Cambuslang Revival 1742
In 1623 the Six Mile River revival broke out in Ulster, Ireland. It occurred after the plantation of Ulster, including by many from Scotland. In fact, for several hundred years, people had come from Scotland to Ulster. Several ministers that went to the revival, such as Blair and Livingston, returned to Scotland. They preached a straightforward and to the point Gospel, calling for an immediate decision. The revival spread to western Scotland and, in particular, to Shotts and Stewarton. The people of Stewarton came under great conviction and terror before attaining great peace. The revival in Shotts followed a communion service. It seemed as if God appeared during the communion services, and His presence was tangibly real. The crowds were so large they could not fit into a building.
In the last quarter of the seventeenth century, prayer societies were started. Many of the prayer pioneers died before the revival ever was realized. These men and women wrestled in prayer, seeking a breakthrough.
By the beginning of the eighteenth century, the church in the United Kingdom and the American Colonies (at that time) was in a spiritual low. Arianism and Deism were the flavors of the time. In 1732, under John Tennet, a revival started in New Jerse, and then in 1734, Jonathan Edwards saw a mighty revival break out in New England, in the American Colonies.
William M’Culloch, the pastor in Cambuslang, was born in 1691 in Whithorn. Little is known of his childhood days. He went I the universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow. He was a man of great learning, excelling in languages and mathematics and especially in Hebrew. 1 M’Culloch was ordained and licenses to preach in the Presbyterian Church in 1722. In 1731, he came to Cambuslang, a town at the time four miles southeast of Glasgow. M’Culloch was a humble man who held the spiritual condition of his parishioners close to his heart. Under his care were ninety families.2 The population of Cambuslang at the time was less than one thousand.
Field preaching was punishable by death, and the sentence was to be carried out within three hours after judgment was passed. Evil seemed to prevail. In fact, a house close to M’Cullouch was known to be haunted by a ghost. The parish of Cambuslang had long been neglected.
Men began seeking trade and commerce and were diverted from religion in the pursuit of material things. The new generation forgot the price paid in the previous generation for their religious liberties and preferred the things of the world. It was a time of tolerance, compliance, and compromise. The formerly established beliefs were cast by the wayside.
1739 saw extremely bad weather with damaging winds that caused widespread damage. M’Culloch began preaching on the severe weather and the need to obey the Word. “Will neither the Voice of God in the Tempests in the air nor in the threatening of devouring fire and everlasting burnings awaken you.”3
After the hurricane, famine and hardship came for months. Throughout England, mobs rioted due to distress and hunger. “Cold and hunger rain supreme.”4. The summer was hot, and the harvest failed causing food prices to soar. There was action was taken to prevent the hoarding of food. Beggars were given licenses and under control of inspectors were allowed to receive a weekly allowance. Thousands perished from hunger and cold during 1739-40. Many things like flour became a luxury. The people suffered greatly. Yet no one turned to the Lord. 1740 saw an extraordinary drought that threatened all, including the animals. The church called for a day of fasting and prayer.
While many sought for a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit, their prayers were merely out of duty and not in the confidence of faith. The Great Awakening reached Scotland in 1740. The revival was marked with the spontaneity and inspiration of the preachers.
On February 15th, 1742, he started holding prayer meetings at his house. By the third meeting, people came to him deeply convicted regarding their salvation. On Thursday the 18th, he preached, and when he had finished, around fifty fell under great conviction and anxiety. M’Culloch spent the whole night ministering to these people.
More people were stirred, and M’Culloch was forced to preach daily and then afterward take time ministering to the people. By May, the number awakened was around three hundred people.4 Everyone obtained and read their Bibles. To them, the Bible was a love letter written by Heaven for them.
Enter George Whitefield
In June of 1742, George Whitefield was visiting Scotland and came to Cambuslang on July 6th, where he preached three times on the day of his arrival. The last meeting occurred at nine at night and continued until eleven, but because the desire for the Word was so strong, M’Culloch continued to preach until 1am. That night, in the field, people, prayed and praised.
Whitefield returned on July 9th and preached on the 10th to a crowd of more than twenty-thousand.
Om July 11th, a Communion service was held and proved to be so successful that it was quickly followed by another one. The second saw the revival amplified. The crowd was massive, and people continued in prayer until 1am in the morning. People came under great conviction and then conversion. By now, there were several ministers present due to the size of the crowds, including Whitefield and M’Cullouch.
Two wooden preaching tents were set up along with communion tables. Another communion service was held on July 14th. In order to receive communion, the person was given a token, at on this occasion, over 1700 tokens were gathered. The crowds exceeded 30,000. It was believed that over 500 committed their lives to Christ.
People bean crying out and weeping. Many seemed consumed with the love of God and were in some form of ecstasy. 6 The numbers grew so great that nothing like it had been seen before. The three communion tables each saw well over a thousand people.
The crowds had come not just from Glasgow but from considerable distances. They came and discovered a great awakening first to a sense of sin and their lost condition, but then to the joy of salvation. Regardless of the weather, crowds remained to hear the Word preached until 2am. All around, you saw people crying out for mercy or rejoicing in their salvation. People would fall under the power of the Spirit, which of course, brought mockers, but they too came under a deep sense of conviction. The mockers referred to the slaying in the Spirit as the “fallers.’ 7 People would be seen in great distress, and their bodies would be moved by the intense agitation. Some were as dead people lying on the ground.
Masses bewailed their sin under intense conviction while others became lovesick. They renounced their former ways and became sold out to Christ.
“At noon,’ says Whitefield himself,’I came to Cambuslang, the place which God so much honored. I preached at two o’clock to a vast body of people, again at six in the evening, afterwards at nine. Such a commotion was surely never heard of, especially about eleven o’clock at night. It far outdid anything I ever saw in America. For about an hour and a half there was such weeping, so many falling into deep distress, and manifesting in various ways, that description is impossible. The people seemed smitten in scores. They were carried off and brought into the house like wounded soldiers taken from a field of battle. Their agonies and cries were deeply affecting. Mr. M’Culloch preached after I had done, till past one o’clock in the morning, and even then the people scaracely be got to reftire. Throughout the whole of the night the voice of prayer and praise might still be heard in the fields.” 8
The Cambuslang revival would be greatly criticized because of the manifestations that occurred. First hadn accounts recorded that people cried out and underwent body distress. These distressed challenged those watching that some asked for those undergoing them to be moved to another place away from the general crowd. 8 However, this only resulted in a diminishing of the awakening so they were brought back to the general crowd. The reality was people were deeply convicted of sin and of their need of Jesus.
Daily the Word was sometimes preached three and sometimes twice a day. The anointing on the preached Word impacted all those around. People would tremble, swoon and fall as if dead. 9
“I preached at two to a vast body of people, ay six in the evening, and again at nine. Such a commotion surely never was heard of, especially at eleven at night. For about an hour-and-half there was suching weepin, so many falling into distress, and expressing iy in various ways, as is inexpressible. The people seem to be slain like soldiers wounded and carried off a field of battle. Their cries and agonies are exceedingly affecting. All night in the fields might be heard the voice of prayer and praise.”10
“But such an univerisal stir I never saw before. The motion fled as swift as lightning from one end of the auditory to another. You might have seen thousands bathed in tears; some at the same time wringing their hands; others almost swooning,- and other crying and mourning over a pierced Saviour.”11
Bruen later explained that the numbers of people who were having counterfeit manifestations were not considerable.12
M’Culloch, who suffered great persecution over the manifestations, decided several years later to interview all those who experienced manifestations. His interviews formed a series of books that were published. He discovered that all those who had experienced such manifestations several years alter were still serving the Lord, and the real fruit, which was Jesus being magnified in their lives was evident.
While there was much like at every revival, real fire, wildfire, and yes, false fire. The majority were truly touched from Heaven and changed forever.
The revival changed Cambuslang as Heaven invaded the place and the surrounding regions. The youth would be found praying into the “wee” hours, and every aspect of life was impacted. News of the revival spread, and soon an awakening occurred at Kilsyth, St. Ninians, Gargunnock, Muthil, Torrybrun, and Carnonck.
Whitefield was called a hireling, a scandalous idolater, a wild beast. He was of the devil, part of the antichrist, and leading people into sin. M’Culloch was also attacked. 13 The revival was branded as false and its fruit minimal. But the truth was far from that. The change in the people endured.
M’Cullouch’scollection of interviews would later directly inspire the Kentucky Revival in America in 1800.
- Fawcett, Arthur. The Cambuslang Revival: The Scottish Evangelical Revival of the Eighteenth Century. The Banner Of Truth Trust. Edinburgh. 1996. Page 38
- Narratives of Revivals of Religion in Scotland, Ireland, and Wales. Presbyterian Board of Publication. Philadelphia. 1842. Page 6
- Fawcett page 95
- Fawcett page 95-96
- Narratives page 7
- Narrative page 10
- Narratives page 13
- Robe, James. Narratives on the Revival of Religion at Lilsyth, Cambuslang and other places in 1742. Willliam Collins, Glasgow. 1840 Page 49
- Belden, David, Albert. George Whitefield- the Awakener. Page 135
- Robe Page 257’
- Bruen, M. History of Revivals of Religion especially in Scotland. William Oliphant And Son. London. Pge 249
- Bruen page 250
- Bruen page 261
- Fawcett page 168