TO discover the beginnings of Margaret's
response to the patient seeking of Divine Love
we must go back to the time of that happy summer
on the lakes in 1874. At that time Margaret remembers meeting Mr. Bone on
her trip through the Welland Canal. He was a saintly old man—a missionary
to the sailors. Some of the tracts he left on their ship she distributed
at ports at which they called.
During the same summer Margaret was in the country with her grandmother
for a time. At home she had not been accustomed to rise early, but one
morning at the farm she was up before sunrise. There was something in that
sunrise that touched her heart. She had felt the same when she saw the
sunrise on the St. Lawrence among the Thousand Islands. God was calling
her to worship Him, and her heart was going out in longing that He would
somehow reveal Himself to her.
About this time, too, her cousin, Kate MacCormick, was converted at an
evangelistic meeting in Durham conducted by the Rev. Alex. Grant. Her
heart was stirred as Kate told of these wonderful meetings. How she longed
to be told just what she should do to have the great change wrought in
As Mr. Grant was to hold meetings in the schoolhouse, two and a quarter
miles away, the two girls walked to the place and waited for him to come.
But he had been hindered. Rain came on, and the girls were muddy and wet
when they reached home. Nevertheless, they went again the next night, only
to be again disappointed. How deep was the disappointment in Margaret's
heart, Kate did not guess, for she did not know that her cousin was
longing to know Christ.
Margaret had grown up in the church and was a regular attendant at
Sunday-school. About this time her sister Annie decided to unite with the
church, and the minister suggested that Margaret, who was now sixteen, was
old enough to take this step also. For a good while Margaret refused to
join, but at last thinking that by this means she might gain the peace of
mind for which she longed, she consented. What an opportunity that
minister missed of leading a soul into the light! Little did he guess the
unspoken longings of this girl's heart. Nothing was said and no enquiries
were made that gave her an opportunity to reveal her state of heart.
Indeed the step which she took at that time with the encouragement of her
minister only made it harder for her later to take the step which led to
After joining the church Margaret took her part in
collecting for missions, securing signatures to a petition for
prohibition, and in distributing the "Record" in the homes of the
congregation. But God, who had suffered her to hunger, had plentiful
goodness stored up for her, and she was to be abundantly satisfied.
In the autumn of 1879 the evangelists, Mr. Arthur
Burson and Mr. Anderson, visited Port Elgin. They engaged the Town Hall
for their meetings, so that all denominations might unite in an effort to
win souls to Christ. Margaret had a certain contempt for revival meetings,
for she had noticed that numbers of persons who professed conversion
exhibited no permanent change of life and were ready, when the next
opportunity offered, to go through again with the same profession. But
perhaps her hunger of heart led her to go to the first meeting. That very
night the arrow of conviction pierced her heart. The messages that Mr.
Burson brought, night after night, deepened in Margaret's heart the
conviction of sin. After a few nights the evangelists began to call for
some sign from those who desired to be prayed for, or who felt they wished
to be saved.
Margaret had been convicted from the first, but she
resisted the prompting of the spirit to raise her hand. She said in her
heart, "I am a church member, and all the people sitting round me know it:
what will they think of me if I put up my hand." But at length the burden
was greater than she could bear. Scores were remaining every night; a real
work of grace was in progress. She, too, remained and at length ventured
to raise her hand. It was her own minister, Mr. Gourley, who came to talk
with her. She told him she lacked assurance of salvation and was afraid
she could not live a truly consistent Christian life. He gave her a verse
that was dear to her in after years, "My grace is sufficient for thee,"
but she did not reach assurance of salvation then. Janet Curry, one of her
friends, one who proved herself a friend at the time of the death of
Margaret's mother, had, during these meetings, come into the light and joy
of the assurance of salvation. She became filled with the desire to help
Margaret into the same joyous experience, and had many conversations with
her, showing her very clearly that all she had to do was simply to believe
on Christ. One evening she invited Margaret to go home with her to spend
the night. They talked a good while then lapsed into silence, and Margaret
lay thinking, when suddenly it came to her with a burst of light that when
God said, "Whosoever," He included her, and all she had to do was to
believe! So great was her joy that she called Janet to share it with her.
Thus, November i9th, 1879, became to Margaret Mac- Kellar the beginning of
months, and Port Elgin the dearest spot in the world.