Cambuslang Work - The Two Communions

The Two Communions

Many people came from other parts of Scotland, and even from England and Ireland, to hear the sermons, and no doubt to witness the convictions and conversions. Mr M’Culloch needed help and many of the most prestigious Evangelical ministers preached in Cambuslang – in particular Dr Alexander Webster, of Edinburgh, who conducted one of the first Statistical Accounts of Scotland and Mr Robe of Kilsyth where similar events took place. Holy Communion was distributed on 11 July and 15 August, when extra tents needed to be erected to accommodate the multitude. George Whitefield, who had experience with crowds, reckoned there were about 30,000 at the latter. (He was surprised, when he announced his text, to hear the rustle of Bibles being leafed through to follow him – an indication of the high rate of literacy among common Scots of the time.) Four ministers preached on the Friday fast day before the sacrament, four others preached on the Saturday to prepare those taking Communion and probably 15 preached in total on the Sunday of the Communion. James Meek reckons about 3000 took communion, about 10% of the crowd. Another, more evangelical minister calculated that, in total, about 400 persons were converted during the six months of the Cambuslang work, though he also noted "backsliders". The crowds seemed to dwindle after the second communion, no doubt partly due to the year progressing. For some years, however, 18 February was kept, according to Mr M’Culloch "partly as a day of thanksgiving for the remarkable season of grace to many in the British colonies, and particularly for this small corner, in the years 1741 and 1742; and partly as a day of humiliation and fasting for misimprovement (sic) of mercies; and especially for the backslidings of many, who then showed a more than ordinary concern about their souls, but have since fallen away, and turned as bad, or worse than they were before". It is not known if Mr M’Culloch finally experienced either conviction or conversion. There was a centenary event in 1842.

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