The Personal Testamony of Faquhar Fraser
My apprenticeship finished. For a short time I worked in the North of Scotland, but having made up my mind to travel South and see a bit of life, such as the world gave, I went to the city of Glasgow a young journeyman of twenty and soon found work at my calling.
Up to this time I was a steady and respectable young man as the world terms it. Although I would go to Church, religion of any kind did not trouble me. I might mention that my mother was a God fearing woman, who always sent me regularly to Sunday School and the Gospel meetings where I heard the story of God's love for many years and knew quite well the way of salvation. "That Christ died for my sins according to the Scriptures, and that he was buried and rose again the third day according to the Scriptures". (1st Corinthians 15 verses 3-4).
After a short time in Glasgow I fell in with bad company some of whom worked on the same job. On pay-day they invited me to go into the Public House, at first I would only take a glass of beer and found it difficult even to finish that: but the habit grew and very soon I could take as much as would make me drunk. I became a slave to strong drink.
Sometimes for a week or fortnight I went out on the "spree for the beer" as we called it, numerous times being dismissed for neglecting my work, often leaving on my own accord. One foreman I worked with on Great Western Road Glasgow gave me seven or eight chances; finally I left with shame. I wandered and worked in many places because of the drink curse, Wick in the far North, Perth, Edinburgh, Kilmarnock and other parts of Ayrshire, nearly every district in Glasgow, Liverpool, Port Sunlight and many other places too numerous to mention. I went through many exploits getting into lots of trouble through this deadly tool of Satan's - "Strong Drink". If I were to tell all that happened, it would fill a book in itself, but I would like to mention a few things at this stage.
Exploits and Troubles
I would remind my reader, that anything I might relate concerning my life is not for any vain glory or boasting, it only pains me to bring some of these incidents fresh to my memory. I would say, like Paul, "God forbid that I should glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Galatians 6 verse 14), May Christ be glorified for none need despair since he saved such a vile sinner as your humble servant.
The first trouble I got into was at the Grand Theatre, Cowcaddens Glasgow. Two of my companions and myself, after having indulged in a Public House, went to the "Grand". One of my companions went into the wrong circle. The attendant told him his mistake but he would insist that he had paid for this seat and would not come out of it with the result that two policemen came in and arrested him. Seeing our mate taken away we went after him and when outside endeavoured to get him from the police. This resulted in another two constables arriving and arresting me. Our other companion got us bailed out the same night at eleven o'clock. We did not turn up at court next morning but forfeited our bail money of ten shillings each. This affair led me onto drinking for the remainder of the week.
The next time I got into trouble was in Wick; a Barman refused to give me more drink so I went inside the bar to fight him. I was arrested and next day fined.
Another time on returning from Inverness at Glasgow Fair time, I went into a fish shop well known as "Paddy Wright's" Shamrock Street New City Road. Being the worse of drink and for some reason, which I really forget, Mr Wright came to where I was sitting to eject me. I resisted and in the scuffle I upset a table of dishes many of which were broken. The Police arrested me and next day I was fined fifteen shillings.
While being in Inverness at another time, there were several cheap day excursions run from the South to the North, on the occasion I refer to there was an excursion from Motherwell in the South. I had worked in Motherwell previous to this and getting into company with some of the Motherwell lads visiting Inverness I got the worse of drink and did not seem to know anything else until I woke at Motherwell Station early on the Sunday morning. I had boarded the train and travelled all the way without a ticket. How I did it I don't know but it is quite probable had I tried to defraud the Railway company I would behave been caught. I had no intentions of going to Motherwell, but here I was stranded and in a few minutes I was standing alone on the Platform with two coppers in my pocket and the clothes I stood in.
Taking to the road I walked the same day to Glasgow arriving in the evening. Having been reported missing by this time by those at home, the Police were searching for me. However, I found work at my trade next day in Glasgow. The first news they had of me at home was when I wrote asking for them to send on my tools.
These are a few of the many times that drink got me into trouble and landed me in the police cells. What a mercy that God in His grace stopped me in my wild career or I very probably might have been in Hell before this, weeping and gnashing my teeth.
Some time after the things I have been relating, and about fourteen years ago, during a little while that I managed to go on the straight, I got married. Things went on very well for about fifteen months with the exception of a small slip or two, but the demon came and took hold of me again. He came in the shape of a friend, who treated me to lots of drink, which set me on the drink again. I absented myself from my work and carried on for some days. Then pay-day came round and I had two weeks money due where I worked. The money was paid and spent on more drink. Before ten o'clock that night (I really did not know what I was doing) but at 10.50 p.m. that night I was on the train leaving Inverness for Glasgow and left my dear wife and first child, (three months old), penniless.
After arriving in Glasgow I continued drinking until, like the prodigal son, I spent all and began to be in want but no man gave unto me. For two or three nights I stayed in a Model Lodging House in Douglas Street, Partick.
On the Lord's Day, in the afternoon there was a Gospel meeting held in the waiting hall. I remember, as they sung the hymns and the speaker spoke, the tears came trickling down my cheeks as I thought of my wife and young child. Remorse took hold of me; I was in a fearful state of mind.
What remorse there is for souls that awaken in a lost eternity. Oh had they not rejected the Christ of God!
I tried to drown this remorse that took hold of me in taking more drink. Two nights after this I entered the same Lodging House an utter wreck of humanity in body and soul. It is only those who have gone through something of the same experience that will know anything about it and know how it reduces the strength of body, yes and mind too. I was brought now to my last coppers and with it paid for my cot, but not to sleep! Such a night I never passed in all my experience. I was in bitter anguish of soul. I had not the strength of my child. I felt as if I was going to pass from time, into eternity and I believe sincerely that I was at the brink, yes at the very jaws of hell.
How many do we read of who are dying through alcohol poisoning? It was quite possible in my case a lost eternity confronted me - my sins rose up before me like great mountains. I knew that if I died in my sins I would lift up my eyes in hell. I rolled about in my lowly cot in great distress of soul. I knew the way of salvation, the Holy Spirit was striving with me, and I do sincerely believe it was for the last time. God's word tells us "My Spirit shall not always strive with man". (Genesis 6 verse 3) I believe in my case Jesus was passing for the last time. I was broken down, but I could not knuckle down to bow in allegiance to our Lord Jesus Christ. The conflict went on throughout the whole night. It seems to me, remembering that terrible night, that there was a combat between God the Holy Spirit and the powers of Hell. Thank God he prevailed, I had come to an end of myself and about 8 o'clock that morning in the month of September 1909 I got down on my knees with the little strength that remained and cried out to God like the publican of Luke 18 and verses 13-14. "God be merciful to me a sinner" and I passed from death unto life.
Some incidents occurred over those unconverted years that I trust will be used of God and put the reader in a hurry to be saved.
About two years before I was plucked as a brand from the burning and inside of six months three of my companions in sin, who were all school mates of mine and with whom many a time I revelled in sin were suddenly killed. John McKay, a stone mason, while working in a quarry boring a jumper hole for a charge struck an old charge that exploded killing him instantly.
A further incident concerned Hugh McRae, a plumber. Hugh was engaged in heaving up with a crane, a tank to the top part of a building. He and an apprentice went inside the tank. Reaching a certain height some of the gear gave way and the tank fell, killing him on the spot while the boy got clear with a slight injury.
A third incident concerned one James McRae by name; he too was a plumber and a boon companion of mine. Under the influence of drink he died through terrible injuries received at a railway station while travelling a short distance to his home. When the train arrived at the station, James stood on the footstep of the carriage, he alighted from the train, turned to someone he knew who was travelling further on and fell between the train and platform. James received such injuries that he died very shortly afterwards.
These deaths spoke very loudly to me at the time they occurred, especially the last one mentioned, but I tried to stifle all these happenings. What a mercy that God did not cut me off too with his stroke. My dear unsaved friend flee from the wrath to come, and flee now "Because there is wrath, beware lest he take thee away with His stroke: then a great ransom cannot deliver thee." (Job 36 verse 18). "He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck and shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy" (Proverbs 29 v 1)
Some people say they have little assurance or evidence of their salvation, especially when the transaction took place, but this was not the case with me. I had not long to wait until I knew what a mighty change had taken place in my life. A new hope seemed to take possession of my soul, within a few minutes I recognised some strength physically that I was in much need of. I rose up out of my bed to go out into the streets great rejoicing in my newly found faith.
One of the evidences that caused great joy in my soul and which was a great reality to me was in the fact that in less than an hour after I came into living contact with the Lord Jesus Christ the desire of strong drink was taken away. An hour before this the desire for strong drink had been great.
From a Notebook found among his late daughters possessions
As Farquhar stated in the last sentence, "the desire of strong drink was taken away". From that day on he refused to take, and had no desire for, "strong drink".
At the outbreak of the war in 1914 he joined the Royal Navy, becoming a submariner. His submarine sank, we are unsure if it was attacked or an accident occurred. Many of his shipmates died. Farquhar was injured and discharged from the Navy. He then joined the Army and became for a short time an Army Chaplain here in the Highlands of Scotland. Early in his Christian life he began to preach the gospel, and was well known for preaching in the open air at the Inverness Exchange outside the Town Hall and in the many Churches around Inverness.