The Revival in Scotland
As with Reginald Radcliffe, William Lockhart was powerfully used of God in the great revival that took place in Scotland, during the period 1860/61. This was a period in his life, which he would later speak of with reverent awe, and he felt it to have been the greatest privilege to have taken part in it.
It was in May 1861 when he went up north to Ayr and Galloway, supposedly for a period of rest, but it was not long before he was engaged in speaking to large crowds of people. Many of the invitations he received came from those who had been associated with him in Liverpool, or had been converted through his ministry. After three days he spoke to a packed church of 600 people in Kirkcudbright, with many responding to the appeal, some in great distress. So intense was the concern of those present in one place that some, unable to control their emotion, cried out in the church.
At Ayr he was privileged to see much blessing there and wherever he went he saw great results with many, many converts cleaving to the Lord and multitudes pressing into the kingdom of God. Somebody later recalled that he considered Lockhart to have been the greatest evangelist to have visited Ayr and that he made a greater impression than D L Moody, who came some years later. He said that as soon as he fell on his knees and engaged in prayer, one saw and felt at once that this was a man whom God had met, conquered and made his own, no longer a servant of the world or of sin, but a son of God, clothed with spiritual power. Several of the churches in Ayr were freely thrown open to him, and night after night he discoursed to large congregations whom he held spellbound with Godís word.
When he came to Glasgow he made an even bigger impact. One feature of the work in Scotland at that time was the huge open-air meetings, where thousands would gather around the preachers. In a period of four weeks there he spoke over forty times in very much a revival atmosphere. The place and character of the meetings varied greatly. Sometimes he was addressing two or three thousand of the poorer people on the green, sometimes the upper classes of the West End. Huge crowds of up to 4000 people or more gathered to hear him and sometimes many hundreds of people had to be turned away for want of room and there were many conversions. On his last night in Glasgow he spoke in the City Hall which was densely packed, with 4000 people present.
In Dumfries there was a large fair being held one day and Lockhart in a black and white tartan, preached on a table, in the middle of the market place in the High Street, where the farmers met to do their business and this was attended by a great crowd.
He continued to receive invitations to preach elsewhere in Scotland. At a school in Borgue numbers of the children were deeply impressed in the meetings held and many cried bitterly as he spoke of the love of Jesus.
In Perth he spoke to a crowd of 5000 people in an open-air meetings. In Edinburgh he spoke in the Assembly Hall and it was crammed in every corner with many people standing. In John Knoxís church he addressed a company of "roughs" who listened attentively to the story of the Saviourís love. In Cowdenfoot near Dalkeith he addressed an open-air meeting of colliers (the schoolroom being too small because of the numbers wanting to hear him). In the area around Dalkeith he testified that the whole neighbourhood was stirred up and there were many, many anxious souls. On a midweek meeting there he said that the church was crammed to suffocation, the aisles were full, the vestries full, the pulpit, stairs and everywhere. As he testified, "All of them thirsting for the water of life. Oh! It was a stirring sight, and I felt great power in speaking of the wondrous love of Jesus in suffering on the Cross. I spoke nearly an hour, and we could not get the people away and did not do so until 11.30pm."
Such was the great blessing that he had experienced in Scotland when he came back to Birkenhead in October 1861.