This article appeared in the ‘Historical Collections relating to remarkable periods of the success of the Gospel and eminent instruments employed in promoting it,’ compiled by John Gillies. This truly wonderful work was the first comprehensive overview of revival history from the close of the apostolic age to the book’s publication in 1754. It was later expanded and reprinted in 1845 by Horatius Bonar and others.
This particular section deals with the amazing outpouring that occurred in Cambuslang, Scotland from 1742 and was originally penned by the local church minister, William M’Culloch who collected a variety of testimonials from eye-witnesses of the events.
We have included the entire article.
I. Attestation to the Facts in the following Narrative, by Mr M’Culloch, Minister at Cambuslang, May 8th, 1742.
I HAVE perused the following short Narrative, and can attest the facts contained in it; partly from personal knowledge, partly from the most credible informations; but think it a loss that it is not more full. I have seen a larger paper compiled by different hands; which, besides the facts related in this, contains several useful reasonings, tending to prove that the favourable judgment formed by many, and even by some, who, through want of due information, hesitated at first about this work, is supported by all that kind of evidence that things of this nature are capable of in such a space of time. And, consequently, that there is good ground to hope that, by the Divine blessing, the confirmation arising from perseverance will be daily increasing as hitherto it has been, &c. &c.
A Narrative of the extraordinary Work at Cambuslang, in a Letter to a Friend, May 8th, 1742.
SIR,—As the report of the good work at Cambuslang, which has for several weeks engaged the attention of numbers in this city and country in the neighbourhood, is now spread over a great part of the nation, it is no wonder that one who lives at the distance you do should be curious to have a true relation of it; and as I would be glad of any opportunity to serve you, it is very agreeable to me to think I can gratify you in this matter, especially in what concerns the people in that parish and some other parishes near it, having had opportunity to converse fully with the minister of Cambuslang, and with many of the people there who are under this spiritual exercise, and also with some other ministers, who have several in their parishes that appear to be under the same happy impressions.
There is one thing in the entry I must apprise you of, viz., that I am to confine myself to a simple narration of facts, as the evidences on which the opinion of many concerning the present happy change that is wrought on that people, is founded; without entering into any reasoning, but leaving it to yourself to draw proper conclusions from the facts, after comparing them with Scripture rules and instances.
I must also acquaint you, as it was natural to expect, when on a singular occasion of this sort, great numbers of people from adjacent towns and country, came flocking to a place that became so remarkable, that in such a promiscuous multitude some counterfeits would readily happen; it was the early care of ministers who interested themselves most in that matter, to enter into a strict examination of those who appeared to be under a more than ordinary concern, so as to obtain satisfaction to themselves, whether the work was solid; being justly apprehensive that the powers of darkness would not fail to employ their devices to bring contempt on what might tend so much to the honour of the Gospel. In those watchful endeavours it must be owned, that some impostors were found to have mixed with the sincere; but there is reason to bless God, that, so far as yet appears, they have been very few; and as these have been severely rebuked, so the most awful warnings have been given against all such insincere pretensions, which warnings, there is ground to believe, have had very good effects.
Now, Sir, to give the short history of this matter. The minister of that parish, in his ordinary course of sermons, for near a twelvemonth before this work began, had been preaching on these subjects which tend most directly to explain the nature, and prove the necessity of regeneration, according to the different lights in which that important matter is represented in holy scripture: and for some months before the late remarkable events, a more than ordinary concern about religion appeared among that people; one good evidence of which was, that about the end of January last, a petition as given in to the minister, subscribed by about ninety heads of families, desiring that a weekly lecture should be set up which was readily granted, and the day fixed on Thursday, as the most convenient for the temporal interests of the parish. On Monday the 15th of February 1742, there was a general meeting, at the minister’s house, of the particular societies for prayer, which had subsisted in the parish for several years before. On Tuesday there was another meeting for prayer there, the occasion of which was a concert with several serious Christians elsewhere, about solemn prayer, relating to the public interests of the gospel; in which concert only a small number of people in Cambuslang were engaged at first, but others getting notice of it desired to join, and were admitted: the people who met for prayer these two days, apprehended that they had been so well employed, and found so much leisure for it, that they had a third meeting on Wednesday: hut on all these three days they returned timeously in the evening to their own houses, so far is it from being true that they rushed from some of these meetings to the church and continued immured there for some days and nights, as was reported.
Before Thursday, February 18th, they had week days’ sermons only on Thursdays, according to the above-mentioned desire of the parish; and before that day, though several particular persons came to the minister, from time to time, under deep concern about their salvation, yet there came no great numbers together. But on that day after sermon a considerable number of people, reckoned by some present about fifty, came together to the minister’s house, under convictions and alarming apprehensions about the state of their souls, and desiring to speak with him. From this unexpected number, coming in an evening, in so great distress, and the necessity of the minister’s exhorting them in general, and conversing with many of them separately, you will easily perceive that he behoved to spend that night with them, as he did most part of two or three more since this work began, which is now about twelve weeks.
After this, numbers daily resorted to that place, some to hear the word, some to converse with people who were under this remarkable concern, and others with different views; and the desires and exigencies of those were such that the minister found himself obliged, without any previous intimation, to provide them a daily sermon, a few days excepted, and after sermon usually to spend some time with them in exhortations, prayers, and ringing of psalms, being especially encouraged thereto by the extraordinary success with which God was pleased, from time to time, to bless his own ordinances, in so much that, by the best information that could be had, the number of persons awakened to a deep concern about salvation, and against whom there are no known exceptions as yet, has amounted to above three hundred. And, through divine mercy, the work seems to be still making considerable progress every week, and more for some weeks of late than some times formerly. Of the number just now mentioned the far greater part have given already, both to ministers and other serious Christians, a good account of what they have felt in their convictions and humiliation for sin, of the way of their relief by faith in the mercy of God through Jesus Christ, and of the change they feel in the prevalent inclinations and dispositions of their hearts. As to their devotion and other parts of their practice, which is that which chiefly attracts the attention and regard of this country, there are comfortable accounts given of it, by those who have the best and most frequent opportunities of knowing their daily behaviour. The parish of Cambuslang being of so small extent, that most of the people live within a mile of the church, and some who have the best intelligence, being almost every day with the minister, he and they have abundant opportunities to know the practices of such of the people I am speaking of, as live within their bounds. And the account they give of it is, that they appear to be in a very hopeful way; and the like good accounts are given by several ministers and others, of such of those people as belong to other neighbouring parishes.
Among the particular good fruits, already appearing, both in Cambuslang and elsewhere, the following instances seem very encouraging: a visible reformation of the lives of persons who were formerly notorious sinners; particularly, the laying aside of cursing and swearing, and drinking to excess, among these who were addicted to that practice: remorse for acts of injustice, and for violation of relative duties confessed to the persons wronged, joined with new endeavours after a conscientious discharge of such duties; restitution which has more than once been distinctly and particularly inculcated in public since this work began; forgiving of injuries; all desirable evidences of fervent love to one another, to all men, and even to those who speak evil of them and among those people both in Cambuslang and other parishes, more affectionate expressions of regard than ever to their own ministers, and to the ordinances dispensed by them; the keeping up divine worship in families, where it was neglected very often by some and entirely by others; the erecting of new societies for prayer, both of old and young, partly within the parish, where no less than twelve such societies are newly begun, and partly elsewhere, among persons who have been awakened on this occasion: and, together with all these things, ardent love to the holy scriptures, vehement thirsting after the public ordinances, earnest desires to get private instructions in their duty from ministers and others, with commendable docility and tractableness in receiving such instructions. This thirst after knowledge is particularly remarkable in those who were more ignorant; several who cannot read, and some of them old persons, being so desirous to be better acquainted with the word of God, that they are resolved to learn to read, and some of the younger sort actually putting themselves to school. I would farther add, that these good impressions have been made on persons of very different characters and ages; on some of the most abandoned as well as the more sober: on young as well as old; on the illiterate as well as the more knowing; on persons of a slower as well as those of a quicker and more sprightly genius; and, which seems to deserve special attention, on persons who were addicted to scoffing at sacred things, and at this work in particular at the beginning of it.
The sum of the facts I have represented to you is, that this work has been begun, and carried on under the influence of the great and substantial doctrines of Christianity, pressing jointly, the necessity of repentance towards God, of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and of holiness in all manner of conversation; that it came after such preparatives as an extensive concern about religion gradually increasing; together with extraordinary fervent prayer in large meetings, particularly relating to the success of the gospel; that great and successful pains have been taken, to discover and discountenance hypocritical pretences, and to warn people against what might have the least appearance of enthusiasm, or delusion: that the account given by a very large number of people, of their inward exercises and attainments, seems to agree with the Scripture standard; and are bringing forth in practice, fruits meet for repentance, comprehending the several branches of piety, and of the most substantial morality, that can entitle men, to the regards of the friends of religion and virtue.
And now, Sir, I have given you a plain and simple account of the most material facts, relating to this extraordinary work at Cambuslang, and those awakened there belonging to other parishes; together with the proper documents by which these facts are supported; in all which I have avoided disputing, and studied brevity. I leave it to you to judge, how far such facts make it evident that this work is from God; when (to use the words of a pious divine, treating of a subject of the same nature - See Mr. Finley’s sermon, entitled, “Christ’s Triumphing,” &c.) “He that was formerly a drunkard lives a sober life; when a vain, light and wanton person becomes grave and sedate; when the blasphemer becomes a praiser of God; when carnal joy is turned into heaviness, and that professedly on account of their soul’s condition; when the ignorant are filled with knowledge of Divine things, and the tongue that was dumb in the things of God speaks the language of Canaan.” When secure sinners “have been roused with a witness about the state of their souls (Luke xi. 21, 22); those who were ignorant can speak skilfully about religious things; and even the graceless are increased in knowledge; swearers drop their oaths, and speak reverently of God; vain persons who minded no religion, but frequented taverns, and frolicks, passing their time in filthiness, foolish talking and jesting, or singing paltry songs, do now frequent Christian societies (for prayer); seek Christian conversation and talk of soul-concerns, and choose to express their mirth in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs; they who were too sprightly to be devout, and esteemed it an unmanly thing to shed tears for their souls’ state, have mourned as for an only son, and seemed to be in bitterness as for a first born, Zech. xii. 10. And persons who came to mock at the lamentations of others have been convinced, and by free grace proselyted to such ways as they formerly despised.” I am, &c.
It may be of use to readers, who live at a distance, in perusing the following attestations, to know, as to the situation of Cambuslang, that it lies about four mile from Glasgow; the several parishes, whose ministers, heritors, and elders, sign most of the attestations, lie very near it, viz., the parishes of Kilbryde, Bothwell, Old Monkland, and Barony. That Mr Matthew Connell, and Mr William Hamilton, live but about three miles from Cambuslang, and are the eldest ministers of the Presbytery of Hamilton, in whose bounds that parish lies. That the two preachers who sign a joint attestation, and are young men of known probity, have frequently assisted Mr M'Culloch of late; that Mr Duncan resides in the parish, and Mr Young has resided a considerable time in the Gorbals, near Glasgow, where many of the awakened people dwell. Also that Mr Willison and Mr M’Kneight, who live at a good distance from Cambuslang, spent some time there, inquiring into this work, as their attestations bear.
Extracts of Attestations, to the Facts in the Narrative, relating to the Fruits of this work.—I. By Mr Willison one of the Ministers of Dundee, dated Glasgow, April 16th, 1742.
R.D.B. Seeing some are desirous to have my thoughts of the work at Cambuslang, I am willing to own that I have travelled a good way to enquire, and get satisfaction about it. And having resided several days in Mr M’Culloch’s house, I had occasion to converse with many who had been awakened and under conditions there. I found several in darkness and great distress about their soul’s condition, and with many tears bewailing their sins and original corruption, and especially the sin of unbelief, and slighting of precious Christ, and some who had been in this case for these several weeks past; yet I saw nothing in any tending to despair, but, on the contrary, their exercise pointed still at the great remedy, for often they would be breaking out in hopeful expressions, such as, “Though he slay me I will trust in him.” Others I found in a most desirable frame, overcome with a sense of the wonderful love and loveliness of Jesus Christ, even sick of love, and inviting all about them to help them to praise him. I spoke also with many who had got relief from their soul trouble, and in whom the gracious work of the Spirit of God appeared in the fruits and effects of it, according to my apprehension; such as their ingenuous confessing of their former evil ways, and professing a hatred of sin; very low and abasing thoughts of themselves; renouncing the vanities of the world, and all their own doings and righteousness, and relying wholly upon Christ for righteousness and strength; and expressing great love to Christ, to the Bible, to secret prayer, to the people of God, and to his image, in whomsoever it was, without respect of persons, or parties ; and all love to their enemies ; and when they heard of some who called the work at C——g a delusion of the devil, they showed no resentment against them, but wished their eyes might be opened, and earnestly wished they could bring all their enemies, and all the world to their dear Redeemer. I conversed with some who had been very wicked, and scandalous, but now wonderfully changed: though some were very rude and boisterous before, they now had the meekness and mildness of the Lamb about them. When they spoke of their former ways they blushed, and wept, and said none in all the country round were so vile as they, and earnestly desired to exalt free grace: and when I was cautioning them against new temptations and relapses, they showed a sense of their own weakness, and were afraid on that account to come near their old companions, though they would fain had them also brought to Christ: they said, they would wish rather to die than go back to old sins, and if ever they should be left to any of them they would incline to leave the country, because of the dishonour it would bring on the work of God, which they could not bear to see. Though I conversed with a great number, both men and women, old and young, I could observe nothing visionary or enthusiastic about them; for their discourses were solid, and experiences scriptural; and all the comfort and relief they got from trouble, still came to them by some promise or word of Scripture cast into their minds, and it was pleasant to hear them mention the great variety of these words up and down the Bible. And some who could not read, told their words of consolation, not knowing well if they were in the Bible or not, and upon asking if they were Bible words or not, they greatly rejoiced to find they were. I had heard much of this surprising work by letters, and from eye-witnesses before I came, but all that made slight impressions on me, when compared with what I was eye and ear witness to myself. Upon the whole, I look on the work at C———g, to be a most singular, and marvellous outpouring of the Holy Spirit; and I pray it may be a happy forerunner of a general reviving of the work of God in this poor decayed Church, and a blessed mean of union among all the lovers of our dear Jesus. I am sorry I cannot stay to assist you farther in this good work; my business and circumstances oblige me to return homewards. May the Lord himself strengthen and encourage you in his work, and graciously carry on what he has begun, and take to him his great power, that he may reign gloriously through all the land. I remain with all sincerity, R.D.B., &c.
II. By Mr Connell, Minister at Kilbryde, dated Kilbryde, April 19, 1742,
R.D.B. Many have asked my opinion of the work at Cambuslang which I freely gave (as now I write to you) that I looked upon it as a work of God’s Spirit: when I compared the exercise of several persons that had been there, with the Scripture accounts of conviction and conversion, I have been under a necessity to conclude that it is neither delusion nor imposture, as has been given out by those who are unacquainted with the dealings of God of that kind, or under the influence of party zeal. Some I have seen crying out of the evil of sin, and of their danger by it, sadly bewailing their guilt and misery, expressing a most earnest desire of an interest in Christ, which they said they would value more than all the world, but bitterly complaining of want of love to him, want of faith in him, and undutiful carriage towards him through their past life; and if now it might be their attainment, for former coldness and deadness, to have love to Christ; for unbelief, faith in him, and for an undutiful behaviour towards him, a sincere and hearty embracing of him in the Gospel offer; and living, the rest of their time to the praise and glory of his name ; this they would account their greatest happiness, and the remedy of all the evils in their case; and, for this effect, they begged the help of prayers. Others I have seen who lamented their lost time and opportunities, and the vanity and folly of their youth, saying many good sermons and prayers they had heard, but all had been lost to them, and had no good effect upon them, being wholly carried away with youthful vanities and follies: but added, now are resolved in the strength of the grace of Christ (for, said they, of ourselves we can do nothing) to improve time and opportunities better, to value sermons and prayers, to read the Scriptures, to keep company with the fearers of God, and to shun fellowship with the wicked as much as possible, blessing God that he had not taken them away, before they saw the necessity of all these. Others I have conversed with, who, like doves of the vallies, (sic) were mourning for their iniquities, principally because they did strike against God, and wound their Redeemer, using the expressions, Psalms, li. 4., and Zech. xii. 10, but with good hope, through the merits of Christ, and mercy of God in him, that it would be well with them. Others I have observed at one time much dejected and under a cloud, at another time possessed of a good measure of spiritual joy, as it happens with the best of saints. Others I have heard cry, they had spent their money for that which is not bread, and their labour for that which did not satisfy, having given their time and strength to the world, and the things of it, which now they resolved against, there being matters of greater moment, which they saw and were convinced they should be mainly taken up about. And to trouble you with no more, (for Icould write you a volume on this subject) a young woman, after having given me an account of her distress and outgate ‘said, I have lived about twenty years in the world, and all that time the devil had possession of my heart, and I am sure he is a bad guest, but blessed be God, I hope he is now in a great measure dispossessed, and shall never, through the strength of Christ, recover that power over me that formerly he had. Mean time, I observe to you, this person had all along been of a blameless life, and not chargeable with any scandal, but with tears regretted her careless way of going about secret duty, reading the Scriptures, and hearing sermons, or neglecting these altogether; but with much humility and seriousness, in the strength of divine grace, expressed her resolution that she would do so no more. Upon the whole, in most of all I have seen and conversed with, I observe, and have daily occasion to observe, the effects of godly sorrow mentioned by the apostle, 2 Cor. vii. 11, &c. Praying the pleasure of the Lord may more and more prosper in your hands, and begging the help of your prayers for me, and this people. I am, &c.
III. By Mr John Hamilton, Minister of Barony, dated Glasgow, April 26th, 1742.
I understand it is expected from me, that I should declare my sentiments of the extraordinary work at Cambuslang; as a good many of my parishioners have lately been awakened there, to a great concern about their souls’ happiness. As soon as I was informed of their condition, I made it my business to wait on them, and found a good many persons under the deepest exercise of soul, crying out most bitterly, of their lost and miserable estate, by reason of sin of their unbelief, in despising Christ, and the offers of the gospel; of the hardness of their heart and their former gross carelessness and indifferency about religion; and though sonic of them said, they had regularly attended the preaching of the gospel, yet they acknowledged with much regret, their misimprovement of it; how many sweet sermons they had heard without any benefit, and they came to a church with no design to be instructed, but only, as they said, to see, and to be seen. I have heard them expressing a great deal of sorrow for these things, and seemingly, in the most serious and sincere manner; and not so much, as some of them have told me, from the fear of punishment, to which they had thereby exposed themselves, as from a sense of the dishonour they had done to God, and the blessed Redeemer; and frequently aggravated their sins from this consideration, that they had been the betrayers, and murderers of the Lord of glory. And though I have seen some of them under extreme affliction and distress, I could never observe the least disorder in their judgments: but their complaints were always suitable to their condition. Neither have I observed any of them carried away with despairing thoughts of the mercy of God: but all of them seemed to be seeking relief, in the method the Gospel proposes; and expressed the warmest desires after an interest in Christ, to obtain which they said they would cheerfully lay down their lives, and part with every thing that was dear to them in the world. I have at several different times conversed with many of these persons, and have received no small satisfaction; from such conversations. When speaking of prayer, they have told me, how much that duty had been neglected by them, and in what a cold lifeless manner it was performed; from which therefore, they never did nor could reap any satisfaction but now they said, it was an exercise in which they found much sweetness and comfort. Their love to the Holy Scripture all of them express in the most lively and moving manner, frequently calling it a precious and invaluable treasure; greatly surprised how they could possibly slight it so much in time past, and declaring they now saw many things in it, highly useful and comfortable to them which they never imagined had been there. They express a great deal of love to, and desire after the public ordinances; when I have asked some of them, if they had such affection as the Psalmist speaks of in the beginning of the l22d Psalm, when it was said to him let us go up to the house of the Lord, they have told me, that though it was quite otherwise with them before, yet now they found a vast pleasure in attending the church, and public worship of God, and a great unwillingness in them to withdraw from it, when the service was over. They are likewise exceedingly desirous of more private instruction in their duty, and take all opportunities of waiting on those, that can be of use to them, and such of them as are near at hand, do frequently come to my house, and receive my advice and assistance; and 1 never saw persons more docile than they are. I must own indeed that when I first conversed with them I found some of them pretty ignorant of the principles of religion; but this was what they seemed deeply grieved and afflicted for, and much condemned their former sloth and negligence; and since that time, have been making use of the proper means of knowledge, and I think I can say, with no contemptible success, considering the short time they have had. Some of them seem to discover devout breathings of soul after God, and the blessed Redeemer, and resolutions through grace, to depend upon him in the worst of circumstances, often making use of these words of Job xiii, 15, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him.” I have been much surprised to see how readily, nay even judiciously, some of them who had been formerly ignorant and unconverted, have spoken of the most important points of practical religion, and with what facility they have adduced passages of Scripture very suitable to what they were speaking about. There is another branch of Christian duty, that I do think they are likewise studying conformity to; and that is love to mankind. I have heard them often wishing, and desiring that all men might be brought to Christ, and the knowledge of the truth; and particularly expressing a great regard for all that are the Lord’s people. So far as I have yet access to know them, they seem to be of a meek and quiet spirit, and willing to forgive; telling me they desire to wish well, and to pray even for the happiness of those who had been injurious to them. More might be said upon this subject, but I choose rather to be sparing till time make a clearer discovery of them. The persons I have conversed with were of different characters: some of them had all along been pretty sober and regular in their lives, and duly enough attended the ordinances of the gospel, others of them were very careless this way, and addicted to many sins: but even those who were more blameless in their lives, have declared, that their hearts till now were never touched with anything they heard from the word of God; that they had never lived under the influence of religion, and were grossly unconcerned about their salvation. These now are the appearances I observe among some of my people, who were awakened to a concern about their souls at Cambuslang; which do strongly incline me to think that it is the work of God.
IV. By Mr William Hamilton, Minister at Bothwell, May 7th, 1741. (mis-typed 1742?)
R. and D. B. I have seen the attestation by Mr Matthew Connell in Kilbryde, as also that by John Hamilton in Barony of Glasgow. As I have no new thing to add, so I heartily join in the same sentiments with my above-named brethren, as to the reality of that extraordinary work at Cambuslang, being in very deed a gracious work of the Spirit of God, designed, I firmly believe, for the saving conviction and conversion of many perishing souls, not only in that parish, but in the neighbourhood. May the Lord, in his infinite mercy, shed abroad the influences of his saving grace through all the corners of the land. There are a good number of my people, mostly young people, who have been awakened at Cambuslang, and have much the same account to give of them with my above-named brethren: all of them are very serious and concerned about their souls’ case, and are very solicitous to have others brought to acquaintance with Christ, and the way of salvation through him: which has had this (I hope) blessed effect, that there seems to be a more than ordinary seriousness among a goodly number in several corners of this congregation, more conscience made of family worship, in several families who made but too little account of it before; as likewise there are some new societies for prayer and Christian conference set up in this congregation, wherein several persons, besides these awakened at Cambuslang, have joined. I hope these things, through the blessing of God, may prove the beginning of much good in this and in other places. May that blessed God, who has begun a good work, either with you, or any other place, carry on and perfect the same until the day of Jesus Christ. May the Lord direct and assist you and all his servants, to a right and faithful management of our great Master’s work amongst our hands. I add no more, but am, Yours, &c.
V. By Mr William Hamilton, Minister at Douglas, May 6th, 1742.
R. and D. B. While I was with you, it gave me great pleasure to see so much concern upon people’s spirits about the salvation of their precious and immortal souls, a thing very rare amongst us: some whom I had occasion to discourse with, appeared to be in the utmost distress upon account of sin, both original and actual, and that principally as it is that abominable thing which God hates. Others, whose consciences God had awakened with a sense of guilt, but had now got believing views of Christ Jesus, as a most complete Saviour, both able and willing to save, and whom God had determined, by the power of his Spirit, to yield themselves to the Lord. They, in a very strong manner, expressed love to their God and Saviour, and to all his commands, both of the first and second table of the law; and declared that it was their firm purpose and resolution, through the assistance of the Holy Spirit, to walk in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless; and seemed more afraid of offending God, than of any sufferings they might be exposed to in the world: and their practices, so far as I can hear, are as yet, agreeable to their resolutions; so that I not only hope, but think I have good ground to believe, that work begun and for some time past carried on amongst the people of Cambuslang, and strangers that have resorted thither from many distant parts, shall appear, to the conviction of all good men, to be the work of God, from the after holy life and conversation, of not a few of those whose consciences have at this time been awakened to a sense of their lost and undone state by nature. That the Lord may more and more assist, strengthen, and support you, and give you and all faithful ministers of the gospel many seals of their ministry, is the hearty prayer of, D. B. &c.
VI. By Mr M’Kneight, Minister at Irvine, May 6, 1742.
B. and P. B. As I had, by information from letters conceived a good opinion of the extraordinary and surprising work at Cambuslang before I went thither, upon an invitation from you to preach there last Sabbath; so my said opinion has been very much confirmed by what I was eye and ear-witness to, during my abode with you, from Saturday to Tuesday last; being still more and more persuaded that it is the real work of the Spirit of God. While I joined with your congregation in public worship, I observed amongst the vast numbers that flocked to hear the gospel preached at Cambuslang, not only the serious looks, the grave deportment, and the close attention to what was spoken, but also the weeping eyes of many that appeared to be in the greatest distress and trouble. Again, in the evenings, after public worship was ended, and when I had occasion to converse with several of these afflicted persons, I found their wounds and anguish of soul, together with their tears, did proceed not from a whimsical and enthusiastic imagination, hut from a deep conviction of the great evil and demerit of sin original and actual, particularly of their sin of unbelief, and slighting precious Christ, and gracious offers of salvation by him; and when I exhorted and directed them to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, as the apostle Paul did the convinced and trembling jailer, Acts xvi. 31, they answered, “Lord, help me to believe; gladly would I believe, but I cannot.” However, while under their soul-exercises for sin, and because of God’s wrath, I heard them expressing ardent desires after Christ, and an interest in him, and salvation by him; and a great thirst after the word, the knowledge of God and of divine things, and after a saving faith in a crucified Jesus, which gave me ground to hope that our Redeemer Jesus, would soon accomplish these longing desires in relieving them from their distresses of both body and mind. Likewise, I conversed with others who were under piercing and deep convictions of sin, and have left the sharp arrows of the Almighty sticking fast in their souls, and to whom the Spirit of God had, upon their believing in Jesus Christ, applied his precious blood to heal these wounds, and hereupon hath granted them relief and comfort, hath delivered their souls from death, their eyes from tears, and their feet from falling; for which distinguishing mercies, they were exalting free grace, saying with the apostle Paul, “ It is by grace we are what we are; and blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.” They, when I conversed with them, declared distinctly the way and manner, how their convictions began and wrought, and how the relief they got from soul-troubles came to them. They also discovered the gracious work of the Spirit of God upon their souls, in their confession of sin with shame, sorrow, and blushing; in their professing a hatred of it, and loathing themselves on the account thereof, crying out, “ Behold we are vile, we abhor ourselves, and repent in dust and ashes; “in their love to God, and his ordinances; in renouncing their own righteousness, and relying wholly on Christ for righteousness and strength ; in their high esteem of, and ardent love to their dear Redeemer; in their charity and love to one another, and especially to those who are the real disciples of the Lord Jesus, and bear the image of their heavenly Father ; in their tender sympathy with, and affectionate concern for those that fall under distress and anguish of spirit for sin ; and in their endeavours to relieve them, by good advices and proper exhortations, and to comfort the dejected and disquieted in mind, with the consolations wherewith they themselves bad been comforted. These are a few of the good fruits of the Spirit of God I observed among several I conversed with at Cambuslang. Therefore I cannot but bear a testimony, that, in my apprehension, the surprising work with you, dear brother, for these several weeks past, is of God. And if the work be of God, then neither the devil, nor all his agents, shall be able to overthrow it, &c. &c.
VII. By Mr M'Laurin, one of the Ministers of Glasgow, May 12, 1742.
Having had occasion not only to converse with several in this city, who have been lately awakened at Cambuslang, to a deep concern about salvation; and upon inquiry to get good accounts of their behaviour; but also to bestow some pains, in conversations and inquiries of that kind, in the parish of Cambuslang itself; by these means, I am in a condition to affirm on good grounds, several of the most material things in the above narrative and attestations: but in regard of the intended brevity of this paper, I judge it proper, to avoid too particular repetition of things already attested by so many good hands. By the accounts which several of these people give of their impressions of things of eternal importance, with great appearances of sincerity, supported by the accounts given by others of their con-duct, they seem, in the judgment of charity, to be persons to whom the following scripture characters agree; viz., that “they are of broken hearts and contrite spirits; that they come to God through Jesus Christ as the way, the life, and the truth; that they endeavour, by the grace of God, to give all acceptation to the true and faithful saying, that Christ came to save sinners; that they have the love of God shed abroad in their hearts, and earnest desires to have his law written on their hearts:” while they are still deeply sensible of the remainders of evil that cleave to them and others in this imperfect state. By the accounts given of their practice by those who have the nearest view of it, they appear to have forsaken the sins to which they were addicted; to delight in the duties to which they were averse; to watch against temptations to which they formerly yielded; and instead of separating one part of religion from another, to have a strict regard to the precepts of both tables of the divine law: herein exercising themselves to have consciences void of offence toward God and toward men. From the best observations I could make on their disposition and behaviour, compared with the observations made by others, they seem, in a particular manner, to excel in meekness, humility, self-denial and charity: in the wisdom from above, described in Scripture (James iii. 17.) as “first pure, then peaceable, gentle and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits,” &c., in aversion from things that tend to strife rather than to edification: and in ardent desire of the conversion and salvation of others. I would not be understood to assert such things of all whom I know to have pretended to seriousness about religion on this occasion; being particularly concerned to attest from personal knowledge, in conjunction with Mr M’Culloch, that part of the above narrative which relates to pains taken, with some success, in detecting deceivers: a correspondence having been set on foot, and being indeed kept up still, and several here having begun and resolving to continue a proper scrutiny from time to time, in order to such discoveries. Meantime, whatever ungrateful discoveries may have been made already, which indeed are not many, or may hereafter be the result of such inquiries, people of candour will own that the faults of a few particular persons ought not to be charged on a body of serious people, who to other evidences of sincerity, add that of a hearty concern, that deceivers or backsliders may be detect, admonished, and, by the divine blessing, re claimed. Whereas an unknown person very lately wrote a letter to Mr M’Culloch, dated April 29th, (in which was inclosed another letter with a twenty shillings note to Mr J. J. merchant in this city, on account of wrong done to his father of two or three shillings value many years ago) and that unknown person desires that in the printed account, that was expected of the work at Cambuslang, there might be some instructions about restitution; it is thought sufficient, in regard of the shortness of this paper, to refer that person and others, to the Scriptures cited in our larger Catechism, where it treats of the eighth commandment; and to approved commentaries on the ten commandments in general, asserting and proving the necessity of that duty. (See Mr. Durham on the Ten Commands.) While friends of religion will judge themselves obliged to desire, that all who have been awakened to serious concern about it, may prove real converts, persevering to the end: they and others should remember, that though several should backslide, which God of his mercy prevent, it can be no argument against the sincerity of the rest. So far as we have credible accounts of works to which this bears a resemblance, it does not appear, by what 1 can recollect or learn from persons well skilled in church-history, that ever there were so great numbers awakened to so deep concern about their souls, attended with so promising evidences, as these mentioned in the above narrative and attestations, without a happy issue: it appears therefore agreeable to the rules of charity and just reasoning, to hope for the like good issue as to this present case. It consists with my knowledge, that as to such of the people whom this paper treats of, as seem to have attained to joyful hopes, on which some particular scripture promises appear to have a remarkable influence; care is taken to examine them, and to direct them to examine themselves about the essential evidences of interest in Christ, and so promise all the promises in general.
VIII. By Messrs Young and Duncan, Preachers of the Gospel, May 1742.
Having had access to examine several persons that have been awakened to a serious concern about salvation, by means of the ministrations of the Gospel at Cambuslang, we find with many of them what we cannot but construct, in the judgment of charity, to be promising appearances, or hopeful beginnings of a good work of grace; such as, a deep sense of their sinful and guilty state, and apprehension of the extreme need of the Saviour Jesus Christ, to be justified by his blood, and sanctified by his Spirit their plain confession of their great ignorance, and blindness in the things of God, and mysteries of his kingdom, and earnest desire to know the truth as it is in Jesus; and laborious diligence to be better acquainted with the first principles of his doctrine: deeply lamenting their heart pollutions and abominations, as well as their great neglect of God’s worship, and careless regard of the great salvation for men; and with some, their gross vices, and scandalous profanations of God’s name and day; their frequent complaints of the sin of unbelief in Christ, and of the deadness and hardness of their hearts, and anxious concerns and prayers to have them softened with the spiritual views of Christ as crucified, into the exercises of godly sorrow and repentance, and reduced in captivity to the obedience of the faith: their cautious guard against sin and temptation; their tender circumspection over themselves, lest the corrupt conversation of others, the hearing of which sometimes is unavoidable, might stifle their anxious concern, and extinguish religious impressions, their frequent watchfulness unto the duties of worship, reading the Scriptures, &c. &c. And being tenderly sensible when the Spirit breathes on their souls in such exercises, as a Spirit of life and liberty; and anon when he withholds his sensible influences and consolations of grace, their hearts are troubled. And when we consider that the young are early inquiring the way to Zion, seeking the Lord with weeping and supplication; that sinners are taught God’s way; the openly profane and profligate, who were running headlong in the paths of the destroyer, and enticing and corrupting others into the same pernicious courses, stooped in their career, and reformed by sovereign victorious grace, frequenting Christian fellowships, and abounding in Christian conference, and heartening and encouraging others to walk in wisdom’s ways: we have good ground to rejoice at this remarkable success of the gospel, and to bless the name of God for giving such a sensible testimony to the word of his grace, and to plead in prayer to him, that he would spread it far and wide, &c.
At Cambuslang, May 6th, 1742. In regard the parish of Old Monkland at present wants a minister, we subscribing heritors and elders of the said parish, hereby testify, that there is a considerable number of persons belonging to this parish, who have been awakened at Cambuslang to a deep concern about their salvation; and that we have conversed with several of them, who, to our apprehension, seem to be in a hopeful way.
IX. By Mr D. Connel, Preacher of the Gospel, Kilbryde, May 14th, 1742.
You desire some account from me of what I have observed or know with regard to the work at Cambuslang, which I shall give without art or disguise. I have conversed with a good many in this parish that have been affected there. Some have told me that by what they heard in sermon, they had great desire raised in their minds to be burdened with sin, that so they might come to Christ; and then have got so great a sense of sin and guilt as they could well bear. Others that have come to me in great distress, when I asked them how they came to be in that condition, answered, that while they were hearing some private exhortations of the minister, a great many of their sins were brought to their remembrance. They thought they had been doing nothing but sinning all their days; that they were empty of all good, and that they were undone without Christ. Some have told me, they met with great opposition in going to attend upon the ordinances, but they became resolute and went: and what places of Scripture first fastened any sense of sin upon their minds; how this was bore and more increased, and what text kept them from despair amidst the greatest terror one could readily be under. Others, that all things in the world were now become tasteless to them, seeing the danger their souls were in. I have seen some sitting alone all in tears, and when I asked them what was the matter, they said, they were afraid lest their convictions should go off without any good effect; and expressed a strong desire after Christ. Others that seemed to be under great concern, being asked what they wanted, said, conviction of sin and faith in Christ. I have been greatly surprised, to hear such a distinct account of the provoking nature of sin, and the terms of our acceptance with God, given by those that are reputed the most ignorant, and who I believe knew scarce any thing at all of religious matters till this work began. I cannot say that among all I have conversed with here, I have found one in despair, but have heard them expressing a great sense of their inability to believe. I have heard them expressing the highest esteem of the mercy of God, and the mediation of Christ; the most earnest desire after an interest in him; and telling the promises and declarations of mercy, and representations of Christ in the Scripture, that were the foundation of their hope, and praising Christ as one altogether lovely. I have heard them expressing a sense of the evil of sin, and their own vileness by it; earnest desires after perfection in holiness, and fears lest they should fall back into their former sinful state; mentioning the promises that supported them under these fears, and telling what love and joy and praise these produced when cast into their minds. Their earnest desires and diligent endeavours after more knowledge; the deep sense and sweet relish of Divine truths they seem to have; their readiness to apply what they hear to themselves, even these things that discover more of the corruption of their hearts, or errors of their lives to them; the pouring out of their souls to God in prayer, which they speak of; the perplexity and dejection I have seen them in, when, as they told me, they have not been able to do this; the steadiness and fixedness of their minds on spiritual things, not only in stated duties, but when about their worldly affairs, that they inform me of; their grief when vain thoughts fill their minds, and restlessness till they recover their former spirituality; their charitable dispositions towards men, of which I could give a variety of instances; their great care to do the will of God, and fear lest they trust in their own righteousness. These and other things I have observed in or heard from them, and about them, put it out of doubt with me, that the finger of God is in this work, which I pray may more and more appear.—I am, &c.,
Of the work at Cambuslang
Care to detect impostors.
Things previous to the work, viz., preaching on regeneration: a weekly lecture: meeting of the societies for prayer. Feb. 18th, 1742, about fifty persons brought under great concern.
Numbers resort to the place.
In a few weeks the number of the awakened above three hundred.
The good fruits, such as reformation, remorse, forgiveness, restitution, family worship, love to the scriptures, &c.
The subjects of this work of different ages and characters.
Attestations by ministers, preachers, and others.