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Scotland and the Scots, 1707-2007

Christian Auer

III. Religion

12. Cambuslang, 1742

Texte intégral

  • 3 M. Lynch, op. cit., p. 364.

1In the early 1740s a wave of evangelicalism swept across parts of Scotland. The most noted event took place at Cambuslang in Lanarkshire in 1742 when at a summer communion William McCulloch, the minister of Cambuslang, and George Whitefield, an English Methodist itinerant minister, preached to 30,000 people. The highly emotional scenes of mass conversions that took place in Cambuslang in 1742 were to become common in the following decades. Michael Lynch has used the terms of “mass hysteria”3 to describe these scenes of conversion.

2James Robe, Narratives of the Extraordinary Work of the Spirit of God, at Cambuslang, Kilsyth, & c Began 1742, Glasgow: 1790, p. 295-297.

The Attestation of the Rev. Mr Mcculloch, Minister of the Gospel at Cambuslang, Relating to the Fruits and Effects of the Extraordinary Work at that Place, in 1742, in a Letter to the Rev. Mr. Robe.

Rev. and dear Brother,

Hearing that you are very soon, as a close to your Narrative, to publish some Attestations to the fruits of the revival of religion in this country, in the year 1742; at the desire of some ministers, I drew up, and herewith send you my Attestation, relating to the effects of the extraordinary work here in 1742, which you may publish along with your own Attestation, and these of others.

“When the God of all grace is pleased in infinite mercy, to send a revival of religion to a church or any particular corner in it; among other artifices whereby Satan and his instruments endeavour to obstruct its progress, a very usual and successful one, is to raise prejudices against it in people’s minds, by suggesting and alledging, that though the like awakenings and promising like appearances, (or as opposers use to speak, religious stirs, and commotions) formerly obtained, in as high or even a higher degree, elsewhere; yet there was no good followed, but a great deal of evil.

  • 4 The Republic of the Seven United Netherlands or of the Seven United Provinces (1581-1795).

Thus, as I am credibly informed, it is at the time of the present revival of religion, in several places of the United Provinces4, as particularly, at Nieukirk, Rheid, Aaalten, Groningen, & c. while the friends of that work there take notice how much it resembles the work at Cambuslang, in 1742, the opposers readily grant there is a resemblance; but then they add, that the work at Cambuslang, in 42, never produced any valuable effect, that the subjects of that work are worse than before, that it was a schismatical work, &c.

In order therefore to set this matter in a clear light, and that I might be able to give a brief but just account of a work that happened in a parish whereof I have the pastoral inspection and charge, and which I cannot but look upon to have been a glorious work of God’s grace; I thought it my duty to make a particular enquiry, concerning the behaviour of the known subjects of the work at Cambuslang in-42, that is, those persons, not only living in the parish of Cambuslang, but who came from many other places, near or more remote, and who upon resorting to Cambuslang, in 1742, are known to have there fallen under awakenings, convictions, and a deep concern about eternal salvation, for the first time, or at least, the first time that their convictions and concern seemed to prove effectual, and to come to a gracious issue.

I do not here propose to speak (if it be not a few words by the by) of those who resorted hither in-42, and who were true christians before that. Of these there were many hundreds, I doubt not but I may say thousands, from places near and far off, who then flocked hither, and joined in hearing of the word, and great numbers of them, upon producing sufficient testimonials, were admitted to partake of the sacrament of the Lord’s supper; and hereby the number of communicants, which here used to be but about 400 or 500, before 42, came to be greatly increased that and following years: so that at the second sacrament, the number of communicants in 42, was reckoned 3000; in 43, about 2000; in 44, about 1500; in 45, about 1300; in 46, about 1200; & c. and all along to this present year 51, the number of communicants here, has greatly exceeded what used to be before 42.

The unwearidness of the Lord’s people in religious exercises, at these times, especially at the sacrament occasions in 42, 43 and 44, was wonderful. What eager attention to the word hearing, as upon the stretch and for eternity! What an awful, serious solemn air appeared in the manner of their worship! What vehement workings of joy, and sorrow, and other passions appearing in their looks! What engaged attendance on God in his ordinances! hearing three sermons on each of these three days, Thursdays, Saturdays and Mondays; double the number on the communion Sabbath, besides partaking of the sacrament, joining in public prayers and praises, spending almost the whole of Saturday and Sabbath nights, in praises and prayers with others, or apart by themselves.


3 M. Lynch, op. cit., p. 364.

4 The Republic of the Seven United Netherlands or of the Seven United Provinces (1581-1795).

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