the stupid attention and vacant stare passed into wistful and anxious listening, and in some cases into a heart-wringing inquiry of "What must I do to be saved?"

For the first six months he had no helper as teacher or Catechist. In addition to the Sabbath services, he held a lecture on Thursdays, and prayer-meetings were regularly conducted. Schools were soon planted throughout the parish, and the district was later highly favoured in the type of teachers he procured. Some of these later became ministers, as John MacRae, John Finlayson, Peter MacLean, Malcolm MacRitchie, Alexander McColl and John MacQueen. During their teaching periods in Uig they were magnificent assets to the congregation. When Mr MacLeod realised the state of the congregation, he decided, as we have noted, not to dispense the Lord's Supper during the first year of his ministry, and actually did not hold a communion until June, 1827, that is more than three years after his arrival. He felt he would have to declare unto them the whole counsel of God, and so wait and see what God might do in His grace.

Mr MacLeod's own description of the situation as given in his short Diary, covering the period from 2nd June, 1824 to 27th March, 1827 is our best guide. He writes:

"Having been inducted as minister of this parish on the 28th day of April last, I now, in humble dependence on the grace of God, commence to give some account of the moral and religious state of my people at the time of my Induction, and of the particulars that occurred among them since that period. The first month they were extremely attentive to the preaching of the Word, but the Truth made little impression on them. They seemed to be much afraid and astonished at the truths delivered, yet seemed at a loss to understand what they heard. Having commenced to examine several of the parents, previous to my dispensing the ordinance of Baptism to them, I found that they, with very few exceptions, were grossly ignorant of the truths of Christianity as revealed in God's Word. In questioning them regarding the Covenant of works and the Covenant of grace they acknowledged that they were perfectly ignorant of the origin, nature and systems of both. Only a few could tell the names of our first parents, of Noah or of any of the Patriarchs and Prophets, and few could tell the nature of our Lord's mission, and the names of His disciples and their history. In asking the number of Sacraments which Christ appointed, the answer in general was seven. Their hope of salvation was based on good conduct, doing their best; and regarding their hope for heaven they said it would be a wonderful favour to be somewhere on the borders of that happy place, though not admitted to the Society of the holy. This shows that the polluted remains of Popery was the only notion they had of Christianity. Swearing, lies and stealing were common, yet in general they were kind and obliging, with but few instances of drunkenness and uncleanness among them. Thus I found that I had to begin with the first principles of Christianity, and take great care to render the truths delivered intelligible to them."

On July 5th, 1824, he continues,

"From 2nd June to this period many people from the neighbouring parishes attend divine service regularly, and many young and old seem to be under serious impressions. They now give close attention to what is spoken. Many young and old are in tears every Lord's day, and several are so affected as not to be able to contain themselves, or to retire." A great thirst for the word of life seems to have arisen in many hearts throughout the island, and the preaching in Uig became the centre of attraction. Incredible efforts were made by earnest souls in all parts of the island to be present at the preaching of the Word in Uig, even on ordinary Sabbaths. Men and women travelled from Ness, Back and Knock, distances of 20 to 40 miles, to Uig ferry on Saturday to overtake the boats for church, which often required to leave very early on account of head-winds, and the distance to be travelled by sea, which cannot be less than 10 to 12 miles.

On his entry on August 10th he continues,

"The same appearances are still increasing in our congregation every Sabbath day. A considerable number are so affected that it is with difficulty that I can go on sometimes with the sermon. Others are much afraid that such impressions may come their way, and there were instances of several for two Sabbaths that retired from the congregation when some were thus affected, from the apprehension that they would be the next that would become subjects of similar impressions. After having reprimanded them for so doing, they never behaved disorderly afterwards."

On December 24th, 1825, a year and eight months after his induction, he writes, "0 how much have I to praise the Lord for His goodness to my people since I came among them, especially of late! They now come to me from every corner crying, "What shall we do to be saved?" It is manifest that many of them are the subjects of deep conviction, and others enjoy some of the consolations of the gospel by faith. In April, 1824,1 could get none in the parish that I could callupon to pray at our prayer-meeting, but now I have more than twelve I can call upon, with liberty and pleasure, to that duty in public." This shows that it was his practice to call upon them to pray publicly before they became members, as his first observance of the Sacrament was in June, 1827, when only six came forward.

"Glory be to God", he says, "for this wonderful change! May I never forget His benefits! Blessed be God for His unspeakable gift!" On December 25th he preached from Matthew 28:5. The people were in general much affected during the whole service; "But", he says, "when I came to the practical application of the discourse, and showed that the words "fear not" were turned vice-versa to all unbelievers, and that their fears and terrors, terrors unspeakable, would never terminate through the rounds of eternal ages, if the offers of salvation were rejected, you would think every heart was pierced, and general distress spread through the whole congregation. May it bring forth fruit."

On January 1st, 1826, as he reminisces on the Lord's goodness to him he feels greatly encouraged, and looks with great expectations to the future. He writes, "Remember, 0 my soul, how the last year which is now terminated, has been crowned to thee with very many signal deliverances and numerous mercies in the adorable providence of God, and encouraging pledges of His special goodness and favour to us in the gospel of His dear Son. Forget not the 10th of June, 1825, when on that tempestuous day you were in a small barque tossed on the mighty and roaring ocean, and when all thought you were destined for a watery grave, that the mighty God of Jacob rebuked the storm and brought us into safe harbour. I might well say, as one of Thy dear servants expressed himself on another occasion when in deep affliction, "Joseph was rough, but he was kind." . . . "Meditate upon the gradual steps by which the Lord is approaching and manifesting Himself to not a few of this people, and muse with delight upon the progressive growth which so conspicuously appears among the subjects of grace in this parish . . . and when in the last two months of the year. Thou, 0 Lord, hast been pleased to be more liberal of Thy special grace to sinners among us, may we not be greatly encouraged that Thou mayest be pleased to continue the special favour to this people, and to him who is appointed to declare Thy counsel among them."

On June 4th, 1826, he writes, "Our young converts are making progress in knowledge and experience. One of them under sharp conviction, in staling his case to me, said that he thought every single letter in the Decalogue was as the continual noise or sound of a tremendous trumpet against him, and that he felt himself often so near the vengeance of the holy law to be executed against him, that he imagined there was not the thickness of a leaf of paper between him and the immediate execution of all the threatenings of Sinai against himself."

On June 6th, 1826, Mr MacLeod writes, "Although we have carried on our public meetings here for a considerable time past, we have had no private meeting. We have regretted exceedingly that we have not had it conveniently in our power to establish such a meeting hitherto. But today a private meeting was opened in the parish, which I trust will be countenanced by the Lord of the vineyard, and to which He will vouchsafe His special and effectual blessing. The regulations of this meeting are not yet fully drawn up, nor are they intended to be drawn up, but as time, circumstances and experience may call for additions to them. The first resolution is that none will be admitted as members of the meeting but such as are in the opinion of the church partakers of real grace. They are to be examined upon their faith, change and experience, and though in the opinion of Christian charity we might receive scores into this meeting, yet this being the first private meeting ever opened in the parish in the memory of man, we intend to form a precedent for our successors, namely, to receive none into this meeting but such as give evidences that they are decidedly pious, and thus we exclude all others from this meeting, however promising in their first appearance. But if they are found to grow in grace, knowledge and conversation becoming the gospel of Christ, the meeting is always open, and its members are ready to receive such with open arms of joy and consolation. But whilst we exclude the generality of professors from this meeting, the public meetings are still continued, and a general invitation is given to all to attend them."

This was probably the origin of the "Coinneamh Uaigneach" or private meeting in Lewis, but it had existed on the mainland long before this. It is rooted in the Fellowship meeting, or vice-versa, as we shall see later when dealing with this aspect of religious life.

On January 1st, 1827, Mr MacLeod writes, "Thy merciful interpositions, and thy defence from my inveterate enemies, and those that hate Thee, 0 Lord, will be recorded by me in praises of Thee during my pilgrimage on earth."

On March, 27th, Mr MacLeod says he has not preached since the 3rd of February because of illness, and records, "But when despaired of by all human witnesses that saw my low condition. Thou hast been pleased to rebuke my complaint, and to withhold the rod. Thou hast been pleased to remove my bodily pains in time of need, and Thou hast kept my mind serene and composed, looking for the coming of the Bridegroom, and expecting that it was the fixed time of my departure." This is the last entry in his Diary, but this was not the time of his departure, for his life extended to the 13th November, 1869, when he was 83 years of age.

Although Mr MacLeod's Diary ends on March 27th, 1827, we however have an account of his first Communion given by Mr MacLeod himself. This is given in the brief Memoir with the Diary and sermons published by the Rev. D. Beaton, Wick, in 1925, and reprinted by the Westminster Standard Publications, in 1959.

This is Mr MacLeod's own account of his first Communion held at Uig after his settlement:

"Uig, June 25th, 1827. Yesterday the sacrament of the Lord's Supper was administered in this place, and much of the presence of the Lord appeared in the congregation. There were from 800 to 1,000 communicants formerly in the parish, there being a habit of indiscriminate communion. This is the first occasion we had the communion here in my time, and only six individuals have come forward to the Lord's Table. There were no more than twenty communicants in all. The whole of the unworthy communicants kept back, and a great many of our young converts did not take upon them to come forward. The congregation was much impressed the whole day. When the elements were presented there appeared as a shower of revival from the presence of the Lord through the whole congregation, and in serving the first and second tables, (there being two tables only), the heavenly dew of gracious influences was evidently falling down on the people in so conscious a manner that, not only the friends of Christ, but also the enemies of the Lord cannot forget an occasion and a scene so singularly remarkable, in which all acknowledge that God was of a truth among us. But all this might be called the commencement of what happened afterwards, for when our young converts saw the uncommon liberty that was granted to the pastors in addressing those who sat at the table, they were still more impressed and filled, as it were, with new wine and holy solemnity. Much disappointment now appeared among several of them that they had not taken out tokens, and so were not prepared to come forward. Pungent conviction, towards the evening, took hold of some of them for not obeying Christ's command. It was a night ever to be remembered in this place, in which the whole of it was spent in religious exercises, whether in private or together with others in cases mingled with unusual instances of joy and sorrow. While these things were carried on, the ungodly themselves were in tears, and iniquity for a time dwindled into nothing, covered her brazen face and was greatly ashamed.
On Monday, many felt sadly disappointed when they saw that the ungodly had kept back from the table, and when they perceived that the Lord's people were so greatly refreshed in commemorating his death, that they did not timeously prepare for the duty, and that, after the Lord in every way cleared the way for them, they were not ready. This circumstance caused much sorrow, and more so as there is no doubt but some supposed that some of the most promising of the Lord's people would not communicate at this time. But when they saw that those went forward, and that they themselves were not ready, and when they were convinced then in their consciences that they were led to follow the example of men rather than a sincere regard to Christ's command, and the commemoration of His dying love, the whole circumstances of the case came home with peculiar force to their consciences, and they were humbled low in the dust. But this prepared their souls for receiving the excellent sermon preached by the Rev. Mr MacDonald (Ferintosh) on the following day, from John 16:22, "And ye now, therefore, have sorrow, but I will see you again, and your hearts shall rejoice." The Lord's people were greatly impressed and refreshed by this sermon; and they descended from the mount with songs and praises."

It is said that at one stage of the service there was a burst of universal sobbing, and only the two precentors, Malcolm MacRitchie and Angus Maciver, along with Mr MacDonald, kept the singing going. Many afterwards came to the minister and asked who had spied on them, as the secrets of their hearts were revealed from the pulpit, but they soon discovered that the revelation came not from men but from the Lord.

Uig had become a well-watered garden, and the fewness of the communicants was an indication of how completely the people's minds had been changed as to their duty in sitting at the Lord's Table.

Four years after Mr MacLeod's induction, i.e. in 1828, it is said that 9,000 people were present at the Uig communion. The spirit of prayer and supplication was given to the people, and in dispersing from the public means of grace, they met in private, and poured out their hearts to God.

In 1833 a vast concourse of people, including many from Uist and Harris, attended the communion at Uig. The change in the life of the people affected not only their devotional habits, but shaped and fashioned their whole conduct. An eye-witness wrote, "At all hours, from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m., I have heard people at prayer as I passed by." A naval captain, who lay off the island at that time, and who had many opportunities of observing the ways of the people, bore this testimony: "They are an extraordinary people here; one cannot but be struck with their honesty, kindness and sobriety. I think I have never seen a drunk person out of the town. One hears of religion elsewhere, but one sees it here in everything."

The Rev. John MacRae, "MacRath Mor", testified that the finest moral spectacle he had ever witnessed during his whole career was that of the congregation of Uig under the pastorate of Alexander MacLeod. Yet he also remarks after listening to one of Mr MacLeod's sermons, "That it was a striking instance of how the foolishness of preaching was made effective by God." Mr MacLeod's sermons attached to his Diary are, however, full of meat for those who "part the hoof and chew the cud".

Of the movement at Uig, Prof. George Smeaton said that it was the purest revival that he knew of in the history of the Church in Scotland, unless the awakening in Arran surpassed it in freedom from wildfire and fanaticism. It was so free from excesses, and its fruit was so lasting.

A note of the mystery of Providence regarding Dr MacDonald's arrival at Uig is worthy of a place as we deal with Mr MacLeod's first Communion. In April, 1827, Dr MacDonald was unable to land in St. Kilda, because of stormy weather. In June he tried again, after being twice driven back, the workmen having gone to the island with the building material for the church some time before. Dr MacDonald was accompanied by his second son, and left home on the 2nd June, 1827, coming to Bracadale on the 16th. He sailed for St. Kilda on the 17th, getting as near as fifteen miles to the island, but was forced to turn back to Harris. After remaining some days, due to the adverse weather, he decided to cross to Uig. Mr MacLeod had given him a pressing invitation to assist at his Communion on the 24th of June. On the 22nd he and his son set out with a guide and staff in hand, and arrived at the Uig manse on Saturday, the 23rd at 11 a.m. Mr MacLeod was in a weak state of health at the time, and Dr MacDonald preached on Saturday, Sabbath forenoon, and on Monday. The number present on Sabbath was not under 7,000, and the Doctor says that "The occasion was a season of awakening to some, and of refreshing to others, and to myself."

When Dr MacDonald arrived in Uig on Saturday, the people were not aware of his presence until he appeared in the preaching tent. Mr MacRae, Barvas was expected to take the service, and some did not expect very much from him. It is said that one of the godly Gaelic teachers from Assynt, Murdo MacKenzie, who was at that time at Laxay, Lochs, was so displeased that Mr William was to preach on Saturday, that, without, absenting himself, he went behind the preaching-box with his back to it. When the psalm was given out he said, "You cannot spoil that on me anyway." Then came the prayer, and as MacKenzie listened he said, "Pity him who says that Mr William has no grace." As the prayer continued he said, "If I have grace myself, so has Mr William." As the Doctor still continued he said, "I swear that Mr William has grace." This was the Doctor's first service in Lewis, and one wonders what Murdo MacKenzie had to say by the time Mr MacDonald had finished on Monday.

On Tuesday Mr MacDonald and his son returned to Harris, but they were not able to land in St. Kilda until the 9th of July, and on the 11th of July he laid the foundation stone of the new church there.

A letter written by Mr MacLeod to Mrs MacKenzie on the 30th of November, 1824, is worthy of inclusion here. It is as follows:—

Manse of Uig, 30th Nov. 1824. Hon. and Dear Madam,

It is time that I should acknowledge your very friendly letter from Brighton, dated on the 18th February last, and duly received at Cromarty. As I do not apprehend that you have for once supposed that my long silence arose from ingratitude to so generous a Benefactress, and a valuable friend, it would be doing us both a degree of injustice to offer any apology for my long silence on that score. My being so closely engaged in the exercise of my parochial and sacramental duties since I came to the country have necessarily taken up ; so much of my time that I was obliged to limit the length of my t correspondence to cases of pressing duties and urgent necessity. You will be gratified to hear that the work of the Lord is still prospering in this island. The thirst of the inhabitants for religious instruction is increasing daily, and gospel obedience and gospel fruits, as characteristic of those who profess the Lord, evidence that they are subjects of divine grace. I am convinced that you will also be interested to learn that we feel happy here, though we miss considerably the good society that we left behind us in the East corner of Ross-shire. The repairs and additions to the manse and offices are still going on, and I trust that once our present inconveniences will be over, we will be by and by comfortably situated. My greatest regret and inconvenience now is the want of a church. The attendance on divine service is so regular, and the population is so great that up to this date I have not preached within doors but once since my settlement in the parish; and though I was apprehensive that preaching in the open air might prove injurious to my health, being not in the habit of it, yet blessed be God I felt no bad effects from it. I am convinced that I would be disposed to put up with inconveniences to oblige you so far as possible, but with many more from the consideration of being the Honoured instrument of gaining souls to Christ, yea, to go through any difficulty in the strength of divine grace for the sake of preaching the everlasting gospel successfully to immortal souls, and for extending the dominion of Immanuel's Realm. And sure I am, to say the least of it, that no place in this kingdom stood more in need of hearing the gospel trumpet than this corner.

Now on the subject of a new church I think it quite unnecessary for me to say anything. First, as I firmly believe that you and Seaforth are warmly disposed to promote Zion's interest in this place, and secondly as the request of building a church with the least possible delay is so reasonable, it being indispensibly necessary, and through confidence in your Christian zeal and humility I would humbly suggest that I conceive it, and do believe that you will deem it your honord duty to meet the Lord's work and people in this place by giving the accommodation solicited, and so much needed. The work of the Lord having been so deplorably neglected in this parish, there is no sacramental tables or cloth or any of the things needed on such a solemn occasion in the parish, so that I am much afraid that I will not be able to have the Sacrament here next Summer, God willing, which, if I will not have matters arranged for that purpose, will be a great disappointment. and a matter of deep regret to myself and to others. My glebe will not be fixed till some time next year, as the I people in the neighbourhood claim the first crop, having not been I warned in time. Indeed if it should be agreeable to the Proprietor, I have no wish to have any of the lands in their possession included in my glebe, seeing that some of them are foolishly disposed to blame me for their removal, and fearing that this circumstance may render my gospel ministration unsuccessful among those few of my parishioners.

We are at a loss for want of a few sheep for the use of the table, and we would consider it a particular favour if you would take this circumstance into consideration, and make an allowance for grazing a few sheep for that purpose anywhere in the hill contiguous to the glebe. The gospel has a blessed tendency of gathering friends often, and from various places, and the ministers of the gospel are commanded to be given to hospitality. I have no wish to be very particular on this subject, or in staling how much we have to do in this way, as it will always be our delight to entertain the followers of Christ so far as we shall be able and enabled.

You will be gratified to hear that after staling the scarcity of the means of Education in this parish to the Directors of the Edin. Gaelic S.S., they have agreed to give me three teachers, who have commenced their operations on the 1st of November. I have also appointed other six promising lads for teaching the reading of the Scriptures in other small farms, and have only a small trifle from the inhabitants for their services. The said Directors have also granted me 100 copies of the Gaelic Bible, 100 copies of the Gaelic New Testament, and 200 copies of the Gaelic Scripture extracts to be gratuitously distributed among the poorest in V-more isle. I have also received a number of religious tracts from a friend . . . which was of great service. I greatly regret that I have no copies for distribution of Boston's Four-fold State and of Baxter's and Alleine's Alarm in Gaelic, as their perusal in this island has been already eminently useful, and would be now extensively read with benefit had we more of them. May we get more help, and may all the means already employed be accompanied with the excellency of the power which is from the Lord. The parish never had a Catechist. I am able to apply for one to the Directors of the Royal Bounty in Edinburgh.

I now humbly beg leave to acquaint you that my younger brother has been for two years past employed as clerk in the Auditor's office in Bombay. When I was residing in Dundee, I took the liberty of writing to the Hon. Mount Stewart Elphinstoun in his favour, who took as much notice of my letter at the time as to put down my brother's name immediately in his memorandum book, and I now find by a letter from him that the Governor had selected him on the 1st September, 1823, to be his excellency's confidential clerk. As I learn that you have considerable influence with the Governor, may I humbly request that you would condescend to recommend my brother to his notice and protection, as he may find him deserving, which, with other favours and obligations not to be forgotten, will still sweeten their grateful remembrance. Had I not every confidence in my brother as one whose uniform good conduct and respectable abilities will justify an application in his favour by, and to such distinguished personages as you and the Governor, I would be the last that would take upon me to solicit your interest on his behalf. But the Governor's good opinion of him convinces me that His Excellency will have great pleasure in giving particular attention to your application in his favour; and as my brother is highly delighted with his master's conduct towards him he cherishes a sanguine hope that your interest will ensure him a long continuation in his service. I cannot be too grateful to His Excellency for all the kindness He has already shown to my most beloved and favourite brother.

Since writing this letter we have heard that the Lewis Packet was put in to the Orknies, but there is no correct account as yet.

It is from confidence in your good wishes to me that I have used the liberty of making mention of my brother. I have to make an apology for such a long epistle. I feel not a little ashamed at this moment for troubling you so much by staling so many things. Mrs MacLeod joins me in offering our most respectful regards to you and Seaforth, and praying the Lord to be with you, bless, direct and protect you in all your ways.

I am, Hond. and Dear Madam, with much affection and esteem, your unworthy correspondent,
Alexander MacLeod.

On hearing that the Rev. Simon Fraser, minister of Stornoway, had been drowned while crossing the Minch in November, 1824, he writes Mrs MacKenzie expressing his regret at what happened, and that the parish of Stornoway was now vacant. He says:—

"It is evident that no place in the Highlands has more need of a faithful minister than Stornoway, and I most sincerely pray that the Lord may direct you to present one to this important part of your property, who will have the glory of God and the good of souls at heart. I rejoice to think that you and Seaforth will consider this opening as an opportunity afforded you to be more useful and honoured to extend the Dominions of our Immanuel's Realm. We are commanded to quit ourselves like men in the cause of Christ, and to be valiant for the Truth on the earth.

Ever Hon. Madam, Yours most respectfully,
A. MacLeod."

In 1827, as many as 600 pupils attended schools in the parish. Sabbath schools were organised in every hamlet. In 1834 there were thirteen Sabbath schools throughout the parish of Uig. The revival movement was so general that it penetrated into every corner of the island, and leavened for good the whole body of the people. There was hardly a hamlet that did not have a bright witness of the power of the truth. Regular weekly and Sabbath evening prayer-meetings were held in almost every district, and were conducted by the 'men'. The exercise consisted of prayer, praise and reading of the Scriptures. A portion of some favourite author was also read, such as Boston's 'Four-fold State', Baxter's 'Call to the Unconverted', and Alleine's 'Alarm'.

These men had the rare gift of expressing their views and feelings in such a manner as to melt and edify the devout hearer. Whatever their faults and failings, they exercised a great influence for good on the body of the people, and their memory continues to survive so as to be revered as the excellent of the earth.

The only two West Coast hamlets in Lewis known to Mr MacPhail in which prayer-meetings were not held were the two Dells, Dalmore and Dalbeg. The people there were thus nicknamed, "Fithich nan Dailean" — "The Ravens of the Dells".

In matters of discipline Mr MacLeod ruled like an autocrat. It is said that when his people went to the Stornoway Communion, thirty miles away, he did not permit them to transact any business, or enter any shop or office, as they were supposed to be there for spiritual purposes only. Even after the service on Monday they were supposed to go back to Uig, and if they had any such business, come back to Stornoway again on Tuesday.

Fencing the tables at Communion time is still practised in the Free and Free Presbyterian Churches throughout the whole Church, but in other denominations it has almost died out on the Mainland, but is still practised in the islands. Fencing was designed to help the communicant in the exercise of self-scrutiny. A classic example of such encouragement can be seen in Prof. Collins's book on "Big MacRae". MacRae was assisting MacLeod, Snizort, at a communion, and after being invited twice to come forward to the table no one moved. MacRae stood up and said, "I am sorry, my friends, that after being twice urged by my brother, you are still holding back from the table. It may be that you feel yourselves today as at an Assize, with three witnesses accusing and condemning you in order to keep you from coming to the Lord's table. First, there is Satan, the accuser of the brethren, urging your unworthiness, for the purpose of working on your fears, and thus preventing your approach. The second witness is the world, urging this and that against you, and saying that you ought not to come, and that it would be presumptuous on your part to do so. The third witness is your own conscience, which sternly condemns you in many things wherein you are blameworthy and wrong. These three witnesses have combined to accuse you, and deter you from coming to the Lord's table. But let me tell you, weary soul, that you have a friend at Court, Who is more influential than all these, and Who is pleading for you against all your accusers. "And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. Him the Father heareth always. The Spirit also Himself helpeth our infirmities and maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. "Let me tell you, troubled one, that there are three on your side — the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit — and let me add that I myself would be pleased to see you approach, assured that your coming will be profitable to you; though there were no more than this urging you and pressing on your spirit, "This do in remembrance of me". Ye, who have truly centred your hope in the grace of God, be of good courage, and He will impart life and strength unto your souls."

Comforted and encouraged by these words they delayed no longer, and the Lord's table was furnished with guests.

Rev. Duncan Matheson, Knock, having heard MacLeod, Uig, fencing, remarked, "He debarred everyone in the congregation; he debarred me, and in my opinion he debarred himself." The following incident will illustrate to the reader that although MacLeod, Uig, was strict, he was not over-dogmatic and inflexible:— A man came to Mr MacLeod for baptism for his child, but was refused because the minister had heard that he had been lately in Stornoway, and got drunk. The man replied, "Who has dared to tell you such a lie?" "I heard it," said the minister. "Well" said the man, "I came here for baptism, but now I would not have it at your hands, even if you freely offered it." Mr MacLeod saw the man was sincere, apologised as having been misinformed, and they parted as friends.

MacLeod's preaching, and his sharp manner of reproving Sabbath desecration and other sins, was in sharp contrast to the gentlemanly bearing and mild preaching of his predecessor, Mr Munro, who encouraged athletic sports, such as putting the stone, immediately after divine service on Sabbath. A strong party of his parishioners decided to give the new minister a sound beating for his uncourtly manner and preaching. With this purpose in view they came to a secluded spot near the manse. They deputed two of their number to go to the manse to ask the minister to favour them with his presence for a little, as they were particularly anxious to see him. The minister agreed, never imagining what their object was. He made ready, but as he was going through the lobby to the door a Scripture passage came to him with such power that it effectually dissuaded him from going any farther. Dr Aird, Creich, who told this story which he had from Mr MacLeod himself, had forgotten the particular Scripture passage.

When the ordinance of the Lord's Supper was observed for the first time at Uig after Mr MacLeod's settlement, the number of his communicants was reduced to six, and only twenty in all sat at the table. This was in June, 1827. Mr McBean, Fort Augustus, who officiated as a ruling Elder on that occasion, said that when he removed the communion cloths from the table they were as wet with the tears of the communicants as though they had been dipped in water. McBean related this to the Rev. Alexander Murchison, of the MacDonald church, Glasgow. Reports of similar instances are recorded as having occurred in some of the Ross-shire congregations.

Back to Rev. Macaulay's writings.